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Nov 25 15

Planning Department and Upcounty Regional Services Center Will Hold Meeting on November 30 to Discuss Planning and Development in Damascus

by Bridget Schwiesow


Community open house will focus on goals of Damascus Master Plan and pending applications for new development in the area

Silver Spring, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is co-hosting a community meeting on Monday, November 30, 2015 with the Upcounty Regional Services Center to discuss pending development applications in Damascus and their relationship to the Damascus Master Plan. The event will be held at the Baker Middle School cafeteria (25400 Oak Drive, Damascus, MD) from 7 to 8:30 p.m. RSVPs are not required.

Before the meeting, planning staff will be available to answer questions from 6 to 7 p.m. The first presentation will provide an overview of the Damascus Master Plan, followed by details of pending development applications for the Woodfield Commons apartment complex and the townhouses and detached homes of the Armstrong property. The event will conclude with a question-and-answer session.

Learn more about the highlights of the Damascus Master Plan.

Review the Damascus Master Plan web page.

Background on the Damascus Master Plan

Approved and adopted in 2006, the Damascus Master Plan aims to enhance the Town Center as the heart of the community. Major recommendations of this Plan focus on:

Land Use and Zoning
This Plan supports a moderate level of residential growth, strengthening the potential for multi-family residential and mixed-use development in the Town Center. Mixed-use and residential developments are encouraged in the Town Center, and closely spaced, cluster development is preferred in the transitional areas immediately beyond the Town Center. In addition, this Plan supports the continuing viability of major institutional uses, such as churches and schools.

Town Center
The recommended mixed-use zoning emphasizes proportion, design and architectural context. Commercial uses concentrated along Main Street and at major downtown intersections will create opportunities for residential development that will support retail and service businesses in the core.  Transfer of development rights from the Agricultural Reserve may allow some added residential density. Guidelines for future development and redevelopment are designed to improve mobility and connectivity along Main Street and enhance community open space.

Transitional Areas
Cluster designs, such as townhouses, are encouraged on properties immediately adjacent to the Town Center. These designs allow for additional growth and will establish a strong edge between the town and rural areas. Most growth potential is tied to receiving areas for transferable development rights. The Plan recommends the potential to transfer development from the rural area to the Rural Neighborhood Cluster (RNC) zone.

Rural Area
The Plan supports the existing Agricultural Reserve (AR) zone with adjustments for rural village centers. Guidelines are provided for development in the AR zone for protecting rural vistas and guiding subdivision design. The Plan recommends the Rural Village Center Overlay Zone to protect and maintain the existing scale of development through appropriate types of uses and limited levels of intensity.

For more information about the Damascus Master Plan, go to:

Connect with the Montgomery Planning Department:

Fred Boyd at tel. 301-495-4654 or

Richard Weaver at tel. 301-495.4544 or


Nov 23 15

New Development Database Tool Launched by County Executive, Planning Department and Montgomery Business Development Corporation

by Bridget Schwiesow

dev database rev

New digital tool allows residents and businesses to learn about new development projects and promote their communities in the County

Silver Spring, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has helped the Office of the County Executive launch a new online tool in partnership with the Montgomery Business Development Corporation for tracking the progress of development in the County. Called the Development Database, this digital resource builds on existing digital information about planned and projects under construction. Its introduction was announced at a press conference held on Monday, November 23 in the County’s Executive’s Conference Room in Rockville.

“Montgomery County has made tremendous investments in making our community more attractive, walkable and vibrant, even during the worst economic downturn,” said County Executive Ike Leggett, “because quality of place is essential to attracting businesses and talent.”

The web-based portal allows users to visually explore proposed, approved, under construction and recently completed development projects in Montgomery County. The Database lets residents see what is planned in their communities and enables businesses to easily gather information about development in the pipeline to help with investment decisions.

“This tool represents a collaborative effort to promote development in the County and draw attention to the new, sustainable designs being built in our communities,” said Casey Anderson, Chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board. “It provides an easy, accessible way to understand the quality of growth in the County.”

County officials can use the tool to promote the diversity and robustness of Montgomery’s real estate market. This mapping tool consolidates information from multiple County data sources and provides user-friendly descriptions, as well as photographs of the projects. As a “living” resource, the database will be continuously updated as new projects are proposed, approved and built.

“Supporting economic development efforts in the County is a priority for the Planning Department,” said Planning Director Gwen Wright. “This Development Database tool is an example of our commitment to make doing business in the County as user-friendly and transparent as possible.  It is exciting that we were able to collaborate with our County partners to further this goal.”

“The Development Database is an innovative tool that our business community can utilize to gather current, relevant and data-driven information concerning significant real estate development projects in Montgomery County.  Additionally, the Database is a great marketing tool to attract prospective developers and corporations considering investment in our community,” said Robby Brewer, Chair of the Montgomery Business Development Corporation.

The new database can be accessed at It complements the Planning Department’s digital Development Activity Information Center (DAIC), launched in 2005. DAIC, already an indispensable tool, provides the public a reivew timeline and document access related to the latest development projects. Now, with the enhanced Development Database, the public will have access to project narratives and photos, providing a more user-friendly experience.

The new Development Database enhances DAIC by providing more descriptive information about future projects. The database makes it easier to track construction projects in the pipeline and understand the extent of development throughout the County.

Feb 24 12

Stay in the Know on Planning and Development Activities in Your Community

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING, MD – Do you want to stay informed about planning and development in Montgomery County?  If so, ensure your local organization is registered accurately with the Planning Department, which maintains a list of homeowners organizations and civic groups countywide.

The Department relies on homeowners and civic organizations to help spread the word about development applications and planning initiatives. Builders use the Department’s organizational information to send notification of development applications to neighbors, and planners send notices to groups to publicize issues of general interest. Collecting accurate email addresses is paramount.

Planning Department staff has created an interactive webpage that makes updating organizational information a snap. Visit the online tool to review and update group contact information.

All currently registered groups will be notified about the new website by mail.

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Jun 30 05

Park and Planning Commission to Conduct Comprehensive Review of Development Approval Process


SILVER SPRING, MD – Top leaders at the Montgomery County Department of Park and Planning today ordered a comprehensive step-by-step review and audit of the agency’s development approval process. All county agencies involved in the development and building process will be asked to participate and fully cooperate with the review.

The department will hire an outside, independent firm to conduct the review.

The order, jointly issued by Charles Loehr, director of Montgomery County Department of Park and Planning and Rose Krasnow, chief of development review, has resulted from concerns related to building height and setbacks in Clarksburg’s town center, currently under construction.

Numerous townhouses, two-over-two’s and a condominium appear to exceed height standards. Some may have been erected too close to neighborhood streets.

“There’s no doubt that we must take a hard look at our processes – both internally and externally,” said Loehr. “Our residents deserve to have these problems identified and remedied as quickly as possible.”

“As it stands, there are problems in our procedures,” said Krasnow, who joined the department seven months ago. “While we handle a tremendous number of development applications, we have a very limited enforcement staff. I welcome this review so we can make needed improvements to our process.”

“I am very concerned about the allegations and believe it is critical to have an independent top to bottom review of the development approval process which should include the enforcement process,” said Montgomery County Council President Tom Perez.

A chronology of events regarding the Clarksburg Town Center is detailed in a department staff report that can be read by visiting the Clarksburg Town Center page. An unincorporated community group in Clarksburg conducted extensive research on the height matter and brought its findings to Loehr’s attention. Numerous departmental staff members have worked closely with the community group to seek a workable remedy.

Loehr, Krasnow and other department leaders will collaborate with county government officials in the executive branch to select an independent audit company to conduct the review. They anticipate the review will begin in mid-August. Results of the review will be made public.

The Montgomery County Planning Board will hold a public meeting on possible height and setback violations in Clarksburg Town Center on Thursday, July 7 beginning at 9:30 a.m. The board has blocked off nearly five hours for the hearing. Residents interested in testifying should call 301/495-4600.

Due to the nature of their regulatory role, Montgomery County Planning Board members – including Chairman Derick Berlage – are not legally permitted to discuss the matter until after the public hearing.