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Baltimore County Gets Ready for 2020 Comprehensive Zoning Map Process

In September 2019, Baltimore county will kick off the Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (“CZMP”).  The CZMP is the quadrennial process through which Baltimore County redraws its zoning maps.  Every four years, the Baltimore County Council, in conjunction with the Planning Board, the Department of Planning, property owners and developers within the county undertake a comprehensive review of the county’s zoning maps.  The year-long review will begin in September 2019 and conclude with the County Council’s vote on the new zoning maps, which must be done by September 16, 2020.  Any citizen may request a zoning change on any property in the County, although the usual participants in the process are individual landowners, contract purchasers, developers, community organizations, Planning staff, the Planning Board and the County Council. 

The CZMP covers a twelve-month period and results in zoning decisions that are reflected in a final “Log of Issues”[1] and new zoning maps. Ultimately, the County Council decides on each issue whether to retain the existing zoning or to enact new zoning or overlay districts. Generally, each issue is a single property, but an issue may cover various adjoining properties and, in some rare cases, may even cover swaths of land totaling several hundred acres. The zoning on all properties which were not issues is re-enacted without change.

While the CZMP 2020 begins with the public pre-filing period which opens on August 19, 2019, the time for vetting requests for rezoning with Planning and the County Council is now.  Once an issue has been created, it cannot be withdrawn.  As a result, there is inherent value in determining whether a rezoning request will be supported by the relevant decision makers in the process prior to filing a request.  Below is an overview of the process:

August 19-30, 2019: Public Pre-Filing Online

The public can file an online application to create a rezoning issue for the CZMP through the Department of Planning’s online CZMP portal. The Public Pre-Filing period allows applicants to get an early start on the process and access to scheduling an appointment with the Department of Planning to map the issue.

September 3-October 15, 2019: Public Filing and Mapping

The online filing period for the public continues to run through October 15, 2019.  The benefit of filing during the Pre-Filing period (Aug. 19-30) is that it provides early access to schedule the required in-person mapping appointment with the Department of Planning.  Once an issue is created online, the Department of Planning will schedule an in-person mapping appointment.

October 1-30, 2019: Planning Board and Staff Filing

The Baltimore County Planning Board and the Baltimore County Department of Planning can file applications to create issues for CZMP 2020.

November 1-29, 2019: County Council Filing

The Baltimore County Council can file applications to create issues for CZMP 2020.

December 2019-February 2020: Planning Staff Review

Once all of the issues are filed, the Department of Planning will review each zoning map request and will create a Log of Issues for each Councilmanic District.  In addition to Planning, the following county agencies also review each zoning map request:  the Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability, the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Department of Public Works, and the Department of Economic and Workforce Development.

Once a CZMP issue is created, the following notice requirements are generated: (1) Baltimore County will send a letter to each property owner impacted by or adjacent to a zoning request; (2) each property that is subject to a rezoning request must be posted with a sign.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to contact and pay an approved sign to post on the property. Signs must be posted at least fifteen days prior to the Planning Board public hearing dates.

February 3-28, 2020: Planning Staff Recommendations

The Baltimore County Department of Planning will make a formal recommendation for each zoning request.  The recommendations take into consideration the Planning staff review as well as the reviews of the various county agencies previously noted.  The recommendations are reflected in an updated Log of Issues.

March 2020: Planning Board Public Hearings

The Baltimore County Planning Board will conduct public hearings in each of the seven Councilmanic Districts.  Each hearing will focus on the issues created in that particular Councilmanic District.  During the hearings, members of the public are invited to provide public testimony on any of the issues created in the district. 

April 2020: Planning Board Work Sessions

The Planning Board will hold work sessions to discuss zoning requests by council district. Each of these work sessions will be held in Towson.  Prior to the County Council hearings (held in June 2020), the Planning Board will make recommendations on each rezoning request.  These recommendations will become part of the updated Log of Issues and will be delivered to the Baltimore County Council for its consideration prior to the County Council hearings.

June 2020: County Council Public Hearings

Similar to the Planning Board public hearings that occur in March 2020, the County Council holds hearings in each council district during the month of June.  The format is virtually identical to the Planning Board hearings.

July 1-September 16, 2020: County Council Review

Following the public hearings in June, the County Council will review each zoning request, taking into consideration the recommendations from the Department of Planning and the Planning Board, as well as any public testimony which was delivered during the hearings in June.  The County Council is statutorily obligated to vote on the final Log of Issues by September 16, 2020.   

November 2020-January 2021: Production of New Zoning Maps

Following the County Council’s vote to adopt the zoning reflected in the Log of Issues, the Department of Planning will map the new zoning layer per the final Log of Issues.

The Land Use and Zoning attorneys at Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, LLP are closely monitoring the Baltimore County 2020 Comprehensive Zoning Map Process and are actively meeting with County Councilmembers to discuss prospective issues. If you are seeking to have a property rezoned or if you are concerned that your property may be subject to a downzoning, we encourage you to reach out to us if we can be of assistance in any way. Contact Adam Baker at 410-727-6600 or email abaker@rosenbergmartin.com.


[1] The Log of Issues is the list of all rezoning requests submitted during the CZMP.  Each issue represents a separate zoning request.