The State of Maryland entrusts local jurisdictions with land use planning authority to guide growth and development through the Land Use Article of the Maryland Annotated Code. The Land Use Article delegates planning and land use regulatory authority to all non-charter counties and all incorporated municipalities, except for Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and some of their jurisdictions.
The statute outlines the responsibilities, roles, and functions of the planning commission and sets the ground rules for planning and zoning powers.
In 2012, the Maryland General Assembly repealed Article 66B and Article 28 and replaced it with the Land Use Article.
In 2013, the Maryland General Assembly repealed Articles 23A, 24, 25, 25A and 25B and replaced them with the Local Government Article.
The role of local legislative bodies in non-charter counties and municipalities was modified by the General Assembly during the 2015 Session, in an Act–Chapter 288 of the Laws of 2015–which took effect on October 1, 2015.
The 2015 Act was a response, in part, to an Opinion of the Attorney General dated November 18, 2014, which had concluded that, in non-charter counties and municipalities, the Land Use Article does not authorize a legislative body of a local jurisdiction to adopt substantive alterations or amendments to a comprehensive plan as prepared and approved by a planning commission without first returning the plan to the planning commission for its approval of any such alterations or amendments.
As amended by the 2015 Act, Section 3-204(c) of the Land Use Article now gives the legislative body of a non-charter county or municipality the authority to adopt, modify, remand or disapprove a whole plan or part of the plan (including a sector plan or an amendment to a plan) as prepared and approved by the planning commission. The legislative body may hold a public hearing before it either remands or disapproves of a plan, and must hold a public hearing before it adopts or modifies a plan. If the legislative body remands or disapproves a plan, the planning commission shall hold a public hearing before submitting a new recommended plan to the legislative body. A plan approved by a planning commission and submitted to the local legislative body is considered adopted by the legislative body if the body fails to approve, modify, remand or disapprove of the plan within 90 days of submission, which period can be extended an additional 60 days by resolution.
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