Montgomery County Planning Board holds first work session on Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan

by MCS Staff
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Planning Board work sessions scheduled for December 16 and 23, 2021 and January 6, 2022; the community is invited to watch via live video stream

Per Montgomery Planning:

Wheaton, MD –The Montgomery County Planning Board held its first work session for the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan on December 9, 2021. Planning Board members worked with Montgomery Planning staff to review the plan for its first of four scheduled work sessions. This follows the Planning Board’s Public Hearing on December 2, 2021, during which community members testified in person and virtually on the plan.

During the first work session, the Planning Board reviewed key plan recommendations related to parks and public spaces, historic resources, environmental resiliency, and schools. The Board also reviewed language in the plan that addresses compliance with Montgomery County’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Act. Equity is woven throughout the plan and is reflected in the four overarching themes that emerged after engaging with stakeholders: diversity, resiliency, connectivity, and community health.

“The Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan is the first Sector Plan to follow the passage of Montgomery County’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Act,” said Montgomery Planning Director Gwen Wright. “We took care to understand the historic advantages and disadvantages that have impacted Silver Spring stakeholders and we have proposed recommendations that encourage more equitable access to investment and civic resources.”

Read the Public Hearing Draft.

Watch the History of Silver Spring – Montgomery Planning Board briefing.

The Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan  builds upon the success of the 2000  Silver Spring Central Business District Sector Plan to help the area continue to be a regional destination for the next 20 years while supporting sustainable growth and development in the emerging areas of the downtown and adjacent communities. The plan’s Public Hearing Draft includes recommendations for land use and zoning, housing, economic growth, urban design, transportation, parks and public spaces, environmental resiliency, community facilities, and historic resources.

The Board will observe the following work session schedule during its Planning Board meetings. Please note that these topics are subject to change and additional topics may be brought up during these work sessions as time may allow:

December 16, 2021

  • Urban Design
  • Transportation
  • Economic Growth
  • Land Use and Zoning
  • Implementation

December 23, 2021

  • Housing
  • Review edits from 12/9 work session

January 6, 2022

  • Review all edits
  • Review any additional key text changes
  • Vote out to transmit Planning Board Draft Plan to Montgomery County Council

Watch the recording of the Planning Board’s Public Hearing.

View the explainer.

Community members can watch the work sessions online via live stream on the Planning Board’s website. The community is invited to submit written comments to the Planning Board via email at mcp-chair@mncppc-mc.org, although these comments will not be included in the public record for the Public Hearing Draft, which is now closed. There will be another opportunity for community members to testify publicly after the Planning Board Draft of the plan is transmitted to the Montgomery County Council.

To stay up to date on the progress of this plan, sign up for our eLetter. You can also reach out directly to the project team with any questions or comments about the plan:

Atara Margolies, lead planner
301-495-4558
Atara.margolies@montgomeryplanning.org

About the Downtown Silver Spring and Adjacent Communities Plan

The 2000 Silver Spring Central Business District Sector Plan established a planning framework for downtown Silver Spring that envisioned a green, transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly downtown with a strong commercial and residential development market. In the 20 years since the adoption of the downtown Silver Spring Sector Plan, the area has transformed from an area in decline to a vibrant destination for offices, retail, restaurants, and entertainment that is defined by its unique diversity. Montgomery Planning is updating the downtown Silver Spring Sector Plan to guide Silver Spring’s future growth.

Through the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan process, Montgomery Planning will analyze and reevaluate all aspects of the existing plan, consider the recommended changes implemented from the last plan, and assess future needs – all informed by community conversation and input. View the plan’s Scope of Work that the Planning Board approved in June 2020.

About the Equity Agenda for Planning

Montgomery Planning recognizes and acknowledges the role that our plans and policies have played in creating and perpetuating racial inequity in Montgomery County. We are committed to transforming the way we work as we seek to address, mitigate, and eliminate inequities from the past and develop planning solutions to create equitable communities in the future. While it will take time to fully develop a new methodology for equity in the planning process, we cannot delay applying an equity lens to our work. Efforts to date include:

  • Developing an Equity Agenda for Planning. The Planning Board approved Equity in Master Planning Framework, and staff is working on action items.
  • Prioritizing equity in Thrive Montgomery 2050. Community Equity is one of the three priority areas of our county General Plan update, Thrive Montgomery 2050.
  • Focusing on equity in upcoming plans. Equity is a central focus of the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan, the first master plan to launch since Montgomery County’s Racial Equity & Social Justice Act passed. All upcoming plans and studies will have an equity focus.
  • Created an Equity Focus Areas mapping tool and developing a Community Equity Index. Equity Focus Areas in Montgomery County have high concentrations of lower-income people of color, who may also speak English less than very well. Montgomery Planning developed this data-driven tool to identify and map these areas to assess potential racial and social inequities and produce master plans that will foster more equitable outcomes for communities in Montgomery County. The Community Equity Index will expand on the previous Equity Focus Area analysis, creating a more robust, diagnostic tool providing additional detail of critically selected neighborhood characteristics relevant for equity analysis countywide.
  • Viewing management and operations through an equity lens. Our efforts are not limited to the master planning process. Management and operational functions like communications and human resources are developing approaches, tools, plans, and training to ensure that we look at everything through an equity lens.
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