MPCA Shares Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals Rules and Procedures

MPCA Corner

Over the past 24 months, the Maryland Planning Commissioners Association (MPCA) has established a new initiative to dedicate time and energy to Maryland’s citizen planners by answering questions and responding to “hot-topics” raised by its’ members.

A citizen planner recently inquired about rules and procedures for their local planning board. The MPCA compiled facts to assist all planning commissions and boards to better understand the ‘what,’ and the ‘why’ of their role in planning, and how rules and procedures can inform that role. 

Rules and procedures can cover a variety of topics, such as: 

  • Board size
  • Elections 
  • Meeting frequency 
  • Comprehensive plan development
  • Reporting 
  • Record keeping… 
  • And much more! 

To learn more about rules and procedures and to access examples from around Maryland, please visit the MPCA’s new rules and procedures webpage. 

It is important to establish rules and procedures well in advance of any public hearing, especially when you might face a controversial topic. 

Since March 2020, many jurisdictions have moved their planning commission and board of appeals meetings online to adapt to the pandemic. Each jurisdiction may want to consider how and if their rules and procedures address the unique needs of such meetings. The MPCA recommends that planning boards check with their jurisdiction’s attorney to be sure that virtual meetings will be conducted in compliance with the Open Meetings Act. 

In terms of technological considerations, three key items to plan for include:  

  1. All members must be able to fully participate in the meeting; 
  2. The public must be able to fully observe the meeting; and
  3. If local rules require the board or commission to receive public comment on an issue, then that aspect of the meeting must be facilitated. 

The MPCA strives to respond to requests for assistance and knowledge sharing from its members. If you have a question for which the MPCA might be able to help, please contact Joe Griffiths at joseph.griffiths@maryland.gov 

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