Every four years in Baltimore County every property owner is eligible to request a change in zoning whether it is classified as residential, commercial, manufacturing or industrial. The process is as follows.
First, there is a public pre-filing online period (8/19-8/30/2019) for the general public to file zoning change requests. This allows public applicants to get an early start on the application process and early access to scheduling an appointment to map the issue. September 3 to October 15, 2019 is the public filing and mapping period. The public can file an online application and mapping appointments will be scheduled by the Planning Department for each application. From October 1 to October 30, 2019, the Baltimore County Planning Board and the Baltimore County Department of Planning can file an application for a zoning change. Finally, from November 1, 2019 to November 29, 2019, members of the Baltimore County Council can file an application. All filings for zoning changes must be completed for the 2019-2020 CZMP by November 29, 2019.
Second the Baltimore County Department of Planning reviews all filed zoning issues. Each property owner impacted or adjacent to a zoning request is notified by mail. The property in question is also posted with a sign. Preliminary recommendations by Planning on the zoning changes are published in a “log of issues” on the Baltimore County website.
Third, public hearings are scheduled and held before the Planning Board in March of 2020. The Planning Board holds work sessions in April open to the public, then votes and makes recommendations to the County Council.
Fourth, the Baltimore County Council holds public hearings in June of 2020 with subsequent reviews between July and September 2020. The final vote on all issues will be held by the Baltimore County Council no later than September 16, 2020.
The public hearings for the Planning Board and County Council are held in high schools located in each Councilmanic District. Any interested citizen may speak on any of the zoning issues.
It is important to note that the Baltimore County Department of Planning and County Council often attempt to “down zone” properties during the CZMP. This means that a commercially zoned property may be “down zoned” to allow a more restricted commercial use thus possibly affecting the property value. Residentially zoned land may also be “down zoned” to allow a lesser number of houses to be developed, therefore substantially reducing the value of the land.
If you or your community association are aware of an issue that may affect your business or neighborhood, now is the time to consider taking action. Members of the Baltimore County Planning Staff and County Council members are often willing to meet with individual property owners and community associations to discuss the re-zoning issues. It is important for your views and the views of your community be made known to the Planning Office, Planning Board and County Council. It is recommended that you begin any inquiries regarding your property early in the process.
After representing various clients with zoning issues for the past 25 plus years, J. Neil Lanzi, Esquire, and Wright, Constable & Skeen, LLP can assist you with either filing a zoning change application or monitoring a zoning change application filed by others.