Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Downtown Amendments

The real fun is about to begin. The council is about to amend its proposed legislation for guiding downtown development, and there's already a bunch of changes being considered.

For instance, Amendment A focuses on redevelopment of the Symphony Woods area, including the possibility of a children's theater to go along with a "new and improved" Toby's dinner theater. Some 15,000 new trees would be planted and the central library could be moved and turned into an “Experience Library,” an intellectual, interactive learning center combining visual exhibitions with interesting architecture and typical library elements.”

And then there's an odd mention of Lord Cultural Resources which apparently "has been cultivating partnerships with established cultural institutions outside of Columbia with the intention of developing a presence within Downtown Columbia and possibly, opening a satellite exhibition space.”

Amendment F would turn the mall into its own special neighborhood. We'd be interested to hear from the zoning sleuths what the significance of that might be.

Amendment G says the county wants more streets downtown, and plans to turn the mall ring roads into proper public thoroughfares. Amendment I serves notice that traffic is going to get worse and we should get used to a "higher critical lane volume" than exists for the rest of the county.

Amendment K would allow buildings in certain parts of downtown to be 20 stories tall.

Amendment L is for the bikers. It says General Growth "will complete the first multi-use pathway from Blandair Park on Columbia’s east side, through Oakland Mills Village Center,linking Downtown Columbia, Symphony Woods and Howard Community College and Howard County Hospital on Columbia’s west side. Inclusive in this program will be a renovation of the existing Route 29 bridge to include new decorative guard rails allowing clear sightlines to vehicular traffic, resurfacing of the surfaces, enhanced and decorative lighting, potential video security and other enhancements to assure greater aesthetics and security of path users.”

For a complete rundown of the amendments, Council member Calvin Ball sent this summary out:

Good afternoon,

Thank you for your interest in the redevelopment of Downtown Columbia. Community involvement and feedback is important part of this process and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions regarding Council Bill 58-2009, a General Plan Amendment, and Council Bill 59-2009, a Zoning regulations Amendment.

As you have been following these bills, I would like to take this time to update you on the Amendment process that has been moving forward. I want to make sure you have an opportunity to review the draft amendments below before our upcoming Public hearing.

The Council’s Public Hearing will be held Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at the Board of Education, 10910 Route 108, Ellicott City, MD 21042 at 7:30 p.m. If you are unable to attend, you can also view the session online.

This is the current tabled legislation as amended: Amended_CB58-2009 & Amended_CB59-2009


Draft Amended CB58-Amendment A clarifies language relating to Symphony Woods.

Draft Amended CB59 Amendment B would remove the environmental enhancement options for the replacement of downtown parkland.

Draft Amended CB58 Amendment C clarifies the table of contents of the attachment.

Draft Amended CB58 Amendment D clarifies alternative financing mechanisms.

Draft Amended CB59 Amendment E clarifies phasing.

Draft Amended CB58 Amendment F
clarifies language relating to the Mall.

Draft Amended CB58 Amendment G clarifies a preference for public streets in Downtown.

Draft Amended CB58 Amendment H clarifies that references to General Growth Properties are intended to include its affiliates and any successors, assigns or purchasers.

Draft Amended CB58 Amendment I clarifies critical lane volume requirements.

Draft Amended CB58 Amendment J replaces the existing Downtown Revitalization Phasing Plan found on page 41 with the attached revised Downtown Revitalization Phasing Plan.

Draft Amended CB58 Amendment K changes the maximum building heights

Draft Amended CB58 Amendment L clarifies language relating to bicycle routes and adds language relating to the path between Blandair and Howard County General

Draft Amended CB58 Amendment M adds certain requirements to preserve the former Rouse Company Headquarters building.

Draft Amended CB59 Amendment N makes certain changes to open space preservation and enhancement requirements in order to:

1. Remove certain redundant language;
2. Reorganize certain language;
3. Clarify the nature of future sites for downtown community commons; and
4. Clarify what happens if downtown community commons are identified in excess of the requirement.

Draft Amended CB59 Amendment O clarifies chart compliance determinations

Draft Amended CB58 Amendment P
requires the petitioners for Downtown Revitalization to submit Site Development Plans to the Design Advisory Panel prior to review by the Planning Board.

Draft Amended CB58 Amendment Q replaces the current CEPPA chart with the attached revised chart

This information, including draft amendments, are subject to change. I invite you to visit our Web site for the most up to date information.

As always, please feel free to contact my office at 410-313-2001 if you have questions or comments.

All the best,

Dr. Calvin Ball
Council Member, District 2

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your blog post was dated 20-Jan. Councilperson Ball's notice mentions a 19-Jan public meeting.

One paper's article mentioned the 14 amendments were only made public late last week.

I'd be interested to know - when did you receive the notice from Councilman Ball?

I get the impression public notice/involvement isn't what it needs to be.