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Community members invited to give feedback on Montgomery County’s development review process on June 22, July 18 and August 2

June 14, 2023

Public invited to give feedback at a series of public meetings hosted by State Delegate Lesley Lopez, in coordination with the Montgomery County Planning Department and the Montgomery County Executive’s Office

The public is invited to three public listening sessions on June 22, July 18, and August 2 to provide input on Montgomery County’s development review process. These public sessions are part of the newly formed Development Review Process Workgroup, which was created by the Montgomery County state delegation and chaired by Maryland State Delegate Lesley Lopez (D-District 39).

The Montgomery County House Delegation, the Montgomery County Planning Board Chair and the Montgomery County Executive agreed in February to form a workgroup to examine the county’s development review process, with a special focus on economic competitiveness. In a letter to Delegate Lopez, County Executive Marc Elrich and then-Chair Jeff Zyontz agreed that the current process presents opportunities for improvement.

State law established The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC). Planning Board members are appointed by the Montgomery County Council and approved by the County Executive. The Council legislates the zoning code. Under County law, any subdivision, sketch plan, and site plan must be approved by the Planning Board and must conform to adopted master plans and County codes.  As a prerequisite to Planning Board review, each project must undergo an extensive review by the Montgomery County Planning Department and its Development Review Committee comprised of planners, county agencies, and state agencies and utilities.

View a graphic explaining the development review process.

Sign Up to Provide Feedback

Community members are invited to sign up to participate in any of the three listening sessions (see schedule below). The first two meetings will be in person with a virtual option, and the last meeting will be virtual only. Live language translation or ASL requests must be made five days ahead of each event. To make a request for the July 18 or August 2 event, please contact staff in the Montgomery Planning Board Chair’s Office via email at MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org or call 301-495-4605.

Community members are also invited to submit written comments for the Development Review Process Workgroup to consider. Email development@montgomeryplanning.org and Meredith Wellington at meredith.wellington@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Community input will inform the Workgroup’s report on its findings and recommendations that must be delivered to the Montgomery County Delegation of the Maryland General Assembly by October 15, 2023.

Development Review Process Workgroup Listening Sessions:

  • Thursday, June 22, 2023 – Hybrid meeting from 2 to 4 p.m. at County Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, 3rd floor Hearing Room, Rockville, MD 20850. This is a hybrid event with in-person and virtual testimony options. Sign up to provide feedback either in person or virtually via Microsoft Teams (Sign up).
  • Tuesday, July 18, 2023 – Hybrid meeting from 2 to 4 p.m. at the M-NCPPC Wheaton Headquarters, 2425 Reedie Drive, 2nd floor, Wheaton, MD 20902. This is a hybrid event with in-person and virtual testimony options. Sign up to provide feedback either in person or virtually via Microsoft Teams. 
  • Wednesday, August 2, 2023 – Virtual-only meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Sign up to provide feedback and a link will be sent ahead of the meeting.

Participating at the Listening Sessions
Community members are invited to provide feedback at each of the public meetings on the development review process. Participants will have two minutes to speak. The workgroup members are interested in:

  1. Your specific experiences with the development review process.
  2. Suggestions on improving the development review process.
  3. Your experiences with the development review process in other jurisdictions.

In addition to the public listening session meetings, the Development Review Process Workgroup will meet on a regular basis between June and September as stated below. 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 (view the June 9 meeting).
  • Tuesday, June 27, 2023 – Hybrid meeting from 2 to 6 p.m. at M-NCPPC Wheaton Headquarters.
  • Wednesday, July 12, 2023 – Hybrid meeting from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at M-NCPPC Wheaton Headquarters.
  • 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.

About the Development Review Process Workgroup

The Development Review Process Workgroup, made up of county residents, M-NCPPC, county, state, regional and County Council representatives, and the development community, will deliver findings to the Montgomery County Delegation of the Maryland General Assembly by October 15, 2023.

The members of the Development Review Process Workgroup were selected by the Planning Board Chair and County Executive and include:

Chair: Delegate Lesley Lopez (D-District 39)
Representatives:

  • Montgomery Planning: Robert Kronenberg, Christina Sorrento
  • Montgomery Parks: Henry Coppola
  • Montgomery County Council: Pam Dunn
  • Montgomery County Executive’s Office: Meredith Wellington
  • 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
  • MD 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 Development Review Process 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 Montgomery County 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 the Planning Department and Planning Board. The Montgomery County Planning Department drafts master plans, and performs surveys, studies and other planning duties under a work program approved by the Montgomery County Council. The Planning Department 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 is a necessary and legally required step that takes 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.