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Comprehensive zoning 101

Here is some information about the comprehensive zoning process:

What is comprehensive zoning?

Comprehensive rezoning is the process that follows the county's master plan update, which is done about every 10 years. With PlanHoward 2030 approved last year, the county now shifts its focus to a complete review of the zoning map.

During comprehensive zoning, the Department of Planning and Zoning reviews the county's zoning map and recommends amendments and new zoning. Individual property owners also are allowed to request a zoning change.

Requesting a zoning change during the comprehensive zoning process allows property owners an easier path to rezoning. A zoning request made outside of comprehensive rezoning must go before the Zoning Board, which acts in a quasi-judicial process, requiring the property owner to demonstrate that a mistake was made during the previous comprehensive zoning process or that the neighborhood has changed justifying a zoning change.

Who considers zoning requests?

Requests for a change in zoning are first evaluated by the county's Department of Planning and Zoning. The department then submits its recommendations to the Planning Board, which hosts public hearings and makes its own recommendations to the administration and County Council.

The County Council makes the final decision on zoning requests after hosting a public hearing.

How long is the process?

The Department of Planning and Zoning accepted requests for rezoning from October to mid-December. They have made their recommendations to the Planning Board, which will host public hearings on the requests March 27 and April 8. The March 27 hearing will be held at the George Howard Building, in Ellicott City, and the April 8 hearing will be at Glenelg High School. Both start at 6 p.m.

The Planning Board plans to make recommendations to the County Council in June or July, according to Department of Planning and Zoning Director Marsha McLaughlin.

How many rezoning requests were made this year?

There were 207 zoning change requests made by the county and county property owners this year. The Department of Planning and Zoning has recommended approval of 147 requests.

Fifty-five of the 207 requests are along Route 1 and 42 are recommended for approval by the Department of Planning and Zoning.

Where can I find more information?

For more information and to view specific zoning proposals go to http://www.howardcountymd.gov/compzoning

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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