Site Plans & Development Projects
Approved October 3, 1991 and amended April 1, 2004
Table of Contents
Section 1- Introduction
Congress created the National Capital Planning Commission (Commission) to serve as the central federal planning agency for the unique concentration of federal activities and interests in the National Capital Region (Region). (Note 1) One of the Commission's principal responsibilities is to coordinate development activities of federal and District of Columbia agencies in the Region. These agencies must submit development proposals to the Commission under the following statutes:
This document details the process for submitting proposals and plans for Commission action. It applies to the following types of projects and proposals of the District and federal governments, including civilian and military installations and facilities in the region: (Note 3)
The Executive Director of the Commission ("Executive Director") may extend, modify, or waive requirements under certain limited circumstances. Where a waiver affects submission materials that may address potentially significant offsite impacts, the Executive Director must provide notice to potentially affected public agencies and provide opportunity for consultation. Waivers may be granted or requirements extended or modified where the project submitted for review has:
1. The Commission's review includes assessment of conformance with applicable provisions of the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital (Comprehensive Plan). Federal Elements of the Comprehensive Plan (available from the Commission) contain goals, policies, and implementation proposals addressing a variety of subjects, such as locations of federal facilities, employee services, affordable housing for federal employees, and energy conservation in the design and construction of federal facilities.
2. Since master plans are necessary for installations on which more than one principal building structure, or activity is located or proposed to be located, the Commission's Master Plan Submission Requirements where applicable, must also be followed. The Commission is unlikely to approve or recommend favorably on projects on installations for which there is no approved master plan.
Site acquisition (location and program) proposals and schematic development or preliminary plan submissions serve as the basic planning documents for intergovernmental coordination on sites where no master plan is required (see Section 5.F).
As authorized by the Planning Act, the Commission has determined that plans need not be submitted for projects where:
A. Replacement of walks, roadways, and parking areas involves no change in the location or the existing character or extent of the improvement.
B. Rehabilitation and improvement of buildings and structures involve no change in the existing character, predominant use, or extent of the building or structure.
C. Replacement of trees, shrubs, and other plant materials, including changes in species, involves no change in the existing character of the site.
D. Replacement (excluding relocations or extensions) of underground utility lines such as pipes and cables (excluding pumping stations and treatment facilities) will not (1) necessitate removal of existing trees or changes in the natural topography or (2) perpetuate or create an adverse environmental impact.
Sponsoring agencies should contact the Commission staff at the earliest possible time in site acquisition or project planning to confirm appropriate submission stages and resolve questions concerning submission contents (see Section 5.A). When the agency holding jurisdiction over an affected site and the agency proposing a development differ, the former is normally considered as the sponsoring agency. Project plans and related documentation must be submitted to the Commission at the following stages, where applicable:
A. Location and Program submissions must precede commitments for the acquisition of land to be paid for in whole or in part from Federal or District funds.
B. Schematic Development submissions are required where size, complexity, and/or projected impacts of proposed projects (including site improvements and commemorative works) necessitate early Commission guidance prior to the expenditure of substantial funds for more detailed project design. In cases involving complex planning and development proposals, the Executive Director may require schematic development submissions.
Where issues relate to the potential suitability of a proposed site, the Executive Director may require that schematic development proposals accompany the location and program submission. Any sponsoring agency may choose to make a schematic development submission to solicit the Commission's views prior to preparation of preliminary plans.
C. Preliminary submissions must be made for all new construction or renovation projects (except as outlined in Section 2) after tentative design decisions have been made but well before detailed design work begins, typically at the 20 to 25 percent development stage. Timely submissions of preliminary plans are vital to avoid costly revisions in later detailed design stages.
If major changes are made in either the design or program of a proposed development after the Commission has reviewed a preliminary submission, the affected sponsoring agency shall submit revised preliminary plans for review as far in advance of completion and submission of final plans as possible, except where such changes have been made specifically in response to Commission recommendations on the preliminary submission. Preliminary submissions may take the form of:
D. Final submissions must follow preliminary submissions (see Section 3.C), after design decisions have been made (including building and landscaping materials), typically at the 60 to 70 percent development stage, and prior to advertisement and award of construction contracts
Final site and building plans for Federal public buildings in the District of Columbia and District government public building within the central area will ordinarily satisfy requirements under Section 16 of the Zoning Act and Section 5(c) of the Planning Act.
Sponsoring agencies may not lawfully deviate from final plans approved by the Commission under these provisions. Therefore sponsoring agencies are urged to resolve all outstanding planning and design issues with affected agencies and organizations prior to the submission of final site and building plans.
If substantial changes (see Section 2, for guidance) must be made in final plans after the Commission has taken action on them but prior to construction, sponsoring agencies are required to submit revised final plans for Commission review and action.
Project plan submissions include narrative materials and data, maps and drawings, and presentation materials which describe and illustrate existing conditions and proposed developments. Although the required narrative materials, data, and supporting documentation requirements are generally consistent for all submission stages, greater detail must be provided at successive stages to reflect decisions made as project planning advances.
Before preparing a submission, please review the Environmental and Historic Preservation Policies and Procedures, adopted April 2004. The recently adopted requirements for environmental and historic preservation compliance differ from those outlined in this document, which was last adopted by the Commission in 1991 and is now being updated. Please defer to the requirements outlined in the Environmental and Historic Preservation Policies and Procedures.
A project report is required at all stages (except that, where required information is fully provided in accompanying environmental documentation, it need not be repeated in the project report). Where a project report has been submitted at an earlier review stage, a fully updated supplement may be submitted at successive stages. The Supplement should include responses to any Commission recommendations from the previous stage.
The project report serves as required development program information for location and program submissions. Project reports must contain the following information:
a. name and telephone number of agency project manager;
b. narrative description of the project, including existing conditions to be affected and a summary of the basic design concept on which the physical form of the proposal is base.
c. total area of site and allocation of land to proposed uses;
d. area of building(s) and site coverage;
e. existing assigned employment and projected assigned employment over a 20-year period, in five-year increments;
f. description of the relationship of the project to the agency's master plan, where applicable, including rationale for any deviations;
g. status of coordination with affected local and state governments and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) for projects not previously coordinated through an installation master plan;
h. status of community participation, including a summary of community views;
i. schedule for construction and occupancy;
j. total estimated cost of project and funding status;
k. A Transportation Management Program (TMP) for any project that will increase the employment level on a work site to 500 or more employees (including existing and proposed employees). Over and above this requirement, sponsoring agencies are encouraged to prepare TMPs for projects that will increase employment levels to 100 or more employees
Where the TMP for a project is an integral part of an installation TMP approved by the Commission as part of a master plan submission, a summary of provisions of the installation TMP applicable to the project will satisfy the requirements of this section.The TMP should incorporate the following:
a. The environmental document prepared by a Federal sponsoring agency pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended, (NEPA) and Council on Environmental Quality Regulations must be part of each submission. The document must be an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), if required by NEPA Section 102(2)(C). Otherwise, an Environmental Assessment (EA) must be submitted (along with the agency's formal determination that an ElS is not required), unless the agency demonstrates that the project qualifies as a Categorical Exclusion in its environmental policies and procedures.
For Federal public building projects in the District of Columbia, or any other developments requiring Commission approval, the sponsoring agency must consult with the Commission at the earliest possible time and permit it to participate with the agency in determining the appropriate environmental document
The NEPA process must be completed prior to the initial submission, but the initial stage document may be used for successive stages if current and substantively sufficient. Where substantial changes are made, the environmental document must be amended by the sponsoring agency and resubmitted at the appropriate successive review stage.
b. Each submission by a District of Columbia sponsoring agency must include an EA. If the proposed development is a District of Columbia public building within the boundaries of the central area, the Executive Director will determine the appropriate environmental document for Commission action.
If an EIS is required, it will be filed by the Commission, based on environmental information provided by the sponsoring agency (see Section 5.D).
a. Each submission by a Federal sponsoring agency must include a determination by the agency head or other authorized official, as to whether the project is subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (Section 106), or Section 2(b) of Executive Order 11593 of May 13, 1971.
In addition, an analysis must be submitted of any effects of the proposed project on recognized historic resources, both on the site and in such close proximity that their setting or use may be altered by the project.
If a Section 106 review is required, submissions must include documentation of consultation with the affected State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), as follows:
b. The Commission undertakes the section 106 process, if applicable, for District of Columbia public buildings in the central area (see Section 5.D.2).
The initial submission by a Federal agency for a project located in a floodplain or wetland must include a copy of the agency's Statement of Findings pursuant to Executive Order 11988 or Executive Order 11990. This statement must evaluate potential impacts and identify proposed mitigation measures.
As noted in Section 3.A, these submissions are required where land acquisition is proposed. They must include the following maps, as applicable:
a. A vicinity map must be submitted, uncolored, at a minimum scale of 1 inch equals 400 feet, except where extremely large sites require a smaller scale to meet sheet size limitations (see Section 4.0.l), and must contain the following information:
b. A boundary map must be submitted, uncolored, at a minimum scale of 1 inch equals 50 feet for sites of less than 40 acres and 1 inch equals 100 feet for larger sites, except where extremely large sites require a smaller scale to meet sheet size limitations (see Section 4.D.1). Where appropriate, multiple sheets, with match lines, may be used to present the boundary map for such large sites.
The boundary map must contain the following information:
c. A basic development proposals map, although not required at the location and program stage, should be submitted where early development proposals have been identified in order to provide for Commission review and recommendations at the earliest possible opportunity. This map must be submitted, uncolored, at the same scale as the boundary map (these two maps may be combined if the information presented is clear and readable) and must contain the following information:
As noted in Section 3.B, these submissions are made where, because of a project's size, complexity, and/or projected impacts, early Commission review and guidance is needed. Because such submissions often focus on specific development issues or expected impacts, flexibility is permitted in the type and detail of information provided
The Commission staff is available to advise on the appropriate level of detail for schematic development submissions. Such submissions must include the following maps and drawings, as applicable:
a. A vicinity map (see Section 4.B.1.a);
b. Schematic development drawings including the following:
As noted in Sections 3.C and 3.D, these submissions are required for all projects and must include the following maps and drawings, as applicable:
a. A vicinity map (see Section 4.B.1.a);
b. A site plan is required for all preliminary and final plan submissions, except building plans for additions to or renovation of existing buildings where no site improvements are proposed. This plan must be submitted, uncolored, at a minimum scale of 1 inch equals 50 feet for sites of less than 40 acres and 1 inch equals 100 feet for larger sites, except where an extremely large site requires a smaller scale to meet sheet size limitations (see Section 4.D.I). Where appropriate, multiple sheets, with match lines, may be used to present the site plan for such large sites.
Where proposed improvements involve only a portion of a site, the site plan must show the entire site area, indicating relationships between the portion to be improved and the portion to remain undisturbed.
Where an existing adjacent facility has an integral supporting relationship to a proposed facility, such as an existing parking lot proposed to serve a new office building, the existing facility must be included on the site plan to show functional relationships. The site plan must contain the following information:
c. A landscape and grading plan is required for all preliminary and final plan submissions, except building plans for additions to or renovation of existing buildings where no site improvements are proposed. Although a separate landscape and grading plan drawing is preferable, it may be combined with the site plan if proposals are clear and readable. If submitted as a separate plan, the landscape and grading plan must be at the same scale as the site plan. The landscape and grading plan must be submitted, uncolored, and contain the following information:
d. A stormwater management and erosion and sediment control plan is required for all final plan submissions for projects for which there is more than 5,000 square feet of disturbed site area. The plan must include locations and sizes of natural drainageways, storm sewer lines and outfalls, infiltration devices, retention and detention ponds, and any other needed mitigation measures to control stormwater runoff and limit erosion and sedimentation on the site, with back-up calculations. The plan may be incorporated in the project environmental document.
e. Floor plans must be submitted at preliminary and final stages, uncolored, for each floor of proposed buildings (a single drawing is sufficient for identical floors) at a scale commensurate with sheet size limitations (see Section 4.D.l). The scale should be sufficiently large to permit presentations in a conference room at a distance of 20 to 25 feet. Floor plans must contain the following information:
f. Elevations of all sides (facades) of proposed buildings or structures must be submitted, uncolored, at preliminary and final stages, at the same scale as the floor plans, indicating the following:
g. At least two cross sections through proposed buildings, at the same scale as the floor plans, and one or more exterior wall sections showing the proposed installation of principal exterior materials must be submitted uncolored at preliminary and final stages.
h. Roof plans for proposed buildings must be submitted at preliminary and final stages, at the same scale as the floor plans, indicating the following:
i. Construction and equipment drawings for exterior building features, site work, and any other proposals requiring coordination with off-site facilities and activities must be submitted at the final stage.
One set of rendered plan maps and drawings must be submitted at each review stage. Rendered presentation maps and drawings should be presented in color. At least one rendered perspective of all proposed buildings and substantial site developments is required at the schematic development stage, as applicable, and at preliminary and final stages. Perspectives prepared at an early stage may be resubmitted at later stages if the project design is unchanged.
A model must be submitted for all major development proposals (model requirements for a particular submission may be obtained from the Commission staff). Models must depict topography, existing-to-remain and proposed buildings and improvements, pedestrian and vehicular circulation parking and loading areas, public transportation facilities, and principal landscape features. They should be prepared at the same scale as the project site plan, or larger if necessary for presentation purposes.
Submission drawings should be a standardized sheet size, whenever possible, and in no event exceed a sheet size of 33 by 44 inches, in order to be compatible with the Commission's microfilm file requirements. For projects requiring larger maps or drawings, multiple sheets with match lines within the maximum size limits may be submitted.
Maps and drawings, where applicable, should be oriented so that north is at the top of the sheet, confirmed by a north arrow. Map and drawing scales should be indicated in numerical and graphic form for reference at full sheet size and in copy reductions.
At least three sets of full size maps and drawings (except construction and equipment drawings) and narrative materials must be submitted at each stage. One set of construction and equipment drawings must be submitted at the final stage (see Section 4.B.3.i).
As discussed in Sections 1.D.2 and 5.F, where projects are located on sites for which master plans are not required, the location and program and schematic development or preliminary plan submissions will normally function as the master plan and must be referred to other agencies and organizations as part of the Commission review process.
The number of sets of submission materials required in such cases is defined in Section 4.D of the Commission's Master Plan Submission Requirements
One set of maps and drawings, including vicinity map, boundary map, site plan, landscape and grading plan, floor plans of the entrance level and any other levels containing major public spaces, and elevations, as applicable to the specific type of submission, must be submitted at a reduced page size no greater than 8-1/2 by 14 inches and in a form that permits reproduction by a standard copying machine.
Sponsoring agencies should contact the Commission staff at the earliest planning stage for land acquisition and siting and design of proposed new developments in order to prepare for required submissions. On a case-by-case basis the Commission staff will assist sponsoring agencies in determining;
If the potential for off-site impacts necessitates early consultation with other agencies, the Commission staff will contact the planning agency, intergovernmental review officer, chief administrative officer, and responsible elected official of the affected local government and regional and state clearinghouses to arrange a meeting about the project and its anticipated submission schedule. (In general, early consultation will be required on sites not covered by master plans. Frequently, the coordination previously provided through the review of an agency's master plan will satisfy early consultation requirements for projects within the installation covered by the master plan.)
Early consultation meetings, which occur prior to initial submissions to the Commission, give local, regional, and state agencies necessary information about proposed developments; facilitate early identification of issues and concerns; and establish continuing coordination for planning and construction stages, as needed (see Section 5(a) of the Commission's Procedures for Intergovernmental Cooperation in Federal Planning in the National Capital Region.
Submissions (including all required materials) must meet established deadlines (available from the Commission staff) in order to qualify for Commission review at a scheduled monthly meeting.
As noted in Sections 4.A.2&3, if the proposed development is a District of Columbia public building within the central area, the Commission is responsible for environmental documentation and compliance with Section 106 where applicable. Where the Executive Director has determined that Commission action requires an EIS, the NEPA process must be completed prior to the initial action.
If a Section 106 review is required, initial action will normally be scheduled immediately after the Executive Director initiates the process, unless, because of potential impacts on recognized historic resources, the views of the District of Columbia SHPO or the District of Columbia Historic Preservation Review Board are required. Compliance with Section 106 must be completed prior to Commission action on final site and building plans.
Pursuant to Section 2(d) of the Planning Act, submissions for proposed projects located in, or adjacent to, the District of Columbia will be referred by the Commission staff to the Coordinating Committee to ensure coordination with interested and affected District of Columbia and Federal agencies.
Upon receipt of location and program and schematic development or preliminary plan submissions for projects on sites not covered by a master plan and not subject to review by the Commission's Coordinating Committee, the Commission will refer the submissions to affected local planning agencies and regional and state clearinghouses for review and comment. Such submissions are also referred by the regional clearinghouse (COG) to designated intergovernmental review officials of affected jurisdictions for review and comment.
As planning issues are raised by the Coordinating Committee or from the referral process, the Commission staff, in conjunction with the COG staff, will work with affected local, regional, or state agencies and the sponsoring agency to resolve such issues.
Following receipt of comments from other organizations and the Coordinating Committee, the staff will prepare recommendations for Commission action. Staff recommendations will normally be provided to the Commission and made available to the sponsoring agency and general public approximately one week in advance of scheduled Commission meetings. In the event unresolved issues delay staff recommendations, the staff will inform the sponsoring agency of the steps to be taken to resolve outstanding concerns.
In accordance with the Commission's Revised Procedures for Public Participation, organizations in the vicinity of a project site will be mailed a notice of "Tentative Agenda Items" indicating a tentative schedule for Commission review of the proposals described. Organizations or individuals may submit written comments for consideration by the Executive Director in preparing staff recommendations. In addition, organizations or individuals may register to appear before the Commission to comment on project submissions and/or staff recommendations.
The Commission reviews project submissions at scheduled meetings. The Commission staff will notify the sponsoring agency of the schedule for review and any requirements concerning its participation in the presentation to the Commission.
A letter notifying the sponsoring agency of Commission action on its project submission will immediately follow such action.
Submissions requiring referral to local, regional, and state agencies will normally require a 90-day review period, of which 60 days will be devoted to review by agencies receiving-the referral. Under special circumstances, a sponsoring agency may request a waiver of up to 30 days of this review period from the Executive Director. Project submissions for sites not requiring referral are subject to a review period of approximately 30 days.
In the following circumstances, authority may be delegated to the Executive Director:
A. For federal projects on sites in the environs for which the Commission has submitted to the agency its reports and recommendations on the master plan or for projects in the District of Columbia for which the Commission has, where appropriate, an approved master plan, and which are not located on the Mall Complex, the Executive Director may approve preliminary and final site and building plans for proposed buildings or additions of less than 50,000 square feet of floor area, if the Executive Director determines that:
B. The Executive Director may approve preliminary and final site and building plans for District of Columbia projects in the Central Area that have less than 50,000 square feet of floor area, if the Executive Director determines that:
C. The Executive Director may approve or comment on, as appropriate, site development projects that do not include buildings when the projects are not inconsistent with a master plan that has been approved or reported on by the Commission. This delegation does not include memorials or projects on the Mall Complex.
D. The Executive Director may comment on District of Columbia projects outside of the central area that do not affect federal interests.
E. The Executive Director may take responsibility for the scope and content of environmental documents prepared for Commission action by:
F. The Executive Director may comment to the Council of the District of Columbia on street closings outside the L’Enfant City where the proposed closing: would not affect a federal interest; is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan; and would not have an adverse impact on major historic or natural features.
G. The Executive Director may comment to the Council of the District of Columbia on alley closings where the proposed closing would not be inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan and would not have an adverse impact on a federal interest.
H. The Executive Director may report directly to the Zoning Commission on all zoning referrals determined to have no federal interest or minimal adverse impacts.
I. The Executive Director may approve receive-only antennas that are:
J. The Executive Director may consult with appropriate state and local planning agencies, and comment on local and state plans where there is no adverse impact on identified federal interests, capital programs, and other state and local activities that are voluntarily submitted to the Commission for review.
K. The Executive Director may advise and consult with appropriate planning agencies having jurisdiction over the affected part of the environs with respect to general plans for proposed federal and District developments and projects within the environs.
L. The Executive Director, with regard to matters under the Pennsylvania Avenue Plan, may be responsible for:
M. The Executive Director may review all prospectuses involving only the leasing of privately owned space in the region by a federal agency or department to identify if any appear to be inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan and other Commission policies. This delegation does not extend to all prospectuses which:
N. The Executive Director may execute agreements with state officials as to the arrangements for acquisition by the Commission of lands in Maryland and Virginia for the National Capital park, parkway, and playground system and agreements with State officials over the control of such lands.
O. The Executive Director may determine appropriate federal and District of Columbia authorities to whom federal elements of the Comprehensive Plan, or amendments thereto, shall be presented for comments and recommendations prior to adoption thereof.
Note: The Mall Complex is defined as the portion of the Monumental Core east of the Potomac River that includes the Mall (area bounded by Constitution and Independence Avenues and First and 14th Street, NW and SW), the Ellipse, the Washington Monument Grounds, West Potomac Park, the Jefferson Memorial Grounds, and the Capitol Grounds.
Note 1. The Region includes the District of Columbia; Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in Maryland; Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties in Virginia; and all cities that exist or may come to exist in Maryland and Virginia within the geographic area bounded by the outer boundaries of the combined area of said counties. (Return to 1A)
Note 2. Section 5(b) of the Planning Act generally exempts projects within the U.S. Capitol grounds or structures erected by the Department of Defense during wartime or national emergency within existing military, naval, or Air Force reservations. In the latter case, the affected Defense agency should consult with the Commission if off-site effects are anticipated. (Return to 1A)
Note 3. Submission requirements for the installation of antennas on Federal sites are covered in the Commission's Guidelines and Submission Requirements for Antennas on Federal Property, in the National Capital Region. (Return to 1B)