Proposed plans in the Fairland and Briggs Chaney Master Plan envisions Columbia Pike that is "transit-first," more walkable and bikable for area residents. Credit: Google Maps

Updated June 12, 2023 at 9:55 a.m. to correct Dan Reed’s job title. They no longer work as an urban planner at Toole Design Group.

The first master plan for Fairland and Briggs Chaney since 1997 envisions a community less centered on cars and with more access to high-quality transit, parks, trails, thriving businesses, housing, attractive places for communities to gather, and a sustainable natural environment.

The plan covers a five-mile portion of U.S. Route 29 (Columbia Pike) that runs from near Paint Branch on the south to Greencastle Road on the north.

Historically, this area of the county has been underdeveloped due to development moratoriums at different points within the 1970s and 80s, according to Montgomery Planning. The Fairland and Briggs Chaney neighborhoods are also racially and ethnically diverse, with communities from Jamaica, Indian and Cameroon. Compared to other parts of the county, Fairland-Briggs Chaney also has lower socioeconomic status. Community engagement and surveying by Montgomery Planning found that residents wanted improvements to their neighborhood, from streetlights and wider sidewalks, to green space and more community activities.

The Montgomery County Planning Board approved the planning department’s draft of the master plan May 25. It will be submitted to the County Council this summer to begin its public review process.

“The Fairland and Briggs Chaney Master Plan will establish the vision for transformative activity-centered growth. It sets the stage for mixed-use housing and commercial developments in compact centers and for a more transit- and pedestrian-oriented U.S. 29 corridor that is less dependent on automobiles,” Planning Board Chair Jeff Zyontz said in a news release.


Typically, community master plans are intended to be used for 20 years and the current Fairland Master Plan was approved 25 years ago, according to Montgomery Planning.

The new master plan works on five key recommendations for the area:

  • Emphasis on creating community gateways and activity centers as compact, high-density mixed-use centers focused on frequent transit service; safe pedestrian movement; greater tree canopy and ‘cool’ surfaces at summer hot spots; and attractive community gathering spaces.
  • Prioritize U.S. Route 29 as a “transit-first” corridor that provides frequent, convenient regional connections from the plan area to Silver Spring, Washington D.C., and Howard County.
  • Complete a continuous network of trails and paths connecting activity centers, neighborhoods, parks, open spaces, community facilities, and bus stops, both within and beyond the master plan area.
  • Establish an East County Resilience Hub as a community center for daily community needs and a destination for reliable electricity, water, temporary shelter, food, indoor heating and cooling, social services, and fellowship during public emergencies.
  • Support a healthy community food system that includes healthy grocery and dining destinations, farmers’ markets, and community gardens.

One of the recommendations of the plan is the creation of a “main street corridor” on Briggs Chaney Road with an urban-style development that prioritizes business and pedestrian and bicyclist traffic, safety and comfort.


Also, there are a handful of environmental recommendations for the area, including the increase of tree canopy coverage, preservation of small forests and large trees, repair and enhance stormwater systems to modern standards, encourage on-site renewable energy generation, and reduction of urban heat island effect.

Read the current Public Hearing draft to learn more about the plan’s recommendations for the community.

During fall 2021 and spring 2022, planners utilized community outreach and engagement programs, such as canvassing door-to-door and virtual listening sessions, to better understand the community’s needs for the area.


Between June and August 2021, Everyday Canvassing, a Silver Spring-based company, helped to collect stories and comments from renters in Fairland-Briggs Chaney. In the process Everyday Canvassing knocked on over 4,125, spoke to renters in Spanish, French and Amharic and distributed 5,700 multilingual flyers with community surveys, according to the company website.

Dan Reed, a regional policy director at Greater Greater Washington, volunteered to canvas the Fairland-Briggs Chaney neighborhoods. Reed, who uses they/them pronouns, said the main comments they heard were that residents wanted more activities and things to do nearby, a more walkable community and more affordable homes.

Reed, who grew up in Fairland, favors the new master plan and wrote a testimony for the county Planning Board’s public hearing on May 4. “It’s about time that East County got to take part in the prosperity that other parts of Montgomery County take for granted, and this plan is a good start,” they wrote.


Although the master plan is very exciting for Reed who now lives in Silver Spring, especially for their family still living in the area, they worry about how the plan might eventually come to fruition.

“A plan is just a vision for how things could be; it cannot create the economic conditions that will encourage investment to come. And there are some really awesome things in there,” they said. “They’re very exciting. But next it falls to the Council, and the [County] Executive, to really figure out what legislative changes there need to be, what policy changes there need to be to bring more investment to the area.”

Reed also said that the county needs to change the way it talks about Eastern Montgomery County, which has historically been home to more diverse and less affluent communities.


The original 1997 master plan was not open to development like the western side of the county and preferred fewer rentals and more single-family homes, Reed said. Because of this, the east county has seen fewer large developments, like the RIO Washingtonian Center in Gaithersburg, Rockville Town Center and Bethesda Row.

“None of these things happen in east county because [in part] the infrastructure wasn’t being built, in part because the communities were opposed to it, and because there was no political will,” Reed said. “And the result are these huge … racial and socio-economic disparities, higher unemployment rates, higher poverty rates, lower incomes.”

The acting planning director of Montgomery Planning, Tanya Stern, addressed the inequities east county resident have faced.


“Past policy and planning decisions have had a negative impact on growth in east county, resulting in inequitable investments,” Stern said in the news release.

The Fairland and Briggs-Chaney master plan seeks to repair the inequities and set a new path forward for the community, she said.

Dates for when the Planning Board draft will be submitted to the County Council and County Executive have not been set at this time. In the May 4 public hearing, Montgomery Planning anticipated the council review will take place in October to November 2023 and the council adoption will occur in January to February 2024.


There will be an opportunity for more public comment on the plan with the County Council’s public hearing and work session review, there is not a set date at this time.