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Town Growth Area Comprehensive Rezoning

Welcome
Welcome and Thank You for viewing our Town Growth Area Comprehensive Rezoning Page.  We have made every effort to notify all affected property owners of the County’s intention to complete the last leg of our Comprehensive Rezoning journey by implementing the Town Growth Areas Rezoning.  This Rezoning will only affect property owners within the Town Growth Area boundaries surrounding the Towns of Hancock, Clear Spring, Smithsburg, and Boonsboro.  For questions regarding this Comprehensive Rezoning project you may contact the Department of Planning and Zoning at 240-313-2430 or via email at .

UPDATE 07/01/2015:
In January and February of 2014 the Washington County Planning Commission completed its second round of public input meetings for the proposed Town Growth Area Rezoning project. On April 7, 2014 the Planning Commission discussed the comments received from the public meetings. The result of these deliberations is a second set of revised maps incorporating some of the requests and comments received by affected property owners. At the regular meeting of the Washington County Planning Commission on May 5, 2014 the Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend approval of the Town Growth Area Rezoning to the Board of County Commissioners as amended per the second round of public comment. This recommendation will be forwarded to the Board of County Commissioners for further deliberation and approval.

UPDATE 12/20/2013:
The Washington County Planning Commission has completed its first round of public input meetings for the proposed Town Growth Area Rezoning project.  On November 4, 2013, Planning Commission members held a workshop meeting where all public comments were reviewed and analyzed.  The result of these deliberations is a set of revised maps incorporating some of the comments and requests received by affected property owners.  Beginning in January 2014, affected property owners should receive via mail, another notification letter of potential changes in zoning and/or growth area boundaries.  NOT ALL PROPERTIES WILL BE AFFECTED BY THE LATEST CHANGES.  We encourage property owners to carefully review your letter, look at the amended maps, and if necessary call the Planning Department to set up an appointment to discuss potential impacts of the proposed rezoning of your property.  During the months of January and February, the Planning Commission will be holding a second round of public input meetings to again take comment on the proposed changes.  We encourage concerned property owners to attend these meetings to hear about the proposed changes and make comments as appropriate.

Link to Hancock Map   Link to Clear Spring Map  Link to Boonsboro Map Link to Smithsburg Map   

Documents
Sample Notification Letter
Summary of Zoning Districts & Proposed Changes
Zoning Change Request Form
PowerPoint presentation for Town meetings

Proposed Text Amendments

Links
Zoning Ordinance
UGA Text Amendment
Webmap

Frequently Asked Questions

Will rezoning my land change my taxes?
While not likely, there are some things property owners should be aware of and verify with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (MD DAT).  First, the MD DAT has sole authority over the designation of taxes on a property.  If you believe you are being taxed incorrectly you should contact the MD DAT directly at 301-791-3050.

Second, the County has made every effort to zone properties based on the land use currently in operation.  Very few properties have been rezoned outside of their existing land use classification (i.e. residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, etc.)  If you believe the County has improperly analyzed the use on your property, please notify us of the error in one of the three methods listed below under, “What if I don’t agree with what is being proposed on my property?”.  Those properties that have been designated as moving from one land use category to another (for example from residential to commercial) could see changes in their tax bill depending upon the existing land use assessment assigned by the MD DAT.  Property owners should contact the MD DAT directly at 301-791-3050 to verify any potential changes in tax assessments.
Is the County taking my land?
NO. The proposed rezoning is an exercise in assigning the most appropriate zoning to a property based upon the use that is currently in existence. Changes in the text of the district that modify the lot size, lot setback, etc. are intended to apply to NEW development or changes in land use that occurs on a piece of property.
Why didn’t I get a notification letter of the proposed changes?
The Department of Planning and Zoning has mailed out notification of potential zoning changes to all property owners within the boundaries of the designated Town Growth Area boundaries for Hancock, Clear Spring, Smithsburg, and Boonsboro. There could be a few reasons for not receiving a letter:

  • Your property is located within the incorporated municipality of one of the above mentioned Towns.  This proposed rezoning DOES NOT affect properties located within incorporated municipalities.
  • Your property is located outside of the designated Town Growth Area boundary.  To verify this alternative, please view the maps included on this website or contact the Department of Planning and Zoning at 240-313-2430 to confirm your property location.
  • You are using an invalid address for the property that the U.S. Postal Service does not recognize and therefore returns the letter to the sender.
  • The address on file with the MD DAT is inaccurate or invalid.  We use the MD DAT parcel database as our mailing list for this project.  If the address on file is invalid or inaccurate you will not receive the letter.
Why is the County Rezoning my property?
The County is initiating the final step in implementing the zoning recommendations made in the 2002 Comprehensive Plan. The purposes of the changes are to recognize the various societal changes that have occurred in the County since zoning was first implemented in 1973. Examples of how societal changes influence land use changes are:
  • Technological Advances – Technology has advanced dramatically since zoning was first adopted in 1973.  Not only do we need to update the language of our zoning to integrate these changes but we need to acknowledge how these technological changes have effected how we use our land resources.  For example, computer technology and the internet have evolved to a point where people can telecommute for their employment.  This can reduce the need for office space and stress on the transportation network.
  • Demographic shifts – The County population, similar to that across the country, is aging.  Advances in medical technology have increased life spans and the “Baby Boomer” generation has begun to retire.  This shift begs the questions of where will our parents and grandparents live, shop, or recreate?  The County population is also growing.  Since 1975 Washington County has grown by 40,000 people and is expected to continue growing to over 200,000 by 2040.  Where will these people live, shop, go to school, or work?
  • Geographical barriers are weakening – As seen in the housing boom in the early 2000s, South Mountain and other geographical barriers are beginning to be overlooked as the metropolitan areas of Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington DC continue to expand and people begin to seek out areas with lower cost of living and perceived better quality of life.
  • Infrastructure is aging – As Washington County continues to grow, new infrastructure such as schools, roads, water and wastewater service, police protection, and fire and rescue operations also need to be expanded.  With more funds being spent on expanding new infrastructure, old infrastructure is continuing to deteriorate.  Focus needs to be put back on containing the majority of development into existing urban centers such as Towns.   
What if I don’t agree with what is being proposed on my property? How do I voice my opinion?
There will be several opportunities for property owners to voice their opinion on the zoning proposed for their land. The first opportunity will be in the form of public information meetings held in the four Town Growth Area localities affected by the proposed Comprehensive Rezoning between August 14th and August 29th, 2013. The details of the meeting schedule are posted on this site for your convenience. We will continue to take comment through September 13, 2013 through one of three methods: 1) verbalizing your concerns at one of the public input meetings; 2) written comment addressed to the Department of Planning and Zoning; or 3) emailing the Department of Planning and Zoning at askplanning@washco-md.net. All written and verbal comments will be forwarded to the Planning Commission for their review and analysis.

The second opportunity for you to voice your opinion will be during the public information meeting held by the Washington County Planning Commission later this fall. Notices of the meeting will be advertised in the local newspapers, radio stations, and on the County website.

The third opportunity for you to voice your opinion will be during the Public Hearing held by the Board of County Commissioners later in 2013 or early 2014. Again notices of the meeting will be advertised in the local newspapers, radio stations, and on the County website.

 

Meeting Schedule &
Upcoming Events

PUBLIC HEARING

Board of County Commissioners

May 24, 2016, 6:00 pm Community Room Washington County Free Library, 100 S. Potomac Street, Hagerstown