a. What is the River Hill Master Plan Committee? The Committee was organized by the Village Board several months ago and is comprised of River Hill residents interested in being proponents for positive future development of the River Hill area.
b. Why are we doing this? We want to have a say in future development. If we don’t speak up, nobody will. We want to be a voice for the interests of the Greater River Hill Community. We believe it is always better to be proactive rather than reactive. The committee gives us a way to be proactive about development.
c. Let me give you some history of this process.-
i. When I first joined village board about 1.5 years ago, the big issue in front of the board was the rezoning of the River Hill Garden Center. The wanted to rezone their property to allow a restaurant to be built. Flash forward to a few months ago. It was announced, that about 1/2 mile south on 108, a proposal was put forth to build a funeral home. Recently, negotiations over the Gateway School site have been ongoing between Howard County and Greenstone Ventures, LLC. Clearly, development is happening in our area, and will continue to happen whether or not we are involved
ii. Meanwhile About 1 year ago CB 29 2009 passed the Howard County Council. This bill provided a method for Village Boards to define the borders of their Village Centers and create a master plan for the development of their Village Centers. The passage of the bill was the perfect incentive for us to get started on our master plan.
iii. River Hill is taking a different focus than many of the Villages. In regards to our Village Center, River Hill has the opposite problem from many villages. Where many village centers are growing old and underutilized, our Village Center is thriving. Where many other village centers are not growing, the area all around us is bustling, with the promise of future development.
iv. We want to create a master plan for this area in order to help development occur in a manner which is mutually positive for the Residents of River Hill, The Business Owners along 108, and all other interested parties.
These are the four issues we will focus on as the master plan is developed. The four issues are:
1. Economic Viability- we want this area to remain successful and viable, especially in the face of competing businesses and growth
2. Connectivity and Circulation - safety and traffic issues
3. Visibility and Signage - environmental and architectural features
4. Design and Land Use Issues - What do you want in the area? Does it meet your day to day needs? What are we lacking, and what do we have too much of. For example, in River Hill, do we have enough banks?
Sorry for the poor quality, but this is an image of the proposed boundaries within the master plan. These are just preliminary boundaries, and are subject to change. The inner red line is what we are defining as the boundary of our Village Center. Additionally, the master plan committee defined a “high impact area” that we would like to focus our plan on. This area is about a 2 mile diameter circle, with the center of the circle in claret hall. The "high impact area" is marked by the circular red line. The high impact area ends just past the intersection of Sheppard Lane and 108 to the north and just past the proposed funeral home and 108 to the south.
Next post: we will start a "Virtual Walking Tour." Members of the committee have taken photos of many of the areas with-in the "high impact area." We will provide details about these areas in the photos, and what we see as the problems.
We will attempt to update this blog regularly to keep the community updated on the progress of the Master Plan. Please remember, we want your feedback. We want your ideas. And we absolutely want your criticism. We are not making this plan for us, rather the plan is for the community. We want to know what the community wants. So please, post any comments, thoughts, or questions! We look forward to hearing from you.