The Development Review Division (DRD) is responsible for assisting customers to comply with the Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations through a managed review process. While development is viewed as the economic engine of the County, protecting the integrity of neighborhoods is equally important. The Development Review Division encourages growth in a way that is sensitive to the needs and values of neighborhoods. Our goal is to help you to understand and meet the requirements that apply to your project as promptly as possible. We are proud of our staff and confident they will make every effort to assist you.
The Development Review Division consists of the following sections:
The Applications Section provides assistance to citizens seeking information on pending development applications and to those filing zoning, subdivision, and urban design applications. This work unit assigns application numbers, reviews applications for completeness, advises applicants on advanced notification and sign posting requirements, and maintains and facilitates access to the official application files.
Planning Information Services Section
The Planning Information Services Section (formerly the Information Counter) informs the public about zoning and subdivision regulations, master plan proposals, Commission publications and maps available for purchase, and various planning and development processes and requirements. The Planning Information Services Section is located on the lower level of the County Administration Building and is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tel: 301-952-3208.
View Development Review Application Form, Fee Schedules, Instructions, and Process Flowcharts.
Permit Review Section
The Permit Review Section reviews site plans submitted with grading, building, signs, and use permits for conformance with the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance. Review comments are provided to the applicant and the County Department of Environmental Resources, which is the agency responsible for the acceptance, processing, and issuance of permit applications.
The Subdivision Section processes preliminary plans and final plats of subdivision, reservation and vacation plats, and premise addressing. Subdivision approvals result in the creation of thousands of new lots per year. Preliminary plans are reviewed to ensure that adequate public facilities are available, or will be available in the future, to serve the proposed development. Final plats, reservation plats, and vacation petitions include all pertinent engineering data necessary to locate every street, lot, block, and boundary on the ground. The premise address function is responsible for the assignment, verification, and notification of all property address numbers and street names.
See Planning Department calendar for Subdivision Review Committee (SDRC) meeting dates. See SDRC meeting agendas.
Urban Design Section
The Urban Design Section processes comprehensive and specific design plans and conceptual and detailed site plans. It also processes applications for alternative compliance with the Landscape Manual. Comprehensive and specific design plans are part of a three-phase review process for comprehensive design zones. Conceptual and detailed site plans are generally required for certain types of uses, such as multifamily housing, day care, and employment parks in the I-3 Zone. Site plan review may also be triggered by conditions of a prior subdivision or zoning case. Alternative compliance is a technique allowing applicants to propose alternative methods of compliance with the landscaping buffering and screening requirements of the Landscape Manual.
The Zoning Section processes zoning map amendments, special exceptions, variances, special permits, certification of nonconforming uses, and departures. Zoning map amendments for mixed-use, comprehensive design, and traditional single-purpose developments establish the development potential for individual properties. Special exceptions and special permits are required for specific uses, and physical improvements must conform to an approved site plan. The certification process addresses uses that were established legally but are not currently permitted by existing zoning. Departures and variances provide modest relief from the strict requirements of the Zoning Ordinance, based upon the existence of unique physical characteristics or other extraordinary situations that could otherwise prohibit reasonable use of a property.