A plan provides comprehensive recommendations for the use of publicly and privately owned land. Each plan reflects a vision of the future that responds to the unique character of the local community within the context of a countywide perspective. This vision is developed by the Montgomery County Planning Department in consultation with community members through public meetings and outreach tools. When making land use decisions, public officials and private individuals should refer to plans as well as relevant county policies.
Public outreach and community feedback typically occurs prior to the release of the Working Draft, but could occur afterward.
The Plan Process
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 Council Public Hearing
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.
Types of Plans
The General Plan
Sector Plans and Minor Master Plans
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.