VISIONS FOR THE OLNEY TOWN CENTER
The Montgomery County Department of General Services presented their Report on a Town Commons for Olney at OTCAC’s January, 2018 meeting. Click here to view the report.
The Concept Plan for a Civic Center and Town Commons was adopted in a unanimous vote by the committee at its November 30, 2016 meeting, and can be viewed here, along with letters of support from various groups in the community.
Jim Smith, Sub-committee Chair states: “This is a watershed moment for Olney. The plan clearly defines our needs and vision for a town commons that could be the characteristic feature of Olney for the generations to come. It would give us a central gathering place for our festivals, musical events, and other formal and informal activities. It would provide the focal point and identity for the community that is currently lacking. Adopting the Concept Plan shows the County that we’re ready to engage. The committee spent the past 2 years developing this document which is in accordance with the Olney Master Plan to identify the need for a major open public space that would serve as a town commons, and a civic center that houses various public services currently located in an around the town center.”
This concept plan is the second task that the Olney Town Center Advisory Committee was charged with as stated in the 2005 Master Plan. The September 21, 2016 edition of The Greater Olney News, reporting about the County Council Olney Town Hall, states: “When asked about supporting the proposed Olney Civic Center and Town Commons, [Council-member] Navarro said ‘the ball is rolling,’ and she and the other council members understand that it is an important amenity for Olney.”
Council-member Nancy Navarro further demonstrated her commitment to Olney. She sees that the community has put a lot of thought and effort into the Concept Plan and is making the wheels of County government turn for us. Starting the facility planning process this Winter catches us in stride now that we just completed the Concept Plan. The committee feared that it had much effort ahead just to get the County process started. Mr. Greg Ossont, from the General Services Office, was in attendance and explained that his team is already familiar with our Concept Plan and is lining up the staff and resources for the facility plan. The committee is very excited to begin work with the county’s consultant on a Community Charrette early next year.
Background for this document is as follows: In December 2008 the OTCAC presented the Preliminary Concept Paper for Civic Center/Town Commons to GOCA and it was endorsed by majority vote (carried 17 in favor, 1 opposed, 3 abstained). After a lengthy and detailed presentation on the creation of a concept plan, in December 2016 an additional GOCA resolution was adopted requesting that the “… County Executive include the 2017-2022 Capital improvement Program Plan a facility feasibility study to consider the location, scope, and cost for an Olney Civic Center and Town Commons.” (See GOCA Minutes_2015-12-08 ) At its meeting on May 5, 2016 GOCA sent this letter to councilwoman Nancy Floreen advocating for inclusion of the CC/TC Concept Plan in the county Capital Improvements Projects (CIP) list, and on June 14, 2016, GOCA passed another resolution in support of the Concept Plan for a Civic Center and Town Commons in Olney, Maryland (carried 17 in favor, 2 opposed, 3 abstained).
The OTCAC 2016-2018 Work Program emphasizes the finalization of the concept plan for a Civic Center/Town Commons. Here is a presentation that explains the formation of this goal: Creating a Concept Plan for the Civic Center
Click on the following link for a Questionnaire for Stakeholder Groups of the Proposed Civic Center and Town Commons: Questionnaire for Local Groups.
The Olney Town Center has long been more than just the intersection of two State highways. But, with the approval of the 2005 Olney Master Plan, the community and the County’s planners focused their attention on the future of our town center and how to further the goal of this and past master plans to make it a focal point for the greater Olney community. A zone was created to further that goal and a committee comprised of members from all facets of the community was created to help shape future town center development. The Olney Town Center Advisory Committee, also know as OTCAC, and defined in its Overview and Fact Sheet, is comprised of members affiliated with civic organizations, homeowners associations, County government or social service agencies or organizations, business groups and property owners in Olney, is chartered by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission to create a common community-based vision of what the future town center could look like and how it might function in relation to the surrounding neighborhoods. To do that the OTCAC is charged with:
- Creating an Illustrative Concept and Design Guidelines for developers
- Creating a Concept for a Civic Center/Town Commons, and
- Reviewing development proposals for parcels within the town center before they are presented to the Montgomery County Planning Board
- Facilitating communication among land owners within Olney town center
- Developing recommendations for Capital Improvement Projects
- Providing input to the redevelopment process in adjacent neighborhoods
The OTCAC wants to hear from you, so check this website often for information about our meetings; reaching the Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org; questioning and/or commenting on the fact sheets referenced above, or Concept Illustration and Design Guidelines referenced below about plans, design elements, proposals, that the Committee looks at, during future public meetings, is linked below.
In addition to the above advocacy of the plan for a Civic Center and Town Commons, the committee continues to publicize the Conceptual Illustrations and Design Guidelines. After vetting the documents with adjoining HOAs and Community Leaders, the committee voted to approve the documents.
- The documents are published in 1 booklet, combining the 2 originals. It was presented to, and accepted by, the Montgomery County Planning Board on April 17, 2014.
- The Design Guidelines document focus on proposed, future development in the Olney Town Center. The Guidelines emphasize mixed-use development according to zoning changes outlined in the 2005 Olney Master Plan and revised in 2013.
- The committee continues to share this publication with neighboring communities, at public meetings, and exhibiting at National Night Out each August and at Community Night each fall.
- To view the document, follow this link: Olney Illustrative Concept and Design Guidelines
- Important documents that inform our recommendations on redevelopment include: Local Building Traditions: History and Analysis (Booz, 2006) and Local Villages, Towns & Mixed-Use Centers: Catalog, Analysis & Critique (Booz, 2007).
- The OTCAC continues to meet at 7:30 PM, in the Olney Community Room of the Buffington RE/MAX Realty Center. Everyone is encouraged to attend – residents, business owners and operators, developers, non-profit and residential organizations: anyone interested in how the Town Center grows.