Property Rights - Enacted Legislation
Recently enacted legislation
Recently approved County legislation has a direct and dramatic impact on neighborhood building that is only now beginning to be seen. Every County resident considering a home improvement, sale, or purchase of property should know their rights and responsibilities, and the full implications of regulations before beginning the design process. Not knowing about regulatory changes can cost thousands of dollars in re-design fees, permit fees or taxes; in some cases, it can result in a “stop work order” on their improvements or new construction.
In meetings with citizen associations, Renewing Montgomery frequently finds residents are unaware new legislation has been enacted that places new restrictions on their property rights. New regulations also typically have unintended consequences as they continue to be interpreted by County agencies and integrated into the construction process.
CALCULATIONS FOR LOT COVERAGE as defined by Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (3/2009). Please note: this is an example to help property owners understand the legislation. Renewing Montgomery takes no responsibility for this interpretation. All applicants should verify lot coverage with DPS for their specific property. If you encounter any interpretations that run counter to this formula, please contact us.
Example: Lot size 12,500 sq ft.
Total lot size minus 6000 sq ft (12,500-6000 = 6500 sq ft)
Multiply difference by .001 (6500*.001 = 6.5)
Subtract from 30% (30% - 6.5% = 23.5%)
Calculate buildable area of lot (12,500 * .235 = 2937.5 sq ft)
PLEASE NOTE: there are lot coverage exemptions for covered porches, stoops, bay windows and chimneys. Also exempt are up to 240 square feet of detached garages – if the garage is 350 square feet or less and maximum 20’ in height.
Recently enacted legislation having a significant impact on neighborhood building includes:
ZTA 08-11 Infill Development Legislation. Councilman Berliner introduced legislation to the Council on May 6, 2008 as Zoning Text Amendment 08-11 (ZTA 08-11) that will dramatically re-define County home remodeling and construction standards. This legislation was drafted with input from an Infill Development Task Force of 11 hand-picked residents from Bethesda and Chevy Chase. The legislation will impact all home improvements in the entire County. The legislation was adopted on December 9, 2008 and will affect all permits filed on or after April 28, 2009. Key aspects of this ZTA include:
- The allowed building footprint will be reduced throughout the County. This impact will be particularly felt on lots 6,000 or less where the reduction is 17%. This reduction will dramatically alter design of additions and new homes, especially on the first floor. Task force participants were shown how this restriction will likely eliminate first floor owner's bedrooms, kitchen expansions, home offices living rooms, and 2-car garages.
- For example: on a 6,000 square foot lot the property owner can currently build a new home of 3,700 square feet after deducting for a garage. The proposed legislation will reduce this to 3,100 square feet.
- The task force was provided with evidence that if future home improvements are restricted in size, they will be worth less than an existing improvement that is larger; thereby devaluing properties for anyone buying or selling properties.
- Height in the R-200 zone will be significantly reduced by as much as 30%.
- The sloping lot exemption will be clarified by the County at a future date so that properties that have excessive slopes are not unfairly penalized when calculating stories.
To see a chart showing the changes in allowable lot coverage and allowable building height, click here
To determine whether your lot qualifies as "Infill Development," click here
Bill ZTA 03-27 Building Height Reduction: Approved in 2005 with an effective date of October 12, 2005, this bill changed the methodology for measuring building height for homes in the R-60 and R-90 zones. Building permits applied for prior to the effective date were exempted from the height reduction. Since it takes up to 18 months to design and build a new home, the results of this height reduction on homes currently under construction is only now being seen. To read the Zoning Text Amendment, click here.
Bill 45-06 Protection of Champion Trees: Individual trees rated as a “champion” specimen by the Montgomery County Forestry Board now may not be removed or trimmed, regardless of their location on an owner’s property. Homeowners having a tree that is registered as a “champion” tree must comply with this bill. To view the full legislation, click here.
Bill 11-07 Recordation Tax Increase: Effective March 1, 2008, the Recordation Tax paid at settlement by a new owner is significantly increased for property ownership transfers in excess of $500,000. For every $1,000 over $500,000, the recordation tax is now $10.00, instead of $6.10. For example, the tax on a $1,400,000 home, previously $8,235, is now $11,745, an increase of $3,510 or 43%. This increased tax increases tax revenue at the expense of home purchasers. To read the bill, click here.
Bill 24-07 Seller Tax Assessment Disclosure: Effective April 1, 2008, a seller of residential property is now required to disclose the estimated property tax a buyer will pay after the purchase. The Department of Finance is to provide property tax information on a dedicated website, which is yet to be provided. Where a current assessment has not been done by the State, the County will direct the property owner to use the listing price (considerably higher than the State tax assessment value) to calculate the tax. If the estimated tax is higher than what the buyer will actually be paying the buyer may not qualify for a loan. To read the bill, click here.
Bill 26-05 Stormwater Drainage and Runoff: Additions greater than 400 square feet and all new homes not requiring a storm water management plan must submit a plan showing the existing drainage pattern and the proposed new drainage pattern to minimize the effects of water runoff on neighboring properties. This regulation applies to all building permit applications submitted, to the Department of Permitting Services (DPS) after 3/1/07. The Engineer typically shows this information on the site plan submitted to DPS when applying for a building permit. To view the full legislation, click here.
Buildable Lots - ZTA 07-02: Clarifies which Zoning standards apply to which lots, based on when a lot was recorded. To view the full legislation, click here.
Property Rights May Change Soon
Learn how pending legislation can impact your property rights and email your opinions to County Council members here.