Thrive Montgomery 2050 Wins Sustainable Growth Award

The county’s Planning Department has been awarded the Sustainable Growth Award for Thrive Montgomery 2050 from the Maryland Department of Planning.

The Thrive Montgomery 2050 update to the county’s General Plan, which was approved and adopted last year, uses data and community input to plan for the county’s growth over the next 30 years. The recommendations aim to make the county more fair, economically strong, and environmentally resistant to changes in population and technology, according to Montgomery Planning.

The plan, which had been in progress for three years before its passage and adoption, would allow denser development under certain conditions, among other things.

“The Maryland Department of Planning is so pleased to celebrate Thrive Montgomery 2050 for its outstanding realization of our ‘12 Planning Visions,’” said Rebecca Flora, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning. “Plans like this ensure a bright, inclusive future for this state, and we look forward to following Montgomery County’s journey toward equity, sustainability, and economic health in the coming decades.”

There was controversy surrounding Thrive Montgomery 2050 from its drafting, through the public vetting, and up to the vote.

County Executive Marc Elrich sent a letter to the County Council last year, explaining why the council should not vote on the plan. He mentioned “significant errors,” such as insufficient time to review three new chapters on economic development, environmental resilience, and racial equity.

He urged the council to send the plan back to the Planning Board for more review and recommendations.

Former Council President Gabe Albornoz responded by accusing the executive of engaging in pure political posturing with the plan.

Albornoz also took issue with Elrich’s contention that the plan should be sent back in light of turmoil on the Planning Board at the time, 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.”

A separate inquiry into claims against former Planning Board head Casey Anderson concluded that he did not create a hostile work atmosphere at the county’s Planning Department.

“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 a press release last year. “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.”

“For the county to grow and evolve, we must create places where housing that residents can afford, transit, and businesses can successfully coexist and where we can meet our spatial, environmental, and development goals in an equitable way, and that’s what Thrive Montgomery 2050 aims to do,” said Planning Director Jason Sartori. “Its three main outcomes—environmental resilience, economic health and community equity—are rooted in the Maryland General Assembly’s ‘12 Planning Visions,’ we’re thus thrilled to receive this Sustainable Growth award and to celebrate these shared achievements.”

Planning Department graphic

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