13 February 2008

An Unprecedented Victory

Yes, the primaries last night did provide wins for Barak Obama and John McCain, but the big story last night was that Uno, a beagle, won the Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show at Madison Square Garden Last night. This is the first time that a Beagle has won Best in Show in the history of the event. When asked for comment, Boomer, the official beagle of casa de Santos, said ROWRRWWRRRWWRR!


12 February 2008

Primary Observation

My son and I made our usual trek to daycare this morning underneath a subfreezing oatmeal sky. We were both a bit sleepy, so we opted for the Sirius satellite radio kids music channel this morning to ease us into the day. Rolling from west to east, we listened to the Dora the Explorer theme song and the Winnie the Pooh theme song. The commercialism was starting to get to me, but with my finger hovering above the radio button, on came Debi Derryberry’s rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” as we passed Thunder Hill Road on Rt. 108.

I know my son has heard the song before, I started singing, and he quickly picked up on the chorus. The car had warmed by then and we were having fun singing and driving. As we passed Howard High School, I noticed a woman, I would guess in her twenties, leaping, jumping and waving while clutching an Obama sign.

There was something that just hit me and made me smile. The folk music, the diffuse morning light, the woman waving her sign. From my brief observation, this woman was dancing with joy. I did not realize it, but I had stopped singing, leaving my son to carry the tune. As we passed the school, my eyes misted over just a little bit, and I heard from the back seat, “C’mon daddy, ‘this land was made for you and me.’” All I could say was, “Yes it is son.”

07 February 2008

CA Board of Directors Violates Bylaws, Watchdog Appear s Silent

The Columbia Association issued a press release yesterday announcing a Special Meeting scheduled for Monday, February 11, 2008:

The Columbia Association (CA) Board of Directors is inviting Columbia residents to attend a public forum on Monday, February 11 to share their thoughts on what background, experience and qualifications the next CA president should possess. The search for CA’s next president will soon begin and the Board is eager to receive community input to aid in creating the job description. Each resident will have three minutes to share their thoughts. The meeting will be held at 7:30pm at CA Headquarters, located at 10221 Wincopin Circle in Columbia.

Currently, this notice has been posted on the CA Website and has also been picked up by the Explore Howard website. A search of the Washington Post, Baltimore Examiner, and Baltimore Sun reveals no notice of this meeting. This is in direct contradiction to meeting notices as spelled out in the Columbia Association Bylaws, Section 2.07(a):

Section 2.07. (a) Notice of Meetings. Except in the case of a closed meeting as provided in paragraph (b) of this Section 2.07, notice of the place and time of every regular meeting and, if time permits, of every special meeting, shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in Columbia, Maryland at least one week prior to such meeting, and may state the business to be transacted thereat.

Given that the press release was issued after 3:30 PM on the afternoon of February 5, 2008, the February 11, 2008 meeting time is less than one week, even considering that it has not been placed in a newspaper as of yet.

Now, to be fair, the section does provide an “if time permits” caveat for Special Meetings. However, the selection of a new CA President is the most important issue this board will face. Public input on this issue is particularly critical, and to provide less notice for the meeting then is spelled out in their by-laws is bad form. I personally do not smell any foul play here, but a rigorous explanation of why a shorter period of notice is the least that the Board of Directors should provide. Even more appropriate would be for the Board of Directors to follow their by-laws and provide proper notice for the meeting.

Lastly, I am concerned that the Alliance for a Better Columbia (ABC) has not said anything on the matter. Granted, the press release is a little over 24-hours old, but in my opinion, ABC typically is quick to respond and loud in volume when CA is perceived to be violating their own rules. The HOA open meeting dust-up of last December comes to mind. I hope that ABC, with their considerable resources, comes out and denounces CA for violating their by-laws. On the other hand, if ABC remains silent, what is the public to think of a group that unevenly applies its voice?

04 February 2008

One of Columbia’s Favorite Sons Endorses Obama

Pulitzer Prize winner and former resident (Longfellow, Phelps Luck) Michael Chabon, provides his perspective on the presidential candidate.

From the editorial pages of the Washington Post today.

03 February 2008

Gettin' Bloggy

With an engaging football game tonight and Super Tuesday Right around the corner, the time to blog has been pretty limited. But I wanted to take a moment to call some features here at the compass to your attention. First off is a new tagging widget called Jiglu. Located over there on the right, this widget automatically searches my blog for different things and people that I have been writing about. It is not perfect (it thinks Kendall Ridge is a person), but if you wanted a quick reference search, its there for you to use.

I am also exploring a few applications that will allow people to rate the comments posted on the blog here. Stay tuned for this to appear in the coming weeks.

In other news, if any of you out there are registered Yahoo or Flickr users, you can now use these ID's when posting comments on blogs. Please refer to this press release.

Talk to you all soon.

01 February 2008

Planning Board Approved most of Wegmans Plan

Last night the Howard County Planning Board held a worksession on the proposed Wegmans site development plan. The discussion, in front of a full house of onlookers, was marked by the serious tone of the board members and the wide range of topics covered. Ultimately, the Planning Board approved the SDP, but refused to allow a 92 foot clock tower.

The basis for denying the tower height lies within an apparent disconnect between New Town Zoning and the height restrictions in the Final Development Plan.

The Howard County Zoning Regulations, Section 125 – New Town District, Part E(4) states:

4. Adjustments to Bulk Regulations for Individual Lots

Upon the request of the owner of a particular lot, the Planning Board may approve parking, setback, height, lot coverage, or other bulk requirements for such lot or parcel which differ from those required by the applicable Final Development Plan, in accordance with the following procedures:

The procedures detail review in a public meeting, required drawings, and part C states:

In addition to the notice for public meetings required by the Planning Board’s Rules of Procedure, the property that is the subject of the application shall be posted with the date, time, and place of the meeting for at least 15 days immediately before the public meeting.

This was contrasted with the text regarding height in the Final Development Plan. The test states (and I am paraphrasing here):

The maximum height limit will be 50 feet, except that height determined by the Planning Board.

So the discussion by Planning Board members oscillated between the Zoning Regs and the Final Development Plan. Was a height limit beyond 50 feet on this lot different from what was required in the Final Development Plan? Ultimately, the Planning Board decided that signs should have been posted to allow a change in height.

So the Site Development Plan has been approved and (at least for now) the clock tower has been dis-allowed. I suppose moving forward, Wegmans will most likely seek building permits for the site. Meanwhile, the Final Development Plan change is on appeal and will be heard by the Howard County Hearing Examiner in the next few weeks.