Proposed Regulatory Extensions – Prince George’s County Council Responds to COVID-19 Impacts on Real Estate and Development Industries

Vincent BiaseVincent Biase, Attorney

On September 22, Council Bills 73-2020 and 74-2020 were introduced to the Prince George’s County Council. In light of the impact of COVID-19 on the real estate and development industries, CB-73-2020 and CB-74-2020 propose to extend the validity periods for approved Preliminary Plans of Subdivision, Detailed Site Plans, and Specific Design Plans. This legislation would effectively accommodate projects in the development pipeline that have been disrupted by Pandemic-related shutdowns and fluctuations in the marketplace by extending applicable approval periods.

Proposed Effect on Approved Plans

In Prince George’s County, Detailed Site Plans (DSPs) are usually valid for three years after Planning Board approval – unless the approved DSP qualifies for an extended validity period under certain, limited circumstances. Specific Design Plans are generally also valid for only three years after the date of approval. If enacted, CB-73-2020 will extend the validity of all DSPs and Specific Design Plans approved prior to January 1, 2015 until December 31, 2021. The Council Bill also proposes to extend the validity of all DSPs and Specific Design Plans approved after January 1, 2015 for an additional year to December 31, 2022.

Additionally, approved Preliminary Plans of Subdivision would also benefit from the proposed legislation. Approved Preliminary Plans of Subdivision (PPSs) are typically only valid for two years after the date of Planning Board approval – with the possibility of validity period extensions under certain, limited circumstances. CB-74-2020 proposes to extend the validity of Preliminary Plans approved prior to January 1, 2015 until December 31, 2021. Preliminary Plans approved after January 1, 2015 will be valid until December 31, 2022 under the proposed legislation.

Significance of the Legislation

Beyond functionally extending the validity periods of approved plans, CB-73-2020 & CB-74-2020 represent the County Council’s willingness to accommodate real estate development in Prince George’s County throughout the challenges presented by the COVID-19 Pandemic. With a majoirty of Council Members sponsoring both Council Bills, County leadership is clearly indicating that it understands the timing hurdles caused by Pandemic-related shutdowns, as it relates to development timelines and the entitlements process in Prince George’s County.

Next Steps

Both Council Bills have garnered significant support from the Council and will likely move through the legislative process on an expedited timeline. The September 22 County Council meeting signaled the initiation of the legislative process for both Bills, as they were introduced and referred to Committee. Next, CB-73-2020 and CB-74-2020 will enter Committee review by the County Council’s “Committee of the Whole.” Here, legislation will be analyzed, discussed, and potentially amended before being reintroduced to the Council. After reintroduction, a public hearing will be held before a final vote on enactment. Ultimately, both Bills will likely be enacted around mid- to late-November, prior to the Council’s last session of 2020.