Skip to main content

Land Use and Zoning

In Montgomery County, every piece of land is subject to zoning laws that determine how the land can be used and what public facilities and amenities are needed to provide service to the community. The County Council is the final authority on land use matters. The Council approves changes in the Zoning Ordinance.

The Council is assisted in making zoning decisions by the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings. Zoning cases are first heard by the Hearing Examiner who compiles an official record for review by the Council. Councilmembers are not allowed to read or hear communications about a zoning case from the public. This is known as the ex parte rule. In addition, when the Zoning Ordinance provides that a land use is allowed only by "conditional use," it is the task of the Hearing Examiner to determine whether the applicant meets the requirements stated in the law.

The Board of Appeals is composed of five citizen members appointed by the Council. Among other things, the Board of Appeals decides cases in which an applicant seeks relief from the strict application of the Zoning Ordinance (“variance” cases), sits in an appellate capacity over the Hearing Examiner’s decisions in conditional use cases, and hears administrative appeals of certain enumerated County actions, including the issuance or denial of building permits.

Zoning, Conditional Use, Subdivision Processes

Zoning determines the land use, lot size, building height, and setbacks for property. A Local Zoning Map Amendment is the process a property owner may use to try to change the property’s zoning. The Council decides zoning map changes in a process that is close to a court proceeding. The Council is prohibited from off-the-record communication on these matters (the “ex parte” rule). In addition, when the Zoning Ordinance provides that a land use is allowed only by "conditional use," it is the task of the Hearing Examiner to determine whether the applicant meets the requirements stated in the law.

For public participation in local zoning map amendment process view : Local Map Amendment Rezoning

A conditional use is an allowed use in a zone that requires subjective findings of compatibility after a public hearing. The Hearing Examiner decides, after a public hearing, whether a conditional use should be granted. That decision may be appealed by a party of record to the Board of Appeals.

For public participation in conditional use cases view: Conditional Use and Conditional Use Modification Process

Development Review is the responsibility of the Planning Board. The Board has approval authority for project plans, sketch plans, preliminary plans, site plans, record plats, and forest conservation plans.

For public participation in development review process view: Development Review Participation

Digital Zoning Map

The digital zoning map is available through the new Digital Zoning Finder tool. The tool displays zoning data and a variety of other information about each property in the County.

Go to Digital Zoning Finder >>


Go Top