Montgomery County Divided Over Long-Range Plan

In the wake of mass resignations at the county’s planning board, the county council will vote to update their growth plan to reflect the region’s changing economy and demographics.

Read Time: 2 minutes

October 25, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Street with Regal cinema building in downtown Rockville, Maryland

Rockville, Maryland, county seat of Montgomery County | Regine Poirier / Downtown Rockville, Maryland

The Montgomery County Council is poised to approve a new long-range growth plan, dubbed Thrive 2050, for the region that will account for its growing and increasingly diverse population and economy. The vote comes after the county’s planning board resigned en masse due to several scandals.

In an article for the Washington Post, Katherine Shaver writes, “The plan acknowledges massive demographic shifts in a county struggling with how to better compete for businesses and jobs while becoming more walkable, transit-friendly and environmentally sustainable.”

The plan focuses on encouraging transit-oriented development and more diverse and affordable housing types, such as duplexes and small multifamily buildings. “More of such housing in wealthier and highly desirable neighborhoods zoned solely for single-family homes would make the county and its schools less segregated by race and income, planners say.”

Residents are divided over the plan, with some voicing concerns that higher density could imperil the county’s public infrastructure and reduce quality of life. Montgomery council member Hans Riemer dismissed criticism, saying that the plan “doesn’t cause growth to happen. It seeks to manage the growth that’s coming.”

“Planners say Thrive would be the county’s first long-term plan to prioritize racial equity and social justice, including by encouraging less expensive housing in upscale areas.” The plan also directs development toward the eastern part of the county, which, according to planners, “became relatively less attractive for employers and residents, feeding a cycle of stagnation” after the county’s original plan discouraged commercial development and investment along Route 29.

Sunday, October 23, 2022 in The Washington Post

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