Montgomery Planning Receives Recommendations From National Experts on the Subdivision Staging Policy Update

May 4, 2020

Subdivision Staging Policy
The Urban Land Institute’s Virtual Advisory Services panel of national experts provides feedback on schools element; Planning Board presentation on update scheduled for May 28

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), is continuing work on the update to the Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP), the document that guides the balance of the county’s growth with infrastructure. Montgomery Planning asked the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Advisory Services Program to convene a virtual Advisory Services Panel of independent, volunteer land use and real estate experts to review and provide recommendations on Montgomery Planning’s preliminary recommendations on the update to the policy’s schools element. The SSP identifies how school facility infrastructure adequacy is defined and measured with respect to the approval of new development. The ULI panel also provided a national perspective on best practices and resources related to policies that guide growth, infrastructure funding and school capacity issues. Montgomery Planning staff will incorporate feedback from the ULI panel into the recommendations presented during a Planning Board briefing on May 28.

“I was very impressed with the expertise and perspective on the virtual ULI panel,” said Montgomery Planning Director Gwen Wright. “The update to the county’s growth policy is one of our most important initiatives, and I’m confident this update will lay the groundwork for how our county can grow and thrive into the future.”

ULI is a global, multidisciplinary real estate organization whose work is driven by more than 45,000 members dedicated to responsible land use and building thriving communities.

The virtual ULI Advisory Services panel included national experts who worked intensively for two and a half days on analyzing data and preliminary SSP recommendations, researching best practices from around the country, and conducting interviews with stakeholders, county agencies and community members. The ULI panel’s final report and recommendations will be delivered in early June. The panel consisted of the following experts:

Glenda Hood (Panel Chair) – President, Hood Partners – Orlando, Florida

Eric Fladager – Comprehensive Planning Manager, City of Fort Worth, Texas

Geoff Koski – President & CEO, Bleakly Advisory Group, Atlanta, Georgia

Heather Worthington – Principal, Worthington Advisors LLC, Interim Community Development Director, City of Bloomington, MN, St. Paul, Minnesota

Subdivision Staging Policy Planning Board Briefings

Montgomery Planning has provided three recent briefings to the Planning Board on initial SSP data analysis regarding transportation and schools and on the county’s growth status and trends (see below for links). The next briefing to the Planning Board will be on staff’s recommendations for the update to the policy document scheduled for May 28. The staff report will be posted to the agenda on May 21.

February 27, 2020 Planning Board Briefing on the Transportation Element of the SSP:

March 5, 2020 Planning Board Briefing on the Schools Element of the SSP:

March 26, 2020 Planning Board Briefing on the county’s Growth Status and Trends:

Subdivision Staging Policy and the Community

Montgomery Planning prepares updates to the Subdivision Staging Policy every four years and this year’s update takes a special focus on schools in relation to growth and development in the county. Census information, demographic shifts, student generation rates, housing stock and projections, equity, along with master plans and development projects are some of the components that must be considered when looking at the policy. The transportation side of the SSP includes looking at transportation policy areas in the county, modes of travel, areawide development impacts and modeling data with a new focus on Vision Zero safety standards.

Since the update to the SSP started in summer 2019, two citizen advisory groups have assisted with this work: the Schools Technical Advisory Team and Transportation Impact Study Technical Working Group. Community members have also been engaged through local presentations, a community workshop in October and a series of roundtable discussions throughout the county.

Community members can provide feedback on the preliminary recommendations of the update to the SSP by sending in written testimony to the Planning Board or signing up to testify at the public hearing tentatively scheduled for June 11. Should social distancing requirements related to the COVID-19 crisis remain in effect into June, the Planning Board will continue to meet virtually. Residents can provide written, video or audio testimony or can log in or call in during online Planning Board meetings to testify.

Following Planning Board review to be concluded by the end of July, the updated Subdivision Staging Policy will be transmitted to the County Council for review and final approval by November 15, 2020.

What is the Subdivision Staging Policy?

The Subdivision Staging Policy — one of the many ways that Montgomery Planning helps to preserve the excellent quality of life in Montgomery County — is based on having sufficient infrastructure to support growth. It includes criteria and guidance for the administration of Montgomery County’s Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (APFO), which matches the timing of private development with the availability of public infrastructure. Every four years, an effort to update the Subdivision Staging Policy originates with Montgomery Planning staff before working its way through the Planning Board and the County Council. The purpose is to ensure that the best available tools are used to test whether infrastructure like schools, transportation, water and sewer services can support future growth. Planners use those tools to project capacity, growth and future development, which in turn guides the timing and location of needed infrastructure improvements or capacity increases.

Updates for 2020

In the past, the APFO was designed to ensure that road and school capacity – as well as water and sewer and other infrastructure – kept pace with new development. Today, housing growth is occurring primarily through infill development and redevelopment, however school enrollment growth is driven largely by the resale of homes in many established neighborhoods. In the 2020 SSP update, planners will examine the evaluation tools currently used to measure the impact of development within the context of these changing growth factors.

About the Urban Land Institute

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the institute has more than 45,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. For more information on ULI, please visit or follow us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Instagram.

About the ULI Advisory Services

With the goal of improving quality of life and caliber of development everywhere, ULI’s Advisory Services convenes a multidisciplinary panel of experts who may have backgrounds in development, planning, finance, economics, architecture and public administration to review and give unbiased feedback on some of the most complex problems facing communities. Over the past 70 years, ULI has held more than 700 advisory panels that work with local leaders to provide practical solutions and objective recommendations to revive, rethink and restore communities around the globe and improve the lives of people who live in those communities.

This vASP (virtual Advisory Services panel), was ULI’s first such program executed in an entirely virtual format. It was created as a programmatic pivot to during these uncertain times and is a complement to the existing Advisory and Technical Assistance services offered by ULI. The vASP is 2.5-day panel that convenes a multi-disciplinary panel of 4 to 6 experts who reside all over the US, and who possess a range of professional backgrounds so that their collective skills meet the needs of an identified land use or policy challenge. Using a problem statement that includes four to six guiding questions, and briefing materials, the panel convenes virtually to learn from the sponsor, engages in facilitated stakeholder interviews, deliberate, and build consensus on recommendations that address the guiding challenge questions.