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Montgomery County Planning Department Celebrates 2016 Accomplishments

December 13, 2016

Top 10 2016
Top 10 achievements include the updated Subdivision Staging Policy, adopted Westbard Sector Plan, award-winning Bike Stress Map and Makeover Montgomery 3 conference

Silver Spring, Md.The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, presents its 2016 Year in Review. This list represents the most significant accomplishments of the year. “We made great strides in 2016 to improve our communities with new policies, plans, research and special programs,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “We plan to continue this momentum in 2017 and expand our outreach efforts to engage more County residents and businesses.”

Montgomery Planning 2016 Year in Review:

  1. Updated Subdivision Staging Policy
    The County Council approved new growth policy regulations in November 2016. Every four years, the Subdivision Staging Policy is updated to incorporate new methodologies related to transportation and school capacity planning. A new multi-modal adequacy test shifts the focus from car travel to person travel. A new annual school test incorporates a hybrid test that combines the current cluster level tests with individual school tests. This hybrid approach evaluates the adequacy of all county public schools and spotlights significantly overcrowded schools. Learn more about the update to the Subdivision Staging Policy.
  2. Advancing New Suburbanism
    Progress on several Master and Sector Plans advanced the goal of creating walkable, mixed-use and connected neighborhoods, even in locations without access to Metro. The Westbard Sector Plan was approved and adopted in May 2016, and the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan and Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan has been transmitted to the County Council. Plans currently in progress include the Rock Spring Master Plan, White Flint 2 Sector Plan, Bicycle Master Plan, MARC Rail Communities Plan for Boyds and Germantown, and the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan.
  1. New Subdivision Regulations
    The County Council approved a comprehensive revision to Chapter 50, the Subdivision Regulations, of the County Code in November 2016. These regulations guide the transfer and subdivision of land within the county, and set a time frame of 120 days for development review and approval that is significantly shorter than the typical process was in the past. A 90-day time limit has been adopted for the review of a record plat application. Other changes include platting exceptions to permit construction and reconstruction of certain detached dwellings, new reviewing standards for preliminary plans and new provisions related to the creation of private roads.
  1. Updated Recreation Guidelines
    The Planning Department has revised the Recreation Guidelines, last adopted in 1992, in response to the County’s demographic changes and need for more varied recreation spaces. New types of facilities are recommended for all age groups to expand recreational opportunities, particularly in more urbanized areas. An interactive web tool developed as part of the guidelines enables applicants to quickly analyze the different options available to meet recreation requirements for private residential development. Review the draft of the Recreation Guidelines.
  2. Bicycle Stress Map
    The purpose of this digital map is to understand impediments to bicycling and to identify the changes that are needed to create a safe, low-stress bicycling environment. Planning Department staff evaluated more than 3,500 miles of county roads and trails to determine the level of stress on each segment and intersection, assigning a value from high stress to low stress. In November 2016, the National Capital Area Chapter of the American Planning Association recognized the Bicycle Stress Map with its 2016 Outstanding Tool Award. Check out the Bicycle Stress Map.
  1. Research and Special Studies
    Moving forward means taking stock of the past. By assessing the difference between a plan’s aspirations and on-the-ground facts, the Master Plan Reality Check study is shedding light on why some plan aspects materialized as envisioned and others did not. The analysis of the 1989 Germantown Master Plan was completed and the study will continue by focusing on Friendship Heights and Fairland. In addition, Planning Department researchers completed the first phase of the countywide Rental Housing Market Study in partnership with the Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The purpose of the study is to identify rental housing issues and needs, and help guarantee long-term affordability of rental housing for a diverse range of households.
  1. Innovative Tools for Public Outreach
    County planners reached out to residents who do not typically participate in the planning process through strategic social media, eletters, videos, Spanish-language presentations and interactive maps. Newly launched, The Third Place blog, referring to shared spaces outside the home and office, raised important issues in order to spark public debate. The web sites for the Planning Department, Department of Parks and Planning Board were redesigned in 2016 to be more accessible and informative. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube!
  2. Second Design Excellence Award
    As the amount of available land in the county for development is shrinking and density is increasing, the design quality of buildings, landscapes and streetscapes is becoming increasingly important. In response, the Planning Department expanded its Design Excellence initiative by staging its second award competition to set an example of high-quality design for architects and developers to follow. The top prize was awarded to the Silver Spring Library in October 2016 at a design celebration co-sponsored with the Potomac Valley chapter of the American Institute of Architects. View the recap of the Celebrate Design event.
  3. Montgomery Modern Bus Tour
    The Planning Department co-sponsored a bus tour of mid-20th-century houses and buildings as part of its ongoing initiative to raise awareness of the county’s modern architectural legacy. The sold-out October event, which was organized with Docomomo-DC and the Potomac Valley chapter of the American Institute of Architects, focused on the work of Deigert and Yerkes, a leading modernist architecture firm in the Washington, DC area. Learn more about Montgomery Modern.
  1. Makeover Montgomery 3 Conference
    The three-day conference, co-sponsored with the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland, drew more than 300 attendees who heard from more than 90 speakers across three topics: the sharing economy, beyond transit-oriented development, and equity and opportunity in the suburbs. Attendees heard presentations focused on innovations and new policy tools and strategies that can help enhance the suburbs, making them more exciting, equitable and attractive. Check out the photos from the MM3 event.

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