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Jul 5 16

Submissions to 2016 Design Excellence Award Competition Due on July 21

by Christopher Peifer

2016 design award logo formal
Planning Department invites developers, architects, landscape architects, designers and property owners to submit top-quality, completed projects in Montgomery County to annual award competition

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, seeks to recognize exceptional work in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design in Montgomery County through its annual Design Excellence Award competition. Developers, property owners and their design teams are invited to submit built projects that contribute to improving the quality of physical environments throughout the County.

This call for entries marks the second year of the Design Excellence Award competition. Last year’s award winner, the Silver Spring Civic Building, and four jury citations received recognition throughout 2015 and 2016 with photos and descriptions of the projects displayed at various venues, including a new display in the County Council chamber. One of the design architects of the winning Silver Spring Civic Building, Boston-based Rodolfo Machado, was invited by the Planning Department to speak about his work at a public presentation in May 2016.

The 2016 call for entries is currently underway and closes on Thursday, July 21, 2016. The selection of a winner will be made by an outside jury of accomplished professionals invited by the Planning Department.

Submit to the second annual Design Excellence Award here.

Learn more about the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Design Excellence initiative.

The winner will be recognized on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at an awards celebration at the Silver Spring Civic Building. The event will also include the annual awards ceremony of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Potomac Valley Chapter.

Project Eligibility for Award

Projects eligible for the award include both private and public buildings and spaces located within Montgomery County that were built within the past 10 years and are currently occupied and in use. The submitted projects should express the essential qualities of outstanding walkable, sustainable places at the scale of the neighborhood, block and building. They should illustrate how great design contributes to the community in terms of character, identity and economic value. Review the 2015 winner and citations.

Purpose of Design Excellence Award

Montgomery County is one of the country’s most successful counties, and its stature should be reflected in the excellent architecture, urban design and landscape architecture of its buildings and spaces. Design excellence is becoming increasingly important as the amount of available land for development in the County is shrinking and building density is increasing. The highest quality design is important to sustain a thriving and attractive County with buildings, public spaces and neighborhoods that are worthy of its deserving residents and businesses.

The Planning Department’s annual Design Excellence Award, launched in 2015, is intended to inspire architecture, landscape architecture and urban design of the best possible quality in Montgomery County, and increase the public awareness of this world-class design excellence.

October 2016 Awards Ceremony

The winner of the annual Design Excellence Award will be recognized at an awards celebration co-hosted by the Planning Department and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Potomac Chapter on October 20, 2016.

The winning project will be celebrated by the Montgomery Planning Department as a premier example of Design Excellence in Montgomery County through a promotional campaign and will be included in presentations by Department Leadership.

2016 Design Excellence Award Jury

The jury is composed of accomplished and highly regarded practitioners in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, planning and urban design, as follows:

Elinor Bacon has more than 35 years of experience in housing and community development in the public and private sectors. In 2002, she established Washington DC-based E.R. Bacon Development to focus on urban infill, mixed-use development, affordable housing and adaptive reuse of historic buildings. Prior to starting her firm, Bacon led the National Capital Revitalization Corporation (NCRC), a quasi-public entity established to spur economic development throughout the District, particularly in neighborhoods of need, and administered the federal Hope 6 Program under former HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo. She was the co-recipient, with Ray Gindroz, of the Seaside Prize from the Seaside (Florida) Institute in 2004.

Shalom Baranes is the founding principal of a Washington, DC-based architecture firm recognized for its design excellence. Shalom Baranes Associates has won more than 120 awards for projects involving both new construction and renovation. Baranes is the recipient of the 2015 Centennial Award, the highest honor given to a practicing architect by the Washington chapter of the AIA. His current work includes some of Washington, DC’s largest residential and mixed-use projects, including The Yards at Southeast Federal Center, Burnham Place at Union Station and the new headquarters for the US Department of Homeland Security.

Stephanie Bothwell, a Washington, DC-based city and town planner, and a landscape architect, focuses on sustainable landscapes that support the creation of community. Bothwell founded and directed the American Institute of Architects’ Center for Livable Communities and worked for Boston’s neighborhood open space, housing and transportation redevelopment programs. She served on the National Board of the Congress for the New Urbanism and is the co-founder and chair of its DC chapter.

Yolanda Cole is senior principal and owner of Hickok Cole Architects in Washington, DC. She has more than 30 years of experience in projects ranging from large-scale, mixed-use developments to small commercial interiors. Cole is widely recognized for spearheading research and innovation in the profession through the cultivation of a collaborative practice. She is a past president of AIA | DC and is currently on the Advisory Board and Governance Committee of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) District Council and is Chair of Mission Advancement.

Jul 1 16

Planning Department Launches Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan with July 7 Community Meeting at Strathmore Music Center

by Christopher Peifer

Grosvenor-Strathmore Logo_FINAL

Stakeholders invited to weigh in on redevelopment of parking lot at Metrorail station with goal of creating a cohesive neighborhood with new pedestrian connections and public spaces

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is launching the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan with a community meeting on Thursday, July 7th from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Strathmore Music Center’s Comcast Lounge (5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD).

RSVP for the July 7 meeting.

Residents and stakeholders are invited to participate. Discussion will focus on the plan’s boundaries and goals, and any initial ideas for the area around the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metrorail station.

History of Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan

The Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan is an amendment to the 1992 North Bethesda Garrett Park Master Plan. The 1992 Master Plan described Grosvenor as the gateway to North Bethesda and called for development of a cultural arts campus at Strathmore Hall as well as new residential development around the Metrorail station. In 2001, construction began on a 1,976-seat concert hall and education center — the Music Center at Strathmore.

At the time of the 1992 Plan, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA), which operates the Metrorail system, owned 45 acres at the Grosvenor Metrorail Station and the agency was contemplating a joint development project with a private developer. Since the 1992 Plan, the following residential developments have been built on WMATA land near the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metrorail Station: Meridian at Grosvenor Station, Avalon at Grosvenor Metro, Symphony Park and Strathmore Park Condominiums.

In 2013, WMATA released a joint development solicitation for a surface parking lot located south of the existing Metro parking garage at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station.  The development team chosen by WMATA for this site is Five Squares.

Goals of Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan

The primary goal of the new Minor Master Plan is to create a cohesive neighborhood around the Metro station area, rather than a collection of disparate buildings. The proposed boundaries for this Plan will not be as large as the 1992 Plan boundaries, and will be limited to several parcels on the east side of Rockville Pike. The 160-acre Plan area will include the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station, Strathmore Music Center and the residential communities of Symphony Park, Stoneybrook, Parkside, Strathmore Park, Meridian at Grosvenor Station and Avalon at Grosvenor Metro.

WMATA’s surface parking lot is the only parcel of land within the boundaries of the Minor Master Plan area that is proposed for future development. The planning effort will also explore ways to enhance visibility and connectivity to the Strathmore Music Center, improve pedestrian linkages throughout the area and create a shared identity for this community through public space and art.

Learn more about the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan and sign up for the plan e-newsletter to hear about future meetings.

Jun 30 16

Planning Department Invites Public Feedback on Short-Term Residential Rental Regulations at Community Meeting on July 18

by Christopher Peifer

Short-term residental rental logo_final

Stakeholders are welcome to weigh in on proposed legislation governing short-term rentals offered by companies such as Airbnb, HomeAway and others

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is holding a public meeting on Monday, July 18 from 7 to 9 p.m. at its headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD) to discuss regulation of online-advertised, short-term home rentals, such as Airbnb, and receive feedback from the community about the issue.  RSVP to the meeting and learn more about short-term residential rentals.

What is a short-term residential rental? 

Online services such as Airbnb, Flipkey, HomeAway and VRBO connect homeowners and property managers with travelers who seek the amenities of a home for a short-term rental stay. Currently, a short-term residential rental (less than a month, typical of companies like Airbnb) is not permitted in Montgomery County. However, if a residential owner wants to rent out his/her home or a part of the home for 30 days or longer, then the use is allowed.

What type of laws are being proposed to regulate short-term rentals?

The County Council is considering expanding the opportunities for short-term tenancy so homeowners can participate in the sharing economy. The Council introduced legislation (ZTA 16-03) in February 2016 to relax the requirements on short-term rentals in order to allow for Airbnb or other similar short-term residential rentals. ZTA 16-03 was introduced in conjunction with Bill 2-16, which would update the licensing requirements for all transient housing, including a bed and breakfast.

After holding a public hearing on ZTA 16-03 and Bill 2-16, the County Council asked the Planning Department to reach out to County residents and stakeholders to seek their input in establishing these new regulations. Part of this effort is to provide examples of regulations adopted by other jurisdictions locally and nationally that could assist Montgomery County in crafting its own new legislation.

Once planners have provided outreach and gathered additional information on the topic, they will present recommendations to the Planning Board and County Council.

Jun 30 16

County Council Approves FY17 Work Program for Planning Department

by Christopher Peifer

New plans for the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area, Gaithersburg East and Veirs Mill Road Corridor among funded projects for fiscal year starting July 1, 2016

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has secured the County Council’s approval to proceed with an ambitious work program for fiscal year 2017 (FY17), starting July 1, 2016.

The Montgomery County Council approved the Department’s $19.5 million budget for FY17 at its meeting on Thursday, May 21, 2016. These funds support the work program for 148 employees. Highlights of major projects to be undertaken by the Planning Department in FY17 include:

Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has selected a partner for the redevelopment of the parking lot at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station. This plan will explore the transit station area’s potential to serve as a cultural node and connect with surrounding uses, including the adjacent Strathmore Music Center. It will identify possible public spaces and public art for the area. The goal will be to turn the Grosvenor-Strathmore station area into a neighborhood rather than a disparate collection of buildings. Learn more about the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan.

Gaithersburg East Master Plan: In 2014, the Gaithersburg East area was divided into the Montgomery Village Master Plan and Gaithersburg East Master Plan, so the planning for Montgomery Village could be expedited. The Gaithersburg East Master Plan will address any land use and transportation issues that arise after a preferred solution has been identified for the M-83 highway alignment. Uses within the proposed plan boundaries, including the Airpark, surrounding light industrial uses and several residential communities, will be analyzed, along with redevelopment and rezoning opportunities.

Veirs Mill Road Corridor Small Area Plan: This plan will evaluate the heavily used corridor between the Wheaton and Rockville Metrorail stations. Goals include ensuring neighborhood access to the future bus rapid transit system and transit compatibility with the adjoining land uses along the Veirs Mill corridor. Redevelopment opportunities, improved pedestrian connectivity and compatibility between existing and potential uses will be analyzed.

Short-Term Residential Rentals: The County Council has charged planners with conducting outreach to help craft legislation on short-term residential rentals, such as Airbnb. Currently, the County’s Zoning Ordinance does not allow for residential rentals less than 30 days. The Council has directed Planning staff to make recommendations on best practices only after community outreach is conducted to engage stakeholders in discussing this issue. Learn more about the Short-Term Residential Rental project.

Plans in Progress:

White Flint 2 Sector Plan: Launched in July 2015, this plan has focused on land uses, transportation, infrastructure and public facilities in areas to the west, north and east of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan boundaries. The Working Draft of this plan is scheduled to be presented the Planning Board in fall 2016. Learn more about the White Flint 2 Sector Plan.

Rock Spring Master Plan: The plan for Rock Spring started last July with the exploration of new opportunities for 247 acres east of Montgomery Mall. Currently, this area is occupied mostly by office buildings, including the headquarters for Lockheed Martin and Marriott. A new street network, public amenities, residential uses and environmental upgrades have been examined for the area. School capacity issues have also been discussed and studied through a series of community meetings for this plan area. The Working Draft of the Rock Spring Master Plan  is scheduled to be presented to the Planning Board in fall 2016. Learn more about the Rock Spring Master Plan.

Subdivision Staging Policy Update (Growth Policy): The update to the quadrennial Subdivision Staging Policy started in July 2015 and has progressed through a series of community meetings focused on the impact of growth on the County, specifically as it relates to schools and transportation. The goal has been to evaluate the tools that will determine the adequacy of public facilities to accommodate new development and growth in Montgomery County. Learn more about the Subdivision Staging Policy Update.

Retail Trends Study: The Planning Department has been conducting a retail trends study with the help of a consultant to understand how emerging buying patterns will influence the County’s economic competitiveness. The study, which is looking at national and regional trends affecting shopping environments, such as the growing use of e-commerce, will propose recommendations for future plans involving retail.

MARC Rail Communities Plan: Work began last fall on the MARC Rail Communities Plan, which is focusing on the areas around the Boyds and Germantown rail stations. Planners are evaluating land use, zoning, design and access at those two Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) stations. The resulting plans will recommend physical and operational improvements to the stations and enhancements to access and parking. Learn more about the MARC Rail Communities Plan.

Bicycle Master Plan: Cities across the United States have taken the lead in retrofitting streets for bikes. Now Montgomery County aims to be at the forefront among suburban jurisdictions in planning a high-quality bicycling network. The opportunities to create these facilities are immense, as older areas such as White Flint and Shady Grove are rebuilt, and newer transit projects such as the Purple Line and bus rapid transit system are implemented. Launched in 2015, the Plan is considering the newest types of bikeways, such as separated bike lanes, buffered bike lanes and bicycle boulevards, as well as secure bicycle storage facilities. Learn more about the Bicycle Master Plan.

New Recreation Guidelines: The Recreation Guidelines, last adopted in 1992, are being revised in response to the County’s need for more urban-style recreation space in mixed-use developments near transit centers. In order to serve a variety of age groups, the updated guidelines will provide digital tools and an expanded list of recreation facilities, including rooftop areas, indoor fitness centers, community gardens and urban plazas. They will result in a more effective recreation plan for each site. Learn more about the update to the Recreation Guidelines.

Master Plan Reality Check: This study aims to determine how well recommendations in recent County Master Plans have been carried out in addressing changing density, infrastructure, transportation and land use in the County. Findings will influence the development of future Master and Sector Plans.

Jun 28 16

Planning Department Announces Calendar of July 2016 Events

by Bridget Schwiesow


SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is pleased to announce its July 2016 calendar of community meetings, work sessions and public events. These events offer opportunities for the Planning Board and Planning Department staff to discuss policies and engage with the public. 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 County Planning Department Events in July 2016

July 7 –  The Planning Department will hold its first public meeting for the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Area Minor Master Plan from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Strathmore Music Center’s Comcast Lounge (5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD). Discussion will focus on the future goals and proposed concepts for the area around the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metrorail station.

July 11 – The Planning Department will hold a public meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. to discuss the recommendations of the White Flint 2 Sector Plan at Luxmanor Elementary School (6201 Tilden Lane, Bethesda, MD).

July 14 – The Planning Board will have a final work session on the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan to approve transmittal of this plan to the County Executive and County Council. View the Planning Board Agenda for details on additional agenda items.

July 18 – The Planning Department will present preliminary recommendations for the Rock Spring Master Plan at a community meeting to be held at Walter Johnson High School (6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda, MD) from 7 to 9 p.m. Topics include land use and zoning; transportation; community facilities and sustainability.

July 21 – The Planning Board will have a final work session on the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan to approve transmittal of this plan to the County Executive and County Council. View the Planning Board Agenda for details on additional agenda items.

July 21 – The Planning Board will vote on approving the transmittal of the revised Subdivision Staging Policy to the County Council for review. View the Planning Board Agenda for details on additional agenda items.

July 21 – Submissions are due for the Planning Department’s second annual Design Excellence Award competition. Projects eligible for the award include public and private buildings, landscapes, urban designs and developments located within Montgomery County that were built within the past 10 years and are currently occupied and in use. The selection of a winner will be made by an outside jury of accomplished professionals, including architects, urbanists and a landscape architect. Learn more about the awards jury. The winner will be announced on October 20, 2016 during an awards celebration at the Silver Spring Civic Building.

July 28 – The Planning Board will review the Framework for the Bicycle Master Plan. Consult the Planning Board Agenda for additional items. This meeting is the last before the Planning Board takes a recess in August. The Board convenes its next meeting on September 8, 2016.

Jun 27 16

Planning Department Congratulates Montgomery County Winners of 2016 Commuter Connections Employer Recognition Awards

by Gary Goodwin

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Board honors Toole Design Group and United Educators on June 27 for reducing traffic congestion

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is pleased to announce that the Toole Design Group of Silver Spring, MD and United Educators of Bethesda, MD have won 2016 Commuter Connections Employer Recognition Awards from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

The two Montgomery County organizations were honored on Monday, June 27, 2016 at an awards ceremony at the Marriott Washington at Metro Center hotel in downtown Washington, DC. Three other groups from the region were also honored at the event. Applicants were evaluated by a selection committee of transportation officials and winners were chosen for their ability to offer measurable commuter benefits and reduction of fuel consumption and emissions.

“These awards acknowledge businesses in our County who have voluntarily initiated alternative commuting programs to reduce traffic congestion in the region,” says Gwen Wright, Montgomery County Planning Director. “They provide great models for other employers to follow.”

The Toole Design Group, which specializes in transportation planning, is helping the Planning Department to develop a Countywide Bicycle Master Plan. The Silver Spring-based firm won the Incentives Award for its employee programs to use mass transit and alternative means of commuting. The firm offers a pre-tax transit benefit of up to $125 per month, $25 toward annual Capital Bikeshare memberships and cash incentives for biking and walking. The success of this program has equated to a reduction of 82,000 vehicle miles traveled per year and a savings of more than 4,100 gallons of gas annually.

United Educators was honored with the Telework Award for its offsite working practices, leading to a low turnover rate, increased productivity and improved work/life balance. Since the early 2000s, this liability insurance and risk retention group for educational institutions has allowed its staff to telework. Employees are supplied with a computer, printer and reimbursed for phone and internet charges. As a result of this program, United Educators has shown a reduction of more than a million vehicle miles traveled per year and savings of more than 55,000 gallons of gas annually.

Jun 27 16

Planning Department Creates Purple Walkway to Improve Pedestrian Safety

by Bridget Schwiesow



Painted pathway on driveway connects neighborhood to Department’s headquarters and downtown Silver Spring

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has painted a vivid, purple pathway on the driveway next to Royce Hanson Park in front of its headquarters. This colorful walkway was completed over two weeks in late June to provide a safe and attractive pedestrian connection between the Department’s offices, nearby Woodside neighborhood and downtown Silver Spring.

Planning Department staff initiated the project last year as a solution to the problem of people walking or biking through the parking lot on no particular path – and frequently strolling in front of moving cars. Staff decided that this situation could be improved by creating a piece of public art.

“We call it the Improv for Walking,” says urban designer Margaret Rifkin who led the project with Planning and Parks Department colleagues. “It’s an improvised, quick and inexpensive solution to improve the daily routes of people not only from our offices but from the neighborhood. We hope some of those who visit our building will be inspired to buy some paint and create similar paths on their own parking lots.”

The white-edged walkway, requiring 50 gallons of paint specially made for asphalt and concrete, leads past the MRO building entrance to an alley between a parking garage and a hotel that is often used to reach nearby shops and restaurants in downtown Silver Spring. The color purple was chosen to be highly visible while still being an attractive complement to the brick and greenery of nearby Royce Hanson Park. Accents of green and orange highlight a crosswalk design, which was inspired by the geometric artworks of Venezuelan-born artist Carlos Cruz-Diaz.

The pathway project reflects the key principles of walkability, human scale and context sensitivity that are being promoted by the Planning Department’s Design Excellence program.


Jun 22 16

Planning Department Launches Campaign to Identify All Bike Racks in County

by Bridget Schwiesow


Citizen-led survey will help planners to recommend more locations for racks as part of Bicycle Master Plan

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is launching a survey of all bicycle racks in the County as part of the ongoing Bicycle Master Plan. Planners are asking cyclists and residents to identify racks at schools, retail centers, offices, transportation hubs and other locations.

Citizens can sign up online to track bike racks in one or more areas, using an app created by BikeArlington. This data will help the County to recommend more locations for bicycle racks in Montgomery County.

Find out more about the Bicycle Master Plan.

Jun 14 16

County Council Approves Appointment of Transportation Engineer and Planner Gerald R. Cichy to Planning Board

by Bridget Schwiesow

Newest member will replace Amy Presley in July 2016 after her two consecutive terms on Board

Gerald R Cichy 250SILVER SPRING, MD  The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), will have a new member, transportation engineer and planner Gerald R. Cichy, PE, AICP. On Tuesday, June 14, 2016, the County Council unanimously approved the appointment of Cichy to the Board, effective July 22.  He replaces Board member Amy Presley, who is leaving after serving two consecutive terms and is ineligible for reappointment. Her last Board session will be July 21.

Like Presley, Cichy is a registered Republican. By law, the position had to be filled by a Republican, a voter who declines to affiliate with a party or by a member of another party officially recognized by the Montgomery County Board of Elections. In addition to Presley (R), current Planning Board members are Chair Casey Anderson (D), Vice Chair Marye Wells-Harley (D), Norman Dreyfuss (R) and Natali Fani-González (D).

“In joining us, Gerald R. Cichy will hit the ground running, especially as we review important transportation policies, from the Purple Line station improvements to the Bicycle Master Plan,” says Board Chair Anderson. “His experience with transportation issues in the County will be incredibly valuable as we make hard decisions about roads and transit.”

About Gerald R. Cichy

Cichy is well prepared to serve on the Board, having worked at the Maryland Transit Administration/ Maryland Department of Transportation on projects such as the Corridor Cities Transitway, Purple Line light rail system and regional transit-oriented developments. From 1979 to 1984, he was director of transportation for Montgomery County and collaborated with federal, state and county agencies as well as developer and citizen groups to solve mutual problems. During his tenure, Cichy worked with Planning Department staff to coordinate implementation of master plan transportation projects.

Among Cichy’s achievements is a patent for a bus rapid transit vehicle with doors directly opening to transit platforms. He is a recipient of the Federal Transit Administration’s “Innovative Idea Award” for a 200-mile bus rapid transit system supplementing the Metrorail system in the Washington, DC region. In 2016, he graduated from the Senior Leadership Montgomery program. Cichy holds master degrees in both city and regional planning, and civil engineering from Catholic University. The 77 year-old Rockville resident has lived in Montgomery County for nearly 50 years.


About the Montgomery County Planning Board

The five-member Planning Board oversees the Montgomery County Planning Department and Department of Parks, and advises the County Council on land use and community planning. The Chair serves a full time position on the Montgomery County Planning Board and receives a salary of $200,000. The part-time Board Members receive an annual salary of $30,000. They also serve as Commissioners of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, a bi-county agency established in 1927 to protect public land.

As part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the Montgomery County Planning Board works to:

  • Manage physical growth.
  • Plan communities.
  • Protect and steward natural, cultural and historical resources.
  • Provide leisure and recreational experiences.

Learn more about the Montgomery County Planning Board.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission encourages the involvement and participation of all individuals in the community. In accordance with the requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M?NCPPC) will not discriminate against individuals with disabilities in its services, programs or activities. M?NCPPC works to make its facilities and materials accessible and to hold public meetings in locations that are, likewise, accessible. M?NCPPC will generally provide, upon request, appropriate aids and services and make reasonable modifications to policies and programs for persons with disabilities (e.g., large print materials, listening devices, sign language interpretation, etc.). For assistance with such requests, please contact the M-NCPPC Montgomery County Commissioners’ Office, at least a week in advance of a meeting or event, at (301) 495-4605 or at residents can also use the free Maryland Relay Service for assistance with calls to or from hearing or speech-impaired persons; for information, go to or call (866) 269-9006. Residents may also call the TTY number, (301) 495-1331, for assistance.

Jun 9 16

Former Planning Board Member Esther Gelman Remembered for Helping to Shape the County

by Bridget Schwiesow

Before serving on the County Council, Gelman served on the Planning Board and influenced its direction

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, sadly announces the death of Esther Gelman, who served on the County Planning Board from 1970 to 1974. Gelman died on June 6, 2016 after a long illness. She would have been 85 on June 14.

Gelman first became acquainted with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) in the 1960s while working as a local newspaper correspondent covering the organization. In 1970, she was named as a member of the Planning Board and forged a close association with Board Chair Royce Hanson.

Gelman was known for her commitment to the master and sector plans that have led to Montgomery County as it looks today. She also worked to secure the appointment of Norman Christeller as Hanson’s successor in 1981 and helping to secure the appointment of attorney Gus Bauman to the chairmanship in 1989.

After leaving the Planning Board in 1974, Gelman was elected to the County Council and served as its president in 1984 while also doing a stint as president of the Maryland Association of Counties. She remained on the Council until 1987.

Throughout her long political career, Gelman was an advocate for citizen rights and helped improve human services for residents of Montgomery County. She sponsored legislation in such areas as comparable pay, religious leave accommodations, smoking prohibitions and the establishment of the Community Crisis Center for abused women.

More details about Gelman’s life and career can be found online.