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Jul 19 16

Planning Board Will Review Draft of Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan at July 21 Meeting for Approval and Transmittal to County Council

by Christopher Peifer

bethesda PB

Planning Board Draft now posted online reflects Board recommendations, from allocating building heights and density to identifying space for parks

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will hold a final work session for the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan on Thursday, July 21, 2016 at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD). Planning Board members will conclude the session by voting on transmitting the current draft of the plan to the County Council for final approval.

Learn more about the Planning Board Draft of the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan.

As a result of the Planning Board work sessions, the Planning Board Draft includes:

Land Use and Zoning:

  • Retaining the Land Use Vision focused on developing a series of activity centers, including the Wisconsin Avenue Metro Core located around the transit station.
  • Capping of overall development density, existing and future, at 32.4 million square feet.
  • Maintaining existing zoning densities for most individual properties and introduction of the Bethesda Overlay Zone (BOZ) to allocate bonus density.
  • Requiring BOZ bonus density to provide a Park Impact Payment, construct 15 percent moderately priced dwelling units (MPDUs) and participate in a Design Review Advisory Panel.
  • Retaining Priority Sending Sites with some increased densities to create parks, preserve important community and historic resources, and preserve existing market-rate affordable housing.
  • Devoting a section in the Sector Plan to affordable housing with the goal to preserve existing affordable units, provide a mix of housing options and produce new units that reach deeper levels of affordability.

Transportation:

  • Removing the Norfolk Avenue Shared Street extension through Battery Lane Urban Park.
  • Coordinating and aligning the Bethesda Transportation Management District with the Bethesda Urban District.
  • Correcting the Sector Plan’s Street Classification Table to include additional arterials, minor arterials and removal of residential streets.

Parks and Open Space:

  • Adding Fire Station 6 site as a potential open space.
  • Adding Chase Avenue Neighborhood Green Expansion.
  • Adding Elm Street Urban Buffer Park Improvements.

Community Identity and Urban Design:

  • Revising maximum building heights based on the property-by-property assessment conducted by the Planning Board.
  •  Adding language and design diagrams with recommendations for the bulk, step-backs and separation of tall buildings to maximize light and air, reduce impact of shadows and contribute to the character and visual identity of Downtown Bethesda.

Background on the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan

The new Sector Plan builds on the success of Downtown Bethesda by offering ways to strengthen its centers of activity – Bethesda Row, Wisconsin Avenue corridor, Woodmont Triangle and other established and emerging districts – over the next 20 years. Among its recommendations is a high performance area that incentivizes more energy-efficient buildings, new parks, tree-lined streets and innovative storm water management. The priority of the plan is to create a truly sustainable downtown. Other goals of the plan focus on:

-A mix of housing options, including preservation of market-rate affordable apartments and new moderately priced dwelling units in exchange for development incentives.

-New and/or expanded civic greens at Veteran’s Park, Bethesda Farm Women’s Cooperative Market and along part of the Capital Crescent Trail.

-Economic competitiveness within the region based on new development, public amenities and proximity to transit, including Metrorail and proposed Purple Line light rail.

Work on the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan began in January 2014. Community participation was encouraged through public meetings and workshops, online surveys and happy hour events, which were intended to reach residents who don’t typically participate in the planning process.

The Plan serves as an amendment to the approved and adopted 1994 Bethesda Central Business District Sector Plan and the 2006 Woodmont Triangle amendment to that Sector Plan.

For questions or comments about the Public Hearing Draft, please contact: bethesdadownplan@montgomeryplanning.org

Jul 15 16

Planning Board Approves Transmittal of Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan to County Council for further review

by Christopher Peifer

GreaterLP_PB Draft

Council will hold public hearing on the Planning Board Draft before voting to approve and adopt the Sector Plan later this year

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, voted to approve the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan at its meeting on Thursday, July 14, 2016 and transmit the plan to the County Council and County Executive.

The Planning Board Draft of the Sector Plan is available for review on the Planning Department’s website. It reflects changes made in response to requests by the Greater Lyttonsville community to clarify use of the urban road code, district boundaries and language in the Plan Draft.

The County Council will hold a public hearing on the Planning Board Draft of the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan in fall 2016.

The community is invited to stay involved with the progress of the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan by:

-Visiting the Greater Lyttonsville Montgomery County Planning Department webpage.

-Signing up to participate in the public hearing or providing written testimony once the public hearing date is officially set by the County Council.

Background on the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan

Spurred by the future construction of two Purple Line light rail stations in Greater Lyttonsville, the new Sector Plan examines ways to leverage these significant public infrastructure investments, while preserving the integrity of area neighborhoods that have a rich history and a strong sense of community. The Plan recommends ways of connecting residential, industrial and institutional districts, attracting mixed-use development and expanding parks, trails and open spaces. Recent planning efforts build on the goal of the 2000 North and West Silver Spring Master Plan to preserve this diverse community as a desirable place to live, work and play.

After community meetings were held in January and April 2015, the Planning team revised suggestions for bike and pedestrian connections in and around the Rosemary Hills Lyttonsville Local Park.

Recommendations in the Plan focus on:
-Providing pedestrian and bicycle connections to the two proposed Purple Line light rail stations.

-Preserving, rather than rezoning, a majority of the industrial areas.

-Preserving single-family residential areas.

-Proposing zoning changes primarily in areas around the future Purple Line stations or close to the Silver Spring central business district.

Learn more about the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan and how to get involved with shaping the future of this community.

Jul 12 16

County Council Issued Proclamation on July 12 to Honor Winners of Planning Department’s 2015 Design Excellence Award Competition

by Christopher Peifer

Proclamation recognizing Design Exellence Award

Council President Nancy Floreen recognized top award and four jury citations on the opening day of an exhibit showcasing the winning projects in the Council hearing room

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is pleased to announce that on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 the County Council recognized the Department’s Design Excellence Award program and the five projects selected through its first annual award competition.

Council President Nancy Floreen issued County Council Proclamations to the projects honored in the first annual Design Excellence Award competition, launched in 2015. The morning event took place in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building (100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD).

This award program seeks to recognize exceptional work in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design in Montgomery County. The 2015 award and jury citations honor the following projects:

2015 Design Excellence Award Winner:

Silver Spring Civic Building, Silver Spring, MD. Designed by Machado Silvetti Associates, Boston, Massachusetts.

“A great collaboration between architecture, landscape architecture and urban design,” said the jurors of this design in the heart of Downtown Silver Spring. “This is a beautiful example of how the public sector can lead quality modern design. It is a great example of how to make a place.”

Jury Citation Winners:
Cultural Arts Center at the Montgomery College Takoma Park, Silver Spring, MD. Designed by SmithGroup JJR Architects, Washington, DC.

Eleven55 Ripley, Silver Spring, MD. Designed by Shalom Baranes Associates, Washington, DC.

-Town of Somerset Pool Bath House, Chevy Chase, MD. Designed by McInturff Architects, Bethesda, MD.

Headquarters for Ruppert Nurseries, Laytonsville, MD. Designed by Muse Architects, Bethesda, MD.

Photographs and descriptions of these projects are being exhibited in the County Council hearing room from July 12, 2016 through fall 2016. Learn more about the 2015 Design Excellence Award winners.

Second Annual Design Excellence Award Competition

The second Design Excellence Award competition is currently underway and the 2016 call for entries will close 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. Learn more about the 2016 Design Excellence Award.

Submit a project to the second annual Design Excellence Award competition here.

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

The 2016 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.

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.

May 4 16

Montgomery County Council Unanimously Approves Westbard Sector Plan at May 3 Meeting

by Bridget Schwiesow

PB Draft cover_Westbard

The plan recommends restoring natural features, revitalizing an aging strip shopping center and increasing affordable housing in the Westbard area

Silver Spring, MD –The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, participated in the County Council’s work session on the Westbard Sector Plan on Tuesday, May 3 and the Council voted 9 to 0 to approve the Sector Plan.

“This is a great step forward in ensuring a greener, more sustainable Westbard,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “The plan provides a blueprint for restoring the Willett Branch stream and providing more affordable housing, parks and a revitalized shopping center in keeping with the scale of the neighborhood.”

The latest version of the plan reflects revisions based on work sessions held with the County’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee and the full Council. These changes include:

– Maintaining the existing zoning and building heights of 35 to 40 feet along River Road.
-Allowing the potential for a floating zone to be requested for River Road properties currently occupied by the American Plant garden center, Roof Center and Talbert’s Ice and Beverage Service to allow future redevelopment of these sites.
-Increasing the affordable housing requirements for new optional method redevelopment projects within the entire planning area, from 12.5 percent moderately priced dwelling units (MPDUs) to 15 percent MPDUs.
-Decreasing the floor area ratio (FAR) for proposed commercial development within the Westwood Shopping Center area from 1.25 FAR to .75 FAR.

This summer, the Planning Board will review a Sectional Map Amendment to establish the zoning of properties in the Westbard Sector Plan area.

Background on the Westbard Sector Plan
The Westbard Sector Plan covers an area of approximately 181 acres and was last updated in 1982, making it the oldest master plan in Montgomery County. The Plan builds on the assets of the community by offering ways to improve neighborhood retail and maintain the existing light industrial areas, while expanding housing options and recreational and open spaces over the next 20 years. It allows for redevelopment of the older retail centers and recommends the creation of new parks in the Sector Plan area, which does not have a single County park. Restoration of the Willett Branch stream would both improve water quality and provide a significant amenity for the residents of Westbard and surrounding communities.

Recommendations in the Westbard Sector Plan focus on:

-Encouraging more housing choices.
-Revitalizing older retail areas.
-Emphasizing low-scale development.
-Preserving local light industrial uses.
-Restoring the Willett Branch stream as a public amenity.
-Creating better access to the Capital Crescent Trail.
-Establishing new gathering spaces and parks.
-Enhancing walkability with sidewalks shaded by street trees.

Stay Connected
Sign up for the Westbard Sector Plan eNewsletter.

Apr 6 16

Planning and Parks Departments Presented Spring 2016 Semiannual Report to County Council on April 5

by Bridget Schwiesow

semiannualcover

Report highlights plans and projects completed over past six months, and outlines ongoing work and future initiatives

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Parks and Planning Departments, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, presented their Spring 2016 Semiannual Report to the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. The report, available online for review, summarizes key projects and plans from the past six months and work that will be completed over the next six months and beyond.

Review the Semiannual Report.

This progress report was submitted by Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson, who emphasized the need for effective planning strategies to attract residents and businesses to Montgomery County. He explained the three themes of the report – New Suburbanism, Engaging Communities and Strengthening Economic Competitiveness – as key to managing County growth and reaching goals for multi-modal transportation, community outreach, affordable housing and mixed-use development.

Planning Department’s Notable Achievements

The spring 2016 Semiannual Report highlights the following accomplishments, achieved by the Planning Department over the past six months:

-The Montgomery Village Master Plan was approved by Council, and Council will vote on the Westbard Plan late this month. Significant progress was also made on plans for Downtown Bethesda and Greater Lyttonsville.

-Work began on the plans for Rock Spring, White Flint 2 and the MARC Rail Communities of Boyds and Germantown.

-The Countywide Bicycle Master Plan was launched with community meetings and interactive maps to gain public feedback about current bike lanes, roads and levels of stress while riding.

-Collaboration with the Washington, DC chapter of the Urban Land Institute in December 2015 resulted in a Technical Assistance Panel review of the Rock Spring and Executive Boulevard areas in North Bethesda to develop strategies for revitalizing these office parks.

-New ideas about transportation and school capacity are influencing the update of the Subdivision Staging Policy (formerly the Growth Policy) to set rules for County infrastructure as a result of new developments. This policy will be reviewed by the Planning Board this summer.

-The Department’s first Design Excellence Award competition was launched last year, resulting in the October 2015 design celebration to honor the Silver Spring Civic Building with the top prize.

-County history was documented through a digital map of historically African American places and publication of a book tracing the development of mid-20th-century modern neighborhoods and buildings.

Planning Department’s Future Projects

The Spring 2016 Semiannual Report presents future plans and projects, including:

-Proposed plans for South Silver Spring, Montgomery Hills/Forest Glen, Veirs Mill corridor and Grosvenor Metrorail station area.

-Completing studies looking at evolving retail and employment trends in the County.

-Co-sponsoring the Makeover Montgomery 3 conference with the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth from May 4 through May 6, 2016.

-Holding the second annual Design Excellence Award competition this summer with another design celebration and awards presentation scheduled for October 20, 2016.

For information about the Parks Department and its projects, go to the Parks website.

Dec 22 15

County Council Will Hold Public Hearing on the Westbard Sector Plan on January 26 in Rockville

by Bridget Schwiesow

PB Draft cover_Westbard

Community offered opportunity to sign up and testify before Council members on Planning Board Draft of Sector Plan

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, approved the Westbard Sector Plan at its meeting on Thursday, December 17 for transmittal to the Montgomery County Council and Office of the County Executive.

The County Council has scheduled a public hearing on the Planning Board Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan for Tuesday, January 26, 2016 in the Council Hearing Room (100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD). Community members interested in testifying in person must sign up in advance online or call 240-777-7803 for more information.

The Planning Board previously held three work sessions on the Westbard Sector Plan to address schools, transportation, land uses, zoning, open spaces and historic and cultural resources. A fourth work session was held to finalize zoning language for specific properties in the Plan area. The Planning Board’s revisions are reflected in the newest draft of the Sector Plan.

These changes affect some building heights, address the need for community-serving uses, increase affordable housing requirements in certain circumstances and add restrictions to commercial uses in areas abutting single-family residential neighborhoods.

View the Planning Board Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan.

Background on Westbard Sector Plan
The new Sector Plan is the first effort since 1982 to develop a unified vision for Bethesda’s Westbard area, which is located near Friendship Heights and the District of Columbia. The Plan builds on the assets of the community by offering ways to improve neighborhood retail, existing light industrial areas, housing options and recreational and open spaces over the next 20 years.

Recommendations in the Westbard Sector Plan focus on:

-Encouraging more housing choices.

-Revitalizing older retail areas.

-Emphasizing low-scale development of five to seven stories.

-Preserving local light industrial uses.

-Restoring the Willett Branch stream as a public amenity.

-Creating better access to the Capital Crescent Trail.

-Establishing new gathering spaces and parks.

-Enhancing walkability with sidewalks shaded by street trees.

Stay Connected
Sign up for the Westbard Sector Plan eNewsletter.

Dec 11 15

Montgomery County Planning Board Will Hold its Final Work Session on Westbard Sector Plan on Thursday, December 17

by Bridget Schwiesow

westbard public hearing draft
Planning Board will vote on accepting the Planning Board Draft for transmission to the County Council and County Executive

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will hold its fourth and final work session for the Westbard Sector Plan at its meeting on Thursday, December 17 at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD).

It is anticipated that the Planning Board will vote to accept the Planning Board Draft of the Sector Plan and transmit it to the Montgomery County Council and to the Office of the County Executive. The County Council has tentatively scheduled a public hearing on the Planning Board Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan for Tuesday, January 26, 2016.

View the Westbard Sector Plan Staff Report for the December 17 Planning Board meeting.

The Planning Board previously held three work sessions on the Westbard Sector Plan to address the following issues:

Work Session #1: Thursday, October 22, 2015 – Overall Concept and Infrastructure – Schools and Transportation

Work Session #2: Thursday, November 19, 2015 – Land Use and Zoning

Work Session #3: Thursday, December 3, 2015 – Land use and Zoning wrap-up; Parks, Open Space and Willett Branch Renovation; Historic and Cultural Resources

Background on Westbard Sector Plan
The new Sector Plan is the first effort since 1982 to develop a unified vision for Bethesda’s Westbard area, which is located near Friendship Heights and the District of Columbia. The Plan builds on the assets of the community by offering ways to improve neighborhood retail, existing light industrial areas, housing options and recreational and open spaces over the next 20 years.

Recommendations in the Plan focus on:

-Encouraging more housing choices.

-Revitalizing older retail areas.

-Emphasizing low-scale development of five to seven stories.

-Preserving local light industrial uses.

-Restoring the Willett Branch stream as a public amenity.

-Creating better access to the Capital Crescent Trail.

-Establishing new gathering spaces and parks.

-Enhancing walkability with sidewalks shaded by street trees.

Stay Connected
Sign up for the Westbard Sector Plan eNewsletter.

Apr 1 15

Montgomery Parks and Montgomery County Planning Department Present Newest Achievements and Future Projects to County Council

by Bridget Schwiesow

PowerPoint Cover Semi Annual Spring 2015

Streamlined development review process, housing and transportation tools, urban parks, athletic fields and more are highlighted in Spring 2015 Semi-Annual Report

SILVER SPRING, MD – Montgomery Parks and Montgomery County Planning, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, presented the Departments’ Spring 2015 Semi-Annual Report to the Montgomery County Council on March 31, 2015. The 47-page report, available online for review, summarizes key projects and plans from the past six months and work that will be completed over the next six months.

Review the Spring 2015 Semi-Annual Report.

This progress report is the second to be submitted by Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson, who assumed his current position in July 2014. Anderson outlines several initiatives aimed at meeting County demand for housing and jobs in close proximity to retail and public transit, as well as the creation of recreational spaces and protection of natural resources.

The Planning Department’s initiatives for the next six months include:
-Streamlining the development review process to meet the 120-day, acceptance-to-approval time frame required by the new County Zoning Ordinance.
-Studying rental housing and transportation tools to improve the assessment of County infrastructure.
-Advancing the Design Excellence Initiative to improve the quality of new developments, buildings and public spaces in the County.
-Expanding community outreach and staff training efforts to increase community participation in the planning process.

The Spring 2015 Semi-Annual Report highlights recent efforts by Montgomery Parks to improve parks in dense areas of the County, including:
-Launching a program to activate urban parks in Silver Spring, White Flint and Germantown.
-Designing the County’s first urban dog park at Ellsworth Urban Park in Silver Spring.
-Developing new plans for improving and maintaining the County’s 290 athletic fields.

The report focuses on ongoing master planning efforts, including:
-The Bethesda Downtown Plan, which is building on the success of the area’s vibrant, walkable district. Scenarios for several areas were advanced through feedback from a wide range of stakeholders in Bethesda that was obtained through new outreach techniques. 

-The Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan, which is considering ways of preserving the village character of the area while upgrading transportation networks and residential neighborhoods. Innovative engagement efforts, including events aimed at business owners and families, helped guide the planning efforts.

-The Montgomery Village Master Plan is the first discrete master plan for the planned community of Montgomery Village. The plan’s initial strategies were approved by the Planning Board in December 2014. Planners have worked on innovative community outreach efforts through the MV Matters series that focused on how best to rezone the entire Village since the Town Sector zone is no longer available.

-The Westbard Sector Plan, which was advanced through weeklong public workshops in 2014. Planners are currently analyzing the potential impact of increased density in the Westbard area as the result of proposed commercial buildings and housing units, and will discuss the findings at a public meeting this spring.

In addition, the Spring 2015 Semi-Annual Report reveals major park projects now underway, including:
-Development of a comprehensive plan to provide a trail experience within three miles of every County resident by the year 2030.
-Construction of three new parks: Laytonia Recreational Park in Derwood, Greenbriar Local Park in Potomac and Germantown Town Center Urban Park.
-New history-based programming at historic and archeological sites, including the Agricultural History Farm Park.
-Expansion of the Community Gardens program, including new plots in Germantown.

Jan 20 15

Update: Montgomery Council to Hold Public Hearing on Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22

by Bridget Schwiesow

The Public Hearing Was Originally Scheduled for Tuesday, January 20; Sign Ups to Testify to be Taken Until 10 a.m. on Hearing Day

The Montgomery County Council at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, in Rockville will hold a public hearing on the proposed Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan. The plan contains recommendations that expand in greater detail the 1998 plan concept for Sandy Spring as a rural village center and covers the Sandy Spring Village sections of the 1998 plan.

The hearing, which was originally scheduled for Jan. 20, will be held in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville.

The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM-Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed here.

Residents who want to testify at the hearing must sign up by 10 a.m. on the day of the hearing. To sign up, call 240-777-7803.

The proposed revised plan provides recommendations for land use, zoning, environment, and design while considering its rural village character, mix of land uses, connections, street character, and open space.

The Montgomery County Planning Board’s Draft Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan can be viewed here.

The Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee is tentatively scheduled to review the Sandy Spring Plan on Feb. 2.

Sandy Spring Rural Village Plan Highlights:

The 1998 Sandy Spring/Ashton Master Plan recognized that the details of a new village center concept were beyond its scope and recommended more detailed study and analysis to develop the concept. This new Sandy Spring Rural Village 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 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

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