Regulations and Manuals
This section includes the Regulations and Manuals enforced by the Department of Planning and Zoning during the review of the development plans. Note, that not all Regulations are applicable to every development process, and agencies outside of Planning and Zoning review the plans in accordance with their Regulations.
Attention: Current users of the Howard County Design Manual
Volume III Roads and Bridges is being updated to include Complete Streets concepts and best practices.
A draft version of the document will be available for review and comment in early October.
Workshops will be held on October 14 and 21 to review those changes. Please go to:
https://www.howardcountymd.gov/dm-updates to pre-register for the workshops and learn more.
Title 16, Subtitle 1 | Grandfathering
The purpose of Subdivision Regulations is to promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the residents of the County by assisting orderly, efficient, and integrated development of land and providing uniform procedures and standards for the processing of development plans. For questions about the Subdivision and Land Development Regulations, please contact the Department of Planning and Zoning, Division of Land Development Planner-of-the-Day at (410) 313-2350.
Zoning Code | Title 16, Subtitle 2 | Grandfathering
The Zoning Regulations and maps are being enacted for the purpose of preserving and promoting the health, safety, and welfare of the community. It is the intention of the Zoning Board to guide the future growth and development of the County in accordance with a General Plan which represents the most beneficial and convenient relationships among the residential, non-residential, and public areas within the County considering the suitability of each area for such uses, as indicated by existing conditions, trends in population and modes of living, and future requirements; and considering such conditions, trends and requirements, both within the County and in relation to areas outside thereof. For more information on the Zoning Regulations, please visit the Zoning Regulations page.
Title 16, Subtitle 6
The regulations set forth in this subtitle are adopted to regulate the construction, alteration, reconstruction, moving, and demolition of structures of historic, architectural, and archaeological value, together with their appurtenances and environmental settings within respective specified limits. These regulations are designed to safeguard the heritage of the County by preserving districts herein that reflect elements of its cultural, social, economic, political, or architectural history; to stabilize and improve the property values in such districts in the County; to foster civic beauty; to strengthen the local economy; and to promote the use and preservation of such historic districts in the County for the education, welfare, and pleasure of the residents of the County. For more information on Historic Preservation, please visit the Historic Preservation page.
Title 16, Subtitle 11
The Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) provides a growth management process that will enable the County to provide adequate public roads, schools, and other facilities in a timely manner and achieve general plan growth objectives. This process is designed to direct growth to areas where adequate infrastructure exists or will exist. For more information on Adequate Public Facilities, please visit the Adequate Public Facilities page.
Title 16, Subtitle 14
The scenic roads act is established to protect the character of certain roads or road segments in the County which have outstanding scenic or historic value and pass through areas of the County where forest, agricultural or historic features are predominant. To view the Howard County Scenic Roads, please see the scenic roads map on the County's Map Gallery Web Page.
Title 16, Subtitle 15
The Design Advisory Panel (DAP) was created to encourage excellence in architecture and site design, to improve design compatibility with surrounding development, to promote revitalization, and to enhance property values in certain areas of Howard County. For more information on the Design Advisory Panel, please visit the Design Advisory Panel Web Page.
Title 3, Subtitle 10
Establishes green building standards for public and private buildings in Howard County (effective July 1, 2008). Green building techniques use environmentally sustainable materials to construct buildings that conserve resources, both in their construction and in their future operation, and provide healthy living or working space. For more information on Green Buildings, please contact the Department of Inspections, Licenses, and Permits at (410) 313-2455.
Volume I - Storm Drainage | Volume II - Water and Sewer | Volume III - Roads and Bridges | Volume IV - Standard Specifications and Details for Construction | Volume IV - May 2014 Revisions | Approved Material List
The Howard County Design Manuals contain engineering design requirements, specifications, and details. For questions about the Howard County Design Manuals, please contact the Department of Planning and Zoning, Development Engineering Division Engineer-of-the-Week at (410) 313-2350.
Title 16, Subtitle 12 | Manual | Worksheet | DOI - Agricultural | DOI - Forestry | DOI - Real Estate Transaction | DOI - Single Family | Fee-in-Lieu Request | State Champion Trees
This subtitle is pursuant to the requirements of the Maryland Forest Conservation Act of 1991, which requires units of local government to adopt, by December 31, 1992, a local Forest Conservation Program that meets or is more stringent than the requirements of the Natural Resources Article, §§ 5-1601 through 5-1612 of the Annotated Code of Maryland. The Manual presents the Howard County program for implementing the mandates of the State Forest Conservation Act. For questions about the Howard County Forest Conservation Program, please contact the Department of Planning and Zoning, Division of Land Development Planner-of-the-Day at (410) 313-2350.
For more information on the States Forest Conservation Act, please see the Department of Natural Resources Forest Conservation Act Web Page.
Manual | Manual 2010 Update | Section 16.124 of the Subdivision and Land Development Regulations
The Manual establishes standards of performance for preparing landscape plans. For questions about the Howard County landscape requirements, please contact the Department of Planning and Zoning, Division of Land Development Planner-of-the-Day at (410) 313-2350.
The Manual provides direction for preparing subdivision and site development plans for properties in the Route 1 Corridor. The Manual’s intent is to enhance the image and function of Route 1 Corridor through clearly articulated site design and building design requirements and recommendations. For more information on the Route 1 Manual, please visit the Community Planning Corridor Plans page.
The Manual outlines design guidelines that, when applied to new development or redevelopment within the Route 40 Corridor, will enhance the overall aesthetics and function of the corridor. For more information on the Route 40 Design Manual, please visit the Community Planning Corridor Plans page.
The Downtown-wide Design Guidelines and Neighborhood Design Guidelines will ensure that what is built in the Downtown will be attractive, aesthetically coherent, practical, and of beauty and value. Specifically, the Guidelines will show how buildings and landscapes support and reinforce physical, three-dimensional intentions of the Plan and create places containing pleasing proportions, scale, and character that people will want to inhabit. The Guidelines also lay out the framework for developing a community’s sense of place and its identity and connection to the region. For more information on Downtown Columbia, please visit the Community Plans page.
The Howard County Zoning Regulations allow for "active adult housing" as either a conditional use in residential zoning districts or as a permitted use in other zoning districts. Age-restricted developments must be appropriately designed for adults at least 55 years of age. Site improvements must ensure accessible routes between parking, dwelling units, and common areas. Individual dwellings must incorporate universal design features to be adaptable for residents with mobility and functional limitations that often result from aging. For more information on the building code for Age-Restricted Adult Housing, please contact the Department of Inspections, Licenses, and Permits at (410) 313-2455.
The draft Clarksville Pike Streetscape Plan and Design Guidelines contains a comprehensive set of recommendations to guide design and development of the Clarksville Pike corridor from Trotter Road to Guilford Road. Specific criteria for streetscape, architectural, and signage design are outlined to ensure that all new development fulfills the vision for a welcoming and coherent corridor. For more information on the Clarksville Pike Streetscape Plan and Design Guidelines, please visit Corridor Plans page.
Adopted in 1998, the Guidelines describe the architectural and landscape elements that reflect Ellicott City's history and suggest guidelines for rehabilitation and new construction that will best preserve the town's historic character. The guidelines provide a framework for the Historic District Commission's review of applications and help property owners plan their projects and prepare applications for the Commission. Guidelines do not dictate specific solutions that must always prevail; they are not regulations. Their purpose is to provide consistent ground rules for residents and the Historic District Commission, while allowing creativity and individual solutions.
Adopted in 1995, the Guidelines describe the architectural and landscape elements that determine the historic character of Lawyers Hill and suggest guidelines for rehabilitation and new construction that will best preserve the neighborhood's character. Local historic districts safeguard the heritage of the County by preserving the historic cultural, social, economic, political and architectural elements that characterize these districts. To carry out this purpose, Title 16, Subtitle 6 of the Howard County Code establishes the Historic District Commission and authorizes the Commission to review exterior alterations to properties in designated historic districts.