SILVER SPRING, MD – Anyone interested in zoning in Montgomery County can have a voice in what’s right – and what’s wrong – with the county’s Zoning Ordinance, which guides development by establishing rules regarding land uses, density, height, open space and public amenities.
County planners have launched a public input process that includes interviews with a variety of zoning code users and an online survey available to all to gather feedback on the several-decades-old code that many criticize as being complicated, unwieldy and confusing. The “diagnosis” phase will provide information, analysis and recommendations for the revision, which aims to simplify the code by reducing redundancies and better organizing the format – all to improve accessibility.
The County Council has asked the Planning Board to oversee a revision that addresses overlapping regulations, unnecessary districts and outdated zones. Planners see the project as an opportunity to create a more coordinated document that will be easier to use and will incorporate new concepts such as urban design guidelines and sustainability.
The zoning code is an integral tool to enacting county master plans, which envision how communities should grow. Since the original code was written in 1928, it has been comprehensively updated only twice. Over the decades, numerous zoning text amendments changed the code, but often in an uncoordinated fashion, leading to what planners and others say is a complex system that poorly serves users, from developers to new residents.
The original document consisted of 15 pages covering five zones. Today, the code has ballooned to 884 pages covering 119 zones. By comprehensively reviewing all zoning districts and analyzing use and development standards, planners hope to create a powerful new tool featuring fewer, more meaningful zones, more tables and diagrams to graphically illustrate planning concepts, and a better organization of content.
Learn more and participate in a user survey. Planners expect to unveil the zoning code revision in 2010.
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