Additional Information on Newly Approved County General Plan, Thrive 2050, By Montgomery Planning

County’s new General Plan prioritizes racial equity and social justice, economic health, and environmental resilience to help guide growth for the next 30 years

WHEATON, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), welcomed the Montgomery County Council’s approval today of Thrive Montgomery 2050, the update to Montgomery County’s General Plan. The approved plan, which will serve as a framework for the county’s growth for the next 30 years, is the first comprehensive General Plan update in nearly 60 years. The new General Plan takes a data-driven and community-informed approach to recommend how Montgomery County can be more equitable, economically healthy, and environmentally resilient in the midst of major demographic and technological changes.

“The previous General Plan has served us well, but it’s time for a new vision that can better meet the evolving needs of our current and future county residents,” said Acting Planning Director Tanya Stern. “The new plan, which reflects three years’ worth of community engagement with thousands of residents, gives us a clear path forward: to focus future growth around corridors and centers and reduce sprawl, increase housing that residents can afford, improve transit, and strengthen businesses, in equitable, sustainable ways.”

The new plan is about addressing long-standing inequities, adapting to new realities, and shifting our approach about how the county should grow. It is a long-range policy framework to help guide, over multiple decades, how Montgomery County can respond to future opportunities and challenges while maintaining its important assets. The Council-approved plan includes recommendations for land use, housing, transportation, the environment, equity, design, arts and culture, parks and open spaces, and the economy.

Following the County Council’s approval, the plan will be sent to the M-NCPPC Full Commission (Montgomery and Prince George’s County Planning Boards) to approve the resolution of the plan.

The recommendations in Thrive Montgomery 2050 will be implemented in the coming decades through updates to master and sector plans, functional plans, zoning codes, subdivision regulations, the adequate public facilities ordinance, and other guidelines and reference manuals. The Montgomery Planning and Montgomery Parks Departments will lead much of the work, but full implementation of Thrive 2050’s recommendations will require collaboration or approval of other government bodies and extensive public input.

Thrive Montgomery 2050’s three key priorities

  • Racial equity and social justice: Advancing racial equity through just planning policies and public investments in underserved communities, promoting the racial and economic integration of neighborhoods, and focusing on the potential for the design of communities to help build social trust and inclusion while encouraging civic participation are among the most significant elements of Thrive Montgomery 2050. Thrive Montgomery 2050 strives to create racially integrated and just communities.
  • Environmental resilience: Thrive Montgomery’s focus on a compact form of development with a mix of uses supported by transportation systems that make alternatives to driving practical and attractive are essential pieces of any comprehensive strategy to fight climate change. A stronger focus on walking, biking, and transit infrastructure will be crucial, but the significance of mixed uses and compact development in reducing driving is equally important. The environmental benefits of dense, walkable neighborhoods dovetail with the increasing preference across age groups to live in walkable places served by a mix of uses and amenities.
  • Economic competitiveness: We want to strengthen the county’s economic competitiveness by creating the kind of places where people with diverse choices want to live and work. Thrive Montgomery 2050’s recommendations for land use, housing, transportation, parks, and other public and private infrastructure lay the groundwork for economic development initiatives undertaken by other entities such as the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation. Different skill and education levels and linguistic, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds infuse the local economy with the varied pool of skills, experiences, and perspectives necessary to solve problems and innovate. The Plan’s compact land use pattern and walkable communities supported by an efficient transit network will connect the county’s diverse population to economic opportunities.

Chapters in the approved Thrive Montgomery 2050 document include:

  • Introduction
  • Economic Competitiveness
  • Racial Equity and Social Justice
  • Environmental Health and Resilience
  • Compact Growth: Corridor-Focused Development
  • Complete Communities: Mix of Uses and Forms
  • Design, Arts and Culture: Investing and Building Community
  • Transportation and Communications Networks: Connecting People, Places, and Ideas
  • Housing for All: More of Everything
  • Parks and Recreation for an Increasingly Urban and Diverse Community: Active and Social
  • Conclusion (Implementation)

About Thrive Montgomery 2050

A lot has changed in the county since the General Plan was originally approved in 1964. Thrive Montgomery 2050 will guide future growth in response to the demographic shifts, technological innovations, changing lifestyles and economic disruptions that have taken place in recent decades. The new General Plan will consider many issues framed by three outcomes: economic health, environmental resilience, and equity.

From June 2019 until the draft Thrive Montgomery 2050 plan was transmitted to the Council in April 2021, Montgomery Planning took a strategic and equity-focused approach for engaging a countywide audience of over one million residents on the plan. The three overarching outcomes of economic health, environmental resilience and community equity were incorporated into all outreach efforts. To ensure equitable engagement, Montgomery Planning considered issues including racial equity and social justice, language, literacy, accessibility, ability, and age.

Review the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Outreach and Engagement Appendix.
Learn about the APA-NCAC Award on Thrive Montgomery 2050’s Equitable Engagement

Montgomery Planning’s Agenda for Planning

Thrive Montgomery 2050 adheres to the County Council’s adopted Racial Equity and Social Justice Act, which seeks to advance “fair and just opportunities and outcomes for all people.” Montgomery Planning has developed an Equity Agenda for Planning to systematically dismantle institutional racism in our work and prevent it in the future. Over the last two years, Montgomery Planning has been implementing this agenda and created additional tools that have influenced outreach and engagement efforts for Thrive Montgomery 2050 and area master plans.

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