Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan Boundary


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At the Planning Board’s request, Montgomery Planning staff studied several options for the expansion of the plan boundary into the surrounding neighborhoods of east, north and west Silver Spring.

After hearing staff recommendations, the Planning Board opted to expand the plan boundary to include the neighborhoods surrounding downtown Silver Spring that are within a half-mile/ten-minute pedestrian walkshed (i.e., able to be reached within a 10-minute walk) from the future Silver Spring Library Purple Line Station. This expansion option generally includes whole blocks that are within the walkshed, extending into Woodside, Woodside Park and East Silver Spring. The plan area is approximately 505 acres.

This expansion allows planning staff to study — and engage the community on — whether the included neighborhoods can accommodate a wider range of housing types than single-family homes, including missing middle housing.

A note about community engagement related to the plan boundary:
Expansion of the plan boundary caused concern among community members, who expressed frustration about not having more input into the board’s decision. Montgomery Planning staff recognize this frustration and wish to assure the community that their voices will be an integral part of this planning process.

Plan boundary decisions are typically determined by the Planning Board without community consultation because they simply allow us to study and include certain areas within our plan recommendations, which are developed in conjunction with the community. Community members will have many opportunities throughout this process to shape what this plan recommends within the plan boundary.

For more information about the plan boundary decision and implications for individual properties, read our FAQs below.

“Missing Middle” Housing and Why It Is Part of This Plan

“Missing middle” housing refers to residential housing types that bridge the gap between single family detached units and mid- and -high-rise apartment buildings. Missing middle housing includes, but is not limited to, townhouses, duplexes, triplexes and small multi-family buildings (typically with fewer than 20 units).

As Montgomery County — along with the entire DC region — faces a housing shortage, we must look at creative ways to add a variety of housing types near transit. Missing middle housing is a potential solution to providing residential options along a spectrum of affordability and attainability for an increasingly diverse population, including downsizing seniors, young families and newcomers to the region.

Developing missing middle housing, however, is challenging due to market and economic conditions, unfavorable neighborhood perceptions and regulatory requirements. In 2018, Montgomery Planning undertook a study of the architectural and economic barriers to developing missing middle housing and recommended possible solutions to overcoming these challenges. Learn more about Missing Middle Housing in Montgomery County.

The current zoning code does not have the flexibility to allow duplexes, triplexes or townhomes in the neighborhoods surrounding downtown Silver Spring. The Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan process will provide an opportunity to determine – in conversation with the community – appropriate ways to allow more diverse housing options to be built in this area.

What’s the difference between housing affordability and attainability?

Housing policy traditionally has focused solely on affordability, a measure of whether or not households spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. We must also look at attainability. Attainability in housing is the ability of households of various incomes and sizes to obtain housing that is suitable for their needs and affordable to them. Currently it is income, not housing need, that drives access to housing. There is a growing need to make sure the housing built is attainable, appropriate and suitable for the households that live here. Implicit in this idea of attainability is the idea that a range of housing options (type, size, tenure, cost) exists in the local market.

Last Updated: September 23, 2020