Montgomery Planning Department Announces FY20 Work Program

June 17, 2019

Updating the county’s General Plan, planning for pedestrian safety and evaluating the feasibility of preserving affordable housing are among the projects approved by County Council

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has secured the Montgomery County Council’s approval to proceed with its ambitious work program for fiscal year 2020 (FY20), which begins on July 1, 2019.

The County Council approved the Planning Department’s $20.7 million budget for FY20 at its meeting on May 23, 2019. These funds support the work program for the Department.

“We are excited about a robust and diverse work program for Montgomery Planning in FY20,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “Our focus this year will be on updating Montgomery County’s General Plan – the most important policy document in planning for land use and growth in our communities.”

Highlights of major new plans and projects to be undertaken by the Planning Department in FY20 include:

Updating the General Plan: The General Plan is Montgomery County’s long-range policy framework for guiding land use and growth. It was last comprehensively updated in the 1960s. The General Plan needs to be updated now in response to recent changes in demographics, technology, transportation modes, and development patterns, among other shifts, as well as emerging issues such as climate change. The General Plan Update, titled Thrive Montgomery 2050, will provide a new framework for planning over the next three decades. Thrive Montgomery 2050 will include extensive community outreach as well as analysis of major trends and drivers of change affecting the county’s future to inform the development of new General Plan policies. The updated General Plan will be completed by spring 2021 for County Council review and approval.

Pedestrian Master Plan: This plan aims to improve pedestrian conditions countywide. The Pedestrian Master Plan will complement the 2018 Bicycle Master Plan through strategies for making streets safer and more accessible for walking. In addition to prioritizing needed infrastructure, it will recommend policies and operational practices, design standards and programming. A study of world-class pedestrian plans from around the world is currently being undertaken to identify plan components and best practices to emulate and refine. The Pedestrian Master Plan also will draw on data about existing sidewalks and pedestrian crossings now being collected by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation.

Minor Master Plan Amendment to the Shady Grove Sector Plan: The 2006 Shady Grove Sector Plan put forth a bold vision to transform an industrial area into a new mixed-use community. The plan has staging requirements that limit the amount of development that can occur until specific triggers, including major transportation infrastructure improvements, are met. This project will analyze the timing and potential achievement of the triggers for transportation infrastructure in consultation with the Shady Grove Implementation Advisory Committee and county agencies.

 

Ashton Minor Master Plan Amendment: This proposed amendment to the Sandy Spring/Ashton Master Plan will evaluate the appropriateness of the rural village overlay zone in Ashton’s crossroads, around the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and MD 108. A detailed examination of the zoning in Ashton will be part of this project.

Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan Update: Rustic roads are historic and scenic roadways that reflect the agricultural character and rural origins of Montgomery County. They are preserved under the Rustic Roads Program, which provides a system for evaluating, protecting and enhancing these scenic roadways. This update of the Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan will provide detailed descriptions of significant features and document rustic roads recently added to the program.

Affordable Housing Preservation Feasibility Study: This project implements the recommendation of the Rental Housing Study to create an inventory of at-risk subsidized and market-rate affordable residential properties as well as examine the county’s existing policies and identify potential policy changes and strategies. The outcome of the work will help planners be better equipped to be more proactive during the regulatory and master plan processes to assess affordable housing redevelopment or preservation feasibility. A deeper understanding of the factors affecting housing will help determine potential strategies, incentives and interventions to help encourage affordable housing preservation through redevelopment or rehabilitation.

Staff will continue to work on the master plans and projects that are currently in progress, including: