Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rockville Planning Commission discusses community facility trends report

Red marks Rockville homes not currently
within 1/4-mile walking distance of a park
A new study of current community facility trends in Rockville was presented to the Planning Commission last night. Community facilities include everything from parks to hospitals to educational institutions. The report forecasts a need to hire 166 new City employees by 2040, notes there is little if any land left for new parks, and warns of shortcomings in the water and sewer system.

Issues such as the latter concerned some commissioners, as they consider public facilities in the context of a citywide Master Plan rewrite currently underway. The Executive Summary of the report cites the Martin O'Malley administration's controversial "12 Visions" for planning statewide. In regards to infrastructure, Vision 5 states, "Growth areas have the water resources and infrastructure to accommodate population and business expansion in an orderly, efficient, and environmentally sustainable manner."

Citing sewer and water deficiencies, school overcrowding and road capacity, Commissioner Don Hadley suggested the City may need to temper growth expectations unless those deficiencies are addressed. "There's a lot of stuff that doesn't add up here," he said. Hadley advised that those who are tasked with making these decisions need to "get out of our dream machines and into reality," before planning any significant expansion.

Commission chair Charles Littlefield noted that "there is a difference between sustainability, and sustainable growth."

The report refers to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' prediction that Rockville's population will increase from its current 65,937 people to 87,000 by 2040. Such growth, however, requires that the City allow construction of however many new housing units would be required to house those 22,937 people. Controversial local figures like former Montgomery County Planning Director Rollin Stanley have told us, "They're coming," and there isn't anything we can do about it. Not true.

In fact, they'll only come if the housing is built. That is where the decisions need to be made, in the context of infrastructure such as the commissioners referred to last night.

The report should be useful tool in that regard. It provides a good overview of City, Montgomery County, and private facilities, and discusses whether they are adequate today - and if they will be so by 2040.

Map courtesy City of Rockville

1 comment:

  1. Unlike the desperate need for new school capacity, before pipes spew raw sewage into the streets, new sewer infrastructure will be built. I guess the County and State care more about $h!t than children.