Construction crane near building along street.

In some cases, extraordinary hardship or practical difficulties may result from strict compliance with the Subdivision Regulations. In such cases, the Planning Board may approve an alternative proposal provided that certain findings are made, as stipulated in the Subdivision Regulations. Such alternative proposals are known as variations and should not be confused with Zoning variances.

Variations are only filed as a companion request to a subdivision application requiring conformance to the Subdivision Regulations. Under the new Ordinance, applicants may request variations to lot depth, cemetery requirements, private streets and easements, and public utility easements.


Pre-Application Conference: Optional under both new and old Subdivision Regulations.

Pre-Application Neighborhood Meeting: Optional under both new and old Subdivision Regulations.

Subdivision and Development Review Committee (SDRC): Variation requests are required to be submitted prior to SDRC review of the companion case under both current and new Subdivision Regulations.

Decision-Making Body: Under the new Subdivision Regulations, variation requests are decided by either the Planning Director or the Planning Board dependent upon the associated subdivision application per the table below:

New Subdivision Regulations
Associated Subdivision Application TypeDecision-Making Body
Minor SubdivisionPlanning Director
Minor Final PlatPlanning Director
Major SubdivisionPlanning Board
Major Final PlatPlanning Board

Under the old Subdivision Regulations, variation requests are ruled upon by the Planning Board or the Planning Director if filed in conjunction with a minor preliminary plan of subdivision being acted upon by the Planning Director.

Fees:  No fee

Public Notice Requirement: None

Estimated Review Time:  Dependent upon the associated subdivision application. A variation request must be submitted in writing at least 30 calendar days prior to the Planning Board hearing of the associated subdivision application. If possible, variation requests should be submitted at the same time as the application for the associated subdivision application.

Application Instructions

The only material required to apply for a variation is a Statement of Justification, also known as an SOJ. The Statement of Justification must be a written document and should include the following: 

  • The section of the Subdivision Regulations from which the subdivision application varies
  • A general description of the subdivision application
  • The specific justification/reasoning for the alternative proposal (i.e. variation)
  • An explanation of how the alternative proposal meets the criteria for approval of a variation listed in Section 24‐3403(a) of the Subdivision Regulations.

When filling out this application form for the associated subdivision application, check “yes” in the box titled “Variation, Variance, or Alternative Compliance Request(s).”

Email a PDF of the application form and the Statement of Justification for the variation, along with the other required submission materials for the associated subdivision application to

The new Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations go into effect on April 1, 2022. For a period of two years (until March 31, 2024), Applicants have the option to submit under the requirements of either the new or prior Ordinance. [Note: Review under the prior Ordinance requires a Pre-Application Conference and Statement of Justification to explain why the applicant has not chosen to develop under the provisions of the new Ordinance.

Any application accepted prior to the effective date of the new Ordinance will be reviewed and decided in accordance with the provisions of the prior Ordinance. See the Transitional Provisions Quick Reference for more information. 

After April 1, 2022

Current Ordinance

Fill out this application form and email the PDF along with required submission materials to

Contact Us

Development Review Division

PRIMARY PHONE: 301-952-3530

SECONDARY PHONE: 301-952-4366

FAX: 301-952-3749

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