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Bethesda Downtown Plan

The Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan defines the context, purpose, Plan Area and recommendations for Downtown Bethesda, and highlights the direction for the next 20 years. Specifically, this Plan builds on the past successes of Downtown Bethesda to create a truly sustainable downtown by focusing on components that will bolster the elements most in need of enhancement. The overarching goals of the Plan include Parks and Open Spaces, Affordable Housing, Environmental Innovation and Economic Competitiveness.

This Sector Plan was Approved and Adopted on May 25, 2017 by the Montgomery County Council. This Sector Plan fine-tunes earlier Sector Plans (1994 Bethesda CBD Sector Plan and 2006 Woodmont Triangle Amendment) by reevaluating their original goals and resulting environments, rather than radically changing direction.

This Plan informs the community, Planning Department staff and Board members in their review of proposed projects to ensure that private development and public improvements are consistent with the Plan goals, intentions and recommendations.

2024 Bethesda Overlay Zone (BOZ) Update

The Sector Plan states: “Once total development-including approvals reaches 30.4 million square feet, the County Council may require certain actions before additional development is permitted” (page 151).  The Planning Board approved a Site Plan in September 2023 that increased total development above 30.4 million square feet.  In response to this Sector Plan recommendation, the Planning Board may provide to the County Council comments and/or recommendations for next steps, based on Staff recommendations and public comment.  

On September 28, 2023, Planning staff briefed the Planning Board on its assessment of the Sector Plan’s implementation and recommendations for next steps. On October 6, 2023, Planning staff met with the Bethesda Downtown Plan Implementation Advisory Committee (IAC) to hear their thoughts and concerns and discuss potential next steps.  On October 12, 2023, the Planning Board heard testimony from representatives of the IAC, the Town of Chevy Chase, and the development and resident communities.

In consideration of the Planning staff briefing, public testimony and other feedback, the Planning Board has included in the Planning Department’s draft FY25 work program a Minor Master Plan Amendment for the Bethesda Downtown Plan to address implementation issues, and on January 18, 2024, recommended to the County Council to defer further action until its completion. The County Council will be taking up the Planning Department’s budget and work program this spring.

Explore the plan


Montgomery County Planning Board approves scope of work for the Bethesda Downtown Plan Minor Master Plan Amendment

Plan amendment revisits the implementation-related recommendations of the 2017 Bethesda Downtown Plan…

Staff Contact

Cashielle Nelson