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Planning Department to Undertake Two Minor Master Plans

by Valerie Berton on August 2nd, 2012

SILVER SPRING – To address potential land use changes and analyze zoning and other priorities identified by stakeholders in Sandy Spring and Bethesda, Montgomery County planners will draft two community minor master plan amendments to be considered by the Planning Board and County Council.

While master plans create a community framework designed to last 15 to 20 years, minor master plan amendments are smaller and nimbler. Master plans, created for every community in Montgomery County, are revised every 15 to 20 years and set a framework for county decision-makers to decide on proposed development and growth issues. The minor plan amendments create a way for the Planning Board and Council to address current issues without waiting 20 years for a full plan review.

Last spring, planners unveiled a nomination process for minor master plan amendments. The online submission system allows anyone to suggest that a property or community be analyzed in a master plan context. A master plan typically addresses zoning and land use and analyzes transportation, community facilities, environmental assets and issues, and any historic structures.

The minor master plan amendment process, free and open to anyone who wants to study aspects of a master plan, is reviewed by planners and the Planning Board. Last Tuesday, the Council considered the Board’s recommendations and approved two minor plan amendments for Sandy Spring and Bethesda’s Pooks Hill neighborhood.

The Sandy Spring amendment was initiated by planners and area stakeholders who would like to take the next step to develop a vibrant center. That concept, from the 1998 Sandy Spring Ashton Master Plan, calls for the center to be a focal point anchored in part by a village green, a new fire station and a realigned road to improve the pedestrian environment and vehicular circulation. The concept may be easier to implement with mixed-use zoning, passed last fall by the County Council. Planners expect to start work on the Sandy Spring plan in January, 2013.

Applicants for property in Pooks Hill, currently zoned Hotel/Motel, have asked for a plan amendment to consider mixed-use zoning to allow three high-rise residential buildings. The applicants would like to build housing, including moderately priced dwelling units, close to the National Institutes of Health and the newly relocated Walter Reed Medical Center on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda.

Minor master plan amendments will go through the same public review process as any master plan.

Learn more or apply for a minor master plan amendment using an online form.
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