Way..... Out there !

Way..... Out there !
Deepest, most colorful Hubble image yet of our universe. Click for info.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Landscaping Committee First Meeting

The Hallmark Woods Entrance Landscaping Committee is scheduled to have its first, albeit brief, meeting Thursday, 26 June 2008, at 7 p.m. at 2161 Hallmark Drive (the McClurgs' house).  This will be, I think, mainly an organizational meeting for the approximately eight volunteers.  

We will have plenty of work to do:  in brief, the committee will need to look closely at the existing entrance landscaping and consider what changes, if any, should be made;  even more importantly, it will need to make a strong effort to both inform the entire Hallmark Woods community of the project and solicit the homeowners' preferences for the entrance area.  With any luck, this will lead to several finished proposals for going forward which will be presented at a community meeting this fall. Then, the HW residents can choose which to actually implement. 

Of course, all this is my own prognostication.* What actually happens will be up to the committee members and the community response the effort receives – or the lack of it. Since this is our community's front door, we're hoping people will respond with enthusiasm!  I'll keep you posted. 

John Ludwigson

* As a first step, we agreed to meet on Sunday morning, 29 June, at 10 a.m. at the entrance for an on-scene discussion of the possibilities and problems. You are welcome to join us there – all our meetings will be open to members of the Hallmark Woods community.  JL

Monday, June 23, 2008

Staples Corner Urban Design Meeting

A large crowd – more than usual for such meetings according to the Planning officials – turned out to listen and offer their concerns and advice at the first project meeting for the Staples Corner urban design project. In all it looked like more than 100 people crowded the media center (library) at Crofton Middle School on Wednesday, June 18, at 7 pm.

A few points stood out:

• The county planners are not considering recasting the area for big box stores (think Wal-Mart) or hi-rise office or apartment buildings, they repeatedly assured us. The intent is for Staples Corner to remain low-key commercial as it is now, but make it more accessible and safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. The planners refer to it as a "village center" concept.

• Reno's Restaurant has a lot of fans in the area! People kept coming back to this – that the restaurant is a community center, beloved by local residents, and must continue to be a part of the area. The planning officials seemed to agree.

• A traffic circle or roundabout brought mixed reactions: about half the audience seemed to think they're the solution to the traffic problems of such intersections; the other half thought they would be a disaster that would only contribute to congestion and rush hour backups. The planners said they needed more time to analyze their data on traffic patterns and come up with possibly workable solutions. Everyone agreed that the ever-increasing traffic at Staples Corner is dangerous (especially for anyone on foot) and maddeningly slow at some times such as evening rush hour and when the Renaissance Festival is open in the fall.

Two more community meetings are planned: the next to be on transportation issues (the traffic analysis and consideration of various possibilities including mass transit); and then one on urban design concepts when these are fully developed. 

Contact: Lynn Miller, planning administrator; Michael Fox, senior planner; or Kevin Gambrill, community planner  at 410-222-7432  (Office of Planning and Zoning, Long Range Planning)

John L.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Who Me? Partisan?

Today I was going to post a report on the Staples Corner meeting... but that will wait until tomorrow. Tonight I want to add what I think is a great video of Barack Obama explaining himself to Americans who may not have been following the campaigns. It looks like this:


John Ludwigson

Monday, June 16, 2008

Staples Corner Public Hearing — ALERT !!

    The Anne Arundel County Office of Planning will hold a public hearing on their ideas for redeveloping Staples Corner (at Md. routes 424 and 450) this Wednesday, June 18, at 7 pm at Crofton Middle School.  The announcement reads: 

Public Meeting Scheduled

Annapolis, MD (June 6, 2008) - - The Anne Arundel County Office of Planning and Zoning, Long Range Planning Division is beginning work on an Urban Design Study for the Staples Corner area in Crofton. The purpose of the study is to develop a concept plan to enhance the commercial area, create a local activity hub or village center, improve traffic flow, and create an attractive gateway to Crofton.

Input from property owners in the study area as well as local community representatives will be valuable to the process, and we encourage everyone to attend and share their ideas for a creative plan for the area.

WHEN: June 18, 2008 at 7:00 pm

WHERE: Crofton Middle School

2301 Davidsonville Road

Crofton, Maryland 21114

For more information, please contact Lynn Miller at 410-222-7432.

Individuals needing special accommodations must communicate with the contact person at least 7 working days prior to the meeting at the appropriate number, or by e-mail or through the Maryland Relay Service at 7-1-1. All materials are available in an alternative format upon request.

   I have no idea if our HWPOA directors plan to represent our interests at this meeting, but I urge each of you to show up. There's no telling what proposals may come up – huge office buildings, a traffic circle/roundabout...who knows? – but this is one we need to keep an eye on.

John L.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Scurrilous, Underhanded, Evil Political Nonsense

It has come to our attention that a certain video pretending to be honest, moderate advocacy for a political party is actually devious, sneaky, despicable denigration of one party and its wonderful leader, our ever-popular emperor,  Bush II.  Secure in the conviction that people must judge (or enjoy, as the spirit moves you) this bit of dastardly backstabbing for themselves, I offer it here...  

    Please hold the applause: it's the least I can do for my country.  

Should the above Flash video not appear for you, go to I'm Voting Republican.*

Your ever-vigilant moderator, the brown thumb himself...

John L.

* Please note: this post is not sponsored by any recognized political entity, human or otherwise.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Joy of Homeowners Associations...

This past Sunday, the Washington Post Business section included a story on the problems that can arise when homeowners associations lose track of their obligations to serve the members of the communities they represent.  It's a common, all-too-frequent, tale of missed connections and non-responsiveness, worth reading and taking to heart here as well as elsewhere....

As Disputes Escalate, So Can the Legal Bills
By Elizabeth Razzi
Sunday, June 1, 2008; F05

Beware the homeowners association squabble that escalates. Back-fence grousing over parking restrictions, architectural rules or allegations of cronyism can grow into civil war, and homeowners -- the source of all money in the association -- can end up paying big legal bills, no matter which side wins.
One long-running fight in Montgomery County shows why homeowners who serve as directors of their association had better pay strict attention to the details of good governance. People can be surprisingly dogged about how their dues are spent, how elections are held (even for thankless board-of-director jobs), and about how the rules are made, changed and enforced.
For Jo-Ann Fiscina, a decade-long resident of the Devonshire East Homeowners Association in Rockville, the battle with the board started back in 2005.

The full story is here.

Note that Montgomery County has a useful service for resolving these conflicts. I don't think Anne Arundel County has any such mediation service... but it should.  Maybe if we contacted our county legislators?

John Ludwigson