How does Howard County plan to continue public engagement given health concerns around COVID-19?

    Howard County is committed to providing community services and continuing government operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Planning and Zoning has been working with its national and local consultants to identify industry best-practices to ensure that all stakeholders may participate in HoCo By Design in a meaningful and safe manner.

    To protect public health and safety, the project team will be regularly re-evaluating the HoCo By Design public engagement plan during the pandemic to determine how to best move forward with both virtual and in-person components. The public engagement plan already includes a variety of online opportunities that offer alternatives to in-person activities.

    While the progression of the pandemic will influence what type of engagement can be done and when, the Department is launching a collaborate engagement process that can adapt as circumstances change.

    For more information on how Howard County plans to continue public engagement during the pandemic, refer to our General Plan Guidelines.

    Are surrounding jurisdictions continuing their planning efforts during the pandemic?

    Our neighboring jurisdictions, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, and Anne Arundel County have continued their planning efforts virtually during the pandemic, including General Plan updates and master planning efforts.

    Is a General Plan Required?

    Section 16.801 of the Howard County Code requires that the “Department of Planning and Zoning shall coordinate the preparation and revision of a general plan for the County, including but not limited to a plan for land use and land conservation and multiyear development plans for transportation, public facilities, water, sewerage, parkland, housing, human services and environmental protection. The general plan shall follow general guidelines promulgated by the Planning Board and adopted by the County Council.”

    Additionally, the State of Maryland’s Land Use Article requires local jurisdictions to review their comprehensive plans every 10 years and update as needed.

    What is included in a General Plan?

    A General Plan includes demographic and population projections and assesses capacity to accommodate changes and growth. It evaluates demands on roads, schools, utilities, parks, housing, and other infrastructure and develops strategies to meet projected deficiencies. It anticipates how growth impacts community facilities and the environment and identifies areas where growth occurs. The State of Maryland provides a framework that suggests the following elements be included or addressed in General Plan policies: Quality of Life and Sustainability, Public Participation, Growth Areas, Community Design, Infrastructure, Transpiration, Housing, Economic Development, Environmental Protection, Resource Conservation, Stewardship, and Implementation.

    How will my input be used?

    Your input is critical to ensuring the General Plan reflects a collective vision for the future and addresses the needs of the community.  The HoCo by Design public engagement activities will give the community the opportunity to brainstorm, debate and discuss the various issues that are addressed in a General Plan.  Agreed upon priorities and values will be reflected throughout the plan and will help inform plan policies and recommendations.

    How can I get involved and stay informed?

    Sign up for the latest HoCo By Design updates and developments.

    Why am I required to register?

    Registering with the website will give you full access to all of its content, including online surveys, comments boxes, educational tools and other features.  As a part of the registration, you will be asked to respond to several standard questions. 

    Your responses will help ensure that the HoCo by Design planning process is inclusive and representative of Howard County’s diverse population.  Please know that all information provided will be kept confidential.    

    How does the Land Development Regulations Assessment inform the General Plan Update?

    As noted in the General Guidelines for the HoCo By Design effort, community input from the development regulations assessment helped to identify key areas of inquiry and analysis for the planning process. Review the assessment comment database to see the comments provided through the development regulations assessment.