Skip to the content
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
Home / Master Planning Process

Master Planning Process

pike and rose phase 2
ag reserve

A master plan sets a vision for the future of a specific geographic area through recommendations for land uses, zoning, transportation, schools, parks, libraries, fire and police stations, and other activities intended to help implement that vision and enhance quality of life. Master plans also address housing, historic preservation, pedestrian and trail systems, and environmental issues. These plans legally amend the General Plan (also known as Thrive Montgomery 2050) and govern how the county approves, prioritizes, and regulates development.

Public outreach and community feedback typically occurs prior to the release of the Working Draft, but could occur afterward.

Master plans, sector plans, minor master plans, and functional plans follow identical procedures for preparation and adoption. They are prepared by the Planning Department, in cooperation with appropriate county agencies and with extensive community participation, are reviewed by the Planning Board and are approved, after public hearings and work sessions, by the County Council and adopted by The Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission.

Download the printer safe version of the Master Plan Process: English | አማርኛ | 汉语 | Español | فارسی | Français | 한국어 | Tiếng Việt

The Plan Process

  • Work Program, Pre-Scope of Work, and Scope of Work
    Agreed-upon plans are added to Montgomery Planning’s work program. To start the plan, planners collect data, determine the plan’s boundary, and conduct technical analysis on the conditions of the plan area. This work culminates in a Scope of Work which is presented to the Planning Board.
  • Visioning and Analysis
    Planners continue identifying issues and begin to identify solutions with the community. Community conversations help develop a vision for the plan, discussing how to improve future community conditions, infrastructure, the built environment, amenities, and more. Planners also review best practices and apply in-house and external expertise to explore possibilities for the community.
  • Preliminary Recommendations
    Planners consult with the community to develop alternative actions and recommendations for the master plan, then present these to the Planning Board.
  • Working Draft
    The Working Draft is the first publicly available version of a plan and can be accessed online. The draft is prepared by the Montgomery County Planning Department for presentation to the five-member Montgomery County Planning Board. The Planning Board reviews the Working Draft Plan, makes preliminary changes as appropriate and approves the plan for a public hearing. After the Planning Board’s changes are made, the document becomes the Public Hearing Draft Plan.
  • Public Hearing Draft
    The Public Hearing Draft is the formal proposal to amend an adopted master plan or sector plan. Its recommendations are not necessarily those of the Planning Board; it is prepared for the purpose of receiving public testimony at a public hearing held by the Planning Board. After this hearing, the Planning Board holds public work sessions to review the testimony and revise the Public Hearing Draft Plan as appropriate. When the Planning Board’s changes are made, the document becomes the Planning Board Draft Plan.
  • Planning Board Draft
    The Planning Board Draft is the Planning Board’s recommended Plan and reflects its revisions to the Public Hearing Draft Plan. The Regional District Act requires the Planning Board to transmit a master plan, sector plan or functional plan to the County Council with copies to the County Executive who must, within 60 days, prepare and transmit a fiscal impact analysis of the Planning Board Draft Plan to the County Council. The County Executive may also forward other comments and recommendations to the County Council.
  • County Executive and County Council Review and Public Hearing
    The Planning Board draft is sent to the Montgomery County Council and Executive for review. The County Council holds a public hearing to receive public testimony on the Planning Board Draft. After the hearing record is closed, the relevant Council committee holds public work sessions to review the testimony and makes recommendations to the County Council. The full Council holds work sessions, then adopts a resolution approving the Planning Board Draft, as revised.
  • Approval and Adoption
    After Council approval, the plan is forwarded to The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission for adoption. Once adopted by the Commission, the plan officially amends the master plans, sector plans and functional plans cited in the Commission’s adoption resolution.
  • Master Plan Implementation
    While Montgomery Planning provides consultation and research support to the county agencies responsible for making plans come to fruition, we do not implement the plans. Once a plan is adopted, Montgomery County government is responsible for coordinating plan implementation with Montgomery County agencies and partners, along with community members and developers, as appropriate.

Types of plans

Expand All Accordion Content