Zoning Administration

Zoning Administration processes various cases and correspondence related to the Zoning Regulations and evaluates permits for compliance with the Zoning Regulations. Common Zoning Administration functions and processes are described below.

Zoning Administration Functions

Administrative Adjustments

Upon petition by the property owner, the Department of Planning and Zoning may grant an adjustment from the provisions of the bulk regulations in an amount not to exceed 20% of a stated bulk requirement. This authority  does not apply to those portions of the bulk regulations which control density or minimum lot size.

The Department of Planning and Zoning may also adjust a district map line to follow a lot line, road, river or other clear boundary if certain findings can be made.

Procedures for an Administrative Adjustment:

The Department of Planning and Zoning holds a public hearing for an Administrative Adjustment petition in accordance with Section 100.0.H of the Zoning Regulations. The decision of the Department in is appealable to the Howard County Board of Appeals in bulk regulation adjustment cases and to the Zoning Board in district map line adjustment cases. All appeals to the Board of Appeals or the Zoning Board are heard on a de novo basis.


Variance Requests

Section 130.0 outlines the powers of the Hearing Authority.  Among these powers, the Hearing Authority is permitted to grant variances from parking requirements and bulk regulations. Petitions for Residential and Commercial variances are first submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning for processing and scheduling of a hearing.

Residential Variance Requests

Temporary Uses

The Director of the Department of Planning and Zoning may authorize a temporary use of land in any district. A temporary use may be authorized for a period not exceeding 90 days. Up to four extensions of the temporary use may be granted by the Director of the Department of Planning and Zoning for periods not exceeding 90 days each, up to a maximum total limit of one year. 

Temporary Uses

Conditional Uses

Uses that are generally appropriate and compatible in a specified zoning district can be authorized as a Conditional Use by the Hearing Authority. Conditional Uses are subject to Section 131.0 of the Zoning Regulations as well as any additional conditions imposed by the Hearing Authority upon approval of the proposed Conditional Use.

Conditional Use Petition Form

Presubmission Community Meeting

Nonconforming Uses

Nonconforming Uses, or uses that existed lawfully prior to the current Zoning Regulations but are no longer permitted, are addressed in Section 129.0 of the Zoning Regulations.

The Department of Planning and Zoning may conduct a public hearing and confirm the existence of a nonconforming use based on review of a Petition by the property owner..

Upon petition by the property owner, the Hearing Authority may authorize the extension or enlargement of a nonconforming use or the alteration of outdoor use areas or of a structure containing a nonconforming use, with or without conditions.

Public Hearings

Public Hearings

 The Department of Planning and Zoning is required to conduct

Public Hearings in accordance with Section 100.0.H of the Zoning Regulations. At least 15 days prior to the hearing, the property which is the subject of the hearing shall be posted with the date, time and place of the hearing. All hearings are scheduled and held at the George Howard building at 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD 20143.

The Department of Planning and Zoning prepares and maintains an official record of the proceedings for each petition, including exhibits presented at the hearing.  Use the link for a list of upcoming hearings.