Do you worry that redevelopment will dilute or even erase Wheaton’s distinctive character?
Now that the Montgomery County Council has approved the Wheaton Sector Plan--a master guide for county planners that envisions a denser, more walkable Wheaton--people are wondering what the next decade will bring to a community that prizes its ethnic diversity and small business flavor.
The Washington Post noted that as the county plans for major residential and commercial build-up around the Wheaton Metro station, there is also the concern that the new will push out the old.
“I do agree that we need to enhance and definitely redevelop the area,” Councilmember Nancy Navarro told the Washington Post. “But we need to make sure we support the viability of the small businesses. . . . For me, this notion of preserving the character of Wheaton is important.”
Wheaton’s small businesses--particularly its many restaurants--reflect its diverse population: about 42 percent Hispanic (the highest concentration in Montgomery County), 25 percent white non-Hispanic, 18 percent black and 12 percent Asian, according to the 2010 Census.
Councilmember Nancy Floreen gave a nod to the concerns about small business survival in a blog post after the sector plan passed: “We hope incentives in our new family of commercial/residential (CR) zones will preserve small businesses while allowing for large-scale development and adding the creation of a tree canopy as a priority.”
The Coalition for the Fair Development of Wheaton wants to make sure that the county’s decision-makers don’t lose sight of these priorities now that the sector plan has passed. As development changes the face of Wheaton, the Coalition says it wants to focus on jobs for Wheaton residents, support for small businesses, affordable housing, a community center and a multicultural plaza.