All development projects in Baltimore City must have a Pre-Development meeting with Department of Planning staff. This meeting is mandatory prior to commencing design review. At the pre-development meeting, Department of Planning staff will provide preliminary comments related to the design and determine if additional staff design review is required. If the project requires Planning Commission approval or is otherwise considered significant, further design review by UDAAP may be required. UDAAP scheduling generally occurs 6-8 weeks prior to the anticipated review date. It should be noted that although there are two formal stages of review, most projects generally require three meetings with the Panel to complete the process.
Sample Design Review Timeline with UDAAP:
- Pre-Development meeting with Department of Planning; Staff will advise on the extent of design review required
- 2-3 weeks prior to first UDAAP meeting – Staff Concept Review ;
- 10 Days prior to UDAAP meeting - Draft Presentation and Completed New Project Worksheet due (PDF/electronic submission);
- 6 Days prior to UDAAP meeting – Project review schedule published to website;
- UDAAP meeting date – projects present during allotted timeslot must provide PDF of the presentation and (1) printed 11x17 copy of the presentation;
- 8 Days post UDAAP meeting – Minutes published to website/Director determines advancement.
- 3 weeks post final Design Development meeting – Final PDF with updates submitted to UDAAP Coordinator to complete design review process.
All UDAAP meeting review requests must be made and confirmed via email to the UDAAP Coordinator. The typical timeline last 4-6 months from Pre-UDAAP meeting to Final Submission.
Department of Planning Staff Concept Review/ Discussions:
Before beginning the formal UDAAP review process, development teams meet with Department of Planning Staff for Concept Review. In these meetings the development team identifies and shares the project and urban design goals that have been established to date. Once staff finds that the project and the team have successfully addressed the main guidelines that the project will be evaluated against in Schematic Review, an initial Schematic presentation will be scheduled with the Panel. Department of Planning Staff will continue to work with the development team on the presentation in order to provide the best opportunity for a productive review meeting with the Panel.
Discussion sessions with the Panel may be accommodated for large or complicated projects and provide guidance to development teams relative to conceptual design issues in order to facilitate the project development and review process. Discussions with the Panel generally include a presentation of conditions and context and then focus on diagrammatic/concept ideas and/or specific areas of focus in a working session environment.
Schematic Review Requirements:
Planning staff will introduce the project to the Panel to begin the presentation. It is important for the development team to provide to the Panel adequate information about the development program and design concept(s). The following is required:
- Completion of the New Project Information sheet
- Location map and site plan that includes adjacent properties, buildings, context, landscape;
- Photographs that illustrate existing site conditions and surrounding context;
- Conceptual elevations, floor plans, sections and landscape plan as developed that include the context through streets to adjacent structures in the drawings;
- Indication of topography on sites where grades are an issue;
- Alternative studies for site layout and building massing that have been considered; and
- Simple site and/or massing model when challenging topography is an issue.
This is the most important presentation a development team will make to the Panel. It is an introduction of the team players, the project program, the design rationale and the site itself. A Schematic presentation should be made early enough in the design process to afford the possibilities of significant urban design and public realm changes as advised by the Panel. Site context should be clearly illustrated to the Panel through rendered area plans, scaled site plan and massing studies that portray building bulk, height and setbacks. Photographs or images of the site and surrounding context must be included with this presentation. Alternative site plans or massing concepts must be incorporated into the overall presentation at the first review with UDAAP. The Panel will evaluate the concept plans using the described Urban Design Goals for the project as well as the following general guidelines:
- How does the project relate in scale (height, bulk and density) with the surrounding context? If it is substantially different, how is it justified or contextually based?
- How is the pedestrian realm defined and connected with existing street, sidewalk patterns, landscape design?
- Are surrounding frontage and setback patterns appropriate?
- Is the front entrance or major points of entry clearly defined?
- Is the site in or near a Historic District? Are there landmark properties nearby? How does the mass and program respond to these?
- Where is the parking and loading located on the site? Are they effectively screened? Is the parking and circulation pattern similar to those of neighboring properties?
- Is the site located within walking distance of public transit and, if so, are the front entrances or major points of entry oriented toward the transit?
- Are the concept elevations well composed and proportioned? How do they relate to adjacent buildings?
- Is the landscape concept appropriate for the surrounding conditions and proposed uses?
- Does the design incorporate environmentally sensitive building practices?
The Panel will have comments and make recommendations for consideration. The Director of Planning will determine if the project must return to another Schematic review, moves forward to Design Development, requires meetings with Planning Staff, or a combination of actions above. When the Director determines that the Development team has addressed the comments and concerns, another presentation will be scheduled and the project will be resubmitted to the Panel.
Design Development Review:
At this stage, it is important to indicate changes made relative to previous Panel comments. Structuring a presentation based on responses to previous minutes and project modifications is required. The following elements of the project must be submitted in order to proceed to working drawings and permit application:
- Elevations and sections (and floor plans if previously requested) including the previous submission drawings to show how the project has progressed are required;
- Site plan that has concept/preliminary approval by Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC);
- Completed landscape plan that includes adjacent blocks for context and a planting list;
- Major building material samples that indicate surface treatment and color;
- Proposed concept signage/graphic designs and locations; and
- Proposed exterior building and site lighting locations;
The Design Development stage of Panel review completes the public review process, so it is essential that design teams are responsive to previous panel comments. The Panel evaluates plans using to the following guidelines:
- Have all previous comments from the previous Panel and Departmental reviews been satisfactorily addressed?
- Is the site plan and building massing completely resolved?
- Are the elevations fully developed and appropriately detailed?
- Is the landscape plan fully developed?
- Is the accompanying landscape plant list appropriate for the project and location relative to neighborhood compatibility and survival?
- Is the project’s external mechanical equipment completely resolved?
- How is signage placed and scaled?
- Are the exterior building and site lighting in scale with the project? Will they negatively impact surrounding properties?
The Director of Planning will evaluate the comments and recommendations made at the Design Development meeting and determine if the project must return for additional reviews or if it concludes the UDAAP process. The final recommendations of the Panel may be presented to the City’s Planning Commission as part of the Department’s review and recommendation process.
Lastly, an electronic set of final plans which address all the final comments and recommendations of the Panel must be submitted to the UDAAP coordinator within three weeks of the final Design Development presentation to complete the Design Review process and file for permits. Follow-up meetings to review the comments and design updates may be scheduled with Department of Planning Staff at any point in order to keep projects on schedule.