Community members have shared their experiences with the county’s development review process at two listening sessions led by State Delegate Lesley Lopez, in coordination with the Montgomery County Planning Department and the Montgomery County Executive’s Office
Wheaton, Md. – Members of the public provided input on Montgomery County’s process for reviewing and approving development projects during the Development Review Process Workgroup’s second listening session at the Wheaton Headquarters of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) on July 18. Community members are invited to sign up to provide feedback during the workgroup’s third and final listening session on Wednesday, August 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. (virtual only).
The Maryland General Assembly’s Montgomery County delegation created the workgroup – chaired by State Delegate Lesley Lopez (D-District 39) – to examine the county’s development review process, with a special focus on finding opportunities to improve the county’s economic competitiveness. The workgroup’s July 18 listening session follows a June 22 listening session and three livestreamed workgroup work sessions June 9, June 27, and July 12. Three more livestreamed work sessions are scheduled this summer.
State law established The M-NCPPC and Montgomery County Planning Board whose members are appointed by the Montgomery County Council and approved by the County Executive. The Council adopts the zoning code. Under county law, any subdivision, sketch plan, and site plan must be approved by the Planning Board and must substantially conform to adopted master plans as well as comply with county codes. Each project is reviewed by the Montgomery County Planning Department and the Montgomery County Planning Board, both part of The M-NCPPC, and by a Development Review Committee, which under county law is comprised of planners, county agencies, state agencies and utilities.
Sign Up to Provide Feedback
Community input will inform the workgroup’s report on its findings and recommendations for the development review process. The report must be delivered to the Montgomery County Delegation of the Maryland General Assembly by October 15, 2023. Community members who want to testify at the August 2 listening session must complete and submit the Sign Up to Testify form by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, August 1, and then a Microsoft Teams link will be sent ahead of the meeting. Speakers will have two minutes to testify.
Live language translation or ASL requests for the listening session must be made five days ahead of the event. To make a request, please contact staff in the Planning Board Chair’s Office via email at MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org or call 301-495-4605. The community is welcome to watch the meetings through a livestream (also available on demand under the “Speakers and Special Events” tab).
Participants will have two minutes to speak. The workgroup members are interested in:
- Your specific experiences with the development review process.
- Suggestions for improving the development review process.
- Your experiences with the development review process in other jurisdictions.
Community members are also invited to submit written comments to the Development Review Process Workgroup. Email email@example.com and Meredith Wellington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workgroup Public Work Sessions
In addition to the public listening sessions, the Development Review Process Workgroup has been conducting livestreamed, public work sessions throughout the summer. The meeting schedule is subject to change, so please check our website for updates. The community is welcome to watch the meetings through a livestream (also available on demand under the “Speakers and Special Events” tab).
- Friday, June 9, 2023 – The hybrid meeting was held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at M-NCPPC Wheaton Headquarters (watch the June 9 work session).
- Tuesday, June 27, 2023 – Hybrid meeting was held from 2 to 6 p.m. at M-NCPPC Wheaton Headquarters (watch the June 27 work session).
- Wednesday, July 12, 2023 – Hybrid meeting was held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at M-NCPPC Wheaton Headquarters (watch the July 12 work session)
- Friday, July 28, 2023 – Hybrid meeting from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at M-NCPPC Wheaton Headquarters.
- Tuesday, August 8, 2023 – Hybrid meeting from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at M-NCPPC Wheaton Headquarters.
- Thursday, August 24, 2023 – Hybrid meeting from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at M-NCPPC Wheaton Headquarters.
More About the Development Review Process Workgroup
The Development Review Process Workgroup is made up of county residents, M-NCPPC, county, state, regional and County Council representatives, and the development community. Workgroup members were selected by the Planning Board Chair and the County Executive and include:
Chair: Delegate Lesley Lopez (D-District 39)
- Montgomery Planning: Robert Kronenberg, Christina Sorrento
- Montgomery Parks: Henry Coppola
- Montgomery County Council: Pam Dunn and Livhu Ndou
- Montgomery County Executive’s Office: Meredith Wellington and Tom Lewis
- Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services: Ehsan Motazedi
- Montgomery County Department of Transportation: Tim Cupples
- Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection: Steven Shofar
- Director of the Montgomery County Office of Racial Equity & Social Justice: Tiffany Ward
- Maryland State Highway Administration: Kwesi Woodroffe
- WSSC: Karem Carpio
- Pepco: Danielle Freedman
- Washington Gas: David Shults
- Development Community: Katherine Kubit, Gary Unterberg
- Broader Community: Amanda Farber, Charisse Scott
- Senator Ben Kramer’s office: Diane S. Jones
In the Letter of Intent from February 2023, it was agreed that the workgroup would work together in support of the following principles:
- Montgomery County residents and applicants for development approvals deserve the best and most efficient process, while neither minimizing public participation, racial equity and social justice, nor compromising on safety, transportation access, or environmental standards in approved plans.
- Montgomery County has the assets to be the best county in the region for economic development and improving the development review process will help ensure a better economic development environment for all.
- All parties are striving to create the best Montgomery County that we can and recognize that every person’s past experience tells a story that needs to be respected.
About the development review process
The Montgomery County Planning Board is responsible for planning and subdivision functions in Montgomery County pursuant to the Maryland Land Use Article. This includes the administration of subdivision regulations, approval of sketch, preliminary and site plans, preparation, and adoption of recommendations regarding zoning map amendments and conditional uses, the preparation of master plans, and mandatory referrals.
The Planning Board serves as the Montgomery County Council’s principal adviser on land use and community planning. The Council adopts zoning and subdivision laws, as well as master plans, which are then implemented by Montgomery Planning and the Planning Board. Montgomery Planning drafts master plans, and performs surveys, studies and other planning duties under a work program approved by the Montgomery County Council. Montgomery Planning also reviews proposed development projects that go to the Planning Board for approval.
Montgomery County’s development review process is largely delegated to Montgomery Planning by the Planning Board. This process ensures that new development applications are consistent with adopted master plans and state and county laws as well as considering the impact on the environment, quality of design, compatibility with neighboring uses and the availability of public facilities (water and sewer, transportation, schools). The development review process and Planning Board approval are necessary and legally required steps that take place prior to approved projects applying for permits to construct.
The Development Review Committee (DRC) organized by Montgomery Planning is one step in the development review process, and includes representatives from the Planning Department, Parks Department; county agencies dealing with transportation (Montgomery County Department of Transportation), stormwater, rights-of way, fire safety, and well and septic (Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services), water and sewer (Department of Environmental Protection), and housing (Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs); the State Highway Administration; and utilities (PEPCO, Washington Gas, WSSC, Verizon). Montgomery Planning reviews plans and is also the authority per county law for forest conservation compliance and enforcement. The DRC structure allows applicants to work with agency staff on clarifying and resolving specific technical queries regarding development applications at the beginning of the review process. DRC biweekly meetings are live-streamed and open to the public.
This regulatory process of reviewing developments is governed by both State and County law. Reviewing development proposals before those projects seek permits for construction ensures that every proposal aligns with community needs, legal requirements, the vision for the neighborhood’s future, and Montgomery County’s priorities, some expressed through Capital budget funding. There are multiple opportunities in the development review process for public participation, through pre-application meetings, public DRC meetings and opportunities to submit comments to agencies and testimony for the public Planning Board hearings.
After the Planning Board approves an application, the Montgomery County Departments of Permitting Services (DPS) and Montgomery County Department of Transportation review and issue required building and access permits, final stormwater management requirements, and other approvals related to sediment and erosion control. For projects that involve state roads, the MD State Highway Administration (SHA) reviews and issues necessary access permits. During building and site construction, DPS staff also monitors for compliance and conducts final reviews and inspections when construction is complete.
Learn more about the development review process in Montgomery County.