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Baltimore City Launches New Zoning Code

Zoning Code gets modernized to foster neighborhood development & “Transform Baltimore”

BALTIMORE, MD (June 7, 2017) – Baltimore City is pleased to announce the launch of the new Baltimore City Zoning Code (Ordinance #16-581) that went into effect on Monday, June 5, 2017. The new “Transform Baltimore” Zoning Code, which was passed by the City Council and signed into law on December 5, 2016, will replace Baltimore’s original 1971 code. It is intended to simplify and streamline development review; provide an easy to understand set of rules; and create a more modern code that fosters growth and development, while maintaining the character of Baltimore’s neighborhoods.

“Economic growth and development are at the cornerstone of building a smart city,” said Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. “We are committed to implementing the new Transform Baltimore Zoning Code, which will support my Administration’s vision of creating a more walkable city where there are residential neighborhoods with retail shops and entertainment venues.”

“The new Transform Baltimore Zoning Code represents a great opportunity to help spur growth and development in Baltimore City,” said Council President Young. “As a city, we are committed to positive economic growth and welcome the new Zoning Code as the best vehicle to help us accomplish this goal.”

The rules and regulations of the Zoning Code govern the use of land and development. This code includes new categories that encourage more mixed-use neighborhoods, support start-up businesses and promote transit-oriented development. The new residential zone regulations will be very similar to the current code. However, there will be two notable changes. The new code has no minimum building width and therefore, no longer considers a row building of less than 16 feet to be non-conforming. This is expected to significantly speed up the permit review process for small rear additions. The Department of Planning will conduct a design review for new rowhouses and their additions during the permit application process.

“Baltimore’s new Zoning Code, over eight years in the making, includes new tools and processes that benefit all levels of stakeholders, from the individual home owner to the corporate developer, and everyone in between,” said Tom Stosur, Director of the Department of Planning. “We’ve worked hard to create the right mix of flexibility on uses combined with new standards for design and landscaping so more projects can happen as of right while enhancing the city’s built environment.”

Changes under the new Zoning Code may affect those who are: 1) doing exterior work on their property (e.g., adding an addition or roof deck); 2) making changes to the way a property is used (e.g., opening a new type of business or adding a new apartment unit in a building); or 3) building something new. As with the former code, if these types of changes are planned, a Zoning review will occur during the permit application process. If a permit application was submitted prior to June 5th and considered complete, it will be reviewed under the former Zoning Code even if final permit issuance does not occur until after this date.

In March, the Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) launched ePermits, a new online system that enables users to apply for “over the counter” building permits, including Use & Occupancy permits, from their smartphones, tablets, or computers at any time of the day. Permits submitted in the online system after June 5th will be automatically processed under the new Zoning Code.

“The Transform Baltimore Zoning Code will help achieve a number of positive outcomes, including the creation of more mixed-use and transit-oriented development projects in the City, as well as the creation of housing in new areas, such as warehouse/industrial districts,” said Acting DHCD Commissioner Michael Braverman. “And, our recently launched ePermits system will help make the transition more seamless for our customers and staff.”

For more information or to sign up for ePermits, customers may visit
Baltimorehousing.org and click on the ePermits icon.

For more information about Transform Baltimore, please visit planning.baltimorecity.gov/programs/transform-baltimore; email zoningcode@baltimorecity.gov; or call 410-396-PLAN.

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New Transform Baltimore Zoning Code