As addressed in Overview of Form-Based Codes and the New Mixed-Use Zone, the Urban Centers and Corridor Nodes Development Code is a new approach to planning and zoning in Prince George’s County, focusing on an administrative review process with all the critical decisions on zoning and associated design regulations occurring at the front end of the process. This “front-loaded” approach allows all stakeholders, including citizens, municipalities, and the County Council, to become more comfortable with the expectation that the Regulating Plan will ensure future development will be high-quality and will conform to the regulations of the code.
Streamlined Review & Approval Procedures
Additionally, as cornerstones of this code, predictability, certainty, and streamlined review and approval procedures guide the decision to pursue a form-based code with an administrative review process for permit site plans. The code ensures a minimum level of design and construction quality in the standards proposed in the legislation. This, in addition to a set process for applying the standards - with the use of extensive public participation to develop the regulating plan - allows for trust in the process at the time of permit site plan review. All major decisions regarding building height, setback, general function, etc. are determined with the community and decision-makers at the time the regulating plan is developed and approved. What you see - at the regulating plan stage - will be what you get when specific development applications come forward through the permit site plan.
Appellate processes directly impact the factors of predictability, certainty, and streamlined procedures by adding an unknown element to the process. Appellate processes work best with form-based codes when limited to the criteria and regulations of the code itself, rather than drawing on outside elements. Under this circumstance, the Planning Board becomes an appropriate body for the appellate process for aggrieved parties of record because the appeal process and findings will be directly linked to the procedures and regulations of the code.
Planning Department staff, the County Council, and other stakeholders continue to explore this question in light of the goals of the code and the potential ramifications of an expanded appellate process.