Montgomery County Parks and Planning Departments Showcase Accomplishments from 2014 to 2018 in Fall 2018 Semiannual Report

October 17, 2018

fall 2018 semiannual report

Report to Montgomery County Council highlights plans and projects completed over the past four years to reveal progress of visions being realized  

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery Parks and Montgomery Planning Departments, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), presented their Fall 2018 Semiannual Report to the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday, October 16, 2018. The report, available online, showcases key projects, activities and plans for each department from 2014 to 2018 and over the past six months.

View the Fall 2018 Semiannual Report.

Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson introduced the progress report by emphasizing the continuing need for affordable housing, multi-modal transportation and vibrant, urban parks and improved athletic fields.

“We are making progress in these areas with recently approved changes to the moderately priced dwelling unit program, the completion of the Bicycle Master Plan and Parks’ new Energized Public Spaces Plan,” stated Anderson. “Montgomery County remains a sought-after place to live and work, as proven by Marriott’s selection of Bethesda for its future office building and hotel and Amazon’s consideration of the county for its second headquarters.”

Planning Director Gwen Wright reinforced this message, pointing to the influence of the 17 plans and projects completed since 2014 on changing Montgomery County “from parking lots to places.” As Wright noted, “These plans as well as updates to our zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations are helping to transform sprawling suburban areas into compact, mixed-use communities where people can walk and bike to their everyday destinations.”

View the Fall 2018 Semiannual Presentation video from Montgomery Planning.

Director of Parks Mike Riley emphasized the role of the parks activation program, including pop-up parks and new creative events, as a vital component of creating healthy communities. “Through this effort, we are bringing people together and creating new opportunities for community building,” said Director of Parks Mike Riley. “We have also acquired nearly 1,000 acres of new parks and continued our parks improvement projects to provide environmental benefits and recreational opportunities throughout the county.”

Planning Department’s Notable Achievements

The Fall 2018 Semiannual Report highlights the Planning Department’s following accomplishments:

  • Analyzing ways of meeting housing needs across the affordability spectrum through the Rental Housing Study, Missing Middle Housing Study and Study of Housing for Older Adults. The 2017 Rental Housing Study influenced recent legislative changes to the county’s moderately priced dwelling unit (MPDU) program.
  • Expanding the Veirs Mill Corridor Master Plan, MARC Rail Communities Plan, Bicycle Master Plan, Forest Glen/Montgomery Hills Sector Plan and Aspen Hill Vision Zero Study to focus on ways of implementing the county’s policy to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries by 2030. The plans aim to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, slow vehicular traffic and better connect neighborhoods along busy arterial roads.
  • Ensuring economic competitiveness by amending the county zoning ordinance to welcome a signature business headquarters, such as Amazon’s HQ2 project, and meet the needs of a company with 20,000 employees.
  • Strategizing the General Plan update. This seminal planning guide for Montgomery County, the General Plan, was adopted in 1964, revised in 1993 and will be updated in 2019 to reflect demographic, technological and social changes in our communities.
  • Empowering communities to contribute to planning efforts through expanded public outreach and engagement. Tools include interactive comment maps, translation services, social media, graphic recordings of community meetings and other methods.

Department of Parks’ Notable Achievements

The Fall 2018 Semiannual Report highlights the following accomplishments achieved by the Department of Parks:

  • Implementing the county’s Vision Zero policy through improvements to trails and roadways. Construction of new crossings and upgrading of existing ones are underway to ensure safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Finalizing a significant urban park acquisition as recommended in the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan with the purchase of a half-acre property in downtown Bethesda. This parcel will become the Capital Crescent Civic Green Urban Park.
  • Opening the initial six-mile segment of a new trail connecting the Muddy Branch Stream Valley to South Germantown Recreation Park. The project is a partnership with Pepco and the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts.
  • Providing opportunities through the Marye Wells-Harley Dream Scholarship for 15 children to enjoy a Montgomery Parks summer camp in 2018.
  • Launching a speaker series in 2018 to focus on the safety, development and planning of urban parks. Presentations by national and international experts reveal park trends and needs in cities and suburbs.