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Kittleman Reports Progress on Transition Team Recommendations

Three months after receiving recommendations from the 133-member Transition Team, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman highlighted projects in progress and what the next steps will be, based on the team’s input.

Progress was reported on Transition Team recommendations and encompasses the areas of Citizen Services and Housing, Health and Nutrition, Transportation, and Open and Transparent Government. Also, OpenHoward, a new data portal on the county’s web site, was launched in May to make more information easily available to residents. The site displays datasets organized by category, such as public safety, licenses and permits and transportation.

Data collected and made available to the public through OpenHoward is the first phase of a larger initiative called HoCoStat. Future phases of HoCoStat will include analyzing data to heighten accountability and measure outcomes for all county departments and agencies. For residents, that could mean tracking the amount of time it takes to get permits or the efficiency of local bus transportation.

Also, the re-launch of the county’s web site, creating an updated, more consumer- and mobile-friendly design, is underway with a targeted launch date of early 2016. The 25-page Kittleman Transition Team 2015 report can be reviewed at www.howardcountymd.gov/TransitionTeamReport.pdf.

BWI Marshall Accepting Proposals for Hotel, Zagarino Group to Bid

BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport is requesting proposals for the design, development, financing, construction and operation of a full-service, on-site airport hotel that offers direct access to the terminal.

Major international airports in the United States and across the globe provide hotel facilities with easy terminal access. BWI Marshall is seeking a nationally-branded or independent first-class hotel that would connect to the terminal building that would offer between 200 and 250 guest rooms. The facility would include meeting spaces, local food and beverage offerings, an upscale restaurant and other customer amenities.

Lou Zagarino, the former franchisee of the BWI Business District’s Comfort Inn and Sleep Inn, and former owner of The Rose Restaurant — all adjacent properties in North Linthicum — has assembled a development group to bid on building the new hotel. The Maryland Aviation Administration is holding its first meeting with potential suitors on Tuesday, July 7, at the 2.5-acre site, which is adjacent to the BWI Marshall Airport Hourly Garage.

The procurement schedule and other detailed information for interested firms are available in the RFP document (MAA-RFP-15-001). Information is also available via www.newBWIairporthotel.com.

Annapolis Energy Park Proposal Introduced

Mayor Michael Pantelides announced that the Annapolis City Council has accepted the selection of Annapolis Solar Park for the development of the solar segment of the planned Annapolis Renewable Energy Park (AREP). The park will be constructed at the site of the closed and capped Annapolis Landfill, located in the vicinity of Interstate 97, Route 450 and Crownsville Road.

Annapolis Solar Park LLC will develop, build, own, operate and maintain the 16.8-megawatt solar photovoltaic project, converting sunlight into direct current electricity, on approximately 80 acres of closed landfill under a 20-year land-lease. This project, when completed, will be the largest solar project identified by the Environmental Protection Agency exclusively installed on a closed landfill.

“Down the road, the city will investigate other options to expand ways to develop renewable energy,” Pantelides said. “In the meantime, we expect the solar portion of the project to be operational by the end of 2016 and anticipate that it will generate more than $5 million in revenue to the city over the course of the 20-year lease.”

Along with decreasing the city’s operating costs by providing less expensive power to a number of City of Annapolis buildings and paying the city annual rent payments, Annapolis Solar Park LLC is planning to sell electricity to qualified customers in the area.

AREP, throughout its 20-year solar lease with Annapolis Solar Park LLC, is expected to produce approximately 21,822,000 kilowatt-hours of carbon-neutral electricity, an amount that offsets the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 3,168 passenger vehicles, the carbon dioxide emissions of 2,070 homes’ electricity use for one year, or approximately 12.5% of the annual household electricity usage within the City of Annapolis.

It’s Official: VEEP Is Moving to L.A.

“Veep,” the HBO political comedy that stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus that has filmed in Maryland — including interior shots from the long-empty General Electric plant on Snowden River Parkway in Columbia — for the past four years, is moving its production studios from Maryland to Los Angeles after garnering $6.5 million in tax credits from the California Film Commission (CFC).

The CFC announced earlier that “Veep” is one of four television series currently filmed outside California that applied for, and received, tax credits from the state in exchange for its potential relocation. The show will share in $27.6 million in tax credits that were made available under California’s recently expanded tax credit for television and film production.

“After four years and a long deliberation, we have decided to move the production of ‘Veep’ to Los Angeles,” said Cecile Cross-Plummer, an HBO spokesman. “Maryland has been home to many vital HBO projects, from ‘The Corner’ to ‘The Wire’ to ‘Game Change,’ and the support has always been extraordinary. The producers and HBO would like to thank Maryland for making the last four seasons of ‘Veep’ such a success. We look forward to returning with another production in the future.”

State officials say “Veep,” which also filmed in Baltimore and Sykesville, received $13.9 million in tax credits from Maryland during the past three seasons, and that the production company hired 3,069 Maryland residents and used 2,882 businesses.

DCCA Awarded $24 Million Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Data Computer Corporation of America (DCCA), of Ellicott City, was awarded a contract by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide support to the National Level Repository (NLR), which serves as the central system in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) Incentive Payment Program. The contract has a value of $24 million, if all options are exercised.

“The HITECH Act is an important piece of legislation to help drive the adoption of electronic health records (EHR),” said DCCA CEO David Bower. “We have significant past performance in enabling CMS to maintain continuity and increase the focus on software quality and reliability, and look forward to continuing that support.”

The HITECH Act legislation was created in 2009 to stimulate the adoption of EHR and supporting technology in the United States. As it was originally enacted, HITECH stipulated that, beginning in 2011, health care providers would be offered financial incentives for demonstrating “meaningful use” of EHRs until 2015 — after which time penalties may be levied for failing to demonstrate such use.

“Keeping the HITECH/NLR program running efficiently and effectively is our No. 1 priority,” said Bower. “The ability to advance the adoption of EHRs is an important improvement for CMS as an agency, as well as the citizens it serves.”

Kittleman Names Task Force to Review APFO

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman appointed 24 county residents to a new task force to review the county’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO), which has not been closely examined in more than a decade. Kittleman named Diane Mikulis, former chair of the Howard County Board of Education, to head the task force.

“Howard County has grown tremendously over the past two decades,” said Kittleman. “We’ve seen the population grow by 87,000 residents. We’ve added 21 new schools to accommodate more than 16,000 new students. Thousands of additional cars are on the roads. We are committed to preserving our excellent quality of life, which means we have to examine whether we are keeping pace with infrastructure and service needs.”

The task force is considering the planning guidelines that indicate adequate development of school capacity, road capacity, public transportation, housing stock and other public facilities that may be appropriate.

During the past 20 years, the number of households in Howard County has increased from 79,260 in 1995 to 96,680 in 2005 to 110,370 in 2015. The Howard County Public School System reports that student population has grown from 37,547 in 1995 to 54,134 today. Eight county schools presently exceed 110% of their board-approved capacity.

The APFO Review Task Force will meet twice monthly for six months and present recommendations for needed updates and improvements to the county executive by Dec. 1, 2015. APFO Review Task Force meetings, which are open to the public, will be held in the Bel Air Room of the Ascend One Building at 8930 Stanford Boulevard, Columbia.

Bay Bank Moves Headquarters to Columbia Gateway

Bay Bank has moved its corporate headquarters to Columbia, where it also recently opened a new, full-service branch. This news is the latest in a series of recent announcements that reflect a strategic intention to grow the bank’s franchise in the Corridor.

Historically, the bank’s primary geographic footprint has been in the Baltimore metropolitan area; however, a change in strategy has shifted its reach to extend into Howard County and the southern portion of the Corridor. Bay Bank recently added two board members who will be partnering with a team of bankers specifically to support the expansion into Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. Richard Ohnmacht will serve as Corridor market president.

“Howard County has seen tremendous development over the past decade, and moving our corporate headquarters to Columbia is the logical next step for Bay Bank as we continue to seek opportunities for growth,” said Joseph Thomas, president and CEO of Bay Bank. “We’ve always been invested in our local communities, and this location in the heart of the Baltimore Washington Corridor will allow us to better serve entrepreneurs throughout the region.”

The headquarter change results in 14 associates relocating to Columbia and 13 associates remaining in the Lutherville sales offices. With this move, Bay Bank now has 61 full-time employees in the new, 20,427-square-foot headquarters and full-service branch, which are located at 7151 Columbia Gateway Drive.