Every 10 years, each county in Maryland is required to develop a general growth plan that provides a big-picture vision about the long-term future of the county. In Howard County, that process is happening now. The new General Plan under development - called HoCo by Design - will establish clear policies on how and where the County will develop and grow as it adjusts to evolving economic, environmental, and social conditions. Upon adoption, the plan will present community-developed preferences towards growth, development, and conservation. The plan will guide current and future county leaders in making decisions that will be highly impactful on our quality of life, amenities, taxes, jobs, schools, and the local economy for the upcoming decade.
This is a big deal. And it's important that the general plan reflects the will of us Howard County citizens. The good news is that public input is an essential part in the creation of the plan. Our voices matter. And our time to provide that input is now. The county has set-up a number of ways to obtain feedback and encourage public engagement on the plan. There are and will be online dialogues, small-group "On The Table" conversations, webinars, and an all-virtual 3-D interactive workshop set to launch later this month. To stay informed, the public can register on the HoCo By Design website or follow/like HoCo By Design on Facebook.
To assist in public outreach and information gathering efforts, County Executive Calvin Ball assigned members to the Planning Advisory Committee earlier this week. These members will support the County’s extensive outreach efforts to not only engage the public in the planning process, but also share ideas based on members’ experiences, geographic regions they represent and subject matter expertise.
In the press release announcing the members on the advisory committee, Dr. Ball is quoted that “It is imperative that we engage as many Howard County residents and stakeholders in this process as possible so that your voices are heard on how you want to see your community evolve. Now is the time to get involved,” said Ball. “The County’s centrally located position between the Baltimore and Washington DC regions, its exceptional public-school system, competitive job market and numerous community amenities have made the County a highly desirable place to live.”
One of the goals of this blog is to inspire people to take action to make our community a better place to live. Participating in the HoCo by Design process is low-barrier way to participate in civic engagement and help ensure that the issues and topics that are important to you are heard and put into action by our local government. As part of the feedback process, the public will be asked to provide feedback on big picture questions like: What do you like best about Howard County? What could be better? What are your hopes for the future of Howard County? What challenges do we face?
The answers to these questions will help the county develop a unified vision that will guide specific items like the the Downtown Columbia master plan, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, the amount, type and affordability of new housing construction, climate considerations, and how best to use and/or conserve our increasingly scare land over the coming years. These decisions can help ensure a vibrant economy, equity for all residents, and a resilient environment for our future.
If you are interested in learning more about HoCo by Design, you can take some time to browse the website. Further, the county is hosting BYOQ! Bring Your Own Questions meetings at both 4 PM (Register HERE) and 7:30 PM (Register HERE) on Wednesday October 21st that provide an opportunity to meet the consultants, hear project updates, and offer input to HoCo By Design.