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Long Range Planning FAQs

Comprehensive Zoning

  • What is zoning?

    Zoning is a tool used to guide how land is developed or preserved. The zoning map classifies land in the County into zoning districts where different types of land uses, such as residential, commercial, and industrial, are allowed. The zoning code includes a set of bulk regulations, such as lot coverage, density, and building height, that help determine the form of development.

    The generalized Zoning Map gives a quick view of how the County has been zoned. For the zoning of individual properties you may check the Land Use and Zoning App. For more information about zoning, please refer to County Code § 18-2-106 or see the County's Zoning Administration Website

    • What is planned land use?
      Planned land use is a policy map that shows how the County and its residents envision the future use of the land to be, in order to promote a more desirable outcome. The County updated its Planned Land Use Map during the process to develop Plan2040, which the County Council adopted in May 2021. To review the Planned Land Use in your community, check the Land Use and Zoning App.
    • What is comprehensive zoning and how does it differ from administrative zoning?
      There are two methods for changing the Zoning Classification assigned to an individual property. One is called "Comprehensive Zoning" and the other is "Administrative Zoning". Comprehensive Zoning is a process that occurs to make changes in the County’s Official Zoning Maps in accordance with the policies and recommendations in the General Development Plan or other adopted master plans. The Office of Planning and Zoning will propose Comprehensive Zoning Maps that are consistent with the Adopted General Development Plan and the Region Plans. The Comprehensive Zoning Maps will be reviewed and adopted through a legislative process by the County Council for official use. Administrative Zoning is the method by which an individual may request that a property be reclassified to correct any mistakes made by the County Council during the last comprehensive process or to recognize a change in the character of the neighborhood that would necessitate a change in the zoning. The Administrative Hearing Officer conducts hearings on administrative zoning requests and renders a decision.
    • How will residents be notified of comprehensive zoning changes?
      The County will mail notification of the comprehensive zoning process to all property owners in the eligible Regions. In addition, the County will notify all residents who have subscribed for updates to the County Executive's newsletter, to the Office of Planning and Zoning newsletters, and all HOAs currently registered with the County within the eligible Regions. The Office of Planning and Zoning will also mail letters to property owners who have a zoning change recommended for their property.
    • When can I apply for Comprehensive Zoning?
      The County will conduct comprehensive zoning in tandem with the Region Plans. Regions 2, 4, and 7 will undergo comprehensive zoning starting in 2023. See the hubsites below for more information. 
    • I live in Region 2, 4, or 7, but I missed the zoning application window. Can I apply later?
      No, the comprehensive zoning process will not consider applications submitted outside of the application window, or applications submitted for Regions without active Region Plans. If you miss the zoning application for your Region but still desire a zoning change, you can pursue rezoning through an individual application. Please click here for more information. Anne Arundel County Code also empowers the Planning and Zoning Officer to correct zoning districts. This process is called an administrative zoning correction. If you think your property is eligible, please click here.
    • What are consistency changes?

      Maryland State Law requires that Zoning be consistent with the General Development Plan, known as Plan2040. County staff conducted an extensive analysis of land use and zoning as part of Plan2040 and the Region Plans, and identified several zoning consistency issues that should be addressed to help achieve County and community goals.

      The Office of Planning and Zoning proposes these consistency changes to align the Zoning Map with the Planned Land Use Map. For example, there are large properties in the County with "industrial" zoning and a planned land use of "mixed use." In these cases, the County may work with the property owners to determine their support for updating the zoning to "mixed use." To take another example, there are also areas of the County with "medium-density residential" planned land use, where existing, well-established neighborhoods are built out at a lower density. In these cases, the County will work with property owners in these neighborhoods to weigh the tradeoffs and benefits of pursuing a lower-density residential zoning district.

    • How will consistency changes affect built communities?
      When neighborhoods are developed, they don’t always build out to the maximum potential of the zoning district. Changing the zoning to match what has actually been built can help the County provide better analysis for infrastructure needs and protect the physical character of an area. Properties that are zoned for more intense development may be subdivided or redeveloped with more and different types of uses than the neighborhood currently has. That can be a desirable change in areas where communities want to see revitalization. But in communities that do not want or cannot support more development, higher zoning potential can have unwanted impacts.

    General Development Plan

    • Where can I find information on the General Development Plan
      Information on the General Development Plan can be found on the County's website.

    Greenways Master Plan

    • Why is there a Greenways Master Plan?

      The purpose of the Anne Arundel County Greenways Master Plan is to provide an identification, decision-making, implementation, and management tool for the County’s natural lands. The overall goal is to create an interconnected network that protects the environment, increases quality of life for residents, provides greater recreation options; improves water quality, aesthetic quality, biodiversity; and reduces pollution for present and future generations. Conversely, without a managed greenways network, disrupted open and green space will likely increase as development continues, resulting in diminished quality of life for both humans and animals.

      The Plan is also used to inform preservation and restoration decisions through collaboration with other County departments as well as third parties that share the same goal. During the County’s development review process, there will continue to be an iterative process where staff works with the applicant to orient development outside of the Network or in cases where that is not feasible, position development to have a low impact on the Network.

      As of 2021, the Office of Planning and Zoning is working in partnership with the Department of Recreation and Park to update the plan. Find more information by visiting Green Infrastructure Master Plan page.
    • What are developers required to do?
      All subdivision and site development plans, as well as commercial development plans, must undergo an interagency review as part of the development plan approval process. The Greenways Network is taken into consideration in this process when development proposals are located in the Greenways Network. In those cases, the County advises the developer and works with them to achieve a site layout that will minimize impacts. While location of a property within the Greenways does not negate the owner’s right to develop the property, the County encourages and promotes the most environmentally sensitive site design feasible.
    • What restrictions are on my property that is located within the Greenway?
      The Plan is not a regulatory document. Rather, it is designed to identify an interconnected network that through implementation will help meet the County’s vision and goals for land preservation, forest conservation, recreation and pedestrian mobility. It also establishes an implementation plan that identifies possible funding sources, financial tools, or incentives for acquisition and other elements of green infrastructure (trail construction, education, staffing, remediation, additional planning, maintenance, etc.), as well as opportunities for cross-departmental collaboration, and identifies future work related to the Plan but outside the scope of this document.

    Odenton Town Center

    • What is the Odenton Town Center?
      The Odenton Growth Management Area, known as the “Odenton Town Center” (OTC), is an area located in the western part of Anne Arundel County. It is one of three designated “Town Centers” in the County where development and redevelopment is the highest priority for economic growth. A mix of land uses are integrated to create attractive, livable, walkable and economically viable centers.
    • Why is there an Odenton Town Center Master Plan?
      As a County-designated Town Center, a Master Plan was adopted that identifies specific development and design standards in order to implement the goal of creating an attractive, livable, walkable and economically viable center.
    • How do I use the Odenton Town Center Master Plan?
      Unless specifically stated otherwise, all development projects within the OTC must comply with the provisions in the OTC Master Plan. Other development requirements and procedures that apply within the OTC are found elsewhere in the County Code, principally in the following:

      Requirements in the County Code that are superseded by provisions in the OTC Master Plan are so noted in the latter. Where a conflict between the two exists, the OTC Master Plan shall govern.

    • Tips to find what you need in the Odenton Town Center Master Plan
      The OTC Master Plan, found on the County's website, will guide you through the planning process.
      • Zoning (sub-area) – page 9
      • Permitted Use Chart – page 48
      • Development requirements (density, number of stories, etc.) – page 47
      • Additional development requirements – page 39
      • Design standards – page 93
    • How is the Odenton Town Center zoned?

      Six distinct sub-areas have been established within the OTC. Each sub-area has a specific character and purpose. The OTC subareas are official zoning districts as established in Article 18 of the County Code.

    • When will the Odenton Town Center be built?

      The OTC not one specific project but a defined geographical area within the County to direct future development and redevelopment. The OTC Master Plan provides planning and implementation guidance and requirements as property owners facilitate development or redevelopment of their properties.

    • Who is in charge of the Odenton Town Center?

      The OTC is a geographical area defined by the County and is not a separate jurisdiction. Development projects are subject to the Anne Arundel County OTC Master Plan and County Code. In addition, the Odenton Town Center Advisory Committee advocates for the goals and objectives of the Odenton Town Center.

    • How do I get involved?

      The OTC Advisory Committee meetings are open to the public. There are opportunities for the public to provide comment. Please refer to the County calendar for future dates and times.