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County Council Approves Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan at May 25 Session

May 26, 2017

Innovative plan results from more than three years of work and input from many stakeholders, and will create a sustainable and enhanced future for a key county activity center

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SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is proud to announce that the Montgomery County Council approved its Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan on Thursday, May 25, 2017.  The Council voted 8 to 1 in favor of adopting the plan with only Councilmember Mark Elrich opposing the action.

Consult the Council’s resolution for more details about their approval of the plan.

The new Sector Plan is an update to the approved and adopted 1994 Bethesda Central Business District Sector Plan and the 2006 Woodmont Triangle Amendment.

The plan builds on the success of Downtown Bethesda by offering ways to strengthen its centers of activity – Bethesda Row, Wisconsin Avenue corridor, Woodmont Triangle and other established and emerging districts – over the next 20 years. The plan focuses on creating a downtown that is economically sustainable, environmentally sustainable and socially sustainable.

The Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan offers exciting new ways to achieve its goals. An innovative tool that will be employed is a new way of allocating density. The plan assigns heights, but density will be allocated through the Bethesda Overlay Zone and plans will be judged in terms of their contributions to open space, affordable housing and design excellence.

In addition, the plan recommends a high performance area that incentivizes energy-efficient buildings, increased tree canopy and innovative stormwater management in order to create a truly sustainable downtown.

Other recommendations will help create numerous new parks, preserve important community and historic resources, such as the Bethesda Farm Women’s Cooperative Market, and provide more affordable housing in the downtown. Projects will be required to provide a minimum 15 percent of moderately priced dwelling units (MPDUs), not 12.5 percent as is typically required.

New design guidelines for the plan area and specific details about the Bethesda Overlay Zone are now being developed.

For questions or comments about the plan, please contact planner Leslye Howerton at tel. 301-495-4551 or Leslye.Howerton@montgomeryplanning.org.