Montgomery Planning staff presented big ideas to inform the recommendations for the plan’s working draft
Per Montgomery Planning:
The Montgomery County Planning Department briefed the Montgomery County Planning Board on the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan, which will envision the next 20 years of Silver Spring, during its July 29 meeting. The presentation included big ideas that will inform the recommendations for the plan’s working draft to be finalized this fall.
The ideas Montgomery Planning staff presented to the Planning Board focused on four major themes—diversity, resiliency, connectivity, and community health. Equity will also be an important part of the plan, with all recommendations to be written through an equity lens to carefully consider each recommendation’s impact. These themes emerged from engagement with stakeholders over the past year, including a series of online workshops last spring during the plan’s Visioning Phase. During these workshops, Planning staff presented the community with a set of challenges and opportunities and asked the community for their feedback. Roughly 150 people participated in these events and the team received over 500 comments on an interactive, online map of the plan area.
“The Silver Spring community has been very passionate and engaged with helping us shape what the area will look like over the next 20 years,” said Planning Director Gwen Wright. “We are proud to have heard from so many community members, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. This really speaks to the themes of resiliency, connectivity and diversity of Silver Spring.”
Planning staff told the Planning Board they will tailor their plan recommendations to seven districts. These include South Silver Spring, Falklands District, Downtown North, Metro Center, Ripley District, Fenton Village and Adjacent Communities. As the team develops the working draft, there will be both area-wide and district-specific recommendations.
During the briefing, Planning staff discussed the idea of establishing a public realm “Green Loop” that would connect the districts via a complete streetscape. They said this would be more comfortable for pedestrians and bikers and would enhance the experience of moving around downtown Silver Spring for residents, workers, and visitors. It would also strengthen the existing parks and open space network while also improving tree cover and stormwater management facilities along key local streets in the plan. This concept supports the plan themes of equity and diversity, connectivity, community health, and resiliency.
The team’s other preliminary ideas include new zoning tools that would help to encourage development of parcels that are currently under‐utilized, providing support for independent businesses as well as the arts and entertainment district and a concept plan for Jesup Blair Park.
Planning staff will now continue to develop these ideas based on the Planning Board’s feedback. They will present the working draft of the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan to the community and to the Planning Board in the fall.