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westbard sector plan

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.

Mar 18 16

Westbard Sector Plan Transmitted to County Council for Approval

by Bridget Schwiesow

PB Draft cover_Westbard

On March 14, the County’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee held its last work session and sent its recommendations to the Council

Silver Spring, MD – Staff from the Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, met with the County’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee on Monday, March 14, to hold the last work session for the Westbard Sector Plan.

The PHED Committee, which comprises County Councilmembers Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Hans Riemer, met at the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. County Council member Roger Berliner also attended the work session to discuss the plan for Westbard.

The discussion focused on the River Road corridor and affordable housing within the planning area. PHED Committee members recommended maintaining the existing commercial and industrial zoning, and building heights of 35 to 40 feet along River Road. They recommended increasing affordable housing requirements for new residential construction within the entire planning area, from 12.5 percent moderately priced dwelling units (MPDUs) to 15 percent MPDUs.

These changes will be reflected in the Westbard Sector Plan Draft Plan, which also reflects recommendations from Planning Board work sessions. The County Council will vote on approval of the Sector Plan on Tuesday, March 22.

View the Planning Board Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan.

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 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 of not more than 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.

Jan 28 16

Montgomery County Council Will Hold Public Hearings for Westbard Sector Plan on February 2 and 4

by Bridget Schwiesow

PB draft_Westbard cover

Meetings at County Council Office Building in Rockville provide opportunities for the community to comment on the Planning Board Draft of the Plan

Silver Spring, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Board, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, approved the Planning Board Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan on December 17, 2015 for transmittal to the Montgomery County Council and Office of the County Executive. The Council has now scheduled two public hearings for this Sector Plan.

The first hearing will be held on Tuesday, February 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Office Building (100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD, Council Hearing Room). This meeting was originally scheduled for January 26, but was rescheduled due to the recent snowstorm. It will be televised live on County Cable Montgomery Channels Comcast 6, RCN 6 and Verizon 30 and streamed live online. View the County Council Agenda webpage.

The Montgomery County Council will hold a second public hearing for the Westbard Sector Plan on Thursday, February 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Office Building (100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD, Council Hearing Room). This meeting was  originally scheduled for January 26, but also had to be rescheduled due to the inclement weather. It will be televised live on County Cable Montgomery Channels Comcast 6, RCN 6 and Verizon 30 and streamed live online. View the County Council Agenda webpage.

Currently, there is a wait list to testify at these hearings but interested speakers can register online for a possible time slot or call 240-777-7803 for more information. Speakers can also provide written testimony by sending it by mail to the Montgomery County Council (100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850) or by email to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov. All testimony must be received by 10 a.m. on the day of the hearing to be added to the record.

Current Draft of Plan Reflects Changes from Work Sessions
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 the 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 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.

Sep 15 15

Public Hearing on Westbard Sector Plan Will be Held September 24

by Bridget Schwiesow

westbard public hearing cover

Community invited to testify about the Sector Plan at the Planning Board meeting on Thursday, September 24 in Silver Spring

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has posted the Public Hearing Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan on the Department’s web site in advance of the Planning Board meeting on Thursday, September 24.

View the Public Hearing Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan.

During the September 24 session, the Board will hold a public hearing for the Westbard Sector Plan from 2:30 to 5 p.m. and from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD) when the community is invited to comment on the Plan’s recommendations.

Time slots to testify are limited, so the public is encouraged to call 301-495-4605 or go online at http://www.montgomeryapps.org/planning_board/testify.asp to sign up to testify.

The public is also invited to submit comments on the Public Hearing Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan via email to mcp-chair@mncppc-mc.org. These comments will become part of the public testimony and public record for the Plan.

Following the public hearing on September 24, the Planning Board will hold several work sessions on the Sector Plan from October through December 2015 to discuss the community testimony as well as issues Board members want to address.

At the conclusion of the work sessions, the Plan will be revised per the Planning Board’s direction and transmitted to the County Council and County Executive as the Planning Board Draft. The County Council will hold a public hearing on the Planning Board Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan in 2016.

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, the 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.

Since the PlanWestbard charrette, a weeklong brainstorming session held in November 2014, planners have revised the Sector Plan to address community concerns. Refinements include lower heights for new buildings, more open spaces and bike paths, and placemaking strategies, including signage and public art, which relate to Westbard’s rich history.

Stay Connected:
Sign up for the Westbard Sector Plan eNewsletter.

Aug 10 15

Planning Department Releases Public Hearing Draft of Westbard Sector Plan

by Bridget Schwiesow

westbard public hearing draft

Community invited to review latest version of Sector Plan before the public hearing on Thursday, September 24 in Silver Spring

Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has posted the Public Hearing Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan on the Department’s web site. This posting follows the Montgomery County Planning Board’s approval of the Working Draft as the Public Hearing Draft on Thursday, July 23.

The Board’s public hearing on the Westbard Sector Plan is scheduled for Thursday, September 24 from 2:30 to 5 p.m. and from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD) when the community is invited to comment on the Plan’s recommendations.

View the Public Hearing Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan.

Time slots to testify are limited, so the public is encouraged to call 301-495-4605 or to go online  http://www.montgomeryapps.org/planning_board/testify.asp to sign up to testify. In order to hear from as many speakers as possible, each speaker will have up to three minutes to testify.

The public is also invited to submit comments on the Public Hearing Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan via email to mcp-chair@mncppc-mc.org. These comments will become part of the public testimony and public record for the Plan.

Following the public hearing on September 24, the Planning Board will hold several work sessions on the Sector Plan from October through December 2015 to discuss the community testimony as well as issues Board members want to address.

At the conclusion of the work sessions, the Plan will be revised per the Planning Board’s direction and transmitted to the County Council and County Executive as the Planning Board Draft. The County Council will hold a public hearing on the Planning Board Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan in 2016.

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, 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.

Since the PlanWestbard charrette, a weeklong brainstorming session held in November 2014, planners have revised the Sector Plan to address community concerns. Refinements include lower heights for new buildings, more open spaces and bike paths, and placemaking strategies, including signage and public art, which relate to Westbard’s rich history.

Stay Connected:
Sign up for the Westbard Sector Plan eNewsletter.

Jul 9 15

Planning Department Releases Working Draft of Westbard Sector Plan

by Bridget Schwiesow

Westbard Working Draft cover

Recommendations include creating better connections to the Capital Crescent Trail, restoring the Willett Branch stream and encouraging revitalization of older retail areas

SILVER SPRING, MD –The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has completed the Working Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan for presentation to the Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday, July 16.

The Board’s public hearing about the Westbard Sector Plan is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, September 24, pending its approval of the Working Draft at the July 16 meeting. The community will be invited to comment on the Westbard Sector Plan recommendations at the September 24 public hearing held at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD).

View the Westbard Sector Plan Working Draft.

The new Sector Plan builds on the assess of Westbard by offering ways to improve its retail and light industrial areas, housing choices and open spaces over the next 20 years. Recommendations in the Plan focus on:

-Encouraging more housing choices and revitalizing older retail areas.
-Emphasizing low-scale development at 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.

Since the PlanWestbard charrette, a weeklong brainstorming session held in November 2014, planners have been revising the Sector Plan to address community concerns. Refinements include revisions to heights for new buildings, more open spaces and bike paths, and placemaking strategies, including signage and public art, related to Westbard’s rich history.

Learn more about the development of the Westbard Sector Plan.

After the Board’s public hearing in September, the plan will be revised through work sessions with the Planning Board before the final draft of the Westbard Sector Plan is presented to the County Council for approval. Council action is anticipated in spring 2016.

Jun 30 15

Westbard Sector Plan Will Be Presented to Planning Board on July 16

by Bridget Schwiesow

Westbard Logo

Board will review Working Draft’s recommendations for retail, housing and environmental upgrades in Westbard before public hearing in September

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will review the Working Draft of the Westbard Sector Plan at its meeting on Thursday, July 16. This Plan aims to encourage more parks and open spaces, housing and community retail options, and environmental sustainability within a community located in close proximity to Washington, DC and Downtown Bethesda.

The new Plan updates the 1982 Westbard Sector Plan to keep pace with the times and changes in the area. Some of the earlier Plan’s recommendations were never realized, including design concepts aimed at improving the public realm. Recommendations for improving the Westbard area in the Working Draft include the following:

-Providing gateway features into Westbard.

– Improving streetscapes on River Road, Westbard Avenue and side streets.

-Restoring the Willett Branch stream that runs through the Sector Plan area.

-Providing more connections to the popular Capital Crescent Trail for cyclists and pedestrians.

-Creating an urban park at the corner of Westbard Avenue and Ridgefield Road.

-Creating a community-serving commercial/retail development on Westbard Avenue.

-Improving the environmental sustainability of the Westwood Shopping Center.

After reviewing the Working Draft, the Planning Board will set a public hearing date for the Westbard Sector Plan, when the community is invited to comment on its recommendations.  That hearing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, September 24.

Click on the Westbard Sector Plan for more information.

Apr 23 15

Updated Westbard Sector Plan Presented at April 22 Meeting

by Bridget Schwiesow

 

Westbard Logo
County planners discuss transportation, schools and environment.

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, held a community meeting on April 22 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Walt Whitman High School to present the latest refinements to the Westbard Sector Plan, which was last revised in 1982. The Sector Plan is now being updated at the direction of the Montgomery County Council to keep pace with the times and changes in the area. Its recommendations aim to enhance the experiences of people who live in the Westbard area by providing for more choices of retail and housing, new parks and open spaces, and greater environmental sustainability.

At the April 22 meeting, planners focused on issues related to transportation, noting that recent traffic studies show no failing intersections and no need for road widening in the area. Staff’s recommendations include curb cut consolidation along River Road to minimize traffic stresses and improve safety. They also call for creating a new road connecting Westbard Avenue and River Road, and cycle tracks on those streets, along with upgraded sidewalks for pedestrians.

In addition, possible options for additional public school facilities serving the Westbard area and improvements to environmental quality were addressed at the session. Converting the Willett Branch from a concrete storm drain into a green community amenity was recommended, along with increasing the number of open spaces in the Westbard area. A central civic green proposed near Giant Food would provide a place for community gatherings and events.

Review the April 22 presentation.

Since the PlanWestbard charrette, a weeklong brainstorming session held in November 2014, planners have been revising the Sector Plan to address community concerns. Refinements include lower heights for new buildings, more open spaces and bike paths, and placemaking strategies that relate to Westbard’s rich history. The vision for the Sector Plan now concentrates on smaller scale buildings, appropriate density, diversity of housing, mixed uses, affordability and community amenities.

Feedback from the April 22 meeting will be incorporated into the Westbard Concept Framework Plan, which will be presented to the Montgomery County Planning Board on April 30, 2015 for review and approval.

Learn more about the Westbard Sector Plan.