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The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission

Complete Communities

Over the decades, Montgomery County has growth from a “bedroom” community, home mainly to D.C. commuters, to a dynamic place to live, work, and visit in our own right. Today, we’re poised to grow more individual neighborhoods—specifically, the corridors whose centrality and connectivity the General Plan centers on—into complete communities.

Thrive Montgomery 2050 uses “complete communities” and “15-minute living” as organizing principles for thinking about planning of neighborhoods and districts, not only using mixed-use zoning to complement high-quality transit service. These principles shift our focus to how people actually live in their neighborhoods, not only how they could use the amenities closest to them. This approach also allows us to think beyond transit-oriented development to apply different strategies to different neighborhoods accordingly.

Complete Communities have a range of land uses, housing types, infrastructure, services, and amenities to meet a wide range of needs for a variety of people—and to support racial and socioeconomic integration. The related concept of “15-minute living” mixes housing, offices, and retail uses in each neighborhood or district so services, infrastructure, facilities, and amenities to serve the daily needs of people who live or work there are within walking distance, minimizing the need to own a car.

Ultimately, this approach will give every household access to a more diverse Montgomery County. With it, we can also better concentrate development in targeted areas, allowing for more effective conservation and protection of our natural resources.  Complete communities also allow us to reduce our collective vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and to meet other vital environmental goals by encouraging the type of mixed-use development, pedestrian accessibility, and non-car transit options we now know to be essential in establishing more diverse (and simply more) vibrant, active communities for the county.

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