Thrive Montgomery 2050 is a comprehensive update to the 1964 General Plan, which has guided growth and development in the county for the last 60 years.
It has been met with plenty of support and plenty of criticism, including criticism from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on their draft fiscal impact statement (FIS), which Montgomery Planning responded to in a statement.
Montgomery Planning recently released a Myth/Fact sheet to respond to specific points made against the plan. That can be seen below:
Myth: Thrive Montgomery 2050 will decide whether your neighborhood will have duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, and apartment buildings.
Fact: Thrive Montgomery 2050 is a policy document and does not change any zoning in any neighborhood. Thrive recom- mends a diversity of housing types as well as preserving naturally occurring affordable housing, converting old office buildings into housing, collocating housing with other uses, and enhancing our existing moderately priced dwelling unit program. The Attainable Housing Strategies initiative is a separate project, requested by the County Council, for providing new housing options to residents at the right sizes, locations, and price points in Montgomery County.
Myth: Thrive Montgomery 2050 is anti-car and says everyone should use mass transit or a bicycle.
Fact: Thrive Montgomery 2050 seeks to create a transportation system that is safe, comfortable, and appealing for all res- idents, whether they drive, take transit, bike, walk or roll. For several decades, Montgomery County built streets and communities oriented mainly to driving, while underinvesting in other modes of transportation. Years of prioritizing auto travel has created areas where quality transit options are limited and/or it is unsafe to bike, walk, or roll. Thrive wants to correct this by providing safe and convenient options if travelers cannot or choose not to drive. Thrive focuses future growth on corridors, through infill and redevelopment, and retrofitting existing roads to be safer. While many people will still choose to drive, it will also be more comfortable and feasible to walk, roll, bike or take transit, and it will enable Montgomery County to accommodate more residents and workers more sustainably.
Myth: Thrive Montgomery 2050 does not include dedicated recommendations related to environmental resilience, racial equity, or economic health.
Fact: The three big goals of Thrive Montgomery 2050 – economic health, community equity, and environmental resilience – and specific recommendations to support them are woven throughout the entire plan. This was done intentionally to show how foundational each of these outcomes are to each of the chapters of the plan. In the work with Council, the plan is being enhanced to show the specific recommendations related to the three big goals in each chapter.
Myth: Thrive Montgomery 2050 neglects the importance of the county’s Agricultural Reserve.
Fact: Thrive Montgomery 2050 clearly supports the importance of protecting the Agricultural Reserve for agricultural use and environmental benefits. It directs future growth away from the Reserve so that it can maintain its rural character. The plan makes the case of why the Ag Reserve is more important than ever and strengthens the need for the rural pattern of land use while making it relevant and accessible for all residents.
Myth: Thrive Montgomery 2050 will cost too much.
Fact: Montgomery County will grow over the coming decades by an additional 200,000 people, based on forecasts devel- oped by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments before Thrive Montgomery 2050 launched. The goal of Thrive Montgomery 2050 is to change how we plan for development so that it is more compact and thus more ef- ficient, cost effective, and sustainable. The focus is on infill development along corridors that have or are planned to have infrastructure, so there will be less need to build new roads and extend infrastructure, cutting costs. In addition, if the recommendations in Thrive Montgomery 2050 are implemented, the county will be more attractive to business- es, employers, and prospective residents. The county’s current economic health is not good, and Thrive will improve it, resulting in an increased tax base by attracting new employers who will bring better job opportunities.