The 1st step in the ultimate approval of any Regulating Plan (and the applicability of the code) begins with the master plan or sector plan for a given location. These planning efforts are subject to extensive public involvement under a program approved for each plan by the Planning Board and County Council. Once the planning background has been established, the focus shifts to the use of the code.
Like any form-based code, the Urban Centers and Corridor Nodes Development Code is designed to maximize participation and input early on. Under this process, major decisions on the character of development will be made as the future land use is determined for a community. When a sector or master plan for a designated Center or Corridor Node begins, community members will be involved in the planning process and a charrette to determine the vision for future development in the study area.
This participation will include active involvement in the creation of the Regulating Plan for that location, which in turn establishes the desired urban design character and design standards for all future development. Regardless of the process by which the zone is applied (comprehensive rezoning/Sectional Map Amendments, or piecemeal rezoning/Zoning Map Amendments), the public will be directly involved in the creation of the Regulating Plan and urban design vision.
Planning staff, in conjunction with the County Council and other stakeholders, is exploring the notification process to ensure maximum participation by the public. Additionally, the project team is examining the role of the public with regard to variances and administrative deviations from code requirements.
As mentioned in Section 1, this code is intended to involve an administrative process for review once the critical decisions are made at the time the Regulating Plan is approved. With the certainty put in place by the Regulating Plan and associated regulations, permit site plan review becomes akin to a checklist process: did the developer meet the code or not? Because this is an administrative, permit-driven process that directly links to those critical decisions and the established, consensus vision for the community, the public does not have a role at the time of permit site plan review—the ground work and critical decisions have already been made.