If you wish to apply for a special exception, you should come to the office of the Board of Appeals for the necessary application forms. The staff will advise you how to complete the application, what fees you must pay, and what documents you need to submit at the time of filing. When you submit your completed application, you will need two checks, payable to Montgomery County, for the filing fee and the sign fee.
The Board needs one original and three copies of all documents. For a small fee, you may make copies on the Board's copying machine. You will need to submit the following documents and information, which are also listed in the Zoning Ordinance (Section 59-A-4.22) and on the back of the application form:
Once you have assembled all the necessary information, bring it and the application and sign fees to the Office of the Board of Appeals for filing. You have not officially filed for a special exception until the Board has all of this information. Board of Appeals staff will review your application materials. If they are complete, the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings will schedule a public hearing on your application no sooner than 60 days after you have officially filed. A Hearing Examiner from the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings will hold the public hearing, and prepare a detailed, written Report and Recommendation on the application, which is referred back to the Board of Appeals for final action. Staff cannot accept an incomplete application.
Before you file for a special exception, it is advisable for you to speak with all adjoining and confronting property owners to explain the nature of the proposed special exception and the impact it might have on the neighborhood.
If you are an applicant for an accessory apartment, ask the staff to give you a copy of the questions the chairperson will ask you at the hearing.
Staff cannot accept an incomplete application.
Having scheduled your hearing date, the staff will give you a sign and directions for posting it. You must post the sign within three days. You must keep the sign up until you receive the Board's written opinion. If there was opposition to your request, you must keep the sign posted for 30 days after you receive the Board's written opinion.
If you return the sign within 21 days of the date on which you were permitted to remove it, you will receive a partial refund of your sign fee.
Notification of confronting and adjoining property owners
Using the list you submitted, the Board will send notices of the hearing to the confronting and adjoining property owners. The Board will also notify the appropriate civic association and other governmental agencies.
When your application has been accepted officially, the staff assigns a number to your case and places all material pertaining to the case in a file. The case file is open to the public, and you should look at the file before the day of the hearing to see if in addition to your own material, other people have submitted letters of support or opposition. Anyone interested may copy material from the file on the Board's copying machine, for a small fee.
The Zoning Ordinance sets forth the general standards (Section 59-G-1.21) that all special exceptions must meet and the specific standards for each different use (Section 59-G-2). Further standards for some uses are located in the section on definitions (Section 59-A-2).
At the public hearing, you must explain how your special exception will operate - what you plan to do, how many employees you will have, what equipment you will use, what hours you will operate, the appearance of the exterior of any buildings on the property, your proposed landscaping, lighting, and parking arrangements. You also must prove that your application meets all of the general standards as well as the specific standards for the use you are requesting.
If there are people opposing your request, they will have an opportunity to explain their position (see section on Opposition). Cross-examination is permitted and the Hearing Examiner will explain the process before the hearing begins. It is not necessary to be represented by an attorney. However, if the case is complicated or there is much opposition, it is advisable to have counsel who is experienced in special exception cases.
After all those attending the hearing and wishing to speak have presented their cases and completed their questioning, the Hearing Examiner usually will close the record. The Hearing Examiner then has 30 days in which to prepare a detailed, written Report and Recommendation on the application. This Report and Recommendation is referred back to the Board of Appeals for final action. There is a ten day opportunity for parties in the special exception hearing to request oral argument on the Report and Recommendation before the Board of Appeals. Following that ten-day period, the Board will either schedule oral argument or take final action on the application, and issue a written opinion of its decision.
The Board's decision becomes effective on the date indicated on the written opinion.
The Board holds hearings every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
Worksessions are held every other Wednesday. Items are accepted for the Agenda on a first come, first serve basis and Agendas are limited to a maximum number of items. The deadline for submissions is noon on the Tuesday prior to a hearing or Worksession. Late submissions will be considered on a case by case, space available basis and should consist of 10 copies of all materials requested for inclusion.
(a) In all special exception and special exception modification cases applicants are required to submit duplicate copies of all final plans. Both copies will be entered into the case record, with one copy designated for Department of Permitting Services' use.
(b) Please do not file applications on a Wednesday, as public hearings are being held.