Welcome to the Department of Planning and Zoning

The Department of Planning and Zoning helps shape the growth and future of Howard County by facilitating the development of safe, healthy, equitable, connected, and sustained communities, concurrently respecting individual rights and protecting the County's natural environment, it's historical integrity, and character.

We would like to know what you think about our site and how it can better serve you. If you have recommendations, comments, or questions, please contact us at planning@howardcountymd.gov.

COVID-19 Update

Following the announcement of the closure of the George Howard building to the public, the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) continues to operate through a combination of remote service and limited on-site essential staff. DPZ will continue to work towards meeting established deadlines and processing information as expeditiously as possible, however, please expect some delays during this time.

Please click here for our Department COVID page for additional information regarding the Department's business processes

General Plan Update

County Executive Calvin Ball announced the start of an update to the General Plan. Working with the community, the update will help guide future land use and development decisions and changes to the County’s land development regulations. Click here for the General Plan Update project page

Alternative Compliance

Through the Alternative Compliance process, an applicant may request that the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) grant relief from strict compliance with specific land development regulations. DPZ requires mitigation and remediation for relief from specific site design regulations.

2019 Development Monitoring System Report

The 2019 Development Monitoring System report (DMS) is now available. The DMS report summarizes all development activity in the County. Both residential and nonresidential development are evaluated in the report with comparisons to previous years’ development activity going back five years. A 2019 summary is included of all zoning map and text amendments, subdivision regulation amendments, new General Plan elements and amendments, and new infrastructure built. Please click here for the report.

Route 1 Corridor Planning Efforts

Click here for a summary of planning efforts along the Route 1 corridor and to view a series of assessments which will serve as baseline data to inform a comprehensive evaluation of Route 1 as part of HoCo By Design, the County’s next General Plan Update.

Downtown Columbia Monitoring Report

The Howard County Department of Planning & Zoning has released the first Downtown Columbia Redevelopment Monitoring Report, an assessment of the progress being made on the revitalization and implementation efforts of Columbia’s Town Center.

The report documents what has been achieved so far in the implementation of the 2010 Downtown Columbia Plan, comparing the Plan’s recommendations to what has already been accomplished. The Plan focuses on residential and commercial development; transportation and transit; arts and culture; and the environment and sustainability, and the Redevelopment Monitoring Report details improvements in each of those areas. The Report also implements the Plan’s call for regular monitoring and evaluation.

The monitoring report can be accessed here:

Downtown Columbia Redevelopment Monitoring Report (2018)

Printed copies are available from the Department of Planning & Zoning and The Office of Transportation.


From Vision to Reality: Revitalizating Downtown Columbia

This dynamic story map was developed to complement the 2018 monitoring report and provides users with a guided tour through Downtown, highlighting the accomplishments and progress that has been made since the adoption of the 2010 Downtown Columbia Master Plan. (click the heading to access the story map)



Ellicott City Watershed Master Plan

Howard County launched its master plan process for Ellicott City and its watershed in 2017. The May 2018 flood required the county to take a renewed look at the master plan. This master plan effort will help define a comprehensive community-driven vision for rebuilding a stronger and more resilient Ellicott City. The plan will take a fresh and creative look at potential long term flood solutions and strategies. More information can be found here.

Long Reach Village Center

Click Here for informaiton about past and future revitalization efforts for the Long Reach Village Center.

Quick Links

I want to learn about current and upcoming presubmission community meetings, public hearings, and development plans or a sign I saw posted on a property.

I want to learn more about my neighborhood including property information, schools, and nearby government services. 

I want even more detailed geographic information of my neighborhood using an interactive map.

I want to see Howard County's Map Gallery.

I want to review Howard County's current general plan, PlanHoward 2030

I want to learn about the subdivision process and when the best time is to provide my input for a minor subdivision of four lots or less, major subdivision of five lots or more, or a non-residential development.

Zoning Regulations or Subdivision and Land Development Regulations