Development Division FAQs
- When is a Vegetation Management Plan (or Buffer Management Plan) required in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area?Any disturbance in the 100-foot or expanded buffer will require a buffer management plan approved by Inspections and Permits. Disturbance includes cutting or removing vegetation (trees, shrubs, vines) and any grading or filling activity.In addition to a buffer management plan, a property owner may need approval from the Department of Inspections and Permits. This approval comes in the form of a grading permit for disturbances greater than 5,000 square feet. For disturbances under 5,000 square feet, a property owner may seek approval of a more simplified, standard grading plan (also known as standard lot sheet) instead of a grading permit.
- What is the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area?The Critical Area is the land area 1,000 feet inland from tidal water or tidal wetlands. The Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Program promotes more sensitive development within the Critical Area to help protect water quality and wildlife habitat. Of particular importance are restrictions on construction, clearing, and vegetation management within the minimum 100-foot buffer along the shoreline.
- What is a Buffer in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area?The minimum 100’ buffer is a naturally wooded area or a forested area specifically established or managed to protect aquatic, wetland, shoreline, and terrestrial environments from man-made disturbances. The Chesapeake Bay Critical Area buffer is located 100 feet inland from the mean high water line of tidal water, tidal wetlands, or tributary streams. The 100-foot buffer is expanded to include any contiguous sensitive areas, including all land within 50 feet of the top of a steep slope.
- I live in the Critical Area and I have a dead tree that I want to remove. Do I need a permit?Yes. All vegetation removal including dead or damaged trees requires an approved Vegetation Management Plan prior to removal.
- If I propose to remove a live tree or clear live vegetation in the Critical Area, will I have to replant anything?Yes. Critical Area law requires replacement planting for any clearing activity in the Critical Area. Replanting is to be accomplished with native plant species.
- My realtor told me that I could cut any trees on my waterfront lot that are less than 4 inches in diameter, and I don’t need a permit. Is this true?No, this is NOT true! We hear this question at least several times a week. All trees of any size, as well as shrubs and vines, are considered habitat in the Critical Area and are subject to the Critical Area law requirements. Please contact the Forester in the Compliance Division of Inspections and Permits (410) 222-7441 BEFORE you cut any trees on your waterfront lot.
- Who prepares a buffer management plan?For removal of individual trees, construction of nonstructural water access paths, and small-scale tree pruning, the property owner can prepare and sign a standard buffer form. For removal of a large number of trees, large scale pruning, and replacing vines and briars with desirable understory plants, the property owner will likely need a buffer management plan prepared by a professional.
- Can I remove invasive species (Phragmites, English Ivy, Poison Ivy, Greenbriar) from my Buffer?Yes. The County encourages the removal of invasive species. However, you must have a County-approved vegetation management plan and plant the area with native species that suppress the re-growth of the invasive species. Contact the Forester in the Compliance Division of Inspections and Permits at (410) 222-7441 for a list of native species plants or see the For more information Link below.
- What does the County do with the fees it collects from property owners for the removal of trees in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area?The County uses that money to replant trees elsewhere within the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area.
- How do I report a potential environmental violation or file a complaint?Call the Environmental Hotline at (410) 222-7171. It is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you know the street address of the potential violation, please leave that information with the Hotline service. If possible, an inspection will be done the same day.
- The storm drain is apparently clogged; whom do I call?If you reside in a community that is still under development, most likely the developer is still responsible for the maintenance. You should contact the Infrastructure Inspection Division at (410) 222-7784. If you reside in an established community, chances are the Department of Public Works, Road Operations, is responsible for maintenance. Road Operations District numbers are as follows:
- Northern District: (410) 222-7045;
- Central District: (410) 222-7940;
- Southern District: (410) 222-1933;
- Administration: (410) 222-7045.
- Where do I find a list of Community Associations?A list can be found under the Office of Community Engagement and Constituent Services (CECS).
- How do I update my Community Association contact information?Community Engagement and Constituent Services maintains a list of community Associations. Please fill out the online Community Association Request Form or contact them directly at (410) 222-1785.
- How can I determine if a lot is buildable?There are many factors that must be considered in determining the buildability of a lot. (It is important to note that the buildability of a lot may not be able to be assessed until a building permit application has been made.) The lot must first meet the definition of a lot in Article 17-1-101(59) as per the Anne Arundel County Code. If the lot meets this definition, then it must be determined if the proposed development meets the bulk regulations in Article 18 for the zoning classification in which the lot is located. The zoning for a particular lot can be found on the County's Zoning Map Viewer. If a single family dwelling/development is proposed on a single lot, outside of the Critical Area, then staff from Inspections and Permits (410) 222-7730 will be able to answer any questions concerning this type of development. If the lot is in the Critical Area or if commercial or industrial development are proposed, then the Planner of the Day in the Office of Planning and Zoning (410) 222-7710 will be available to answer questions concerning these types of developments on single lots. Any questions concerning the zoning of a property, or the bulk regulations associated with the zoning, can be addressed to the Zoning Planner of the Day (410) 222-7710 and on the Planning and Zoning Web page under Development Division, Subdivision, Site Development, and Zoning Regulations.
- Can I subdivide my property?Determine the Zoning of the property on the Zoning Map Viewer. Reference Article 18 in the Code for your specific Zoning District to find the Bulk Regulations to determine if you have enough acreage or square footage to meet the Density requirements for your specific Zoning. Reference Article 17 of the Anne Arundel County Code to assess whether or not the proposed development can meet the property requirements. It will be necessary to employ a licensed surveyor, engineer, or other qualified professional to prepare the plans, plats and other needed documents for review by the relevant County and State agencies and the recordation of the plat and other documents in the land records of the County. It is advisable that an applicant meet with these consultants in order to determine the extent of the needed plans/studies/reports, as well as the cost associated with these types of applications. Please contact the Planner of the Day if you need assistance to determine if your property will meet the Subdivision regulations.
- Is my development subject to Forest Conservation Regulations?If the proposed development is for a subdivision of property or for a grading permit or sediment control permit on a site of 40,000 square feet or greater, then the proposed development is subject to the Forest Conservation Regulations located in Article 17 Subtitle 3 of the Anne Arundel County Code. Once it has been determined that the development is subject to the regulations, there are few types of projects that may receive an exception to these regulations under certain circumstances. These exceptions are listed in Article 17-6-301(b)(1-11). If the project is subject to the regulations, a Forest Stand Delineation and Forest Conservation Plan must be prepared by a qualified professional. In most cases a certain area of forest must be preserved or reforestation planted and the forest and/or reforestation will be placed within a protective easement. If you haven any questions about these regulations you can contact the Planner of the Day in the Office of Planning and Zoning (410) 222-7710.
- Can the Forest Conservation Easement on my property be abandoned?As per Article 17-6-307(b) of the Anne Arundel County Code, if it is believed that it is appropriate for the County to abandon a forest conservation easement, a request must be sent in writing to the Planning and Zoning Officer that explains why the abandonment is believed to be appropriate. If the Planning and Zoning Officer agrees in writing then the abandonment can take place provided the area to be abandoned is less than 1/2 acre, a fee of $0.75 per square foot is paid, and an Amended Plat and revised forest conservation easement documents are recorded in the land records of the County. More information on the Amended Plat process can be found in Article 17-3-801 and a community meeting may be required as per Article 17-2-107. Approval of these requests are not automatic and adequate justification and documentation, as determined by the Planning and Zoning Officer, must be submitted with the request in order to receive a favorable decision.
- Do Site Development Plan requirements apply to my proposed development?
To determine if Site Development Plan requirements are applicable to your development, refer to Article 17, Title 4, Subtitle 1 of the Anne Arundel County Code , which describes the criteria that must be met for a development to be exempted from Site Development Plan requirements. For assistance in determining whether your specific development will need to complete the Site Development Plan review process, please contact the Planner of the Day.
- What must be included with a Preliminary Plan submission?
The submission of a Preliminary Plan must include all items detailed in the Preliminary Plan – Submittal Application Requirements checklist, except for those determined not applicable to the proposed development in accordance with checklist instructions. The Preliminary Plan must be prepared in accordance with the Sketch Plan – Preliminary Plan Checklist and include all information and attachments required therein.
- What must be included with a Site Development Plan submission?
The submission of a Site Development Plan must include all items detailed in the Site Development Plan – Submittal Application Requirements checklist, except for those determined not applicable to the proposed development in accordance with checklist instructions. The Site Development Plan must be prepared in accordance with the Site Development Plan Checklist and include all information and attachments required therein.
- When are community meetings required in the development review process?
- What are Adequate Public Facilities requirements and how do I determine if my development is subject to Adequate Public Facilities testing?
Adequate Public Facilities regulations provide a growth management process that enables the County to provide adequate infrastructure facilities in a timely manner and achieve the growth management objective of the General Development Plan. As a condition of subdivision or site development, certain developments must pass certain tests to ensure adequate fire, road, school, sewerage, storm drain and water supply facilities. Adequate Public Facilities requirements can be found in Article 17, Title 5 of the Anne Arundel County Code. The chart found in Article 17-5-201 of County Code may be used to determine the applicability of Adequate Public Facilities testing requirements to a proposed development.
- I am looking at a specific property to buy what uses are allowed on the property.
- What development is proposed in my neighborhood?
View development activity using the Development Activity Report.
- How do I get my commercial development approved?
Refer to our Article 17-4-101 of the Code to determine whether your request requires a Development Application. If so, print the Development Application, Site Development Plan checklist, Site Development Plan – Submittal Application Requirements, Preliminary Plan Application, Preliminary Plan Checklist, and Preliminary Plan – Submittal Application Requirements. Submit the completed forms and plans through the Permit Center for review by the Development Division.
- Can I subdivide my property?
Determine the Zoning of the property on the Zoning Map Viewer. Reference Article 18 in the Code for your specific Zoning District to find the Bulk Regulations to determine if you have enough acreage or square footage to meet the Density requirements for your specific Zoning. Reference Article 17 of the Anne Arundel County Code to assess whether or not the proposed development can meet the property requirements. It will be necessary to employ a licensed surveyor, engineer, or other qualified professional to prepare the plans, plats and other needed documents for review by the relevant County and State agencies and the recordation of the plat and other documents in the land records of the County. It is advisable that an applicant meet with these consultants in order to determine the extent of the needed plans/studies/reports, as well as the cost associated with these types of applications. Please contact the Planner of the Day if you need assistance to determine if your property will meet the Subdivision regulations.
- Can I change the existing use to another use inside an existing facility?
Refer to our Article 17-4-101 of the Code to determine whether your request requires a Development Plan. If your project will impact any of the Adequacy of Public Facilities found under our Code Article 17, Title 5, then a Preliminary Plan and Site Development Plan will be required. Print the Development Application, Preliminary Plan, Preliminary Plan Checklist and Site Development Plan – Submittal Application Requirements and Site Development Plan checklist. If you need assistance you may contact the Planner of the Day to determine if a Development Application is required and how to access the forms.