On March 4, 2014, the Montgomery County Council adopted a comprehensive rewrite of the County’s zoning law embodied in Chapter 59 of the County Code and generally referred to as the Montgomery County Zoning Ordinance.
The rewrite was intended to streamline and simplify the Zoning Ordinance which had grown to over 1,200 pages in the last several decades since the last time a comprehensive overhaul was undertaken in 1978. The law governs the uses allowed on property and sets forth the applicable standards and processes for development of property in the County. In addition to providing more clarity and consistency in the law, a key goal of the rewrite was to consolidate and create new zones designed to facilitate compact infill development in targeted transit-oriented locations while protecting established residential neighborhoods and agriculturally zoned areas of the County.
One of the more significant changes resulting from the new Zoning Ordinance is the elimination and/or restructuring of the commercial, employment/office and industrial zones in the County and replacement with new ‘equivalent’ zones. For instance, commercial and office zones, such as the C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, C-5, C-6, C-T, O-M, C-O, C-P and H-M zones, will no longer exist under the new Zoning Ordinance once it goes into effect on October 30, 2014. Rather, properties will be ‘remapped’ to one of several new ‘equivalent’ zones created under the new Zoning Ordinance’s Commercial/Residential or Employment category of zones.
While it is intended that these equivalent zones will not substantially alter a property’s zoning restrictions, the new zoning regulations include changes to procedural as well as substantive requirements for certain types of development approvals that can affect a landowner’s development rights. The remapping of properties will be accomplished through a comprehensive zoning map amendment to be separately approved by the County Council this summer.
Miller, Miller & Canby has represented land owners and developers for more than 65 years. Anyone interested in seeking specific guidance on how the new Zoning Ordinance affects a particular property is encouraged to contact the firm’s Land Use Practice Group at 301-762-5212. For more information on the Land Use & Zoning practice at Miller, Miller & Canby, click here.
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