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Frequently Asked Questions

Long Range Planning

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.


  • Why is there a Green Infrastructure 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 future Greenways Network. 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.

  • 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:
    • Article 16 Floodplain Management, Erosion and Sediment Control, and Stormwater Management
    • Article 17 Subdivision and Development
    • Article 18 Zoning
    • County Stormwater Management Practices and Procedures Manual.

    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

Regional Development

  • 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?

    Community meeting requirements can be found in Article 17-2-107 & 108 of the Anne Arundel County Code, with additional information and useful links found on the Office of Planning and Zoning’s Community Meeting webpage. 

  • 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.
    • First, determine in which zoning district the property is located in using the Zoning Map Viewer
    • Second, once you have determined the zoning in which the property is located, refer to Article 18 to view the permissible use charts by zoning district.
  • 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.

Odenton Town Center

  • 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.