(1) Subdivision Process

(a) Preliminary Plat
The first step in the process, preapplication submission, allows an applicant the opportunity to seek advice and confer with the staff and other agency referrals prior to formal submission of a preliminary plat.

When applying for a preliminary plat, the developer must submit to the Planning Board a general scheme of the proposed development, showing location of the property, its existing topography, access to utilities and rights-of-way, and proposed layout of roads, streets, parking areas, structures, school, park or utility sites, open spaces, provisions for storm water management -- in short, "all facts needed to enable the Board and other public agencies to determine whether the proposed layout . . .is satisfactory from the standpoint of the public health, safety and welfare," and meets the requirements of applicable laws and regulations.

The technical staff of the Planning Board and other interested agencies review the proposal and make recommendations to the Planning Board, recording the project's conformity with the Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances, Approved Area Master Plan, Master Plan of Highways, Ten-Year Water and Sewerage Plan, storm water management measures, public facility adequacy and its relationship to adjacent properties.

Preliminary Plats are considered by the Planning Board at its regular public meetings. The Planning Board's hearing is governed by "Rules of Procedure" required under the State Administrative Procedures Act, which requires the placement of a sign on the property advertising the time and place of the hearing. The "Rules" spell out rules of evidence, and require the Planning Board to adopt a resolution stating the basis for its conclusions in each case. The Board may approve the proposal as submitted; approve subject to specified conditions; or disapprove. At this state in the subdivision process, the Board may require reservation and/or dedication of land for public purposes such as school or park sites, or roads. Reservation of land may require a public hearing. The Board must act within specified time limits as set forth by State law.

An approved Preliminary Plat is valid for a period of 2 to 6 years from the date of approval depending on the size of the development, with a possible one year extension. If the applicant has not recorded all plats included on the approved Preliminary Plat within the validity period, he must resubmit the plan and the procedure will be repeated.

(b) Record Plat
The applicant must submit to MNCPPC a final plat, or plats, in a form prescribed in the Subdivision Regulations. The plat must show all pertinent engineering data needed to readily locate every street, lot, block and boundary line on the ground.

The Planning Board's technical staff reviews the plats to assure that the plat exactly reproduces the approved preliminary plat of subdivision. That fact having been established, the Planning Board will consider and take action on the plats at a regularly scheduled meeting. Public hearings are not required. The Planning Board is required by Maryland State Law to act within a 30 day time period.

Once a final plat is approved by the Planning Board, it becomes a record plat when it is recorded in the Prince George's County Land Records Office, Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

(c) Adequate Public Facilities
The Subdivision Regulations require that "the Planning Board shall not approve a subdivision plat if it finds that adequate public facilities and services do not exist or are not programmed for the area within which the proposed subdivision is located."

The Planning Board makes the determination of adequacy on the basis of information submitted by the various agencies responsible for building the required facilities or supplying the necessary services (WSSC, Board of Education, State Department of Transportation, etc.). If the necessary facilities are not already existing, they must be scheduled for construction with 100% of construction funds allocated in the County's adopted Six-Year Capital Improvements Program, or within the State Department of Transportation's Consolidated Transportation Program. Water and sewer facilities are usually considered adequate if the subdivision is located within an area in which water and sewer are presently available, under construction, or designated for service within the first six years of a current approved Ten-Year Water and Sewerage Plan. If the subdivision is not within the area designated for service within the next six years of a current approved Ten-Year Water and Sewerage Plan, water and sewer facilities would be deemed adequate if the builder provides individual sewerage and/or water systems (septics and wells) with installation approved by the State and County Health Departments.

With the adoption of CB-lOO-1989, Police and Fire and Rescue facilities are included in the APF test. Facilities to adequately serve the subdivision must be existing, under construction, or fully funded in the County Capital Improvement Program. If these requirements are not met, the developer may fund the improvements to alleviate the inadequacy as a condition of preliminary plat approval.

The Subdivision Regulations requirements for adequate public facilities is intended to lead to better coordination between demands for new public facilities to support new development, and the provision of necessary facilities and services. In past years, subdivisions were often developed without regard to availability or timing of essential public services, causing inconvenience, added expense, health and safety hazards as well as costly, unbalanced expenditures of public funds to provide necessary services in widely scattered locations.

(d) Cluster Subdivision
The cluster provision of the Zoning Ordinance is a land development intended to promote flexibility and variety of housing types in residential communities without sacrificing existing densities or changing the character of the neighborhood. It also encourages the preservation of existing topography while providing more community green or open space.

Clustering allows the community to be subdivided into lots of varying shapes and sizes, some smaller than the minimum permitted in conventional subdivisions developed under the same zone, and permit variations in setbacks and other lot requirements. However, when a lot is reduced to a smaller size than that required by the zone, the difference must be incorporated in an open space system for the use of all the residents of the development. Unlike other subdivisions, a Planning Board action on a cluster subdivision may be appealed to the District Council.