Community Planning Process

In 2009, Howard County, Maryland amended its development regulations and established a village redevelopment process, which is described in Council Bill 29-2009. As part of that process, the zoning regulations allow for the development of customized Village Center Community Plans. This new regulation defines a village center as a mixed-use development in New Town District (better known as the town of Columbia) that is designed to be a “community focal point and gathering place for the surrounding village neighborhoods.  The zoning regulation states that a Village Center, of which there are nine in Columbia, should include:
  • An outdoor, public, village green space which has both hardscape and softscape elements and is designed to function as an accessible, primarily pedestrian-oriented promenade connecting the various village center buildings and shall include public seating features.
  • Stores, shops, offices or other commercial uses which provide opportunities to fulfill the day-to-day needs of the village residents such as food stores, specialty stores, service agencies, financial institutions, personal services, medical services and restaurants.
  • Space for community and/or institutional uses.
  • Residential uses, to the extent appropriate to support and enhance, but not overwhelm, other uses in the village.
A Village Center Community Plan (VCCP) provides a community vision that is to be used to help evaluate the appropriateness of Village Center development and/or redevelopment petitions by property owners. A VCCP is defined in the zoning regulations as “an advisory plan that has been developed by the community and endorsed by the Village Board.”

In the fall of 2009 the Harper’s Choice Village Board created a VCCP sub-committee, which was expanded in early 2010 with additional community volunteers to form the Harper’s Choice VCCP Committee that has now been working on this effort for over two years.  The intended out coming is a community driven plan that will lay out the community’s long term vision and goals for the Village Center and guide the appropriateness of future Village Center development/redevelopment.
The final plan will be submitted to the County’s Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ). In the future, at the time when a developer submits a redevelopment petition to the county, the DPZ can reference the VCCP and the Village Board is permitted to submit a written Community Response Document to comment on the proposal that includes a statement of whether the petition is in harmony with an existing VCCP.

The following is the process that will be followed at the time of a petition for redevelopment: