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Planning Department Wants Input for Future Design of MARC Rail Station Communities

Earlier this week, the Montgomery County Planning Department conducted its first design workshop at the Upcounty Regional Services Center in Germantown to gather ideas and develop concepts for the MARC Rail Communities Plan.

The MARC Rail Communities Plan will focus on improving the transit station areas in Boyds and Germantown.

On Monday, March 7, members of the Planning Department staff met with members of the community during the design workshop at the Upcounty Center. Residents and stakeholders dropped in to meet with Planning Department staff and County and state officials, and learn about various aspects of the rail station areas in Boyds and Germantown.

The morning session included presentations about land use policy, historic preservation, parks, schools and environmental issues related to the two MARC station areas. The afternoon meeting focused on walking, biking, driving and transit connections in and around the station areas. Both events included question and answer sessions so planners could gain feedback from the community about their priorities.

An open house and community visioning exercise followed in the evening, when the public brainstormed ideas and asked questions. The purpose of this interactive community planning process is to enable all stakeholders to participate and become vested in the ultimate vision.

During the second phase of the MARC Rail Communities Plan Design Workshops, scheduled for Monday, March 14 to Wednesday, March 16, planners will consult with community stakeholders to synthesize ideas from the March 7 event and explore additional ideas in order to determine the priorities for Boyds and Germantown station areas. Discussions will center on road access, parking, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, historic preservation, environmental issues and other topics.

On Monday, March 14, the planners will focus on Boyds, and on Tuesday, March 15, they will focus on Germantown. The public can discuss some of the ideas gathered over these days on Wednesday, March 16; the evening session will culminate with a recap of the workshops and presentation of alternative ideas and recommendations for station areas.

The meetings will take place at the UpCounty Regional Service Center on Middlebrook Road from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm on Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 16, will be the final day of the Design Workshops and will provide the opportunity to give feedback to planners and learn about the proposed alternatives from the past two days. The Wednesday workshops will take place from 10:00 am to 12 noon, with an open house from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Planners will summarize the results of the Design Workshops and present proposed planning and design alternatives for comment from 7:00 pm from 9:30 pm on Wednesday.

The Planning Department has launched an online feedback map has been launched so stakeholders can weigh in on recommendations for the Boyds and Germantown areas from the convenience of their phones or computers. View the feedback map to record your online comments about the future of MARC stations in Boyds and Germantown.

Participants are asked to comment on connections, placemaking and other topics relevant to the Boyds and Germantown MARC stations. The comments will be posted in real time on the map for the public to view and will be considered by planners as work continues on the MARC Rail Communities plan.

The MARC Rail Communities Plan hopes to improve the transit station areas in Boyds and Germantown in ways that are sensitive to the character and scale of these historic communities, according the Planning Department. Planners will consider opportunities for physical and operational improvements that could enhance commuter rail stations in this area of Montgomery County.

Recommended land uses and existing zoning will be evaluated for consistency with the desired scale and character for the area. Access and connections in the vicinity of the stations will be evaluated and enhancements recommended where needed. In coordination with MARC Rail and County and state agencies, the Plan will consider land uses and alternative arrangements for existing surface parking and access.

Master Plan recommendations will be presented to the Planning Board in summer 2016 and a public hearing about the Plan will be held in fall 2016. Check out the Planning Department’s MARC Rail Plan website.

Photos by Germantown Pulse

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