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Planning Department Wins Two Awards from the National Capital Area Chapter of the American Planning Association

October 8, 2018

Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan honored with Outstanding Plan Award and public process for Veirs Mill Corridor Master Plan recognized with the Harold Foster Award for Community Outreach and Engagement

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is being honored with two awards from the National Capital Area Chapter (NCAC) of the American Planning Association (APA). The NCAC’s jury of experts selected the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan for the Outstanding Plan Award and Veirs Mill Corridor Master Plan outreach efforts for the Harold Foster Award for Community Outreach and Engagement.

The Planning Department will receive the awards on October 18, 2018 at a luncheon held at George Washington University’s Marvin Center during the NCAC’s annual conference.

“We are thrilled to have two of our most significant planning efforts honored with these awards,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “The Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan is innovative in assigning density only when the goals of the plan for affordable housing, design excellence, parks and sustainability are met. The outreach to engage hard-to-reach residents in the Veirs Mill Corridor Master Plan was similarly pioneering in its use of Spanish language translations, onsite graphic artists, pop-up events and other methods. These winning strategies, in turn, are informing other plans and projects now underway.”

About the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan

Approved by the Montgomery County Council in May 2017, the plan for downtown Bethesda proposes a new vision to guide the future of one of Maryland’s most thriving communities. It focuses on three goals of sustainability — environmental, economic and social –and establishes innovative implementation tools to maintain and exceed the high standard of design and quality of life in the downtown. Density is capped for the area and developers can draw from this density pool, but only when they meet the goals of the plan. More square footage is allotted for projects that meet goals for parks, affordable housing, environmental innovation and high quality building designs. Learn more about the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan.

About the Veirs Mill Corridor Master Plan Public Outreach

This ongoing master plan guides the future of neighborhoods located along a four-mile stretch of Veirs Mill Road, from Rockville to Wheaton. In developing the plan, the team used innovative outreach strategies to engage millennials, non-English speakers and others who don’t typically get involved in the planning process. This public engagement included numerous community meetings, pop-up events, local festivals, online platforms, artist recordings of public discussions and boots-on-the-ground conversations. Spanish language advertising on buses as well as materials distributed in partnership with local churches were used to engage non-English speakers. The varied outreach led to more public participation and shifted the focus of the plan from land use analysis to ways of increasing connectivity, multi-modal safety and complete streets. Learn more about the Veirs Mill Corridor Master Plan.