Thursday, March 15, 2007

Blandair: Not Meant to be Parkland

Blandair is the huge undeveloped patch of land that separates Oakland Mills from Long Reach. This was always meant for development by the Rouse Company but the property owner simply wouldn't sell. The state had to acquire the land to build Route 175 through the property but still no dice for the Rouse Company. Now that the land owner is dead and the county has ownership of the land the development of the land can finally proceed right? Wrong, some busy body thought it would be a good idea to turn the whole area on both sides of route 175 and both sides of Oakland Mills Road. The idea of turning the area into a park was met lovingly with arms wide open on both sides of the aisle. There was and is one person who wasn't and isn't so keen on the idea of yet another park that drains the county and/or the Columbia Association of its precious resources. That one person is me in case you haven't figured it out yet.
How could the land this land help its surrounding communities rather than take from them? Now we've established that the county owns this land right? Right,now the county just like any other jurisdiction is stretched very thin financially right? Right, the land here is very valuable right? Right, so why doesn't the county just sell the land and make a whole lot of money that could be better invested in Columbia's ever aging schools? Because it makes too much sense that's why. Downtown Columbia is slated to be redeveloped with high density apartments and condos so this piece of land would be better suited for single family detached dwellings. I'm sure you may be asking yourselves how can a huge development of single family homes be beneficial to East Columbia? That's easy, new residents equal more tax dollars and in this case more CA lien dollars. More middle to upper income families (the population of this new development) equals louder voices in when it comes to capital funding for their public schools and fatter PTA banks accounts for the schools this community will serve Talbott Springs Elementary, Oakland Mills Middle and High schools. More residents equals more business for the struggling Oakland Mills Village Center. Also the property values of existing homes will go up giving home owners the opportunity to take out home equity loans to improve the appearance of their homes.

If you see this land as a catalyst development for East Columbia please do what I will certainly do, Tell your County Council member and maybe just maybe this be developed into housing just like Rouse Intended it to be.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rouse Didn't Say Let There Be Light

Well that's not entirely true but his vision of Columbia did not involve an excessive use of street lighting or neon lighting at all. In single family homes the builders and home owners were required to their own outside light on a post in lieu of traditional street lights. This can be seen along Green Mountain Circle.Eventually homes didn't have these lights anymore but still there was little traditional street lighting to be found. The Village Centers also had and still have very little lighting. Usually in retail strip centers the signs for the businesses are lit up for road visibility, not in Columbia. Storefronts originally faced inward to create a European village courtyard theme. This ultimately didn't work because of visibility. Many of the Village Canters have been renovated into more traditional strip centers or are now in the process of doing so.

Today the need for additional lighting is in greater demand than it was back in the 1960s while Columbia was in its planning stages. Village main streets like Tamar Drive, Harpers Farm Road, Twin Rivers Road, and Cradlerock Way have benefited from additional and more adequate lighting. However, one turn off of these streets and you will be in the dark. Here are some neighborhood streets and their cul de sacs that should all have more street and pathway lighting. They include but are not limited to Green Mountain Circle and Windstream Drive in Bryant Woods, Faulkner Ridge Circle in Faulkner Ridge, West Running Brook Road, Ten Mills Road, and Columbia Road in Running Brook, Eliots Oak Road and Hesperous Drive in Longfellow, Cedar Lane in Swansfield, Martin Road, Freetown Road, Cedar Lane, and Quarterstaff Road in Clemens Crossing. Hickory Ridge Road in Clarys Forest and Hawthorn, Columbia Road in Dorseys Search. Cradlerock Way in Dasher Green and Elkhorn. Stevens Forest Road, and Thunderhill Road in Oakland Mills. Phelps Luck Drive and High Tor Hill in Phelps Luck.

Rouse may not have said let there be light then, but he'd say it now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

River Hill Pedestrian Plan

Now this one is easy. As Columbia's newest village nothing is older than 15 years.
I have watched this grow from birth to its present form. River Hill like Hickory Ridge, Dorsey Search, and Kings Contrivance is not contigious, meaning there are numerous out parcels of land that really isn't a part of the village or Columbia as a whole. This means that residents don't pay the CA lien that Columbia residents do. These parcels could have before the village built around or it was built at either same time or even afterwords. Needless to say the out parcels don't have the Colmbia amenities like shared mail boxes, pathways, or sidewalks. They also have more freedom to make changes to their homes as they please without appealing to their village board. Now in River Hill there are such parcels that need some of these amenities mainly sidewalks and additional lighting. Trotter Road needs sidewalks as does South Trotter Road, Walter Scott outparcel, Pointers Overlook, and Clarks Glen. Guilford Road needs both sidewalks and additional lighting as does the stretch of route 108 that covers River Hill's northern border.

Monday, March 12, 2007


I lived in Columbia for 19 of my almost 23 years of existence. The past 4 years I've lived in Ellicott City and I've learned just how special the Columbia Experience is not just for me but for all the 100,000 who call Columbia home. There are many issues involving the future of Downtown and what Jim Rouse would do. Columbia new comers and pioneers alike say they know the answer to the question "What would Jim Rouse Do?" I am not a Columbia pioneer, I was born in 1984 17 years after the formal dedication of Columbia and 21 years after the first 1039 acres of land was purchased by Robert Moxley for the Rouse company. I have spent countless hours reading and researching the history of how Columbia came to fruition and why. I try not to talk much about my personal life but I feel I must. I'm liberal but I'm also pro development, well pro smart growth. There are many parcels of land in Columbia that should be developed both Downtown and tucked away in the other nine Villages. Columbia was a solution to suburban sprawl and without the densifying of Downtown, Columbia would just have contributed to the sprawl. This blog isn't about Downtown it's about Columbia's villages and neighborhoods that may not have aged as well as some may have liked. What follows are my personal opinions regarding the future of said villages. I have always thought big, while others have squabbled about small little details I was thinking of big projects and coming up with predictions of the future and not settling for the status quo.