Response to questions about Planning Board procedures
February 3, 2022
We take transparency and openness very seriously, and whenever anyone points out gaps in our procedures, we don’t hesitate to make improvements. We’re making some changes because of the questions raised by the Montgomery County Council President, and we expect them to be in place within the next week or two. Here is an update on each of the areas raised in the County Council letter:
- Lobbying Registration – Maryland law has included a provision calling for M-NCPPC to adopt a lobbying registration system for 39 years, but no Planning Board has ever implemented it, and no one has ever asked for it to be implemented. That’s probably because a registration requirement for advocacy before M-NCPPC would largely overlap with other state and county lobbying registration requirements and because everyone who testifies before the Planning Board is asked to disclose any organization or company they represent when they sign up to speak. Nonetheless, now that it has been highlighted, we’ll be implementing a registration system as soon as we can set up the IT systems and web site to manage it. M-NCPPC voted to update its Lobbying Disclosure Policy and Practice on January 19, 2022.
- The Development Review Committee and Open Meetings – Development Review Committee (DRC) meetings are not Planning Board meetings, and in fact Planning Board members are prohibited from attending these meetings or participating in them in any way by the rules on ex parte communications. These meetings are held among staff from various government agencies to discuss development projects, and they have always been open to the public. The State of Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board concluded that we need to post the link to the meeting online in order to make it more obvious how interested parties can get access. We have started livestreaming these meetings so no link will be necessary and anyone who has an internet connection can watch.
- The Consent Agenda – Items are placed on the Consent Agenda for votes when they have not generated controversy, and anyone who wants to testify on these items can have them removed from the Consent Agenda on request so they can present testimony to the Planning Board. We are clarifying the Planning Board’s Rules of Procedures at our meeting on Thursday, February 10, 2022 to make this as clear as possible. The public is invited to comment. Learn more on the Sign Up to Testify
View the Montgomery County Planning Board’s memo to the Montgomery County Council’s letter concerning Planning Board procedures.