Land Use Coronavirus Alert: SSP and COVID-19 Renter Relief Act Updates
Montgomery County Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) Update Proceeding Despite Pandemic
Montgomery County comprehensively reviews and updates its Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) every four years, and this year is an update year. The County Planning Department commenced its update process last fall and, despite the recent challenges created by the pandemic, the 2020 SSP Update is moving forward and may affect your projects.
By way of background, the Montgomery County Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) adopted in 1973 requires the Montgomery County Planning Board to make a finding that public facilities are adequate before the Board can approve new development. The SSP adopted by the Montgomery County Council provides the Board with the necessary criteria and technical guidance in order to make that finding.
The County uses the APFO and SSP as tools to prevent new development from outpacing the public facilities necessary to support existing and proposed development. While the SSP technically looks at water, sewer, police, fire, and health services as well, it typically focuses on two major considerations when it comes to proposed new development:
- Whether transportation facilities are adequate to support the projected transportation demand from the project, and
- For residential developments, whether there is adequate school capacity to support the students anticipated to be generated by the development.
The SSP is critical not only for evaluating individual projects but for establishing a general County-wide growth policy. If the Board cannot make a finding of adequacy then a proposed project can be denied. Additionally, certain areas of the County may be placed in development moratoria – this happened to several school clusters last year due to inadequate school capacity. The SSP also influences policy area designations that are used for the calculation of Development Impact Taxes.
Based on the current schedule, we anticipate that Planning Staff’s draft SSP recommendations will be issued in the very near future, on May 7. Shortly thereafter, on May 14, Staff is expected to brief the Planning Board. A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for June 11, though that could change. If the current remote procedures on public hearings continue into June, then the public hearing will likely be held virtually. A Planning Board work session is scheduled for June 18, and by law, the Planning Board must transmit its Planning Board Draft of the SSP to the County Council by August 1. The Council must adopt the SSP by November 15.
Lerch, Early & Brewer’s land use practice group is closely monitoring this year’s SSP process and will provide more information in coming weeks about its potential implications for residential and commercial development in the County. In the meantime, for further information on the SSP or to understand how to engage in these important policies, please contact one of our land use attorneys.
Legislative Alert: COVID-19 Renter Relief Act
On April 14, Councilmember Will Jawando introduced Expedited Bill 18-20 – Landlord-Tenant Relations – Rent Stabilization During Emergencies (also known as the Covid-19 Renter Relief Act). As an Expedited Bill, it is on a fast track and is tentatively scheduled for a public hearing on April 21, then scheduled for action on April 23.
Bill 18-20 is designed to prohibit a landlord from imposing any rental increases for residential tenants during the catastrophic public emergency declared by the Governor on March 5.
The Bill provides as follows:
- Any rent increases scheduled to become effective during the public emergency are prohibited;
- Notices to tenants of rent increases during the public emergency or within 30 days after the expiration of the emergency are prohibited;
- Notices to tenants must comply with the provisions for notices set forth in the legislation;
Landlords must provide written notice to tenants to disregard any notice of rent increase sent prior to the emergency declaration, if the notice was to become effective during the emergency;
- The Department of Housing and Community Affairs must post information on its website advising that rent increases during the emergency are prohibited; and
- The Bill expires and is of no further force or effect on the 121st day following the expiration of the emergency, declared on March 5, as may be revised or extended by the Governor.
The Council staff report can be viewed here. To comment on the Bill or to testify at the public hearing via written testimony during the shutdown please see the instructions on the County Council webpage at: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/COUNCIL/PHSignUp.html.
Key Dates, Notices & Insights
- COVID-19 Renter Relief Act: A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, April 21, with action scheduled for Thursday, April 23.
- Montgomery County Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP): A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, June 11, with a planning board work session the following week on Thursday, June 18.
Previous Editions of this Newsletter
Land Use Alert: Review of COVID-19-related Stimulus and other Legislative Updates: https://www.lerchearly.com/news/land-use-alert-review-of-covid-19-related-stimulus-and-other-legislative-updates
Virtual Hearings, Revised Application Procedures and Legislative Update (04/01): https://www.lerchearly.com/news/land-use-coronavirus-alert-virtual-hearings-revised-application-procedures-and-legislative-update
Helping You Navigate Land Use and Related Issues Amid Coronavirus (03/25): Agency Operations & Procedures Update: https://www.lerchearly.com/news/helping-you-navigate-land-use-and-related-issues-amid-coronavirus-agency-operations-procedures-update
To submit a request or suggestion on legislation or any other topics you want covered in this space, please reach out to your Lerch Early Land Use attorney by going to https://www.lerchearly.com/services/land-use-zoning and clicking on the "Find an Attorney" button.
Lerch Early is monitoring the COVID-19 coronavirus and its impact on our clients and communities. As part of this effort, we've created the Lerch Early COVID-19 Resource Center to aggregate not only our original content but to share other links that may be important to you and/or your business. Check it out here: https://www.lerchearly.com/news/coronavirus-resource-center-lerch-early.