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Mar 31 15

Montgomery Parks Celebrates Arbor Day at Mill Creeke Town Elementary School

by Melissa Chotiner

SILVER SPRING, MDMontgomery Parks, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission will host a special Arbor Day celebration for students at Mill Creek Towne Elementary in Gaithersburg. The event takes place April 2, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. for students in grades 3 – 5 and will feature a variety of hands-on activities culminating in a ceremonial tree planting on the school property by students and members of Montgomery Parks staff.


Other activities scheduled for the day provided by Montgomery Parks Arboriculture Section include:


  • Compost Cooks (Live Composting Demonstration):  Students will work together to mix raw compost ingredients via a recipe card and observe how the compost goes through the phases of being mixed and “cooked” to form a finished product.
  • Seedling Preparation and Giveaway:  Each student will prepare a bare root white oak seedling to take home and plant.  Students will wrap the seedlings in paper, soak them in water and place in a bag, and will receive instructions on how to plant and care for the seedling.
  • Canopy Exploration (Arborist Demonstration):  Montgomery Parks Arborist will discuss tree work and tools used in assessing and maintaining tree health and safety.   A Tree Climber will demonstrate climbing and pruning techniques.
  • Plant Health Care: Montgomery Parks Green Management Coordinator will facilitate an interactive discussion on insects and diseases that affect trees in Montgomery County.
  • How Trees Grow:  A Parks Urban Forester will discuss information on how tree rings are formed and how environmental factors can affect the size of the rings. Students will each get a “tree cookie” to decorate with their name at this station.


  • State Champion American Sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalisChampion Tree Station:  Montgomery County Forestry Board will be represented to discuss their Champion Tree Program.  Students will learn how trees are selected as champions based on tree type, size and other factors. Students will look at the size of the biggest tree in Maryland, a sycamore on Parkland and will recreate the tree circumference to gauge just how big the tree is.




  • Benefits of Trees:  Montgomery Parks Naturalist will provide a hands-on demonstration for students on the benefits of trees and how storm water affects them.
  • Tree identification walk:  Park Urban Forester will take students on a tour of the school’s trees to learn about identifying characteristics such as leaf or needle type, as well as, benefits to wildlife and uses of the tree as a product.


Montgomery Parks has an extensive tree care program and one of the highlights is getting out into the community to share our knowledge with students and help them fall in love with trees as we have. If you are interested in hosting a Montgomery Park’s Arbor Day event at your elementary school, please visit our webpage at


For the 15th year, Montgomery County has been recognized with the designation of Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to tree planting and tree care. Montgomery County met the four standards necessary to become a Tree City USA by having a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a comprehensive community forestry program and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.


Montgomery Parks Arboriculture section provides a comprehensive tree care program that supports the protection, management and long-term health of trees and forests on parkland and provides a safer environment for park patrons, through the removal of high risk trees and limbs. The program also provides consultation for park renovation and development projects and preserves the most significant and highest valued parkland trees. In addition the Arboriculture section utilizes all green waste produced in the management of parkland to generate compost, soil conditioners and wood products. The Arboriculture section is part of the Montgomery Parks Horticulture, Forestry and Environmental Education Division supporting the acquisition, conservation, development, maintenance and management of parks.


Mar 30 15

Montgomery Parks Athletic Fields to Open April 1, 2015

by Melissa Chotiner

Updates on field conditions will be available 24 X 7 at the Parks’ Rainout line, 301-765-8787. 

SILVER SPRING, MD–Montgomery Parks, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission will open all athletic fields on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. This includes fields in parks, at elementary and middle schools as well as Blair and Blake High School fields.


The field openings were delayed from the initial date of March 15 due to conditions created by this year’s unusually harsh winter weather.


Updates on field conditions will be provided via the Parks’ rainout line at 301-765-8787. Lines are updated at 7 a.m. when fields are permitted for morning and afternoon play, and at 3 p.m. when there is permitted evening play. Parents and coaches should call this line if they have questions about field openings. Updates are also available via text notifications from Alert Montgomery. To register for notifications please visit


Montgomery Parks maintains close to 300 fields for public games, practices and walk-on play. For information about field locations, scheduling and permitting and rules and regulations please visit:


About The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Montgomery Parks
Montgomery Parks manages more than 36,000 acres of parkland, consisting of 420 parks. Montgomery Parks is a department of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), a bi-county agency established in 1927 to steward public land. M-NCPPC has been nationally recognized for its high quality parks and recreation services and is regarded as a national model by other parks systems.


Mar 27 15

Planning Department Offers Green Web App to Measure the County’s Tree Canopy

by Bridget Schwiesow

tree canopy

New digital tool allows County residents to determine need for tree planting in their neighborhoods

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, now offers a Tree Canopy Explorer web application to determine the extent of tree canopy in communities throughout the County. This tool enables users to view the  layer of leaves and branches shading the ground, which ultimately contributes to improving the local climate of urban and suburban areas.

The new Tree Canopy Explorer allows residents to measure the tree canopy around their homes or businesses by identifying the street address, zooming in on the location and using a tool to calculate the percentage of cover. An update to the existing canopy data will soon make it possible to determine the loss in canopy experienced due to storms and recent tree trimming efforts. By understanding the extent of the canopy, property owners can take steps to plant more trees and create healthier, greener communities. The more shade from trees, the less energy required for cooling homes and cars. Also, trees clean the air we breathe and the runoff from storms.

The digital tool was developed by planners using a 2009 Countywide analysis of trees done with high-resolution aerial imagery. That study revealed that much of the County contains a high level of tree canopy, but that most urbanized areas lack adequate shade, particularly over hard surfaces that can become superheated during the summer.

County planner Katherine Nelson will make a presentation about the Tree Canopy Explorer at the Montgomery County Greenfest on Saturday, March 28. The festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus of Montgomery College (7995 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring).

Mar 27 15

Montgomery County Planning Department Announces Calendar of April Events

by Bridget Schwiesow

Calendar of Events Logo
Residents invited to get involved with special events and community meetings to discuss plans and regulations for the County’s future

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is pleased to announce its events calendar for April 2015. These sessions offer ways to engage with planners and Planning Board members, and help shape the future of communities within Montgomery County. Review the full list of events below and go online to for more details on projects and plans.

Stay connected to us online by following Montgomery Planning Department news and information on Twitter: @montgomeryplans and like us on Facebook:

Montgomery Planning April 2015 Events:

April 2 – Attend, watch or listen live to the Montgomery County Planning Board meeting. View the full agenda.

April 8 – Learn more about public art within Montgomery County at a lunchtime presentation at the Planning Department’s headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring). From noon to 1 p.m., Suzan Jenkins, the CEO of the County’s Arts and Humanities Council, and urban design consultant Todd Bressi will discuss the impact of public art and new strategies for supporting it. Bring your lunch, questions and ideas to the session in the auditorium.

April 9 – There is no Planning Board scheduled for Thursday, April 9 due to MCPS Spring Break.

April 16 – Attend in person or tune into the live broadcast of the Montgomery County Planning Board meeting. Agendas, which are posted two weeks in advance, can be viewed on the Agendas & Staff Reports page.

April 23 – Attend or listen live to the Montgomery County Planning Board meeting. Agendas, which are posted two weeks in advance, can be viewed on the Agendas & Staff Reports page.

April 30 – Attend, watch or listen live to the Montgomery County Planning Board meeting. Agendas, which are posted two weeks in advance, can be viewed on the Agendas & Staff Reports page.

Mar 27 15

Montgomery Modern Program Wins Award from Maryland Historical Trust

by Bridget Schwiesow

montgomery_modern MontgomeryModernAward_MHT 3-26-15

Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office honored for raising community appreciation of County’s midcentury modern architecture and design

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Historic Preservation Office of the Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has been honored with the Excellence in Community Engagement Award from the Maryland Historical Trust. The award was announced at the 2015 Maryland Preservation Awards ceremony, hosted by the Maryland Historical Trust Board of Trustees and held on Thursday, March 27 at the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis.

This accolade recognizes the success of the Montgomery Modern program, launched by the Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office in 2013 to raise awareness of the County’s remarkable legacy of mid-20th-century architecture and design. The educational and outreach initiative has included bus and bike tours of mid-20th-century modern neighborhoods and buildings, and an interactive website. A book documenting the County’s midcentury structures is now being researched and written by staff architectural historian Clare Lise Kelly.

“This is a tremendous honor for the Planning Department in recognizing our efforts to educate and inform the public about some of our most under-appreciated historical resources,” says Gwen Wright, Planning Director. “Montgomery County has a great legacy of midcentury modern architecture that needs to be better understood, celebrated and preserved.”

View the Maryland Department of Planning Maryland Historical Trust press release announcing the the programs and people recognized at the 40th Maryland Preservation Awards.

Learn more about the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office.

Mar 25 15

Pike & Rose Wins National Award of Excellence for Planning and Development

by Bridget Schwiesow

American Planning Association and National Association of County Planners honor achievement of White Flint Sector Plan goals through new development in North Bethesda

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is this year’s recipient of an Award of Excellence from the American Planning Association (APA), County Planning Division, and its sister organization, the National Association of County Planning (NACP).

The award in the Planning Project category recognizes the Pike & Rose neighborhood developed by Rockville-based Federal Realty Investment Trust as realizing the goals of the White Flint Sector Plan. This plan aims to transform the parcels bordering Rockville Pike into pedestrian-friendly clusters of housing, offices, stores, restaurants and civic amenities. Pike & Rose is the first project approved and built in North Bethesda following the adoption of the new Sector Plan.

Review the Montgomery Planning Department’s award submission online.

“We are thrilled to be honored with this award for one of the most transformative planning efforts in the County,” says Planning Department Director Gwen Wright. “The White Flint Sector Plan represents the transition from car-oriented suburbs into livable, urban-style communities with access to transit. Pike & Rose exemplifies this exciting change and sets a high bar for the mixed-use developments to come.”

The 24-acre Pike & Rose replaces the 1960s Mid-Pike Plaza at Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike and is located within walking distance of the White Flint Metrorail station. The development, which began opening in summer 2014, is one of the first projects in the nation to transform a functioning strip center into a vibrant, walkable neighborhood of apartments, offices, stores, restaurants, open spaces and amenities.

“This award confirms our philosophy of placemaking on even the most challenging sites,” says Evan Goldman, vice president of development for Federal Realty, which is also responsible for Bethesda Row. “We are proud that the initial phase of Pike & Rose has surpassed our expectations in creating the ‘there’ in North Bethesda with a vibrant, new center of activity.”

The Award of Excellence will be presented on Sunday, April 19 at the County Planning Division’s Annual Business Meeting during the APA National Conference in Seattle, Washington.

About the White Flint Sector Plan
Approved by the County in 2010, the White Flint Sector Plan outlines ways to transform the areas along Rockville Pike into thriving, mixed-use centers with new buildings, parks and streets. The planned 3.5 million square feet of offices, housing, restaurants, retail and amenities are designed to serve diverse constituencies within the metropolitan Washington, DC area.

The planning effort involved a high level of cooperation among developers, residents and County staff, including an unusual partnership among the area’s landowners and formation of a grassroots community advocacy group. Infrastructure needed for the redevelopment is being funded by a 10 percent ad valorem property tax. This taxing mechanism is the first of its kind in Montgomery County.

About Pike & Rose
Part of a shift to smart growth in the suburbs, Federal Realty’s Pike & Rose is the first project to be built under the new zoning and land use guidelines of Montgomery County’s White Flint Sector Plan. The 24-acre development is located at the key intersection of Rockville Pike and Montrose Parkway in the heart of Montgomery County. Pike & Rose is designed to be a pedestrian-oriented, urban-minded, mixed-use neighborhood central to the area’s revitalization efforts, and will comprise 1.5 million square feet of commercial space, 1,605 residential units and a 177-room boutique hotel at full build-out.

Its initial phase, largely completed in 2014, centers on the newly built Grand Park Avenue. Phase 1 includes an 80,000 square-foot Class A office building, a 174-unit midrise rental apartment building, a 319-unit high-rise rental apartment building and a pre-existing retail building that was renovated as part of the project. Added to this mix are the 8-screen iPic movie theater and a 240-seat live performance venue run by the Strathmore music center, called AMP, which opened in March 2015.

The second phase of Pike & Rose, due to be completed in 2017, will add another 340,000 square feet of retail, 462 more apartments and 104 luxury condos set atop the 177-room Canopy hotel run by Hilton. The neighborhood incorporates the best of what Federal Realty has created at its other mixed-use properties across the country, all located amid a carefully orchestrated environment of plaza parks, creative common areas, street festivals, farmers market and more.

Mar 24 15

Montgomery Village Meeting on March 25 Focuses on Overlay Zone

by Bridget Schwiesow

Montgomery Village vert  logo

Residents and property owners invited to discuss proposed zoning changes and progress of plan

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, invites business owners and residents to discuss the Montgomery Village Master Plan at a meeting on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 from 7-9 p.m. at the Watkins Mill High School cafeteria (10301 Apple Ridge Road, Gaithersburg, MD).

Planning Department staff will recap the Master Plan process so far and provide additional details of the Draft Montgomery Village Overlay Zone. Staff will provide an overview of the Draft Overlay Zone’s purpose, proposed land uses and potential development standards.

Staff is scheduled to provide a status briefing to the Planning Board on the Montgomery Village Master Plan on April 16. The next steps in the Master Plan process include transportation modeling and drafting of preliminary recommendations for the Staff Draft of the Plan, which is scheduled to be presented to the Planning Board in June.  Planning staff will schedule another community meeting when the results of the transportation modeling are available.

Past PowerPoint presentations and other materials from previous MV Matters meetings are posted on the MVMatters webpage.

What is MV Matters All About?
MV Matters is a series of outreach events meant to engage the community in the Montgomery Village Master Plan. Village residents are invited to learn about specific subject areas, such as urban design, land use, parks, environment and transportation at the sessions. Through the meetings, planners have received initial feedback from residents on what they view as the most valuable places in the village. For more information on the Scope of Work for the Montgomery Village Mater Plan, go to

Stay Connected:
Sign up: for the Montgomery Village Master Plan eNewsletter
the MVPlan Hotline for updates on upcoming planning events: 301-495-4723
Learn More:
Use: #MVPlan

Master Plan Background:
Montgomery Village has not been part of a Master Plan review since the 1985 Gaithersburg Vicinity Master Plan, nor has it been the subject of a discrete County master plan in the past. Although Montgomery Village was within the boundaries of both the 1971 Gaithersburg Vicinity Master Plan and the 1985 Master Plan, neither plan contains recommendations or guidance for this community because the Village fell within the Town Sector Zone, which did not allow the rezoning of properties for a 50-year period that comes to a close in 2015. When the Planning Department initiated an update to the Gaithersburg Master Plan in 2007, Montgomery Village was originally included within its boundaries. However, with large swaths of land on both sides of I-270 presenting different planning issues and challenges, the Planning Department realized the area was too big to be analyzed effectively.

In 2008, the Planning Department divided the large Gaithersburg Master Plan area into two planning efforts – one for the west side of I-270, which became the Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan (GSSC) – and one for the east side of I-270 – Gaithersburg East. In 2014, the County Council directed the Planning Department to further refine the Gaithersburg East Plan to have one plan for Montgomery Village and one plan for the remainder of Gaithersburg East. The Council also directed the Planning Director to work efficiently on the Montgomery Village Plan, with the goal of having a draft plan transmitted to the Council within 12 months of the plan start date, because it wanted the zoning to be reassessed holistically before the prohibition on piecemeal rezoning of Town Sector property expired in 2015.

Mar 23 15

Montgomery County GreenFest to Take Place March 28, 2015 in Silver Spring!

by Melissa Chotiner

Montgomery Parks and Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection will host free festival  from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. #MCGreenfest 

SILVER SPRING, MDMontgomery Parks, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and 11 nonprofit and governmental partners are hosting the inaugural Montgomery County GreenFest on Saturday, March 28th, 2015 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Jesup Blair Local Park and Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus.  The festival will feature family-friendly activities, exhibits, workshops and numerous opportunities to learn while having fun.

“The Montgomery County GreenFest is a celebration of our environment and an opportunity for County residents to learn about actions they can take to reduce their impact,” said Lisa Feldt, Director of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection. “Young people play an important role, because they are often the champions of green actions in the household. By coming to the Montgomery County GreenFest, young people see that environmental activities can extend to recycling, water quality, food, community service and beyond.”

A sampling of fun, interactive activities taking place at the festival include:

  • Rope-assisted tree climbing for kids in Jesup Blair Local Park.
  • A self-guided tree trail to learn more about the trees of Jesup Blair Local Park.
  • Kids’ films with educational activities: Montgomery College students will facilitate a learning activity after screenings of the “Loop Scoop” film series, helping children to consider the impact that their choices have on the environment.
  • Bioretention demonstration in the park. Experts will explain how stormwater management facilities help keep local waters clean.
  • Almost 80 exhibitors showcasing different ways to go green – including green energy sources, green food, transportation and more.
  • Music and picnic area in the park.

“We are looking forward to co-hosting this event and we have a lot of neat activities and demonstrations planned that will get kids and grownups excited about protecting our environment.” said Mike Riley, Director of Montgomery Parks. “While everybody loves their parks—the GreenFest invites people to learn about the many ways the department is working to protect and preserve our most treasured resource – the environment. From streams, wildlife and natural resources to the development of new parks and new park amenities, Montgomery Parks is dedicated to environmental stewardship across everything we do. We look forward to a great event and welcome everyone to join us in the park!”

Food will be available for purchase at the event by Montgomery College’s caterer, Chartwells, including sustainably sourced lunch items and snacks with vegan options. Attendees who bring a reusable bottle can also receive a discount on drinks, such as lemonades and iced tea.

The Montgomery County GreenFest takes place from 11AM-4PM, rain or shine.   To view the full schedule, visit  Attendees are encouraged to use public transit, walk or bike to the event.  The city of Takoma Park is sponsoring a free shuttle between the event and the Takoma Metro Station.  For directions to the GreenFest, visit

Jesup Blair Local Park and the Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus are located at 7995 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910

About The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Montgomery Parks

Montgomery Parks manages more than 36,000 acres of parkland, consisting of 420 parks. Montgomery Parks is a department of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), a bi-county agency established in 1927 to steward public land. M-NCPPC has been nationally recognized for its high quality parks and recreation services and is regarded as a national model by other parks systems.

Mar 18 15

Planning Board Member Natali Fani-González Wins Rising Star Award

by Bridget Schwiesow

fani_gonzalez photo

Montgomery Women honors community activism of Board’s first Hispanic member.

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is pleased to announce that Planning Board member Natali Fani-González has been chosen for the 2015 Rising Star Award. This annual prize is given by Montgomery Women, a non-partisan leadership and political action committee, to recognize the promise and achievements of a female community activist.

“We’re proud that Natali Fani-González has received the Rising Star award. I would say she already rose quite a while back – she is a great leader and a colleague with no ceiling on her future,” said Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson at the ceremony.

Fani-González received the award at Montgomery Women’s 11th annual Power Tea on March 15 at the Strathmore Mansion. “I am committed to improving Montgomery County and honored by this award and its celebration of community service,” she said.

The Rising Star Award honors the memory of Phyllis Campbell Newsome, a founder of Montgomery Women and a director of community advocacy for the Washington Council of Agencies, who died in 2002. In prior years, the recipients of the Rising Star Award have been Denise Young (2006), Amy Presley (2007), Kathy Lally (2008), Dr. Yvette Butler (2009), Theresa Testoni (2010), Rachel Glass (2011), Hannah McCann (2012), Wendy Howard (2013) and Hedieh Mirahmadi (2014).

About Natali Fani-González
Appointed to the Montgomery County Planning Board in October 2014, the Venezuelan-born Fani-González, 34, is the founder and principal of the Rockville-based public relations firm, The Matea Group. She is the first Latino and millennial to serve on the five-member Planning Board, which reviews master plans and policies governing growth and development throughout Montgomery County.

A human and civil rights activist and entrepreneur, Fani-Gonzalez was recognized in 2013 as a “Leading Women” honoree by The Daily Record for her numerous contributions to Maryland. She started her career as a lobbyist for CASA de Maryland, the largest Latino and immigrant organization in the state, and then joined the communications team of the Service Employee International Union Local 32BJ before starting her own public relations firm.

Fani-González graduated from Goucher College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations. She lives with her husband and their two children in Kensington.

Mar 17 15

Planning Department Concludes 2014-2015 Winter Speakers Series

by Bridget Schwiesow

Once and Future County Speaker Series 2014-2015

Sessions examined how politics and policies shaped communities in Montgomery County

SILVER SPRING, MD –The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, held its final 2014-2015 Winter Speakers Series event on March 11, concluding a well-attended sequence of evening presentations on influential planning practices.

“We are still grappling with issues of growth in the County,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “This series both traced the evolution of our policies affecting development and examined the challenges we still face in creating great urban, suburban and rural communities.”

Titled “A Once and Future County: Lessons On How Planning Politics Shaped Montgomery County, the five-session series was hosted by Royce Hanson, former Chair of the County’s Planning Board. Topics reflected the subject of Hanson’s soon-to-be published book: Suburb: Planning Politics and the Public Interest in Montgomery County.

“Royce Hanson has helped us understand the forces that have influenced our community’s development,” says Casey Anderson, Chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board. “He has identified both the common themes and the changing elements of our land use politics, and I think this perspective will help us make better choices in the future.”

The first session of the Winter Speakers Series, “Planners, Politicians and How Montgomery County Got This Way,” was held on November 12, 2014. It focused on the County’s development from the end of the First World War to the present day, and examined the struggle for influence by developers and residents within the planning process.

The second session on December 10, 2014, titled “Retrofitting the Suburbs: From Friendship Heights to White Flint,” traced the evolution of strategic land use decisions in key areas of the County.

Session three on January 14, 2015, “Trials and Errors of Corridor Cities Planning,” discussed the planning politics and development in the Rockville-Gaithersburg area; the challenges of a new town in Germantown; and the problems associated with the planning and development of Clarksburg.

Session four on February 11, “Creating and Sustaining the County’s Agricultural Reserve,” traced the 30-year effort to protect the rural landscape of upper Montgomery County from development.  It discussed the challenges that were overcome to establish the Agricultural Reserve in 1980 and sustain a working landscape against efforts to compromise its integrity.

On March 11, the final session, “Hunting the Snark: Growth Policy and the Public Interest,” evaluated the effects of the 40-year evolution of County growth policy on development patterns. It explained the institutional structure of planning in Montgomery County for effective and democratically accountable land use policy.

Each 90-minute event was held at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, Md.) and was free to the public. The sessions were streamed online and can be viewed at: