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Feb 27 15

Final 2014-2015 Winter Speakers Series Event on March 11 Focuses on Montgomery County’s Growth Policies and Their Effects on Development Patterns

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Planning experts will discuss challenges and successes of influential land use policies over past four decades

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is hosting the final event in its Winter Speakers Series on Wednesday, March 11 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD.). The series is called “A Once and Future County: Lessons on How Planning Politics Shaped Montgomery County” and is hosted by Royce Hanson, former chairman of the County’s Planning Board.

The March 11 session, titled “Hunting the Snark: Growth Policy and the Public Interest,” evaluates the influence of county growth policy on development patterns over the past 40 years. Hanson and a panel of experts will discuss the challenges of planning in Montgomery County for effective and democratically accountable land use policy.

The title of the event is inspired by a poem written by British author Lewis Carroll about the quest to catch a mysterious creature called a Snark. “Like the snark in Carroll’s poem, county growth policy seemed to vanish or turn into something else just as it was within grasp,” says Hanson. “Some policies were followed and worked; others fell short of promise or failed. The system is valuable, not because it was invariably right, but because it maintained a high standard of integrity in a policy arena fraught with conflict, political influence and opportunity for corruption.”

Joining Hanson at the March 11 event to discuss growth policies will be the following experts:

Richard Hall served as the Maryland Secretary of Planning from 2007 to 2015. He joined the Maryland Department of Planning in 1992 and, as Director of Land Use Planning and Analysis, was involved in comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances and smart growth policies. Hall is a past president of the Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association, a former board member of 1000 Friends of Maryland and an affiliate faculty member of the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education.

Glenn Orlin is the Deputy Administrator of the Montgomery County Council, advising on matters pertaining to transportation and infrastructure financing. He has reviewed growth policy since 1986 for the County Executive and Council. Orlin analyzes proposed policies, budgets, plans, programs, projects, laws and regulations affecting transportation, infrastructure and development, and he makes recommendations to the Council based on the results of these evaluations. Orlin serves as the Council’s capital budget coordinator and assists in the direction of the Council Office.

Richard Tustian is an architect, planner and educator with more than 50 years of experience in managing the built environment. Between 1969 and 1990, Tustian was Planning Director for Montgomery County, where he was instrumental in developing its comprehensive growth management system. He has been engaged as a consultant by a wide variety of municipalities across the nation and as an educator by organizations such as the Lincoln Institute of land Policy, American Planning Association and Universities of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins.

Event Details:

– The 90-minute event is free to the public and will be streamed online live. It will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on March 11 at the Planning Department headquarters at 8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD.

– Watch the video from the previous Winter Speakers Series event on February 11 that focused on Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve.

– Learn more about the Once and Future County Speakers Series.

– Use hashtag: #onceandfuturecounty

Feb 27 15

Montgomery County Planning Department Announces Calendar of March 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 March 2015. From a public forum on County infrastructure to community meetings focused on master planning, these sessions offer ways to engage with planners and Planning Board members, and help shape the future of Montgomery County. Review the full list of events below and go online to www.montgomeryplanning.org 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: www.facebook.com/montgomeryplanning.

Montgomery Planning March 2015 Events:

March 5 – Attend, watch or listen live to the Montgomery County Planning Board meeting. View the full agenda.

March 7 - Learn about the policies affecting Montgomery County public schools and transportation systems at a forum held at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School (4301 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814) from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event, titled “Infrastructure and Growth: Are We Keeping Pace?,” hosted by County Councilmember Roger Berliner, will offer the opportunity for participants to meet with public officials and provide feedback about their communities. Speakers include Councilmember Roger Berliner and Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson. Register and submit your questions about policies related to schools and transportation online.

March 11 – Catch the last session of the Winter Speakers Series, A Once & Future County, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Planning Department Headquarters (8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910). “Hunting the Snark: Growth Policy and the Public Interest” will focus on the influence of land use policies on development patterns in the County. Learn more about the March 11 session and the planning experts who will speak at the event.

March 12 – 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.

March 19 – 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.

March 25 – Attend the next MV Matters meeting to discuss the Montgomery Village Master Plan from 7-9 p.m. at Watkins Mill High School (10301 Apple Ridge Road, Gaithersburg, MD). Planners will update residents on the proposed changes to existing zoning and other aspects of the plan. MVMatters is a series of outreach events meant to inform the community about specific subject areas, such as urban design, land use, parks, environment and transportation. Through the meetings, planners have received feedback from residents on what they view as the most valuable places in the village. View the Montgomery Village Scope of Work.

March 26 – 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.

March 31- Learn more about the Planning Department’s recent activities at the presentation of its Spring 2015 Semi-Annual Report to the Montgomery County Council.

Feb 26 15

Montgomery County Planning Board Meeting and Board of Education Dinner Canceled for Thursday, February 26

by Bridget Schwiesow

Both meetings for February 26 canceled due to inclement weather 

The Montgomery County Planning Board meeting scheduled for today, Thursday, February 26 at 4 p.m. has been canceled due to inclement weather. The agenda items scheduled for today have been rescheduled for March 5. Please contact the Montgomery County Planning Board Chair’s Office with any questions MCP-CHAIR@mncppc-mc.org.

The Montgomery County Board of Education dinner scheduled for 6 p.m. this evening with the Planning Board is also canceled due to the weather and will be rescheduled.

Learn more about the Montgomery County Planning Board.

 

Feb 19 15

Montgomery Village Meeting on February 25 Focuses on New Use for Golf Course

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Residents and property owners invited to discuss proposed zoning and open space preservation

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, February 25, 2015 from 7-9 p.m. at the Watkins Mill High School cafeteria (10301 Apple Ridge Road, Gaithersburg, MD).

Department of Planning Department staff will recap the frequently asked questions from the February 9 meeting and will focus on the proposed land uses for the former Montgomery Village golf course. In addition, the Montgomery Village Overlay Zone will be explained as a strategy for retaining and preserving open spaces within the Village.  During breakout sessions, staff invites participants to discuss their concerns and ideas about proposals related to the former golf course and Village Overlay Zone.

The PowerPoint presentation and other materials from the February 9 MV Matters meeting are posted on the MVMatters webpage. The purpose of that event was to explain that the existing Town Sector Zoning for the commercial centers will be replaced by new zoning categories. Open space and recreational opportunities for Montgomery Village were also discussed.

At breakout sessions on February 9, participants discussed the proposed zoning and visions for each of the commercial/employment areas within Montgomery Village in detail. Based on input received, staff revised the preliminary recommendations for the Village Center and Professional Center, and introduced a new mixed-use concept along Lost Knife Road, extending from Montgomery Village Avenue to Odenhal Drive.

The date of the next MV Matters meeting, which will be devoted to the overall master plan recommendations, will be announced at the February 25 event.

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 www.montgomeryplanningboard.org/meetings_archive/

Stay Connected:
Sign up: for the Montgomery Village Master Plan eNewsletter
Call:
the MVPlan Hotline for updates on upcoming planning events: 301-495-4723
Learn More: www.montgomeryplanning.org/mvp
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.

Feb 19 15

John Carter Retiring from Montgomery County Planning Department

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Planner and architect oversaw master plans, development review and design projects for the County’s largest area

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is announcing the retirement of John Carter, AIA, who served as the Chief of several divisions.  As the Chief of the Community-Based Planning Division for more than 10 years, Carter was responsible for overseeing master plans, zoning cases and urban design projects.  As the Chief of Area 3, he was responsible for master planning and development review in the largest geographic area of the county. He also served as Chief of the Urban Design and Historic Preservation Division for two years.

“Over his 37 years with the Planning Department, John Carter has been at the heart of many of the most important and creative projects that we have done,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “From efforts in the 1980s to make Downtown Bethesda a vibrant, transit-oriented neighborhood to current efforts to create great communities in Germantown and Clarksburg, John has played a major role and has left his imprint throughout the County. He has given us some fantastic plans and projects to build on.”

Carter participated in the preparation of more than 20 master plans, including six Metrorail station areas, several affordable housing initiatives, major urban design projects and sustainable neighborhood planning projects.

Among his most notable accomplishments are:

  • Sector plans for the business districts of Bethesda, Friendship Heights and Silver Spring.
  • Master plans and urban design plans for the transformation of the Twinbrook and Shady Grove Metro station areas.
  • Master plans for corridor cities and satellite towns, including Clarksburg, Damascus and Olney.
  • Plans for the protection and enhancement of rural communities, including Burtonsville, Sandy Spring and Upper Rock Creek.
  • Urban design plans for Montgomery College in South Silver Spring, Blair High School in Four Corners and Strathmore Concert Hall, as well as the adjacent residential community in Grosvenor.
  • A development review process that created opportunities for the Bethesda Round House Theater, Bethesda Blues and Jazz Club, Friendship Heights Recreation Center and the NOAA Science and History Center and Park in Silver Spring.
  • Sustainable neighborhood planning projects in the I-270 Technology Corridor.
  • Collaboration with Federal, State and Montgomery County agencies to create opportunities for the expansion of NIH, FDA, HHS, NIST and public schools through the mandatory referral process.
  • Master plans and development review projects that foster the preservation of agriculture and rural open space in the 93,000 acre Agricultural Reserve.

Carter is a licensed architect and planner, and a member of the American Planning Association and American Institute of Architects.  He received a Master of Planning degree from the University of Virginia, a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Virginia Tech and a Bachelor of Architecture with Distinction from Arizona State University.

Over his career, John received numerous awards for excellence in planning and urban design from the National Capital Chapter of the American Planning Association, Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Bethesda Chamber of Commerce and the Bruner Foundation.

Prior to joining the Montgomery County Planning Department in 1978, John worked as an architect for the Perkins and Will Partnership in Washington, D.C.

“Of the hundreds of planners I have been privileged to know, John stands out for three great qualities,” says Royce Hanson who served as Planning Board Chair from 1972 to 1981 and 2006 to 2010. These strengths include Carter’s “unwarranted optimism,” his talent as an accomplished designer and the respect he earned from professionals and communities.

“There was never a calamity so great or a wall of opposition so high and intense that John did not cheerfully think could be resolved, and as a result, it often was,” notes Hanson.  “His optimism was buttressed by being an accomplished designer, enabling him to incorporate the concerns of interested parties into a creative resolution that made things better. Some of the best places in the county bear his imprint.”

Feb 12 15

March 11 Speakers Event Examines Influence of Montgomery County’s Growth Policies on Development Patterns

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Panelists to discuss evolution of land use policies and their effects on County growth

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is hosting the final event in its Winter Speakers Series on Wednesday, March 11 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD.). The series is called “A Once and Future County: Lessons on How Planning Politics Shaped Montgomery County” and is hosted by Royce Hanson, former chairman of the County’s Planning Board.

The concluding session, titled “Hunting the Snark: Growth Policy and the Public Interest,” evaluates the effects of the 40-year evolution of county growth policy on development patterns. Hanson and a panel of experts will discuss the institutional structure of planning in Montgomery County for effective and democratically accountable land use policy.

“Like the snark in Lewis Carroll’s poem [“Hunting of the Snark”], county growth policy seemed to vanish or turn into something else just as it was within grasp,” says Hanson. “Some policies were followed and worked; others fell short of promise or failed. The system is valuable, not because it was invariably right, but because it maintained a high standard of integrity in a policy arena fraught with conflict, political influence and opportunity for corruption.”

Joining Hanson at the March 11 event to discuss growth policies will be the following experts:

Richard Hall served as the Maryland Secretary of Planning from 2007 to 2015. He joined the Maryland Department of Planning in 1992 and, as Director of Land Use Planning and Analysis, was involved in comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances and smart growth policies. Hall is a past president of the Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association, a former board member of 1000 Friends of Maryland and an affiliate faculty member of the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education.

Glenn Orlin is the Deputy Administrator of the Montgomery County Council, advising on matters pertaining to transportation and infrastructure financing. He has reviewed growth policy since 1986 for the County Executive and Council. Orlin analyzes proposed policies, budgets, plans, programs, projects, laws and regulations affecting transportation, infrastructure and development, and presents the results of evaluations and recommendations to the Council. Orlin serves as the Council’s capital budget coordinator and assists in the direction of the Council Office.

Richard Tustian is an architect, planner and educator with more than 50 years of experience in managing the built environment. Between 1969 and 1990, Tustian was Planning Director for Montgomery County, where he was instrumental in developing its comprehensive growth management system. He has been engaged as a consultant by a wide variety of municipalities across the nation and as an educator by organizations such as the Lincoln Institute of land Policy, American Planning Association and Universities of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins.

Event Details:
- The 90-minute event is free to the public and will be streamed online live. It will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on March 11 at the Planning Department headquarters at 8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD.

– Watch the video from the previous Winter Speakers Series event on February 11 that focused on Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve.

– Learn more about the Once and Future County Speakers Series.

– Use hashtag: #onceandfuturecounty

Feb 5 15

Montgomery County Planning Director Gwen Wright Presents Plans to Rejuvenate Aging Suburbs on February 19

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Wright explains ways of achieving mixed-use, walkable communities at Biznow conference on suburban revitalization

SILVER SPRING, MD – Gwen Wright, Director of The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will present the County’s ongoing planning efforts at a conference to be held on Thursday, February 19 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center ( 5701 Marinelli Road, North Bethesda, MD 20852) from 7:45-10 a.m.

Wright will join local real estate developers and public officials at “Montgomery County – Revitalizing its Suburbs” to explain how the new County zoning ordinance and master plans encourage mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly and sustainable communities where residents can walk and bike to homes, stores, offices, parks and transit. She will highlight current plans for White Flint, Downtown Bethesda, Westbard and other areas to illustrate the ways in which suburban revitalization is being encouraged throughout the County.

The February 19 conference is sponsored by Bisnow and requires online registration.

Feb 5 15

Applications Due on April 1 for Montgomery County Historic Preservation Tax Credits

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Owners of county properties may be eligible to receive a 25 percent tax credit for various rehabilitation or maintenance projects, such as fixing a window, replacing a roof or repainting

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is accepting applications from county property owners seeking a financial reward for faithfully restoring the exteriors of their historic structures. To be eligible for the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Tax Credit, the property must be listed in the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation.

Owners must file an application as well as documentation of the repairs that were done with the historic preservation staff of the Planning Department by April 1, 2015. The Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission will then evaluate the applications to determine whether the scope of work meets the eligibility requirements for the program.

View a short video about the Historic Tax Credit program offered by the Montgomery County Planning Department Historic Preservation Office.

Repairs, restoration or preservation of exterior features of designated structures are considered for the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Tax Credit. Examples of eligible projects include, but are not limited to:

-Painting
-Repairing roofs or replacing them in-kind
-Repairing windows, architectural trim or ornament
-Uncovering and repairing original siding
-Repointing brick or stone foundations or chimneys
-Restoring a documented feature, such as a dormer or porch that was previously altered or removed
-Repairing and maintaining outbuildings such as barns and garages.

New additions, construction and interior work are ineligible.

History of County Tax Credit:
To encourage the restoration and preservation of historic properties, the Montgomery County Council passed legislation (Chapter 52, Article VI) in 1984, creating a historic preservation tax credit program for county-designated historic properties. Owners of properties listed in the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation are eligible to receive a credit for documented expenses for exterior maintenance, restoration or preservation work. The tax credit is applied toward County real property taxes.

On July 16, 2013, the Montgomery County Council passed Bill 14-13, which amended the tax law (Chapter 52, Article VI) to increase the percentage of improvement costs on a historic property for which a tax credit could be granted from 10 percent to 25 percent for eligible work completed after January 1, 2013.

The Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) reviews the tax credit applications, certifies that project work is eligible for tax credits and forwards recommendations to the County Department of Finance for approval. The approved tax credit is applied to a property owner’s tax bill.

Any unused portion of this tax credit may be carried forward for as many as five years. A property not listed on the Master Plan for Historic Preservation at the time the work is undertaken will not be considered for the preservation tax credit.

For more information about filing a tax credit application, please contact Matt Bowling, Senior Preservation Planner at the Montgomery County Department of Planning (telephone: 301-563-3408; email: matt.bowling@montgomeryplanning.org).

Feb 5 15

Meeting on February 9 Addresses Commercial Centers and Open Spaces in Montgomery Village

by Bridget Schwiesow

Montgomery Village vert  logo

Discussion will focus on new zoning categories and future uses of former golf course

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

This session will focus on the commercial centers, open space preservation and connections, and the former golf course. County planning staff will provide an overview of each topic and opportunities for participants to comment on those areas they would like to see revitalized, preserved or connected to, and discuss concerns and suggestions regarding the properties. Since the meeting scheduled for January 26 was cancelled due to snowy weather, planners have combined topics originally scheduled for discussion on that date  with those on the agenda for February 9.

The PowerPoint presentation and other materials from the last MV Matters meeting on January 12 are posted on the MVMatters webpage. The purpose of that session was to explain how the existing Town Sector zoning for the residential sections of Montgomery Village will be translated into new zones that will accommodate the variety of housing found in the community.

The next MV Matters meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 25 from 7-9 p.m. at the Watkins Mill High School cafeteria. Topics for discussion at that session will be announced at the February 9 event.

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 www.montgomeryplanningboard.org/meetings_archive/

Stay Connected:
Sign up: for the Montgomery Village Master Plan eNewsletter
Call:
the MVPlan Hotline for updates on upcoming planning events: 301-495-4723
Learn More: www.montgomeryplanning.org/mvp
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.

Jan 29 15

Urban Design Expert Noré Winter Advises Planning Department on Creation and Implementation of Design Guidelines for Montgomery County Communities

by Bridget Schwiesow

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Public event at Silver Spring Civic Center and meetings with planners explore the challenges, applications and regulatory issues associated with design guidelines

Silver Spring, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, invited nationally recognized urban design and planning expert Noré Winter to discuss community design guidelines with staff, residents and the Planning Board from Tuesday, January 27 through Thursday, January 29. This initiative is part of a broader effort to implement design excellence throughout the County.

“Montgomery County deserves to have the highest quality design reflecting its educated citizen base and sophisticated public policy,” said Planning Director Gwen Wright. “Developing design guidelines as part of our master plans is an important step that we have been taking toward improving the quality of life in all our communities. Noré is helping us to focus on the best ways of creating new and more effective guidelines for buildings, streetscapes and neighborhoods.”

On January 27, Winter met with planning staff to talk about the creation and implementation of effective design guidelines and then presented ideas to the public at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Following his public presentation, a discussion was held with panelists John Carter, Chief of the Area 3 Team and one of the leaders in generating guidelines in the Planning Department; William Kirwan, a Bethesda architect and Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission Chair, and  Karen Kumm Morris, a landscape architect who recently served on the Arlington Planning Commission in Virginia. For a recap of the presentation including videos and presentation materials, check out the Montgomery County Planning Department Design Excellence page.

In a morning meeting with planning staff on January 28, Winter discussed issues relating to the creation of design guidelines, including neighborhood context, building massing and transitional zones in residential areas. An afternoon session focused on project review and implementation of guidelines through master plans and zoning regulations.

Winter’s presentation to the Planning Board on January 29 recommended the creation of easy-to-use guidelines that can reinforce County policies, inspire high quality development while maintaining flexibility, and help create a climate for investment that generates value for our neighborhoods and community as a whole.

“We’re seeing communities all across the country using design guidelines to create identity and enhance livability,” said Winter, who stressed that there can be flexibility in applying the standards. “You want a strong set of principles on which to anchor your decisions, but leave room for new design approaches.”

Next steps in the Planning Department’s Design Excellence Initiative include drafting design guidelines for active master plans (Downtown Bethesda, Westbard, Greater Lyttonsville, and Montgomery Village). As a result of the planners’ recent consultation with Mr. Winter, these documents will include greater detail and guidance for achieving community goals and ideals.

Another goal of the Design Excellence Initiative is to consider the creation of a Director’s Design Advisory Panel. This group of community members and urban design experts would make recommendations to the Planning Director about best practices related to the design of buildings, public spaces and streetscapes.

Review more details on the Montgomery Planning Department’s Design Excellence Initiative.

About Noré Winter
President of Winter & Company in Boulder, Colorado, Noré Winter specializes in developing guidelines for communities with distinctive natural settings and traditional neighborhoods at the urban, suburban and rural levels. He has worked on projects in 48 states for both local governments and federal agencies, and from large cities to small private developments.

Winter is frequently a featured speaker at conferences sponsored by organizations such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Park Service and American Planning Association. From 1992-1996, he served as Chairman of the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions.