Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ February 2014

The White Oak Master Plan:  You Are Now Entering Fantasyland

By Jim Zepp

SCHEDULE:  Tuesday, 4 February 2014, 7:30 p.m., County Council Hearing, Rockville

On 2 October 2014, the County Council returned the proposed plan back to the Planning Board because the transportation capacity (existing and proposed) is not in balance with the large amount of density being proposed.  They requested a more complete analysis of how the level of density would work with the transportation infrastructure.

In December 2014, the Planning Board voted to keep its previous recommendation of an increase of over 25 million square feet of new residential and commercial development in the area north of the Northwest Branch, south of Cherry Hill Road, and east of Colesville Road.  The proposed level of development would make the area larger than Downtown Silver Spring and every other planning area along the eastern leg of the Metrorail Red Line.  Since the current surrounding infrastructure is insufficient to support this level of development, planners recommended transportation infrastructure changes, including the construction of six grade-separated interchanges along Route 29 north of New Hampshire Avenue as well as Bus Rapid Transit corridors.

So we may soon find ourselves living next to the equivalent of Tysons Corners, but without the transit capacity of the Metro’s Silver Line.  In the belief that developers will stand by their commitments for contributing to transportation improvements, the County will permit development to proceed and assume that infrastructure will somehow keep up.  However, in his latest proposed capital improvements budget, the County Executive has noted that the special taxing district set up for needed transportation improvements in the White Flint area has failed to raise sufficient funds, so $300 million will be needed from general revenue funds to close this shortfall and will somehow be made up by the special taxing district at some undetermined future date.

Planning staff recommended staging the development to ensure that the infrastructure kept pace with the development.  County Executive Leggett asked that the development be exempt from any staging requirements and the Planning Board voted 3-2 to support his request.  The Planning Board’s recommendations are available at   ■

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