‘We’ve got to do something’: Montgomery Co. takes closer look at zoning in single family neighborhoods

The impact of housing shortages across the U.S. has jurisdictions in the D.C. area taking a look at tossing restrictions on multifamily homes in neighborhoods previously zoned for single-family properties.

In Alexandria, Virginia, that resulted in residents filing a lawsuit earlier this year asking a zoning change to be voided. In Arlington County, homeowners lodged a legal challenge in 2023, opposing changing zoning laws in their neighborhood

In Montgomery County, Maryland, County Council President Andrew Friedson told reporters Monday, “When it comes to the housing shortage that we face, we need to do something.” He said solutions could include the proposal to allow duplexes, triplexes and even quadplexes in areas where only single-family homes were permitted.

When asked about legal challenges to zoning laws, Friedson said, “Lawsuits are not something that I’m thinking about or focused on. Policy is what I’m thinking about and focused on — and a housing crisis that we do have to address.”

Friedson said that counties in Maryland are under pressure from the state to do more to find creative solutions to the housing crunch. He referenced Gov. Wes Moore’s housing agenda passed in Annapolis that included a measure designed to create more housing.

“So I don’t think that stasis is an option, and I don’t think that it is an appropriate response for us,” he said.

On Monday afternoon, the Montgomery County Committee on Planning, Housing and Parks was briefed by members of the county planning board and county council analysts. Among the proposals, the committee members suggested creating a pattern book that could be used as a visual reference as plans are reviewed.

At one point, Councilwoman Natali Fani-Gonzalez told her colleagues the policy under consideration is “about opportunity” and that “it’s about creating more housing for other people who cannot afford to live in Montgomery County — for young families who cannot buy a home. That is a fact. It’s a fact.”

Friedson explained that there is no legislation before the county council — yet.

“Ultimately, we’ll have additional community input and outreach, and we will have legislation that is before us,” he said.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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