White Flint Sector Plan awarded for its potential
Sector plan update noted for public participation, analysis
Rockville Pike is not yet a boulevard, White Flint is not yet walkable and the whole of North Bethesda is a long way from "vibrant," but the county sector plan that makes goals to achieve those things has already received recognition for its potential.
The White Flint Sector Plan was named "Outstanding Plan" of 2009 for the state for areas with more than 100,000 people by the Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association, which will present the award to planners Nov. 4 at a ceremony in Annapolis. The plan, which outlines how development should occur surrounding the White Flint Metro station over the next 30 years, beat out two Baltimore County entries: a historic property tax credit and a plan for rural road standards.
"The main thing was just the amount of analysis that was involved and the amount of public participation, those were the two main things," that set the plan apart, said Timothy Bourcier, one of the volunteer judges on the subcommittee that issued the award.
The White Flint Sector Plan is still wending its way through the county approval process, and is currently being considered by the County Council, having been approved by the Planning Board.
The plan suggests creating dense, mixed-use development around the White Flint Metro station that would allow people to live, work and shop close to home. The plan also lays out designs for making the area more walkable, by adding a new street grid, sidewalks, bike paths and converting Rockville Pike into a tree-line boulevard.
Nkosi Yearwood, one of the staff planners for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission who spent three years crafting the sector plan, said the award is nice recognition for everyone involved.
"I think it sort of recognizes the sort of long-range, you could say potential of the effort," Yearwood said. "I just think that it recognizes the work and effort from everyone, the members of the steering committee, the (Planning) Board, and everyone who contributed to make the draft a good document."
Bourcier said the award was based on the substance of the plan, but judges were also impressed with the aesthetic presentation of the document itself and the depth of the analysis that was done. He said in spite of the massive public input on the plan, he did not see evidence of "paralysis by analysis."
Bourcier said the judges liked the principles presented in the plan of building large developments near transit to encourage use of mass transportation.
"The reason we chose it, it was just really above and beyond I guess its competition and we just thought it was very well done."