Charles County, MD
 
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
In order to implement the Parks and Recreation Plan of the Charles County Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Ordinance as it relates to residential subdivision development, all suburban and mixed residential cluster subdivisions shall provide recreation opportunities consistent with the following standards. As these facilities and other public improvements for a subdivision may be owned by the homeowners' association for that subdivision, these regulations are intended to provide for the provision of those facilities and the protection of the rights and responsibilities of the homeowners' association, the project developer and the County.
In order to implement the Parks and Recreation Plan of the Charles County Comprehensive Plan, all major residential subdivisions shall provide recreation opportunities according to the following subsections:
A. 
Subject to the requirements of this section, all suburban and mixed residential cluster subdivisions in the RL, RM, RH, RO, PRD, MX and PMH Districts shall provide, through dedication to the County or homeowners' association per §§ 278-60 and 278-62, recreational areas in the form of neighborhood parks. The area set aside for neighborhood parks associated with a development is to be provided based upon the minimum standards set forth in § 278-60.
B. 
Neighborhood parks shall be calculated as a separate item from the open space requirements of § 278-61 but may be incorporated into any open space area, provided that doing so would not conflict with any other regulation or ordinance.
C. 
Undeveloped open space shall be designed to preserve important site characteristics and environmentally sensitive areas.
D. 
In the case of developments which propose 150 dwelling units or more, the Planning Commission may require a consolidation of two or more neighborhood parks and the provision of park and recreational equipment, such as playgrounds, picnic areas and athletic courts. This requirement shall be based upon the guidelines and standards established in the Zoning Ordinance[1] for a cluster development.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 297, Zoning Regulations.
E. 
When park or recreational facilities approved for dedication to the County are completed and accepted, a deed shall be conveyed to the Charles County Commissioners, after which the supervision and maintenance shall be the responsibility of the County.
F. 
All planned residential developments and cluster developments shall provide the appropriate amount of recreational opportunities as described in this § 278-59. In these developments, neighborhood parks shall be incorporated into the developed open space provided pursuant to the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance and shall be designed to provide active recreational facilities to serve the residents of the development.
G. 
All preliminary subdivision plan applications, including major revisions as defined in § 278-47, that are the continuation or an enlargement of a previously approved development submitted for review after the effective date of these regulations shall provide appropriate recreational facilities for the portion of the project as described in the preliminary plan. Additional facilities to serve those portions of the development that have already received preliminary plan approval are encouraged but are not a requirement for approval. This requirement shall not be interpreted to include revisions to preliminary subdivision plans approved prior to the adoption of these regulations, per § 278-8.
A. 
Neighborhood park. The purpose of the neighborhood park is to provide adequate active recreational facilities to serve the residents of the immediately surrounding neighborhood within the development. The following are illustrative of the types of facilities that shall be deemed to serve active recreational needs and are therefore considered to satisfy the neighborhood park requirements of this article: picnic areas with gazebos or pavilions and permanent hearths or grills; swings, slides, activity centers and other playground apparatus suitable for young children.
B. 
Community parks. Neighborhood park areas required under this section which are consolidated into areas over one acre shall be considered community parks, and the following types of facilities are illustrative as appropriate improvements, in addition to those enumerated above: tennis, basketball, volleyball and racquetball courts; swimming pools, sauna and exercise rooms; and meeting or activity rooms within clubhouses.
C. 
Hiker/biker and/or fitness trails may be incorporated into the design of any park but may not be substituted for or serve as a neighborhood or community park.
D. 
Greenways or linear parks that are shown or designated in an approved state or County plan shall be dedicated by the developer. Greenways or linear parks may serve to meet the neighborhood park requirements of § 278-59, provided that sufficient area is provided for passive or active recreational use, besides any hiker/biker and/or fitness trail system.
E. 
Each development shall satisfy its neighborhood park requirement by installing the types of recreational facilities that are most likely to be suited to the residents of the development. The Planning Commission shall specifically approve the general nature of the facility improvement for each neighborhood and community park as a part of the preliminary plan approval process. Unless specifically waived by the Planning Commission, at least 15% of the neighborhood park must be satisfied by the construction of tot lots (i.e., areas equipped with imaginative play apparatus oriented to younger children as well as seating accommodations for parents).
F. 
The minimum area provided for neighborhood parks shall not be less than 5,000 square feet per development and shall be designed to meet the following criteria:
(1) 
The area required by this section can be divided into neighborhood or community park areas distributed throughout the development, provided that no neighborhood park recreation area is less than 5,000 square feet.
(2) 
Park guidelines.
(a) 
Park location. Neighborhood parks shall generally be located within 2,000 feet of the neighborhood served, with safe pedestrian access; community parks must be located in a central location within or adjacent to the development that is pedestrian accessible to a majority of the residents of the development.
(b) 
Park visibility.
[1] 
A neighborhood park shall be visible from the surrounding residential properties or public roads for at least 66% of its perimeter.
[2] 
Community parks shall have frontage on a public road classified as a major collector or greater, unless specifically approved by the Planning Commission.
(c) 
Access. All neighborhood and community parks are to have clearly defined edges, using landscaping, fences, lighting, roads or other physical means, without restricting pedestrian or vehicle access at points of entry. Access shall not be permitted across fee-simple residential lots to any neighborhood or community park. The impacts of any community park facility to surrounding residential properties are to be minimized.
(3) 
Required park area. The neighborhood park area required per preliminary subdivision plan or land bay shall be provided according to the following calculation; the minimum size for any neighborhood park is 5,000 square feet, unless specifically approved by the Planning Commission:
Requirement per development (or phase) = 200 square feet + (60 square feet per unit x C) (in square feet)
Where:
200
=
Base minimum per development or phase
60
=
Per-unit recreation area multiplier
C
=
Number of units per preliminary subdivision plan (or per residential land bay, for planned developments)
(4) 
For phased developments, each phase shall be calculated separately and provide the appropriate amount of neighborhood park space and facility improvements, unless a community park of over five acres and with facility improvements is provided and specifically approved by the Planning Commission.
G. 
Neighborhood parks shall be landscaped and shall be provided with sufficient natural or man-made screening or buffer areas to minimize any impacts upon adjacent residences.
H. 
Each neighborhood park shall be constructed on land that is capable of serving the purposes intended by this article.
I. 
Each neighborhood park shall be physically separated from any road classified as a major collector or greater or other hazards. Separation is to be provided from any stormwater management facility, unless that facility is specifically designed as an amenity to the site and approved by the Planning Commission. Separation may be achieved through distance, screening, fencing or other means which do not detract from the use and enjoyment of the park.
A. 
Common open space. Spaces designed and intended for the use and enjoyment of all residents of the development are to be provided as open space when required by this chapter. Such areas may contain neighborhood and community parks as described in § 278-60, as well as any improvements which are necessary and appropriate for the use, benefit and enjoyment of the common open space by the residents of the development. Common open space is to provide for the protection of existing site features. Use of agricultural lands to meet open space requirements shall be encouraged when the site contains few significant natural features. Common open space areas shall meet the following requirements:
(1) 
Open space areas shall be exclusive of tidal wetlands and road rights-of-ways/parking areas but may include areas of farmland under active production. Open space areas may coincide with utility easements and/or rights-of-way, provided that there are no buildings or structures located within the open space area, the owner of the easement or right-of-way grants written approval prior to preliminary plan approval and the dual use of the area is specifically approved by the Planning Commission during the preliminary subdivision plan and final plat processes.
(2) 
Common open space may serve recreational purposes and should preserve significant site features and productive farmland. The uses authorized shall be appropriate to the intended purpose of the open space, as described on the preliminary subdivision plan. Open space designed to serve recreational purposes shall be consistent with the scale and character of the residential development.
(3) 
Common open space will be suitably improved for its intended use, except that common open space containing natural features or farmland worthy of protection may be left unimproved. The buildings, structures and improvements to be permitted in the common open space must be appropriate to the uses which are authorized for the common space; no buildings or structures for recreational use may be placed in a utility easement, as described in § 278-92.
B. 
All lands which encompass areas or roads designated for greenways, bike trails (including those along public roads) or other interparcel recreation and nonvehicular network shown on adopted or approved County or state plans shall incorporate the appropriate features into the design of the subdivision.
C. 
Pedestrian trails and any similar features such as sidewalks shall be provided and coordinated and/or linked to similar trails or sidewalks on surrounding properties. Future links to adjoining, undeveloped property are to be provided, as well as access to neighboring commercial areas. The design and construction of this nonvehicular system is to be consistent with the Road Ordinance;[1] however, such trails are not to be located on the side or rear of any private lots less than three acres in size within a residential subdivision.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 276, Streets, Roads and Sidewalks.
D. 
Park phasing plan required.
(1) 
A phasing plan for the completion of recreational facilities is to be provided in a general manner as a part of the preliminary subdivision plan general notes for any subdivision of greater than 50 units and is to provide for the completion of the recreational facilities for each phase prior to the release of building permits for the last 10% of the units in that phase, unless specifically approved by the Planning Commission. The final subdivision plat is to conform to the phasing plan, subject to the revision process as described in these regulations.
(2) 
Subdivisions of less than 50 dwelling units will not be required to have a phasing plan, and the construction of any recreational facilities may take place at any time prior to the release of a building permit for the construction of the last 10% of the units in these cases.
E. 
Preliminary subdivision plan recreation information requirements. As a part of the phasing plan, the following information is to be provided:
(1) 
Area calculation, based upon the formula provided in this section;
(2) 
Area of each neighborhood and community park; and
(3) 
General description of the equipment and improvements to be provided.
F. 
Final subdivision recreational requirements. Prior to the approval of the final subdivision plat, the developer shall provide a detailed list and description of the area, equipment, and other improvements to any neighborhood and community park. This information is to be incorporated into the bonding and improvements process as provided in these regulations.
A. 
Private ownership. If joint use facilities are not dedicated to public use, the developer shall certify on the final subdivision plat, pending the acceptance of that certification by the Planning Commission, that they shall be protected by legal arrangements sufficient to assure their maintenance and preservation for whatever purpose they are intended. Those covenants or other legal arrangements shall specify ownership of the open space, method of maintenance, payment of taxes and insurance, compulsory membership and compulsory assessment provisions and guarantees that any association formed to own and maintain open space will not be dissolved without the providing for the perpetual care, maintenance, upkeep and safety of the facilities.
B. 
Open space. If the Planning Commission finds that the size, location, type of development or cost of development or maintenance of such open space or the availability of public open space would make public use desirable and necessary, then the open space shall be made available for the use of all residents of Charles County. The Planning Commission generally will require dedication and conveyance of any areas that are indicated for acquisition in the adopted Recreation and Parks Plan.
A. 
The developer shall certify, pending the acceptance of that certification by the Planning Commission during the approval of the final subdivision plat, that the common open space and improvements not dedicated and accepted for public ownership will be maintained and cared for. The developer shall also certify that an organization for the ownership, maintenance and preservation of open space has been established in conformance with the following standards and procedures:
(1) 
The organization shall be established by the developer before the final approval of the subdivision plat.
(2) 
The financial and organizational structures, rules of membership and methods of cost assessment of the organization shall be devised to ensure the successful fulfillment of the maintenance, preservation and improvement responsibilities of the organization.
(3) 
The organization responsible for maintenance, preservation and improvement of common open space lands and all property owners within the cluster development shall be permitted to participate in such organization.
(4) 
Areas set aside to meet the open space requirements hereof shall be adequately described. Instruments in the form of deed restrictions and/or covenant shall be provided to ensure the purpose for which the open space is provided will be achieved. Compliance with the above shall be demonstrated to the Department of Planning and Growth Management and the County Attorney's office prior to recordation among the Land Records of Charles County.
B. 
Letter of certification. The certification provided by the developer as a part of the final subdivision plat approval process must list the individual documents and their purpose and also state that the documents do not contain any contradictory provisions between them. Such documents may include, but not be limited to, the following homeowners' association documents:
(1) 
Declaration of covenants.
(2) 
Articles of Incorporation.
(3) 
Bylaws of the association.
(4) 
Other relevant project documents, including the facilities inventory required per § 278-65B.
C. 
The following certification is to be provided on the index sheet of the final subdivision plat, or on each plat sheet for the subdivision plat, and signed by the developer prior to the signature of the Planning Commission Chairman:
Homeowners' Association Certification for
(Development Name)
It is hereby certified that all appropriate Homeowners' Association Covenants, Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws or other documents have been devised and established in a manner consistent with State and County Regulations.
(Development Name)
(Development Name)
(Owner/Agent)
Date
A. 
A bond is required for all public facilities as defined by these regulations, in a manner consistent with this section and as required by other County regulations.
B. 
Prior to the recordation of the final plat, the owner or developer shall provide a surety acceptable to the County in an amount as specified by the Department of Planning and Growth Management, which shall be submitted in the same manner as described in § 278-29, which surety shall secure an agreement to construct such required public facilities and related physical improvements as identified in the approved improvement plan.
C. 
Property to be owned by homeowners' association. Recreational facilities, stormwater conveyance, stormwater management facilities and other improvements located on property to be owned by a homeowners' association must be bonded per these regulations and are to be inspected by the Department of Planning and Growth Management as required by § 278-65B prior to the release of the entire, or any part of, the posted bonds and agreements related to those facilities.
A. 
Homeowners' associations or similar legal entities that, pursuant to §§ 278-62 and 278-63, are responsible for the maintenance and control of common areas, including recreational facilities, open space, stormwater conveyance and stormwater management facilities shall be established by the developer in such a manner that:
(1) 
Provision for the establishment of the association or similar entity is made before any lot in the development is sold or any building occupied.
(2) 
The association or similar legal entity has clear legal authority to maintain and exercise control over such common areas and facilities, as shown on the final subdivision plat and the facilities inventory.
(3) 
The association or similar legal entity has the power to compel contributions from residents of the development to cover their proportionate shares of the costs associated with the maintenance and upkeep of such common areas and facilities.
B. 
Transfer of homeowners' association facilities to residents.
(1) 
No less than two weeks prior to the formal transfer of the homeowners' association maintenance responsibilities from the developer to the homeowners' association which represents the residents of the development, the developer shall formally notify the residents of a scheduled walkthrough inspection of all facilities. Verification of this notification shall be provided to the Department of Planning and Growth Management; arrangements for representatives of the homeowners' association and accompanying County Inspector are the responsibility of the developer.
(2) 
The walkthrough is to inspect and identify those items shown on the facilities inventory, such as but not limited to open space areas, neighborhood parks, stormwater conveyance, stormwater management facilities or other aspects of the development shown on the facilities inventory which are identified as becoming the responsibility of the homeowners' association. This list and inspection shall not involve any facility to be conveyed to the County, state or other public entity.
(3) 
Upon completion of the walkthrough, the developer shall provide to the Board of the homeowners' association or the County a written statement of the rights and responsibilities of the association. That statement shall include a written acknowledgment that all public and private facilities and amenities have been constructed and completed, in accordance with specifications as described on the improvement plan which was submitted by the developer, and as approved by the County.
(4) 
If the conditions of the improvements or other amenities are found to be unacceptable or incomplete by the homeowners' association or the County or if the homeowners' association is unwilling to agree to the acceptance of the facilities, the transfer of responsibility shall not occur. In this case, the County Inspector shall prepare a written report and recommendation to the Deputy County Administrator for Planning and Growth Management within one week of the inspection.
(5) 
Cases of disagreement as to the condition or the repair responsibilities prior to the transfer are to be reviewed and resolved by the Deputy County Administrator for Planning and Growth Management and the County Attorney, based upon the facilities shown on the approved preliminary subdivision plan, the improvement plan, the Zoning Ordinance and these regulations.
(6) 
Performance bonds or developer's agreements associated with any homeowners' association private facilities or amenities shall not be released until the homeowners' association agrees, in writing, to the acceptance of the facilities. If the association does not agree to accept the facilities, the performance bond or surety may be released, provided that the Deputy County Administrator for Planning and Growth Management and the County Attorney determine that the facility as provided fulfills the requirements of the improvement plan as approved. The performance bond or surety may then be processed and released as described in § 278-30 of these regulations.
C. 
Developer certification. The developer is to provide a written facilities inventory to the County for review; this inventory is to accompany the first submittal of the final plat. The developer is to acknowledge that all public and private facilities will be conveyed to the homeowners' association and the County as shown on the inventory and are to be completed and in place prior to conveyance. The County will review and approve the facilities inventory which describes the bondable items prior to the approval of the subdivision final plat.
D. 
Facilities inventory. This document shall be submitted and approved concurrently with the final subdivision plat submission and is to include an itemized inventory of all parcels, stormwater conveyance, stormwater management facilities, recreational areas (such as but not limited to picnic areas, swings, slides, activity centers or other playground apparatus, hard or soft surfaced athletic courts, swimming pools, sauna or exercise rooms, meeting rooms, clubhouses, hiker/biker/fitness trails, greenways or linear parks) and any other physical aspect of the project which are to become the responsibility of the homeowners' association. This list shall document the items and areas to be reviewed during the walkthrough described in Subsection B(2) above.
A. 
The requirements set forth in this article concerning the amount, size, location and nature of recreational facilities and open space to be provided in connection with residential developments are established by the County as standards which can be presumed to result in the provision of that amount of recreational facilities and open space that is consistent with officially adopted County plans. The County recognizes, however, that due to the particular nature of a tract of land, or the nature of the facilities proposed for installation, or other factors, the underlying objectives of this article may be achieved even though the standards are not adhered to with mathematical precision. Therefore, the Planning Director is authorized to permit minor deviations from these standards whenever it determines that:
(1) 
The objectives underlying these standards can be met without strict adherence to them; and
(2) 
Because of peculiarities in the developer's tract of land or the facilities proposed it would be unreasonable to require strict adherence to these standards.
B. 
Whenever the Planning Director authorizes some deviation from the standards set forth in this article pursuant to Subsection A above, the official record of action taken on the development shall contain a statement of reasons for allowing the deviation.