Friends of White Flint

Promoting a Sustainable, Walkable and Engaging Community

P.O. Box 2761

White Flint Station

Kensington, MD 20891

Phone: 301-980-3768

Email: info@whiteflint.org


Planning Board Chooses Rocking Horse for New School Site

Posted on by Barnaby Zall

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The Montgomery County Planning Board does much of its work on the White Flint Sector Plan in worksessions arranged around a topic. Tonight’s topic is transportation. Live video is available at www.montgomeryplanningboard.org.

Bike paths: different types of paths: exclusive and shared paths. Layers of bike and pedestrian network. Bike lanes for on-road. Shared-use paths for regional connections. Business district streets that are heavy-lifting streets, and local streets that are interior transportation and break up the superblocks.

Specific alignment of edge road at White Flint Mall.

Dan Hardy: we have scoped out this network and it works best.

After the transportation discussion wound down, the Board revisited an earlier decision on where to site a new school in the White Flint Sector. The two choices were between a site in the Sector, just northeast of White Flint Mall (below the Shopper’s Food Warehouse shopping center), and a former school site in the nearby Randolph Hills neighborhood, now called the Rocking Horse Center and used for school administrative offices. Montgomery County Public Schools made a heroic effort at an earlier worksession to portray the Rocking Horse site as vital to school operations, pointing out that international students (who seem to include new immigrants as well as temporary visitors) are all processed at Rocking Horse. The Board deadlocked 2-2 on the site decision, with then-absent Commissioner Joe Alfandre being the swing vote. When Alfandre returned and confronted the question, he deferred, saying he wanted to visit the site first, to see its connections to the Sector. (Some of the arguments bandied during the earlier session included the fact that children would have to be bussed to a school at Rocking Horse.)

Alfandre: school site. Visited the new park in Randolph Hills. Beautiful. Good model. Met Kevin Kline [editor: a Friend of White Flint residential member who has written in the FLOG about environmental issues] who was just working there. Possibilities for connecting. Challenge is how you go from suburban to urban. I haven’t found the linkages in Luxmanor or Garrett Park Estates. Here it appears that because of the scale of the neighborhood, it’s going to fit. Distance to the Core isn’t that great. there’s 20 acres there. Same proximity that the urban site is down there. Better model for urbanizing a suburban county. Because of the scale, have a chance to connect one neighborhood in a grand way that will be successful. I don’t see that happening in any of the other neighborhoods. This is outside of the Sector, and site may be subject to a boundary change, but boundaries are not set in stone. I will pass on the combined park site as a school site. I don’t think that will be a meaningful enough use there. This one has uses and potential that we’re not considering fully enough yet. I’d like to see the Nicholson Court neighborhood attached to that because I think there’s potential there.

Hanson: that will be White Flint 2, which will be the neighborhoods around that. So you’re the third vote for Rocking Horse. Remaining question is what to do with the adjacent White Flint Mall property? Cryor: can we wait till our fifth member is here (Presley)? Hanson: I’m going to ask that we make that decision on Thursday.

Hanson: several things I’d like to test the waters on. certain policies that we’re setting in this plan. The importance is that new state law says that future actions must be consistent with the policies set in the Plan. Transportation: 1) designating the entire Sector Plan as a Metro Station Policy Area. Development in it can follow different rules than in the rest of the County. All comfortable with that. 2) Commercial and residential development must reduce congestion and increase transit, including whole basketful of transit and mobility strategies. No matter what you’re building, you must use the transportation demand strategies for whatever you’ve got. 3) Parking for residential developments decline with proximity to Metro, so parking reduced near the Metro. We’ll have a session to deal with that coming up soon. Only residential land use. 4) All roads except Montrose Pkwy would have a target speed of 25 mph; Pkwy would be 35 mph. 6) Public transportation policies. Recommendations for north entrance for Metro station. Already decided MARC station. May want to talk more about east-west bus service. Haven’t heard complaints about bus bays recommendations: 8 at Metro, 2 at MARC. Already handled bikes tonight.

Adjourned. Next meeting is Thursday, May 7, to talk about design guidelines.

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