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Council Favors New Zoning Ordinance in Straw Vote

Website for the Zoning Rewrite Project. Courtesy of the Montgomery County Planning Department.
Website for the Zoning Rewrite Project. Courtesy of the Montgomery County Planning Department.

The county's proposed new zoning ordinance received strong support from the county council on Thursday, when council members voted seven to one in a straw vote to adopt it, according to a news release from the county's planning department.

The final vote is expected to take place in February, the news release added.

The council took the straw vote on the new zoning ordinance after completion of the final work session on the document. The rewritten zoning code, if adopted, would be the most comprehensive update to the county's zoning code in more than 30 years, the planning department reported.

"I am very pleased with the thoughtful and thorough action of the council on the zoning rewrite," Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier said. 

"The document is a big improvement over the current code and we look forward to the official vote by the council so that everyone can start taking advantage of this more user-friendly zoning code," she added.

Since the last major update to the zoning code in 1977, the county has grown and changed substantially and many of the zoning laws have become out of date, according to the planning department. 

"Piecemeal updates to the code over the last several decades have resulted in a document with more than 1200 pages, more than 120 zones, more than 400 footnotes, and many confusing and sometimes contradictory provisions," the news release added.

The Montgomery County Council tasked the planning department with rewriting the zoning code in 2007 with the following basic goals in mind:

  • Simplify and consolidate.
  • Improve clarity and consistency.
  • Accommodate changing markets and demographics, while protecting established neighborhoods.
  • Reflect more sustainable policy goals.
  • Provide the tools to shift from greenfield development to infill, mixed-use development. 

After a final vote of approval for the rewritten zoning code, the council will turn its attention to the accompanying District Map Amendment, which would apply the new zoning primarily to non-residential properties in the county. The new code would not become effective until the approval of the map, the planning department reported in the news release.

Learn more about the Zoning Rewrite Project.

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