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How do I appeal a Planning Board decision?

Author: Peter E. Ciferri Date: 02/01/2019

Categories: Land Use, Zoning, and Municipal Law

Final decisions made by the Montgomery County Planning Board of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission can be appealed within a specific statutory timeframe to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County.

The Maryland Rules set specific timelines for an appellant in ordering transcripts, issuing notices, and preparing written memoranda to argue your case.  The Rules also require the payment of certain fees. Your arguments must be based on the transcripts and evidence in the record and you must clearly preserve every argument you would like to make.  The process can be complicated and a failure to comply with the procedural rules can easily result in a dismissal of your appeal.

Decisions regarding conditional use, special exception, and variance applications are made by the Office of the Hearing Examiner in most cases.  Those decisions are appealed to the Montgomery County Board of Appeals, where they are reviewed. Final decisions of the Board of Appeals can then be appealed to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County using the same appeal procedures described above. Maryland and local law requires that you must exhaust your administrative remedies by appealing to the Board of Appeals before seeking judicial review in the court.   

On appeal, the Circuit Court has the power to look through the agency decision to analyze whether it was legally erroneous, arbitrary and capricious, or not supported by substantial evidence in the record. If you can persuade the Court that one of these circumstances exists, then you can argue for reversal of the Board’s decision.

A similar process exists for every planning board, planning commission, and board of appeals in each of Maryland’s counties and cities, including the cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg and Frederick and Prince George’s counties.

If you believe the Planning Board, Board of Appeals, or another administrative agency has wrongly ruled against you, McMillan Metro, P.C.’s zoning and land use lawyers are available for a consultation. Be aware though that State and local laws almost unanimously impose very strict, and often short, deadlines for noting and filing an appeal. If you miss a deadline, you will likely forfeit your right to appeal the decision.  The sooner we can discuss your case, the sooner our experienced land use lawyers can analyze your case and advise you of the applicable deadlines, make recommendations, and guide you through the complicated process of briefing and arguing for reversal.

To schedule a consultation, please call Peter E. Ciferri at (240) 778-2307.