On April 6, 2021, the Montgomery County Council approved the Fall 2020 Shady Grove Minor Master Plan Amendment.  The Shady Grove Master Plan was originally approved in 2006 (the “2006 Master Plan”) and has not been updated since that time. Over the past 15 years, Montgomery County has undergone significant changes in their land use planning policies and practices, particularly with the approval of the comprehensive Zoning Ordinance re-write and County-wide re-zoning in 2014, the approval of the 2020-2024 Growth and Infrastructure Policy (formerly known as the Subdivision Staging Policy), and overall changes in the County’s approach to transportation planning.  The 2006 Master Plan included a staging policy that tied the approved density to certain transportation and public facility improvements. Given the changes to the County’s planning policies (e.g. prioritization of transit and Vision Zero) and implementation of some of the major public infrastructure projects tied to the 2006 Master Plan staging (e.g. funding of a new elementary school and redevelopment of the County Service Park), the Montgomery County Planning Department (“Planning Department”) undertook an update of the 2006 Master Plan. The Minor Master Plan Amendment re-emphasizes the goals and overall vision of the 2006 Master Plan and recommends a similar amount of development, but importantly finds that the previously approved staging capacity is no longer necessary.

The Minor Master Plan Amendment makes several important changes to the 2006 Master Plan. As previously mentioned, the Amendment eliminates the prior staging policy to allow for new development opportunities.  The Amendment includes a concerted focus on the WMATA properties and other properties in the Metro West and South neighborhoods of the Plan, and prioritizes redevelopment of the Metro surface parking lot and single-use commercial properties with a mix of uses. To this end, the Amendment increased the density for certain transit-oriented properties – For example, the Amendment rezoned the properties in the Metro South neighborhood, excluding the vacant Somerville Property, from an overall Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 1.5 to 2.0.  The Amendment also updated the zoning classifications for properties within the plan area to align with the current Zoning Ordinance (e.g. rezoned all planned development zones, which were eliminated with the 2014 Zoning Ordinance re-write, to Euclidean zones).  For residential development, the Amendment requires a minimum of 15 percent MPDUs (as the highest priority for public benefit) and encourages higher percentage of MPDUs for redevelopment of publicly owned properties.

The Minor Master Plan Amendment zoning recommendations, including the reclassification of approximately 498 acres per the Amendments’ recommendations and reconfirmation of approximately 1,502 acres of property within the Plan area, will be implemented through a Sectional Map Amendment (H-142).  The Montgomery County Planning Board voted to approve the filing of the Sectional Map Amendment on July 8, 2021 by unanimous vote.  The Montgomery County Council is expected to consider the Sectional Map Amendment this fall. Should you have any questions about the Minor Master Plan Amendment or the opportunities that it might present for your property, please do not hesitate to one of our Land Use attorneys.