Effective August 1, 2011, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) implemented new procedures for application review and communication with applicants, designed to improve and expedite permit application processing. These procedures are intended to clarify the steps in the review process, promptly communicate the need for specific additional information and add certainty to the permit process by adhering to published permit turn-around times. MDE’s ability to meet these turn-around times for permit decisions depends on the submission of a carefully prepared application and the provision of any additional information determined by MDE to be necessary to complete an application review and render a decision. Providing additional information when requested is critical to the success of MDE in rendering a timely permit decision.
What is the Procedure?
All applicants for a wetlands and waterways authorization currently receive a “45-day letter” notifying the applicant that the activity is either authorized to proceed, or that the additional information described in the letter is needed to complete the application and enable MDE to render a decision. Past practice has been to allow the applicant an indefinite period of time to provide this information, resulting in thousands of pending applications upon which MDE could take no action.
What has Changed as of August 1, 2011?
The process provides only one opportunity for an applicant to supplement an application with additional information. This change in procedure, which is applicable to all applications received on or after August 1, 2011, places a deadline by which the additional information requested in the “45-day letter” must be provided to MDE. Since each “45-day letter” will include a deadline for the submission of requested information, it is important to maintain a dialogue with the project manager assigned to your project prior to responding.
What Happens If Applicants Do Not Provide Sufficient Information or MDE Fails to Meet Deadlines?
If an applicant fails to provide the additional requested information or if the information provided within the requested time frame is insufficient, MDE will deny the permit application due to insufficient information upon which to make a favorable decision. The applicant may re-apply as allowed under State law. Resubmission of a permit application is considered a new application and fees will be due and payable upon resubmission of the application. If the Department fails to request additional information in the 45-day letter, the application is considered complete and the review will continue.
Note: If an application meets certain criteria for requiring additional time for review, such as a scientific study requested by MDE, resolution of legal or local governmental matters or other factors beyond the control of the applicant or the Department, then the application review shall be suspended, along with the regulated timeframes. The applicant will be notified if the application meets these criteria in the 45-day letter.
How Can an Applicant Ensure an Expedited Review Process?
Applicants are advised to obtain information and guidance by calling 410-537-3745 or 800-633-6101. Another option is to schedule a pre-application meeting by filling out the Pre-Application Meeting Request Form available at the following web address:
In addition to providing the information requested in the application, be sure to include all of the information discussed during the telephone call or at the pre-application meeting. It is advisable to delay submitting an application until all of the required information can be provided. Additional information is available on the program’s website.