When the Rockville Mayor and Council set out to update the 1989 Rockville Pike Plan in 2007, Apple released the first iPhone and the New Horizons space probe was passing Saturn. In 2015, Apple is working on the iPhone 6s and New Horizons just passed Pluto–but the Rockville Pike Plan is still incomplete. It’s a complex area but something is definitely wrong with the planning process in the City of Rockville if it takes eight years to revise a plan for an area of 410 acres. What happens when Rockville tackles the Comprehensive Plan for the 14 square miles of the City of Rockville? Will it meet the state deadline to update that plan every ten years?
When you look at the timeline for the project, it’s pretty clear that the Pike Plan is languishing with the Planning Commission. A closer looks shows they’ve held six public hearings, 32 work sessions, and formed two sub-committees and they’re still not done. In contrast, the Mayor and Council have held five public hearings and one work session. Looks like the Planning Commission is suffering from “paralysis by analysis.”
What is extremely puzzling is that the Planning Commission is taking as much time or more than Continue reading →
As we’re contemplating a new Rockville Pike Plan, it’s always useful to step back in time to see how decisions were made in the past and created the community we live in today.
In 1988, the Rockville Mayor and Council dramatically lowered the height of buildings along the Rockville Pike, rejecting the advice of the planning commission for improving the “traffic-choked corridor.” After six years of study (sound familiar?), the Planning Commission recommended reducing the maximum building size from 200,000 square feet (sf) to 35,000 sf for a 100,000 sf parcel but would allow up to 300,000 sf (a bonus) if developers provided certain community amenities, such as pedestrian bridges, plaza areas, and day care centers. The City Council accepted the lower size but rejected the bonus, effectively decreasing the size to one-sixth of what was currently allowed. Mayor Doug Duncan believed it would, “keep the retail strength of the plan. . .large office buildings [are] not in the interest of the community.” Planning Commission Chair Richard Arkin countered that “without the bonus system, the plan would lead to more small, unattractive shopping strips and few of the kinds of amenities that could transform the pike into an attractive road that is accessible to pedestrians.” Now that 25 years have passed, what was the result of their decisions? Who was more prescient?
If you’d like to learn more about this topic, read the entire story, “Building Curbs Supported for Rockville Pike” from the April 28, 1998 issue of the Washington Post.
Rockville is a key link in the effort to improve transportation from Friendship Heights to Clarksburg. Everyone complains about the traffic, but what can be done about it without building more highways through our neighborhoods? Join residents, local businesses, organizations, and community leaders to learn about the County’s Rapid Transit proposal, get your questions answered by County officials, and engage in a discussion about Rapid Transit and other solutions for turning 355 into a safe, efficient, and attractive boulevard of the future. This is related to the Rockville Pike Plan, so if you’re following that project, you’ll probably be interested in this as well.
Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm in the Cafeteria of the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street in downtown Rockville. Metered parking on the street; free parking in the jury parking lot at Jefferson and Monroe.
- Casey Anderson, Montgomery County Planning Board
- Larry Cole, Montgomery County Planning Department
- Chuck Lattuca, Rapid Transit System Development Manager for MCDOT.
Refreshments will be served.
If you are interested in attending, please register in advance.
This event is co-sponsored and facilitated by Coalition for Smarter Growth and Communities for Transit. Our co-hosts include Montgomery County Sierra Club, TAME Coalition, the White Flint Partnership, and Friends of White Flint.
I had a chance to attend my first city council candidates forum today, which I think is actually the third of more than a half dozen. If you missed it, don’t worry, you have plenty of opportunities coming up (including two this upcoming week that will be broadcast).
Today’s forum was held in the senior center and hosted by the neighborhood associations for College Gardens, Woodley Gardens, and Plymouth Woods and moderated by Cheryl Kagan. All the candidates were seated in a single row, barely fitting on stage, and about 60 people attended, mostly senior citizens. Unlike some neighborhood forums that focus exclusively on their parochial issues, this one ranged widely around Rockville, including such topics as Rockville in ten years, budget and finances, the APFO, Rockville Pike Plan, the fence separating Montgomery College, the city logo and branding, qualifications of the next city manager, relationships with other government agencies, relations with city staff, the proposed Walmart, and an assessment of the city’s website. Perhaps the most provocative question was, “which candidate do you oppose in this election and why?” I won’t provide a detailed report on everyone’s statements–I’ll leave that to the Gazette or you can watch the 2+ hours of it on YouTube–but will just give general impressions and highlights.
It seems that the candidates are beginning to solidify their statements and finding ways to Continue reading →
Last Thursday the Historic District Commission held its regular monthly meeting and if anyone was watching to the end, you may have noticed that the clock was nearing midnight. We usually try to finish at 10 pm but we had an ambitious agenda, including:
1. A joint meeting with the Environment Commission, which included three Planning Commissioners. The City has about two dozen commissions and boards but they rarely, if ever, talk with each other, even if they share some common goals or are tackling the same issue. This past year the HDC has requested meetings with other commissions but it’s been slow because finding mutual agreeable times is difficult and sometimes, I regret to say, the Chair of the other commission refused to respond to emails or phone calls to meet (what’s that about??). So far, we’ve met with the Planning Commission and this month with the Environment Commission. These meetings are just an hour so no decisions are made, but they provide introductions and we learn a bit more about each other to discover areas of mutual interest. It’s obvious that the Environmental Commission and the HDC both want to encourage Continue reading →