One of the continuing fights over the last several months (years, really) has been the relationship between Montgomery County’s existing automobile-oriented “Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance” or Growth Policy, and the emerging New Urbanism, transit-oriented plans being developed for places like White Flint. Put simply, should quality of life in a pedestrian-friendly, walkable community be measured by how fast cars move through intersections?
The development of the White Flint Sector Plan — the most innovative and pedestrian-oriented of the Master Plans now being developed in Montgomery County — was held up for months by the County Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, as it wrestled with the contradiction between the automobile-oriented tests (still mandated by law for White Flint) and the new pedestrian vision.
The whole problem boiled down to the fact that a car traveling on Rockville Pike in 2030 would take 32 seconds longer to go through White Flint. But the Council staff was stuck: the car-oriented tests couldn’t just be ignored. Even after the Committee made major shifts in thinking — realizing the solution was not to speed up the cars, but to get people OUT of their cars — the rules were still in place.
So the Committee drafted a compromise. The regional traffic test, Policy Area Mobility Review (or PAMR), would be dropped from White Flint completely. The local test, Local Area Transportation Review (or LATR), would remain in place until a suitable replacement was developed, either through a development district or some other monitoring and infrastructure financing mechanism.
The Council staff has now drafted the legal “amendment” to implement the Committee’s proposal. The draft can be found here:
It appears to be exactly what the Committee voted on as its proposal. The amendment will be introduced tomorrow at the regular Tuesday Council meeting at the County Council Building in Rockville. The Council will then hold a public hearing on March 23, with public comments being accepted for the next two weeks. This is a shorter comment period than normal, because this amendment has been discussed for many months. Final Council action is expected on April 6.
The Council is also expected to vote final approval for the White Flint Sector Plan on March 23. All members of the Council have now voiced support for the Plan.