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Apr 17 14

Attend the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan Relaunch Meeting

by Bridget Schwiesow

Community invited to re-engage and learn about existing conditions for Greater Lyttonsville  

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department will be hosting a meeting for the Greater Lyttonsville community to relaunch the sector plan. At this family-friendly meeting, staff will present existing conditions that will form the foundation for transforming the heart of Greater Lyttonsville. All residents and business owners are invited to attend on the evening of Tuesday, May 6 at the Gwendolyn E. Coffield Center (2450 Lyttonsville Road, Silver Spring, MD).

The Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan was initially started in summer 2012 but was placed on hold at the direction of the County Council. Now, planners are looking to re-engage the community from the area west of Silver Spring and east of Rock Creek Park to determine the vision for the area that will guide development for the next twenty years and beyond.

The planning process will include a review of zoning and land use, with a particular focus on the commercial area along Brookville Road and the two proposed Purple Line stations. The Plan will look at potential locations for mixed-use development near stations, examine important employment centers, seek to preserve and enhance the existing single-family neighborhood character, coordinate with the Fort Detrick Forest Glen Annex planning process, address quality of life issues, and strive to maintain affordable housing and support cultural diversity. It will also address connections between the existing residential neighborhoods and employment areas along Brookville Road.

What: Greater Lyttonsville Relaunch meeting hosted by the Montgomery Planning Department
Who: Residents, property owners, business owners, and anyone focused on the future of Greater Lyttonsville
When: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 from 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Where: Gwendolyn E. Coffield Center – 2450 Lyttonsville Road, Silver Spring, MD
Info: Learn more about the Greater Lyttonsville Plan
Social Media: #GreaterLP

Apr 10 14

Update: Tonight’s Open House on the Bethesda Downtown Plan

by Bridget Schwiesow

Bethesda logo

Find out about the planning process and see the work to date

  • It’s the mid-point of the Bethesda Downtown Plan planning process and you can still give your thoughts on the future of Downtown Bethesda
  • Drop-in tonight and ask questions and discuss your ideas and concerns with planners
  • Newcomers and long-time participants welcome!
  • The next public meeting will be a Workshop on Saturday, May 17 at B-CC High school
  • The Draft Plan is scheduled to go to the Planning Board starting in Fall 2014

Here’s what you will see tonight:

  • A new diagram that shows the prevailing thoughts about subareas, centers and connections
  • Updated posters of existing conditions and what we have heard
  • Questions that will be asked:
    • Which are your highest priority districts to focus on?
    • What do you want outdoors?  (Show us your priorities.)
    • Which one-way streets should be two way?
    • Which streets should be closed to cars for special events?

You are invited to continue to participate online with the planning process. Questions will be posted online in the upcoming months to find out more about what you would like Bethesda to be like in the future.

Sign up for the Bethesda Downtown Plan e-mail newsletter and stay connected to the plan:

Questions? Comments? Contact us:
Elza Hisel-McCoy, Assoc. AIA, LEED-AP, Project Manager 301.495.2115
Marc DeOcampo, AIA, LEED-AP, Master Planner-Supervisor 301.495.4556
Margaret K. Rifkin, AICP, RLA, Outreach 301.495.4583


Apr 8 14

Experience the Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan Exhibit

by Bridget Schwiesow


Community design workshop process now on display at Sandy Spring Museum  

SILVER SPRING, MD – The results of the four-day design and planning workshop for the Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan are now on display for the community to experience. Asked by the Sandy Spring Museum (17901 Bentley Road, Sandy Spring) to make the design and visioning work for the ongoing Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan available to others, planners organized an exhibit to further engage the community in the planning process. The graphics, text and drawings prepared at the workshop form the foundation of the Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan which is currently in process.

The community is invited to experience the exhibit at the Sandy Spring Museum from now until the end of April.

“We were honored to be asked to display the work of the Planning Department and the community on the walls of the Sandy Spring Museum,” said John Carter, Planning Area 3 Chief, “It is an excellent opportunity for the community to be engaged as the plan is actually happening, I encourage everyone to visit.”

After receiving comments from the community, Planning staff will prepare the Staff Draft Plan for review by the Planning Board in early summer 2014.

The Staff Draft will focus on designing a village center in the commercial core that will:
-improve connections
-expand public spaces
-provide a mix of land uses (including housing)

The Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan was called for in the 1998 Master Plan and the results of the workshop will inform this new plan which seeks to determine how best to integrated the new fire station into the village center concept.

What: Sandy Spring Rural Village Exhibit Display
When: Happening now through the end of April
Where: Sandy Spring Museum, 17901 Bentley Road, Sandy Spring

Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan Highlights:
In the spring of 2013, the Montgomery County Council approved a plan for the Sandy Spring Rural Village. The 1998 Sandy Spring/Ashton Master Planrecognized that the details of the village center concept were beyond its scope, and recommended more detailed study and analysis to develop the concept. This Plan will follow the guidance in the 1998 Master Plan and determine how to best connect the new fire station into a village center concept, design a village green, and determine the feasibility of realigning Brooke Road using the following three goals:

-Preserve the rich cultural history of the area
-Design a civic space and village center
-Connect the community to the village center and examine right-of-way issues

The Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan will also examine land use and potential zoning changes. The Plan will not undergo a large-scale transportation modeling process, but it will examine traffic studies along MD 108 and intersection data.

Learn more about the Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan and how to get involved:

Apr 8 14

Park and Planning Spring 2014 Semi-Annual Report Now Available

by Bridget Schwiesow

Planning Board Chair and Department Heads present before Montgomery County Council

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Council considered the Park and Planning Spring 2014 Semi-Annual Report on Tuesday, April 1. The biannual report gives a recap of the work from the past six months and highlights the work program for FY15.

The full report is available online on the Montgomery Planning Department website. The video of the Council discussion of the Semi-Annual report is available on the Montgomery County Council website.

The Planning Department is focused on the following themes for FY15:
-Moving towards “finer-grained” planning and a focus on design excellence
-Continuous improvement of the Development Review process
-A focus on innovative housing ideas, new approaches to transportation modeling, and creative use of public assets through colocation
-New ways of using technology for both analysis and communication.

This is the last Semi-Annual presented by Planning Board Chair Françoise Carrier since she has announced she will not seek a second. This is also the last Semi-Annual for Parks Department Director Mary Bradford who is retiring after serving an eight year tenure.

Learn more about the Spring 2014 Semi-Annual Report.

Mar 28 14

Mark Calendars for Makeover Montgomery 2 | Moving Forward Montgomery

by Bridget Schwiesow

Moving Forward Montgomery logo vert

Registration for May conference now open

SILVER SPRING, MD – Following the success of the original Makeover Montgomery conference in 2011, the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, the Montgomery County Planning Department and the Urban Studies and Planning Program at the University of Maryland have joined forces again to host Makeover Montgomery 2 | Moving Forward Montgomery (MM2). The three-day event is happening May 8-10, 2014 and is open to residents, business owners and anyone with an interest in moving their community forward.

All across the country, suburban planners and residents are grappling with how to adapt to demographic shifts, changing housing preferences, and growing infrastructure costs – all while making their communities more sustainable. This event will address these themes and more with some of the brightest planning minds from across the country.

The conference will kick-off on Thursday, May 8 at 7 p.m. at the University of Maryland, College Park with a keynote address delivered by Ellen Dunham-Jones, award-winning architect and professor of contemporary architecture and urban design at the Georgia Tech School of Architecture. Ms. Dunham-Jones is also a board member of the Congress for New Urbanism and co-author of “Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs.”

The conference will then continue on Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10 at the Silver Spring Civic Building located in downtown Silver Spring (One Veterans Place). Conference organizers are pleased to present an exciting lineup of regional and national experts to lead discussions on a variety of topics within the following tracks:

  • Transportation and Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
  • Creative Use of Public Assets/Public-Private Partnerships
  • Current Planning Trends

Learn about the full conference agenda and registration information.

MM2 Conference Details:
MM2 | Moving Forward Montgomery
May 8, 2014, 7 p.m. at the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Auditorium on the campus of The University of Maryland, College Park
May 9-10, 2014, starting at 8 a.m. at the Silver Spring Civic Building  (1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD)
Registration fee: $35

AICP CM and AIA CE credits are pending

About The Montgomery County Planning Department:
The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, aims to improve quality of life by conserving and enhancing the natural and built environment for current and future generations. The Planning Department creates great communities by developing master plans, reviewing applications for development and analyzing various types of information to help public officials plan for Montgomery County’s future. The Department is comprised of 140 staff members and provides recommendations, information, analysis and services to the Montgomery County Planning Board, the County Council, the County Executive, other government agencies and the general public. Visit

About The National Center for Smart Growth:
The National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education (NCSG) is a non-partisan center for research on smart growth and related land use issues in Maryland, in metropolitan regions around the nation, and in Asia and Europe. Located at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, just eight miles from Washington, D.C., the NCSG was founded in 2000 as a cooperative venture of four University of Maryland schools: Architecture, Planning and Preservation; Public Policy; Agriculture and Natural Resources; and Engineering.  The mission of the NCSG is to bring the diverse resources of the University of Maryland and a network of national experts to bear on issues related to land use and the environment, transportation and public health, housing and community development, and international urban development. The NCSG accomplishes this through independent, objective, interdisciplinary research, outreach and education.

About The Urban Studies and Planning Program at the University of Maryland:
The Urban Studies and Planning Program at the University of Maryland brings together an active community of scholars and students to creatively confront the issues facing our cities and metropolitan regions. Through instruction, participation in research and community interaction, students explore the changing character and critical problems of modern urban development. The core curriculum of the Urban Studies and Planning Program emphasizes understanding of the political, economic, institutional and social context in which professional planners work with a variety of stakeholders to develop and implement plans and programs. The aim of the Master of Community Planning degree is to prepare planning professionals and future scholars.  The Program is located within the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

Mar 28 14

Montgomery County Planning Department to Host Zoning Code Open Houses

by Bridget Schwiesow

Public invited to learn more about the proposed zoning changes, new interactive maps

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department is inviting residents and business owners to give feedback on the comprehensive District Map Amendment proposed for Montgomery County. There will be several open houses held throughout the County this spring and all are invited to attend.  The new Zoning Code was approved by the Montgomery County Council in March 2014 after months of worksessions and discussions. The new zoning code will modernize antiquated, redundant zoning regulations, and create new tools to help achieve goals in community plans.

Although the new code has already been approved, it cannot go into effect until a new zoning map has also been adopted, since the zoning on many non-residential properties is changing.  Over the next few months, Planning Department staff will be focusing their attention on the proposed zoning map and are seeking feedback from affected property owners as well as from residents. Staff will be available and will have interactive maps at each of the open house events to help answer questions about the proposed zoning.

“Although great care was taken to ensure that the zoning being recommended for non-residential properties is very similar to the existing zoning, that was not always possible given the number of zones that were consolidated,” said Deputy Director Rose Krasnow.  ”Since it is far easier to address any concerns before the new map is adopted, we encourage everyone to attend these open houses.”

After the spring open houses, staff will bring a revised version of the proposed zoning map to the Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) committee for review. Once the PHED committee completes its review, the full County Council will evaluate the proposed zoning map. It is anticipated that the map will be adopted by Council in the summer or early fall, and that the new code will become effective on October 30, 2014.

Zoning Code Open Houses Details:
April 22 (6-8 p.m.) Rockville Memorial Library
April 24 (6-8 p.m.) Wheaton Regional Library
April 29 (5-8 p.m.) Park and Planning Headquarters, Silver Spring
May 1 (6-8 p.m.) Marilyn J. Praisner Library, Burtonsville
May 5 (6-8 p.m.) UpCounty Regional Services Center, Germantown
May 6 (6-8 p.m.) B-CC Regional Services Center, Bethesda

About the Zoning Code Rewrite:
Montgomery County’s Zoning Code was originally written in 1977. It is the law that governs growth in the county. The comprehensive rewrite of the ordinance started five years ago with the goal of simplifying the complex and outdated code. The Council’s recent approval of the text for the Zoning Code Rewrite will be instrumental in all future planning and development in the County. Planning Department staff is looking forward to embracing a new zoning code: one that is easier to use, encourages better development, enhances compatibility, promotes sustainability, and supports our county master plans. The new zoning code represents a great step forward for Montgomery County to have a more understandable, clear and coherent zoning ordinance that will be easier to use and to enforce. It offers a better organization of uses and zones, clearer procedures for approval and a solid foundation in modern planning and design principles.

Learn more about the Zoning Rewrite and how to get involved in the process.

Mar 28 14

Attend the Next Bethesda Downtown Plan Open House – Thursday, April 10, 7 to 9 p.m.

by Bridget Schwiesow

Bethesda logo

Interact with Planning Department staff and learn about alternatives for overall plan concept   

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department will be hosting a community open house to receive feedback from residents, property owners and business owners on the most recent ideas and work done to date on the Bethesda Downtown Plan. Residents, business owners and property owners are invited to attend the meeting on Thursday, April 10 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Bethesda Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, Maryland 20814). RSVP’s are encouraged but not required.

The open house will feature staff’s most current work on possible alternative concepts for the Bethesda Downtown area. There will also be an opportunity for people to see, and comment on, the preliminary  analytical work being done for the plan area. The open house format will allow people to ask questions of the staff, give feedback, and engage with other attendees.

This open house is the follow-up to the successful March 1 Planning and Design Workshop which included 130 attendees who worked in small groups to provide their ideas on how Downtown Bethesda as a whole should evolve over the next twenty years. The ensuing staff work has been informed by the contributions from the participants in the workshop as well as by the insights from the numerous meetings and communications with residents and other interested parties. Information on all meetings and written comments received are on the website. Check out the recap video of the March 1 workshop.

A May workshop will focus more specifically on neighborhoods in the downtown area. A visual preferences survey will also be available online at in the coming month.

Information and ideas provided by the public at this open house will inform the preparations of recommendations for the Bethesda Downtown Plan which will update the 1994 Bethesda Central Business District Sector Plan and the 2006 Woodmont Triangle Amendment. This is an opportunity for the community to refine the vision for a successful Downtown Bethesda that should continue to thrive for the next twenty years and beyond.

What: Bethesda Downtown Plan Plan Open House
Who: Residents, property owners, and anyone with an interest in the future of Downtown Bethesda
When: Thursday, April 10 (7 to 9 p.m.)
Where: Bethesda Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, Maryland 20814).

The Bethesda Downtown Plan Scope of Work  defines the process, purpose and timeline that were approved by the Planning Board on Jan. 31. The Scope of Work included three themes to guide the purpose of the planning framework:

- Economic sustainability
- Social sustainability
- Environmental sustainability

Learn more about the Bethesda Downtown Plan and how to get involved:

Questions, comments? Contact:
Elza Hisel-McCoy, Assoc. AIA, LEED-AP, Project Manager 301.495.2115
Questions and to arrange a meeting

Margaret K. Rifkin, AICP, RLA, Outreach 301.495.4583
Public Meetings, Website & Social Media Content

Mar 19 14

Montgomery County Planning Department Honored for Historic Preservation Efforts

by Bridget Schwiesow

claremontmodern Historic Preservation Planner Clare Lise Kelly and Montgomery Modern initiative recognized

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department will be recognized at the annual Montgomery Preservation Inc. Historic Preservation Awards program on March 28. Historic Planner Clare Lise Kelly is set to receive the Montgomery Prize, the highest honor awarded by Montgomery Preservation. Montgomery Preservation Inc. will also recognize the Montgomery Modern Initiative, a documentation and educational program launched by Kelly and the Historic Preservation Office. The reception will be held at the National Park Seminary Ballroom (9610 Dewitt Dr., Silver Spring, MD) starting at 6 p.m. with the awards portion of the evening starting at 7 p.m.

The Montgomery Prize will be presented to Clare Lise Kelly in recognition of her 25 years of exemplary professional and public service toward protecting County historic resources. Kelly began working for the Planning Department’s Historic Preservation office in 1990 and is now Research and Designation Coordinator. She leads the Montgomery Modern initiative to study and raise awareness about the architecture of the recent past.

The Montgomery Modern initiative will also receive an award at this year’s Preservation Awards for special achievement in education/media. The Montgomery Modern initiative was started in the fall of 2013 as a way to raise appreciation of midcentury modern architecture. The Montgomery Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office launched a website (to present information about the buildings, architects, and developers that contributed to Montgomery County’s tremendous growth in the middle of the twentieth century). Last fall, a bus tour of midcentury buildings was offered as part of the initiative, and more public programming is in the works, including development of an interactive website that allows users to take a virtual tour with a GIS application.

“This is a tremendous honor for the Planning Department and we are incredibly proud of the excellent work of Clare Kelly in promoting awareness of historical resources in Montgomery County,” said Gwen Wright, Planning Director. “This recognition is especially meaningful because the Montgomery Modern program is a special initiative that is actively engaging the community, through technology, about midcentury modern architecture.”

Montgomery Preservation Inc. Historic Preservation Awards Details:
Friday, March 28
National Park Seminary Ballroom (9610 Dewitt Dr., Silver Spring, MD)
6 p.m. – reception and refreshments
7 p.m. – awards program

About Clare Lise Kelly:
A graduate of Cornell University with a degree in Design and Environmental Analysis, Kelly has a Masters in Historic Preservation from the University of Vermont. She is the author of the award-winning Places from the Past: the Tradition of Gardez Bien in Montgomery County Maryland (2001), described by longtime Park Historian Michael Dwyer as the bible of historic sites for the county.  Previously Kelly worked as architectural historian for Robinson & Associates, Washington, DC, and Historic Sites Curator at Pennsbury Manor, for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in Pennsylvania.

About the Montgomery Modern Initiative:
Montgomery County historic preservation planners have begun exploring, analyzing and recording local midcentury modern buildings and communities as part of the Montgomery Modern initiative.  From International Style office towers to Googie style stores and contemporary tract houses, Montgomery Modern celebrates the buildings, technology, and materials of the Atomic Age, from the late 1940s through the 1960s.  Planners want to help raise the public’s understanding of – and appreciation for – these buildings and communities developed during a time of tremendous growth in Montgomery County.

About Montgomery Preservation:
Montgomery Preservation, Inc. (MPI) is Montgomery County’s only county-wide nonprofit historic preservation organization. It was formed from the Montgomery County Committee of the Maryland Historical Trust in the early 1970s. The group incorporated in 1984 to actively encourage and defend preservation efforts in the county and communities. Learn more about MPI.

Mar 18 14

Attend the Aspen Hill Minor Master Plan Amendment Community Meeting

by Bridget Schwiesow


Attend this second community meeting to find out about the plan and how you can get involved

The meeting is happening on Tuesday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Aspen Hill Library
(4407 Aspen Hill Road).

Learn more about this plan and how you can get involved.

Plan background:
In the spring of 2013, the County Council programmed the preparation of a minor master plan amendment in 2014 for the properties currently zoned for officearound the former Vitro site at Connecticut Avenue and Aspen Hill Road. The 1994 Aspen Hill Master Plan recommends only office uses for the site. The minor amendment process provides an opportunity to reassess the subject area and analyze additional redevelopment and zoning opportunities.

Questions, comments?
Contact: Andrea Gilles, (se habla español) 301-495-4541

Mar 18 14

Attend the Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan Community Meeting — March 19

by Bridget Schwiesow


Learn about the preliminary recommendations from the four-day public design workshop
Attend the Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan Community Meeting hosted by the Montgomery County Planning Department on Wednesday, March 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. to stay involved in the planning process. The meeting will be held at the Sandy Spring Meeting House located at 17715 Meeting House Road, Sandy Spring, MD.

Learn more about the Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan and how you can be a part of the process.

Questions, comments? Contact:
Kristin O’Connor, Area 3: Up-County & Rural Planning, Lead Planner

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