Traffic, poor conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists, an aging and unattractive area with little green space — this is how Rockville Pike is today. But with a unanimous vote Monday night to adopt the Rockville Pike Neighborhood Plan, the city’s Mayor and Council set a vision for redevelopment that will create a more attractive environment to live, work in and visit, with parks and better options for transportation.
“It is a great compromise and we are moving forward with something that will transform the pike … We’ve come a long way and it is a wonderful day,” Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said.
The plan, which has taken about a decade to craft and has involved significant public input, will replace the 1989 Rockville Pike Corridor Neighborhood Plan and will also amend the city’s 2002 Comprehensive Master Plan.
The mayor and councilmembers thanked community members and Rockville staff who have dedicated so much time to the plan. Councilmember Beryl L. Feinberg credited staff for “all the years of blood, sweat and tears that have gone into this. … You have done a yeoman’s job.”
Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr lauded the Mayor and Council’s handling of the discussion. “I just wanted to say I’m proud of the process that this body has taken less than 150 days since we got this document and plan from the Planning Commission,” she said. “It’s taken 8 ½ years for the city to get to this point.”
Regional projections indicate that the 328 acres and 2 miles of road covered by the plan will have 11,800 residents and 13,900 jobs by 2040, and will account for about 40 percent of the city’s population growth and a third of its employment growth over that time period. In 2015, the area had 3,530 residents and 9,050 jobs.
The pike plan establishes policies for land use, transportation, parks, open space and other infrastructure over the next two decades and encourages a mix of commercial and residential uses. It ensures that existing residential neighborhoods are protected, that the emerging new neighborhood within the corridor is attractive, and that Rockville Pike continues to retain and attract local and national retail that enhance the corridor’s long-standing economic viability.
More details on the pike plan can be found on the city’s website: www.rockvillemd.gov/rockvillespike.
The Rockville Pike Neighborhood Plan’s transportation and land-use policies will:
- Redesign and reconstruct Rockville Pike as a multi-way boulevard with much improved pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and new transit.
- Expand the street network — all with safe and appealing places to walk and bike.
- Optimize access to and use of public transit — Metro, local buses, future bus rapid transit.
- Improve the built environment — regulate building height based on location within the plan area (with taller heights near the Twinbrook Metro station); bring buildings closer to the streets and adjacent to wide sidewalks; encourage interesting architecture; provide parks, more open space and more recreational spaces; create smaller block sizes; and make the area an attractive and appealing place to live, work, shop and spend time.
- Encourage a mix of residential and commercial uses and provide new housing options for people of all incomes.
- Ensure that adequate facilities exist to serve new development.