This is part 2 of a 2-part blog series providing reasons 5 through 10 of why we should keep Columbia a Planned Community. Part 1 of this series is here.
5. Consistency in Design – The photo below shows the new pathway that connects the Howard Community College to Blandair Park. The lamps look like something that would blend in more with the look of old Ellicott City, while the fence looks more like what we might see in a backyard. They just don’t fit in with the planned new 21st century look for downtown Columbia. What happened with the approval process here?
For perspective, below is the conceptual image of the pathways on the Downtown Columbia website — what the pathways should look like.
6. Consistency between Regulation Enforcement and Land Use Development Policy – When the entity responsible for policy enforcement also has a hand in decisions made regarding initial land use and development, the likelihood of consistency in approach increases. For example, the owners of one of the best looking (of course this is subjective) gas stations in Columbia had their feet held to the fire by the Hickory Ridge Village Board when they trimmed the bottom of these trees.
Should they not be allowed to trim trees while a mega gas station along one of our parkways has been given permission to remove all the trees (shown in the photo below) alongside the parkway? Where is the consistency in application of this policy?
7. Enhanced Control of Re-Development & Infill – This house was built at the end of Wilde Lake. Looking at the house in isolation, there may not be a concern, but some local residents feel it is totally out of place due to size and style. Isn’t this part of what a planned community is all about? Architectural guidelines established by local residents as part of an overall plan should serve as the basis for making development decisions.
8. Stop Village Center Blight – If we don’t do a better job of planning for and controlling development in Columbia we will have more properties like the one below. Isn’t one blighted village center enough?
When we permit over-development by big box stores and mega gas stations often blight is the result. How many small businesses are wiped out each time a mega retailer comes in? What’s the plan for those properties? These are the kinds of questions we can and should answer with an updated plan for New Town Columbia.
9. Columbia Association Planning Oversight and Preservation of Columbia’s Historic Icons – The CA removed the tower, flags, bells and island in the center of the lake without input from residents. The CA needs oversight. A plan for Columbia that takes this into account is the direction we need to move in.
10. Ensure Community Vitality and Engagement – When residents have a say in what happens in their community, they are much more likely to pay attention and stay engaged. If people feel they are being force fed change, aren’t being listened to, or are simply being ignored, those same active, engaged citizens face a couple of choices: 1) move to a community where they do have a voice, 2) work to elect officials that are responsive to concerns or 3) disengage. I for one, enjoy living in a community of engaged citizens. Let’s do our best to keep it that way!