Formed in 1927, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission has jurisdiction over parks and planning in Montgomery County and Prince George County, Maryland (Chapter 448, Acts of 1927). It is empowered to acquire, develop, maintain, and administer a regional system of parks in the two counties. This authority covers all of the two counties except for certain municipalities (Code Land Use Article, sec. 20-101). Since 1970, the Commission also has operated the Prince George's County recreation program, funded by a separate countywide recreation tax. In addition, the Commission provides services and educational programs relating to conservation and nature, local history, and the arts, and offers recreation classes (Code Land Use Article, secs. 14-101 through 27-102).

The major source of funding for Commission services are property taxes levied by the two counties. Each fiscal year, the Commission is required to prepare capital and operating budgets for each county's operations, which are approved by the respective county executive and county council. During this annual process, the Prince George's County Council determines if an increase to the property tax rates is warranted, and will propose any increases.

Meeting monthly, the Commission's ten members include five residents of Montgomery County and five of Prince George's who serve four-year terms. The five members from each county make up the county planning board. In Montgomery County, members are appointed by the County Council and confirmed by the County Executive. In Prince George's County, the County Executive appoints all five members subject to County Council confirmation. Of the members from each county, no more than three may be of the same political party. The appointing authority names the planning board chair. The Commission chair alternates each year between the two planning board chairs. The alternate becomes vice-chair (Code Land Use Article, secs. 15-101 through 15-120).

The Commission appoints the executive director, general counsel, and secretary-treasurer (Code Land Use Article, sec. 15-109). In Prince George's County, the parks and recreation director and planning director are appointed by the county planning board; and in Montgomery County, the director of parks and planning is appointed by the planning board.

To delineate the Commission's areas of authority, two districts were created: one for parks, and a second for planning and zoning.

Parks. Within the Maryland-Washington Metropolitan District, the Commission is empowered to acquire, develop, maintain, and operate parks systems (Code Land Use Article, secs. 19-101, 19-102). In all areas (except Laurel), the Commission may spend public funds to acquire park land. Subject to county government approval, it also may sell general obligation bonds to fund park acquisition and development. All other expenses, including debt service, are paid from a park tax levied within the District.

Planning & Zoning. Taking into account all factors of urban, suburban, rural and regional planning, the Commission prepares and administers a General Plan for the physical development of the Maryland-Washington Regional District. All of Prince George's County (except Laurel) and all of Montgomery County (except Rockville, Gaithersburg, & several small municipalities) are included in the District (Code Land Use Article, sec. 20-101). For the portion of the District within their county, each planning board makes zoning recommendations to its county council. To enact zoning ordinances and change the zoning map, the planning boards have exclusive responsibility for subdivision approval, location and grades of streets, location of public buildings and utilities, and street naming and house numbering.

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