Archives July 2020

Live from the Strathmore Mansion

In this week’s Live from the Mansion, we are joined by Elijah Jamal BalbedIsabelle De Leon, and Mark G. Meadows for a soulful set that is sure to make you move.

Live from the Mansion features host Christylez Bacon and fellow Strathmore Artist in Residence alums of varying genres each week for music and insightful conversation. Learn more at bit.ly/LiveFromTheMansion and tune into our Facebook page Wednesdays at 7:30pm!

Directed by T.L. Benton of Mecca Film Works
Strathmore’s Virtual Programming is supported by AARP Maryland

See what Woodward High School is going to look like

Charles W. Woodward High School will be a holding facility for Northwood High School while Northwood HS undergoes a renovation/replacement at their current site from September 2023 to August 2025.

Woodward High School will then be reopened September 2025. MCPS Division of Capital Planning will start the process of a boundary study to determine who will go to Woodward High School 18 months prior to the opening of school.

The size of the school will be 27.31 acres (for reference, Bethesda-Chevy Chase HS is 16.36 acres, Walter Johnson HS is 30.86 acres). However, significant topographic change within the site limits the use of flat area for site amenities.

The new Woodward HS building will be designed for a capacity of 2,700 students.

The proposed building is terraced into the existing grades to minimize excavation and has a 3-story portion along Old Georgetown Road and a 4-story portion near athletic fields

Construction is expected to start in January 2021, if all approvals are granted by the Montgomery County Planning Board (there’s work to do there).

Didn’t get to watch the demolition of VOB in person? Here are some videos to fill the gap.

Thanks to the video talents of John Z. Wetmore, Producer of “Perils For Pedestrians” Television, you can watch the demolition of VOB Nissan, which will facilitate the construction of the Western Workaround. Enjoy every snatch of the bulldozer, each wall ripping from its foundation.

VOB (Part 1 – Service) Car Dealer Demolition
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhmXqIPBeUY

VOB (Part 2 – Parts) Car Dealer Demolition
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H42K0dmVsPU

VOB (Part 3 – Sales) Car Dealer Demolition
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DrpoSEMpjA

The Politics of Redevelopment Planning in Tysons and Outcomes 10 Years Later

From the Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Policymakers in Fairfax County, Virginia, passed an ambitious redevelopment plan for the Tysons area in 2010, in anticipation of a new Metrorail line, hoping to transform a suburban, car-oriented area into a walkable, transit-oriented downtown. Notably, the plan reformed zoning rules to allow for much more development, especially the construction of high-rise multifamily housing, in this wealthy suburban community on the outskirts of Washing­ton, DC.

In “The Politics of Redevelopment Planning in Tysons and Outcomes 10 Years Later,” Emily Hamilton finds that the Tysons area has been more successful in its progress toward the goal of housing construction than the goal of walkability.

Good Progress Toward the Residential Construction Objectives in Tysons

The shortage of housing in the places where people want to live is a challenge across the country. The shortage is greatest in high-income suburban jurisdictions such as Fairfax County. Many current reform efforts to allow more housing construction focus on single-family zoning. In 2019, for example, Oregon rolled back existing single-family zoning for much of the state, and in 2020 legislators in five other US states introduced similar bills.

Fairfax County policymakers took a different approach to the problem. The Tysons redevelopment plan permits construction of multifamily buildings on land that had been previously zoned for commercial use, leaving single-family neighborhoods untouched. The 2010 redevelopment plan for Tysons is currently on track to meet its target of adding 80,000 more residents by the middle of this century. Thousands of new arrivals have already been able to move into this part of a wealthy suburban county.

Less Progress Toward Walkability Goals

The redevelopment plan sought to turn Tysons into a walkable downtown with a mix of office, residential, and retail spaces near the Metro stations. The Tysons plan framed the permitting of more multifamily housing as a means to achieve greater walkability, attract a residential population that would support local businesses, and cre­ate livelier sidewalks and public spaces. So far, however, car-oriented infrastructure remains an important obstacle to walkability.

Rather than going underground, the new Metro line was built above ground in the center of major, pedestrian-hostile arterials. The stations are elevated, too, and have to be reached by long pedestrian bridges. The station place­ment has resulted in the development of little more than “islands” of walkability in Tysons.

Key Takeaway

The redevelopment plan for Tysons was framed as a bold effort to transform a suburban, highway-oriented place dominated by office parks and shopping malls into walkable neighborhoods. Little progress has been made in this regard to date. However, the plan has been more successful in its efforts to promote new housing. Tysons thus serves as one example of overcoming regulatory barriers to new housing that have been politically difficult to over­come in other high-demand locations that are demographically similar to Fairfax County.

Take the Vision Zero Community Survey

Help Montgomery County eliminate serious and fatal traffic crashes in the coming decade! The County is creating a 10-year Vision Zero strategy and needs your input to make it happen.

Please take the Vision Zero Community Survey so the White Flint/Pike District is represented and include specific improvements you’d like to see in our community. The deadline is August 10.

To learn more about the county’s current Vision Zero efforts read the current Plan. If you have any questions or feedback on their efforts, email them at visionzero@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Our testimony on Bill 29-20 that creates incentives to build housing at metro stations

July 20, 2020

Dear Councilmembers:

Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit organization composed of residents, property owners, and businesses, writes today to urge you to pass Bill 29-20. This legislation will encourage development at both the White Flint and Grosvenor-Strathmore metro station, something we enthusiastically support. This legislation should increase the available stock of housing and spur economic development, both of which are essential to ensure Montgomery County and the Pike District prosper.

We support exempting 100% of the real property tax that would otherwise be levied for a period of 15 years beginning in the year a use and occupancy permit is issued for the qualifying development with the important caveat that the property owner must still pay into the special White Flint taxing district. The special taxing district funds essential infrastructure and is integral to fulfilling the promise of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan.

With the hope that Bill 29-20 will create incentives to redevelop property at the White Flint and Grosvenor-Strathmore metro station, Friends of White Flint advocates for the passage of this important legislation.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Friends of White Flint if you have any questions or would like additional information.

Thank you,

Amy Ginsburg. Executive Director

It’s not too late to talk about the Subdivision Staging Policy

Montgomery Planning Board Adds Work Session for 2020 Update to the Subdivision Staging Policy

The Montgomery County Planning Board will hold an additional work session for the 2020 Update to the Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 from 7 to 9 p.m. to give Montgomery County Planning Department staff final decisions on the draft policy. The meeting will be conducted virtually and can be watched live or listened to by dialing 301-495-4708 and using the password 87871111 when the meeting starts.

Following the final work session, Montgomery Planning staff will take the Planning Board’s guidance and make edits to the draft policy, renamed as the County Growth Policy, before going back to the Planning Board for approval on July 30, 2020. Once the Planning Board approves the policy, it will be transmitted to the Montgomery County Council for its review and approval.

View past SSP 2020 Update work sessions:
Thursday, June 18, 2020 – Planning Board Work Session – Schools Element

Thursday, June 25, 2020 – Planning Board Work Session – Transportation Element

Thursday, July 2, 2020 – Planning Board Work Session – Schools Element and Taxes

Thursday, July 9, 2020 – Planning Board Work Session – Transportation Element and Taxes

Thursday, July 16, 2020 – Planning Board Work Session

The update 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.

After the Planning Board work sessions, the Planning Board Draft of the policy and related County Code amendments will be sent to the County Council and County Executive for review. By law, the Council must approve the growth policy by November 15, 2020. Community members are encouraged to continue to submit comments to inform the Planning Board draft via email until July 16. The Planning Board voted to keep the public record open through July 16. Any comments received before then will become part of the public testimony and public record for the policy. View the SSP At-a-Glance explainer in English and Español to learn more about the recommendations.

An update on development going before the Planning Board

Below you’ll find an important update from the White Flint Implementation Committee staff leader, Nkosi Yearwood.

Next Thursday, the Planning Board will review three White Flint related projects.

First, there is a Preliminary Plan Amendment for the Gables Residential development that extends the Adequate Public Facilities (APF) validity period by three years.

Second, a new Preliminary Plan for the Wilgus property (between Montrose Road and Montrose Parkway) will be reviewed. This development is within the White Flint 2 plan area, but a portion of it is included in the White Flint 1 plan area for staging and the tax district purposes.

From the Wilgus Staff Memo

Third, the Mandatory Referral for the future Woodward High School will also be reviewed by the Board. This new school will serve as another high school for the Walter Johnson  cluster.

You can see the agenda and get more information at: https://montgomeryplanningboard.org/agenda-item/july-23-2020/

You can sign up to testify here on any of these projects

Advocates push for a bike lane on Old Georgetown Road from 495 to Executive Blvd.

Right now, it’s especially important that people can get to their destinations safely. Although a growing body of research points to public transit not playing a role in COVID-19 transmission, it can be expected that ridership will be slow to return to pre-pandemic levels, whether due to unfounded fear or increased telecommuting.

WMATA officials say bringing more trains back online, opening stations, and instituting new cleaning regimes may mean that the system won’t be fully operational until sometime in 2021. Likewise, MCDOT has said that it will take a minimum of two months to get Ride-On bus system back up to regular, full-run status, in part because they are prioritizing the health and safety of the drivers.

Rather than an explosion in personal vehicle use, advocates are calling on Maryland’s State Highway Administration (SHA) to implement 19 miles of shared streets to promote greater connectivity of bicyclists and pedestrians, and make it safer for those who do not want to drive or do not have access to a car to make through Montgomery County.

One of those those streets is Old Georgetown Road/MD-187 from I-495 to Executive Blvd (2.6 mi)

Do you think Friends of White Flint ought to add its voice to the chorus of advocates? Do we want a bike lane from the beltway to Executive Boulevard on Old Georgetown Road?