Long Branch Sector Plan
SILVER SPRING – After World War II, veterans and government workers flooding into the region transformed the East Silver Spring community of Long Branch into a populous gateway suburb.
Today, the multi-ethnic, bustling community is poised for change again. Planners have drafted a blueprint for Long Branch that envisions a mix of development within a pedestrian-friendly community anchored by two Purple Line stations. On Thursday, they will present a draft plan to the Planning Board they hope will set the stage for positive change in Long Branch while protecting its diverse businesses and community character.
Reflecting input from members of the community collected over three years, the draft recommends new mixed-use zoning, varied housing options to serve residents at different life stages, and a safe, connected pedestrian and bicycle network. Overall, planners expect the transit stations – at Arliss Street and University Boulevard – to catalyze redevelopment and reinvestment.
After reviewing the draft, the Planning Board will set a public hearing this winter to invite testimony from residents, business owners and anyone interested in the future of Long Branch. After the hearing, the Board will refine the plan in work sessions and send a draft to the County Council for consideration and eventual approval.
The plan focuses on commercial and residential areas along Piney Branch Road between Flower Avenue and University Boulevard. The plan would strengthen two commercial areas on either end of Piney Branch Road and designate the road as a boulevard that connects the community and provides a strong identity.
Residents attending community meetings have expressed concerns about safety, health, housing and connectivity. The plan seeks to address those issues by encouraging reinvestment. Redevelopment of commercial areas, most of which lack an inviting environment, could draw more people and help reduce crime.
With most streets designed for moving cars, heavy traffic, few public gathering spaces and large surface parking lots, the community lacks a safe, appealing public realm. To that end, the plan recommends zones that require developers to contribute public amenities, such as creating a better environment for walkers, cyclists and transit riders.
The Long Branch Town Center at Flower Avenue and Piney Branch Road provides the greatest opportunity, from infill development on surface parking lots to adaptive reuse of the Flower Theatre, which is recommended for historic designation. Its location near the Arliss Street Purple Line station makes it a natural for public realm improvements.
The plan recommendations are presented in phases, with the first phase covering development before the construction of the Purple Line. Phase two addresses longer term development, when the full funding agreement for the Purple Line is in place.
Planners develop master and sector plans to create a framework for each community designed to last 15 to 20 years. Those plans help policy-makers – such as the Planning Board and County Council – develop land use strategies and decide on proposed development.
WHO: Montgomery County Planning Board
WHAT: Consideration of Long Branch Sector Plan Staff Draft
WHEN: 9 a.m. Thursday, December 13
Park and Planning Headquarters
8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring
SILVER SPRING – Montgomery County planners working on a new community plan for Long Branch on Monday will detail their preliminary recommendations – from how to create safer, better connections for walkers, cyclists and drivers to how commercial areas might redevelop.
Residents, property owners and anyone interested in the East Silver Spring community should join planners at a community meeting to get an early look at the recommendations and provide feedback. Spanish interpreters will be available.
Long Branch is known for being one of Montgomery County’s more affordable, family-friendly and diverse communities. State transportation officials have proposed two Purple Line light rail stations in the plan area. Yet, as an older, inner-ring suburb, Long Branch is feeling its age, with maturing buildings, vast expanses of surface parking lots, and inadequate streets, sidewalks, and parks.
In their recommendations, planners call for new development with a mix of housing, retail, office and entertainment uses, and streets featuring wider lanes, medians, trees, and bike lanes. They suggest new or improved parks and schools, as well as environmental protections such as increasing tree canopy, creating more green spaces and parks, and enhancing stormwater management.
Planners acknowledge Long Branch’s social challenges, such as higher incidences of crime, poverty and unemployment than in other Montgomery County communities, and hope to address them with strategies to improve quality of life along with land use and zoning recommendations.
Preview the recommendations or pick up a handout at the meeting.
Planners develop master and sector plans to create a framework for each community designed to last 15 to 20 years. Those visions help planners and policy-makers – such as the Planning Board and County Council – develop land use strategies and decide on proposed development.
Montgomery County Planning Department
Long Branch Sector Plan community meeting
6-8:30 p.m. Monday, June 25
Rolling Terrace Elementary School
705 Bayfield Street, Silver Spring
SILVER SPRING, MD – Planners preparing a vision for the future of Long Branch will present their preliminary ideas to the Planning Board on Thursday, December 9. To ensure all community members can participate, the Planning Board will convene at the Long Branch Library.
Residents, property owners, developers and anyone interested in the community should consider attending the meeting, which will include a preview of recommendations for the proposed Long Branch Sector Plan before planners present a complete draft plan to the Planning Board later this winter or spring.
Preliminary ideas call for reinforcing the commercial uses at Flower Avenue and Arliss Street in a town center that would feature a community space. Planners also recommend continued diverse and affordable housing options and retention of small businesses. Other recommendations call for better pedestrian mobility and safety by improving connections to buses and the future Purple Line, proposed to run along University Boulevard, Piney Branch Road and Arliss Street.
Master and sector plans look ahead 15 to 20 years to create a long-range planning framework for each community. Sector plans typically inventory land uses and analyze zoning, transportation, community facilities, environmental assets, and historic structures, among other elements. The plans help planners and policy-makers – such as the Planning Board and County Council – set policy and evaluate proposed development.
Planners will develop a draft Long Branch Sector Plan and present it to the Planning Board later this winter or spring. After that, the Planning Board will schedule a public hearing on the plan. After a detailed review of the draft during a series of work sessions, the Planning Board will send its draft to the County Council for final review and approval.
To sign up to speak before the Board, go to www.montgomeryapps.org/planning_board/testify.asp, call 301-495-4601 or sign up at the meeting.
Montgomery County Planning Department
Long Branch Sector Plan preliminary recommendations
6:30 p.m. Thursday, December 9
Long Branch Library, 8800 Garland Avenue, 2nd floor
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