Montgomery Planning Expresses Appreciation for County Council Consultant-Led Study on Thrive Montgomery 2050; Notes it Confirms Widespread Support for Thrive’s Policies

by MCS Staff

Just a day after County Executive Marc Elrich urged the Montgomery County Council to disapprove Thrive 2050, the Montgomery County Planning Department expressed its appreciation for the Montgomery County Council’s consultant-led racial equity and social justice review of the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee Draft of Thrive Montgomery 2050, the update to Montgomery County’s General Plan.

Per Montgomery Planning: The report includes an assessment of how historically disadvantaged and vulnerable social groups are represented in the current version of the plan and a draft chapter on racial equity and social justice to be considered by the County Council to be included in the final plan.

As highlighted in the report, the largest group to provide feedback – nearly 2,000 people – responded to a questionnaire created by the consultants. Approximately one third of the respondents identified as Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). For major elements of Thrive such as Housing, Transportation, Design Arts and Culture, and Parks and Recreation, respondents felt that the plan “absolutely fits or fits my vision for where the county should be going” in percentages ranging from 61% to 77%. The review of  Thrive Montgomery 2050 also provided important feedback to enhance future engagement.

“We were pleased that the consultant’s report included feedback that was very supportive of many of the recommendations in the draft plan of Thrive Montgomery 2050 and we are ready to continue to work through any issues that require further exploration through future Council work sessions,” said Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson.

Thrive Montgomery 2050 is a comprehensive update to the county’s General Plan. Its priorities include addressing historic inequities, adapting to new realities, and shifting the way we think about how the county should grow. It is a long-range policy framework to help guide, over multiple decades, how Montgomery County should respond to future opportunities and challenges while maintaining its important assets. Chapters in the current Thrive Montgomery 2050 PHED Committee Draft include:

  • Compact Growth
  • Complete Communities
  • Design, Arts and Culture
  • Transportation and Communications Networks
  • Housing for All
  • Parks and Recreation for an Increasingly Urban and Diverse Community

Per the County Council’s direction, three new chapters on economy, racial equity and social justice and environmental resilience will be added to the draft plan.

The report from the County Council’s consultant-led review of racial equity and social justice included resident responses from focus groups, a community forum, and a questionnaire.

Review the County Council September 13, 2022 staff packet.

“We appreciate the Council’s and consultants’ work to supplement outreach already done ensuring all voices are heard in this important effort,” said Montgomery Planning Director Gwen Wright. “The data and feedback collected over the summer is extremely helpful and we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the County Council through the Fall as they review the draft recommendations.”

From June 2019 through April 2021, when the draft Thrive Montgomery 2050 plan was transmitted to the Council, 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.

What’s next for Thrive Montgomery 2050?

Because 2022 is an election year, the County Council must act on any master plans before October 31. Below is the proposed tentative schedule for the Council’s review of Thrive Montgomery 2050 including a review of new chapters on racial equity and social justice, the environment, and the economy:

  • September 20: Review of Introduction and chapters on Economic Development, Environment and Racial Equity and Social Justice.
  • October 4 (AM): Review of chapters on Compact Communities, Corridor Growth, Design and Transportation.
    October 4 (PM): Review of chapters on Housing, Parks and Conclusion (including additional sections on implementation).
  • October 11: Review of all Council changes to the PHED Committee Draft in order to post the draft resolution.
  • October 25: Action to adopt resolution indicating all Council changes to the PHED Committee Draft Plan.

About Thrive Montgomery 2050

Thrive Montgomery 2050 is a comprehensive update to the county’s General Plan. It is about addressing historic inequities, adapting to new realities, and shifting the way we think about how the county should grow. It is a long-range policy framework to help guide, over multiple decades, how Montgomery County should respond to future opportunities and challenges while maintaining its important assets. The draft plan includes community-informed and data-driven recommendations for land use, housing, transportation, environment, equity, design, arts and culture, parks and open spaces and the economy. 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 pillars: economic health, environmental resilience, and equity.

Montgomery Planning’s Equity 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.

Learn more:

Check out the Thrive Explained blog posts:

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