Howard County has released the draft HoCo By Design general plan update for public review and comment. The draft plan follows a 2.5-year planning process of garnering community engagement.

HoCo By Design provides a vision for how Howard County will develop and grow alongside evolving economic, environmental and social conditions during the next 20 years. The general plan is a requirement of state law and has been updated once each decade since 1960.

Throughout the plan development process, the project team conducted public outreach with formal and informal conversations, online mapping activities, a virtual 3-D interactive workshop, open houses, surveys and public forums. To date, the project team has:
● Received more than 12,000 total comments generated from nearly 1,700 survey responses;
● Facilitated or participated in nearly 100 community meetings, including 28 focus groups with diverse audiences; and
●Distributed more than 81,000 fliers to Howard County residents.

The planning process began in summer 2020 with the adoption of plan guidelines and the creation of a Planning Advisory Committee. The plan builds upon the County’s current general plan, PlanHoward 2030, by advancing policies through a four-pronged approach focused on being more:
● equitable, advancing equity-focused policies;
● predictable, targeting discrete areas for change and providing direction for capital investment;
● sustainable, proposing development of compact mixed-use activity centers; advancing investment in environmental programs; ensuring a fiscally-balanced approach; and
● achievable, presenting specific, measurable and realistic implementing actions.

HoCo By Design’s policies and implementing actions aim to protect natural environment, strengthen economic opportunities, expand transportation options, promote diverse housing choices, prioritize community character, and balance growth and conservation. The plan is complemented by a comprehensive, long-range vision for the Route 1 Corridor: A Plan for Washington Boulevard.

The draft plan and accompanying background documents are available for public review at Residents are encouraged to provide feedback via the website’s comment form through Jan. 16, 2023.

Between December 2022 and February 2023, the plan will be presented to the Spending Affordability Advisory Committee and Planning Board for review. The SAAC will evaluate the assumptions and analysis in the fiscal model that supports the draft plan. The Planning Board will consider HoCo By Design’s goals, policies and implementing actions, and make a recommendation to the County Council regarding its adoption.

Public input will be considered and incorporated into a final plan, which is expected to be presented to the Council for its consideration and final adoption in spring 2023.