Live blogging from April 13, 2009, meeting of the Montgomery County Planning Board worksession, hearing from community groups about reactions to developers’ proposals.
Paula Bienenfeld, Luxmanor Citizens Associations, with Steve Dryden from Friends of Rock Creek. Went back two years to first principles. Advisory Group meetings and proposals. Something really exciting and different. Luxmanor Jitney. Red Line problems will worsen as you add 30,000 people, and 30% take transit. Cmsnr Cryor: this problem will always be with us. Too many governments. Putting all of our eggs in that basket. But when it gets bad, it will get better because there’s nothing else. Only game in town. Can’t keep driving cars. Need organizations to come forward and say we need it improved and a stable funding mechanism for it. Bienenfeld: New York City subway is over a 100 years old, and it still works. We need something in the Plan that says Metro is going to step up. Even if it’s just the vision. Cryor: no one is afraid to ride the Metro. We don’t have the safety problem. Presley: can we put something in the plan to time build-out to provision of levels of services. Robinson/Hanson: staging. Presley: how measure and monitor. Hanson: whole set of moving parts. Transit. Roads. Parking. Changes in human behavior. Gas prices. Might not need transit improvements if other things work, but might need some smaller changes. Alfandre: aren’t we adding BRT? Hanson: now says better bus service on Pike. Alfandre: other problem is east-west. We’ll get in trouble if we only rely on the Red Line. I don’t know how to get people from the neighborhoods.
Bienenfeld. Streets need to be publicly owned. First Amendment rights have to be protected. Green spaces must be publicly owned. Citizens must step up. Public art must be a part of any project. Must be in the Plan. Alfandre: bring in artists and benefactors. Art space in Sector. Hanson: amenities provision. Galleries in Bethesda. Cryor: arts district tax breaks. Long discussion of arts in development planning. Alfandre: important provision in Plan. Bienenfeld: reach out to artists to help with a section in Plan.
Neighborhood involvement: want to be sure that there’s some feedback method. And get some comments back. Hanson: not a practical way to get the work done. Robinson: a major failing that we don’t make strategic decisions clearly early in the process. Bienenfeld: we’re residential landowners, and should be on an equal footing with commercial landowners.
Must have library, not overcrowded schools. policie, fire, emergency medical; variety of parks. Addition to Luxmanor School. Must address a new school so the first few hundred new kids don’t have to be pressed into our schools. Build-out staging will squeeze our schools. School pulls together a community. Cryor: what kind of library? What does it do for the community? Bienenfeld: meeting place. Hanson: possible to have specialized smaller school in Sector. Don’t have amount of playgrounds, but could move, for example, the international school element in Rocking Horse into the Sector.
Bienenfeld: restorative practices for watershed. BRAC report shows high level of development and lack of stormwater controls have led to unmitigated flows that have damaged Rock Creek. Want a section in Plan on restoration and repair of Rock Creek and the watershed.
Our concerns: Wall Park, neighborhood access to transit, heights, density, and partnerships between government and neighborhoods. Hanson: Plan enhances the Montgomery Aquatic Center. Bienenfeld: concern is not working with the community. Hanson: that’s done in the park facilities plan. All we do in the Master Plan is to say, here’s the park. Bienenfeld: Wall Park is poorly maintained and needs attention. Transit needs better signage. Vertical sprawl is tall buildings that are not sustainable by the infrastructure.
Steve Dryden, Friends of Rock Creek. Prior comments about not reaching environmental goals was discouraging. Managing stormwater study from Pennsylvania looked at Bethesda and Calverton sites. Applied new techniques and found that opportunities to provide better stormwater management were available at each site at prices comparable to conventional techniques. Effectiveness was better and prices was comparable. Robinson: current area has no stormwater management, and new state law requires that we reduce run-off by 20% within five years. We’re going to have to change things. Hanson: right now pervious pavement is not counted, but this isn’t something we can resolve in the Master Plan. Dryden: can’t restore Rock Creek in this plan, but making sure that this won’t continue the degradation downstream.
The next meeting of the Planning Board on the White Flint Sector Plan will be April 23, 2009, at the headquarters in Silver Spring. The topics will include public facilities, including schools, land use, and environmental sustainability.