The Charette Process

The Ellicott City Master Plan of March 2003 was sanctioned by County Executive James N. Robey's administration, the Zoning Board, the Howard County Council and the Howard County school board. The committee included council member Christopher J. Merdon, former council member Angela Beltram and school board Chairman Courtney Watson, just to name a few of the 55 or 60 participants who spent a lot of time developing their plan.

The purpose of the plan was to provide growth management guidelines for the Ellicott City Master Plan area and to enhance the quality of life there.

A few of us in Columbia recently persuaded our local government to adopt and pay for the charette process that will allow residents concerned about the uncontrolled growth in Howard County to participate, review and provide input into the proposed "dumb growth" master planned by General Growth Properties for the Crescent property adjacent to Merriweather Post Pavilion.

The charette process should also be applied to the Turf Valley development and any other future developments in Howard. Why are the electors who live in the Ellicott City Master Plan area and who have requested a charette for the Turf Valley development being ignored by our elected officials? Are they not entitled to take part in the same input and review process that is being applied to the Crescent property in Columbia?

Why are our local elected officials not following the guidelines spelled out in the 2003 Master Plan? Why is Turf Valley the only project in the county exempt from the adequate public facilities ordinance? The Crescent property is subject to that ordinance. Is General Growth being treated unfairly? Why has there been a 25 percent increase in density for this 689-acre Turf Valley project when there is already congestion on the surrounding major and minor arteries around the development? Why hasn't the developer of Turf Valley been required to provide a master plan to the community and our elected government officials?

All the public schools in the Turf Valley area are at least 120 percent over capacity. Every year more portable classrooms are required to house students in our crowded public schools. Portable classrooms do not enhance the quality of life for our students.

James Rouse was not given a blank check to develop Columbia. How did Louis Mangione, the developer of Turf Valley, acquire a blank check to develop his project? Our elected officials have abused the community's trust and exceeded the authority delegated to them. Our elected officials have cleverly manipulated the zoning system and the school charting system for the past seven years.

Harry Dunbar

Columbia