The White Flint Sector Plan calls for the Montgomery County Planning Board to establish an Advisory Committee to help it implement the Plan. The Planning Board appointed 23 people to the new Committee in September.
Last night the new Committee held its first meeting. The meeting was led by White Flint Planner Nkosi Yearwood.
The first topic was “Committee Role and Structure.” Most of this discussion was deferred until the next meeting, although the Committee decided to meet on the second Monday of each month. So the next Committee meeting will be held December 13, at 7:30PM. The Committee was also trying to find meeting locations in White Flint, instead of meeting at the Silver Spring headquarters of the Planning Board. Nkosi pointed out that members of the Committee would have to file disclosure reports explaining any financial interests in White Flint, and those, along with other Committee materials, will be publicly available.
The Committee then reviewed the three “sketch plans” submitted for prospective projects in White Flint. Greg Trimmer discussed the JBG Companies’ “North Bethesda Market Phase Two” project between Rockville Pike and Woodglen, along the new Executive Boulevard extension. Hilary Goldfarb of ProMark Real Estate discussed the “North Bethesda Gateway” project along Nicholson Lane.
Then Evan Goldman discussed the sketch plan for Mid-Pike Plaza. Evan predicted that construction might begin as soon as 2012.
Then the Committee heard a presentation from Jacob Sester, of the Planning Board, on financing options for implementation. Diane Schwartz-Jones, from the County Executive’s Office, also discussed implementation financing, and the likely discussion issues the Montgomery County Council would grapple with at its meeting Tuesday. One of the issues which loomed large during development of the Plan, but which has been quiet recently, arose again last night: school financing. Meredith Joseph, from Timberlawn, pointed out that there has been some concern about school overcrowding this year, and the overcrowding might worsen with the development.
At the next meeting, the Committee will discuss transportation issues.
Those who expected the new Committee to suffer the same fate as the former Steering Committee (which was essentially non-functional) were pleased to see the active participation of representatives from both the Planning staff and the County Executive’s staff. But until the role of the Committee is clarified, it’s not yet clear how much influence the Committee will have on the Planning Board itself.