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Montgomery County Development Review Process Workgroup to hold more public work sessions

Three more livestreamed work sessions scheduled for fall; deadline for community to submit comments is September 1, 2023 

Wheaton, Md. – The Montgomery County Development Review Process Workgroup has scheduled three more public work sessions in September at the Wheaton Headquarters of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC). The public is invited to watch the meetings live or on-demand on the website of the Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The M-NCPPC.

Community members may continue to submit written comments about their experiences and ideas related to development review to the Development Review Process Workgroup by September 1, 2023. To send feedback, email and Meredith Wellington at The workgroup has also created a questionnaire about the county’s development review process that the public is encouraged to complete and submit online. Written comments and questionnaire responses will help guide the workgroup’s recommendations as part of a report that must be delivered to the Montgomery County Delegation of the Maryland General Assembly by October 15, 2023

The addition of three more workgroup work sessions follows the three community listening sessions June 22, July 18, and August 2 where residents and other stakeholders provided testimony to the workgroup. Visit the Development Review Process Workgroup web page to watch meetings and review correspondence.

The Maryland General Assembly’s Montgomery County Delegation created the workgroup that is led by State Delegate Lesley Lopez (D-District 39) in coordination with the Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The M-NCPPC, and the County Executive’s Office. The workgroup is examining the county’s development review process, with a special focus on finding opportunities to improve the county’s economic competitiveness. The workgroup has held four livestreamed work sessions throughout the summer so far.

Here is the updated remaining schedule of work sessions (new dates are in bold):

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)

In the Letter of Intent from February 2023, it was agreed that the workgroup would work together in support of the following principles:

About the development review process

View a graphic explaining the development review process.

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. Under county law, any subdivision, sketch plan, and site plan must be approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board.

The development review 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).  Each development project is reviewed by the Montgomery County Planning Department and the Planning Board, both part of The M-NCPPC, and by a Development Review Committee (DRC), which under county law is comprised of planners, county agencies, state agencies and utilities. 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 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.

The DRC is organized by Montgomery Planning and is one step in the development review process. The DRC includes representatives from Montgomery Planning, Montgomery Parks, 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. 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 Department 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 Maryland State Highway Administration 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.