Planning Board Recommends Expanding Area Covered by Proposed “Missing Middle” Zoning Change

The county’s Planning Board is submitting comments to the County Council that includes a recommendation to expand the area covered by a proposed zoning text amendment to allow duplexes, townhouses, and small multi-family structures, also known as missing middle housing, to be built within a mile of a Metro station.

Councilmember Will Jawando (D-At Large) in December introduced Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 20-07, R-60 Zone – Uses and Standards that “would allow owners of R-60 zoned property located within 1 mile of a Metrorail station to build duplexes, townhouses, and multi-family structures within the current R-60 lot coverage, building height, setbacks, minimum lot size, and minimum parking requirements,” according to a council staff report.

The Planning Board recommends the covered area “should be expanded to include properties around Purple Line stations, current and planned BRT stations, and MARC stations,” according to a press release.

In addition, “the scope of the ZTA should be expanded to include the R-40 and R-90 zones.” The predominant use in the R-40 zone is single-family homes and duplexes, while in R-90 zones, it’s detached residences.

Among other comments, the board recommends eliminating parking requirements for new housing within one mile of the Metrorail stations.

“It is critical that we expand missing middle housing options in Montgomery County,” said Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson in the release. “Councilmember Jawando’s ZTA is a good first step, but we need to consider it as part of a more comprehensive look at how to introduce a wider range of options and calibrate our approach to this issue to make sure it is as effective as possible.”

The board also noted that planning staff is researching best practices for implementing missing middle housing in the single-family neighborhoods as part of the Silver Spring and Adjacent Communities Plan.

“Planning staff’s full analysis is not yet complete, however, they said the zoning changes currently proposed by this ZTA are not likely to be effective in producing more missing middle housing,” the release adds.

The County Council is planning to hold a public hearing on ZTA 20-07 on Feb. 11.

Graphic from Councilmember Will Jawando

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