Harford County, Maryland
 
Harford County Maryland

Department of Planning and Zoning
220 South Main Street, Bel Air, MD 21014 410.638.3103 or 410.879.2000
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BOARD OF APPEALS

 

VARIANCES
SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS
ZONING RECLASSIFICATIONS

P&Z PROCEDURE

The Board of Appeals process begins in the Department of Planning and Zoning. When you are required to file an application to the Board of Appeals, you will be asked to schedule a pre-application meeting before your application will be accepted. The purpose of this meeting is to inform you of all the requirements, and to give you an idea of what to expect as the process moves forward. After the pre-application meeting, you can decide if you want to move forward with the process. If so, you will then file your application. To schedule a pre-application meeting, please call 410-638-3119.

Application - An application form must be filled out by the property owner/applicant and by staff of the Department of Planning and Zoning. At the time of application, the fee will be collected.

Your property will be posted with the date of the hearing. Adjoining property owners will be notified of your request via U.S. mail. The hearing will also be listed in the local newspaper.

A Staff Report will be prepared by the Planning and Zoning Department. Our Staff Report is furnished to the Hearing Examiner to provide general information concerning the request, the subject property, and background data. The report, as well as our Department's recommendation, is submitted for information purposes only, as any finding in the Board of Appeals case must necessarily be the decision of the Zoning Hearing Examiner alone. Property owners/applicants will receive a copy of the report prior to the hearing date.

If you have any questions about the Board of Appeals, please call our office between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, 410-638-3103 or you may send inquiries via e-mail to zoning@harfordcountymd.gov


FEES

Board of Appeals Cases:

Publication and posting fee (all applications, including amended applications, except minor area variance): $200 plus

Filing fee:
Variance from design requirements $250
Minor variances from design requirements (less than 20% of area affected): $50
Interpretation or appeal of a decision of the Zoning Administrator: $200
Expansion of nonconforming use and variance: $250
Variances from other requirements of the Zoning Code and modification of previous approvals by the Board of Appeals: $250

Special review cases (developments or projects requiring Board approval, i.e., special exception or special development):

Publication and posting fee: $200
Filing fee, residential projects: per application $550 plus $5 per dwelling unit
Integrated community shopping center: $600 plus $50 per acre
Miscellaneous special exceptions or special developments (not otherwise defined): $200
Cottage housing and day care centers: $100

Zoning reclassification cases:
Publication and posting fee (all applications): $200
Filing fee: $600 plus $10 per acre for each acre over 20 acres.

 

Variances.

Except as provided in §267-63H of the Zoning Code, variances from the provisions or requirements of Part 1 of the Zoning Code may be granted if the Board finds that: 

  • By reason of the uniqueness of the property or topographical conditions, the literal enforcement of Part 1 would result in practical difficulty or unreasonable hardship. and
  • The variance will not be substantially detrimental to adjacent properties or will not materially impair the purpose of Part 1 or the public interest.

In authorizing a variance, the Board may impose such conditions regarding the location, character and other features of the proposed structure or use as it may deem necessary, consistent with the purposes of the Part 1 and the laws of the State applicable thereto.  No variance shall exceed the minimum adjustment necessary to relieve the hardship imposed by literal enforcement of this Part 1.  The Board may require such guaranty or bond as it may deem necessary to insure compliance with conditions imposed.

If an application for a variance is denied, the Board shall take no further action on another application for substantially the same relief until after 2 years from the date of such disapproval.

In the event that the development or use is not commenced within 3 years from the date of the final decision after all appeals have been exhausted, the approval for the variance shall be void.  In the event of delays, unforeseen at the time of the application and approval, the Director of Planning shall have the authority to extend the approval for an additional 12 months or any portion thereof.

Special Exceptions.

Special exceptions require the approval of the Board in accordance with § 267-9, Board of Appeals. The Board may impose such conditions, limitations and restrictions as necessary to preserve harmony with adjacent uses, the purposes of this Part 1 and the public health, safety and welfare.

A special exception grant or approval shall be limited to the final site plan approved by the Board. Any substantial modification to the approved site plan shall require further Board approval.

Extension of any use or activity permitted as a special exception shall require further Board approval.

The Board may require a bond, irrevocable letter of credit or other appropriate guaranty as may be deemed necessary to assure satisfactory performance with regard to all or some of the conditions.

In the event that the development or use is not commenced within three (3) years from date of final decision after all appeals have been exhausted, the approval for the special exception shall be void. In the event of delays, unforeseen at the time of application and approval, the Zoning Administrator shall have the authority to extend the approval for an additional twelve (12) months or any portion thereof.

Zoning Reclassifications.

Application initiated by property owner:

Any application for a zoning reclassification by a property owner shall be submitted to the Zoning Administrator and shall include:

  • The location and size of the property.
  • A title reference or a description by metes and bounds, courses and distance.
  • The present zoning classification and the classification proposed by the applicant.
  • The names and addresses of all persons, organizations, corporations or groups owning land, any part of which lies within five hundred (500) feet of the property proposed to be reclassified as shown on the current assessment records of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.
  • A statement of the grounds for the application, including:
    • A statement as to whether there is an allegation of mistake as to the existing zoning and, if so, the nature of the mistake and facts relied upon to support this allegation.
    • A statement as to whether there is an allegation of substantial change in the character of the neighborhood and, if so, a precise description of such alleged substantial change.
    • A statement as to whether, in the applicant's opinion, the proposed classification is in conformance with the Master Plan and the reasons for the opinion.  
  • Concept plan. A concept plan shall be submitted by the applicant at the time the application is filed. The concept plan shall illustrate the proposed general nature and distribution of land uses but need not include engineered drawings.

Please note that application for zoning reclassifications through the Comprehensive Zoning Review process are separate from the Board of Appeals procedure

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
1.  WHAT ARE THE ZONING CLASSIFICATIONS? Top

AG - AGRICULTURAL

The purpose of this district is to provide for continued farming activities, conserve agricultural land, and reaffirm agricultural uses, activities and operations within the agricultural zoned areas.  It is the further purpose of this district to maintain and promote the rural character of this land as well as promote the continuance and viability of the farming and agricultural uses. 

 RR - RURAL RESIDENTIAL

This district is intended to acknowledge and protect existing concentrations of residential  development, provide limited opportunities for low-density residential uses where not in conflict with agricultural activities, protect the open character of the land and restrict piecemeal development in areas where public services are not reasonably anticipated.

NOTE: Property owners requesting rezoning of property from AG to RR will be subject to the TDR requirements in the Harford County Zoning Code per Council Bill 08-44, as amended.

 R1, R2, R3, AND R4 - URBAN RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS

These districts are intended to accommodate urban residential needs by providing for a wide range of densities and building types where public water and sewer are available.  Conventional Development with Open Space (COS) and Planned Residential Development (PRD) are permitted where open space and environmental features are provided or preserved.

R1 zoning typically permits single family homes on 15,00020,000 square foot lots.

R2 zoning permits single family residences on 7,50010,000 square foot lots and may permit townhouses in four unit buildings.

R3 and R4 zoning permits single family homes on 5,0007,500 square foot lots, townhouses, as well as condominiums and garden apartments, with higher density in the R4 district.

NOTE: Lot sizes and housing types may be modified for sites including large areas of Natural Resource District.

RO - RESIDENTIAL OFFICE

This district is intended to provide for the conversion of residential structures to other uses and construction of small retail, service, and office buildings in predominantly residential areas on sites that, because of adjacent commercial activity, heavy commercial traffic or other similar factors, may no longer be suitable for only those uses allowable in residential districts.  The regulations ensure that the buildings and uses be compatible with, provide a transition from, and be in harmony with, the present or prospective uses of nearby residential property.

 VR - VILLAGE RESIDENTIAL DISTRICT 

This district is intended to preserve and enhance the character and function of established rural settlements.  This district allows residential uses on small lots as well as certain business uses. The Rural Village Study is used as a guide for achieving architectural compatibility.

NOTE: Property owners requesting rezoning of property from AG to VR will be subject to the TDR requirements in the Harford County Zoning Code per Council Bill 08-44, as amended

VB - VILLAGE BUSINESS DISTRICT

This district is intended to provide business services to rural areas and to preserve and enhance the character and function of long established rural settlements.  This district compliments the VR by providing a mix of business and residential uses at an appropriate scale.  The Rural Village Study is used as a guide for achieving architectural compatibility.

B1, B2, and B3 - BUSINESS DISTRICTS

The B1, B2 and B3 Districts are intended to provide sufficient and convenient locations for business uses that serve the needs of local neighborhoods and communities and the traveling public.

B1, Neighborhood Business District is intended to provide limited retail and service facilities convenient to residential neighborhoods.  Uses are limited primarily to convenience goods and services satisfying the household and personal needs of the residents of abutting residential neighborhoods. Standards are compatible with low-density residential districts, resulting in similar building bulk and low concentration of vehicular traffic.

B2, Community Business District is intended to provide a wider range and scale of retail, business and service uses than are permitted in the B1 District, and is oriented to serve several neighborhoods. The intensity of development as well as the concentration of vehicular traffic is greater than the B1 District.

B3, General Business District is intended to provide a wide range of retail, service and business uses serving local and county-wide areas.  Such activities are generally located along arterial roads.

CI - COMMERCIAL INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT

This district is intended for industrial, office, and business uses of a moderate scale and intensity.

LI - LIGHT INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT

This district is intended to permit a mix of light manufacturing, warehousing, and service uses.  Retail sales are permitted as accessory to a manufacturing or distribution operation where the product is produced or warehoused on site. Other retail sales or service uses are permitted as accessory to the principal permitted use provided that they are integrated into the overall project and do not exceed 2,000 square feet.

GI - GENERAL INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT

This district is intended for industrial uses of a larger scale or more intensive processing with large areas of unenclosed storage, which may generate substantially more impact on surrounding properties. Retail sales are permitted as accessory to a manufacturing operation where the product is produced on site. Other retail sales or service uses are permitted as accessory to the principal permitted use provided they are integrated into the overall project and do not exceed 2,000 square feet. Professional services may also be permitted.

MO - MIXED OFFICE DISTRICT

This district is intended to promote major economic development opportunities, including corporate offices, research and development facilities and high-tech services which create significant job opportunities and investment benefits.  It promotes high quality uses with high quality amenities.  This area may also include retail uses to service the employment center. Designated at strategic

I-95 interchanges, development will be subject to specific performance, architectural and site design standards.

Board of Appeals:
Zoning Decisions  
Zoning Hearing Calendar  
Associated Documents:
Application to the Board of Appeals

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