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Home / News / Montgomery County Planning Board approves scope of work for the Bethesda Downtown Plan Minor Master Plan Amendment

Montgomery County Planning Board approves scope of work for the Bethesda Downtown Plan Minor Master Plan Amendment

Plan amendment revisits the implementation-related recommendations of the 2017 Bethesda Downtown Plan

Wheaton, Md. – The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, approved the scope of work for the Bethesda Downtown Plan Minor Master Plan Amendment at its June 27, 2024 meeting. The scope of work outlines the focus of the plan amendment and retains the boundary of the 2017 plan.

View the scope of work. Watch the presentation on demand.

The 2017 Bethesda Downtown Plan has a 20-year vision to help downtown Bethesda continue to be a thriving urban center and one of the county’s most desirable communities. The plan capped total development in downtown Bethesda at 32.4 million total square feet, based on a 2016 analysis of transportation infrastructure. Once total development came within 2 million square feet (approximately 10 200-unit apartment buildings) of the cap, the plan recommended that the Planning Department and Planning Board revisit the recommendations to determine if more are needed to help implementation of public amenity and infrastructure recommendations like new parks and transportation-related improvements. In fall 2023, total development in downtown Bethesda reached the 2 million square-foot checkpoint. After public engagement and comment, Planning staff and the Planning Board recommended that the County Council authorize the development of a Minor Master Plan Amendment.

“This Minor Master Plan Amendment means that the original 2017 plan has been successful,” said Chief of Downcounty, Elza Hisel-McCoy. “This effort will endeavor to provide a measure of confidence to both residents and the development community that the public infrastructure and amenity improvements recommended by the plan in downtown Bethesda are being implemented consistent with the goals of the plan. We look forward to working collaboratively with the community on this plan.”

The Bethesda Downtown Plan Minor Master Plan Amendment is limited in nature and will not re-open the entire 2017 plan. The existing zoning, parks, transportation, and other recommendations will remain unchanged while we explore how better to implement those recommendations. The plan update will focus on implementation strategies for the following and related elements:

  • Economic development
  • Park development
  • Transportation improvements
  • Schools
  • Affordable housing
  • Community recreation center

Learn more about the 2017 Bethesda Downtown Plan’s implementation, including data and reports about development activity and more.

Upcoming outreach opportunities

Planners are inviting the community to attend three informational workshops on tools to implement master plan recommendations.  At the meetings, planners will present information on the plan and provide the public with opportunities to speak with subject matter experts. 

  • Tuesday, July 30, from 6 to 7:30 pm in the large meeting room at the Connie Morella Library (7400 Arlington Road, Bethesda, MD)
  • Wednesday, August 14, at 7:00 p.m. (Virtual). RSVPs are required.
  • Saturday, August 17, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Chevy Chase Town Hall (4301 Willow Lane, Chevy Chase, MD)

For questions about the plan, contact Downcounty Planning Division Chief Elza Hisel-McCoy at 301-495-2115 or via email. Sign up for the Bethesda Downtown eletter for the latest news and information.