Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Rock Spring Master Plan kickoff meeting

Last night the Montgomery County planning department held the kickoff meeting for updating the Rock Spring master plan.  This is the area bounded by Democracy Blvd on the south, I-270 on the north, the I-270 spur on the west and Old Georgetown Road on the east. (It also includes the Montgomery Mall area and Wildwood shopping center.)  The meeting was held at Walter Johnson High school.

The first part of the meeting was a powerpoint presentation by Don Zeigler (at the podium in the above picture) giving the current state of the rock spring area that summarized what companies and jobs were there, where the people who work there live, the makeup of the neighboring area, the challenges the area faces, then going into some potential land uses.

The main challenges the planning department sees with the current land use is:
  • Lack of identity
  • Lack of pedestrian and bike amenities
  • Connectivity; I-270 as a barrier
  • High office vacancy rate (18.7%) with county trends suggesting the vacancy rate will increase.
  • Single-use, auto-oriented office parks are losing their appeal.

The purpose of the new plan will be:
  • To reinvent the typical suburban office park
  • Improve connectivity
  • Identify places for public use spaces
  • Introduce residentail into predominately non-residential development
  • Plan sustainable environmental measures.
  • Build a community!
The powerpoint should be posted on the Montgomery Planning Rock Spring website in the next few days.

The next segment of the meeting was a question and answer session.  This session was dominated by residents concerned about school overcrowding that would be made worse by additional residential development in the Walter Johnson cluster.  Glen Kreger (Area 2 Chief) said that Education is so important that there will be a special meeting just for that on September 17th.  However, it apparently wasn't important enough to bring anyone with them that could answer any questions about the schools.

The third portion of the night was dedicated to small group breakouts where tables of 10 to 12 people got together to discuss what they like about the Rock Spring area, What they don't like about the area, and what they would like to see in that area.

Following the breakouts, each group reported to the whole room what they talked about.  Every group put schools as the number one issue, other major themes were traffic/transit, retail and grocery stores, as well as recreation opportunities and the environment.

Upcoming meetings related to this project are the Joint White Flint II and Rock Spring Master Plans School Meeting at WJ on September 17th, the Bicycle Master Plan Meeting at WJ  on October 6th, and the Rock Spring Master Plan Scope of Work on October 8th at the Montgomery County Planning Board.

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