MoCo Council Wants To Review Efficiency Of Approval Process


The Montgomery County Council wants to know how long it takes to get approval for development in the county. Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At large) and six co-sponsors introduced a resolution on Tuesday that would mean a report every six months for the next four years from the agencies involved in reviewing proposals for new apartments, office buildings and other structures. The request mirrors a push from County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) to streamline the permitting and planning review process, which has been a prominent complaint of developers and business owners in the county. The typical entitlement process for new development can take a year or more. Developers must get Preliminary, Project and Site Plan approvals from the Planning Board. The Project Plan approval is typically paired with either the Preliminary Plan or Site Plan, as to reduce the number of times a developer must appear in front of the Planning Board from three to two. Sometimes, developments are only permitted after zoning changes that must be approved by the county's Board of Appeals, which requires a separate process of hearings and testimony. The county wants a more efficient approval process to further economic growth. It's clear Montgomery County's approval and permitting process had developed a reputation of being business-unfriendly, at least compared to competing jurisdictions such as Fairfax County. The County Council wants to take a deeper look. With the resolution, the Planning Department, Department of Permitting Services and Board of Zoning and Administrative Hearings would have to prepare a report on processing times of various development approvals and permits broken down by agency review times, time awaiting reviews and time with applicants/others. The County Council wants the first report in December.

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