Zoning is of key importance to our neighborhoods. The GTCC invests significant time and effort in order to protect and maintain our communities to the highest quality of life and standard of living that we possibly can. Click on the links below to learn more.
Zoning Regulations - Quick Summary
Code Enforcement Definitions
The following definitions are for informational purposes only and not intended for official use. Contact appropriate agency with questions and/or for additional information.
Animal Waste - The owner of every animal shall be responsible for the removal of his animal's excreta deposited on public or private property. (BCC 22-46)
Banners/Signs - Temporary - Must have special permit. The sign or banner cannot be displayed for more than 30 continuous days, nor more than 60 days in one calendar year.
Boarding or Rooming House - A building (a) which is the primary residence of the owner and in which rooms are provided for compensation to three or more adult persons not related to the owner by blood, marriage, or adoption; (b) which is not the owner's residence and which is occupied in its entirety by three or more adult persons not related to each other by blood, marriage, or adoption. (B.C.Z.R. 101) Must have use permit.
Commercial Vehicle Parking on Public Street in Residential Zone - Any vehicle over three-quarters of a ton manufacturer's rating capacity used for commercial purposes parked on any public road, street, or way within any residential zone in the county, unless such parking or standing is essential to the immediate use then being made of any such commercial vehicle.
Commercial Vehicle Parking on Residential Property - Any vehicle on private property over 10,000 pounds, or any vehicle, regardless of weight, which is (1) used for commercial purposes; (2) used "for hire"; or (3) has advertising on it. One commercial vehicle not exceeding 10,000 pounds may be stored in a garage if the owner or operator of the vehicle resides on the residential lot. If not stored in a garage, the commercial vehicle not exceeding 10,000 pounds (1) shall be parked in a side or rear yard; (2) may not have any materials, products, fright or equipment visible; and (3) shall not display any advertising other than lettering, figures or designs located on the drivers' door or front seat passenger's door. (B.C.Z.R. 402)
Conversion of Single-Family Dwelling to Two-Family Dwelling - A lot must have a minimum of 10,000 square feet for dwelling to be converted. Separate cooking facilities and a separate bathroom shall be provided for each family unit. (B.C.Z.R. 402)
Fowl and Livestock - No person shall house or maintain fowl, small livestock, such as pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, geese or similar livestock within any residential area in the county less than one acre in size. (BCC 22-48)
High Grass and Weeds - Must be over 12" to be a violation.
Inoperative Motor Vehicle - Any motor vehicle on a residential lot, not within a garage, that cannot be operated in its existing condition because the parts necessary for operation, including but not limited to tires, windshield, engine, drive train, driver's seat, steering wheel or column, or gas or brake pedals, are removed, destroyed, damaged or deteriorated. (B.C.Z.R. 101)
Kennel Operation - Any building, other structure or land, or any portion thereof, which is used for housing more than three dogs. (B.C.Z.R. 101)
Maintenance of House - A property owner shall maintain the premises in a clean, safe and sanitary condition. If the exterior of a house is so poorly maintained that it poses a threat to the health, safety and welfare of the rest of the community, it is in violation. (B.C.C. Sec 18-26)
Noise - "Domestic Noise" includes noises produced vocally, or with any radio receiving set, musical instrument, phonograph or any other device intended for the production or reproduction of sound. Individuals may be charged via a criminal or civil citation with violating Section 20-47 of the Baltimore County Code. An individual charged with a subsequent offense will be charged on a criminal citation. No time restrictions.
Open Dump - Any land publicly or privately owned on which there is a deposit and accumulation of refuse, including but not limited to waste materials, waste products, waste paper, garbage empty cans, broken glass and rags. (B.C.Z.R. 101)
Recreation Vehicle/Boat on Residential Lot - Only one motorized recreational vehicle or boat is permitted to be parked on a residential lot with detached or semi-detached homes. Such vehicle shall have a current license, may not be lived in, or otherwise occupied and shall be mechanically ready to be moved at any time. If parked on a lot with a detached or semi-detached home, it must be parked 1-1/2 feet from rear or side property line, 8 feet to rear of the front of house. If parked on a lot with a townhouse, it must be parked in rear only, 2-1/2 feet from the side or rear lot lines. A recreational boat, whether mounted on a trailer or stored on land with or without the use of supports, is subject to the same provisions. (B.C.Z.R. 415A) The following shall be considered recreational vehicles: motorhome; travel trailer; fifth-wheel trailer; truck camper; camping trailer; boat. (B.C.Z.R. 101)
Unlicensed Motor Vehicle - Any motor vehicle on a residential lot, not within a garage, which does not have a current and valid registration plate or plates and validation tab or tabs attached to and displayed on the vehicle for the then current registration period. (B.C.Z.R. 101)
Yard and Garage Sales - A private homeowner/resident may have one private garage or lawn sale per year as an accessory use to the dwelling in residential zones provided: (a) that the sale would not be longer than two consecutive weekends; and (2) that there are no other exhibitors of sale items on the property other than the owner/resident; and (3) that there is no traffic congestion caused by the sale. (Z.C.P.M. 4-1.3)
Zoning Regulations - FAQ
How does a property owner go about getting the zoning on their property changed?Every four years Baltimore County initiates a Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP), during which any property owner can request a change to their property's zoning. In addition, community associations can request a change in zoning for any property during this same process. There is a filing fee for any requested change, and there is no guarantee that the change will be approved. Following the close of the filing period, the Office of Zoning makes comments about each and every request, and after the Zoning Office provides its opinion, the Baltimore County Planning Board holds a public hearing in each Council district, which is followed by a set of recommendations from the Planning Board. Finally, the County Council holds its own hearing in each Council district, and ultimately the County Council votes on each requested change. After the Council vote, the County Executive signs the revised maps that have incorporated the changes. This entire process runs over a period of approximately one year.
There is a second process in which you can request a change in zoning, called Cycle Zoning, but this second process places all of the burden of proof on the petitioner requesting the change. This process requires a hearing before the Baltimore County Board of Appeals, and the petitioner is required to prove that either the County Council committed an error in the most recent CZMP or that there has been a substantial change in the character of the neighborhood in which the property is located. There are time restraints as to when you can request a change under this second process.
Do zoning regulations affect the height of a fence that I want to construct?Yes, generally any fence within 10 feet of the adjoining front yard of a neighboring property may not be any higher than 42 inches. Fences higher than 42 inches in the side or rear yards are subject to height limitations and will require a building permit. See Section 427 of the Baltimore County Zoning Regulations and the Building Code of Baltimore County, part 122.1. Also, all residential fences in Baltimore County Historic Districts require permits and additional review will be required.
Do zoning regulations impact the placement of satellite receiving dishes?Yes, Section 429 of the Baltimore County Zoning Regulations regulates the placement of satellite dishes. Basically, if the satellite dish is placed on a roof top, it is considered like antennae and is permissible. However, if the satellite dish is ground mounted, it must be located in the rear yard unless that location hinders reception. In those instances where reception is hindered, a variance can be requested to locate the dish in the front yard. Also, satellite dishes are restricted to be no more than 10 feet in diameter.
Can an unlicensed or inoperative vehicle be stored on residential property?Unlicensed or inoperative vehicles can be stored in a garage, but inoperative vehicles may not be stored outside on a residential lot. Unlicensed vehicles may not be stored outside on a residential lot except under the following conditions: outside storage is allowed for a period of not more than 15 days in any calendar year for no more than one such vehicle per dwelling per year; the vehicle may not be stored in the front or side yard unless placed on a driveway, and may not be stored in a rear yard unless placed at least 8 feet from the property line; the owner of the vehicle must reside on the lot on which the vehicle is stored; the vehicle may not be dismantled for parts. These regulations do not apply to unlicensed but operative farm equipment. See Section 428 of the Baltimore County Zoning Regulations.
My neighbor brings his commercial vehicle home from work. Is that permissible?A commercial vehicle exceeding 10,000 pounds of gross vehicle weight may not be parked over night on residentially zoned property. For vehicles under 10,000 pounds the zoning regulations allow a degree of flexibility. Commercial vehicles less than 10,000 pounds can be parked in a garage. The owner or operator of the vehicle must reside on the lot. If the vehicle is not parked in a garage, the vehicle shall not have any materials, products or equipment visible; the vehicle shall display no advertising other than lettering, figures or design located on the front doors of the vehicle; and the vehicle shall be parked in the side or rear yard of the property. See Section 431 of the Baltimore County Zoning Regulations.
Can I store my recreational vehicle at my residence?These regulations apply to both boats and recreational vehicles. One recreational vehicle per property may be stored, provided that it has a current license, is operational and is not being lived in. The license requirement does not apply to truck campers. On a lot containing a single family dwelling or a semi-detached dwelling, the recreational vehicle must be situated in the rear yard or side yard, at least two and one-half feet from the property line. If the vehicle is stored in the side yard, it must be at least eight feet behind the lateral projection of the front building face. For townhouse lots, all storage must be in the rear yard, at least two and one half feet from the property lines. Boats less than 16 feet are not governed by these regulations, but boats on a trailer, regardless of length, are subject to these rules. See Section 415A of the Baltimore County Zoning Regulations.
I want to build a deck, is a permit required?There are several factors that govern the construction of decks, such as size of the deck, height of the deck above the ground elevation, rear yard setbacks, your subdivision's development plan, flood plain considerations and historic district limitations. These regulations are too extensive to enumerate here. Please call the Department of Permits, Inspections and Approvals at 410-887-3900 to find out what information you will need in order to obtain a permit or to find out if a permit is necessary.
Do I need a permit for a storage shed in my back yard?Generally, if your shed will be smaller than 120 square feet no permit is required, however you still may need a permit if you are located in an historic district, your property is impacted by a flood plain or there are environmental easements or other County easements that restrict your property. Again, call 410-887-3900 to discuss any limitations that may affect your property. All sheds are required to be placed in the rear yard and other zoning requirements may be involved.
The information contained in answer to these frequently asked questions (FAQs) is advisory and should not be relied upon solely. Although these answers are believed to be reliable, no warranty, expressed or implied, is made regarding accuracy, adequacy, reliability, legality, completeness and/or usefulness of the information. This disclaimer applies to both isolated and aggregate uses of this information. For further information, please consult with the appropriate Baltimore County Agency about your particular question.
Zoning Terms and Classifications
RC 4---WATERSHED PROTECTION
DR 2 & DR 3.5 & DR 5.5---DENSITY RESIDENTIAL-FOR LOW, MEDIUM AND HIGH DENSITY URBAN RESIDENTIAL AREAS. NUMERAL IN EACH CLASSIFICATION INDICATES MAXIMUM NUMBER OF UNITS PERMITTED PER ACRE.
ROA---RESIDENTIAL OFFICE-(CLASS A) TO ACCOMMODATE HOUSE CONVERSION TO OFFICE BUILDINGS AS OF RIGHT.
RO---RESIDENTIAL OFFICE-TO ACCOMMODATE HOUSE CONVERSION TO OFFICE BUILDINGS AS OF RIGHT; SMALL CONVENTIONAL OFFICE BUILDINGS PERMITTED BY SPECIAL EXCEPTION.
OR 1---OFFICE/RESIDENTIAL-TO ACCOMMODATE DEVELOPMENT OR LIMITED ENLARGEMENT OF SINGLE MEDIUM-SIZE OFFICE BUILDING OR RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL TO DR 5.5 ( No longer applicable in comprehensive or cycle zoning processes. )
OR 2---OFFICE BUILDINGS, RESIDENTIAL - SELECTIVE OFFICE BUILDINGS WITH SUPPORTED ACCESSORY COMMERCIAL USES.
OR 3---OFFICE PARK - SOLELY FOR OFFICE BUILDINGS. NO RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT ALLOWED. OT ---OFFICE TECHNOLOGY - TO ENCOURAGE DEVELOPMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND RESIDENTIAL CENTERS. INTENSIVE OFFICE DEVELOPMENT IN COMBINATION WITH CERTAIN HIGH TECHNOLOGY AND RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT.
SE---SERVICE EMPLOYMENT - DEVELOP GENERAL OFFICES, BUSINESS SERVICES THAT ARE COMPATIBLE WITH RESIDENTIAL USES.
BLR---BUSINESS LIGHT RESTRICTED-TO PERMIT A RANGE OF RETAIL AND SERVICE USES; PERFORMANCE STANDARDS ARE REQUIRED TO PROTECT ADJACENT COMMUNITIES.
BL---BUSINESS LOCAL-SMALL-SCALE COMMERCIAL
BM---BUSINESS MAJOR-LARGE-SCALE COMMERCIAL
BR---BUSINESS ROADSIDE-THE MOST PERMISSIVE COMMERCIAL CLASSIFICATION
MR---MANUFACTURING RESTRICTED-THE MOST RESTRICTIVE INDUSTRIAL CLASSIFICATION
MLR---MANUFACTURING LIGHT RESTRICTED-PERMITS INDUSTRIAL PLANTS AND OFFICES WITH CONVENIENT ACCESS TO EXPRESSWAYS TO SERVE AS INDUSTRIAL EMPLOYMENT CENTERS.
ML---MANUFACTURING LIGHT-PROVIDES FOR INDUSTRIAL USES SUCH AS ASSEMBLY PLANTS, PROCESSING, ETC
ADDITIONS TO ZONING CLASSIFICATIONS:
AS---AUTOMOTIVE SERVICES INCLUDING GASOLINE PUMPS
GTCC has listed below information relating to the Comprehensive Zoning Process. This information is provided for your use in this important land use process.
What is the Comprehensive Zone Map Process
The Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP) takes place every four years on an exact schedule that is specified in the County Code. Participants include landowners, contract purchasers, community organizations, county staff, the Baltimore County Planning Board and the Baltimore County Council.
The process covers a period of twelve months during which the professional staff of the Office of Planning and other county agencies reviews each request and prepares recommedations that form a log of issues. This log of issues is submitted to the planning board for public hearings and discussions. The planning board will then consider and vote on the staff recommendations using the public input and the work sessions as references. These recommendations will comprise the next log of issues that will be presented to the Baltimore County Council.
The council will hold their own public hearing and deliberations that will result in a vote on each of the issues. This vote will create the zoning map for Baltimore County for the next four years.
While issues generally contain one parcel of land, they may include several parcels of a contract purchaser or encompass hundreds of acres being requested by a community association
County Code requires the notification of each property owner whose land is contiguous to an issue. This notification is in the form of a letter to the impacted owners and a post card to the contiguous property owners. Additional notification can be found in the local newspaper, the libraries, signs posted on the properties being considered and on the county web page.
After the last comprehensive review of zoning, the county convened an advisory group representing the county council, community groups, developers and the planning board. After several months the group prepared a report that reduced the timeframe from the previous 14 months to 12 months. The revisions also called for an improvement to the notification process, requiring all impacted property owners to be notified within 15 days of a request being filed. The applicant will now be responsible for providing the mailing information on property owners that will be affected by the rezoning action. This will allow the professional staff more time to review the pending issues instead of researching ownership lists.
The rezoning issues will be presented to the Baltimore County Planning Board and the Baltimore County Council on electronic zoning maps. Interested citizens can visit My Neighborhood: Zoning on the county's web site to learn how land in their neighborhood is currently zoned. The map can be accessed at:
In order to proceed with your request to consider a rezoning of a specific parcel of land in Baltimore County, you must complete an application with all required information and documentation. The application form asks for information about the applicant, the property involved, and the requested zoning.
Basic contact information is required for the individual or the organization and any legal representative.
The specific property needs to be described. This includes the name of the owners(s) of record, the street address and the property tax account number. The nearest intersecting streets and the tax map and parcel number must be identified. For notification purposes, the property tax account numbers and names of all adjacent property owners are also required.
The Reclassification Information
The application must indicate the acreage of the request, the existing zoning and the requested zoning. The request must also include the current use(s), the proposed uses(s), and a resource map of the area. Examples of a resource map include a 200' scale zoning map, a 600' scale tax map, a location drawing, or a recorded plat.
Staff from the Office of Planning will assist the applicant in creating the issue using data from the Baltimore County's Geographic Information System (GIS). The applicant will verifty that the issue created by the staff matches the intent of the rezoning request.
The Owner Signature
The owner must acknowledge the county's right to inspect the property as part of the process and the fact that the county council may apply any zone to this property once submitted.
Crash Course In Zoning
To help citizens understand the upcoming CZMP, following is an explanation of certain fundamentals.
ZONING is a legal mechanism by which county government is able, for the sake of protecting the public health, safety, morals and/or general welfare, to limit an owner's right to use privately owned land. Zoning decisions are determined in part by MASTER PLAN 2010 which contains land use and zoning policies. Included as part of the master plan are the local community plans that address concerns of the respective local residents and businesses. These local plans also play a role in the final zoning decisions.
In Baltimore County, zoning consists of maps and written regulations. The zoning map is comprised of 841 maps drawn at 200' scale. These are 36 different zones and 10 overlay districts that can be applied to a parcel of land in Baltimore County. The zoning standards are contained in a 450-page volume entitled Baltimore County Zoning Regulations. These regulations specify the kinds of uses allowed, the maximum intensity of use, height limits, setbacks and the the minimum number of off-street parking spaces. Some important terms to be familiar with include:
SETBACK -- the required minimum distance between a building the front, side, or rear property lines.
SPECIAL EXCEPTION -- certain uses are allowed in a zone when a petition is filed and the Zoning Commissioner determines that the use will be in accordance with subsection 502.1 of the zoning regulations
VARIANCE -- often confused with special exception, it is the ability to vary the height and area regulations, the off-street parking regulations or the sign regulations. The Zoning Commissioner determines this after a petition is filed. The commissioner must find that strict compliance would result in "practical difficulty and unreasonable hardship."
NONCONFORMING USE -- a legal use which does not conform to a use regulation for the zone in which it is located. A nonconforming use can continue until circumstances such as abandonment of the property leads to the discontinuation of the use.
URBAN RURAL DEMARCATION LINE (URDL) -- a line established by the Planning Board dividing that portion of Baltimore County considered urban from the portion considered rural. The URDL has been established as component of county master plans since 1969
Archive 2008 CZMP Issues
The 2008 County (CZMP) Comprehensive Zoning Map Process is now complete here in Baltimore County. The GTCC is committed to track and comment on all of these property applications for zoning changes that occur within our area. Please find a listing of these properties in .pdf format for you to view:
Archive 2004 CZMP Issues
The 2004 County (CZMP) Comprehensive Zoning Map Process results for the GTCC Area are now available as an Achieved document for anyone interested in reviewing this information. Please find a listing of these properties in .pdf format for your review here:
Archive 2000 CZMP Issues
The 2000 County (CZMP) Comprehensive Zoning Map Process results for the GTCC Area are now available as an Achieved document for anyone interested in reviewing this information. Please find a listing of these properties in .pdf format for your review here: