September 17, 2019

Media Contacts: Scott L. Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – As PlanHoward 2030 moves forward, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced he will expand the PlanHoward Academy, winner of the 2019 Civic Education and Public Information Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). Recognized as an innovative, effective county government program, PlanHoward Academy is a free course designed by the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) to give residents a better understanding of how local planning works, along with information about current planning efforts. PlanHoward Academy is held on the campus of Howard Community College in their centrally located facilities and has graduated 87 residents thus far. Ball has increased the class offerings by 50% in 2020 by adding a third class. The Fall 2019 class will start on October 22nd and residents can sign up here (Class registration will be limited to 40 people).

“Achieving the continued prosperity of Howard County is going to take all of us working together. We are expanding our award-winning PlanHoward Academy to offer more residents interactive opportunities to learn about their community and their government,” said Ball. “I encourage you to apply if you are interested in becoming an informed community leader and passionate about shaping a brighter future for Howard County.”

The classes are held once a week over five consecutive weeks and are taught by a team of County staff from DPZ and Office of Law. The classes include interactive activities, group discussions and take-home exercises. Students who attend the classes receive a certificate at the conclusion of the Academy.

The goal of the PlanHoward Academy is for residents to:

  • Build relationships with planning staff, each other and gather information;
  • Be better informed about the County’s planning efforts;
  • Learn about the land development process, including the growth policy, the role of the general plan, development review, zoning and more;
  • Become ambassadors to educate and inform neighbors;
  • Learn how to access information through DPZ’s interactive map and use web-based tools; and
  • Become part of an informed network of citizens who understand their role in planning and development decisions.

When asked if they would recommend the Academy to others, graduates said…

  • "It was excellent and informative. Please attend to learn more about how zoning works and how you can participate in the decisions that are being made in your own county."
  • "If they want to understand the changes they see around their neighborhood and the county as whole, this is an essential starting point for navigating planning, zoning, and development."
  • "If we want Howard County to continue to be a great place to live, the citizens need to be active, but we need to be informed in order to be active. This course gives a great background to help you act constructively."
  • "Incredible opportunity to learn the ins and outs of matter your current level of knowledge. If you care about development in Howard County, you will learn how to take part in the process and make your voice heard."
  • "If you want to learn more about planning and zoning, about how Howard County's process works, and how you (as a resident) can give input on zoning and other plans - this is the place to come."
  • "It is a great learning experience and a wonderful way to meet others in the community who have similar interest and the outstanding staff who make the county a place where folks can feel heard and appreciated."

For more information, please contact Kristin O’Connor at 410-313-2350. 

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