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Long Range Planning FAQs

Comprehensive Zoning

  • What is land use? How does land use differ from zoning?

    There are two types of Land Use that are referred to in the General Development Plan: Existing Land Use refers to how a property is currently being used. Planned Land Use refers to the use of the property for the future (as defined by the General Development Plan Land Use Map). For example, a row of properties in an area dominated by commercial uses such as restaurants and gas stations could be currently developed as single-family homes. During the General Development Plan process, it could be identified that there is a need in that area for additional commercial uses and the vision for the area would be to have a commercial node in the community. Although the Existing Land Use would remain single-family homes, the Planned Land Use would be designated for future use as Commercial on the General Development Plan’s Land Use Map. The General Development Plan Land Use Map is a depiction of the Planned Land Use in the County and the long-term vision of how much and where it will develop over the next 20 years to accommodate expected population and job growth.

    Zoning is the division of the County into areas that specify the allowable uses for a property. It is the tool used to implement the General Development Plan’s Land Use Map. Zoning is a set of rules that tells us the specifics of how land can be used and what can be built on a property.

  • 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. 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.

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.