United States: Montgomery County Growth And Development Update

Last Updated: February 15 2017
Article by Casey L. Cirner

Montgomery County continues to plan for growth and new development. The Planning Board of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission ("Planning Board") is currently working on two master plans, the White Flint 2 Sector Plan and the Rock Spring Master Plan and has just launched the Veirs Mill Corridor Master Plan, while the Planning Board staff continues to work on the initial stages of the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan amendment. In addition, now that the Montgomery County Council has returned from its recess, it will focus on the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan.

The White Flint 2 Sector Plan ("White Flint 2") addresses the part of Rockville that it's older sibling, the White Flint 1 Sector Plan ("White Flint 1"), did not cover when approved and adopted in 2010. The Planning Board perceives the White Flint 1 area to be the concentrated source of energy to which the White Flint 2 area is to contribute. The Planning Board is looking closely at tying together these two planning areas, potentially incorporating some of the White Flint 1 staging elements into White Flint 2. There are even rumors circulating about including the White Flint 2 area in the special taxing district created for the White Flint 1 area. The Planning Board is also considering the volatile office market and will hopefully provide zoning and density recommendations that give the existing office buildings in the White Flint 2 area the flexibility needed to react to the market. The Planning Board's first worksession on White Flint 2, focusing on transportation analysis and staging, was held on January 26, 2017. The second worksession, to be held on February 9, 2017, will focus on the office market, turnover and repositioning office assets.

The Rock Spring Master Plan got a head start on the White Flint 2 Sector Plan with the Planning Board preparing for its third worksession on February 2, 2017, but some of the concepts and issues do overlap among both plans. The Rock Spring Master Plan area is between Westfield Montgomery mall and Wildwood Shopping Center, including mostly office park, such as the current Marriott Headquarters and Total Wine & More's headquarters. The current direction of this master plan appears to be incorporating residential into the existing office park, which could sustain after hour's activities, providing the employee benefits that could potentially draw office users. Once the Planning Board completes its review of the Rock Spring Master Plan and White Flint 2 Sector Plan, both plans will be transmitted to the Montgomery County Council.

The Veirs Mill Corridor Master Plan is being launched by a Community Meeting at Sargent Shriver Elementary School scheduled for February 22, 2017 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. This master plan encompasses the area along Veirs Mill Road proposed for bus rapid transit ("BRT") and the area around the individual BRT stations. Access to the BRT system will be a key concept in this plan, along with identifying redevelopment opportunities.

The Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan amendment focuses on transit oriented development around the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metrorail Station and Strathmore Music Center, including, without limitation, the WMATA surface parking lot and excess land. A community meeting is scheduled for this minor master plan on February 14, 2017 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Garrett Park Elementary School.

The details of the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan are currently under review by the Montgomery County Council's Planning, Housing and Economic Development ("PHED") Committee. The first PHED Committee worksession, held on January 23, 2017, gave an overview of the sector plan, discussing the overarching plan goals for parks and open space, affordable housing, environmental innovation and economic competitiveness. The quantity of new development proposed by the Sector Plan is approximately 4.6 million square feet over the amount generated by the existing zoning. The Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan will also implement the Bethesda Overlay Zone. Most notably, the overlay zone allows bonus density through a parks impact payment, providing 15% moderately priced dwelling units and participating in a design review advisory panel. The County Council public hearing on the Bethesda Overlay Zone has been postponed to February 7, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. and the next PHED Committee meeting is scheduled for February 13, 2017.

Your property may be affected by one of these master plans, so stay tuned as we keep you up to date on the development of these plans as they wind their way through the approval processes.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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