Planning Board holds fourth work session for Thrive Montgomery 2050

January 21, 2021

Thrive Montgomery 2050
Board members provide feedback on the revised transportation chapter of the draft plan and preview the revised compact growth chapter outline scheduled for the fifth work session

WHEATON, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), held their fourth work session on Thursday, January 21 on the update to the county’s General Plan, known as Thrive Montgomery 2050. This is a long-range policy framework for guiding future land use and growth in Montgomery County.

The fourth work session, held during the Planning Board’s virtual meeting, focused on reviewing the revised transportation chapter of the draft plan, now called “Transportation and Communication Networks: Connecting People, Places and Ideas.” This chapter lays out the county’s issues and existing conditions related to transportation and connectivity, and the goals and policies Thrive Montgomery 2050 proposes to address these issues. It also explains the ways in which these policies will further the key objectives of Thrive Montgomery 2050, and includes a set of potential measures to monitor the progress towards achieving the transportation and connectivity goals of the General Plan.

“We need to rethink our transportation and communications networks to connect people, places and ideas,” said Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson. “The infrastructure that moves people and information is essential to our economic development strategy, not only because it determines whether our residents have access to economic opportunities but because it shapes the way our communities are designed. We need to make sure that roads, bikeways, and sidewalks – along with fiber optic cables and wireless antennae – are integrated in ways that complement and reinforce the strategies we use to create safer, healthier, and more livable communities.”

As part of this discussion, Montgomery County Planning Department staff summarized the General Plan’s public hearing testimony on transportation on themes such as public transit, walking and bicycling, a reduction in parking, inequities in the transportation network, and starting to plan for people instead of cars. Staff also presented on the Transportation Analysis Report, which analyzes the impacts of Thrive Montgomery policies and trends related to the economy, climate change, demographics, technology, and lifestyle choices on the future transportation network in the county.

“Cars have been Montgomery County’s primary mode of transportation for far too long,” said David Anspacher, multimodal transportation supervisor. “We must undue the past 70 years in which we focused on making the county’s transportation system work best for cars. Thrive Montgomery 2050 proposes a policy framework that will reverse this by making walking, bicycling and transit more accessible to all.”

The county currently has many auto-oriented roads that were designed primarily to move cars quickly. This focus has led to roadways that are unsafe and discourage people from walking, biking or taking transit unless they have no other choice. Thrive Montgomery 2050 re-envisions these major roadways as corridors that support rapid, reliable transit, offer comfortable, safe walking spaces and feature attractive architecture and streetscapes. The General Plan will also help the county achieve Vision Zero by eliminating all transportation-related fatalities and severe injuries and provide a transportation system that is safe for everyone.

One of the goals of the Thrive Montgomery 2050 is to create an equitable transportation system. To accomplish this, the county will prioritize transportation projects that provide safe, comfortable, reliable and affordable transit for disadvantaged and mobility-challenged residents. Incorporating this goal into Thrive Montgomery 2050 also provides the basis for projects that would provide low-cost transportation for low-income populations through transit fare and toll policies.

In preparation for next week, staff also presented a preview of the January 28 work session on “Compact growth: corridor-focused development.” This revised chapter is dedicated to maximizing the efficiency of the county’s land use and public investment by concentrating future growth along corridors, and preserving land for recreation, agriculture and natural resource conservation.

View the Thrive Montgomery 2050 January 21, 2021 Planning Board staff report

View the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Transportation section

View the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Transportation Analysis – Part 1

View the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Transportation Analysis – Part 2

View the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Transportation presentation

View the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Compact Growth outline

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 thrivemontgomery.com 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, January 28: Work session #5 – Compact growth: corridor-focused development.
  • 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.
  • 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, Briefing on Equity Focus Areas analysis.
  • Monday, March 1 (to be confirmed): Work session #10 – Planning Board to approve the final recommendations, Conclusion with indicators for the three big outcomes, 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 thrivemontgomery.com 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 mcp-chair@mncppc-mc.org; 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.