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By Natasha Fahim, Tsaiquan Gatling and Atul Sharma

How to design unique places Montgomery County residents will love for generations

Public places are the heart of any thriving community. It’s where we spend time with our family, meet our friends, and experience new things. Without great public places, a community lacks a sense of identity and pride. It is becoming more important that we emphasize creating successful public places, in order to support our communities, as the growth of technology enables many social activities to move from the community onto the internet.

Thrive Montgomery 2050 is a collective community effort to figure out – together – how Montgomery County can be a great community over the next 30 years. … Continue reading

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Young voices on the role of creativity and planning for the future of Montgomery County

Both creativity and planning are needed for visionary efforts. Thrive Montgomery 2050, which will create a vision for future growth in the county over the next 30 years, is one such effort Montgomery Planning is undertaking.

Creativity allows us to travel forward in time to imagine what the future could look like. It gives shape and vision to our thoughts and ideas. Planning enables us to realize our dreams. Through careful planning, we can create the foundations upon which our creative ideas can come to life.

Montgomery Planning is collaborating with groups that have creative ideas—big and small—about the future of our county. Since … Continue reading

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By Katie Mencarini and David Anspacher

Believe it or not, if you’re reading this, you are probably an expert on Montgomery County transportation! Whether you drive to work, ride on a commuter bus, walk to the dry cleaners or bike to school, you know what is and isn’t working, and you have ideas about how to improve the situation. What you might not know is how to communicate those ideas effectively to a transportation planner. We can help. Read on as we cover some of the most common transportation planning terms and tell why they matter.

Most trips people make aren’t for pleasure; they are to get to places. Accessibility is the main way transportation planners describe how many … Continue reading

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Fears of robots replacing humans are overblown. A diverse and adaptable economy is key to keeping Montgomery County competitive and equitable.

There has been no shortage of foreboding warnings in the media about the economic and social dangers posed by robots and artificial intelligence technologies. With titles like “The Robots are Coming,” “The Rise of the Robots” and “The Robocalypse,” this coverage has sparked collective anxiety over the future of work and whether human labor will eventually be displaced in an automated economy.

However, technology is not destiny. With thoughtful, proactive planning, the harmful consequences of 21st century technology can be avoided and opportunities for increasing fulfillment at work, income equity and quality of life can be seized.

This … Continue reading

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A walk around Silver Spring reveals the need to make streets and sidewalks easier to navigate for people with mobility challenges

What if you had to experience a mobility challenge? Maybe you suddenly become injured and must use crutches or a cane or perhaps you have a life-long mobility challenge where rolling is the only option instead of walking. If that happens, you may start to notice that those sidewalks and crossings you took for granted are not so accessible. Places you could comfortably travel to are now a challenge or even impossible to reach.

You might be familiar with the Standards for Accessible Design, made enforceable by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), that are required for all … Continue reading

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An independent panel of five experts chose the winners of the 2019 Design Excellence Awards competition

For the fourth time, the Design Excellence Awards will celebrate the best of the best in design throughout Montgomery County. Selections of the 2019 winners were made in July by an independent jury of highly skilled, nationally recognized design professionals from across various creative fields.

This year’s five judges come from all different facets of design and have worked on notable projects across our region, from the Wharf in Southwest DC to new hotel and office towers in downtown Bethesda. The jurors were selected by Montgomery Planning, but made their decisions independently of the agency.

This year’s Design Excellence winners will be … Continue reading

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Thrive Week kicked off Thrive Montgomery 2050 with five events held over five days, asking community members how they imagine the future of the county

 

What does your future look like? And how does the community where you live, work and play support your vision for tomorrow?

Continuing social, environmental, technological, demographic and economic changes over the next few decades necessitate revisions to Montgomery County’s guiding framework for growth, called the General Plan.

As Montgomery Planning begins work on this plan update, we’re asking for the community’s help to ensure that the county remains a vibrant, verdant and welcoming place — with an innovative economy — where all can thrive. The first stage of this effort to update … Continue reading

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The 2019 awards will honor multifamily housing along with top-quality buildings, public spaces and landscapes in the county

Design excellence requires balancing the functional goals and artistic vision of a building, a space or a landscape to serve and inspire people. In Montgomery County, design excellence is about elevating architecture and urban design to make the mundane more compelling and create streetscapes and spaces that enhance human interaction in rural, suburban and urban settings.

Design excellence is becoming increasingly important in Montgomery County as available land for development is shrinking, densities in our centers are increasing and the need for attractive buildings, parks and public spaces. Quality design is now more urgent as competition for the best and brightest … Continue reading

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Five sessions at the American Planning Association’s national conference highlight county plans for parks, bikes, traffic safety, placemaking and community resilience

“Planning Connects Us” was the theme of the American Planning Association’s national conference, held from April 13 through April 16, 2019 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. At the event, Montgomery Planning staff connected with planners from across the country in discussing shared concerns over equity, placemaking, traffic safety and other hot topics.

We continue to be out front on many important issues, as revealed in our five sessions at the conference. Staff received great feedback from many of the attendees who traveled to the City on the Bay to learn about the planning profession’s latest trends … Continue reading

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By Paul Mortensen and Njillan Sarre

Called backyard cottages or granny flats, accessory dwelling units can help remedy our housing shortage

The Montgomery County Council is in the process of considering changes to the existing laws that allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs). These secondary housing units are located on the same lot as an owner-occupied single-family home. They are significantly smaller than the main house and can be a stand-alone structure in the backyard, a basement apartment, an addition or an apartment over the garage. ADUs go by many names, such as accessory apartments, backyard cottages or granny flats, among others.

Under current law, homeowners in Montgomery County who want to have an ADU face several restrictions. A detached … Continue reading