Diane Schwartz-Jones Responds to Concerns About Public Amenities Charette Process

Diane Schwartz-Jones Responds to Concerns About Public Amenities Charette Process

Diane Schwartz-Jones is Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s chief staffer on the White Flint Sector Plan. She has been intimately involved in the planning and approval processes for some time, and is an active member of the White Flint Implementation Committee.

Diane Schwartz-Jones

She has proposed a new series of community meetings on the “public amenities” in the White Flint Plan. These amenities include a new library, parks, school, recreation center, and so on. The proposal has generated some discussion in the WFIC. At Monday’s WFIC meeting, there was confusion about whether the proposed hiring of consultants was consistent with open contracting rules, especially when chief Planning staffer for White Flint Nkosi Yearwood announced the hiring of a consultant for the project already.

Nkosi Yearwood (c) chairing April 11 WFIC meeting, with (from left) Mike Coveyou of the County Executive's Office, Jacob Sesker of the Planning Department and Dave Freishtat, Co-Chair of WFIC (and FoWF Board Member)

Diane has now responded with a full explanation to the Committee members, and a scope of work for the new project. Among other things, she told the WFIC that:

In conversations with Park and Planning we have come to understand that this effort is very time sensitive and may be useful in helping shape what, if any, changes should be made to the CR Zone. Planning is interested in the County concluding this process as soon as possible due to both the CR Zone amendments that are pending, and, hopefully in advance of additional plans.

The County maintains contracts with a number of planning consultants to help with tasks that arise. Due to the short time frame we looked at contracts that we have in place for similar services under which this task could fit. These contracts that we maintain are the result of competitive solicitations. We identified Oudens Knoop Knoop + Sachs Architects – (Architecture, programming planning, and project management) who will provide the charette services in partnership with Torti Gallas.

I understand there is a question about how these consultants will be paid. We are working to put a Joint Funding Agreement in place pursuant to which several developers would help provide some of the funding. We believe we have seven developers who have agreed to provide a share of the costs and the County is putting in two times what the individual developers will be contributing. Of course if we cannot reach agreement with the development community on the joint funding, we will not be able to continue with this process as currently envisioned. This would be a real shame because I think that there is enormous benefit for all to be obtained from this process.

The work is to be done under contract with the County and the County will control and direct the work.

The developers’ role will be to participate in the charettes and there will be a specific developer charette for the purpose of understanding development plans that are on the horizon and what types of amenities might be likely in such plans so that the public amenities that are listed in the attached scope of work complement the types of amenities that would be provided in projects without unnecessarily duplicating amenities. The focus being sustainable, complementary, interrelated amenities that will contribute to making White Flint a great place.

The consultants would be charged with looking at examples of great, vibrant urban areas in other locations and relating these examples to the amenities under consideration and the vision of the White Flint Sector Plan. There will be a public charette which will seek public input from the broader community on needs, desires, and priorities. There will then be an draft implementation plan developed.

A draft plan reflecting the input from the public agencies, developers and community will then be presented in a second community worksession where the public will be able to review and provide further comments.

 The process will culminate in an implementation strategy that will be reflected in a final report to the county that will be intended to inform the implementation of the individual public amenities.

 All stakeholders will benefit from an amenities plan that reflects the vibrancy, sense of place and overall desirability of White Flint as a destination and an attractive place to live, work, shop, recreate and gather. 

The three-page scope of work includes more detail, and can be found at CharetteScopeofWork.

Diane has invited comment on the Scope of Work. She can be reached at Diane.Jones@montgomerycountymd.gov. You may want to copy Nkosi Yearwood as well: Nkosi.Yearwood@mncppc-mc.org, and comment or post here at the FLOG as well.

Barnaby Zall

Barnaby Zall


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