The plan, three years in the works, is an update to the county’s general master plan (commonly known as Wedges and Corridors) and would allow, among other things, denser development under certain conditions.
“The document provides a framework for Montgomery County’s future growth and encompasses broad, countywide policy recommendations for land use, zoning, housing, the economy, equity, transportation, parks and open space, the environment and historic resources,” according to a press release. “The plan defines the basic land use policies for all public and private development in Montgomery County.”
The plan was not without controversy during drafting, vetting with the public and right up to the vote.
For example, County Executive Marc Elrich sent a letter to council on Oct. 20 outlining reason why the council should not vote on the plan, citing what he called “significant errors,” including insufficient time to review three new chapters on economic development, environmental resilience and racial equity.
He also urged the council to send the plan back to the next Planning Board for additional review and recommendations.
In response, Council President Gabe Albornoz (D-At Large) accused the executive of “pure political posturing” with the plan.
He also took issue with Elrich’s contention the plan should be sent back in light of the recent turmoil on the Planning Board, writing Elrich “mistakenly suggests that because the Council lost confidence in the Montgomery County Planning Board members and swiftly took action to address the issue, that all the work of the planning staff, Council staff, the Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee and the Council is meaningless.”
“Thrive is a compelling vision for Montgomery County’s future and lays a framework to preserve things that make our community great, while meeting the unique needs of our growing County,” Albornoz said in the release. “We’re grateful to everyone who engaged with us and shared valuable insights that helped inform our decision-making. Throughout this process, the Council has made time to incorporate voices from communities across the County and gather diverse perspectives and input.”
In a statement after the plan’s approval, Elrich wrote, “I am disappointed in the Council’s vote to approve the Thrive 2050 General Plan. This document will guide commercial and residential development in Montgomery County for the next 30 years. There were many important questions that were never answered and reasons to postpone this vote.”
“The previous General Plan has served us well, but it’s time for a new vision that can better meet the evolving needs of our current and future county residents,” Acting Planning Director Tanya Stern said in a release. “The new plan, which reflects three years’ worth of community engagement with thousands of residents, gives us a clear path forward: to focus future growth around corridors and centers and reduce sprawl, increase housing that residents can afford, improve transit, and strengthen businesses, in equitable, sustainable ways.”
Planning Department graphic