Mandatory Referral Explained
Mandatory Referral is a review process through which all public sector development projects (from federal, state, and local governments) and public and private utilities are referred to the Planning Board for review. There are two categories of Mandatory Referral (MR) reviews depending on the scope of the proposed project. Full MR reviews are referred to the Planning Board for review, while Administrative MR reviews are handled within the Planning Department. The Planning Board's decision and recommendations are advisory only, as are the recommendations of the Planning Department for Administrative MR reviews. However, Planning Board and Planning Department recommendations can improve a project, and submitting agencies usually adopt them.
According to state law (Sections 20-301 through 305 of the Land Use Article), all federal, state, and local governments and public utilities are required to submit proposed projects (for example, roadway improvements, schools, public buildings, fire and police stations, and others) in Prince George’s County for a Mandatory Referral review.
Steps for the Mandatory Referral Review
The steps for the Mandatory Referral Review process are as follows:
A. Determine the Type of Review:
1. Determine if the project is eligible for mandatory referral. A determination may be one of two types:
- Subject to the Entitlement Process Instead of Mandatory Referral. This would include any county or municipal project that must go through the entitlement process. The entitlement process will provide a detailed review to ensure that a project is in conformance with the Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Ordinance, and other regulations that are considered binding since they were adopted by the governing body.
- Move Forward as a Mandatory Referral. These projects would be referred to the Planning Director to determine what type of mandatory referral process they should go through.
The Legal Department in the Prince George's County Planning Department will review the Mandatory Referral Intake Questionnaire and determine what type of review should be conducted on a project.
2. If the project is eligible for mandatory referral, determine what type of mandatory referral it is. A mandatory referral may be one of two types:
- Administrative Review. These reviews are conducted by Planning Department staff for minor projects, such as small additions, alterations, or renovations to existing facilities, or minor modifications conducted as part of routine maintenance. These reviews do not proceed to Steps II and III.
- Full Review. These reviews are conducted for projects that will proceed through a full Planning Board review, with a Mandatory Referral hearing and notification. The applicant would consult with Planning Department staff early on in the process.
B. Determine Submission Requirements:
For both types of MR reviews, a submission of a project narrative and relevant supporting documentation are required, as outlined in the Adopted Uniform Standards. Following a submission to the staff person designated to manage the review, the MR review manager schedules a pre-acceptance meeting.
C. Hold a Pre-acceptance Meeting:
The project applicant provides a submission to the MR review manager as soon as the most relevant information is complete and while there is still time to consider changes to the proposed project. The MR review manager schedules and holds a pre-acceptance meeting. The meeting is held for the purpose of reviewing the submission and determining if all information needed to conduct the review has been received or if additional information should be requested. Once all information is provided, the MR review is accepted and the staff begins the MR review.
D. Public Hearing Notification (Full MR Reviews):
The Planning Department staff sends a one-page notification to adjacent landowners by mail with a brief description of the proposed project and a Planning Board date and time. Posting of signs are not required for MR reviews.
E. Planning Board Consideration and Recommendation (Full MR Reviews):
The Planning Board holds a hearing and provides recommendations. The applicant is notified of the recommendations. This completes the MR review process.