October 7, 2020
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412
ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, County Executive Calvin Ball announced Planning Advisory Committee members to HoCo By Design, the County’s General Plan.
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. Many have experience in various land use planning issues, such as, agriculture, transportation, housing, historic preservation, environmental conservation and land development and others are community leaders; however, together, make up a diverse and inclusive representation of the County.
“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.”
Howard County has seen many trends over the past ten years that will be considered during the planning process, including:
- Historically Rapid Growth Now Beginning to Slow: The County has had an average annual population growth rate of 1.4% since 2010, the greatest of all jurisdictions in Maryland. However, in the past three years, the growth rate has slowed in Howard County to 1.2% while some other counties have experienced more significant population gains.
- Our Population is Becoming More Diverse: The County has become more racially and ethnically diverse with almost one-quarter of its families speaking a language other than English at home.
- Strong Job Growth in Professional, Business, Education and Health Services Employment Sectors: Jobs in these employment sectors have contributed to more than 55% of the County’s job growth since 2010.
- Our Population is Aging: While the number of residents between the ages of 35 and 54 remained constant, the number of residents aged 20 to 34 increased by 16%, and those aged 55 to 74 increased by 45%.
- Continuing Climate Concerns: Larger and more intense storms are creating the need for improved stormwater infrastructure planning.
“We greatly appreciate the newly appointed PAC members for their time and commitment to Howard County’s future and are looking forward to working with them and the community as we begin to create HoCo By Design,” said Amy Gowan, Director of the Department of Planning & Zoning. “We realize this is a difficult time for the community at large and are offering a number of different engagement activities, at different times of the day, over the next month to hear from the public on land use issues affecting our County.”
While population and jobs continue to grow and change, the amount of undeveloped land is becoming scarcer. As of September 2019, the County estimates that out of its 160,640 acres of land, only 8.6% of it remains undeveloped; this includes greenfield and infill development opportunities. These land constraints have and will continue to cause affordability issues for all the County’s businesses and residents if not comprehensively addressed. According to US Census American Community Survey data (2014-2018), the median home value in Howard County is $448,000, the second highest in the State and the median gross rent is $1,690. High housing costs create barriers for many to live here, including young families and seniors living on a fixed income.
Given the anticipated demands of our growing County and the market forces at play as land becomes scarce, County residents and stakeholders must come together to ensure a vibrant economy, equity for all residents, and a resilient environment for decades to come. While the Planning Advisory Committee will aid with this big task, the County will be offering various other engagement activities to capture every voice and create one vision.
Upcoming HoCo By Design Meetings and Activities
1. BYOQ! Bring Your Own Questions: These meetings are an opportunity to meet the consultants, hear project updates, and offer input for HoCo By Design. Sign up by clicking on the link below to virtually attend one of the meetings.
Wednesday, October 21st, 4:00pm – 5:30pm – Register HERE
Wednesday October 21st, 7:30pm – 9:00pm – Register HERE
Both meetings will be live streamed and recorded. Additional information will be posted closer to the meeting dates on www.hocobydesign.com.
2. Planning Advisory Committee Meeting: The first Planning Advisory Committee meeting will be Wednesday, October 14th at 6:00pm. Committee meetings will be held virtually and live streamed for the public to view.
3. Community Ideas Exchange Workshop: An all-virtual 3-D interactive workshop in which participants will be asked to provide input and elaborate on their ideas for the different planning themes, development choices, design considerations, etc. This workshop will be open for a 2-week period 24:7! Anticipated launch date: October 26th
4. Stay Informed: In the meantime, like and follow HoCo By Design on Facebook and register on the HoCo By Design website to receive updates.