More development could be on its way for established communities in eastern Howard County under a proposed update to the county’s general plan.
This week, officials from the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning began holding open houses for Plan Howard, which will collect public suggestions for an update to the county's general plan.
The proposal is the first update since 2000 and will dictate where growth and development in the county occurs for the next 20 years.
Planners gathered for an open house Monday at the North Laurel Community Center to present the plan, which calls for increased development in established communities in the county, including North Laurel, Columbia, Ellicott City, Savage and Elkridge.
Officials said the plan calls for more focused development in the county while preserving the western rural tier.
“We’re kind of small and we’re running out of land,” said Marsha McLaughlin, director of the Department of Planning and Zoning.
McLaughlin said the plan will focus growth in specific areas in the county, such as the Route 1 corridor. Residents can expect to see more residential and commercial developments in the future along that corridor, she said. Transportation improvements will also be looked at, she added.
“We’re looking to figure out how to build the growth area with rapid transit,” McLaughlin said.
Still, residents said they are skeptical of the new plan that crowds residential development into existing development or brings low-end strip malls to existing communities.
“I’m all for [growth], but how many nail places and strip malls?” asked one North Laurel resident.
McLaughlin said the goal was to improve the appearance of the Route 1 corridor.
But residents said they wanted fewer residential developments along the corridor and more commercial development with anchor stores.
“Right now, the Route 1 corridor is a very controversial topic,” said Bibi Perrotte-Foston, president of the North Laurel Civic Association. “I’d like to see anchor stores.”
The Planning Board will be holding a public hearing on the general plan April 18 at the Banneker Room in the George Howard Building in Ellicott City at 7 p.m.
Another open house event will be held this Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Glenwood Community Center.