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Category Change Processes

Administrative Processes

To qualify for the administrative process, a category change request must satisfy the requirements of one of several individual service policies in the County's Water and Sewer Plan.

Requests must be:

  • Consistent with Water and Sewer Plan policies and master plan recommendations

  • Intended to relieve a public health problem for a single property resulting from a failing well and/or septic system

  • Seeking public service for single properties that abut and predate an existing or approved water or sewer main

  • Seeking public service for government buildings and facilities

  • Seeking the approval of large-capacity (multiuse) on-site systems, typically for commercial or institutional uses

To complete the administrative process review, DEP staff make recommendations on the case and must get the concurrence of the Montgomery County Planning Board and the individual members of the County Council.

Application requests that go through the administrative process are reviewed as follows:

  1. The Montgomery County Planning Board meets to hear public testimony on the administrative applications, ask any questions, and conclude with a recommendation.

  2. Notification postcards are sent at least 30 days before the administrative hearing date to all property owners next to and adjoining the property applying for the category change. Applicants and interested parties are emailed about the hearing date. The hearing is also advertised in the County's newspaper.

  3. DEP holds an administrative public hearing (four times a year) at which time questions can be answered and testimony (verbal or written) is accepted for the applications in that administrative group.

  4. When the hearing record is closed and all public testimony has been taken into consideration, applications that may be approved administratively are recommended to the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection as amendments to the Water and Sewer Plan.

  5. The Director reviews the recommendations and finalizes the amendments.

  6. All interested parties are notified of the amendments.

  7. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is notified of the amendments and has a 90-day review period.


How to Prepare for Your Public Hearing

Review the DEP staff recommendation and staff report sent to you for your case. Contact DEP staff if you have any questions. You may submit written testimony about your application to the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection, 255 Rockville Pike, Suite 120, Rockville, MD 20850. All testimony must be submitted before the hearing record closing date. Contact DEP at to find the Hearing Record Closing date.

Hearings held at the DEP facility (255 Rockville Pike #120, Rockville, MD) are accessible to handicapped individuals. Interpreter services for hearing impaired citizens may be guaranteed subject to at least five business days notice.


Administrative Review Process Schedule

Click this link to see a planned schedule of upcoming DEP administrative and County Council actions

Note: This calendar is intended only as a guide to help project the timing of your application review process./p>

For further assistance, contact:

Department of Environmental Protection


Phone: 311

Review the County Executive's recommendation and executive staff report sent to you for your case. Contact DEP staff if you have any questions. 


Council Processes

Category changes requests for the County Council process review typically include applications that are:

  • Recommended for denial because of their inconsistency with water and sewer service policies and/or master plan service recommendations

  • Recommended for deferral of the Council's action, usually for the completion of another decision process, such as a master plan update, special exception application, or Water and Sewer Plan policy issue

  • Found to have some level of controversy involved, which may result from some aspect of providing water or sewer service or another related issue such as the proposed site development

  • Found to have significant differences between agency recommendations

  • Needed to address an area-wide public health problem resulting from failing wells and/or septic systems


Application requests that go through the County Council are reviewed as follows:

  1. There are two County Council sessions each year—one in the spring and one in the fall. (*Note: Temporarily, the Council is receiving one packet of category change requests each year. Applications collected throughout the fiscal year (July through June) are transmitted to the Council the following fall.)

  2. Council staff assembles a packet of water and sewer category requests with staff recommendations, Planning Board recommendations, the executive branch's recommendations, and any public testimony. This packet is given to the County Council, which then formally establishes a public hearing date. 

  3. The County Council holds the public hearing of which State and County agencies are notified at least 30 days in advance. DEP will also provide hearing notices to the applicants and other interested parties.

  4. The Planning Board also meets to hear public testimony on the Council-bound applications, ask any questions, and prepare a recommendation for the County Council's Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment (T&E) Committee meeting. 

  5. The County Council's T&E Committee reviews the applications and offers its recommendations in the form of a draft resolution to the full Council for consideration. (This typically occurs two to four weeks after the public hearing.) 

  6. The County Council meets in full session to review the applications, testimony, and recommendations from all agencies and committees and votes on the draft resolution (typically two weeks after the preceding step). 

  7. A final resolution is put together for the Council. (This takes one week.)

  8. All interested parties are notified of the resolution by email.

  9. The resolution is sent to the Maryland Department of the Environment for review and final approval. MDE has a 90-day review period.

  10. DEP receives comments from MDE, and the resolution is adopted into the County Water and Sewer Plan.


How to Prepare for Your Public Heariing

Council hearings are held at The Council Office Building (COB), located at 100 Maryland Ave., between Fleet St. and E. Jefferson St. (Route 28), in Rockville. Parking in the adjacent COB Garage is free after 6:00 p.m.

To testify at the public hearing, please call the Council Office at 240 777-7931 in advance of the hearing. Do not call DEP to sign up to testify. Council office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If time permits, those who have not already reserved a spot on the speakers' list may be heard at the end of the hearing; give your name to the Council Secretary when you arrive. You may cede your time to another speaker; however, you must be present at the hearing to do so.

The Council's Transportation and Environment Committee usually conducts Water and Sewer Plan hearings. An individual's time is usually limited to three (3) minutes; Council members may ask subsequent questions of the speakers. When testifying, please state your name and address for the hearing record. To present written copies of your testimony at the hearing, please bring at least three (3) but preferably 12 copies, and provide them to the Council secretary before the hearing begins.

Because of limitations both on the number of speakers and their speaking time, the Council also accepts written testimony, which becomes part of the official hearing record, and is given the same consideration as oral testimony. Call the Council Office to confirm the closing date for the hearing record. Address written testimony as follows:

Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Phone: 240 777-7910
Fax: 240 777 7888

County Council Process Review Schedule

Current public hearing dates are posted on the Service Area Category Changes page.

Council Review packets are reviewed and acted upon twice a year by County Council with public hearings. You can view the dates of category change request hearings, set by Council staff, on the County Council website (check the Council Agenda and the Committee Agenda). The packet of information for upcoming and past meetings are available under Packets and Meeting Summaries.

The Public Participation section of the County Council web site provides detailed information about the application process and how to participate. For additional information, call the Council Office at 240-777-7900; staff there will send you the appropriate information. DEP staff can also help with background material and information.


Frequently Asked Questions

Will the Council make a decision at the hearing? What happens after the hearing?

The hearing provides the Council members an opportunity to hear testimony from the public and the applicants. They will not act on the amendments at that time. Following the hearing, the T&E Committee will hold a work session to consider the testimony provided and the agency recommendations on each amendment. They will develop a draft resolution for the full Council to consider. The Council will subsequently hold a worksession to consider the Committee's draft resolution. The Council may choose to approve, conditionally approve, deny, or defer an individual request as part of their action. A week or two after the work session, the full Council will take a final vote on the resolution to amend the Plan.

How is the Park and Planning Commission involved in the process?

The Planning Board considers recommendations from Maryland - National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M NCPPC) staff and testimony on the proposed amendments. The Board will send its recommendations to the Council as part of the hearing record. For a copy of the Board's agenda or additional information, visit the Planning Board's website or contact Katherine Nelson in the M NCPPC Environmental Planning Unit at 301-495-4622 or by email at