The 23-person advisory board appointed to collaborate with county planners working on the East County Science Center Master Plan include a bevy of backgrounds and experiences, but hopes for the area are pretty similar: relieving traffic and bringing jobs.
The Master Plan’s Citizens Advisory Board met for the first time Tuesday night at Francis Scott Key Middle School in Hillandale, along with Montgomery County Planners Nancy Sturgeon, Khalid Afzal and representatives from Council President Valerie Ervin (D-Dist 5)’s office.
The Science Center Master Plan, the scope of which was approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board in February, is a two-year study of the Hillandale, White Oak and Calverton areas, to amend 1997 Master Plans for both White Oak and Fairland.
The Food and Drug Administration’s campus in White Oak, which is in the process of being consolidated into the agency’s main office, as well as the impending move of Washington Adventist Hospital from Takoma Park to White Oak, may be an opportunity for science synergies in the area.
The master plan will look at land use and transportation, among other quality of life issues, for East County.
Mark Doore, who lives within the study bounds in Calverton, is one of the individuals on the board. Working in an office park on Broadbirch Drive, he said he’d like to spread the joy of a 2-mile commute to others in the area.
Others on the board were interested in improving transit as well. Gerald Hines is working to consolidate FDA’s campus, and he noted the area’s lack of a Metro station. He said rapid transit options will be especially important for his agency.
Transportation is an issue for many in the study area. Sturgeon reported that among the 36,000 people who live within the study’s borders, it takes them about 33 minutes to get to work by car. For those that commute via mass transit, it takes close to an hour, on average.
Between the three communities, there’s nearly 2 million square feet of retail space, including large shopping centers in White Oak and on Cherry Hill Road.
Representatives from two of those centers are on the board, including Shane Pollin, director of development for Duffie Companies, which owns the Hillandale Shopping Center, as well as apartment buildings in the study area. Also, Brian Downie, vice-president of development for Saul Centers, which owns the White Oak Shopping Center and the Briggs Chaney Shopping Center (the latter of which is in East County, but not in the study area), will serve on the board.
The board also reached across the county line, for the first time that Adelphi resident Patricia Myers can remember. Myers’ neighborhood borders the study area on the Prince George’s County side, and she represents a hybrid neighborhood association that includes homes in Hillandale (the neighborhood sits on both sides of the county line).
“It’s the first time that Prince George’s has been invited [when a master plan borders the county],” she said at the meeting. “I really appreciate that.”
Dan Wilhelm, president of the Greater Colesville Citizens Association and Eileen Finnegan, chair of the Hillandale Citizens Association’s zoning and planning committee, were also chosen for the board.
Jere Stocks, senior vice president of Adventist Healthcare (former president of Washington Adventist Hospital), will also advise the plan.
“I think East County deserves to have a very high-quality master plan in this region,” he said. “I think it’s something that’s going to be impactful for the next several decades and I’m looking forward to being a part of this."
The Citizens Advisory Board will meet every month, except for June 28, when a community forum will be held at the Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center, and in August, when no meeting will be held.
The next meeting is May 24 at Key Middle.
(See the full list of Advisory Board members with this story.)