Montgomery County Charts a New Path with 'Thrive 2050'

A new plan under development in Montgomery County, Maryland plots a course change for the famously suburban county.

December 8, 2020, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Montgomery County

Thrive Montgomery 2050 / Montgomery County Planning

Dan Reed reports on the Thrive Montgomery 2050 plan, which is accepting public feedback through December 2020. Here's how Reed summarizes the planning effort:

Over the past year, Montgomery County planners have been trying to find solutions, and put them together in Thrive 2050, an ambitious document for how the county should grow and change over the next thirty years. Thrive wouldn’t actually change laws or policies: Planning Board chairman Casey Anderson called it a “plan for other plans,” helping leaders make laws or policies in the future. The plan’s big themes include racial justice, affordable homes, and more transportation options.

According to the insights and historical background offered by Reed, the county has a history of quick growth, but planners will need a new approach than the one implemented by Harland Bartholomew in the 1960s to deal with the 200,000 people expected to move to the county in the next 20 years. The big idea of Thrive 2050 is to replace the old "Wedges and Corridors" approach of the 960s with a new "Complete Communities" approach that is, as you might expect, a local version on the 15-minute community model catching on around the world.

"Opening up single-family zoning to allow 'missing middle' homes, like duplexes, townhomes, and small apartment buildings, would give people more housing options that fit their budget and needs," explains Reed. "Building out the Bus Rapid Transit network Montgomery County approved in 2013 would give people an option for longer trips."

According to Reed, the Thrive 2050 plan has already provoked some passionate opponents, who fault the plan's vision of relaxed zoning restrictions in single-family neighborhoods.

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