In March, after the Montgomery County Council unanimously approved the White Flint Sector Plan, we published several statements from Councilmembers on the Plan. Today I received a long message from Councilmember Marc Elrich with his thoughts on both the enactment and future of the Plan. Here are excerpts:
In its final form, the plan provides the framework for a genuinely “smart growth” area – one that will have a mix of residential and commercial uses along with the infrastructure we need to support a vibrant community. The plan includes a new elementary school site, a full-service library, a recreation center, a new fire station, a police substation, green space, transit options, and road improvements. And despite the Planning Board’s recommendation to allow traffic conditions to deteriorate to unacceptable levels (9 mph on Rockville Pike during the morning peak travel time), I successfully fought for the highest transit standards in the county – 50% employee travel via transit, carpooling, walking, or biking – along with parking restrictions that will take more cars off the road. I am hopeful that my proposal for a rapid transit system on Rockville Pike will play a major role in making this happen.
Although I support the underlying concepts of the Sector Plan, I realize we have more work to do when it comes to monitoring and controlling the rollout of development. Because of the significant density increases, the plan calls for an enhanced street network along with traffic mitigation, calming, and other strong protective measures for existing neighborhoods in and around the Sector Plan. For all of this to work, we need to closely coordinate the timing of infrastructure improvements as the plan builds out – otherwise, we run the risk of creating major bottlenecks that overwhelm existing neighborhoods and defeat the livable/walkable community features of the plan. While I understand that the developers want certainty that their projects will move forward when ready, I believe that residents are entitled to certainty that adequate infrastructure will be in place to accommodate the growth and preserve their quality of life.