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Environmental Review Toolkit

Collaborative Problem Solving: Better and Streamlined Outcomes for All

Guidance on Managing Conflict and Resolving Disputes between State and Federal Agencies During the Transportation Project Development and Environmental Review Process

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Maryland Conflict Resolution Hierarchy

Maryland's Streamlined Environmental and Regulatory Process (for Transportation Projects)

Conflict Resolution Process

While the conflict resolution process will likely be used most often to resolve issues associated with the streamlined environmental/regulatory process concurrence points, SHA and/or any of the concurring/commenting agencies may request that the process be initiated to resolve any issue when an impasse has been reached. (Depending on the nature of the conflict, it may be appropriate to involve agencies other than those actually initiating the resolution process (i.e., other interested environmental agencies, local governments, etc.)) The sample process outlined below indicates how the process is envisioned to work in resolving issues relating to the environmental/regulatory concurrence process.

After reviewing the draft concurrence/comment package prior to the formal Interagency Review presentation, an agency may identify an issue which would prevent it from concurring. The agency should notify SHA of the issue via E-mail, no later than 2 weeks prior to the formal presentation. This notification should specify whether any additional information is needed and should also specifically request time to caucus at the upcoming monthly Interagency Review meeting, if necessary. SHA will try to address these concerns at the upcoming Interagency Review meeting.

Sample Process

  • After the formal Interagency Review presentation, a caucus session may be convened (if requested) as Step 1 in the conflict resolution process. Following the caucus, the results should be reported before conclusion of the interagency meeting, along with a determination of whether resolution was achieved. If not, agencies must specify what information is required to resolve the issue to their satisfaction and whether Step 2 of the conflict resolution should be initiated.
  • If resolution of the issue was achieved, SHA will circulate the final version of the concurrence/comment package to the agencies within 2 weeks of the Interagency Review meeting, updated to include any supplemental information requested at the meeting.
  • If SHA is unable to address agency comments on the preliminary package, the cover letter transmitting the formal package will indicate the reason why this information has not been furnished, and may include a request by SHA to initiate Step 2 of the conflict resolution process.
  • Within 2 weeks of receipt of the formal concurrence/comment package, a non-concurring agency sends formal written correspondence to SHA, specifying issues still preventing concurrence and identifying any additional information needed to resolve the issue(s). The letter should also document that Step 2 in the conflict resolution process has been initiated and request that a meeting with appropriate agencies be scheduled.
  • A Step 2 meeting of appropriate working staff and/or first level managers from the agencies in conflict is scheduled (within 15 days of receipt of a written or verbal request), and additional information is developed for presentation at the meeting.
  • At least 7 days prior to the meeting, SHA provides an agenda outlining the purpose of the meeting, issues to be discussed, and any new information that will be provided in response to agency requests.
  • At the conclusion of the meeting, the participants should recommend elevating any issues still in dispute to subsequent steps in the conflict resolution process. Minutes of the meeting should be prepared and distributed by SHA within7 days of the meeting which reflect any agreements reached, any issues still outstanding, and concluding recommendations for further action (if required).
  • Should the conflict remain unresolved past Step 2 in the process, the issue(s) will be elevated through subsequent meetings between the Interagency Managers, using the same procedure previously outlined, until a resolution of the issue(s) has been agreed upon.

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