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Development Review Process

When new development is proposed in Montgomery County, it’s important that it not only works for the owner, but also adjacent neighborhood residents, local business owners, and the broader community. It must meet the greater vision of the Thrive Montgomery 2050 and the community master plans. Montgomery Planning oversees both the master planning of communities, which establishes the vision for an area, and the development review process to implement that vision. The development review process is a continuation of the overall planning process and involves an interagency Development Review Committee (comprised of all government agencies that review development applications in the county) to ensure that potential development aligns with the community’s needs and with the master and functional plans that overlay the area. Existing plans are deeply community-informed and reflect intensive and increasingly diverse and equitable local input.

Reviewing developments ensures that every proposal aligns with community needs, legal requirements, the vision for the neighborhood’s future (as expressed through community-informed master and functional plans), and Montgomery County’s priorities.

The Process

Real estate development is an essential component to broader economic progress within and across all communities in the county and region. It requires wide-ranging stakeholder participation, including by the community, developers, designers, engineers, lending institutions, local government, and residents. Every plan must meet zoning, master plan, and building code standards and yet still be  well-designed, and of other elements of the neighborhood.

Montgomery Planning’s Development Review process deliberately incorporates a diverse array of stakeholders in an open, public process. Applications and the standards by which they are reviewed are available online, and all interested parties may easily share through online and in-person communications channels questions about, concerns with, and support for each application with Planning staff, other public agency staff, and the Planning Board. Montgomery Planning and public agency staff make written recommendations on each application.  Montgomery Planning packages these applications, prepares a report and presents them to the Planning Board, a publicly appointed body that deliberates and votes on each application during weekly open meetings.

The Zoning Code sets time limits for review of the different application types, which applicants, Planning staff, and other public agency staff must work diligently to meet. However, for reasons unique to each application, the standard review periods are sometimes insufficient to make sure all the necessary standards are met, and applicants can request an extension. The Zoning Code therefore allows the Planning Director to extend a review once, for 30 days. If further extensions are necessary, the Planning Board can approve, in public session, any extensions.

The Zoning Code and subdivision regulations set specific review times for each type of application—90 days for Sketch Plans and 120 days each for Preliminary Plans and Site Plans—although different types of applications for the same project are sometimes submitted at the same time and reviewed concurrently. The STM initiative can process applications concurrently within the 90-120 days to expedite the review time, and the Biohealth Priority Campus Plan, specific to biohealth is reviewed within 60-65 days. Applicants, Planning staff, and other public agency staff work diligently and in good faith to meet these timelines.

On occasion, for reasons unique to each application, the standard review periods do not allow enough time to make sure all the necessary standards are met, and applicants request an extension. In this event, the Zoning Code allows the Planning Director to extend a review once, for 30 days, at their discretion, but otherwise the Planning Board must approve any extensions in a public session.

Agencies Involved

Planning Department

The Montgomery County Planning Department reviews project to ensure development meets requirements laid out by master plans. Regulatory planners provide analysis and make a recommendation to the Planning Board so that the Board can make a decision. The Planning Department hosts Development Review Committee (DRC)

Planning Board

The Montgomery County Planning Board holds public hearings for projects and ultimately makes the decision whether a project can move forward to construction. This governing body is not part of Montgomery County government.

Department of Permitting Services (DPS)

A county department under the County Executive, DPS provides technical review of proposed development for zoning compliance, stormwater management, fire and rescue, well and septic, and certain elements within public rights-of-way.

Department of Transportation (MCDOT)

A county department under the County Executive, DOT provides technical review of proposed development for certain elements within public rights-of-way, dedications, easements and maintenance.

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

A county department under the County Executive, DEP provides technical review of proposed changes to the water and sewer categories and capacities within the county. Planning Staff works with DEP when development projects propose changes to these categories and provides the applications to the Planning Board for their recommendations to the Council.

Development Review Timeline

  • Natural Resources Inventory/Forest Stand Delineation (Nri/Fsd) Existing Conditions Filed
    These plans document existing conditions including historic resources, buildings and structures and environmental conditions on the property. Staff review and approve before any application can be submitted.
  • Applicant Community Meeting
    Applicant provides notice and hosts a pre-submission community meeting.
  • Application Formally Accepted
    Application accepted by Montgomery Planning’s Intake and Regulatory Coordination (IRC) division and distributed via ePlans to county and state agencies that make up the Development Review Committee (DRC). The 90- or 120-day clock starts.
  • Development Review Committee (DRC) Meeting
    An inter-agency group of representatives from Montgomery Planning and Parks, Maryland State agencies, Montgomery County departments and utility companies which review plans and meet at regulatory scheduled meetings. These meetings are live streamed and open to the public.
  • Revisions and Plan Preparation for Planning Board Hearing
    Montgomery Planning and DRC agencies work with applicant to address issues and comments. Plans are revised by Applicant based on comments from the DRC.
  • Staff Report Posted to Planning Board Agenda
    At least ten days prior to the Planning Board public hearing, the staff report is finalized and staff also mails notice of the hearing date. This serves as Montgomery Planning’s formal recommendation to the Planning Board. The staff report is posted to the Planning Board Agenda web page at least 10 days before the public hearing and mail notice.
  • Planning Board Public Hearing and Decision
    The Montgomery Planning Board holds a public hearing on the project. Following the hearing, the Planning Board approves or denies the proposed development application.
  • Planning Board Adopts Resolution
    The Planning Board memorializes the development approval or denial in a resolution that is adopted at a public Planning Board meeting.
  • Post Planning Board Actions
    Applicants must submit the development plans incorporating all conditions of approval for certification by staff. Any accompanying easements and agreements must also be submitted.
  • Plats Recorded
    Applicant submits plats in compliance with certified plans and approvals. County departments and Montgomery Planning review and Planning Board approves and recorded in Land Records.
  • Applicant Submits for Permitting Review and County Approvals
  • Permitting Review
    A variety of technical permits are issued by Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (DPS) and Department of Transportation (MCDOT). These can include Building, Storm Water Management, Storm Drain, Road Access and Demolition. All conditions of approval from the Planning Board must be satisfied.
  • Issue Permits By DPS and Posting of Bonds
  • Issuance of Use and Occupancy Permits by DPS

Highlighted items indicates M-NCPPC milestones
Non-highlighted items indicates other agency milestones

Download a printer friendly version of the Development Review Process. (Español)

Frequently Asked Questions

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