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Frequently Asked Questions

General Zoning

  • Why do I need a variance?
    If you are proposing work that does not comply with the Zoning Code, you may apply for a zoning variance. A variance is an authorization to meet less than the full zoning requirement. Zoning variances are not granted automatically. A property owner must apply for a zoning variance with the Office of Planning and Zoning. After receiving the application, the Office of Administrative Hearings will schedule a public hearing, receive testimony and decide whether to grant or deny the request.
  • What is a special exception?
    A special exception is neither an exception nor special. It is a use that is specifically listed as allowed within a zoning district. The use will have specific conditions that must be met in order to be allowed. The applicant for a special exception must demonstrate to the Administrative Hearing Officer, at a public hearing, how those conditions will be met.
  • How can I get my property reclassified (rezoned)?
    There are two methods changing the zoning classification assigned to an individual property. One is called "comprehensive" and the other is "individual" or "piecemeal". During comprehensive zoning, the County Council reviews and updates all of the zoning maps for a designated Small Area in accordance with the General Development Plan and Small Area Plan land use maps. Individual, or piecemeal, 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 last comprehensive process or to recognize a change in the character of the neighborhood that would necessitate a change in the zoning.

    Note: As of July 15, 2018 there is a moratorium on piecemeal rezoning applications per Bill 17-18.
  • If my use existed before the zoning laws, is it automatically grandfathered?
    No. If the use of a property does not fall within those allowed by zoning, the use must be registered as non-conforming with the Office of Planning and Zoning. Registration of a non-conforming use requires proof that the use predates the zoning requirement.
  • Why is the front yard of a waterfront property different from a non-waterfront property?
    On non-waterfront property, the front of a structure is oriented to the road. However, on waterfront property, since the orientation of the structure is to the water, the water side is considered the front yard. With more than 533 miles of waterfront in Anne Arundel County, this makes a significant difference since front yard setbacks are the most restrictive.
  • What is my zoning?
    The zoning classification for your property is determined by the official Zoning Maps of Anne Arundel County. To identify the zoning of a particular property you need some basic information: Tax ID number, address, or tax map, block, parcel number call (410) 222-7463 or (410) 222-7437 to request this information. View zoning areas through the County Zoning Map Viewer.
  • What are my setbacks?
    The zoning classification of your property determines your setbacks. There are two different setback requirements: one for the principal dwelling or principal use (if non- residential) and one for accessory uses (sheds, detached garages). Once you have determined your zoning classification, you can find your setbacks on the Residential Setback Chart or by calling the Zoning Division at (410) 222-7437
  • Where are mobile homes permitted?
    Mobile homes are only allowed in Licensed Mobile Home parks by Special Exception in most residentially zoned areas of the county. Individual mobile homes that existed on the property prior to 1966 may apply for a non-conforming use status.
  • Can I or can my neighbor have horses?
    Yes, horses are allowed to be kept on a lot of 40,000 square feet or greater in a residential district at the rate of two horses per 40,000 square feet of land area. Ponies may be kept at the rate of four ponies per 40,000 square feet of land area.
  • How many pets, such as dogs, can I have in my home?
    The zoning ordinance allows the keeping of pets for other than commercial purposes. The keeping of cats is limited to no more than nine per household. The keeping of dogs as pets is limited by lot size. You may keep up to four dogs with no minimum land area requirement. For five or six dogs, at least 25,000 square feet of land area is required, and for seven or more dogs, 40,000 square feet is required, with 5,000 square feet for each additional dog over seven. Keeping more than four dogs requires a Dog Fancier License. Contact Animal Control at (410) 222-8900. Contact Zoning Enforcement at (410) 222-7446 to request a letter of zoning approval. A commercial kennel is allowed by special exception in RA, RLD, or R1 zoned land.
  • Can I keep chickens on my property?
    Chickens (hens only) are allowed to be kept in residential districts on a lot of 10,000 square feet or greater at the rate of maximum of 4 chickens, a lot of 15,000 square feet or greater at the rate of maximum of 6 chickens, a lot of 20,000 square feet or greater at the rate of maximum of 8 chickens. Chickens (hens or roosters) may be kept on a residential zoned lot of 40,000 square feet at a ratio of one bird unit per 40,000 square feet. 32 chickens = 1 bird unit.
  • Can I allow my friends to dry/wet store their boats at my residential pier for the summer?
    No, only the property owner/tenant may store/dock their boat(s) at a private pier.