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By Artie Harris, Montgomery County Planning Board Chair

Montgomery County has not been immune to the nation’s housing crisis. Addressing this multi-faceted issue requires interventions at every step — from project review through construction.

The Planning Board has sought to accelerate housing development through a variety of avenues. Among the thousands of bills introduced this legislative session, four bills stand out to us that will help us address the housing crisis.

large red brick building with cream columns and gray and white dome

Maryland State House

Accelerating early project stages

Accelerating the development review process is one way to help get new residences built in the county.

Two bills, both sponsored by Delegate Lesley Lopez, HB 0989 Montgomery County Subdivision Plats – Conditions and HB 1003 Montgomery County Clerk of the circuit Court – Plat Recordation make changes to reduce lead time and kickstart development. Key components of these two bills were the direct result of collaborations from the Development Review Process Workgroup, which included representatives from Montgomery Planning, County Council, the County Executive’s Office, developers, and community members. The workgroup provided 22 recommendations on specific improvements – some of which required state legislative changes.

Montgomery Planning is working closely with its partners now to ensure that all procedures and systems are updated to implement these two changes.

Statewide development pipeline data

We use data, including monitoring the development pipeline and permitting, to drive policies and plans. We were excited to see Delegate Vaughn Stewart’s bill HB 0131 Housing Development Permit Applications. The first iteration of the bill focused on collecting statewide data on building permits only. Staff from the Commissioners’ Office and Montgomery Planning worked closely with Delegate Stewart to expand the bill and collect statewide data from the development review stage.

This change enables deeper regional coordination across the state. As many projects begin the development review process years before they might obtain their building permits, this provides us with much earlier data to ensure that we have a robust pipeline of housing projects. Collectively, we can use this data to continue to implement early-stage interventions to support housing development.

Opening the door for more housing

Governor Wes Moore tasked the General Assembly with passing comprehensive changes to statewide housing policies and it delivered. Zoning density and additional permitting considerations were some of the key items addressed in HB 0538/ SB 0484 Land Use – Affordable Housing – Zoning Density and Permitting (Housing Expansion and Affordability Act of 2024). Montgomery Planning provided significant technical expertise and proposed amendments, many of which were incorporated into the bill. The focus was centered on strengthening clarity and implementation to provide opportunities for more housing.

Included in the bill are provisions to incentivize affordable housing, increase density, and speed up development review processes. The county already has density bonuses for affordable housing, and Montgomery Planning recently worked with county agency partners and the private sector to create a speed-to-market program, but we are excited to join with our colleagues statewide to broaden our toolbox of development incentives.

Intentional solutions to solve a complex problem

The Planning Board is committed to increasing access to housing. We’re taking a holistic view of the current housing crisis and understand that state-level initiatives will help facilitate changes here in our county. The challenge ahead of us is complex, but these intentional solutions will lead to more housing for all.

Thank you, Governor Moore and the Maryland General Assembly, for introducing and passing these bills. We look forward to implementing these provisions and continuing to work with our elected officials to provide more innovative solutions for the next session.

Governor Wes Moore and Montgomery Planning Board Chair Artie Harris shaking hands

Gov. Wes Moore and Montgomery Planning Board Chair Artie Harris at a legislative reception in Annapolis, January 2024.

Artie Harris
About the author
Before his appointment as Planning Board Chair, Artie Harris was the vice president of real estate at Montgomery Housing Partnership, Inc. (MHP), a nonprofit real estate development organization based in Silver Spring, MD, that creates affordable communities in Montgomery County and surrounding jurisdictions. Previously, Harris was a vice president at Bozzuto Development Company, where he led teams developing market-rate and mixed-income housing projects across the Washington, DC region and beyond. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University and a master’s degree in civil engineering from Purdue University.

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