Thrive Explained: Complete Communities and 15-Minute Living

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Written by Casey Anderson and Jessica McVary

A compact form of development – discussed in this post on corridor-focused growth – is necessary but not sufficient to ensure the emergence of great places, because a tight development footprint is only the first step. The combination of uses and activities in each of these communities must add up to a cohesive whole, allowing people who live and work there to meet as many of their needs as possible without the need to drive long distances. This combination, which Thrive Montgomery calls, “complete communities,” not only helps to reduce the need for driving but makes these centers of activity more diverse, interesting, and appealing.

Wedges and Corridors and the separation … Continue reading

Compact Growth: Corridor-Focused Development and “The Map”

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As I explained in the previous post, a compact form of development is a pillar of urbanism and Thrive Montgomery’s approach to land use. Now I want to show how Thrive Montgomery applies this idea and how this aspect of urbanist thinking represents continuity with – not a departure from – the Wedges and Corridors plan and the map that gave that plan its name.

Polycentric urbanism and the original Wedges and Corridors map

The Wedges and Corridors map specifies where growth should be focused and what kinds of development should be allowed in different places. It has gone through a series of “refinements” – I’ll discuss some of these changes and why they matter – but here’s the … Continue reading

Public Engagement During a Pandemic

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I’m interrupting our regularly-scheduled programming (explaining Thrive Montgomery 2050) to share some fresh data on public engagement with our agency during COVID-19 along with some thoughts about the use of technology as a tool for participation in government.

Thanks to our crack IT staff, we have continued holding hearings on development applications throughout the pandemic – in fact, we have not cancelled a single Planning Board meeting, delayed any master plans, or stopped any other project.

This chart shows the number of people who participated in Planning Board meetings remotely over the course of the year when COVID-19 restrictions on in-person public gatherings have been in effect and the number who participated in person over the previous twelve months:

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Thrive Explained: What it is and why you should care

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Today the Planning Board finalized its draft of “Thrive Montgomery 2050,” a proposed framework for the physical development of the county over the next three decades. Thrive Montgomery is the first complete overhaul of our community’s comprehensive plan since 1964, so it represents a chance to reconsider fundamental assumptions not simply about the regulation of development but about the nature of planning and what its objectives should be.

This series of posts will outline Thrive Montgomery’s recommendations for the future of land use, transportation and public amenities such as parks, but first I will explain what our proposal is trying – and not trying – to do. Thrive Montgomery is about how ideas that have proven successful in building … Continue reading

The history of land use and planning in Montgomery County

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Montgomery County is one of the most desirable places to live and work in the United States. However, like many other places in the country, we are facing new and different issues and trends. This includes weak wage and job growth, persistent racial and economic inequities, demographic and cultural shifts, technological innovation, and climate change. Some of these issues have been reinforced, or even created, by our past public and private plans and actions.

As we finalize the update to the county’s General Plan, Thrive Montgomery 2050, it is important that we reexamine the county’s planning history to become a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient community. Let’s take a walk through the county’s past 245 years:

Montgomery County was … Continue reading

Thrive Montgomery 2050: How does the COVID-19 pandemic shape our plans for the future?

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For more than a year, we have been working on Thrive Montgomery 2050, an update to the General Plan directing the long-term vision and direction for land use and growth in the county. While public attention is understandably more focused on short-term issues, long-term thinking remains critical to guide how we respond to changes in the future.

From the beginning of the Thrive 2050 planning process, we have emphasized that the plan needs to be flexible and adaptable to a future in which change seems to happen more rapidly than in the past.  Where to do we want to be as a county in five, 10, 30 years? The framework for the plan identifies three key themes as core … Continue reading

Growing Interest: Thrive 2050 Planning Brings Renewed Zest for Connecting People with Local Agriculture, Agritourism

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Do you know where your food is grown or how it is produced? In our increasingly global and digital society, it is possible to consume a variety of foods without considering typical growing seasons or cost of production – all while having everything from almonds to zucchini effortlessly delivered to our doorsteps. This convenience – which many of us enjoy regularly due to our busy schedules – comes with a cost of separating ourselves from the story behind our food. In urban and urbanizing areas, this separation can be even more profound as we do not regularly interact with farming or farmland.

While Montgomery County is increasingly urban, it also has a tremendous resource to connect residents with farming … Continue reading

Keep Montgomery Thriving

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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