Letters to the editor


$250 reward offered for tip on illegal guns

Over the last few years, the Howard County Police Department has seized hundreds of illegal guns and removed them from our streets. As a jurisdiction located between two major cities, we often find ourselves confronted with dangerous firearms in our communities.

As part of an initiative called Project Cease Fire, we now are asking for the public's help in our effort to get illegal guns out of Howard County. Effective immediately, anyone who provides a tip that leads to the recovery of an illegal gun or the arrest of someone who has one will receive a $250 reward. Callers can remain anonymous and will receive a code number that will allow them to claim their reward money.

Together, we can make Howard County's streets even safer. We urge anyone who has information about illegal guns to call us at 410-313-4010.

G. Wayne Livesay

Chief of police

Architect proposes design review board

As one of the original planners of Columbia, I support the proposal that Columbia's residential development be maximized to the allowable 2.5 residential units per acre allowing an additional 2,141 multi-family units.

Most of these additional units should be developed in Town Center along Governor Warfield Parkway, as redevelopment of Lakefront North and the prime "crescent" site along Broken Land Parkway facing Symphony Woods requiring the elimination of the Post Pavilion.

However, the community should ask for something in exchange for approving the additional multi-family residential units which would be of economic benefit to the Rouse Company. I propose that the Rouse Company be required to accept design review by a single Professional Design Review Board (PDRB) of all new and redevelopment projects throughout Columbia. The PDRB would review the design of all of the additional multi-family residential units including all other multi-family projects in the development pipeline right now.

In addition, the PDRB should be tasked with the design review of all commercial, industrial and institutional projects throughout Columbia, including those in specific out-parcels. The review of Columbia's out-parcels would need approval from the county.

The PDRB would become a mandatory adjunct to each village Architectural Committee whenever a multi-family residential project is proposed in a village or a new or renovation project is proposed in a commercial, industrial and institutional area. The PDRB would provide design review of site plans, landscaping and architecture in three design phases as professional adjunct members of established Architectural Committees.

The PDRB may need to be under the Columbia Association umbrella for administrative purposes, but it must be functionally independent. The local chapters of the American Institute of Architects, American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Planning Association would solicit letters of interest and resumes from members. The Columbia Association would review, interview and select three architects , one landscape architect and one planner for a total of five PDRB members.

PDRB members would have five votes for decision making. The volunteer members should serve staggered terms agreed to among themselves in advance.

A Professional Design Review Board is desperately needed in Columbia. The site planning and architecture of recent projects such as Governor's Grant, the Howard County Hospital expansion and the EzStorage blue monster on Snowden River Parkway are a disgrace. No one is watching what gets designed.

There is a major gap between what the Architectural Committees do and what the Rouse Company can do with no design oversight. There is no community or independent professional design review and input for any Rouse Company project. There is no design review by the county or by the Columbia Association. We need a Professional Design Review Board now.

Let's get it right from now on and show that Columbia can indeed champion good site planning and architecture.

Robert Tennenbaum, AIA, AICP


Raising transfer tax could have worked

It appears that the only people who are strongly against increasing the transfer tax from 1 percent to 1.5 percent are real estate agents. Their main issue is that it would be harder to buy housing in Howard County. Since it is very easy to sell homes in Howard County due to the high-quality school system (which the transfer tax will continue to maintain), one solution is for the real estate agents to reduce their 6 percent commission by 0.5 percent to offset the increase in the transfer tax.

This is a win for home buyers through reduced expenses, a win for the concerned real estate agents from increased sales volume due to lower expenses, and a win for current Howard County residents to fund our schools without raising income and property taxes. But this won't happen. ...

Rick Schonbachler

Ellicott City

Columbia elections are next month

In April, the Columbia Association will once again hold its elections for Village Board positions and seats on the Columbia Council/Board of Directors. There are a number of seats available, Oakland Mills, Wilde Lake, Hickory Ridge, River Hill, Kings Contrivance, Long Reach and Dorsey Search.

If you are interested in running, you can obtain a packet with additional information from your Village Board or from Maggie Brown, president of CA. Since all of the positions are nonpartisan, you do not need to join any local groups or political parties prior to running.

CA is a nonprofit, community civic organization, governed by the Homeowners Association Act of Maryland. In the past, there has been an issue with individual candidates pledging their support to an organization in exchange for promises of financial and campaign assistance.

Last election, myself and two another candidates ran a successful campaign without joining any outside organizations. You can, too, be confident!

Pearl Atkinson-Stewart


The writer is a Columbia Council representative.

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