Here’s the official letter we sent to Casey Anderson about White Flint 2

August 24, 2016

Dear Chairman Anderson:

As you know, Friends of White Flint represents thousands of residents, businesses, and property owners in the White Flint/Pike District area. We have enjoyed being a part of the public discussion to create a new sector plan for the White Flint 2 area.

After soliciting input from our members, The Friends of White Flint Board of Directors met last month to discuss and review the White Flint 2 Preliminary Plan, and there is much that we like about the plan. We also have suggestions to improve the plan and to enable it to meet the diverse needs of our community and county.

The staging of the White Flint 2 sector may be the most important factor in the plan. How the redevelopment of properties in White Flint 2 is incorporated with and affect the staging and the special taxing district created in White Flint 1 is a significant issue that ought to be addressed in the White Flint 2 Sector Plan. If there are different metrics and policies for White Flint 1 and White Flint 2, there exists the potential for economic advantage or disadvantage for different property owners. We feel strongly that leapfrogging development could be damaging to the Pike District. We also believe if and how White Flint 2 property owners pay the White Flint special sector tax should be flushed out in the White Flint 2 plan so there is parity between the White Flint 1 and 2 sector plans.

We have listed below the portions of the plan we support, the portions we’d like to modify, and the items that believe are missing.

1)     We very much like that plan suggests dedicated sites for the elementary school needed in the White Flint area to address school capacity. While we are not advocating for any site in particular, we agree that dedicating a site in the plan is essential to addressing current and future school overcrowding.

2)     We strongly support the connectivity outlined in the plan, especially the bike paths along Randolph Road and Parklawn Drive.  We believe that bicycle and pedestrian connectivity is crucial to the success of this area. That said, we are quite disappointed that there was no solution to creating a pedestrian-bike track over the railroad tracks to connect White Flint 2 and White Flint 1. We would very much like to see such a connection included in the plan. While we acknowledge there are engineering and other challenges creating a bicycle-pedestrian path over the railroad tracks, we believe that difficulty is not a reason to omit a needed connection from the plan. This pedestrian-bike path should be incorporated into the future MARC station.

3)     We very much would like to see more innovative office and residential concepts included in the plan. These might include micro-units, shared housing, and condominiums/apartments that could be used for either residential or office purposes in the same building. These types of creative residential and office buildings are being constructed and leased in other areas in our region.

4)     We support the plan’s re-configured intersection at Parklawn Drive and Randolph Road to ease traffic, increase walkability, and provide a better site for the redevelopment of Loehman’s Plaza.

5)     We support the reconfiguration of the intersection of Boiling Brook Road and Rocking Horse Drive. The current intersection is confusing and dangerous for both cars and pedestrians.

6)     We endorse keeping light industrial space in the White Flint 2 area but would support plans to change the light industrial space near Randolph Hills Shopping Center to a flexible, mixed-use, higher density, residential-commercial zoning.

7)     To enhance connectivity and encourage walking between White Flint 1 and White Flint 2 area, we would like to see a sidewalk included on the east side of Route 355 along the bridge over Montrose Parkway to connect with the sidewalk that ends in front of Montrose Crossing.

8)     We recommend a signalized intersection where the new Rose Avenue intersects at Hoya Street at the Willco property. Both Federal Realty and Willco want this intersection and are willing to fund it. An intersection here is critical to achieving the goal of extending the White Flint 1 street grid into White Flint 2 while providing a much needed mid-block crossing for pedestrians and vehicles.

9)     We applaud the plan’s goal to create 12 acres of public space. However, we would like to see innovative public space that meets the needs of residents, not just the creation of athletic fields that people from other parts of the county would drive to White Flint to use or small contemplative plazas.

10) We would like to see the plan encourage traditional and innovative senior housing options.

11) We support a lighted pedestrian path behind Executive Boulevard behind Luxmanor Elementary.

12) We support the request for Oxford Square to have a density of 1.0 F.A.R to increase the stock of low and mid-rise residential units.

13) A MARC station should remain part of the plan.

14) While we appreciate the need to have some light industrial space in the down-county area, we would like the Planning Board to consider creating a flexible mixed use zone around the Nicholson Court area.

The Friends of White Flint is happy to meet with you or other Planning Department staff to further discuss our recommendations.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Amy Ginsburg

Executive Director

White Flint 2 Community Meeting December 9

White Flint 2

The planning for White Flint 2 is in full swing, and if you want to have input on the plan, you ought to attend the next White Flint 2 Sector Plan Community Meeting.

Meetings focusing on schools, transportation, and the sector in general have already been held.  The next meeting will concentrate on parks and open spaces in the White Flint 2 area. Staff from Planning and Parks Departmens will discuss exiting open space and opportunities to introduce additional green area and gathering places in the White Flint 2 area.

The planning meeting will be held:

Wednesday, December 9 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Luxmanor Elementary School (6201 Tilden Lane, Rockville) 

You can RSVP to the meeting here.

Western Workaround — Important Report

Phase 2 of the Western Workaround  Mandatory Referral will be reviewed by the Planning Board on September 10. The report, which was released on Friday, is available here:  http://www.montgomeryplanningboard.org/agenda/2015/agenda20150910e.html.

Please take a moment to browse through this report and give Friends of White Flint your thoughts by COB today, September 8, so we can testify on Thursday in a way that best represents a majority of our members’ viewpoints.  Send your opinions and thoughts to info@whiteflint.org.

Tomorrow morning, please look for a written summary of the report on our blog. We’ll also make a few comments on the report, so check back at www.whiteflint.org tomorrow morning, same bat-time, same bat-station.

 

White Flint 2 Scope of Work

The White Flint 2 Scope of Work is going to the Planning Board on September 3. Here is a link to the agenda.

More importantly, here is the document that discusses the Scope of Work.  Don’t have time to read all 16 pages?  We’re happy to provide this summary:

The WF2 Sector Plan will amend the 1992 North Bethesda/Garrett Park Sector Plan and the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan. An important goal for the WF2 Plan will be exploring ways to connect the North Bethesda centers — WF2, White Flint, Twinbrook, and Rockville — to one another seamlessly and cohesively.

The 455-acre White Flint 2 Sector Plan (WF2 Plan) includes a short segment of Rockville Pike north of Montrose Parkway and south of Rollins Avenue, and encompasses areas to the west, north, and east of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan. Residential neighborhoods adjacent to the proposed Sector Plan area include Randolph Hills on the east and Luxmanor on the west. The following are located within the proposed WF2 Sector Plan area: Montrose Crossing, Wilgus, Tri-Rock, Loehmann’s Plaza, and the light industrially zoned properties east of the railroad tracks along Parklawn Drive. The Nicholson Court area is being included in the WF2 Plan to facilitate planning for a potential MARC station in that area.

WF2 includes areas that have not been covered by other recent plan updates, including a critical portion of Rockville Pike between the City of Rockville and the White Flint Sector Plan, as well at the industrial uses east of the CSX tracks. WF2 also includes Executive Boulevard, an office park that is experiencing high office vacancy rates.

Map of White Flint 2 from M-NCPPC

Map of White Flint 2 from M-NCPPC

Staff will evaluate different levels of residential and nonresidential development, and prepare scenarios to be tested by traffic modeling. Staff will explore the changing circumstances with the office market, whether industrial areas should be retained, and what locations are appropriate to encourage mixed-use development. Planners will also analyze the segment of Rockville Pike within the WF2 area and how it can be transformed into an urban boulevard, consistent with the goals of the White Flint Sector Plan and the City of Rockville’s Pike Plan. Urban design guidelines will be prepared, which will likely have similar elements to the White Flint Sector Plan guidelines.

WF2 will also address transportation and mobility issues by considering potential infrastructure improvements, modifications to existing transportation policies, or expansion of the White Flint special tax district. The Plan will seek to improve vehicular transportation and bikeway networks from White Flint to Rockville, including BRT options; and potentially link both sides of the CSX tracks at the proposed location for a new MARC station near Nicholson Court.  The future construction of Montrose Parkway East and the BRT routes for Rockville Pike (MD 355 South), the North Bethesda Transitway, and Randolph Road are additional transportation infrastructure elements to be considered in the Plan area. The Plan will explore how to improve walkability for residents in neighborhoods on the east side of the tracks.

Another issue to be considered in the WF2 Plan is school capacity in the Walter Johnson School Cluster in North Bethesda. Proposed residential densities in the White Flint Sector Plan generate the need for a new elementary school within the Walter Johnson Cluster.

The need for additional park and open spaces will also be analyzed as a component of this Plan.

The Plan will promote environmental sustainability, including environmental site design techniques and increased tree canopy coverage. Opportunities to improve air quality, reduce emissions, and provide alternatives to single-occupant vehicles will also be explored.

Outreach efforts for this Plan will include an open house, a series of workshops, and small group meetings to engage residents, surrounding neighborhood associations, business owners, community organizations, the existing White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Advisory Committee, and the County Executive’s coordinator for implementation of the White Flint Sector Plan. New social media, electronic newsletters, and other communication tools will be utilized. The City of Rockville will play an important role in the Plan’s outreach efforts since the area north of Montrose Road and Randolph Road is within the City’s maximum expansion limits. In fall 2015, staff will launch a series of workshops to solicit ideas from the community and begin developing preliminary plan concepts.

Planning Department staff began working on this Plan in May 2015. The Planning Board is scheduled to review the Working Draft Plan in spring 2016 and transmit the Planning Board Draft Plan to the County Executive and County Council by August 2016. The County Council review of the Plan is scheduled to begin in October 2016. Upon the completion of the Council’s review and action, a Sectional Map Amendment (SMA) will be initiated to implement the Plan’s zoning recommendations. It is anticipated that the SMA will be completed by summer 2017.

Timetable for WF2 Planning Process from M-NCPPC

Timetable for WF2 Planning Process from M-NCPPC

 

 

What you missed at last night’s White Flint 2 meeting

White Flint 2
It was standing room only at last night’s White Flint 2 Sector Plan meeting that was held at Luxmanor Elementary. It was great to see so many engaged residents asking questions and studying large drawings of White Flint 2’s transportation, zoning, and public spaces.
For those of you who were unable to be there, here’s a quick summary of what was discussed.
N’kosi Yearwood of M-NCPPC talked us through a short but informative PowerPoint presentation about the White Flint 2 Sector Plan.  Here are some highlights:
  • The White Flint 2 is composed of 455 acres, including Randolph Hills, Loehmann’s Plaza, Montrose Crossing, Montrose Parkway Phase II, and Federal Plaza.
  • It is on the north end of the White Flint 1 Sector, shaped like a horseshoe.  It is adjacent to the Twinbrook Sector Plan and the City of Rockville.
  • The area includes 1,860 dwelling units and about 6.3 million sq feet of non-residential space.
  • A MARC station may be planned for Nicholson Court.
  • They hope to deliver a draft plan in March 2016 for the Planning Board to review. Work sessions would begin Spring 2016 with a review by the County Executive in the Summer 2016 and the County Council during Winter 2016.
  • There will be many future public meetings to obtain public input.
  • You can keep up-to-date with White Flint 2 news at http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/community/whiteflint2/. (We’ll also keep you informed about the White Flint 2 Sector Plan)
Many questions were asked. The most contentious issue concerned schools, including new schools, wrong school capacity projections, and current school capacity.
M-NCPPC promised to put their presentation and various maps on their website some time today.