Agriburbia–are we already there?

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This Utne Reader article describes what may be a subdivision trend–designing residential neighborhods integral to farms.

New developments in Chicago, Atlanta, and Colorado are moving beyond community gardens and contracting with farmers to run and manage the farm next door. And as the article points out, there is the potential for conflict, “pesticide drift,” etc. This is why we zoned in the first place, to separate percieved noxious uses, and even though these residents will be a self-selected group ready to get their hands dirty, fresh tomatos are one thing, manure is quite another. When you look at the websites, there is a definite “people like us” vibe that makes you wonder if agriburbia is the green equivalent of a gated community.

But … Continue reading

EPA: “Do what I say, not what I do.”

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A couple years ago, the EPA published a very concise, well-conceived, and practical guide for municipalities to turn smart-growth principles into regulations. Titled “Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes“,the publication outlines 11 “fixes”:

Allow or Require Mixed-Use Zones Use Urban Dimensions in Urban Places Rein in and Reform the Use of Planned Unit Developments Fix Parking Requirements [more on this in an upcoming blog] Increase Density and Intensity in Centers Modernize Street Standards Enact Standards to Foster Walkable Places Designate and Support Preferred Growth Areas and Development Sites Use Green Infrastructure to Manage Stormwater Adopt Smart Annexation Policies Encourage Appropriate Development Densities on The Edge

Of course, as partners with HUD and DOT in the … Continue reading

Farming Montgomery

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The recent U.S. Census shows that the average age of farmers is rising across the country as well as in Montgomery County. The EPA notes, “As the U.S. farm population has dwindled, the average age of farmers continues to rise. In fact, about forty percent of the farmers in this country are 55 years old or older (Bureau of Labor Statistics). The graying of the farm population has led to concerns about the long-term health of family farms as an American institution.”

But as other groups and media have observed, change may be afoot. The New York Times has tagged the increase in young hipster farmers in Oregon as a trend. And they find that young farmers across the … Continue reading

Bethesda Green Eats, Follow-Up

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Bethesda Green’s TEDx meet-up on Changing the Way We Eat drew local farmers and food innovators. You can read Bethesda Green’s report here and watch the speakers as well.

Bethesda Green, TEDx, and Your Dinner

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Bethesda Green sponsored a TEDx meet up this past Saturday on “Changing the Way We Eat,” and although the speakers were based in New York, the local viewers took time to introduce themselves and their efforts in local food and to discuss the potential for local food in Montgomery County.

 

So after Laurie David talked about the importance of family dinner and Carolyn Steele’s TED talk about How Food Shapes our Cities, we heard from Mike Kennedy, a board member of the innovative model Fox Haven Farm, from Kristina Bostick who works with Montgomery Countryside Alliance to make the County’s Agricultural Reserve into a food porducing resource, and Greg Glenn of Rocklands Farm, which is starting out with … Continue reading

Zoning solutions, part 2: Mixed-use zones

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Yesterday, I discussed the potential zone restructuring in the Montgomery County zoning rewrite. The series continues today with an overview of our thoughts on the mixed-use and commercial areas of the county.

Zoning solutions, part 1: Restructuring zones

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This week, we continue the series looking at Montgomery County’s zoning code rewrite. Montgomery has 120 zones, more than double the number of any other county in the region, and creating an untenable situation.

Positively Parking (Part 1 of 3)

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A lot of attention has been paid recently to parking.  The National Building Museum has an exhibit that closes in a couple of weeks.  Herzog and DeMeuron has their new disco garage in Miami, 1111 Lincoln Road.  Trenton, NJ, has a new scheme afoot.

Last month the International Parking Institute announced their 2010 design awards (bigger pictures available on ArchDaily).  Among the winners is part of the recent expansion of the Towson Town Center Mall north of Baltimore.  And while the street activation there is probably mostly still indoors, the project shows a successful integration of retail and parking.

The primary facade, as it were, holds the corner of Dulaney Valley Road and Fairmount Avenue, on what used to … Continue reading

Montgomery’s zoning issues, part 3: Complexity & confusion

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Lately, I’ve been discussing the effort to rewrite Montgomery County’s zoning code. Previous installments have covered zones and uses. Today, I discuss issues that make the current code complex and disorganized.

Deficient Definitions

Like most legal documents, the Montgomery County Zoning Code includes a definitions section. But like other parts of our code, this section has also become cluttered and disorganized.

Montgomery’s code includes 25 defined terms that are not used in the text of the code. “Foster home,” “marquee,” and “roof line” all fall into this category; the meaning of each is clear — because they’re defined — but they are never referenced in the code.

Of the multitude of office types listed as permitted uses, only three … Continue reading