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The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission

Great Seneca Plan: Connecting Life and Science

2615 Medical Center Drive exterior

Overview

The Great Seneca Plan (Plan), a comprehensive amendment to the 2010 Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan (2010 Plan), covers 4,330 acres in the heart of the I-270 Corridor between the cities of Gaithersburg and Rockville and the Town of Washington Grove. The Plan area includes several distinct areas with a variety of contexts, conditions, and opportunities, including the Life Sciences Center (LSC), Quince Orchard, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Londonderry and Hoyle’s Addition, Rosemont, Oakmont, Walnut Hill, Washingtonian Light Industrial Park, Washingtonian Residential, and Hi Wood. The Plan focuses predominantly on the Life Sciences Center, a thriving economic hub that is host to a diverse population, as well as growing life sciences, medical, and educational institutions.

The Plan focuses on strengthening the economic competitiveness of the Life Sciences Center through mixed-use development, public realm improvements, equitable access, and implementation strategies. The Plan envisions the Londonderry and Hoyle’s Addition area as a thriving residential neighborhood with local-serving retail, public open spaces, and transit connections, and offers limited recommendations for the Quince Orchard, Rosemont, Oakmont, Walnut Hill, Washingtonian Light Industrial, Washingtonian Residential, and Hi Wood areas.

Recommendations are organized within the themes of the built, social, natural, and economic environments and provide guidance for land use; zoning; urban design; transportation; parks, trails, and public open space; the economy; and the environment.

New! The Montgomery County Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing on the Great Seneca Plan: Connecting Life and Science for Thursday, March 14 at 6:00 PM in the Second Floor Auditorium of The M-NCPPC’s Wheaton Headquarters (2425 Reedie Drive, Wheaton, MD, 20902). The hearing will also be livestreamed on the Planning Board’s website. The community is encouraged to sign up to testify live at the public hearing either in-person or online or provide written comments to the Planning Board via email ahead of the public hearing. 

Appendices:

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Current phase of the plan: Public Hearing Draft

The Draft was developed through an iterative process between Planning Staff, community members, property owners, and institutional and agency partners, among others. Recommendations do not come from a single place but represent the balance between best practices and professional expertise, data analysis and modeling, and the lived experience and desires of the community.

Racial equity and social justice

The Plan envisions a future for the communities in the Great Seneca Plan area that celebrates the diverse backgrounds, languages, and cultures that contribute to the character and history of the area and offers opportunities to all community members. All residents deserve high-quality housing, education, jobs, transportation, and recreational opportunities, and providing more equitable access to these opportunities requires us to prioritize private and public investment in the areas where more people work and live, as well as in communities that have experienced past patterns of discrimination.

The Draft of the Great Seneca Plan includes several recommendations to support equitable opportunities and outcomes for existing and future community members, including but not limited to the following:

  • Encourage compact, mixed-use development near transit that integrates and connects life sciences uses with residential uses, retail, and neighborhood services and amenities.
  • Encourage more housing overall, and further encourage public, private, nonprofit, philanthropic, and religious institution partners to expand housing affordability in infill and redevelopment.
  • Expand transportation choices—including improved facilities for walking, biking, rolling, and public transit to enhance access to jobs and other opportunities.
  • Improve safety for all travelers through reduced target travel speeds, narrower and fewer vehicular travel lanes, smaller turn radii, and the removal of channelized right-turn lanes.
  • Create promenades, greenways, parks, and publicly accessible open spaces to facilitate physical activity, social interaction, access to nature, and environmental stewardship.
  • Support economic competitiveness in the Life Sciences Center to bring more well-paying employment opportunities for people with a diversity of education and work experience.
  • Invest in the Londonderry and Hoyle’s Addition area to address long-standing inequities.
    • Leverage private investment through redevelopment while protecting current residents from displacement.
    • Provide additional housing, neighborhood-serving retail, and public open space.
    • Provide dedicated transit lanes on Muddy Branch Road and improve bicycle, pedestrians, and transit connectivity.
    • Mitigate noise and air pollution from I-270, improve tree canopy, and minimize impervious surfaces.

Plan boundary

Map of plan boundary

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The Plan borders the Intercounty Connector (ICC) and MD 355. The Plan area is non-contiguous and dispersed among municipalities. The City of Gaithersburg occupies 10 square miles in the center of the Plan area, the City of Rockville borders the Plan area on the east, and the Town of Washington Grove borders the Plan area to the northeast. The Plan includes several distinct areas, including the Life Sciences Center (LSC), Quince Orchard, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Londonderry and Hoyle’s Addition, Rosemont, Oakmont, Walnut Hill, Washingtonian Light Industrial Park, Washingtonian Residential, and Hi Wood. The Life Sciences Center is bordered by the City of Gaithersburg on the north and west, and the City of Rockville on the east. The Quince Orchard area is bordered by the City of Gaithersburg on the east. The remaining areas are nearly surrounded by the cities of Gaithersburg and Rockville.

Plan timeline

  • Fall 2021
    Pre-Planning and Engagement
    Planning Staff began gathering background information, compiling relevant policies, and making connections with community members, including residents, business owners, workers, and students in the area.
  • Spring 2022 – Winter 2023
    Scope of Work
    The Montgomery County Planning Board approved the Scope of Work for the Great Seneca Plan on May 26, 2022. View the Scope of Work and May 26 Planning Board presentation.

    Existing Conditions Analysis
    Planning Staff documented the existing conditions of the area including transportation, parks, land uses, zoning, and housing and presented these conditions to the Planning Board on January 19, 2023. View the Existing Conditions Report and the January 19 Planning Board presentation.

  • Spring 2023
    Emerging Big Ideas
    Planning Staff shared emerging “big ideas” with community members, organizations, and partner agencies, as well as presented the “big ideas” to the Planning Board for feedback. View the Emerging Big Ideas Report and the April 20 Planning Board presentation.

    Visioning and Community Engagement
    Robust community engagement and meaningful participation in the planning process were critical to developing the Plan vision and resulting recommendations. The engagement strategy for the Great Seneca Plan focused on meeting people where they are: in terms of information, physically, and in the community. Throughout the planning process, Montgomery Planning sought input from residents, workers, property owners, students, state and county agencies, and community organizations, among others. Planning Staff presented an overview of the community engagement efforts and feedback received to the Planning Board on May 4, 2023. View the Community Engagement Report and the May 4 Planning Board presentation.
  • Fall 2023
    Preliminary Recommendations
    Drawing on research, analysis, and public input, and the big ideas, Planning Staff developed preliminary recommendations to share with the Planning Board and community members. View the Preliminary Recommendations Report and the December 7, 2023 Planning Board presentation.
  • Winter 2024
    Working Draft
    Based on the refined preliminary recommendations, Planning Staff developed a draft of the Great Seneca Plan. Staff presented the draft to the Planning Board on February 1. View the Working Draft and the February 1 Planning Board presentation.
  • Spring 2024
    Planning Board Work Sessions
    After the Working Draft is completed, The Planning Board holds a public hearing to get feedback and input from the public before holding work sessions to refine the document. The work during this phase culminates in the Planning Board Draft which will be sent to the County Council for review.

    View the Public Hearing Draft
  • Summer 2024
    County Council Work Sessions
    The Planning Board Draft goes to the County Executive and County Council for review. The County Council holds a public hearing to get feedback and input from the public before holding work sessions with the Council Committees and full County Council.
  • Fall 2024
    M-NCPPC Plan Adoption
    Once the County Council approves the Great Seneca Plan, the Council Approved Sector Plan will go before the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Full Commission for Adoption.
  • Fall 2024
    Sectional Map Amendment
    The Sectional Map Amendment (SMA) process is the final step in the Sector Plan Process. The SMA implements all zoning recommendations approved and adopted in the plan. Staff prepares the documentation, and the Planning Board authorizes the filing of the SMA with the County Council. There will be a public hearing on the SMA, followed by work sessions, and finally a vote by the full Council before the SMA can be approved and the zoning map officially changed for public use.

Staff Contacts

Maren Hill
301-650-5613
Email