In an historic meeting last week members of the Prince George's and Montgomery county councils sat down together to hear Takoma Park residents comment on a wide-ranging blueprint for the city's future growth.
Although Takoma Park spans both counties, Prince George's and Montgomery leaders had never before met in the city. What brought them together was the City of Takoma Park Master Plan, which for the first time would make the city a separate entity in zoning and planning matters. In the past, the city has been linked with Langley Park as part of the Master Plan for Takoma Park-Langley Park and Vicinity, approved in 1963 by both counties.
"The city itself is one community and we have our own objectives," said City Administrator Alvin Nichols. "We would like to see ourselves evolve as a separate community."
The new master plan sets guidelines and recommendations for the city's future development, including zoning. It was prepared by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission using information from several Takoma Park task forces, which made recommendations for future land use, preservation of environmental quality, design possibilities and development of parks. The task forces had been working on the master plan since 1975.
Some of the suggestions in the lengthy document are:
Revamping commercial areas through landscaping, buffering and exterior renovations, and improving parking.
Using existing transportation facilities and traffic patterns when planning changes to accommodate future growth.
Preserving open space for parks.
Implementing guidelines for preserving historic areas.
Providing student housing. (Montgomery College has a Takoma Park campus and the University of Maryland is nearby.)
Creating biking and jogging paths.
Some of these recommendations are related to the city's planned renovation of Takoma Old Town, a four-square-block commercial and residential section.
At last week's bicounty meeting, chaired by Prince George's Council Chairman Gerard T. McDonough and Montgomery Council President Neal Potter, several residents requested zoning changes related to their own property, but none of the requests would involve a major change in the plan.
Mayor Sam A. Abbott said the master plan process has involved a lot of citizen participation. "I think that residents have had ample opportunity to comment on the plan over the years and what we have now represents the wishes of the people of Takoma Park."
The plan now must be approved by the park and planning commission and the Prince George's and Montgomery councils. Action is expected in late March or early April.
The city hopes to get money from the federal Community Development Block Grant Program to finance some of the improvements recommended in the plan.