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.

Note: If you would like to apply for a variance to allow an extension in time for the implementation and completion of a previously approved variance (a "Time Extension variance"), please call the Zoning Administration Team - at (410) 222-7437 - for assistance prior to beginning your online application.

A pre-file is required for variances to the following:

  • Related to the Critical Area Program (e.g. Buffers)
  • New single family dwelling
  • Disturbance of 5,000 square feet or greater
  • Environmentally Sensitive Areas (tidal wetlands, bogs, streams, steep slopes, and their associated buffers)

Visit the Pre-file page to understand requirements and for more information.

The Letter of Explanation should include the justification for the variance request. The requirements for all variances (Article 18-16-305(c)) and for Critical Area variances (Article 18-16-305(b)), if applicable, must also be addressed in this letter. Highlight any unique characteristics of the subject property, including lot size, shape, topography, and information about the surrounding neighborhood. Include the dimensions, square footage and height of all existing and proposed structures and their distance (setbacks) from all property lines including from the Mean High Water line, if applicable. If the structure is already built, provide information as to the date of construction.

The Letter of Explanation for a time extension variance should focus on what has delayed the issuance of a building permit or subdivision and must be filed before the expiration of the variance or special exception.

In accordance with the contents of an administrative site plan in Article 18-16-201(e).

Time Extension Variance: Note: a variance for a time extension does not require a site plan. 

All administrative site plans must be drawn at an engineering scale no smaller than 1”=40’ showing the entire property in question. Applicants are required to specify the setbacks, dimensions, height, and number of stories of any structure shown on the administrative site plan and are encouraged to provide floor plans and/or architectural elevations (front, side and rear) to assist in the evaluation of any requested variance. 

To confirm the ownership of the subject property. A copy can be obtained from mdlandrec.net. Provide a copy of the recorded subdivision plat or a signed and sealed survey of the property if the deed does not provide a metes and bounds description.

List of names and addresses of all property owners who own land:

  1. located within 300 ft of the affected property;
  2. that confronts or adjoins the affected property; and
  3. except property owned by government entities or public service companies, that confronts or adjoins land identified in (2) above.

Use the Property Details Viewer to generate a list of nearby property owners:

Click "OK" button

Envelope Icon

Click the envelope icon

In the Public Notification box start typing the address or tax ID number (12 digits) 

Click the box beside “Apply a search distance”

Verify or enter the search distance required

Change the Format to “PDF label 1 x 4 inches; 20 per page”

Click Download button (a PDF of the properties within the specified distance will be generated)

For property in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area (property 1,000 feet from all tidal waters)

For property in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area (property 1,000 feet from all tidal waters)

  • Topographic map
    • Topographic map to scale - To request a topo map contact the the 4th floor Map Room by calling 410-222-7463 or send a request including the address and/or tax account ID to opzmaproom@aacounty.org
  • A paragraph or less addressing each point listed below:   
    • Describe the proposed use of the subject property and include if the project is residential, commercial, industrial, or maritime.
    • Describe the type of predominant trees and shrubs on the subject property. Include a statement addressing the square footage of the property that is vegetated with trees and shrubs, how much of the property will be disturbed by the proposed development, and how the disturbance will be mitigated.
    • Describe the methods to minimize impacts on water quality and habitat from proposed construction (i.e. stormwater management, sediment control, and silt fence).
    • Calculate the impervious surface before and after construction, including all structures, gravel areas, driveways, and concrete areas.
    • If applicable, describe any habitat protection areas on the subject property including expanded buffers, steep slopes of 15% or greater, rare and endangered species, anadromous fish propagation waters, colonial waterbird nesting sites, historic waterfowl staging and concentration areas, riparian forests, natural heritage areas, and plant and wildlife habitats of local significance.

For a new single family dwelling 

For development impacting environmentally sensitive areas or disturbance of 5,000 square feet or more. (See site plan checklist items #14 and #15) 

Single-family dwelling or an accessory structure for a single-family dwelling $180
Use other than SFD or accessory structure for an SFD $480
Signs:$35 per sign
For sites with frontage on more than one road or on the water, additional signs are required for each road and water frontage. It is the responsibility of the applicant to post the required sign(s) on the subject property for a minimum of fourteen (14) days prior to the date of the hearing. The Research & GIS Section of the Office of Planning and Zoning will provide all applicable signs.