Today, County Executive Calvin Ball launched the planning process for Howard County’s next General Plan, “HoCo By Design.” Last night, the Howard County Council adopted the General Plan Guidelines to be used by the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) in the preparation and revision of the General Plan. The General Plan is the comprehensive long-range plan for all of Howard County. It establishes policies on how and where the County will develop and grow in response to evolving economic, environmental, and social conditions. The General Plan is also the basis for land use decisions made by the Planning Board, County Council, and Zoning Board and informs County plans, policies, regulations and budgets. 

“In response to community concerns about current land use regulations, we’ve accelerated the schedule to update the General Plan,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “The HoCo By Design General Plan Guidelines provide a roadmap for engaging stakeholders, highlighting the value of data-informed decision making, and providing transparency to the community throughout the process. HoCo By Design has one of the most robust public engagement plans the County has ever launched associated with a planning process and we strongly urge all members of the community to work with us on this exciting opportunity to guide Howard County’s future.”  

In Howard County, General Plans are updated approximately once every 10 years. The last update, PlanHoward 2030, was adopted in 2012. HoCo By Design will establish goals for land use over the next 20 years and will identify areas for the County to preserve, enhance, transform and strengthen. It will also form the basis for future regulations on development. The General Plan update is currently scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2021.   

“Updating the General Plan is an educational and collaborative effort that encourages everyone – residents, organizations, institutions, non-profits and the business community – to look forward. We have also assembled a consultant team of local and national experts in areas of transportation, environment, agriculture, economic and market analysis, urban planning and design,” said Amy Gowan, Director of DPZ. “As this process continues to move forward, we look forward to hearing from every resident in Howard County and creating a shared vision of our community.”   

DPZ has engaged a multidisciplinary consultant team led by City Explained, Inc. (CEI) to assist with the general plan update. Based in Charlotte, NC, with an office in Washington, D.C. CEI offers national experience and expertise, along with a process-driven approach combining technical analysis, meaningful public involvement, and creative solutions for realizing a community’s vision. CEI is supported by local and national subconsultants with expertise in community design, transportation, agriculture, demographics, market analysis, and environmental resources.   

Visit www.hocobydesign.com to learn more about the upcoming planning process, register to participate, and share what makes Howard County a special place for you. This webpage will serve as the primary online resource to learn about project status and opportunities for involvement. Over the next 18 months, DPZ will be updating the website as virtual meetings are scheduled and interactive online activities are available. DPZ will monitor the status of COVID-19 and provide in-person opportunities for input as it is safe to do so. 

For questions or information about HoCo By Design, contact community planners Kate Bolinger at kbolinger@howardcountymd.gov or Sarah Latimer at slatimer@howardcountymd.gov.   

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Scott E