As the world around us evolves day by day due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult to know exactly how to handle real estate and land use matters when government offices are closed, document recordings are delayed, inspections are halted, public hearings cannot be held, etc. Each jurisdiction in the Washington, D.C. region, including the surrounding counties/cities in Maryland and Virginia, is working to stay open and functional yet remain safe for its employees and the public, and comply with locally mandated orders regarding public gatherings, non-essential business operations and court proceedings.

Although the rules and procedures may change on a daily basis, we have collected below a summary of the operations and restrictions in place as of April 9, 2020, for the following DC metro areas: Washington, D.C., Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, MD, Fairfax and Arlington Counties, as well the City of Alexandria, VA.

Washington, DC

Office of Planning (OP)

  • OP offices located at 1100 4th Street, SW, Suite 650 East, Washington, DC 20024 are closed to the public until April 27, 2020. OP will continue to communicate with stakeholders via planning.dc.gov, the OP email newsletter (sign up here) and social media including Twitter (@OPinDC) and Instagram (@op_indc).

Zoning Commission (ZC) and Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA)

  • The Zoning Commission (ZC) and Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) will be holding virtual public meetings in April. The ZC meeting will be held on Monday, April 27, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. and the BZA meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. The meetings will be held by WebEx, so the public will be able to watch or listen to the proceedings. Please note, meetings are for the ZC and BZA to deliberate, therefore no testimony will be taken from the public. All public hearings are still suspended until further notice.

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA)

  • DCRA remains operational. In-person Permit, Business License, Residential Center and Home Owner Center are unavailable to the general public, but DCRA online services remain available and customers are encouraged to use online options by visiting dcra.dc.gov. In-person operations are set to resume on Monday, April 27, 2020. Recorder of Deeds (ROD)

  • All staff are currently teleworking and documents can only be recorded electronically through a DC ROD trusted e-Recording vendor.

DC Council

  • The DC Council held its first virtual Legislative Meeting on April 7, 2020. The Council is next scheduled to meet as the Committee of the Whole on April 21, 2020 with the next Legislative Meeting scheduled to occur on May 5, 2020.

Montgomery County, MD

Planning Board and Planning Department

  • Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD) are closed to the public through April 30, 2020. Staff are operating on a telework schedule and continue to accept development applications, work on master planning efforts and are available for inquiries from the public during this time. The inquiries to the Montgomery Planning’s information counter should take place during regular information counter hours (9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) via email or telephone (301.495.4610).

  • Planning Board hearings/meetings will take place online during the month of April.

Department of Permitting Services (DPS)

  • DPS offices are closed to walk-in customers and visitors. Limited access is available to drop off plan corrections or pick up approved plans and permits that were originally submitted via paper. Most services will be Online. A small number will use paper Hard Copy (Paper) Processes.

  • Inspections are still being conducted but in some cases the methods, strategies, and tasks performed are being modified. New construction inspections remain unchanged, inspectors will consult with the permit holder on safest methods to complete the inspections. There is a moratorium on all inspections of existing spaces where people are living, such as assisted living facilities, daycare facilities and the actual living units in commercial high-rises.

Board of Appeals

Land Records

  • The Land Records Department is closed to the public, but is accepting new filings in front of the Maryland Ave. entrance at 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 2:00 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA)

County Council

  • There is no public access to the County Council Office Building or the Council Hearing Room, until further notice. The Council is now accepting written, video, and audio testimony online for public hearings. The Council will also be providing opportunities for live testimony remotely for select meetings.

Prince George’s County, MD

Planning Board and Planning Department

  • The Planning Department continues business operations with modifications to accommodate current conditions. Most staff are currently working remotely with some working in their offices on a staggered schedule. Members of the public are not permitted to enter the County Administration Building, so a physical application submittal dropbox has been placed outside the building. All application submittals can be dropped off by applicants and staff will retrieve the packages by 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Staff is currently testing a means for electronic plan submittal and will provide more details very soon. Visit Prince George's County Planning Department for more details. The Prince George's County Planning Board will provide virtual Planning Board Hearings on Thursdays during the month of April. Information on how to register to speak, submit comments, view the hearing, and become a person of record can be found here.

Department of Permitting, Inspections, and Enforcement (DPIE)

  • DPIE is closed to the public, but open for business through its online services. DPIE continues to review plans submitted electronically for permit issuance and process license applications. Customers who are unable to use online services will have access to a dropbox available at the building to drop off plans and payments. DPIE will continue to conduct inspections as scheduled.

Board of Appeals

  • All scheduled public meetings of the Board of Appeals are postponed pursuant to CR-10-2020. All timelines and/or deadlines associated with ongoing cases for the Board of Appeals are tolled for a period of sixty (60) days or until such time as the statewide state of emergency is lifted and in light of the current County government operating status.

Land Records

  • The Land Records building is closed to the public through May 1, 2020. All documents are still being accepted for recording by delivery to a dropbox located at the Commissioner entrance to the Courthouse located at 14735 Main Street, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772. All documents to be recorded should be placed in a package and labeled to the attention of Land Records. Alternatively, documents can be mailed to the Courthouse, to the attention of Land Records, by USPS or commercial carrier. A cover letter with contact information and a return envelope for the recording receipt should be included in all submissions.

Housing Authority

  • The main office of the Housing Authority of Prince George’s County, located at 9200 Basil Court, Suite 107, Largo, MD, is closed to the public but open for business via telephone, internet and e-mail.

County Council

  • The County Council continues to operate remotely pursuant to the current County government operating status and under CR-10-2020. All timelines and/or deadlines associated with ongoing cases for the District Council, Zoning Hearing Examiner and Board of Appeals have been tolled for a period of sixty (60) days as of March 17, 2020 or until such time as the statewide state of emergency is lifted

Arlington County, VA

Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA)

  • The April 15, 2020 hearing has been canceled. Future hearing dates will require application by email until further notice. All BZA paper applications and in-person customer service processes are suspended – BZA applications must be submitted via email to zoningadmin@arlingtonva.us

Permit Office

  • All paper applications and in-person customer service for permits issued by Inspection Services, Zoning, or Environmental Services are suspended until further notice. Building permits must be submitted online via ePlan. Mechanical, plumbing, electrical, fire, and elevator trade permits must be submitted via email. All other Inspection Services Division permits (demolition, asbestos abatement, code modifications, etc.) must be submitted via email to ISDTradePermits@arlingtonva.us

  • Zoning Division: All Zoning Division permit applications must be submitted via email to Contactzoning@arlingtonva.us. Staff will be able to retrieve voice messages left at 703-228-3883, but will not be answering phones. 

  • All Department of Environmental Services permit applications must be submitted via email to dsbcustserv@arlingtonva.us

  • Payments: In-person payments are suspended. Online payment options should be used where applicable. All other payments should be paid by check via mail. The County will allow applicants to move inspections forward while payments are in process.

Land Records

  • The Land Records Division of the Arlington Circuit Court is located on the sixth floor of the Arlington County Courthouse at 1425 N. Courthouse Rd, Suite 6200, Arlington, VA 22201. The Land Records Division is still open to the public and services have not ceased. The Land Records staff processes documents from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Record Room, which is used for research purposes, remains open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

    • The Land Records Office also currently accepts submission of documents via electronic recording (“eRecording”) from the following national eRecording companies:  Simplifile, LLC, eRecording Partners Network, LLC, and Corporation Service Company

County Board

  • County Board Meetings and upcoming work sessions are still open to the public and continuing as scheduled. The next County Board Work Session with the County Manager is scheduled for April 16, 2020, and the County Board’s next Regular Meeting remains scheduled for April 18, 2020. These meetings also can be streamed live online by accessing Arlington TV's YouTube channel when meetings are in session.

Fairfax, VA

Board of Zoning Appeals

  • The Board of Zoning Appeals is closed to the public indefinitely. Bins have been placed at the front of the Herrity Building for drop off of materials. There is also a box to drop off checks in the same area. The hours are 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Offices are located at 12055 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 801, Fairfax, VA 22035. To reach the Zoning Permit Department call 703-222-1082 or email DPZMailforZPRB@fairfaxcounty.gov. To reach the point of contact for Zoning Evaluation call 703-324-1290 or email dpzzed@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Land Development Services Office

  • All paper applications and in-person customer service for permits issued by Land Development Services, normally located at the Herrity Building, are suspended until further notice. Building permits for all residential and commercial projects, including mechanical, electrical and gas permits, may be applied for, paid for and obtained using FIDO, and inspections can be scheduled as well.

  • Building plan reviews will continue as normal, and plan reviewers will be available for questions and consultation by telephone. For more information, please email bprmail@fairfaxcounty.gov or call 703-324-3035, TTY 711. Plans submitted using the Fairfax County ePlans Program (ProjectDox) are not affected and will continue normally.

  • Site-Related Plans and Documents: Use Fairfax County ePlans Program (ProjectDox) for site plan, minor site plan and infill lot grading plans. All other site-related plan and document types must be submitted through Fairfax County’s ShareFile system. To submit documents through ShareFile, please use the ShareFile Submission Form

Land Records

  • The Land Records Division of the Fairfax Circuit Court is located on the third floor of the Fairfax County Courthouse at 4110 Chain Bridge Road in Suite 317. Telephone 703-691-7320. The Land Records Division is still open to the public and services have not ceased. The Land Records staff processes documents from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

  • Fairfax County Land Records Division has certain limitations for filing electronic documents. Plats are not currently accepted. Recordings that require manual calculations (e.g. multiple jurisdictions) are not accepted. Batches of documents exceeding 20 are not accepted electronically.

Board of Supervisors

  • Board of Supervisors Meetings are still open to the public and continuing as scheduled. The next Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting is scheduled for April 14, 2020. The following day on April 15, 2020, the Board of Supervisors is holding a Budget Public Hearings meeting, as scheduled. These meetings also can be streamed live online by accessing Fairfax County’s Live Video Stream when meetings are in session.

City of Alexandria, VA

City of Alexandria Board of Zoning Appeals

  • The April 13, 2020 hearing has been canceled and the status of the May 11, 2020 hearing is TBD. Future hearing dates will require application by email until further notice.

Planning and Zoning

Land Records

  • The Land Records Division is located in the City of Alexandria Courthouse at 520 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. The Record Room is closed to the public until further notice, except by appointment. Appointments to record documents or plats and plans, or to conduct title searches or other research of the land records may be requested by emailing land.records@alexandriava.gov

  • For those who want to drop off recordings without making a scheduled appointment, there will be an inbox clearly marked 'Deed Recordings' at the screening post of the Courthouse. Please make sure to include all requirements in a sealed envelope. If you have any questions regarding this procedure, please call 703-746-4044 Option 2, then choose Option 3.

City Council

  • City Council Meetings are still open to the public and continuing as scheduled. The next City Council Regular Meeting is scheduled for April 14, 2020 and the second monthly Regular Meeting is scheduled for April 28, 2020. These meetings also can be streamed live online by accessing AlexTV when meetings are in session.

It is an ever changing landscape and we at Ballard Spahr are available to help you navigate these uncertain times.

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