Live blogging from March 30, 2009, meeting of the Montgomery County Planning Board. Topic up next is the presentation of reactions from four community associations.
Garrett Park Estates/White Flint Park: Natalie Goldberg, Suzanne Hudson (co-chair of Friends of White Flint) and Glenn Adler, President of the GPE/WFP Citizens Association, presented.
Three developers at the heart of the plan presented, but none embraced the Main Street Civic Green focus. So is it a focus or an afterthought. Is it lip service? Planning Board must step up to the values the plan has expressed.
Walkability. If don’t have it, you’re not going to achieve the mixed-use activities hoping to get out of your development. Quotes Dan Burden, President of Walkable Communities who made a presentation to the Advisory Group, says 1/4 mile (not 3/4 mile). Support concentric circle. Alfandre: density and walkability aren’t necessarily related. A matter of scale and mobility. Goldberg: Center point at new Main Street. Density should drop substantially as you move from the center, but do support combining and transferring density for an averaging. Pedestrian safety: developers walk much faster than community members. Factor in time to cross at a signals. Hanson: we have a lot of work to do in signalization. Difference in crossing one of our major streets and crossing Pennsylvania Ave or K St., is remarkable. Here you see 15 seconds on the walk signal; down there it’s 55 seconds and no right turns. Godlberg: enhance Rockville Pike underpass by making it more user friendly. Some activity so people will use it.
Oppose elliptical because it doesn’t make sense. Moved focus south. Ignores northern entrance. Center point should be at Main Street. Allocating density by developer not walkability. Focal point should be at Metro station. We have some concern about some presentations that are making their own villages in their districts. Don’t make a sense of place in each district; focus on the core. Hanson: why shouldn’t each district have their own distinction. Goldberg: yes, but then talking about a neighborhood that only serves itself. Much of what we have seen requires serving beyond the Sector boundaries. If they come in, they will drive.
Mobility discussion. Exit points a problem.
Metro capacity issues. Hanson: they’re considering fixing that. Goldberg: where will they get the money?
Outside the CBD have residential neighborhoods at Strathmore. Intersection fails the traffic tests, but staff claims that’s ok because it’s a smart growth area. Robinson: staff is correct if you accept smart growth analysis. Let’s be realistic: let’s eliminate the artificial distinctions imposed 20 years ago and look at this in terms of modern analysis. Let’s just look at it as a matter of social policy as to whether we should have residential or urban development in these areas. On Strathmore, I agree with you. I’m not sure our current policy provides for modeling and adequate mitigation of the problems.
MARC station: put it on the northern site. Closer to transit.
Robinson: I’m worried you’ll get the worst of all possible worlds if we don’t act. You will get more density naturally, but without any funding mechanism to get the amenities to handle the problems you see. If we build Main St. first and then the east-west access, doesn’t that help you? Goldberg: defeating the purpose.
Goldberg: Stage 3 is too late for Rockville Pike. Concerned that county will find other uses for the money. So we’ll have the housing and the traffic but not the Pike.
Compatibility with existing neighborhoods: Glen: White Flint Mall. Commercial transition zone. Long history. New construction on each current parking lot, up to the edge of our community. Present experience of rough edges, but mall is some distance from our community, but plans bring it much closer. We propose parking space to remain open, but made green as a green buffer incorporating White Flint Park and the green area on the southeastern portions of Nicholson Court properties. We want the new road be an internal street. Robinson: what if housing on a rational scale there. You already have a park there as a huge buffer in urban terms.
[connection lost] [Note: connection problems during this presentation resulted in some important material being dropped.]
Of the four planned community association presentations, only one was given. The Planning Board, the members of which hold other jobs, promised to schedule another session to hear the additional testimony. The Planning Board has scheduled an enormous amount of time to consider the White Flint Sector Plan, and deserves thanks for putting in this special effort.