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Posted on: May 25, 2021

Increased Density Called For By County General Plan -- Residents Encouraged to Voice Opinions

Thrive Montgomery 2050 (or “Thrive” for short) is Montgomery County’s general plan update.  The County Council will hold two Public Hearings (on June 17 and June 29), deliberate on Thrive in July, and will likely vote on its passage in the fall after its summer recess. The Town Council encourages residents to voice their opinions on Thrive directly to the County Council. Thrive promotes compact growth or urbanism, which means increased residential housing in 32 designated “activity centers” and along designated “growth corridors.”  The Town is near both an "activity center" (Bethesda) and located along designated "growth corridors" (Connecticut & Wisconsin Avenues).  

The intent is to redevelop these 32 activity centers into “complete communities” that would be walkable, contain varied retail and housing options, public facilities, and open spaces.  These 32 activity centers would be connected along growth corridors with more public transit options.  One of the driving principles of Thrive is the presumption that the County must build 63,000 new housing units by 2040 and that they must be built in existing neighborhoods to avoid sprawl, minimize environmental impacts, and support healthy social interaction.  If successfully implemented, Thrive will be transformational for Montgomery County and the Town.

Councilmembers Ericson and Lane have been working with twenty-five other communities across the county in an effort to communicate common questions, concerns, recommendations, and common ground.  Residents are invited to read the latest letter from the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Neighborhood Coalition, which will be sent to the County Council on June 28, 2021.  Also, residents can read County Executive Elrich's letter to the County Council, dated June 10, 2021.  

Planning Board Will Deliver Set of Residential Zoning Changes to Implement Thrive

At the same time that the County Council will be discussing Thrive, the Planning Board will have delivered a set of recommendations (that were requested by the County Council) to increase density by changing residential zoning in designated activity centers and along designated growth corridors.  Even though these are two initiatives, they are running in parallel and are closely interrelated.  Put simply, Thrive is the vision and residential zoning changes are the action.

The Planning Board's recommendations will be to allow duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes to be built, by right, in existing single-family neighborhoods and even higher density along designated growth corridors on lots that face Connecticut Avenue.  County officials acknowledge that these new housing units will not be “affordable housing” but instead will sell or rent at prevailing market rates.  Because both initiatives, Thrive and the Planning Board's recommendations, will be voted on by the County Council this fall, it is imperative that residents voice their opinions to the County Council.

Please use your voice and email County Councilmembers about Thrive by June 29. 

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