What is New Town Planning?
In 2020, Howard County started the process of rewriting its General Plan. Ultimately, this General Plan will set the stage for county-wide Comprehensive Rezoning in the coming years. Several elements focus specifically on what’s known as the New Town Development Process, which guides zoning in Columbia and helps preserve the community’s unique character.
As a major stakeholder in this process, it is necessary that Columbia Association (CA) leadership understand the planning vision that shaped the founding of Columbia, have knowledge of modern planning principles and practices that are effective in established master planned communities today and a readiness to apply these concepts to the Columbia community where appropriate. In order to move Columbia forward into the future, it is important to build a consensus among CA’s leadership as to what makes Columbia a desirable community, as well as identify where change is needed.
A Vision For Columbia: Consultant Process and Final Report
We here at CA are constantly reevaluating best development practices and ways to maintain Columbia’s character through community planning. Considering that objective, CA hired a consultant team to lead a series of work sessions with our Board of Directors and village representatives. This process was aimed at educating those involved and facilitating discussions about overarching planning priorities. Specifically, the consultants reviewed principles that were applied in the creation of master planned communities across the county, as well as reviewing those aimed to preserve those communities. You can access the recorded sessions on our YouTube page.
The result of these sessions was a report that summarizes the hard work with those who participated. That report provides a comprehensive reflection of the priorities that were discussed by the group and lays out potential next steps for the Board and CA staff to consider when it comes to the General Plan and other important planning processes.
This process that lasted over several months created opportunities for all participants to translate the things that make the Columbia community such a wonderful place into strategic priorities. This document is meant to frame what participants voiced as strategic priorities for planning decisions and advocacy and suggest next steps for CA to consider. It is an important step for CA to move towards development of its position within the Howard County General Plan Update process. CA remains steadfast in its commitment to advocating for Columbia as important decisions are made at the county level that directly affect our community. This report is another tool in that effort. More than anything we hope this exercise sparks even more meaningful conversation as CA continues the work of ensuring that those unique elements of Columbia are preserved while we continue to grow in meaningful ways that enhance our quality of life.