Montgomery planning board lifts Bethesda, Germantown building ban

By Miranda S. Spivack
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 14, 2010; 5:40 PM

The Montgomery County Planning Board unanimously agreed Thursday to lift a six-month building ban in Bethesda and Germantown, after a decision by the County Council to tentatively approve $27.5 million for more classrooms in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster of schools and those served by Northwest and Seneca Valley high schools.

The moratorium, required by county law when school crowding reaches a tipping point, had sparked complaints that it harmed the county's image, impeded efforts to attract businesses and jobs and was illogical because the county is promoting smart growth near public transit in Bethesda but then preventing growth there.

School officials cautioned that money for more classrooms will not be ensured until the council votes on its budget this spring, but the allocation of the money means that the moratorium could be lifted and new developments can be approved.

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