HCCA Accomplishments / Actions

Every Accomplishment Starts with a Decision to Try

Here at the HCCA, as citizen advocates, the path we take to victory can sometimes be long and riddled with detours. Because the road can sometimes be difficult, it’s important to highlight the victories achieved and to recognize that serving as a “watchdog” organization can, in and of itself, promote better governance and decision making. Here, we highlight some of the victories we have achieved, as well as some of the steps we have taken in route to those victories. We share these in the hope that they can encourage you, as a citizen, to act as well as to provide an example of an effective process for achieving that victory.

“One man can make a difference and every man should try.”  — Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

2017 Actions:

  • Produced an award winning film titled, “Columbia at 50 – A Bridge to the Future” sponsored by British American Motors, Columbia Association, Columbia 50th Birthday Celebration, Inc., and many others. At our premiere in September we had over 350 attendees and received great reviews. We are currently taking the film on the road to be shown to the Howard County community.
  • Engaged our County Council and the Administration to incorporate Security Cameras – which are now fully operational – on the second floor of the Central Library.
  • Worked strongly with the Howard County Delegation and now have HB677 signed by Governor Hogan as the law to reduce the excessive sound levels emitting from Merriweather Post Pavilion. The bill is titled, “Howard County – Noise Control – Outdoor Concert Venues formerly (Ho, Co, 18-17)” http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2017RS/bills/hb/hb0677F.pdf
  • HCCA recommended a temporary moratorium by the Council sponsoring a Bill or Resolution on Zoning Regulation Amendments (ZRA’s). This is based on the fact that the Department of Planning and Zoning is currently in an on-going process of assessment and review leading to a comprehensive update of the Howard County Zoning Regulations.
  • Continue to emphasis the importance of incorporating Quality of Life Issues such as Police, Fire, EMS, and the Hospital as measurements to APFO.
  • Proactive to ensure that noise pollution will not be a detriment to one’s health especially regarding planes from BWI and its impact on the community.
  • Very involved in Aging in Place issues and in particular amending the Livable Homes Tax Credit.

2017 Actions and Activities Around Communities:

  • Albeth Community in Marriotsville – Representing by aiding this community in a Zoning Board Case for over two years to oppose a proposed development by Chapelgate Church of 134 town homes.
  • Columbia and surrounding area – Get a Bill (HB677) passed as signed by the Governor to reduce the decibel sound levels at Merriweather Post Pavilion and Outdoor Venues.
  • Highland – Assisted in eliminating the BRX zoning district in their neighborhood and throughout the county.
  • Savage – Consulting and Assisting with opposing a proposed development known as “The Settlement at Savage Mill” which is currently before the Planning Board.
  • Western Howard County – Very proactive to try and ensure that no Mulching or Composting is allowed on designated Agricultural Preservation land for commercial use.
  • Member of the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) Task Force and will continue to emphasis that quality of Life issues should be measurement in APFO.
  • Two board members appointed to the Zoning Regulation Assessment Steering Committee.
  • Continue to promote the Preservation of Columbia and covenant enforcements and in particular New Town (NT) Columbia.
  • Member of the Howard County Health Department’s Local Health Improvement Coalition (LHIC).
  • Proactive to try and ensure that the excessive sound emitting from BWI Airport that residents are bothered by because of NEXTGEN is curtailed.
  • Promoter of Homeowner Tax Credits for Aging Population.

2016 / 2015 Actions:

Maintaining and improving the quality of life in Howard County:

  • HCCA Contributed $1000 to the Ellicott City Partnership.
  • Columbia and New Town (NT) – GOAL to preserve Columbia’s vision and promote Affordable Housing.
  • Promoting Aging Successfully in our County —http://howardcountyhcca.org/aging/.
  • Clarksville – GOAL to ensure that if a Mortuary were to be developed that it fully meets the standards of health and safety for all.
  • Dayton and Western Howard County GOAL to safeguard health and safety is fully protected especially on Agricultural Preservation to prevent industrial facilities are not established for Mulching, Composting and Wood Processing.
  • Independent Business Association – GOAL to ensure standards are established to ensure the location of future fueling stations via a common sense approach for planned communities.

Government Agency and Representative Coordination:

  • Working with County Officials and fully coordinated a meeting on Sept 20, 2016 with the Howard County Delegation and Merriweather to reduce the sound at Merriweather Post Pavilion and testified at Columbia Association Board meeting as a result of numerous citizen’s complaints on the HCCA listserve.
  • Consulted and assisted the Albeth Community near Turf Valley regarding a Community Enhanced Floating (CEF) Zoning Board case against the proposed development known as Chapelgate.
  • Worked with Council Members to establish and pass CB6-2015 requiring the Department of Planning and Zoning to submit their Technical Staff Reports at least 2 weeks prior to Agency Hearings next scheduled.
  • Worked with County Executive Administration and DPZ Staff to ensure written testimony be accepted at Planning Board hearings.
  • Working with Administration and DPZ to allow testimony at Design Advisory Panel Meetings.
  • Meeting quarterly with County Executive’s Office and DPZ to discuss zoning needs, updates and oversight. Quarterly Meetings with the DPZ have assisted several improvements, such as the DPZ providing environmental oversight and their own review of developer environmental expert opinions.
  • Met with Howard County General Hospital President and Staff to discuss adequate facilities for expected service growth needs.
  • Worked with Legislators to enforce CB13-2014 requiring all County Boards and Commissions publicly post minutes and agendas of all open meetings.
  • Coordinated Howard County Delegation meeting via communications with Senator Guy Guzzone and County Executive Allan Kittleman, on Merriweather Post Pavilion Noise complaints, legislation concerns and enforcement issues.
  • President Stu Kohn and Vice President Lisa Markovitz sat on the Adequate Public Facilities Task Force.
  • President Stu Kohn sat on the Mulching Composting and Wood Processing Task force and the Fueling Station Task Force.
  • President Stu Kohn, Representative on the Health Department’s Local Health Improvement Coalition (LHIC) and a member of the Behavioral Health Work Group.
  • Held large community forum on Aging in Place, providing resources to County Residents.
  • Held Annual meeting with guest speakers Steven Snelgrove (Howard County General Hospital) and County Executive Allan Kittleman.

Provided testimony on such subjects as:

  • Testimony to County Council for CB75-2016 and Suggested Amendments – Nov 2016
  • Testimony to County Council Regarding CB65, Development Permits – Sep 2016
  • Testimony to County Council Regarding CB64, HCPSS Financial Audit – Sep 2016
  • Testimony to County Council Regarding CB 59 (ZRA164) Commercial Solar Facilities – Sep 2016
  • Testimony to Planning Board Regarding Amendment to FDP Crescent Neighborhood Phase 1 – Sep 2016
  • Testimony to County Council for CB46-2016 (ZRA-159) Fueling Stations – Jul 2016
  • Testimony to County Council Regarding Affordable Housing in Downtown Columbia – Jul 2016
  • Testimony to Planning Board Regarding Affordable Housing in Downtown Columbia – Apr 2016
  • Opposition to CB2-2016 – Zoning Regulations’ CAC (Corridor Activity Center) – Jan 2016
  • Support for CB55-2015 – BRX/BR Interim Development Act – Jan 2016
  • Support for CB52-2015 – Watershed Protection and Restoration Fee – Jan 2016

To read our testimonies go to http://howardcountyhcca.org/member-info/reports-documents-and-testimonies/.

Working in coalitions with other public interest organizations:

  • In civic coalition and collaboration with common goals with “The People’s Voice, LLC
  • Partnered with the League of Women Voters as a moderator at the Candidate Forums for both the Primary and General Elections.
  • Partnered with the Coalition of Non Profits to continue the Maryland Department Open Government (MDOG) to successfully promote amendments to state law and monitor implementation of amendments to the Maryland Public Information Act.
  • Worked with United Health Workers Union to assist in the Laurel Hospital from closing their full-service facility scheduled for 2018.
  • Worked with communities in Elkridge, Highland, Savage, Woodbine, Oakland Mills and North Laurel to ensure that our quality of life which includes all infrastructures does not deteriorate because of poor planning.

Engaging our elected representatives on issues and legislation of concern to our members:

  • Worked with County Executive to Reduce Noise at Merriweather Post Pavilion by Communicating with the County Executive’s office and Senator Guzzone.
  • Worked with the County Council to recommend a Bill be established which was passed (CB6-2015) to amend the Howard County Code to clarify that the Department of Planning and Zoning is required to send their technical staff reports for any petitions considered by the Zoning Board, County Council, Planning Board, Hearing Examiner, or Board of Appeals to the appropriate decision making body and the general public at least two weeks prior to the required public hearing or meeting; generally related to the Department of Planning and Zoning’s technical staff reports.
  • Ensured that written testimony would be accepted for all Planning Board meetings.
  • Suggested the Design Advisory Panel allow oral testimony at their meetings.
  • Participated in meetings with County Executive, Chief of Staff, Department Planning and Zoning, Office of Law, and the President of Howard County General Hospital. 

Maintaining an e-mail listserv dialogue for debate of issues:

2015 / 2014 / 2013 Actions:

  • Community Organization Support – Consulted with, networked with, represented and testified on behalf of citizens of Howard County providing advice and support regarding their community concerns. The community organizations include: Albeth Community near Turf Valley (Zoning Board case), New Town (NT), Clarksville (Mortuary), Dayton (Mulching, Composting and Wood Processing), Elkridge (High Density) , Rosa Bonheur Cemetery, Highland (Conditional Use for a Farm), Maple Lawn (Massive Number of Apartments), Savage (Excessive Growth), Woodbine (Mosque), Oakland Mills (Affordable Housing and School Concerns), and North Laurel (Uncontrollable Growth).  We are also working in civic coalition with The People’s Voice.
  • APFO – Promoting the revision and expansion of the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO).  HCCA has two Board members on the County Executive’s APFO Task Force
  • Town Hall Event – In April, 2014 HCCA held a Citizens Speak, Officials Respond, Candidates Listen Town Hall Meeting.  This forum allowed several community members to voice their questions and concerns to representatives in our county able to take active steps to address them.  Find out more about the questions on citizens’ minds here.
  • Candidates Forums – The HCCA sponsored a candidates forum in May 2014 and partnered with the League of Women’s Voters (LWV) Candidate’s on their spring and fall candidates forums serving as moderators at both LWV forums.
  • Newtown Columbia – The HCCA took action action to urge officials to take steps to preserve the features of Columbia that support a great quality of life.  Information regarding the Newtown initiative is posted here.
  • Aging in Howard CountyConducted a very successful “Aging in Place” Forum in the Fall of 2013 with the League of Women Voters, the Coordinating Center, and Office of Aging.  Additionally, we are partnering with the Commission on Aging by participating on its Aging Summit Board to improve and ensure strategies are in place to manage our aging population.
  • Established Quarterly Meeting with County Executive Chief of Staff
  • DPZ/DILP County Executive Transition Committee – HCCA Director appointed to serve on this committee.
  • IT County Executive Transition Team – HCCA Director appointed to serve on this team.
  • Task Force to Study Mulching, Composting and Wood Processing – HCCA Director appointed to serve on this Task Force.
  • Working and Coordinating with Communities with Independent Business Organization to promote Fueling Task Force Recommendations.
  • Local Health Improvement Coalition – Over the past several years HCCA Directors have served on this coalition.  Currently represented on the Behavioral Health Work Group & Access to Care.
  • Preserving Snowden River Parkway – Assisting the Independent Business Association in their efforts to ensure Snowden River Parkway remains a planned parkway and does not become another Route 1 or Route 40.
  • The People’s Voice – The HCCA has formed a coalition with the civic arm of this organization with the goal of serving as a joint hub of information to facilitate the dissemination of  information about County issues that affect our quality of life, and to increase transparency and citizen input in government decision-making.
  • Marylanders for Open Government Organization (MDOG) – Became a member of the MDOG at the invitation of the League of Women Voters of Maryland.  The MDOG is comprised of 56 organizations working in partnership to increase government transparency.
  • HCCA Listserv – Through sponsorship of the HCCA listserv, we have continued to provide a venue for citizens to connect with key governmental official and parties of interest across a range of civic issues.
  • Giving Testimony – Testified on many Bills, Resolutions and Conditional Uses in front of the County Council, Planning Board, Hearing Examiner, and Board of Appeals.
  • Notifications re: Technical Staff Reports – Worked with the Council to ensure at a minimum a two-week notification period is given to all cases whenever a Technical Staff Report is issued and applicable regardless of the venue. Thus CB6-2015 was passed by the Council.
  • Referendum – Supported and worked on the Referendum to ensure a fair and more reasonable process regarding some aspects of the Comprehensive Zoning Plan.
  • Worked with County Executive Office – To ensure that all listed Boards and Commissions have their minutes updated on the Howard County website.
  • Beta-testing County Council Website – Assisted County Council Member Jen Terrasa in beta testing the Council’s website.

Activity from Prior Years:

  • 2012 Zoning Advocacy– Due to intensive citizen testimony & suggestions, including multiple meetings, letters, and postings by HCCA members, the Community Enhanced Floating (CEF) Zone Legislation (CB-36-2012) was tabled for one month at the January 7, 2013 Howard County Council Meeting.   As part of the process, Council members called on HCCA to consult with them on recommendations to the proposed bill.  Additionally, the housing allocation chart and the open/closed chart were passed with an HCCA supported amendment, sponsored by Jen Teresa, ensuring that all the growth and revitalization allocations couldn’t go into one area resulting in the overburdening of schools and infrastructure.   Additional details about these significant citizen accomplishments are noted in this post from HCCA president, Cathy Hudson.
  • Livable Homes Tax Credit – With the support of the HCCA and other citizen organizations, on October 1, 2012, the County Council passed Council Bill 28-2012, the “Livable Homes” tax credit.  This legislation provides a 50% tax credit up to $2500 for modifications which make homes more accessible to the elderly.  The modifications  covered by this act include things like widening doorways and installing grab bars, ramps and stair glides.  Check out this article for more information on HCCA’s “Aging in Place” initiative.
  • Shorter Waiting Room Times and Reduced Yellow Alerts – HCCA was instrumental in helping to achieve shorter waiting room times at Howard County General Hospital.  This link  provides additional information on how HCCA was able to shorten waiting times and to reduce the number of “Yellow Alerts” related to ambulance service at Howard County General Hospital. The final report of the HCCA Emergency Room committee can be found here.
  • Road Safety – HCCA networked with SHA and Delegate Guy Guzzone to try and make Route 32 safer by adding the wording “At All Times” regarding the “Mandatory Headlight Signs.”
  • Proper Use of Emergency Rooms & Urgent Care Centers – Recognizing how the public’s lack of information contributed to lengthy emergency room waits, the HCCA sponsored  a public forum on the proper utilization of Emergency Rooms and  Urgent Care Centers.  Additionally, at HCCA suggestion the Health Department posted a list of Urgent Care Centers in the County to their website.
  • PlanHoward 2030 – In order to ensure that citizens were aware of the General Plan process, the HCCA sponsored a public forum to educate citizens on the General Plan and actively participated in testifying on and impacting several provisions of the plan.
  • Presubmission Meetings – Supported a bill initiated by a citizen, Dick Tufts, that helps to improve presubmission meetings.
  • Zoning Enforcement Regulations – Supported a zoning regulation amendment (ZRA) that was initiated by a citizen, Ralph Ballman, clarifying zoning enforcement regulations.
  • Earthquake Procedures – Communicated with Dr. Peter Beilenson, Director of Howard County Health Department, to post earthquake procedures on their website.