Design Workshop Held on October 15 and 16 at Sandy Spring Museum Generated Initial Concepts for Ashton Village Center Sector Plan

October 29, 2019

ashton village plan

Planners will develop a vision and recommendations based on community feedback, focusing on preserving the village character of the business district in Ashton

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, held a two-day community design workshop at the Sandy Spring Museum (17901 Bentley Road, Sandy Spring, MD) to discuss and develop strategies for the Ashton Village Center Sector Plan. The Ashton Village Center Sector Plan covers approximately 125 acres around the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and Olney-Sandy Spring Road (MD 108), and will include land use and zoning recommendations for specific locations within the plan area.

About a dozen participants spent all of October 15 and October 16 at the workshop, and about 50 people attended the evening community meeting on October 16 to hear about the planning concepts generated during the daytime sessions.

On October 15, Montgomery Planning staff briefed attendees on existing conditions and precedents that may be applicable to the plan area. The presentation can be viewed online. Then stakeholders participated in a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threat (SWOT) analysis of the Ashton Village Center. They described strengths as the quiet, small town feeling of Ashton Village, local retail and the potential for reasonably scaled development. Weaknesses included a lack of gathering places and pedestrian accommodations. Go online for the complete SWOT analysis.

During the afternoon of October 15, officials from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration and Montgomery County Department of Transportation led a walk audit of MD 108 from the Sandy Spring Museum to the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and MD 108. This survey revealed safety issues and places where the pedestrian experience could be improved. The plan will recommend such improvements to the pedestrian realm along MD 108.

On October 16, workshop participants were divided into four groups and developed preliminary ideas for plan recommendations. The evening presentation outlined key ideas for the Ashton Village Center Sector Plan, including the following:

  • Reinforce the sense of a small town and rural village through low density, low building heights, porches and variations in architectural expressions and massing.
  • Preserve street trees, rural space and buffers.
  • Create a green gathering space in the village core.
  • Increase setbacks and gaps between buildings as density decreases from village core to rural perimeter.
  • Improve walking and bicycling conditions and safety.
  • Encourage more affordable housing, inclusion of duplexes and residential uses over retail.

For all the key concepts, consult the online presentation.

Based on the design workshop, planners will develop a community vision, land use and zoning recommendations, and proposed improvements to the pedestrian realm along Md 108 and at the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and Md 108. Initial plan concepts will be presented to the community later in the fall.

Learn more about the Ashton Village Center Sector Plan.

About the Ashton Village Center Sector Plan

The plan will evaluate land use, zoning, transportation, environment, design and other relevant issues in Ashton, a historic crossroads community east of Olney. This sector plan follows the 2015 Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan, which evaluated similar issues in the village of Sandy Spring, just west of Ashton.

One important focus will be a review of the Sandy Spring-Ashton Rural Village Overlay Zone in light of Montgomery County’s 2014 comprehensive revision of its zoning ordinance. Zones applied through the revision have enabled finer-grained management of land uses, densities and building heights than was possible under the previous ordinance.

The existing Sandy Spring-Ashton Rural Village Overlay Zone was created to ensure a “village scale” of development in the business districts of both Sandy Spring and Ashton. It limits uses, densities and building heights. The sector plan will reevaluate the overlay zone, as well as the current underlying zones in Ashton and recommend adjustments if needed to comply with the 2014 county zoning ordinance.

For more information, contact lead planner Fred Boyd at tel. 301-495-4654 or Fred.Boyd@montgomeryplanning.org.