Montgomery Planning’s Top 10 Accomplishments for 2018

December 20, 2018

top 10 accomplishments

From zoning for a signature business headquarters to the approved Bicycle Master Plan, initiatives over the past year are improving the county

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department announces its Top 10 Accomplishments for 2018 to highlight its most significant achievements over the past year.

“I am so proud of the incredible work we have done in 2018 to improve the quality of life in the county,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “Next year promises to be even more productive as we embark on updating the General Plan. It is the guiding framework for Montgomery County, and we need to ensure future planning and development here are responsive to the county’s demographic, technological and cultural changes since the General Plan was issued in 1964. I can’t wait to hear from our residents throughout Montgomery County on what they want their communities to look like over the next several decades.”

Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit Legislation
Findings and recommendations from Montgomery Planning’s 2017 Rental Housing Study resulted in the County Council passing new bills in 2018 that made changes to Montgomery County’s moderately priced dwelling unit (MPDU) laws. These changes will result in increased housing opportunities for residents earning low and moderate incomes. MPDU requirements can now be calculated based on a building’s floor area ratio instead of a percentage of total units, allowing for the creation of larger, family-sized units. In planning areas in which at least 45 percent of census tracts shave median household incomes of at least 150 percent of the countywide median income ($150,528), new developments will be required to provide at least 15 percent of its units as MPDUs, instead of the typical 12.5 percent.

Bicycle Master Plan Approved
After three years of holding public meetings, evaluating county roads and trails, and researching cycling stress levels, Montgomery Planning staff completed the county’s first Bicycle Master Plan. The County Council approved the plan in November 2018 to identify the changes that are needed to create a safe, low-stress bicycling environment through recommendations for bikeways and cycling facilities. Planners evaluated more than 3,500 miles of county roads and trails to determine the level of stress experienced when riding near traffic on each segment and intersection, assigning a value from high stress to low stress to each road segment.

White Flint Placemaking Festival
Montgomery Planning worked with residents, civic organizations and Dallas-based Better Block Foundation to turn part of Rockville’s Randolph Hills Shopping Center parking lot into a vibrant place during October 2018. The White Flint Placemaking Festival revealed the power of the collaborative planning process to create an exciting, people-oriented space, attracting more than 1,000 visitors during a fall weekend. Months of planning led volunteers to build a temporary park with movable landscaping, a movie screen, food vendors, children’s play areas and a fitness zone, demonstrating the possibilities for such permanent improvements in the area.

Plans for New Suburbanism
Progress on several master and sector plans advanced the goal of creating walkable, mixed-use and connected neighborhoods. The Montgomery Planning Board approved the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station Minor Master Plan in January 2018, paving the way for such proposed mixed-use developments as the approximately 2 million square-foot Strathmore Square next to the Red Line transit hub. The MARC Rail Communities Sector Plan for Boyds and Germantown and the Veirs Mill Corridor Master Plan were approved by the Planning Board and submitted to the County Council in December 2018. Among their recommendations, these plans suggest strategies for achieving the county’s Vision Zero policy to eliminate traffic-related fatalities and severe injuries by 2030.

Two Planning Awards
In October 2018, Montgomery Planning was honored with two awards from the National Capital Area Chapter of the American Planning Association. A jury of experts selected the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan for the Outstanding Plan Award and the Veirs Mill Corridor Master Plan for the Harold Foster Award for Community Outreach and Engagement.

Colocation of Public Facilities Study Endorsed
The County Council adopted a resolution in October 2018 to endorse the findings of the Colocation of Public Facilities Study, which was completed through a collaboration among Montgomery Planning, Office of the Montgomery County Executive and other agencies. The two-year effort included the review of 165 case studies and 3 pilot projects in the county, along with an examination of county practices to determine the best strategies for sharing real estate and operational services by two or more agencies. Montgomery Planning developed an online map of public facility locations to help county agencies identify sites for potential colocation.

New Tools for Public Outreach
County planners reached out to residents who do not typically participate in the planning process through strategic social media, eletters, videos, Spanish-language presentations and interactive maps. The Third Place blog, focused on shared spaces outside the home and office, raised important issues to spark public debate. Connect with us on TwitterFacebook and YouTube!

Historic Preservation Bike Tours
Montgomery Planning’s Historic Preservation Office sponsored two bike tours in 2018 to raise awareness of the county’s cultural and architectural legacy. In June, a 30-mile bike ride was part of Heritage Days 2018, a free festival held by Heritage Montgomery, that included stops at a canal lock, an 18th-century house and historic school buildings. In November, the Historic Preservation Office held a 6-mile bike tour of the Kensington, Forest Glen, Capitol View Park and National Park Seminary Historic Districts

Makeover Montgomery 4 Conference
This bi-annual conference, held from May 9 through May 11, 2018, was co-sponsored with the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland. The event drew nearly 300 attendees who heard from speakers about creating smart, healthy, inclusive and competitive communities in the suburbs. Presentations focused on innovations and new policy tools and strategies that can help enhance the suburbs, making them more exciting, equitable and attractive. Check out the photos and videos from the MM4 event.

Finalist for Amazon’s Second Headquarters (HQ2)

Montgomery County was selected in January 2018 as a finalist for the location of Amazon’s second headquarters. Although the county was not ultimately selected for this project, Montgomery Planning provided a framework for the county to house a large corporate presence by creating an amendment to the county zoning ordinance for a signature business headquarters with at least 20,000 employees. This zoning amendment was approved by the County Council in June 2018.

Learn more about the Montgomery County Planning Department.