Planning Themes and Chapters

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HoCo by Design employs a unique approach to frame and present the information in the General Plan. This approach recognizes that the challenges and opportunities facing Howard County often do not fit neatly into individual silos (categories) found in more traditional General Plan documents. Instead, it focuses on overarching planning themes. These themes were formed based on input HoCo By Design received through the public engagement process, feedback from the Planning Advisory Committee, as well as findings from the physical assessment reports.

These themes will become individual chapters in HoCo By Design and have evolved since they were first outlined in early 2021, as described below:

Dynamic Neighborhoods

The Dynamic Neighborhoods chapter provides guidance on maintaining and supporting vibrant living that meets the needs of current and future residents and offers opportunities for a more equitable future for all. The chapter focuses on diversifying housing options throughout the County, increasing housing affordability, creating amenity-rich neighborhoods, improving infrastructure in existing and new neighborhoods, and encouraging a balanced approach to residential development for all income levels and age ranges.

Quality By Design

The Quality By Design chapter celebrates the rich and varied character of Howard County's built and natural environs. Recommendations aim to preserve character in future developments and adopt design standards that are context sensitive for different areas and development opportunities. Historic resource preservation is emphasized as an important contributor to community character and tradition.

Supporting Economic Prosperity

The Supporting Economic Prosperity chapter highlights values, policies and initiatives that continue strengthening Howard County’s position as a self-sustaining, diverse employment center for the region. Key approaches include ensuring a healthy jobs-housing balance, supporting industrial growth, creating opportunities for mixed-use activity centers, supporting modern agriculture, enhancing access to employment training and education, promoting job diversity and supporting businesses large and small so that they can be strong and prosperous in the future.

County in Motion

The County in Motion chapter highlights the need to manage and provide a safe, equitable, and fiscally sustainable transportation system for all users that is responsive to changing local, regional, and national transportation trends, including identifying policies and actions to guide County transportation activities and programs.

Life Outdoors

The Life Outdoors chapter recognizes the distinct appreciation Howard County and its residents have for protecting the environment, including natural areas and farmlands. It also identifies opportunities to deepen Howard County’s commitment to environmental stewardship, create better compatibility between the natural and built environments, and provide needed measures for climate change mitigation and adaptation.


The Project team looks forward to working with all stakeholders to further refine draft planning theme policies throughout 2022.


HoCo by Design employs a unique approach to frame and present the information in the General Plan. This approach recognizes that the challenges and opportunities facing Howard County often do not fit neatly into individual silos (categories) found in more traditional General Plan documents. Instead, it focuses on overarching planning themes. These themes were formed based on input HoCo By Design received through the public engagement process, feedback from the Planning Advisory Committee, as well as findings from the physical assessment reports.

These themes will become individual chapters in HoCo By Design and have evolved since they were first outlined in early 2021, as described below:

Dynamic Neighborhoods

The Dynamic Neighborhoods chapter provides guidance on maintaining and supporting vibrant living that meets the needs of current and future residents and offers opportunities for a more equitable future for all. The chapter focuses on diversifying housing options throughout the County, increasing housing affordability, creating amenity-rich neighborhoods, improving infrastructure in existing and new neighborhoods, and encouraging a balanced approach to residential development for all income levels and age ranges.

Quality By Design

The Quality By Design chapter celebrates the rich and varied character of Howard County's built and natural environs. Recommendations aim to preserve character in future developments and adopt design standards that are context sensitive for different areas and development opportunities. Historic resource preservation is emphasized as an important contributor to community character and tradition.

Supporting Economic Prosperity

The Supporting Economic Prosperity chapter highlights values, policies and initiatives that continue strengthening Howard County’s position as a self-sustaining, diverse employment center for the region. Key approaches include ensuring a healthy jobs-housing balance, supporting industrial growth, creating opportunities for mixed-use activity centers, supporting modern agriculture, enhancing access to employment training and education, promoting job diversity and supporting businesses large and small so that they can be strong and prosperous in the future.

County in Motion

The County in Motion chapter highlights the need to manage and provide a safe, equitable, and fiscally sustainable transportation system for all users that is responsive to changing local, regional, and national transportation trends, including identifying policies and actions to guide County transportation activities and programs.

Life Outdoors

The Life Outdoors chapter recognizes the distinct appreciation Howard County and its residents have for protecting the environment, including natural areas and farmlands. It also identifies opportunities to deepen Howard County’s commitment to environmental stewardship, create better compatibility between the natural and built environments, and provide needed measures for climate change mitigation and adaptation.


The Project team looks forward to working with all stakeholders to further refine draft planning theme policies throughout 2022.


Page last updated: 27 Jul 2022, 01:29 PM