In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting economic consequences and project delays, the Montgomery County Council has approved an Amendment to the Subdivision Regulations that will automatically extend the Preliminary Plan and Adequate Public Facilities validity periods by two years.

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on development projects in Montgomery County, vary depending on the project’s proposed use, design, stage of development etc.  Some projects, especially those currently under construction, have kept moving forward with limited to no adverse impacts (except for perhaps some construction delays, resulting from worker restrictions).  But that’s not the case for all.  Some approved projects are being rethought in terms of the product type, mix of uses, residential unit mix, building design, as well as the design of public use space and residential amenities. And of course, some projects have been delayed by the uncertainties in market demand and challenges in securing long term debt financing. Whether financial or market-driven, the ability to implement certain project approvals has been temporarily stymied. 

As such, just as they had done in response to the 2008 financial crisis, Lerch Early attorneys Steven Robins and Bill Kominers led our group’s effort (in conjunction with the Maryland Building Industry Association) in advocating for legislation that would extend existing approvals under the Subdivision Regulations, including preliminary plan and adequate public facilities approvals, by two years (this legislation was initially discussed in our Land Use Newsletter, which can be found here).  The proposal was introduced on June 23 as Subdivision Regulation Amendment No. 20-01, and the County Council held a public hearing and thereafter approved the Amendment on July 28.  Importantly, the two-year extension applies both to existing applications approved before July 28, 2020, as well as those projects that had timely filed for an APF or Preliminary Plan extension before that date. 

This extension will provide needed, additional time to help ensure that existing entitlements and development projects in Montgomery County can keep moving forward, as everyone adjusts to the “new normal” that will inevitably result from this pandemic.  Other extensions (such as extensions to Site Plan validity periods, and longer durations for projects just now receiving approvals) may be necessary in the future, but this automatic extension provides an important first step to ensure that development in Montgomery County can progress when the time is right.  

Please feel free to contact Steve, Bill, or any of our land use attorneys if you would like more information.