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 sustainable communities, while concurrently respecting individual rights and protecting the County’s natural environment, its historical integrity, and character.   


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Thank you for visiting.

Valdis Lazdins, Planning Director

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

Planning Board


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

APFO Fiscal Impact Study

The FYI2019 Spending Affordability Advisory Committee recommended that a fiscal impact analysis be conducted to study the effects of recent amendments to the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO). Urban Analytics, a fiscal and economic consulting firm located in Alexandria, Virginia, was selected to conduct the fiscal study. The purpose of the study was to help the County develop accurate revenue and expenditure projections accounting for the APFO amendments, providing important information for long-term planning purposes.


In response to the study, several questions have been raised. This FAQ was prepared to address these questions.

CB56-2018 Development Moratorium

On May 21, 2019, Howard County’s Departments of Public Works (DPW) and Planning and Zoning (DPZ) presented findings and recommendations in response to studies prompted by Council Bill 56-2018 (the Tiber Branch Watershed and Plumtree Branch Watershed Safety Act). The presentation and related materials are now available on the Ellicott City Watershed Master Plan webpage.

2018 Development Monitoring System Report

The 2018 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 2018 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 Master Plan

The Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning has announced the launch of the “Rt. 1 Corridor Master Plan,” an effort that includes transportation, infrastructure, land use and economic development strategies to improve vibrancy and quality of life aspects throughout the Rt. 1 corridor.  The process will produce development and design scenarios and identify ways to implement them based on market realities. Land use and transportation analysis are at the core of the initiative, along with input gathered through a series of public engagement meetings.  The effort will build on previous Rt. 1 studies, such as the recent U.S. 1 Safety Evaluation, and broader projects such as the Development Regulations Assessment, an initial examination of the county’s zoning code.

Click here for more information on Rt. 1 Corridor Master Plan


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.