New Partnership for Watershed Restoration Launched at Howard Detention Center
A partnership promoting water quality improvement and socioeconomic development has celebrated the opening of a new native plant nursery in Howard County. Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth (READY), a young adult workforce program, has partnered with the Howard County Department of Corrections to establish the nursery at the county’s detention center in Jessup.
READY, administered by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, is managing the garden with seed money from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The project will reduce READY’s need to purchase plants for installation and maintenance of stormwater facilities that move the county toward its federally mandated water quality goals.
While managed by READY, selected work release inmates will tend the garden. They will water, remove weeds, pot plants and monitor the health of plants once the nursery is actively producing.
The READY program, which started five years ago, is funded primarily by Howard County Government. The program, traditionally a summer-only workforce program, has expanded this year and now includes a year-round crew that builds and maintains environmental projects throughout the county. Video from the news conference at the Howard County Detention Center can be viewed at www.facebook.com/HoCoGovExec/videos/1078746818852765.
Hogan Announces $139M Investment to Widen Route 175 at Fort Meade
Gov. Larry Hogan has announced a series of transportation investments in western Anne Arundel County, where significant growth over the past decade has contributed to traffic bottlenecks on Route 175 at Fort Meade.
All told, the Hogan administration has committed $139 million for construction projects to widen more than three miles of Route 175, from Route 295 (the Baltimore-Washington Parkway) to Mapes Road, converting the stretch of road from two lanes to six lanes, and addressing Anne Arundel County’s top transportation priority.
Hogan also announced that design is underway for additional improvements to the Route 175/B-W Parkway interchange. The project ultimately will provide a wider Route 175 bridge that expands the number of lanes from two to six, and reconfigures ramps at the Parkway interchange to include signalized left turns. Construction will include ADA-compliant sidewalks and a shared-use path on Route 175. Funding for this $81.2 million project is part of Hogan’s $1.97 billion investment in highway and bridge improvements that was announced last June. Work is scheduled to begin in fall 2018.
Additionally, Hogan outlined plans for a $43.7 million construction project starting in the fall of 2016 to improve travel along the one-mile stretch of Route 175 from Disney Road to Reece Road. The widening project will ease congestion by converting the two-lane undivided highway to a six-lane divided highway, with a median. A hiker/biker trail and on-road bike facilities are part of these improvements. Work on this project is expected to be completed in spring 2018.
Finally, construction continues to move forward on another key project that will improve access to Fort Meade. The $14.5 million Route 175/Reece Road and the Route 175/Mapes Road intersection improvement projects will add turn and through lanes at both intersections near Fort Meade gates 3 and 4. Construction will be complete in fall 2018 and will include bicycle and pedestrian facilities, a new security fence, and a tree buffer along Fort Meade’s property.
DP Solutions Acquires Choice Technologies
DP Solutions, a Columbia-based information technology services firm, has acquired Choice Technologies, of Hunt Valley. The entities combine for more than 65 years of experience, comprise a workforce of 60 employees and serve hundreds of businesses across the country. DP Solutions views the acquisition as a strategic step in expanding its core strengths in managed network services, cloud hosting and managed backup and disaster recovery, and in obtaining the extended technical and management staff required to meet its growth goals.
DP Solutions now will be able to offer increased resources to support the strategic growth of both companies’ virtual CIO consulting, and managed security and compliance services. The organization will provide enhanced service offerings for all customers and personal growth opportunities for employees.
“The changes this merger brings are exciting and rewarding to both Choice Technologies’ and DP Solutions’ customers, as they will enjoy superior skill sets and an increased depth and breadth of services across all of the key information technology facets that every business needs,” said Simon Tutt, president and CEO of DP Solutions.
The merger process has commenced and is expected to last three months. Upon completion, the new company will retain the name Data Processing Solutions, doing business as DP Solutions, and will operate out of the DP Solutions headquarters, at 9160 Red Branch Road, Suite W-1, Columbia.
Bozzuto’s Sage at Maple Lawn is East Coast’s First Standard All-Geothermal Community
Bozzuto is offering advanced geothermal systems as a standard feature on every home at the new Sage at Maple Lawn community, in Fulton. This is the first time the technology has been used by Bozzuto and is the only community on the East Coast by a production builder to incorporate geothermal systems.
The homes are among the most efficient in the entire region, receiving a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score of 21 upon the installation of solar panels and other features, such as tankless water heaters and electronic vehicle plug-in stations. Measured on a scale of 0–100, and awarded by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET); HERS scores are universally used by builders to score new homes on their energy efficiency; the lower the score, the better.
Comparatively, the average Maryland home of similar size built to 2012 IECC Code has a HERS rating of 60, and nationally, the average American home scores a 63. In addition, the minimum requirement needed for Energy Star certification is a score of 70, making Sage at Maple Lawn homes triple the required efficiency. Every home will be Energy Starr Certified and National Green Building Standard Silver rated.
Compared to a 2012 home of similar size in Maryland, these homes will save the owner more than $1,000 a year in energy costs when the owner selects all of the available energy-efficient options. When compared to a home built just 10 years ago, the savings jump to nearly $2,000 a year. In addition, all purchasers are eligible to receive a one-time $3,000 energy savings tax rebate check, a one-time federal tax credit of 30% of the cost of the geothermal HVAC system and up to $5,000 in property tax reductions for four consecutive years.
Kittleman Signs New Fire Code Legislation
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has signed into law new fire code legislation after the bill was unanimously passed by the Howard County Council. The fire code is developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and enforced locally by the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS).
The code contains comprehensive regulatory guidelines developed through industry research and consensus in areas that include building construction, safety features, inspection, maintenance, hazardous materials and fire department access in an effort to advance fire and life safety protection for the public, property and first responders.
The new fire code includes a hazmat permitting process that requires facilities that handle and store hazardous materials to include an emergency response pre-plan and to undergo annual inspections. There is also a newly created Contractor Portal so that fire alarm and fire suppression system companies can go online and register the systems they service and provide required alarm and sprinkler inspection, testing and maintenance documentation.
In this code, residents no longer will have to apply for a burn permit, but they must adhere to the same guidelines for operating a recreational burn. There is also a provision in the new code that allows HCDFRS to recover operational response costs from an individual when that person is convicted of arson.
This is the first fire code change in Howard County in the last 10 years. The new code goes into effect on June 14.
APF Ordinance Task Force Presents Report to Kittleman
After a comprehensive review spanning 10 months, a task force appointed last June by Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has presented its recommendations for the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) in a 24-page report. The APFO, first adopted by the Howard County Council in 1992, provides a set of guidelines for the construction of schools, roads and other infrastructure in the county.
Kittleman established the APFO Review Task Force through Executive Order because the ordinance had not been closely examined in more than 10 years, and a review was needed to ensure growth did not outpace infrastructure. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest estimates for Maryland released last month, Howard County’s population grew by 1.7% in 2015, making it the fastest-growing county in the state.
During the past 20 years, the number of households in Howard County has increased from 79,260 in 1995 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 passed 18 motions by a two-thirds majority. Notable recommendations include the following:
- Revised schools test that adjusts program capacity and developers’ wait time and imposes a scaled public school facilities surcharge for developers and a new household fee dedicated to public school construction
- Renaming the school system’s Open/Closed Chart the School Capacity Chart
- Requirement to convene a review committee at the conclusion of every General Plan cycle (every 10 years) at a minimum
- Exemption of Moderate Income Housing Units and certain age-restricted units from the allocations test
- Exemption of Downtown Columbia from the 300-unit annual allocation limit for a single elementary school district if the school region within which the school district resides is over 100% capacity
To review the full report and appendices, go to www.howardcountymd.gov/Branches/County-Executive/Adequate-Public-Facilities-report-2015.
Kittleman, Weinstein to Develop Commercial Incentives for Stormwater Management
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and County Councilmember Jon Weinstein have announced the creation of a work group that will develop strategies to incentivize commercial property owners to participate in managing the county’s stormwater runoff.
“I continue to believe that the stormwater fee is an unfair and unnecessary burden on our taxpayers, but I am hopeful that county government can work with the business community to reduce this burden while improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay,” Kittleman said. “The work group’s recommendations will be critical in developing strategies to address the practical implementation challenges related to the stormwater mandate.”
As part of the county’s state-issued Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit, the county has to treat approximately 2,044 impervious acres in the county by the end of December 2019. A significant portion of this impervious acreage exists on commercial property, and currently there is no strong incentive for commercial property owners to complete this stormwater remediation work.
Without the partnership of commercial property owners in managing the county’s stormwater runoff, the county will have difficulty in meeting its MS4 Permit, which would be a violation of the Clean Water Act and lead to considerable financial penalties. The executive order can be found at www.howardcountymd.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=IUhw2UKfCKU%3d&portalid=0.
Bulk Head Brewing to Open New Taproom in May 2016
Bulk Head Brewing Co. will open a new beach-themed taproom in May after receiving a catalyst loan from the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA). The Catalyst Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) loan given to Matthews is for five years and valued at $150,000; it will finance Bulk Head’s interior improvements or acquisition of items such as furniture and fixtures to complete the new taproom and facility.
Bulk Head’s new facility, located in the Oakland Center Business Park off of Old Annapolis Road, Columbia, is 7,200 square feet. The new taproom will be at the front of the facility with 10 taps and a view into the production space. It will allow Bulk Head to eventually expand its current brewing capacity of a 3 bbl system (1 bbl = 31 gal) to a 7 bbl system and higher.
The owner and founder of Bulk Head Brewing, Josh Matthews, began his home-brewing operation in November 2014. Upon finding inspiration for his company name while sitting on a bulkhead in the Sandbridge Beach area of Virginia Beach, Va., Matthews began to sell his beer at two local restaurants.
However, after wholesaling his beers with little return profit, Matthews decided to take a step and open a beach-themed taproom, which will allow him to make enough of a profit to experiment with new beer flavors and to expand his product line. Bulk Head specializes in fruitcentric beers, which include exotic fruits, barks and other ingredient to enhance flavors already given by the hops, malt and yeast.
While Bulk Head does not serve food, there will be a rotation of food trucks stationed outside for patrons to purchase food from to consume inside the taproom. They will also have featured live musicians or bands when available, games like corn hole and, on certain days, will allow patrons to bring their dogs into the taproom.
HCLS Receives International Recognition for Batman Reads! Photo
Howard County Library System (HCLS) received international recognition by Hermes Creative Awards for the cover photo on its 2015 summer issue of source. The photo, Batman Reads!, was awarded the 2016 Platinum Award in the photography portrait/people category. Only 15% of entries win the Platinum Award, the organization’s top honor. The reverse cover of the classes and events guide, Super Kids, received Honorable Mention.
HCLS’s Public Relations team members Christie Lassen, director; Geoff Baker, photographer; and Dennis Wood, assistant photographer; staged and shot the photos to promote last year’s summer reading initiative at HCLS. The late Lenny Robinson, well known in the region for his appearances as Batman at various events in support of children, is featured as the caped crusader in the cover photo.