Real estate development and construction activity is vital to the economy of Maryland, and well-organized development in conformance to the local laws benefits the residents at an individual as well as a community level.
Every land parcel in Maryland is governed by zoning regulations, which help determine what the property can be used for as well as the construction siting on the property.
In the cities across Maryland, zoning maps are used to assign a zoning category to every land parcel in the city. And zoning codes are used to define the type of land use that is legally permissible within each category.
Need for Zoning Appeals
When the property zoning code permits the type of land use and layout that a property owner is seeking, the owner usually has a legal right to go ahead with obtaining the necessary construction permits in order to build the project. The owner can proceed with the construction activity in such cases despite any opposition from the neighbors. (However, a few exceptions may apply, such as historical building designation and environmental restrictions.)
In a situation where the zoning code does not permit the type of land use development that the property owner is seeking, a zoning appeal will be required. This will involve a public hearing before the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals. (This is the legal body with the authority to decide whether the land use and layout can be allowed.)
Any individual or organization can put forward their viewpoint at this public hearing, and anyone who has a direct concern with the situation should use this opportunity to speak up.
What Steps are Involved in Zoning Appeals in MD?
The following steps can help you raise your concerns in the most effective manner at a hearing in front of the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals. However, remember that every individual situation is unique with its own challenges. Therefore, these steps may have to be modified to suit the requirements of your specific situation.
- Determine the property’s zoning code and go through the code carefully to see whether the desired land use and layout is allowed.
- Determine what type of action is required, such as a relaxation in the regulations because of the property’s specific physical attributes, or a condition land use.
- Determine on what date a hearing related to your type of application will be held, and what is the timeline for submitted written comments. If posting of a notice on the property is required, make sure to satisfy this requirement.
- Go through the procedural rules with regard to Zoning Appeals. Make a list of the particular items that you want the Zoning Appeals Board to consider.
- Keep a copy of all the details you submit to the Board, including all written information and drawings.
- If you have hired the services of an attorney, discuss your goals and concerns with them. They will advise you on what are the best possible solutions.
- If you are able to reach an agreement with another involved party, make sure the agreement is prepared in writing and reviewed by your attorney before you sign it. Include this agreement copy in the application file.
- In absence of an agreement, be prepared to attend the City Hall public hearing. Discuss with your attorney to acquire a complete understanding of the hearing requirements and procedures. Where possible, have a group of community members or neighbors that share your concerns. Focus on the facts and follow the procedures that the Board has outlined while you make your presentation.
- When possible, carry documentation and photographs to back your concerns, and submit a copy of your testimony in writing for the record.
- When a Council member is in agreement with your stated position, you may request them to testify before the Board.
- If you do not succeed in getting the desired outcome at the hearing before the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals, you might have an option to file a fresh appeal in the Circuit Court. Discuss with your attorney if you intend to appeal the decision of the Board.
Consult a Maryland Attorney with Expertise in Zoning and Planning Matters
At the Evans Law, we have extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of local land use and zoning laws, and we can provide strong legal representation to help you accomplish your goals.
Our experienced lawyers will provide you the right legal advice and support to obtain favorable outcomes in any transactions or disputes related to zoning and land development in Maryland and Washington D.C. To learn more, message us online or call us at 410-431-2599 for a consultation.