Planners Identify Four Themes to Guide Silver Spring Planning Process

The county’s Planning Department staff identified four themes that will guide the next stage in the process of developing a new Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities sector plan.

The four themes—diversity, resiliency, connectivity and community health—grew out of a series of online meetings and other conversations during the “visioning” portion of the planning process, which took place in the spring.

Staff divided the planning area into five sections—South Silver Spring, Metro Center/Ripley District, Fenton Village, North Silver Spring and Adjacent Communities—and held online workshops for residents of each area, among other opportunities to talk with planners.

In addition, the staff made an effort to reach out to other groups and increase participation by speaking with local Ethiopian communities leaders, small business owners, the Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce, Office of Community Partnerships’ liaisons and others. The department also received more than 500 comments online.

The goals under the diversity theme include strengthening small independent businesses and increasing arts and entertainment “experiences,” preserving existing affordable housing and providing more diverse types of housing, and celebrating Silver Spring’s diverse cultures.

“Resiliency” would cover developing tools to help the downtown cope with climate-related challenges, and supporting businesses and public improvements to provide more resilient economic growth in the future.

Under connectivity, the staff included improving the network of open spaces, improve pedestrian and bike networks to encourage fewer cars on the road, and “safely cross the Metrorail to increase accessibility to all downtown neighborhoods.”

Finally, under “Community Health,” staff will address “safe access to a diversity of green spaces, active recreation opportunities, food sources and community amenities,” along with an improved pedestrian experience.

The review of the visioning process and the ensuing themes was presented to the Planning Board last week for the commissioners’ comments and reactions. The next step will be developing draft recommendations for the board, expected by October.

Planning Department graphic

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