Rock Spring Sports Complex?

There is a significant demand for playing fields in lower Montgomery County. The draft Rock Spring Plan hints at a possible solution that could also ease overcrowding at Walter Johnson High School.

The 20 year window for the multi-phased development project, Rock Spring Centre (Davis-Camalier property) approved in 1999 expires in the Fall of 2019. The property has been dormant for 13 years, but is ideally situated across the street from Walter Johnson. By acquiring the land originally slated for the Rock Spring Centre, the County could build schools facilities and playing fields that are easily accessible be car.  The demand for retail (uncertain at best) could be met by increasing density on the Georgetown Square property.

Development for community education and recreation could be a win-win for the Walter Johnson students and those involved in weekend sporting events. Such development would also be consistent with the healthy living theme.

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Draft Rock Spring Master Plan

The Montgomery County Planning Board has finalized its Draft Rock Spring Master Plan for  consideration by the County Council. The current draft is here:

http://www.montgomeryplanningboard.org/agenda/2017/documents/Item5_StaffMemo3-30-17FINAL_000.pdf

The 20-year growth document was approved unanimously by the Montgomery County Planning Board after a series of working sessions:

December 15, 2016 Planning Board Worksession #1: Conceptual framework, overview

January 19, 2017 Planning Board Worksession #2: Zoning for specific properties

February 2, 2017 Planning Board Worksession #3: Zoning for specific properties

February 16, 2017 Planning Board Worksession #4: Schools, with White Flint 2 & MCPS

March 2, 2017 Planning Board Worksession #5: Final Zoning and outstanding issues

March 16, 2017 Planning Board Worksession #6: Plan text changes, RSC Overlay Zone ZTA

March 30, 2017 Planning Board Worksession #7: Review and approve Planning Board Draft for transmittal to County Council and County Executive

Future Steps:

May 2017 County Council Public Hearing (tentative)

Summer 2017 County Council Worksessions

Fall 2017 Commission adoption, Sectional Map Amendment

Draft Master Plan Presentation

On July 18, 2016 Montgomery County Planners presented preliminary (draft) recommendations for the Master Plan, focusing on Land Use and Zoning, Design Guidance, Mobility, Sustainability, Community Facilities, and Parks and Open Spaces.

RockSpring_Mtg8_18-July-2016_v2

As shown in the attached presentation, the planners envision the Rock Spring area developing between Old Georgetown Rd. and Westlake Dr. along a “spine” defined by Rock Spring Dr., part of Fernwood Rd. and Westlake Terrace. Consistent with the 1992 North Bethesda/Garret Park Plan, the county sees Rock Spring as one node in the a series of transit connected pedestrian/bicycle friendly nodes. BRT will provide the transit connection along the “spine.”

The county envisions Rock Spring evolving into three distinct portions – a Village Center (encompassing Wildwood, Georgetown Square and the planned Rock Spring Centre), a mixed-use business campus and a Regional Marketplace.

The planned zoning changes are relatively minor and designed to allow in-fill residential and retail development. Wildwood and Georgetown Square will be rezoned from General Retail to Commercial Residential Town.

With the window for development of the long delayed Rock Spring Centre closing in 2019, the county has identified the Davis Tract as a site for possible community park and/or school facilities (page 24)

Rock Spring Planning Continues

On December 14, 2015 the 4th community meeting was held at Walter Johnson High School to provide updates based on an Urban Land Institute Presentation.  Planners recognize that infrastructure changes are needed to revitalize Rock Spring. The key is creating a “spine,” following Rockledge Drive from Old Georgetown Rd past Montgomery Row and to Montgomery Mall via Westlake Terrace. The focus now is on Streetscape and Transportation Improvements.

December 14, 2015 Presentation

On February 25, 2016, the 5th community meeting was held at Walter Johnson High School. The topics were Parks and Open Spaces and Transportation Analysis and Planning. Again, the need for a revised streetscape along the Rockledge Drive spine was described.

February 25, 2016 Presentation

As described in the presentation materials, the streetscape changes planned will create a pedestrian buffer from the street and improved bicycle paths. A overpass connecting the Marriott property to Westfield Montgomery Mall has also been floated.

  • Transportation improvements proposed include:
  • Direct shuttle to the Metro (short term until the North Bethesda Transitway is in operation)
  • Improved use of technology to enhance rider knowledge

September 17 Meeting To Address Issues Raised About Schools

Concerned Citizens Urged To Attend September 17 Meeting To Address Issues Raised About Schools
The Montgomery County Planning Department (M-NCPPC) is urging concerned citizens to attend a meeting tomorrow (September 17)from 7 to 9 p.m. at Walter Johnson High School for the Rock Spring Master Plan and White Flint 2 Sector Plan.

Staff from the Planning Department and Montgomery County Public Schools will spend the first part of the meeting describing how their agencies address schools in the planning process.  They will then answer questions for 30 minutes before participants are invited to join smaller table discussions. Here is the meeting agenda:

I.            Welcome and introductions: 10 minutes

II.           Meeting purpose: 5 minutes

III.          Master planning overview: 10 minutes

IV.          County public school facility planning: 20 minutes

V.           Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO): 15 minutes

VI.          Question and answer period: 30 minutes

VII.         Conversations with staff at tables: 30 minutes

·         Rock Spring Master Plan

·         White Flint 2 Sector Plan

·         Montgomery County Public Schools

·         APFO-regulatory environment

VIII.        Wrap-up and next steps: 5 minutes

For more information contact:

Lead Planner: Don Zeigler, tel. 301.495.4638, email Don.Zeigler@montgomeryplanning.org

Senior Urban Designer: Mike Bello, tel, 301.495.4597, email Michael.Bello@montgomeryplanning.org

Stay connected with the latest information about the Rock Spring Master Plan:

www.montgomeryplanning.org/rockspring

Connect on Twitter: #ReImagineRockSpring

Rock Spring Master Plan Open House

On September 1, 2015 the Montgomery County Planning Department held a “Rock Spring Master Plan Open House” at Walter Johnson High School to launch the Rock Spring Master Plan. Community residents and business owners gathered to discuss the goals of the Master Plan and learn about existing conditions and challenges for reimagining an older suburban office park as a vibrant, mixed-use community. Ideas for discussion include a new street network, public use spaces and amenities, residential and non-residential uses, sustainable environmental measures, and infrastructure needs within this area of North Bethesda.

The meeting began with a presentation by county planners to explain the planning process and opportunities for public participation. Following the presentation, broke into smaller “breakout” discussion groups to provide community feedback and initial ideas for the Plan.

The Rock Spring Challenge

  • Rock Spring is the nucleus of Montgomery Country.
  • Rock Spring is centrally located within the triangle formed by the junction of the I-270 spurs and the Beltway
  • Rock Spring is disproportionately important to rest of the county when it comes to high paying professional jobs, Class A office space and medical researchers and professionals.
  • Rock Spring is adjacent to the county’s leading retail mall (Westfield Montgomery) and highest performing strip center (Wildwood).
  • Rock Spring is near, but not easily walkable to Metro Rail (Grosvenor and White Flint).
  • Rock Spring is near, but not linked to, Cabin John Park and the Bethesda Trolly Trail

Challenges confronting the Rock Spring planners include:

  • Reinventing a suburban office park, with its auto-oriented street network and surface parking lots.
  • Identifying opportunities for a new street grid.
  • Examining places for public use spaces and amenities.
  • Introducing residential and retail uses into predominately non-residential development to create a mixed use environment.
  • Planning sustainable environmental measures.
  • Evaluating infrastructure needs for the area.

Community Feedback

The large audience included people with diverse interests. Residents of adjacent neighborhoods emphasized the need for improved transit, walkability and useful retail. Parents of public school children in the Walter Johnson cluster focused on the impact on class size. Others emphasized the needs of seniors, environmental protection, recreation and a desire to keep tax rates down. Naturally there were differing views, but there was a significant consensus around certain issues.

Schools

Predictably, the impact on schools was a concern of many. While most recognized the inevitability of infill development given the central location importance of Rock Spring, the need to address school crowding prompted several suggestions from attendees:

  • Assess development impact fees to cover the full cost of new schools
  • Reopen former schools in the immediate vicinity such as Woodward High School and Grosvenor Elementary to address the demographic bubble that the schools now face
  • Redraw outdated school district lines that have students located very near other schools (Einstein) located in the Walter Johnson Cluster

County officials acknowledged the frustration, but politely noted that current school crowding is distinct from the challenge of reinvigorating the Rock Spring area. Of course, preserving  Rock Spring as a locus of high paying professional jobs is critical to the school system. replacing high income professionals who send their children to private schools with parents of public school children could cripple the school system.

Transit, Traffic & Walkability

There was broad consensus favoring  improving transit to Metro and increasing walkability to “interconnect” Rock Spring, Montgomery Mall , and nearby parks and trail with adjacent neighborhoods. Some suggested that the planned BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) line (North Bethesda Transit way) would be a “game changer” and should be prioritized. Others suggested pedestrian walkway, overpasses and traffic calming infrastructure to reduce current barriers to walkability and improve access.

Green Space

While Rock Spring has abundant green space, some noted that the existing green space is not easily accessible to the public.  The green space should be preserved, but made more accessible. Attendees also spoke in support of public parts, community gathering places, public art, a recreation center, bike trails and connection to existing parks.

Learn More

For more information about the Rock Spring Master Plan, contact:

Don Zeigler, tel.301.495.4638, email Don.Zeigler@montgomeryplanning.org.

Stay connected with the latest information about the Rock Spring Master Plan:

http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/rockspring

Connect on Twitter: #ReImagineRockSpring

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/montgomeryplanning

Rock Spring Master Plan to Launch on September 1 at Open House Event

August 17, 2015
Rock Spring Master Plan to Launch on September 1 at Open House Event, Community invited to meet with planners, learn about the area and provide feedback about initial ideas for the Master Plan.
The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is launching the Rock Spring Master Plan on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 7 p.m. at an open house to be held at Walter Johnson High School (6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda, MD). Community residents and business owners are invited to discuss the goals of the Master Plan and learn about existing conditions and challenges. County planners will explain the planning process and opportunities for public participation. Community feedback on the initial ideas for the Plan will be recorded at the event. RSVPs are encouraged but not required.

Background on the Rock Spring Master Plan

The Rock Spring area of North Bethesda is included in the 1992 North Bethesda/Garrett Park Sector Plan and mostly comprises single-use office buildings. The headquarters for Lockheed Martin and Marriott International are located within Rock Spring and Montgomery Mall is located just to the west. The 1992 Sector Plan recommended the North Bethesda Transitway to link the White Flint area with Montgomery Mall via Old Georgetown Road and Rock Spring Drive. The Transitway was originally conceived as a link between the Grosvenor Metrorail Station to the east, through Rock Spring, to a planned transit center at Montgomery Mall. It is included in the approved 2013 Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan (CTCFMP) and would increase transit accessibility for this area, providing a framework for re-evaluating the redevelopment of the office park. Rock Spring is part of the North Bethesda/Potomac office submarket. It accounts for 48 percent of office inventory in North Bethesda and 7 percent of office space Countywide. The current office vacancy rate in Rock Spring is 21.6 percent, much higher than the overall County vacancy rate of 15 percent. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has vacated approximately 160,000 square feet of leased office space in Rock Spring for a new site in Twinbrook and it is known that Marriott is looking for a new location. Approximately 63 percent of North Bethesda’s vacant office space and 10 percent of all vacant space in the County are located in Rock Spring.

Issues confronting the Rock Spring planners include:
Reinventing a typical suburban office park, with its auto-oriented street network and surface parking spaces.
Identifying opportunities for a new street grid.
Examining places for public use spaces and amenities.
Introducing residential uses into predominately non-residential development.
Planning sustainable environmental measures.
Evaluating infrastructure needs for the area.
For more information about the Rock Spring Master Plan and September 1 open house, contact:
Don Zeigler, tel. 301.495.4638, email Don.Zeigler@montgomeryplanning.org.

Stay connected with the latest information about the Rock Spring Master Plan:
http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/rockspring
Connect on Twitter: #ReImagineRockSpring

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission | 8787 Georgia Ave | Silver Spring | MD | 20910