FoWF Statement on Annual Growth Policy

FoWF Statement on Annual Growth Policy

Every two years, Montgomery County considers whether its public facilities are “adequate” to support the planned growth in the county. This is the Annual Growth Policy process, and the County Council will hear public comments on the 2009-2011 AGP tomorrow night.

The AGP has become a sort of proxy fight over the White Flint Sector Plan, as some persons who oppose some or all of the White Flint Sector Plan testified to the Planning Board during its AGP hearings. Similar sentiments are expected to be voiced at the AGP hearing tomorrow night. As discussed in earlier FLOG posts, some residents believe that the White Flint Plan will cause congestion in intersections and crowding in schools; most of the official White Flint Steering Committee (set up by the Planning Board last year) support the White Flint Plan even in the AGP process.

Friends of White Flint will testify in favor of the White Flint Sector Plan tomorrow night. FoWF’s 17-page statement begins:

            Where will Montgomery County be in twenty years? We already know some of the answers: more people, more jobs, more things to do, less focus on D.C. The big question: how do we accommodate that change in a very green and strategic way?

The Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance and the Growth Policy review process are welcome attempts to address that question for the County as a whole. The White Flint Sector Plan demonstrates how the County can answer that question in the context of one specific part of the County. One major difference between the two analyses is that the White Flint Sector Plan is a very precise, holistic approach to a sustainable community, tailored to the facts of one particular area.

Perhaps the most important innovation in the ground-breaking White Flint Sector Plan’s analysis is that the range of public facilities and needs which were included and balanced in the White Flint Plan was much broader than are measured in the AGP process. The White Flint Plan did consider, for example, congestion at local intersections (the hallmark of the AGP process), but also considered how best to move traffic through those intersections. Not just “fast,” but “best.” “Best” also included walkability, sustainability, and community amenities – in short, quality of life in the surrounding community as well as congestion. In AGP terms, the breadth of “public facilities” reviewed was considerably wider, as was the definition of “adequacy.”Friends of White Flint strongly supports the Planning Board’s attempt to broaden the AGP process beyond traffic congestion to assess other measures to insure a high quality of life in the County. We urge the Council to adopt this expansion of the AGP process to include sustainability, urban design, and other elements which actually gauge the adequacy of public facilities on more than a few, narrow measures.

Montgomery County needs to know how congested its intersections may be, but quality of life in this century is not measured by how fast cars move around town. Modern urban planning recognizes that reducing congestion is only one element in urban design, and that reducing our environmental impact may require a much more targeted approach, particularly in areas which are being transformed into sustainable, walkable communities.

We believe the White Flint Sector Plan illustrates that Montgomery County can do this, that we can engage in a modern, sustainable urban planning effort. The White Flint Plan is a specific set of innovative answers that adapt sustainable and engaging ideas proven in other communities to a White Flint-specific walkable community plan.

 FoWF will also testify at tomorrow night’s hearing. Its testimony will be much shorter.

 You can find the full FoWF statement here:

 AGP Statement

 Barnaby Zall

Barnaby Zall

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