The City of Takoma Park has a variety of tools at its disposal, when it comes to guiding development within city limits.
Montgomery County zoning code, enacted by the County Council, applies in Takoma Park. Zoning is administered by the county’s Planning Department and governed by the five-member Planning Board. Yet the city does have a say in zoning linked decision. I’ll attempt to explain how Takoma Park can shape local development, reposting a write-up I sent to constituents as part of a neighborhood discussion.
|The Takoma Park Historic District|
Beyond base zoning code, a number of artifacts carry weight. They include (area) master plans, sector plans, and design guidelines. We also have — and can seek modification of — overlay zones that refine the base zoning for a defined area. This is all in addition to the Historic District protections. Finally, prospective developers are often required to submit site plans for Planning Board approval, and the city can and does weigh in on these.
I’ll give examples and also explain a provision on state law that gives Takoma Park special say in zoning matters within the city. Residents with more expertise than I have (including Frances Phipps and Faroll Hamer) and others can add to, correct, or clarify all this.
It’s possible to seek a “minor master plan amendment” in order to make adjustments.
Other county master plans are functional, covering uses rather than specific geographic areas. Montgomery County’s recently-adopted Bikeways Master Plan is an example.
For New Hampshire Avenue, we’ve created a Corridor Concept Plan and Streetscape Standards.
I realize that these docs wouldn’t cover residential tear-down situations, if the county were to alter residential zoning. I don’t see much risk of that happening any time soon, but certainly we could discuss using the tools available to create new protections for Takoma Park residential neighborhoods outside the Historic District, within the county’s zoning framework.
A Special Supermajority Provision
Do these references help in your understanding of tools Takoma Park can use to shape local development? Please do post comments or send me corrections.
Do note that all I’ve described is tools. There is no substitute for forming relationships with the city’s property owners, regional developments, county planning and elected officials, and state and Prince George’s County officials. We need both tools and relationships if we are to successfully advance our own Takoma Park vision of locally appropriate, environmentally sound, transit friendly development that creates amenities and economic opportunity for all community stakeholders.