PGC Council Considering Bills That Would Make Sweeping Changes to the County’s Zoning Process
Updated: Sep 14
Recently, the Prince George's County Council referred CB-091-2022, CB-092-2022 and CB-093-2022 to the Committee of the Whole, all three bills make changes to the county's Zoning procedures. CB-091-2022 would revise the voting requirement for the adoption of legislative text amendments to the local zoning laws to require a two-thirds (8 vote) supermajority of the full Council.If enacted, CB-092-2022 would revise the application review procedures for zoning applications decided by the District Council. It will effectively eliminate all District Council elections to review development review cases under the Zoning Ordinance. CB-093-2022 would add an additional preliminary hearing process for all proposed zoning legislation and implement a minimum time period after the conclusion of the preliminary legislative hearing for review by a County standing committee.
CB-091-2022 is an extremely contentious bill. It would require the District Council to have a supermajority vote (2/3rd of the Council Members present) to adopt text amendments to local zoning laws, which may make passing zoning laws in the County more difficult. The Planning Department staff, in their memo to the Planning Board, recommended that the Board vote to take no position on CB-91-2022 when it came before them. Currently, the adoption of amendments have no supermajority requirements in the County's Zoning Ordinance and are adopted by a majority vote.
Text from CB-091-2022
The election to review process is a little-known but important part of the zoning process. Currently, the Planning Board, when reviewing a site plan, holds a public hearing within 70 days of the time it is accepted unless the applicant agrees to a waiver. After the hearing, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) staff presents its recommendation to the Planning Board, which may approve, approve with conditions, or deny the plan. If there is any disagreement, the Planning Board's decision it can be appealed to the District Council or the District Council can elect to review the board's decision. At this point, the Council holds a public hearing where they can affirm, reverse or modify the Planning Board's decision.
The Prince George's County Planning Board policy analysis of CB-092-2022 notes the importance of the process, taking a negative view of it. The Planning Board states that the review process is:
"One of the County's most significant barriers to development. It can discourage developers and businesses from locating in Prince George's County. For those who choose to develop in the County, it diverts scarce financial resources that could be spent on additional amenities and public benefits to costly procedures and process."
Advocates, however, see the process as an important step to prevent unwanted projects or developers from the county. This proposed bill, if signed into law, would eliminate the District Council's ability to elect to review development review applications under the Zoning Ordinance.
CB-093-2022 would also make a significant change to the county's zoning procedures. A new section would be added to the county's zoning law to hold a "Preliminary Informational Hearing on Zoning Legislation." The hearing would occur after a legislative amendment to the local zoning laws is presented by the Council but before the committee's work session. The draft of the bill goes further to note that the hearing is to take place:
"....no less than fourteen (14) days after the presentation of the zoning bill and not less than seven (7) days prior to placement on an agenda for consideration by the respective standing committee of the County Council."
These changes to the County's zoning procedure will have a substantial impact on development in the County for years to come if implemented. If you have questions or concerns about either of these bills, contact Council Member Dannielle Glaros for information on CB-093-2022 and Council Members Calvin Hawkins and Mel Franklin for information on CB-091-2022 and CB-092-2022. CLPA will be following all three of these bills through the legislative process.
Correction: This article has been edited to include information about CB-091-2022