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Montgomery County Planners Say Good Riddance to Strip Malls

Born in the 1950s, it's about time the county's zoning got a facelift, planners say. What will 21st century Montgomery County look like?

It's been a long wait, but county planners are out with their first zoning revision in 35 years and it envisions a modern Montgomery County that leaves 1950s-era commercial strips and office parks behind.

The draft of the zoning rewrite project—almost two years in the making—is now available for public review, according to a statement Wednesday by the planning department.

"Since October 2010, planners have been revising sections of the Montgomery County Zoning Ordinance as drafts for consideration by county officials, residents and members of an advisory panel," according to the department.

"The revisions are part of an ambitious effort to rewrite the Zoning Code to modernize antiquated, redundant zoning regulations and create new tools to help achieve goals in community plans," the department added. The code has not been rewritten since 1977, and is currently about 1,200 pages long. 

The revised code "is expected to reduce the number of zones [from 123 to fewer than 40], clarify what uses are permitted in each zone, and rethink 1950s-era commercial strips and office parks." The "consolidated draft ... addresses many of the comments received so far," the department statement added.

By releasing a consolidation of the zoning rewrite project draft for public comment, planners hope to solicit more input before bringing the draft to the county planning board for consideration in September and throughout the fall.

The draft of the zoning rewrite project may be downloaded at www.zoningmontgomery.org.

Max Bronstein July 27, 2012 at 03:37 PM
When I read "goodbye to strip malls", I get the impression that the Council et al wants to have all the strip malls replaced with high rise mini-Manhattans. If you visualize your shopping places replaced with that type of development & add to the vision what your shopping experiences will be, you might say, "wait just a minute, I'm not in favor of that type of mess, as it's going to make my shopping experience a nightmare, not a pleasant or even a tolerable experience". These mini-Manhattans are not within walled moats. Their effect is like throwing a rock into a pond, the ripples spread to the edges of the pond. The pond is Montgomery County & the rocks are the mini-Manhattans. THINK before you let your public servants serve themselves instead of YOU. --- Max Bronstein
Avocado July 31, 2012 at 08:52 PM
I would greatly prefer mini-Manhattans to trying to walk around and do my shopping in strip malls. It is wonderful that they are moving away from car-focused "culture." Just because it was done in the past doesn't mean it is good to do it in the future. There are so many reasons people want to live in places like Manhattan, Dupont, Columbia Heights, Capital Hill, Adams Morgan, Cleveland Park, etc etc. The more places like Wheaton are like those places, the more people will move there and come there for fun, and the happier and healthier we'll all be.
Lee August 10, 2012 at 12:42 AM
The MCPC is likely following the lead of the DVRPC who is anti suburban sprawl and anti-car, even though they plan our roads and bridges. They're very into the environment, "smart growth" and social engineering, with our tax dollars. They are not elected officials, and I bet chock full of progressive urban planners and brilliant lawyers. Ok strip malls have a bad rap for sure, but they could be improved. I do not think any neighborhood wants dense stack and pack which we see going up all over the place, talk about eye sores. They say they're for seniors. Yeah right. Something is fishy.
Lee August 10, 2012 at 12:48 AM
High rise buildings in the burbs doesn't sound very pretty at all! The structures will be multi use dwelling with apartments, so every person will have a car(s). Can you imagine asking your average housewife in hilly rambling Montco to ride a bike to do her errands and drop of kids? Mahanattan is super, but so are cars. They'll only get better and more efficient. - democratsagainstunagenda21.com

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