Yesterday, the Montgomery County Council approved the first restructuring of the Zoning Ordinance in more than 50 years. The much-debated legislation will be effective October 30, 2014, and it will create new zones for almost every non-residential property in Montgomery County.

Before October, when the Ordinance becomes effective, the Council must adopt a Map Amendment to rezone non-residential properties in Montgomery County. The Council will hold a hearing on the Map Amendment over the summer to ensure that property owners are able to evaluate the impact of the new zones on their property.

To respond to changing planning principles, the Ordinance creates new mixed-use zones for most of the formerly single-use commercial areas of the County, amending allowable densities, as well as parking and other development standards (including “points” assigned in the Commercial Residential Zone for Moderately Priced Dwelling Units and Transferable Development Rights). The impact on individual properties will vary based on size and proximity to transit.

Zoning Text Amendments (ZTAs) also are pending, to clarify certain provisions. The Council noted that these “ZTAs approved by the Council before the effective date may affect only the new code or may affect both the new code and the current code,” allowing property owners to choose which zoning standards would apply to projects by the timing of the submittal (i.e., before or after the effective date).

The Council is scheduled to begin work on the next step, the adoption of districtwide digital zoning maps to implement the Zoning Ordinance, in the near future.

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