Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What Do You Think?--The Courage of Planning

In his September 19 Washington Post article, The Courage of Planning, Roger K. Lewis makes poignant observations about what goes into and what should come out of a master plan, paying particular attention to the balance of current needs and future growth management.

For example, he says, “Perceiving that increased density means increased traffic congestion, voters are understandably skeptical about any plan calling for higher densities, even if the plan calls for transportation improvements.” He adds that “visionary master plans are necessary to create a reasonably durable framework prescribing the location and form of new development and redevelopment for generations to come.”

Certainly we must apply a delicate mix of art and science to try to respect current communities and anticipate the needs of communities whose residents have not even been born. Take a look at the article and let me know what you think.

Remember, we have a busy year for master plans. We’ve just completed the Germantown Sector Plan, and we will undertake the Gaithersburg West Master Plan, the White Flint Sector Plan and the Kensington Sector Plan over the next several months.


Anonymous said...

It is always a tough challenge for an elected official to meet the needs of the current voter, who doesn't want change, and balance that of FUTURE residents and businesses, who need opportunities. The Gaithersburg-West master plan is visionary. No other community in this country is doing anything like this to create a mixed-use community geared toward science and those who support it. There have been communities in North Carolina that are strictly big business parks and NO residential at all to speak of. So, Science City is very, very different. Yet, the folks who live around the community, or those who are against growth, are the ones who vote. So, it's a tough balance, but you must look forward and build the density needed to keep Montgomery County a hotbed for biotech. Failure to do so will move these companies across the river -- i.e. what Howard Hughes Medical Institute did with the Janelia Farm campus in Loudoun -- or move to other states where zoning and planning is not so contentious. Failure to provide density also will doom the Corridor Cities light rail because you need density to make rail work. If we had the same naysaying attitudes about Bethesda and Silver Spring, both of those now would be dying little towns. Instead, they are major jobs hubs and a major reason why the Purple Line is finally becoming a reality. So, it's time for Montgomery to look forward instead of into the past.

joep said...

Anonymous makes a good point. From what I gather, the County Executive's proposal for Gaithersburg west vs. the planning commission is about 2 million square feet less. So, I don't really see the major difference. I think Science City is a good idea. Hope the Council approves the planning commission idea, or else these companies will move to Virginia.

Thomas Hardman said...

The first "anonymous" is seriously wrong when they suggest that there's no other place with a mixed-use planned community dedicated to the sciences and the people who work in the sciences.

Where, you ask, is there such a place, then?

It's been there for about 40 years. Check out Rice University in Houston Texas, and the surrounding area.

Of course, Houston doesn't really have "zoning" as such, and thus mixed use communities evolved "naturally".

Alison said...

It is understandable that people are often afraid of the risks associated with change. The new White Flint Sector Plan is visionary and collaborative in its approach to transportation, funding, and community. Although some people fear more of the same poorly designed asphalt that developers have created over the past 50 years, I hope that the council and citizens can see that this progressive approach to traffic solutions is the way to go, and can trust that developers and planners want to create beautiful and welcoming communities and not more inefficient sprawl. Please move forward and approve the White Flint Sector Plan.