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Dec 29 15

View the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Top 10 Videos from 2015

by Bridget Schwiesow

the for real final copy of top 10

Most watched online videos highlight the Historic Preservation Office, Design Excellence initiative, Bicycle Master Plan and Subdivision Staging Policy

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has compiled its top 10 most popular online videos from 2015. The videos include a mix of news content and promotional material meant to engage Montgomery County residents and stakeholders to stay informed and involved in Planning Department projects and plans.

“Using video has been an important outreach tool for engaging the community,” says Planning Department Director Gwen Wright. “It is our goal to make the planning process as accessible and interesting to stakeholders as possible, and video helps promote and recap important events and projects happening at the Department.”

View the graphic of the full list of Top 10 Videos.

Take a look at the videos that were the most popular on for 2015 and be sure to stay tuned in 2016 for more videos from the Montgomery County Planning Department!

Montgomery County Planning Department Videos from 2015:

  1. Old Places Matter
    The Montgomery County Historic Preservation Office wants to remind you that “old places” mean a lot to our County. Learn more about the Historic Preservation Office by visiting and follow preservation staff on Twitter @MoCoHistPres
  1. Historic Preservation Tax Credit
    Find out how you can receive a tax credit for the exterior improvements to your historic home or business. Learn more at
  2. The Bicycle Master Plan
    Learn about the Planning Department’s 2015 launch of a comprehensive update to the County Master Plan of Bikeways. Check out Check out
  1. Rock Spring Master Plan Kicks Off
    Attend the Rock Spring Farmers Market with the outreach team for the Rock Spring Master Plan and see how the group gathered feedback about this North Bethesda office park for the Plan. Learn more at
  1. Subdivision Regulations Rewrite Promo
    Understand the reasons why regulations governing subdivision development and growth are being rewritten to ensure more livable communities. Review the code at
  1. Development Review Real-Time Tracker
    Check out how this interactive map allows users to see what projects are being built in specific areas of the County. The map provides access to the Development Activity Information Center (DAIC), which includes all the documents associated with the review of a plan. Clicking on the Real Time Tracker icon takes you to a timeline that shows everything from the accepted date of the development application to the Planning Board’s decision on the project. Learn more about the development review process.
  2. Downtown Silver Spring Design Excellence Tour
    Join Planning Board members as they tour Downtown Silver Spring to see how some of their approved plans turned out and get a better look at what it means to practice design excellence. For more on the Planning Department’s Design Excellence program, go to:
  3. Update to the Subdivision Staging Policy Kickoff Meeting
    Find out more about the updates to the Subdivision Staging Policy (formerly known as the Growth Policy) that are undertaken every four years. The Planning Department started the most recent revision in 2015 to change regulations affecting schools, roads and infrastructure in the County. For more information, go to
  4. Montgomery County Planning Department: Just Getting Started Promo
    Review some of the recent work undertaken by the Montgomery County Planning Department and find out how you can stay connected and get involved! Learn more:
  5. Montgomery Planning Celebrates Design
    Hear what County Councilmembers, Planning Board members, architects and planners think about design excellence at the exciting event co-hosted with the Potomac Valley chapter of the American Institute of Architects. This 2015 gala, which drew 200 people, inaugurated the Planning Department’s first Design Excellence Award at the Silver Spring Civic Building. Learn more about Montgomery Planning’s Design Excellence Award:

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May 12 15

Planning Department Celebrates County Recognition of Preservation Month through Ongoing Financial and Community Awareness Programs

by Bridget Schwiesow


Grants and tax credits for historic properties, and Montgomery Modern initiative represent County’s strong commitment to historic preservation

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is renewing its focus on historic preservation programs following the County Council’s recognition of May as Preservation Month in Montgomery County. On May 11, 2015, Councilmember Hans Riemer introduced the proclamation by praising the efforts of the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission.

“Historic preservation is always such a challenge and it’s thanks to the pressure, the support and the ideals of the historic preservation community who keep us moving forward and prioritizing this important need,” said Riemer.

The Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office contributes to this momentum through community outreach programs to fund historic preservation projects and raise awareness of tax credits for exterior restoration and the historical significance of mid-20th-century modern structures in the County.

View the latest video promoting the work of the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office. 

Grants for Historic Preservation Projects
Currently, the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is seeking proposals from non-profit organizations or municipalities that wish to apply for matching funds to finance historic preservation projects in Montgomery County. Application materials must be received by May 18, 2015. Up to $60,000 may be available to be awarded in this grant round.

A range of projects will be considered, with special priority given to projects that document or interpret historic resources or use technology to present information and engage the public in historic preservation. The types of projects that will be considered include GIS mapping, apps for mobile devices, development of websites and digitally accessible content, walking tours of historic districts, handbooks, design guidelines, historic site brochures or other interpretive materials, historic district or site survey and documentation, oral histories, videos or exhibits pertaining to County history or architecture.

Grant guidelines and applications are available online. 

Increase in Tax Credit Applications
Currently, the Planning Department’s historic preservation staff is reviewing applications from County property owners seeking financial rewards for faithfully restoring the exteriors of their historic structures. The 92 applications for tax credits were submitted in April 2015 and represent an increase from the 87 received in 2014.

This tax credit may be granted against the County real property taxes, based on the amount expended by a homeowner for restoration or preservation of an historic property.  The property must be an historic site designated on the County Master Plan for Historic Preservation or within a historic district designated in that Plan. Tax credits are approved for exterior work only and no credit is granted for new construction.

Award for Montgomery Modern Initiative
Earlier this spring, the Planning Department’s historic preservation staff was honored with the Excellence in Community Engagement Award from the Maryland Historical Trust. The award was announced in March at the 2015 Maryland Preservation Awards ceremony, hosted by the Maryland Historical Trust Board of Trustees.

This accolade recognizes the success of the Montgomery Modern program, launched by the Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office in 2013 to raise awareness of the County’s remarkable legacy of mid-20th-century architecture and design. The educational and outreach initiative has included bus and bike tours of modern neighborhoods and buildings, and an interactive website. A book documenting the County’s midcentury structures is now being written by staff preservationist Clare Kelly for publication in fall 2015.

Nov 13 14

Historic Preservation Tax Credit Workshop Explains Expansion of State and County Funds for Rehabilitation Projects

by Bridget Schwiesow

Small business owners and residents invited to November 18 presentation on recent enhancements to County and state rehabilitation tax credit programs

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office Supervisor Scott Whipple will join staff from the Maryland Historical Trust at a November 18 presentation in Takoma Park on recent enhancements to County and state historic preservation tax credit programs. Earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly expanded the Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit program to help owners of small businesses complete rehabilitation projects in designated historic districts, and beginning in 2014, the county credits were increased to 25% from 10%.

“Montgomery County homeowners have made great use of the state historic preservation tax credits, often in concert with the county’s credits, but only a few commercial projects have received the state credits. That should change under the newly expanded state program,” says Whipple. “The expanded program will help owners of historic commercial property in Takoma Park, Kensington, and elsewhere in the county participate in this powerful historic preservation incentive program.”

This workshop is an opportunity for property owners to learn about the changes to the state program that make the credits more accessible for renovation projects, such as those in historic districts like Takoma Park or Kensington. The credits are also available to the owners of historic residential properties who rehabilitate their properties. The County’s 25 percent can be used with the state credits, greatly enhancing the benefit of the credits to owners who make investments in their historic properties.

A question and answer session will follow the presentations by state and county preservation experts to offer the opportunity for the public to understand the program details more fully.

What: Workshop on revised Maryland and Montgomery County historic preservation tax credits
When: Tuesday, November 18, 7-9 p.m.
Where: Historic Takoma Inc. Headquarters (7328 Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park, MD)
Why: Learn how to get a share of state and county funds dedicated to preserving historic structures and rebuilding the best of Maryland Communities

Sep 11 14

Ride the Montgomery Modern Bike Tour – Oct. 11, 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

by Bridget Schwiesow


Community invited by Montgomery Planning to pedal around mid-century neighborhoods and landmarks

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is hosting a bike tour of mid-century modern architecture. The route will follow the Rock Creek Park trail through entire subdivisions of contemporary homes designed in the 1950s.

The tour is sponsored by the Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office and the Potomac Valley chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Register for the Montgomery Modern Bike Tour.

The morning tour visits houses in neighborhoods of Hammond Hill and Hammond Wood, and leads through Rock Creek Woods, all designed by architect Charles Goodman, FAIA. Goodman, who designed the Hollin Hills subdivision in Alexandria, was Washington’s foremost modernist architect working in single-family housing in the 1950s.

Bikers will have a box lunch at the North Chevy Chase Christian Church, followed by a tour of this modernist gem by Bethesda architect John Samperton, AIA, known for his design of Gallaudet College and Catholic University buildings.  Also on the tour is Samperton’s pristine North Chevy Chase Pool Bathhouse.

Montgomery Modern Bike Tour
sponsored by the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office and the Potomac Valley chapter of AIA
October 11, 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Tour mid-century neighborhoods in Montgomery County on two wheels: $30 for the public ($20 for AIA and Docomomo members) and includes lunch and interior visits.

Learn more about the Montgomery Modern Bike Tour

The purpose of the tour is to heighten awareness of mid-century modern design in Montgomery County and the preservation challenges now facing owners of buildings dating from the post-World War II decades. The works of two leading architects and their approaches to 1950s modernism will be discussed as well as ways of renovating and expanding mid-century designs now considered historic.

The event is part of the Historic Preservation Office’s Montgomery Modern initiative to educate the public about the architectural heritage of Montgomery County. This preservation program includes the agency’s research and writing of a new book, Montgomery Modern, on the wealth of mid-century modern architecture in the county. The book is scheduled for publication in fall 2015. Learn more about the Historic Preservation Office’s Montgomery Modern initiative.

The bike tour is part of the Docomomo Tour Day event sponsored by Docomomo-DC. This non-profit is dedicated to the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement (Docomomo) and is part of an international organization founded in 1988 by two Dutch architects.

Interested tour participants are required to bring their own bicycles and wear helmets. The tour will start at the Newport Middle School, 11311 Newport Mill Road, Kensington, Maryland 20895.

Bikers must be willing to pedal at a slow to moderate pace, and travel up and down hilly streets with some traffic possible during the 13.5-mile tour, which includes the 6 mile ride from the end of the tour back to the starting point.

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.

Apr 12 13

County Historic Planners to Administer Energy Savings Program

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING – Owners of historic homes in Montgomery County who want to do their part to lessen energy usage have an opportunity to participate in a free home audit available through the Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Section.

takoma park historic house

Thanks to a $9,000 grant from the Maryland Historical Trust, historic preservation planners will run the local Energy Efficiency Initiative for selected owners of eight-10 historic homes in the county. There are more than 3,000 homes designated historic on the county Master Plan for Historic Preservation or located in a designated historic district.

The audits will reveal a household’s energy usage and recommend measures to conserve energy. Armed with conservation strategies, homeowners can see real savings on utility costs.

Planners hope to include properties from across the county representing a variety of historic home types. Properties will be selected for the audits based on location, age, size and materials used in construction of the residence as well as when applications are submitted.

Learn more and download an application. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. May 10.

The audits, valued at $500 per home, consider heating and cooling systems, water, electricity, air quality and other factors to identify ways to save energy in homes that may have unique challenges. Improving home energy efficiency is particularly important, since buildings account for about 40 percent of all U.S. energy used.

Constructed differently from modern buildings, historic homes, may require special attention when considering how to improve energy performance. Along with audit results, homeowners will receive information about incentives – tax credits, grants and rebates – available to owners improving local historic resources.

Audit findings and trends will be featured in a report and case studies at the conclusion of the Energy Efficiency Initiative.

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Feb 29 12

Own a Historic Structure? Submit an Application for Tax Credits

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING, MD – Montgomery County is home to more than 3,000 structures designated as historic. Owners of historic properties who maintain and rehabilitate the structures may be eligible for tax credits that reward them for preserving a slice of county history.

The county Historic Preservation Commission is accepting applications for county tax credits on work completed in 2011. If you received a historic area work permit for a rehabilitation project that exceeded $1,000, the work may qualify for a tax credit. Many routine maintenance projects that do not require a HAWP are also eligible, although only exterior work qualifies.

Tax credits, which total 10 percent of renovation costs, are applied toward property tax bills. Eligible work ranges from a total rehabilitation to painting and roof replacements, although not all exterior projects are considered eligible.

The HPC is staffed by historic preservation planners at the county Planning Department, who review applications and assist applicants.

Submit applications by April 15. Visit the historic preservation section’s webpage for information and application materials.

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Feb 13 12

Planners Release 10th-Anniversary Edition of Book Featuring Montgomery County’s Historic Sites

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING – The 10th- anniversary edition of the award-winning Places from the Past: The Tradition of Gardez Bien in Montgomery County, Maryland, a book that inventories the county’s historic sites, is now available online.

The coffee table-type publication, illustrated with photographs, architectural drawings and maps, is available as free downloads by chapter or as a print-on-demand digital edition for a fee. Visit

Gardez Bien is the county motto adopted in 1976 that means to guard well or take good care.

Recognized with awards from the Maryland Historical Trust and Montgomery Preservation, Inc., Places from the Past documents the history of architecture and community planning in Montgomery County. The book features a series of essays on building traditions, housing types and outbuildings as well as an inventory of historic districts and sites. The inventory is organized by geography within the county and includes orienting maps as well as images and descriptions of some 400 individual historic sites and 20 historic districts. Those curious about how their communities were settled or the history behind some of the county’s oldest homes will find the book an informative and engaging read.

Initially printed a decade ago, the 357-page book had gone out of print. The new release, with an updated forward, makes the encyclopedic Places from the Past available again in durable paperback or, for the first time, in hardcover binding and electronic format.

A border county in a border state, Montgomery County’s architectural heritage has a dual nature:  metropolitan and rural, northern and southern. Early European settlers were tobacco planters from the Chesapeake and wheat farmers from Pennsylvania. During the Civil War, residents were divided in their loyalties, with those in the western county with Virginia family ties sympathizing with the South, while Sandy Spring Quakers and northern-born residents aligned with the North. 

After the Civil War, African Americans, comprising over a third of the county population, lived in more than 40 settlements established throughout the county. The nation’s capital, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and the B&O Railroad’s Metropolitan Branch had tremendous influence on the county’s growth and development. 

Author Clare Lise Kelly is a historic preservation planner who has been researching historic sites in the county since 1989. Kelly has dedicated the book to property owners and citizens who, through their hard work and commitment, have protected historic sites for the enjoyment and education of present and future generations.

Access book and digital ordering information.

Feb 22 10

Tax Credits Available for Snowstorm-Affected Historic Homes

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING, MD – Owners of historic buildings in Montgomery County are eligible for local tax credits for repairs needed for snowstorm-related damage, historic preservation planners said Monday.

Owners of buildings listed in the county Master Plan for Historic Preservation may apply for the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Tax Credit for repairs to roofs, gutters and the like as long as the work does not alter the look of a building’s exterior features.

To qualify, the cost of the repair work must exceed $1,000. The tax credit, applied toward county property taxes, will equal 10 percent of expenses.

The County Council created the historic preservation tax credit program in 1984.  The Historic Preservation Commission reviews tax credit applications, certifies that project work is eligible for tax credits and forwards recommendations to the county Department of Finance for approval. Any unused portion of the tax credit may be carried forward for as many as five years.

For a list of eligible activities, criteria and to download an application form, visit or call 301-563-3400.

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Jan 12 10

National Park Seminary Housing Developer Becomes Recipient of Historic Preservation Tax Credit

by Valerie Berton

SILVER SPRING – Two historic buildings at the National Park Seminary, a mixed housing project in Silver Spring built on what used to be a historic girls’ finishing school, were among four projects in Maryland to earn a rehabilitation tax credit last week.

On Friday, Gov. Martin O’Malley announced the tax credits, which will qualify the National Park Seminary builders for nearly $2 million in recognition of the developer’s efforts to preserve a unique part of Montgomery County history.

The governor’s announcement highlights a housing development that showcases the economic and cultural value of historic preservation. The redevelopment of the National Park Seminary adds to the local economy, preserves a quirky slice of Montgomery County history, and demonstrates sustainable building practices by recycling interesting historic buildings.

It also represents a success story for county planners, who reviewed the redevelopment project when the developers, the Alexander Company and EYA, submitted an application to the Planning Board. To ensure that the developer preserved the historic character of the campus, and to work through the details of building on a complex site, staff guided the National Park Seminary project through the Historic Preservation Commission and the Planning Board review process.

Other groups, such as Save our Seminary, which promoted historic preservation of the seminary site, and the Maryland Historic Trust, which holds a historic protection easement on the property, also played key roles. Today, the National Park Seminary is a community of historic and new townhouses, single-family homes, condos and apartments.

Other projects that received part of this year’s $5 million state rehabilitation tax credit program are in the city of Baltimore and Bel Air, Harford County. Over 12 years, completed rehabilitation projects have generated more than $1.74 billion for the Maryland economy, according to a study by The Abell Foundation. Tax credits to rehabilitate buildings result in a return of $8.53 for every public dollar invested, the study says.

At a press conference, Gov. O’Malley indicated he would introduce legislation seeking to expand and broaden the historic preservation tax credit program to include “green” projects that are close to transit, re-use existing infrastructure and conserve energy. The governor’s efforts mirror the Montgomery County 2009-2011 Growth Policy, which seeks to provide incentives for developers for similar “green” efforts. Unless reauthorized during the state legislative session, Maryland’s rehabilitation tax credit program will end in June. Montgomery County ranks second in the state for receiving rehabilitation tax credits for residential projects, behind Baltimore.

The National Park Seminary project, located near the Forest Glen Metro station north of downtown Silver Spring, was placed as a district on the county’s historic preservation list — known as the Master Plan for Historic Preservation — in 1979. The site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

In 1890, the Forest Glen Inn was built as a resort hotel.  When the inn failed, it was converted into the main building of the school, which opened in 1894. Most of the other school buildings were built between 1894 and 1915. In 1942, the property was requisitioned by the U.S. Army for the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Later, many of the little-used buildings fell into disrepair. In 2004, the Alexander Company in partnership with EYA initiated the rehabilitation of the campus.

The tax credits will offset the costs of rehabilitating two more buildings on the site – the gymnasium and power plant that were part of the girls’ school. The developer plans to turn them into 27 residential units.

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