Last night the nine member Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a new master plan for 430 acres in White Flint surrounding the Twinbrook Metrorail Station. According to this story by Miranda S. Spivak in The Washington Post today, the development “would be among the largest redevelopments of post-World War II suburbia in the Washington region. It is aimed at bringing smarter growth to a county with little undeveloped land seeking ways to accommodate a growing population already nearing 1 million, larger than the District of Columbia.”
The process that MoCo folks went through to get to their vote last night will sound very familiar to HoCo folks.
“The approval of the White Flint master plan caps more than three years of often contentious debate about many issues, including the number of cars that should be allowed to back up at a traffic light to where a new public school should be built, whether bus lanes should be at curbside or down the middle of the Pike, and how many parking spaces should be allowed. “
The opposition arguments were equally familiar.
“"The basic concern we have is traffic," said Natalie Goldberg, a resident of Garrett Park Estates, who has been intensely involved with the county's redevelopment efforts. "Particularly in the short term, the infrastructure does not balance out the development," she said.”
Natalie must be the MoCo counterpart to our Alan Klein.
On the pro master plan side a group developers and property owners joined forces and harnessed the power of social media to convey their vision to the public.
“The smooth approval of White Flint redevelopment Tuesday stemmed from an intense, grass-roots organizing effort by a consortium of developers, who turned to social networking on the Internet in addition to traditional face-to-face lobbying and community meetings.”
Back in November, Bring Back the Vision hosted a lecture in Columbia by Rollin Stanley, the Planning Director for Montgomery County. At that time he spoke about the growth challenges facing MoCo like the fact that there are 8,000 acres of surface parking in the county and that there are more cars than people. He made the case for walkable communities that have multimodal transit options and are less dependent on the car.
Last night MoCo, like HoCo last month, took a big step in that direction.