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Development Review Process

  • crane over a building being constructed

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.

Last Updated: August 15, 2023