The Montgomery County Council will continue its consideration of the White Flint Sector Plan on Tuesday, March 2, at 10:30AM in the County Council building in Rockville. This is the Council’s second recent hearing on the White Flint Sector Plan, and Council President Nancy Floreen recently said that she expects final Council action on the Plan by March 23.
(Council President Nancy Floreen and Randolph Civic Association’s Dan Hoffman)
As usual, Council staff has prepared memoranda for Council for the hearing. The memos can be found here:
The first topic will be financing of the Plan. The Planning, Housing and Economic Development and Management and Fiscal Policy Committees have been jointly working with the County Executive’s staff to develop options for paying for infrastructure development in White Flint. As the staff memo suggests, the financing plan does not need to be incorporated in the Plan itself, but the new package of improvements is extremely complex, and the Council has recognized that adopting a financing plan is vital to achieving the confidence necessary for the success of the White Flint Plan.
The staff memo reports that neither the Committees nor the staff has a recommendation for a particular financing mechanism. Though not stated, this is probably because the policy documents presented thus far do not reach far into the details of any option. Even though the Executive hired consultants last year to begin this process, the net result of the information provided so far is only to demonstrate, even to the previously-opposed Executive staff, that a financially-successful White Flint Plan is possible, rather than to identify a preferred option.
That prediction of success, while welcome, doesn’t have a lot of detail. So it basically dumps a lot of responsibility onto the Council itself to choose from a variety of options. High-level Executive staff, in discussions with me, were constantly referring to the need to consult with other staff before answering questions. This didn’t seem to be natural caution as much as indecision about policy choices and preferences. To be specific, more about having too many likely choices rather than none. Perhaps by next week they can have narrowed the field enough to provide more useful guidance to the Council.
The second topic, though titled “staging” (which is the timing of implementation of various infrastructure projects), is really more about all land-use elements of the Plan. The staff memo incorporates earlier decisions made by the PHED Committee on staging and infrastructure. So, for example, the memo shows which parts of the Planning Board’s draft Plan staging proposal have been deleted or changed, and the additions the Committee made. Some, such as the proposal to accellerate the improvements to Rockville Pike to the extent possible, were recommended by Friends of White Flint in its Report to the Council on the Plan last October. Others respond to issues identified during the PHED Committee hearings, such as continuing use of car-speed tests (such as LATR) until other mechanisms are in place, or the Council amends the Growth Policy.