Archives May 2020

Montgomery County Opens Up on Monday!

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles today announced critical benchmarks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have been achieved, allowing the County to begin a gradual reopening. Phase I will start this Monday, June 1 at 6 a.m. The County plans for an incremental reopening, based on public health data. 

Phase I allows additional businesses and activities to start and/or increase modified operations under specified guidelines. They are:   

  • Retail; curbside only
  • Restaurants and bars; outdoor seating (curbside pick-up still allowed)
  • Childcare; State-approved emergency programs open for dependents of essential employees and Phase 1 reopening employees
  • Personal Services; hair salons and barber shops for hair only appointments
  • Car washes; exterior cleaning only
  • Manufacturing; fully reopen with precautions and guidance
  • Outdoor Day Camps: following Maryland Department of Health guidelines
  • Outdoor Youth Sports; following Maryland Department of Health guidelines

Certain outdoor recreation continues to be permitted; golf courses, archery, shooting ranges, marinas, campgrounds, horseback riding facilities and tennis courts.

The following businesses and services remain closed:

  • Swimming pools; (however, licensing and inspection can be requested and conducted)
  • Senior Centers
  • Fitness Centers
  • Movie Theaters
  • Shopping Malls
  • Nail Salons

Protective measures such as maintaining physical distancing, careful cleaning and disinfecting by staff and face coverings being worn by employees and customers, are just some of the measures being required of businesses that are in this initial phase of recovery. 

“This is an important first step,” said County Executive Elrich. “But it is a first step, and restrictions are still in place. I know we are all eager to resume our activities, but based on careful discussions with our County Health Officer Dr. Gayles, we have identified certain restrictions that can be lifted. I urge you to follow the guidelines so that we can keep moving forward and not have spikes in the number of cases. This first phase can be successful if all of us do our part and follow the guidelines.”

Montgomery Planning Department Drafts Major Changes to County Growth Policies

On Thursday, May 28, the Montgomery County Planning Department will present new growth policy recommendations to the Planning Board as the update to the 2016 Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP). This is the quadrennial update to the Subdivision Staging Policy, which is the county policy that balances infrastructure with growth. This update, which renames the SSP as the County Growth Policy, includes recommendations that focus on school and transportation capacities as the county’s population grows and its development needs evolve. In its ongoing efforts to balance expected county growth and development needs with school and transportation capacities, Montgomery Planning recommends a series of policy changes updating calculations and tools to measure and address school overcrowding, traffic congestion, transportation safety, and ways to fund needed infrastructure.

“Over the past year, Montgomery Planning has worked closely with the community and county agencies to take a closer look at the impacts of growth on critical public services,” said Montgomery County Planning Director Gwen Wright. “Recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work in a diverse county like ours, these recommendations guide future growth in a data-driven and appropriate way while giving our communities the public education and transportation facilities they need to thrive.”

Major Recommendations at a Glance:To view the recommendations in more detail: County Growth Policy – Working Draft & County Growth Policy – Working Draft Appendices

Recommendations for Schools:
Create School Impact Areas: To foster a more context-sensitive policy, designate School Impact Areas throughout the county based on similar amounts of development, type of development and amount of school enrollment growth. The areas are identified as Greenfield, Turnover, and Infill Impact Areas.

Greenfield Impact Areas: Areas with increased student enrollment due largely to increased growth in predominantly new single-family housing.

Turnover Impact Areas: Areas where student enrollment growth is low, largely due to turnover of existing single-family housing.

Infill Impact Areas: Areas with increased growth of predominantly multi-family units, which generate few students on a per-housing-unit basis.

Relax Most Housing Development Moratoria: Automatic residential development moratoria (temporarily stopping approvals of new housing developments in an area) will only apply in Greenfield Impact Areas. The Planning Board cannot approve any new housing development plans in an area under a moratorium, unless it meets certain exceptions to the moratorium. Exceptions to moratoria will include residential projects estimated to generate less than one student at a school in moratorium, and projects where the residential component consists entirely of units age-restricted for residents 55 and older.

Restructure and Recalculate School-Related Taxes: Update the student enrollment rates and estimates used to calculate school impact taxes, which developers pay to help support Montgomery County Public Schools’ school construction projects.Update the calculation of the recordation tax on home sales to make it more progressive and to generate more funding for school construction and affordable housing initiatives.Require developers pay a premium for residential development projects served by overcrowded schools in areas without automatic residential development moratoria.

Transportation Recommendations:
Transportation Impact Studies – A Vision Zero Impact Statement will be required for studies that examine a residential development plan’s transportation impact, and travel safety considerations will be prioritized as a mitigation strategy.

Motor Vehicle Transportation Adequacy – Traffic congestion adequacy standards for evaluating proposed residential projects will be modified to be less stringent when the proposed development is near Metrorail stations and along transit corridors.

Master Plan Transportation/Land Use Balance – To determine if the balance between land use and transportation for master plans is adequate, a policy area-level review process will be introduced based on measures to ensure a plan’s consistency with the county’s long-range planning goals and objectives. Measures to be considered include accessibility, travel time, vehicle miles traveled per capita and non-auto driver mode share.

About The Subdivision Staging Policy
The Subdivision Staging Policy is the tool by which the County ensures its essential public facilities, particularly schools and transportation systems, keep pace with development. It tests the County’s infrastructure for adequacy based on projected capacity, growth, and future development. The policy is updated every four years to ensure that the tools used for evaluating the impact of development on essential public facilities, such as a delay-based transportation test or student generation rates, reflect the latest growth patterns of the County.

The community is invited to give comments and feedback on the recommendations by sending in written testimony to the Planning Board by emailing the Chair at MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org or signing up to testify at the public hearing scheduled for June 11. The Planning Board will then hold work sessions through mid-July before sending its draft of the policy and related County Code amendments to the County Council for review. By law, the growth policy must be approved by the Council by November 15, 2020.

Montgomery Planning Launches MCReactMap for Advancing the Pike District Project

The Montgomery County Planning Department recently launched an online outreach tool, called the MCReactMap, at our virtual community meeting, to allow residents and stakeholders to provide feedback about the Advancing the Pike District study area.

Advancing the Pike District is a Montgomery Planning initiative to accelerate the transformation of White Flint’s core into a walkable, mixed-use district by identifying short- and medium-term implementation-focused solutions that build on the Sector Plan’s recommendations, enhance mobility, and promote economic development, urban design and placemaking.

Using the hashtags #LoveIt, #FixIt, #NeedIt, people can text their concerns and comments about what they love about the Pike District community and what is missing or needs improvement in these areas.  This map allows people to make comments, interact with other community members and provide feedback on the project area. Map users are invited to tell planners what they like about the area, what they think needs improvement and what they think is missing through the platform. Community members can also respond to prompts that will be placed in the community via text that will be displayed on the map.

Clicking on the pins on the digital map reveals questions to answer about different neighborhoods within the plan area. Visitors can also respond to other comments they agree or disagree with. Other features include a language translation tool as well as street views of the plan area and social media sharing options. Standard message and data rates may apply.

About the First Virtual Community Meeting Montgomery Planning partnered with the Friends of White Flint and Councilmember Andrew Friedson to host an online community meeting for the Advancing the Pike District project on May 19.Watch the full meeting on demand.


During the meeting, attendees heard from planners, urban designers, and real estate experts about the goals of the project and received an update on the current status of the implementation of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan.

County passes capital budget that includes funding for Woodward re-opening

The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to approve the County’s $5.8 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Operating Budget and a $4.4 billion FY21-26 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) to fund school construction, infrastructure improvements and community projects. The Council’s focus throughout its budget work was on providing continuity of services for County government and residents.

“The Council’s approach to this budget was unlike any other,” said Council President Sidney Katz. “We had a singular goal—continuity of service. Like households across our community, we had to limit our spending and control budget growth. The $5.8 billion operating budget and the $4.4 billion capital budget provides stability for our residents and our workforce, while we await a clearer picture of expenses and revenues that will emerge during the summer and fall. We all recognize that there will be more work to do to meet the ongoing public health and financial needs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The County’s $4.4 billion Capital Improvements Program provides funding to address the County’s most urgent building needs. Some items of note in the CIP include keeping the reopening of Woodward High School and the Northwood High School Addition/Facility Upgrade on schedule. Thank you to the County Council for keeping this vital project on track.

Federal Introduces The Pick-Up Nationwide To Support Re-Opening And Beyond

In anticipation of a phased re-opening for shopping center tenants in the coming weeks, Federal Realty Investment Trust, the owner of Pike & Rose, is launching The Pick-Up, a curbside, contactless exchange. This new initiative creates a singular, reliable, centralized service that retailers and restaurants of all sizes can take advantage of, particularly well-suited for small businesses. 

The Pick-Up launched throughout the country on May 15, and in Montgomery County on May 8. Federal Realty’s properties that are using the program have spaces that are marked “Pick Up” and contain a number.

Some restaurants have had curbside pickup since the beginning of the health crisis, but this program extends to all tenants in their properties, including at Pike & Rose and Bethesda Row.

Tonight — Advancing the Pike District Online Meeting

Friends of White Flint and the Montgomery County Planning Department will hold an online public meeting at 7 p.m. on May 19 to discuss the Advancing the Pike District project.

Here is the link to the meeting:

https://mcp-events.org/pikedistrict519

This project builds on the vision established by the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan and will analyze elements of urban design, economic development, and transportation in the Pike District. This project is intended to identify short-term opportunities for success that can be implemented within the next 2-5 years to further the development of White Flint.

The meeting will be streamed online and will be posted to the project webpage following the event. A link to the online meeting will be posted on our blog and on the Planning Department’s website before the event so you can join us.

Montgomery County Requirements for Reopening

(Thanks to Adam Pagnucco and Seventh State for much of this post.)

When Governor Larry Hogan announced a phase 1 reopening of Maryland’s economy on Friday night, several local jurisdictions (including MoCo) declined to go along. County Executive Marc Elrich said, “If there’s an uptick in cases, our hospitals can’t withstand an uptick… We will change the rules as soon as the science says we can change the rules. When that happens, we will start down the road of reopening things.” Elrich issued an executive order maintaining the current shutdown at the county level and the council approved it.

The executive has not set a date to ease restrictions. Instead, he has proposed the following 12 criteria that would guide any phased-in reopening:

  1. Sustained (14 days) decreases (rolling average) in:
    i. The number of new cases in the setting of increased testing;
    ii. COVID-19 related hospitalization rate;
    iii. COVID-19 related ICU rate;
    iv. COVID-19 related fatalities;
    v. COVID-19 like and influenza like illnesses presenting to the health care system;
    vi. Percentage of Acute bed usage by COVID-19 related patients;
    vii. Percentage of ICU bed usage by COVID-19 related patients;
    viii. Percentage of emergency/critical care equipment by COVID-19 related patients (e.g. ventilators);
  2. A sustained capacity to test 5% of population per month;
  3. A sustained flattening or decrease in test positivity;
  4. Sustained, robust system in place to contact initial interviews within 24 hours, and initiate contact tracing process within 48 hours of initial lab notification; and
  5. Initiated and created meaningful infrastructure to identify and begin addressing demonstrated COVID related inequities in health outcomes, access to social support services

Some cool independent, local restaurant news

Java Nation

They are participating in the movement to feed first responders and those on the front lines in our community who are heroically and selflessly fighting COVID-19.

By donating and sending meals to those on the front lines, you are also supporting their local restaurant, which means they can keep their doors open and employees working.

100% of each donation goes to feed a local hero. They deliver donated meals to local hospitals, firehouses and police stations.

To support Java Nation’s effort, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/java-nation-feeding-the-front-line

Biryani City

Opening a new restaurant in a pandemic is a bold move, and that’s just what Biryani City has done. They bring you the best of South & North Indian Cuisine at Randolph Hills Shopping Center at 4830 Boiling Brook Parkway,

The idea of Biryani City came into conception when they decided to share their love for food with the residents of North Bethesda. Their goal is to introduce the food and taste they grew up with into the community and ensure customers are satisfied with fresh ingredients and spices.

Biryani City provides you with the best experience possible with Take-Out and Catering options available.

Will we see you online at our May 19th Community Meeting?

Friends of White Flint and the Montgomery County Planning Department will hold an online public meeting at 7 p.m. on May 19 to discuss the Advancing the Pike District project.

This project builds on the vision established by the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan and will analyze elements of urban design, economic development, and transportation in the Pike District. This project is intended to identify short-term opportunities for success that can be implemented within the next 2-5 years to further the development of White Flint.

The meeting will be streamed online and will be posted to the project webpage following the event. A link to the online meeting will be posted on our blog and on the Planning Department’s website before the event ao you can join us.

If you have questions you’d like to pose to the Planning Department, click here.