Planning Board discusses compact growth during fifth work session for Thrive Montgomery 2050

January 28, 2021

Thrive Montgomery 2050
Board members provide feedback on the Compact Growth: Corridor-focused Development chapter of the draft plan and preview the revised Design, Arts and Culture chapter outline scheduled for the sixth work session

WHEATON, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), held their fifth work session on Thursday, January 28 on the update to the county’s General Plan, known as Thrive Montgomery 2050. During the virtual meeting, board members discussed the General Plan’s chapter, “Compact growth: corridor-focused development.”  This refers to maximizing the efficiency of the county’s land use by directing infill development and redevelopment within key locations.

Montgomery County’s population is projected to grow by approximately 200,000 people over the next 30 years, but nearly 85 percent of the county’s land is already developed or otherwise constrained. To help the county support this population increase, Thrive Montgomery 2050 recommends concentrating growth within intensively developed centers of activity along major roads, highways and railways, also known as transportation corridors. This strategy will direct population and employment growth to locations best served by infrastructure, services and amenities – including transit. It will also help create more sustainable, equitable, and complete communities.

“Montgomery County’s future depends on using our limited land as efficiently as possible,” said Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson. “We simply can’t afford to allow new subdivisions to chew through another ten or twenty thousand acres of land to meet our housing needs for the next thirty years. We need to make better use of areas developed in earlier generations by encouraging compact infill and redevelopment along major transportation corridors or we will paint ourselves into a corner. We can continue to set aside space for outdoor recreation, agriculture and natural resource conservation while accommodating future growth, but only if we focus on making better use of the space we have available.”

Major corridors, including Rockville Pike, Georgia Avenue, Colesville Road, Veirs Mill Road and others, are wide, fast roadways constructed to connect suburban and rural areas to the urban centers. Each has a unique character and context where residents live, work, shop, learn, play and move. However, many of these corridors have been neglected in past decades, as we have focused on development in activity centers rather than the connective tissue between them.

Thrive Montgomery 2050 proposes a recommitment to concentrating growth along these major transportation corridors. The General Plan’s identification of growth corridors particularly in the East County is vital to reversing decades of disinvestment and ensuring that the benefits of growth are more equitably distributed across lines of geography, class, and race.

“Not only does compact growth make optimal use of our land, it is good for the environment,” said Jessica McVary, Mid-County Planning Division supervisor. “By focusing our development in a compact and strategic way, we can reduce emissions, preserve land for agriculture, and create more walkable communities less reliant on cars.”

To prevent sprawl, the General Plan recommends limiting growth beyond corridors to compact, infill development and redevelopment in complete communities. It also highlights the need to preserve and enhance the Agricultural Reserve and manage the areas designated for a rural pattern of development.

Along with presenting the chapter to board members, Montgomery County Planning Department staff summarized the General Plan’s public hearing testimony on themes such as the evolution of the Wedges and Corridors concept, impacts of denser development, location of growth, how to pay for growth, the role of the Agricultural Reserve, and the need to accommodate new growth.

In preparation for next week, staff presented a preview of the February 4 work session on “Design,

arts and culture: adding value and building community.” This revised chapter is dedicated to architecture, landscaping, and elements of street design which shape our immediate built environment and impact our quality of life.

View the Thrive Montgomery 2050 January 28, 2021 Planning Board staff report
View the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Compact Growth section
View the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Compact Growth presentation
View the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Design, Arts and Culture Outline
Watch a planning expert break down the concept of compact growth:

Thrive Montgomery 2050 Planning Board work session schedule

Below is the remaining schedule for the Planning Board’s review of Thrive Montgomery 2050. Please visit for updates on the specific topics to be covered in future work sessions; the topic assigned for each work session is tentative and may change. Check the Planning Board’s website for staff reports for these work sessions.

  • Thursday, February 4: Work session #6 — Design, arts and culture: adding value and building community. Coordination with the County’s Climate Action Plan
  • Thursday, February 11: Work session #7— Parks and recreation for an increasingly urban and diverse community: active and social. Revised (redlined) drafts of Introduction, Housing, and Transportation chapters.
  • Thursday, February 18: Work session #8 — Complete communities: mix of uses and forms.
  • Thursday, February 25: Work session #9 –- Section 3: How the ideas in this Plan can be implemented. Implementation chapter, Conclusion with indicators for the three major outcomes.
  • Thursday, March 4: Work session #10 –- Planning Board to approve the final recommendations, Revised (redlined) drafts of the remaining chapters, and Actions list for the appendix. Discuss any follow up items from previous work sessions.
  • Thursday, April 8: Planning Board scheduled to approve Planning Board Draft of Thrive Montgomery 2050 for transmittal to the County Executive and County Council

For more information, visit or sign up for our e-letter for updates.

Thrive Montgomery 2050 Outline

At the December 17, 2020 meeting, the Planning Board approved a new outline for the Thrive Montgomery 2050 General Plan document consisting of the following chapters:

Section 1

  • Why do we need a new comprehensive plan for the county?
  • Three overarching objectives
    • Economic performance & competitiveness
    • Racial & Social Equity & Inclusion
    • Environmental resilience & sustainability
  • Other important goals:
    • Elevating design and role of arts and culture
    • Public health and active lifestyles
    • Better access to amenities for high quality of life

Section 2: Thrive Montgomery 2050 Themes

  • Compact Growth: Corridor-Focused Development
  • Complete Communities: Mix of Uses and Forms
  • Transportation and Communication Networks: Connecting People, Places and Ideas
  • Affordable and Attainable Housing: More of Everything
  • Design, Arts and Culture: Adding Value and Building Community
  • Parks and Recreation for an Increasingly Urban and Diverse Community: Active and Social

Section 3: Implementation

Appendix: consolidated Actions Appendix.

Community participation and next steps

Community members can continue to provide comments on the draft Thrive Montgomery 2050 Plan for the Planning Board’s review while they conduct work sessions in January and February 2021. After they vote to transmit the Planning Board Draft Plan to the County Council in early April, the County Council will hold their own public hearing, work sessions and final approval.

Members of the public may submit written comments to Casey Anderson, chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board. The mailing address is 2425 Reedie Drive, Wheaton, Maryland 20902; the e-mail address is; the fax number is (301) 495-1320. Individuals or groups may send comments at any time; comments received by noon of the day prior to each work session will be sent to the Planning Board for review at that work session.

Thrive Montgomery 2050 resources

Below are links to the Public Hearing Draft Plan, Outreach Appendix and at-a-glance information on the plan in English as well as in multiple languages.

Community Engagement

Over the summer, Montgomery Planning hosted several virtual community engagement sessions— even during this time of social distancing—on the initial Thrive Montgomery 2050 Policies and Actions Draft released in June to obtain feedback that was included in the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Working Draft Plan that was published in September.

Montgomery Planning held the Ask Me Anything virtual townhalls that Planning Director Wright hosted in May. Planning staff then invited the community to participate in the June Thrive Montgomery 2050 Virtual Community Chats. Each chat offered community members a chance to converse online with Planning staff about policy recommendations related to planning for the future of the county’s housing, transportation, economy, environment and more. View all of the distance engagement events for Thrive Montgomery 2050.

About Thrive Montgomery 2050

During summer 2019, the Montgomery County Planning Department launched the update of Montgomery County’s General Plan, the county’s long-term framework for land use and development. This effort, called Thrive Montgomery 2050, will result in new countywide policies to help Montgomery County thrive in the decades to come by addressing challenges and opportunities. A lot has changed in the county since the General Plan was originally approved in 1964. Thrive Montgomery 2050 will guide future growth in response to the demographic shifts, technological innovations, changing lifestyles and economic disruptions that have taken place in recent decades. The new General Plan will consider many issues framed by three pillars: economic health, environmental resilience and equity. This framework will help guide the recommendations of the plan with input from the community.