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City Master Plan

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The Land Use Article of the Maryland Annotated Code requires that municipalities adopt a comprehensive, or “master” plan composed of various elements, such as Land Use, Transportation, and Sensitive Areas, to serve the general purpose of guiding and accomplishing the coordinated, adjusted, and harmonious development of the local jurisdiction and its environs. The Master Plan acts as a guide to public and private actions and decisions to ensure the development of public and private property in appropriate ways.

In 2013, House Bill 409 amended §§ 1-207, 1-416, 1-509, 3-301 and 3-303 of the Land Use Article, Annotated Code of Maryland. The 2013 legislation changed the review process and review cycle of comprehensive plans:

  1. Increases the review time period of a local jurisdiction’s comprehensive plan cycle to 10-years instead of 6-years; and
  2. Requires all planning commissions and boards to file a local jurisdiction annual report with the legislative body and to include in the annual report, at least once within the 5-year period after the adoption or review of the local jurisdiction’s comprehensive plan, a narrative on the plan’s implementation status.

With the adoption of the 2009 Environment & Sustainability Element and the completion of the 2009 Master Plan update, the new process would begin with the 2016 Master Plan update. Unless, addressed under the update process and a new recommendation is adopted, the recommendations made under previous Master Plans carry forward.

The Comprehensive Plan is to comply with both the State of Maryland 12 Planning Visions and the City of Gaithersburg’s Mission and Vision

The State of Maryland has established twelve visions to guide the various Master Plan elements’ objectives. The visions are:

  1. Quality of Life and Sustainability
    A high quality of life is achieved through universal stewardship of the land, water, and air resulting in sustainable communities and protection of the environment.

  2. Public Participation
    Citizens are active partners in the planning and implementation of community initiatives and are Sensitive to their responsibilities in achieving community goals.

  3. Growth Areas
    Growth is concentrated in existing population and business centers, growth areas adjacent to these centers, or strategically selected new centers.

  4. Community Design
    Compact, mixed–use, walkable design consistent with existing community character and located near available or planned transit options is encouraged to ensure efficient use of land and transportation resources and preservation and enhancement of natural systems, open spaces, recreational areas, and historical, cultural, and archeological resources.

  5. Infrastructure
    Growth areas have the water resources and infrastructure to accommodate population and business expansion in an orderly, efficient, and environmentally sustainable manner;

  6. Transportation
    A well–maintained, multimodal transportation system facilitates the safe, convenient, affordable, and efficient movement of people, goods, and services within and between population and business centers;

  7. Housing
    A range of housing densities, types, and sizes provides residential options for citizens of all ages and incomes;

  8. Economic Development
    Economic development and natural resource–based businesses that promote employment opportunities for all income levels within the capacity of the State’s natural resources, public services, and public facilities are encouraged;

  9. Environmental Protection
    Land and water resources, including the Chesapeake and coastal bays, are carefully managed to restore and maintain healthy air and water, natural systems, and living resources;

  10. Resource Conservation
    Land and water resources, including the Chesapeake and coastal bays, are carefully managed to restore and maintain healthy air and water, natural systems, and living resources;

  11. Stewardship
    Government, business entities, and residents are responsible for the creation of sustainable communities by collaborating to balance efficient growth with resource protection; and

  12. Implementation
    Strategies, policies, programs, and funding for growth and development, resource conservation, infrastructure, and transportation are integrated across the local, regional, state, and interstate levels to achieve these Visions.

The Adopted City of Gaithersburg Mission & Visions


The Gaithersburg City government exists to provide quality, cost effective, priority community services for its citizens. We are a City that serves as a catalyst for the involvement of residents, businesses and organizations to ensure that Gaithersburg is a great place to live, work, learn, and play.


Gaithersburg will be a City that:

  • Lives by the Six Pillars of CHARACTER COUNTS!® (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship)
  • Has retained the best qualities of a small town and respects its heritage, while embracing the opportunities that new technologies, programs and concepts in urban design provide
  • Has involved and supportive citizens and businesses reflecting the diversity of the community
  • Has a fiscally conservative, proactive government
  • Has safe, livable neighborhoods with a variety of housing types and styles served by diverse transportation options
  • Has excellent learning opportunities that meet the needs of the community
  • Has attractive and beautifully maintained parks and public places
  • Has citizens and institutions that value cultural diversity and seeks ways to promote involvement from all cultural groups
  • Has many leisure time activities that meet the needs of the community
  • Has citizens with a strong sense of community and individual responsibility
  • Has a natural environment that is protected, respected and enhanced
  • Has strong partnerships to meet the needs of the community
  • Has a community that encourages individual health and wellness
  • Has a commitment to sustainable practices that promote social equity, environmental health and economic prosperity


PlanMaryland is a planning process designed to create a better and more sustainable future for Maryland. The state legislature created the authority for such a plan in the 1970s, but a broader recognition of the costs of unsustainable types of land use has grown in recent years to the point where such a plan is now urgently needed. We need to do a better job of steering development toward areas that already have roads, schools and other public infrastructure.

Adopted PlanMaryland Designations

Master Plan Elements

As stated, Land Use, requires that any Master Plan include the following required elements:

  • Process and Overview
  • Land Use
  • Transportation
  • Sensitive Areas (Environmental)
  • Community Facilities
  • Water Resources
  • Municipal Growth

Optional Master Plan elements include:

  • Historic Preservation
  • Parks and Recreation

Land Use

This core element proposes the most appropriate and desirable patterns for the general location, character, extent, and interrelationship of the uses of public and private land, on a schedule that extends as far into the future as is reasonable. The Land Use element establishes the mix or types of land uses allowed and the appropriate zoning classification to accommodate said use for parcels of land. Unless a new recommendation is adopted for an area, the recommendations made under previous master plans for said area carry forward.

Public Process

The development of a draft element may include the use of charettes, public work sessions with the Mayor & City Council and Planning Commission, and interdepartmental City work groups. At such time as a draft document is completed for a Master Plan Element, a copy of the draft will be placed on this website and will be available at City Hall, 31 South Summit Avenue for review and comment. After each Master Plan Element is made available to the public for 60 days, a public hearing will be scheduled.

2018 Update

2018 begins the next Master Plan Update review cycle. Following the findings of the 5-Year Review, the Elements to be updated in this cycle are:

  • Parks, Recreation & Culture
  • Historic Preservation
  • Land Use
  • Transportation

2018 Master Plan

2009 Master Plan

2003 Master Plan

2003 Master Plan Maps

1997 Master Plan