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Gaithersburg receives survey results

Gaithersburg SealGAITHERSBURG — The Gaithersburg Planning Commission joined Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council at Monday night’s City Hall meeting to hear the results of a public survey on how to best utilize a stretch of land along Route 355.

The Corridor Development (CD) Zone was originally created to implement the 2001 Frederick Avenue Corridor Land Use Plan. A 2013 study by the city determined that the 355 Corridor did not need a new zone to foster development; instead, the study found that the CD Zone should to be refined and made the primary zone in the Corridor.

The city sought public input through an online survey as to how to improve business opportunities in the CD Zone. Rob Robinson and Laura Howell of the city’s Planning and Code Administration presented the results of the survey and staff recommendations to improve the CD Zone.

“For outreach, we wanted to take a different tack than the classic meeting in a school gym or cafeteria – where there’s some stale cookies and a bunch of bores,” Robinson said.  “We wanted to design a unique webpage for the project.”

The city publicized the survey by mailing over 2900 postcards to all property owners and residents along or within 200 feet of the Corridor and emailing developers, members of the faith community, attorneys and other stakeholders in the Corridor. Ultimately, 317 people responded to the 12-question survey, which polled area residents on which policies they felt were most conducive to growth in the Corridor.

“Staff is pleased that roughly a third of the respondents identified as Gen X or Gen Y,” Howell said. “These younger Corridor tenants are less inclined to engage through traditional methods, but they are the ones who are going to experience any long-term changes to the Corridor.”

The first question on the survey listed goals of land use and zoning regulations and asked respondents to rate them as “Somewhat important” or “Very important.”

“Respondents tended to favor protecting the quality of the environment and protecting open space and recreational areas as zoning goals,” Howell said. “But for each of the goals, save the last one – ‘Enhance tax base of the city’ – at least 90 percent of respondents listed each as at least ‘Somewhat important,’ so it’s fair to say that the respondents do understand the role zoning plays in creating opportunities for the city.”

Another question pertained to the list of allowable uses for the CD Zone. Instead of listing all allowable uses, the city currently cross-references other zones, so that any use that is a by-right use in any other zone is also permitted in the CD Zone. Staff found that this could be confusing, since certain uses, such as farming, while not explicitly prohibited, would not be appropriate for the Zone.

“Because of this, staff recommends that the allowable uses for the Zone be clearly listed,” Howell said.

The results of the survey and staff recommendations are available online at https://publicinput.com/cdzone.

@petersrouleau 

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