Development Review Process

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What is development review?

Development review is a general term for a city’s various procedures to review proposed developments and ensure they comply with the city’s regulations. These include land uses, engineering, utilities, transportation, stormwater and sediment control, and tree preservation to achieve consistent design of the site and related public infrastructure.

Rockville’s development review procedures are intended to help ensure the health and welfare of residents and achieve high-quality development that complies with the design regulations of the City Code and addresses the needs of the surrounding community. These procedures govern all development projects, except single–unit, detached residences.

As outlined in the Zoning Ordinance, the city works with surrounding property owners, businesses, and the applicant during development review. During this process, city staff reviews applications for compliance, and surrounding neighborhoods and property owners review and comment on proposed plans.

Still have questions? Contact: 

Community Planning & Development Services
111 Maryland Ave.
Rockville, MD 20850
Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

For a second opinion from a supervisor or the director, please refer to the Customer Bill of Rights.

How is development reviewed?

Rockville’s development review process includes four phases: pre-application, application, public meeting, and decision.

Pre-application Phase

  • Step 1: The developer notifies the community about the plans and holds a public meeting for comments.
  • Step 2: The developer submits pre-application materials and fees.
  • Step 3: City staff and the developer assess the project’s potential impact on neighbors, green space, transportation, stormwater management, and other public infrastructure.
  • Step 4: City staff holds a pre-application meeting with the developer to discuss the proposal.

Application Phase

  • Step 1: The developer submits application materials and fees, and meets with city staff to discuss the proposal and any changes made as a result of the pre-application phase.
  • Step 2: The developer notifies the community about the plans, if necessary.
  • Step 3: The developer holds a public meeting for comments, if necessary.
  • Step 4: City staff evaluates the application and issues a report.
  • Step 5: City staff and the developer brief the Planning Commission and Mayor and Council, if necessary.

Public Meeting Phase

  • Step 1: The designated approving authority reviews the application and any changes made as a result of community feedback.
  • Step 2: The designated approving authority approves or denies the project.

Decision Phase

  • Step 1: City staff issues a decision letter based on the final action of the approving authority. Such action may approve the project as is, approve the project with specific conditions, or deny the project.
  • Step 2: The developer signs the letter acknowledging the decision and files a final set of project plans, if approved.

Who reviews and approves development?

The Zoning Ordinance outlines three levels of development review based on the project’s size and potential impact. Each project is assigned points based on acreage, number of dwelling units, square footage of non-residential space, residential area impact, and traffic impact. Depending on the number of points earned, a project will require one of the following levels of review:

  • Site Plan Level 1: Review by the Chief of Zoning.
  • Site Plan Level 2: Review by the Planning Commission at one meeting.
  • Project Plan: Review by the Planning Commission and Mayor and Council at three meetings: one for an initial briefing of both, one for review and recommendation by the Planning Commission, and one for review and action by the Mayor and Council.

Is my project's property within Rockville city limits?

Not all Rockville addresses are within city limits. Check to see if your property is within Rockville city limits here. If your property is not within city limits, but it is located within the city's Maximum Expansion Limits, you can apply for an annexation petition.

How do I begin the development review process?

More information on the development review process can be found in the Development Review Procedures Manual. Visit Development Applications to find the relevant application for your project.

Join our Development Watch Newsletter

Sign up to receive updates on development applications in Rockville.

How can I get involved?

  • Visit Development Watch and check the Development Watch Map for status updates on development projects in your neighborhood and the city.
  • Attend public meetings held by developers to learn more, ask questions, and express your opinions about potential projects.
  • Attend public meetings held by the city. Meeting schedules, agendas, and information packets for the Mayor and Council, Planning Commission, Historic District Commission, and Board of Appeals are available in the Agenda Center. In addition, for most cases, the developer is required to provide notice by first class mail to the property owners and residents of the area surrounding the proposed development. The plan review level determines the notice area.
  • Members of the public are welcome to attend Development Review Committee meetings, however these meetings are not public hearings and no testimony will be allowed.