Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"back to the future" with Royce Hanson

Update: According to Marilyn Praisner, her suggestion that Hanson "look back to the future" was a complete mis-quote. Praisner seems to like to eat her words, so I will have to leave this non sequitur up.

The Planning Board has a new - er, old chairman: Royce Hanson, who also served as chairman during the 1970's. He is called the "architect of the Ag Reserve," protecting a third of Montgomery County's land from those storybook-wilderness-destroying developers and probably has a lot to do with our County's distinction as "America's Most Progressive Municipality."

And, though I don't like her very much, I applaud Councilwoman (and Calverton resident) Marilyn Praisner for asking Hanson to consider how the 1981 Eastern County master plan "overlooked the needs of older neighborhoods" such as Calverton.

The current shape of East County owes a lot to this plan written up twenty-five years ago. It saw the area as the fringe of a future "edge city" straddling I-95 known as Konterra, which only now is starting to develop. The conglomerations of apartments in Briggs Chaney and White Oak were built in anticipation of Konterra, as was the office park on Cherry Hill Road. The '81 plan even proposed a light-rail line be built from Silver Spring to Burtonsville (via Wheaton) to serve these new, dense communities.

Does that mean older neighborhoods such as Calverton have been ignored? No. Does this mean planners should pay more attention to how old and new neighborhoods interact with each other? Yes.

The future of East County is density. Hopefully, Royce Hanson's experience will enable him to seek the kind of development that respects what is already here. And, if we're lucky, we might even get that light-rail line.

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