A letter this week came from County Executive Elrich to the County Council outlining how some sweeping rezoning proposals to radically alter neighborhoods that are part of the plan are going forward despite the fact that the full plan has not yet been approved by the Council (the draft of the plan went to the Council in May 2021) Elrich also points out that there are still equity and climate considerations that are not being taken into account in the plan. The full letter is here.
At MCA we similarly want to see this process undertaken with more care and input from residents, particularly vulnerable residents - input that will be far easier to gather once the pandemic recedes. As the nation and world think of ways to build back better, Thrive 2050 is a way to carefully take stock and ensure that our goals are aligned with climate resilience, self sufficiency and equity.
Among the highlights of the letter:
"I. INTRODUCTION— Montgomery County residents are confused and inadequately informed about Thrive Montgomery 2050 and know little, if anything, about the Attainable Housing Strategies Initiative’s complicated rezoning proposals that will make sweeping changes to their neighborhoods. I request that the Council separate the two projects and ask the Planning Board to stop work on elaborate rezoning proposals that would implement Thrive Montgomery before the plan has even been approved."
"The Executive objected to the county’s moving forward with Thrive Montgomery 2050 during an historic pandemic that overwhelmed government and residents with unceasing concerns about working and schooling while confined to home and experiencing economic hardship, business dislocations, and potential illness, and even death. These have not been circumstances in which our residents have had time to consider the first revision of the General Plan in 28 years, one that will shape the county’s future development over the next 30 years. "
"Montgomery County is already experiencing the impacts from climate change. These will only get worse. The General Plan should include specific recommendations related to enhancing resilience. "
"The county must reaffirm its unconditional support for the Agricultural Reserve and reject the Planning Board’s attempts to weaken the Reserve by no longer supporting farming as the preferred use in the Reserve. The Planning Board draft recommends that the county “...manage the areas designated within the footprint [of the Reserve] for a rural pattern of development for the benefit of the entire county.” The draft retreats from the support of farming as the preferred use in the Reserve, instead supporting the economic viability of farming and policies to “facilitate a broad range of outdoor recreation and tourism...” p. 20 15 Planning Board draft, p. 132. The General Plan must reaffirm the county’s commitment to the Agricultural Reserve, and to the 1980 Preservation of Agriculture and to the 1980 Preservation of Agriculture and Rural Open Space, Functional Master Plan as it did in the 1993 General Plan Refinement."