Board of Appeals
About the board
The Board of Appeals' role is to hear rezoning cases, special exceptions, designated special development cases, appeals of decisions by the zoning administrator, expansion of nonconforming uses, and variances from requirements of the Zoning Code.
Applications to the Board of Appeals are submitted through the Department of Planning and Zoning for processing and forwarded to the hearing examiner.
The board's authority is delegated by the Harford County Council to a hearing examiner, whose decision is final unless appealed.
Board of Appeals cases
Publication and posting fees (all applications, including amended applications, except minor area variances) are $200 in addition to the following fees:
- Expansion of nonconforming use and variance: $250
- Interpretation or appeal of a decision of the zoning administrator: $200
- Minor variances from design requirements (less than 20% of area affected): $50
- Variance from design requirements: $250
- Variances from other requirements of the Zoning Code and modification of previous approvals by the Board of Appeals: $250
Special review cases
These fees are for developments or projects requiring Board approval (i.e. special exception or special development):
- Cottage housing and day care centers: $100
- Filing fee for residential projects: $550 per application plus $5 per dwelling unit
- Integrated community shopping center: $600 plus $50 per acre
- Miscellaneous special exceptions or special developments (not otherwise defined): $200
- Publication and posting fee: $200
Zoning reclassification cases
- Filing fee: $600 plus $10 per acre for each acre over 20 acres
- Publication and posting fee (all applications): $200
The Board of Appeals process begins in the Department of Planning and Zoning. Applicants to the Board of Appeals will be asked to schedule a preapplication meeting before their application will be accepted. The purpose of this meeting is to inform the applicant of all the requirements, and to give them an idea of what to expect as the process moves forward. After the preapplication meeting, they can decide if they want to move forward with the process. If so, they will file their Board of Appeals Application (PDF). To schedule a preapplication meeting, please call 410-638-3119.
A Board of Appeals Application (PDF) 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.
The property will be posted with the date of the hearing. Adjoining property owners will be notified of therequest via U.S. mail. The hearing will also be listed in the local newspaper.
A staff report to provide general information concerning the request, the subject property, and background data will be prepared by the Planning and Zoning Department and furnished to the hearing examiner. The report, as well as the department's recommendation, are submitted for information purposes only, as any finding in the Board of Appeals case must be the decision of the zoning hearing examiner alone. Property owners/applicants will receive a copy of the report prior to the hearing date.
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 necessary to assure satisfactory performance with regard to all or some of the conditions.
Exhaustion of exception
In the event the development or use is not begun within three years of the 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 12 months or any portion thereof.
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.
If an application for a variance is denied, the board shall take no further action on another application for substantially the same relief for two years from the date of such disapproval.
Exhaustion of Variance
In the event that the development or use is not begun within three years of 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.
Any application for a zoning reclassification by a property owner shall be submitted to the zoning administrator and shall include:
- A statement of the grounds for the application, including:
- Whether there is an allegation of mistake to the existing zoning and, if so, the nature of the mistake and facts relied upon to support this allegation
- 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
- Whether, in the applicant's opinion, the proposed classification is in conformance with the Master Plan and the reasons for the opinion
- A title reference or a description by metes and bounds, courses and distance
- Concept plan - submitted by the applicant at the time the application is filed, that shall illustrate the proposed general nature and distribution of land uses but need not include engineered drawings
- The location and size of the property
- The names and addresses of all persons, organizations, corporations or groups owning land, any part of which lies within 500 feet of the property proposed to be reclassified as shown on the current assessment records of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation
- The present zoning classification and the classification proposed by the applicant
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 areas zoned agricultural. 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, & 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 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot lots.
- R2 zoning permits single family residences on 7,500- to 10,000-square-foot lots and may permit townhouses in four unit buildings.
- R3 and R4 zoning permits single family homes on 5,000- to 7,500-square-foot lots, townhouses, as well as condominiums and garden apartments, with higher density in the R4 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 complements 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, & B3 - Business Districts
These 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 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.
I-95 interchanges and development will be subject to specific performance, architectural and site design standards.