JOIN the Friends of White Flint

We would like to invite you to join the Friends of White Flint.

There are no requirements or pre-conditions for membership, and membership is open to all persons interested in the White Flint Sector Plan. It’s free. You don’t even have to agree with our Goal or Vision; our purpose is to encourage debate and discussion, leading to a better White Flint plan.

People who join the Friends of White Flint are known as “Friends.” To join as a Friend of White Flint, all you have to do is send an e-mail to Barnaby Zall at bzall@aol.com, with your name, address, preferred e-mail address, and any other information you would like to include.

 Thanks for becoming a Friend!

Barnaby Zall

Board of Directors of Friends of White Flint

The Board of Directors of Friends of White Flint are:

Evan Goldman              EGoldman@federalrealty.com

Suzanne Hudson           suzannehudson@verizon.net

Barnaby Zall                   bzall@aol.com

These are the three representatives of the former Advisory Group who presented the Group’s views to the Planning Board last September. They represent the residents, developers and business communities interested in the Sector Plan.

Please contact any of the Directors if you have further questions.

Barnaby Zall

Preparations for tomorrow’s First Steering Committee Meeting

The first meeting of the White Flint Sector Plan Steering Committee is set for 7PM tomorrow night (January 6) at the Silver Spring MNCPPC auditorium.

 No one knows quite what to expect. There are various proposals for structure, role and operations circulating among members. A major question is the expectations of the Planning Board. What is their view of the role of the Committee? Is the Steering Committee to meet regularly with the staff and Board? How independent will the Steering Committee be to comment and criticize drafts and changes?

Another question is how much of the meeting will be devoted to setting up the Committee itself, as opposed to substantive discussions of transportation and design guidelines. There appear to be divergent opinions on how and whether to seek a consensus of opinion on the Committee or just serve as a conduit of views from various communities. How can the Committee balance the roles of members who represent different constituencies in the community (developer, residents, individual communities)? How can the Committee balance the views of landowner representatives, who generally have more time and resources to devote to the process, with those of residents who are volunteers? How should the Committee communicate to the community and to various interested entities (including other government agencies)?

There is even discussion of the agenda, and whether it should be proposed and run by the Planning Board staff or by the Committee itself.

 Should be an interesting meeting, but a long one. The Steering Committee (distilled from the larger Advisory Group) is composed of active participants in the process, who are not shy in expressing their views.

Barnaby Zall

Further Discussion on Berman Proposal for Steering Committee

Steering Committee member Natalie Goldberg has responded to Perry Berman’s proposal (quoted in the prior message). Natalie has a number of points, including:

The Steering Committe needs to see what role the Planning Board intends before taking actions.

The individual Steering Committee members’ responsibility is to be a voice for the community represented.

The Steering Committee is not to craft a plan, but to respond to the Planning Board’s plan and to public comments.

That the Steering Committee should not aim for consensus, but should recognize that there are differences and provide a means to express those differences.

My own view is that the Steering Committee is to have more of role than Natalie proposes. Reducing the size of the official commenting group (as was done when the Advisory Group was reduced to the Steering Committee) should not mean that only the groups represented should continue to have voices. I believe that the members of the Steering Committee now have larger roles to play, and represent entire sectors of the community, rather than individual groups, as in the Advisory Group. This may prove problematic for the business members, who may have obligations to employers and clients, but they must work those out and disclose when they are representing a narrower interest.

I also think the Steering Committee should be pro-active where it disagrees with Staff or the Board. On this, I actually think both Perry and Natalie agree, but they disagree on whether there can be a consensus position on behalf of the whole Committee. I, on the other hand, think the Committee can reach consensus, but wonder whether the Steering Committee, as an appointed sub-unit of the Planning Board, can take positions once the Planning Board has voted. That, I think, may be more of a role for outside organizations (which may be what Natalie has in mind).

(Update: Paula Bienenfeld has responded to my comments by saying that the Steering Committee is not a “sub-group” of the Planning Board and should continue to be an independent voice.)  

Barnaby Zall

Proposal for Steering Committee Operations

Perry Berman, a member of the Steering Committee, has proposed, for discussion, some points to govern the work of the new Steering Committee:

Roles of the White Flint Master Plan Steering Committee

             Prepared by Perry Berman for discussion purposes 

My suggested responsibilities for the Steering Committee:

1. Work as a group collaboratively with Planning Staff and Planning Board to craft a plan, to work to insure the Plan’s vision, and to improve the chances for desired development in the Sector Plan.

2. Act as a conduit between the Board and stakeholders, and provide the Board with either a community consensus or, as a last resort, a variety of viewpoints on broad policy and implementation issues, including land use, community protection, transportation, and infrastructure improvements

3. Meet regularly and with staff (if they are able) to review/improve key implementation issues including:

a.   Urban design guideline policies

b.   Legislative issues necessary for the creation of a development authority

c.   Review detailed master plan land use recommendationsd.   Review transportation and traffic assumptions and recommendations

d. “Fine tune” the TMX Zone to be used in White Flint

e.   Review the various fiscal impact studies prepared by staff and developers

f.   Develop a community protection plan for the surrounding communities

g.   Other duties which we feel will be necessary to accomplish our goals, and   other tasks that may be suggested by the Board/staff

4.  The Steering Committee (and subcommittee meetings, if necessary) should be public and minutes taken to ensure transparency.  Steering Committee members should be willing to participate in the subcommittees.

5.  Act as the advocate for the Plan, when it goes to the Council, Executive, State, etc.

6.  Participate in all Planning Board/Council work sessions (to be worked out)

7.  The Steering Committee should continue beyond approval of the Sector Plan to oversee execution of transportation and other infrastructure objectives.

8.  The members of the Steering Committee should appoint a Chairman and Co-Chairman, and should vote on all vote issues. Consensus on all issues is not required, but that remains our goal. Minority positions must be transmitted to the Planning Board/Council.

9.  The Steering Committee may use subcommittees to take advantage of member expertise and to expedite the committee’s work. The committee or subcommittees may also confer with recognized experts outside the Planning Staff in specific areas.

 The proposal has already sparked some discussion, with Committee member Paula Bienenfeld taking strong exception to Point No. 8 (chairman and vice-chair), and suggesting a continuation of the former Advisory Group’s “consensus” process instead. Paula also cautioned that Point No. 9 (use of experts) must conform to the standards of transparency.

 My own view is that these two positions are not inconsistent. Perry’s Point No. 8 (take votes) should be read in conjunction with his Point No. 2 (form a consensus, or, “as a last resort” put forward a variety of views).  If read together, and if the Steering Committee operates generally by consensus and only takes votes where necessary, these Points should satisfy both discussants’ views.

Barnaby Zall

Upcoming Staff material for Steering Committee

After Steering Committee member Paula Bienenfeld made a request for materials, Staff has now informed the Steering Committee that additional materials will be available soon:

 Dan Hardy will have a draft Appendix on transportation available for next week’s meeting. The draft may address “all details regarding traffic modeling, PAMR, LATR, Metro, etc.”

 And the design guidelines are “making progress on a draft” which should be available “early in 2009.”

Barnaby Zall

Steering Committee members

I can’t find a listing anywhere of the members of the new White Flint Steering Committee (which was appointed to replace the former, much larger White Flint Sector Plan Advisory Group). So here is a list:

Perry Berman

Paula Bienenfeld

John Fry

Natalie Goldberg

Evan Goldman

Daniel Hoffman

Ken Hurdle

Arnold Kohn

Rod Lawrence

Ed Rich

Peggy Schwartz

Andy Shulman

Michael Smith

Bob Stoddard

Barnaby Zall

Alternates (the actual role of Alternates is still unclear, but Chairman Hanson apparently envisioned them participating fully in the Steering Committee):

Dave Frieshtat

Suzanne Hudson

Barnaby Zall

Happy New Year

I want to wish everyone in our White Flint group a happy and healthy New Year.  I look forward to working together and enjoying our making White Flint a better place, not that it isn’t fine now.

David Freishtat

Upcoming Planning Board Public Hearings on White Flint Plan

The Planning Board will hear public comments on the latest draft of the White Flint Sector Plan, beginning with a hearing on January 12, 2009, at 7:00 p.m., in the Park and Planning Headquarters, 8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD.

You can submit comments in writing or apply to testify at the hearing. Applications and more information can be found at the Planning Board’s White Flint Planning page.

Barnaby Zall