The Special Protection Area (SPA) program requires that developers (of new construction) work closely with the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (DPS), the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) from the onset of the regulatory review process to minimize impacts on stream conditions in the SPA and ensure the continued high quality of the County's environmental resources.
This page lays out the requirements that all developers must meet during the planning and construction phase within SPAs.
Developers of projects in SPAs are required to hold pre-application meetings. At a pre-application meeting, DEP presents the project developer with the critical natural resource parameters that need to be maintained to protect the existing high-quality stream conditions. The parameters are guided by the performance goals.
The purposes of the meeting are to:
- Present the applicant with the proposed performance goals that are to be used for developing the site layout
- Discuss the conceptual approach and possible locations of preferred structural and nonstructural best management practices (BMPs) and their estimated suitability for achieving the performance goals
- Review the monitoring protocols and the procedures to be followed by the applicant in developing a BMP monitoring plan
- Review the development impact monitoring protocols and procedures that DEP will use in monitoring development impacts
- Use innovative site layouts and linked BMP options to maximize the protection of water quality, stream habitat, and aquatic life.
The applicant must make a written request to set up a pre-application meeting and must supply three copies of specific elements of the required water quality inventory at least 30 working days before the pre-application meeting.
Applicants are responsible for taking minutes of these meetings and submitting them for approval by the County.
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Water Quality Inventory Requirements
According to the Montgomery County Regulation on Water Quality Review for Development in Designated Special Protection Areas, the applicant must supply a minimum of three copies of these specific elements of the required water quality inventory at least 30 working days before the pre-application meeting:
- Location and rating of infiltratable soils based on the latest edition of the soil survey for Montgomery County, Maryland. On-site soil analysis will be required with the applicant's formal submission of the water quality inventory.
- Forest stand delineation and natural resources inventory, which must include:
- Stream buffer delineation in accordance with the Planning Board's Environmental Guidelines
- Erodible soils and areas of steep slopes
- Location of all field-delineated intermittent and perennial springs, seeps, and wetlands.
- A drainage area map showing the upstream drainage area, hydrologically important fractures, and the location of existing developed areas and BMPs in the subwatershed (as identified in DEP's inventory of stormwater management facilities).
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Performance Goals for Site Development Within SPAs
SPA permitting requirements guide the development of concept plans for site imperviousness, site layout, environmental buffers, forest conservation, sediment and erosion control, and stormwater management. The performance goals include:
- Stream/aquatic life habitat protection
- Maintaining stream base flow
- Protecting seeps, springs, and wetlands
- Maintaining natural on-site stream channels
- Minimizing storm flow runoff increases
- Identifying and protecting stream banks prone to erosion and slumping
- Minimizing increases in ambient water temperature
- Minimizing sediment loading into streams
- Minimizing nutrient loadings into streams
- Controlling insecticides, pesticides, and toxic substances.
Read more about how developers must achieve performance goals within SPAs through the site plan design process and accompanying permitting requirements for sediment, erosion, and stormwater management controls. The development process requires close coordination between the urban development project's design team and the County's environmental, regulatory, and planning agencies.
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Water Quality Monitoring Requirements
Project developers are responsible for meeting water quality monitoring requirements. Water quality monitoring consultants may be contracted by individual project developers. These consultants are expected to follow annual reporting and data submission requirements for SPA BMP monitoring and specified procedures for BMP monitoring, including submission of reports and data.
Department of Permitting Services Resources
For information on the SPA Application and Review Process, visit the Department of Permitting Services Special Protection Area site.
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