Rockville’s Draft Long-Range Plan Includes More Housing Options

Rockville’s Draft Long-Range Plan Includes More Housing Options

City putting finishing touches on vision for growth for next 20 years

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An updated master plan working its way through the public review and comment process in Rockville includes a number of concepts or visions for redevelopment that highlight neighborhoods designed to encourage walking to shops, offices and restaurants and promoting the use of mass transit centers.

City of Rockville Rendering

After years of community input, Rockville City officials are weeks away from releasing the first portion of a 20-year master plan draft that includes calls for higher-density housing, diverse residential construction styles and more building near Metrorail and transit hubs.

“What we need to do in Rockville — based on the input the community has given us — is keep what is best about Rockville and promote vitality in the locations where folks want it,” said David Levy, the city’s long-range planning chief.

Several of the proposed projects are slated for the east side of Rockville Pike, Route 355. They include high-density residential and retail redevelopment projects near the Rockville and Twinbrook Metro stations and a Bus Rapid Transit lane in the Veirs Mill Road corridor.

“Twinbrook certainly needs economic opportunities, good paying jobs and affordable housing,” Twinbrook Community Association president Marissa Valeri said. “These are things we think smart, transit-oriented development around Metro will impact our community. We’re very happy that it’s a very community-centered process. We feel very connected with what the city is doing.”

For years, planning policies across the nation have encouraged development near mass transit centers and promoted walkable communities – with easy access to shops, restaurants and offices — with a range of housing options and mandates for affordable housing.

In select neighborhoods throughout Rockville, duplex, triplex and fourplex-styled homes are recommended. In other areas, easier access for accessory apartments or dwelling units on single-family lots is suggested.

“The policy itself includes specific locations in areas that we’ve identified” Levy said. “It’s not across the board. It’s in specific locations that we’ve worked out with the community.”

Levy said quality-of-life concerns, such as noise from neighbors, would be addressed through construction regulations.

Additional park land is also called for. One goal in the plan strives to have a public park or recreation facility within a 10-minute walk of every residence in the city, Maryland’s fourth largest and one of the fastest growing this decade.

The targeted approach would address both short-and-long-term visions for Rockville. City officials expect demographics and market trends to change over time.

Levy said the process has been collaborative. The city has held in 35 listening sessions, four citywide forums and three open houses since 2015.

The first part of the master plan draft is to be released in late February, which will kick off a 60-day public comment period.

Public hearings, set to start in late April or early May, will follow. Then, staff will consolidate oral and written comments and begin a new set of work sessions with members of the Planning Commission.

Part 1 also includes planning elements addressed on a citywide scale. The “elements” are broken down into 10 categories:  Land Use and Urban Design, Transportation, Recreation and Parks, Community Facilities, Environment, Water Resources, Economic Development, Housing, Historic Preservation and Municipal Growth.

The second part of the plan, not yet complete, will address Rockville’s planning areas. Currently there are 18, but Levy said with city support, that number will change to 17. This part of the master plan is expected to be submitted to the planning commissions for comments sometime in March.

A final product should be ready to present to the mayor and council early next year, Levy said.

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