Climate Assessment of Zoning Text Amendments and Master Plans
On December 8, 2022, Montgomery County Planning Board approved a methodology and a template for Montgomery Planning staff to conduct climate assessment of Zoning Text Amendments (ZTAs) and master plans as required by Bill 3-22. Signed into law by the Montgomery County Council on July 25, 2022, Bill 3-22, “Climate Assessments” requires the Office of Legislative Oversight to conduct climate assessment of introduced county bills starting January 1, 2023, and the Planning Board to conduct climate assessment of proposed ZTAs, and master plans and master plan amendments (collectively called master plans) starting March 1, 2023.
The goal of Bill 3-22 is to enhance the County Council’s understanding of the potential impacts of proposed legislation on climate change. Climate assessments for ZTAs and master plans are required to be submitted to the County Council at least seven days prior to their hearing. This approach will allow planners to develop master plan recommendations to support implementation of the county’s Climate Action Plan and Thrive Montgomery 2050, the new General Plan for the county adopted in 2022. Policies and strategies in both plans support eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and making land use and infrastructure more resilient and sustainable.
Bill 3-22 requires that climate assessment of bills, ZTAs, and master plans must include:
- the sources of information, assumptions, and methodologies used;
- a description of variables that could affect the assessment;
- if a ZTA, master plan or bill is likely to have no climate impact, why that is the case;
- the potential positive or negative effects, if any, of the ZTA, master plan, or bill upon climate change;
- quantitative or qualitative evaluations of the identified effects upon greenhouse gas emissions, sequestration, and carbon drawdown;
- quantitative or qualitative evaluations of the identified effects upon community resilience and adaptative capacity; and
- each climate assessment must identify amendments or other recommendations, if any, that would reduce or eliminate any anticipated negative effects of the ZTA, master plan, or bill upon carbon dioxide removal, sequestration, carbon drawdown, community climate resilience, and adaptive capacity.