SILVER SPRING – To reflect the Planning Department’s strides in increasing the supply of moderately priced housing and interest in creating environmentally conscious and diverse housing options, the planning director and staff presented a range of strategies to the Planning Board Thursday.
Envisioned as a housing element in the General Plan, planners propose a document specifying a raft of policies that would allow Montgomery County residents and workers to live in the county throughout their lives, regardless of life stage, income or access to a car.
The Board praised the planners’ goals in their preliminary look Thursday, noting the link between good, diverse housing and a healthy community. Once complete and endorsed by the Board and County Council, the goals will become the Housing Functional Master Plan and guide policy-makers as they review development proposals and public projects.
The planners envision the document would specify policies that:
* Encourage development near mass transit to reduce the need for car ownership, saving residents significant annual expenses
* Mix housing types and sizes in new developments to allow a range of housing prices
* Provide mixed-use development so people can enjoy nearby conveniences – such as groceries – reducing transportation costs
* Identify incentives for developers, such as higher density and fast-tracking reviews and permitting, if they provide more low and moderately priced housing than required by law
* Allow accessory apartments in all zones, which would provide affordable rental units throughout the county
* Include day care in office buildings
The plan also would include measures to track the county’s progress toward meeting those policies. Those indicators might include the number of affordable units created, reduction in monthly housing costs through programs like generating energy on site, or the number of new day care centers associated with individual projects.
Planning Director Rollin Stanley and staff in the agency’s Research and Technology Center set a schedule for taking the housing plan strategies into the community for input before inking a final document. They will start by vetting the plan with other county agencies. They hope to hold a public hearing on the plan in late winter or early spring and send it to the council for consideration in the spring.