This article highlights a handful of the major planning recommendations included in the Fairland and Briggs Chaney (FBC) Master Plan (the Plan), which focuses on development over the next two decades for a narrow band that runs north along Columbia Pike/U.S. Route 29 from Industrial Parkway to Greencastle Road (see map online). The Plan envisions the development of “Community Gateways and Activity Centers” that have a more compact building footprint, with mixed-use centers as well as adequate transit service and safe pedestrian and bicycle routes. The plan emphasizes expanded housing and shopping choices, community gathering spaces, as well as a healthy community food system with grocery and dining destinations, farmers’ markets and community gardens, and efforts to highlight cultural and historic landmarks.
The Plan encourages more new housing units to help meet the County’s overall housing goal of an additional 41,000 housing units by 2030. Although the Plan notes that housing in this area is relatively affordable when compared to the county overall, it observes that many households in the plan area are cost-burdened (spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing) and recommends that, “As properties redevelop, Montgomery Planning and Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs would work with the applicants through the development review process to replace the naturally occurring affordable housing units with income-restricted housing at a mix of incomes attainable to a range of households.”
The Plan recommends a number of zoning changes through a Sectional Map Amendment, which ultimately would need to be approved by the County Council. This Plan represents one of the first opportunities the Planning Department has to implement its “Thrive Montgomery 2050” vision; that is, encouraging increased housing density by allowing “creative housing options including personal living quarters and/or micro units; ‘missing middle’ housing types such as tiny houses, cottages, duplexes, multiplexes, and small apartment buildings; shared housing, cooperative housing, co-housing, live-work units, and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to help meet housing needs and diversify housing options.”
On the transportation front, the Plan observes that U.S. Route 29 is the third busiest road in Montgomery County (after I-270 and I-495), which serves as a main north-south link. Intersecting MD 200 (the Intercounty Connector) and Briggs Chaney Road offers east/west connectivity. The plan recommends further enhancement of Flash Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service between Burtonsville and Silver Spring with dedicated median bus lanes. The Plan also calls for studying the feasibility of “road diets” to reduce the number of lanes on arterial roads, including Briggs Chaney Road, Fairland Road, East Randolph Road, and Old Columbia Pike. Another idea for study is installation of roundabouts at signalized intersections along Briggs Chaney Road.
The Plan encourages more compact, walkable new development by emphasizing living, shopping, employment, and gathering opportunities at key Community Gateways and Activity Centers, designed to be served by high-frequency, rapid bus service.
The Plan identifies the following districts: Columbia Pike Corridor, Main Street Corridor, and Residential Neighborhoods.
In the Columbia Pike District, the Plan envisions redevelopment of the campuses currently occupied by Verizon and the General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists “for potential commercial and/or residential infill development, or as a major mixed-use, neighborhood-serving Activity Center with a significant housing component, to be retrofitted with or to replace the existing buildings on the properties.”
In the Old Columbia Pike/East Randolph area, the Plan sets out the possibility for infill development or redevelopment to create one or two new Activity Centers that could bring new shopping, services, housing, and other amenities to this section. The Plan envisions a higher-density, mixed-use development of the corridor along Briggs Chaney Road between Old Columbia Pike and MD 200, featuring new urban-style development on both sides of Briggs Chaney Road with building frontages that will face the street and include pedestrian amenity areas. A good example of urban-style development is Pike and Rose, where housing, office, and retail uses are mixed together in a relatively tight Activity Center.
Further north, the Main Street District foresees “an enhanced ‘main street’ corridor on Briggs Chaney Road as a Primary Focus Area for future urban-style development.” The Main Street District will include properties located along Briggs Chaney Road between Old Columbia Pike and the Intercounty Connector (MD 200), as well as properties along some roads leading to Briggs Chaney Road, such as Automobile Boulevard, Castle Boulevard, and Robey Road. If Montgomery College decides to build an East county campus, the Plan suggests that the Briggs Chaney Auto Sales Park or the Verizon properties, if available, could be suitable. ■FULL PLAN DETAILS
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