White Flint Rescheduled

White Flint Rescheduled

Snow’s fun if you’re a kid (or a kid at heart). But too much of a good thing . . . 

I once asked Ian Lockwood, the Canadian walkability/bikability mobility genius behind the “robust street grid” and Rockville Pike “boulevard” concepts for White Flint, what would happen to his wonderful plan when it snowed. “Oh, nothing ever works in the snow,” he replied.

Ian Lockwood

 Certainly true today in White Flint.

snow

For a week now, vicious snowstorms have pummeled White Flint, leaving the area paralyzed under four feet of snow. More snow is falling today, and another storm is forecast for Saturday. Most of us lost power for some of the time, and some of us were without it for days at a time.

As a result, the Montgomery County Council’s consideration of the White Flint Sector Plan has been rescheduled. The Committee hearings intended for Monday and Tuesday have been rescheduled for next week. The Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee’s hearing on “staging” (the timing of various projects and improvements in the Plan) will now be held at 1:30PM on Tuesday, 2/16. The joint hearing between the PHED and Management and Fiscal Policy Committees on White Flint financing will be held on 2/23 at 11:30AM. Both hearings will be held in the Council Office Building in Rockville.

It’s not clear what the delays will do to PHED Committee Chair Mike Knapp’s schedule for the White Flint Plan. Knapp pointed out that the PHED Committee (and Council) have three big projects (“map amendments”) to complete after the White Flint Plan, so the prior effective deadline was Feb. 1. The PHED Committee missed that deadline anyway, and it looks like mid-February is more likely. Of course, more snow = more postponements.

In the meantime, the diligent Council staff did prepare one of the memoranda for the upcoming PHED Committee staging hearing scheduled for February 16. You can find the memo here:

http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/council/pdf/agenda/cm/2010/100208/20100208_PHED2.pdf

The staff proposes a number of changes in the staging plan for White Flint, including eliminating the last (fourth) phase, and adjusting the various mobility phases to the new “balance” standard adopted in the last PHED hearing. One welcome proposal is that staff has agreed with the Friends of White Flint request that the Council accelerate the construction of some of the “core” area improvements, including Rockville Pike, into earlier phases. One not so welcome proposal is the application of at least some of the automobile-oriented tests which everyone agree shouldn’t be used in a transit-oriented area such as White Flint; the staff may be handcuffed on those tests, however, because they are still legally-required (the Council is likely to amend those later this year, but that hasn’t happened yet).

Some of the staff recommendations are likely to be controversial, not least with the Planning Board, which carefully balanced various factors in setting its staging proposals. But for now, the snow is muting even the most vociferous criticisms.

Barnaby Zall (who sincerely thanks Pepco for restoring his power yesterday and appreciates the difficulties the repair crews face)

Barnaby Zall

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