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Posted on: May 25, 2021

Update on Thrive Montgomery 2050 and Attainable Housing Proposals

Thrive Montgomery 2050 Update 

On October 13, the County Council's Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee held its eighth work session on the Thrive Montgomery 2050 (Thrive) Draft Plan. Thus far, the committee has made some minor updates to each of the chapters of the Draft Plan and received a presentation based on the report issued by the County's Office of Management & Budget (OMB).  Click here to read the OMB report, which is required by law to be produced.

Among other comments, the OMB report stated that higher-density, infill development would not necessarily result in a decrease in County infrastructure costs.  In addition, the report stated that Thrive may result in an implementation cost of approximately $8.16 billion and may result in an increase in both property and personal income taxes given the infrastructure costs associated with the plan.  Upon hearing the presentation, the PHED Committee elected not to take the OMB report into account since Thrive is considered a 'vision document'.  

There is one more work session on October 25 before the PHED Committee sends the Draft Plan to the full County Council for consideration. 

Thrive is Montgomery County’s general plan update - the first major update since 1964.  At its essence, Thrive promotes compact growth or urbanism, which means increased residential housing in 32 designated “activity centers” and along designated “growth corridors.”  The Town is near both an "activity center" (Bethesda) and located along designated "growth corridors" (Connecticut & Wisconsin Avenues).  The County Council held public hearings on Thrive on June 17 and June 29.  You can review Mayor Rush's testimony here, Vice Mayor Lane's testimony here, and the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Neighborhood Coalition letter (signed by 29 communities representing over 213,000 residents across the county) here

How the County's Attainable Housing Proposals Affect Town Lots

The County Planning Board is operating under the assumption that the principles of Thrive (i.e., compact growth or urbanism) will be passed by the County Council this fall. Therefore, the County Planning Department is currently preparing a Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) to change the zoning in single-family neighborhoods.  

The Planning Staff released an interactive tool so that residents can better understand which lots could be impacted by the County Planning Board Attainable Housing Proposals (if adopted by the County Council).  Residents are encouraged to zoom in on the map and select the layers that correspond to the current Planning Board recommendations (i.e. Red Line 1-mile Buffer, Purple Line 1-mile Buffer, Priority Housing District, AHOM Parcels: Abut Corridor). 

Thus far, four decisions have been made by the County Planning Board that would impact residential buildings within the Town.  

  • Establish "Priority Housing Districts" for larger multi-family housing types.  The entire Town would be in a Priority Housing District, defined as an area within 1 mile "as the crow flies" of a Metro or Purple Line station and/or within 500 feet of major roads (which include Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues).
  • Allow "house-scaled" duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes to be built by-right on all lots in the Town and each unit within the structures would be allowed to have an accessory dwelling unit.
  • Allow quadplexes to be bigger than "house-scale" if they contain an affordable dwelling unit.
  • Create a new optional method of development that would allow townhouses and small apartment buildings (containing up to 19 units) to be built on properties that abut Connecticut Avenue.

On November 4, the Planning Board will continue its discussions addressing the issues of affordability, displacement, subdivision, tree canopy, parking, and pattern books that would be provided to builders so that they can be granted permits for building a duplex, triplex, and quadplex without additional oversight by the County.

While the Town does not have the zoning authority to regulate the types of residential buildings that can be built within the Town or the subdivision of lots, it does have the authority to regulate setbacks (front, rear, and side), building height, mass, lot coverage, impervious surface, parking, water drainage, and tree canopy.  

Residents Encouraged to Comment on Prospect of Building Multi-Family Housing By Right in the Town 

Because both initiatives, Thrive and the Attainable Housing recommendations, are slated to be voted on by the County Council this fall, the Town Council wants to hear from you soon. Residents are encouraged to email their questions, concerns, and suggestions to townoffice@townofchevychase.org

 

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