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Development Review and Land Use Planning


The Department of Planning is committed to development and land use of the highest quality. This department ensures compliance with Federal, State and County laws through the review of land use proposals and the development of plans, policies and procedures in order to make recommendations to approving authorities. Our goal is to achieve the vision of the Master Plan by promoting and preserving safe and sustainable communities of a high aesthetic quality for the citizens of Baltimore County.

Adequate Public School Facilities

Capital Improvement Program

A six-year plan authorizing the funding for capital improvements such as roads, sewers, parks and schools. View details for the Capital Improvement Program

Comprehensive Manual of Development Policies

The Comprehensive Manual of Development Policies (CMDP) is enabled by Section 504.2 of the Baltimore County Zoning Regulations, which states that the Department and Zoning shall compile and codify, in an appropriate and practical form, a comprehensive manual of the Planning Board's land-use and development policies and zoning resolutions.

In its entirety, the CMDP is a robust document with many useful standards, guidelines and regulations that the County uses to help steer commercial and residential development within the goals of the Master Plan. Currently, the Department of Planning is in process of updating the manual to provide desirable design approaches and meet the needs of (re)development within the County.

Design Review Areas

Bill 12-93 was enacted on January 19, 1993 to create the Baltimore County Design Review Areas. The development plans in these Design Review Areas are reviewed by the Design Review Panel, an advisory and consulting body to the County agencies involved in reviewing development plans. Design review is conducted for all projects located within designated Design Review Areas.

Development Review

The Planning Department coordinates the review of residential and commercial development in Baltimore County with respect to planning concepts. The purpose of development review is to ensure quality development and redevelopment of land in accordance with adopted planning principles.

Specifically, the department makes recommendations based on the following standards and guidelines:

Growth Tiers

The Growth Tiers identify where major and minor residential subdivisions may develop and the type of sewage disposal system that will serve them. A parcel divided into four or more lots is considered a major subdivision in Baltimore County. Our Growth Tiers were developed in response to Maryland’s Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012 (SB 236). Existing geographic data such as existing and planned sewer areas, zoning, URDL and a variety of conservation or preservation layers were analyzed and used to classify County land into one of four Growth Tiers:

  • Tier I: Major or minor subdivisions served by public sewers are allowed.
  • Tier II: Major or minor subdivisions served by public sewers are allowed. Minor Subdivisions on individual on-site disposal systems shall be viewed as interim.
  • Tier III: Major subdivisions on individual on-site disposal systems are allowed, with the recommendation of approval by an approving authority. Minor subdivisions on individual on-site disposal systems are allowed.
  • Tier IV: Only minor subdivisions on individual on-site disposal systems are allowed.

A poster of the adopted map as amended on June 5, 2017 is available and citizens may also view the Growth Tiers in the "Land Development" tab of Baltimore County's My Neighborhood interactive map.

Master Planning

The Baltimore County Charter requires that a master plan be updated at least every 10 years. The master plan provides policies and guidelines for sustaining livable communities and achieving balanced development in Baltimore County.

Transit Oriented Development Designation

A Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is a mixed-use development that capitalizes on the presence and ridership of transit while connecting to the surrounding communities.

The State of Maryland provides a TOD designation following a local application, a review of the proposed plan by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Smart Growth Coordinating Committee before it is submitted to the Governor’s Smart Growth Subcabinet for approval. The County must include a request in its annual Priority Letter to MDOT in order for the State to consider an application. A TOD provides a unique opportunity to increase transit ridership and connectivity, reduce reliance on motor vehicles, and support mixed use communities with public amenities and a greater “sense of place”.

The County has developed a process at the local level for making a recommendation to the State for a Transit Oriented Development. In order for the County to consider a request for designation as a TOD, the party must submit an application.

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Contact Us

Development Review and Land Use

The Jefferson Building, Suite 101
105 West Chesapeake Avenue
Towson, Maryland 21204





Division Chief

Jenifer Nugent


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