Montgomery County Planning Board Briefed on Friendship Heights Urban Design Study Scope of Work

Board provided feedback on approach of study to focus on open spaces, pedestrian and transit networks, activity centers and public life in Friendship Heights today

The Montgomery County Planning Board was briefed on the Friendship Heights Urban Design StudyScope of Work at its July 13 weekly meeting. The Scope of Work lays out the Montgomery County Planning Department’s approach to studying how residents, business owners, and visitors experience the open spaces, pedestrian and transit networks, activity centers and public life in Friendship Heights today.

View the Friendship Heights Urban Design Study Scope of Work
View the recording of the July 13 Planning Board meeting

The Scope of Work officially launches Montgomery Planning’s work on the study which includes preparing for a significant community engagement component in the fall. Staff will also analyze the urban design strengths and needs of this cross-jurisdictional transit-oriented community. The Study will generally focus on the area within the 1998Friendship Heights Sector Plan boundary but will also consider the surrounding context.

A study is different from a master or sector plan because it a study can analyze a particular planning issue or geographic location, but it does not recommend changes to zoning and/or building height for specific locations or other issues governed by master or sector plans.  A study helps to identify opportunities where future actions or further study may be needed.

How to get involved

The Friendship Heights Urban Design Study will include community engagement anticipated for the fall of 2023. The engagement is expected to include both in-person and online elements so that many stakeholders can participate. Montgomery Planning will be working with a consultant to organize and implement public engagement.

In June 2023 Montgomery Planning briefed the Friendship Heights Village Council, Chevy Chase Village Board of Managers, the Citizens Coordinating Committee on Friendship Heights, and the Western Montgomery Citizens Advisory Board on the draft approach to the study. In addition, Montgomery Planning’s Downcounty Planning Division staff meets regularly with staff at the Washington, DC Office of Planning (DCOP) to share information and insights on planning and development efforts, issues, and trends on the other side of the county line. DCOP is currently wrapping up the Wisconsin Avenue Development Framework and Montgomery Planning will continue to coordinate with that office to share lessons learned.

Montgomery Planning will continue to meet with municipalities, community groups, and stakeholders throughout the study to provide updates and answer questions.

Community members are encouraged to explore the project websiteand sign up for the subscription eletter to stay informed and get involved.

Study schedule

Montgomery Planning anticipates that the Friendship Heights Urban Design Study will be completed and presented to the Planning Board and the Montgomery County Council by the beginning of 2024.

July 2023: Scope of Work presented to the Planning Board

Summer – Fall 2023: Analysis and Engagement

Summer – Winter 2023: Conduct urban design analysis

Winter 2023 – 2024: Present findings to Planning Board and County Council


About Friendship Heights

Friendship Heights is an urban area along Wisconsin Avenue on both sides of the Washington, DC and Maryland border. Within Montgomery County, Friendship Heights was included as one of the county’s four designated Central Business Districts (CBDs) along with Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Wheaton (the 2016 zoning ordinance update eliminated CBD zoning and designation). Retail, office, and restaurant uses cluster along Wisconsin Avenue on both sides of the border, while high-rise office and residential uses are predominant on the Montgomery County side. Today, Friendship Heights is a mixed-use neighborhood, although recent years have seen rising retail and office vacancies, compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. Friendship Heights includes the incorporated municipalities of the Village of Friendship Heights and a small portion of Chevy Chase Village. The area is bordered on all sides by single-family residential neighborhoods, which include several towns and incorporated municipalities such as the Town of Somerset to the north and most of Chevy Chase Village to the east. The neighborhood of Brookdale borders Friendship Heights to the west.

Featured photo courtesy of Google Maps

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