PHED Committee Continues Zoning Review

The Montgomery County Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee meets at 9:30 a.m. on July 19 to continue its extensive review of the first proposed major changes in the County Zoning Ordinance since 1978. At the worksession, among the items to be discussed are floating zones. A floating zone allows a property owner, under certain situations, to apply for a change in zoning for their specific property.

The PHED Committee, which is chaired by Nancy Floreen and includes Councilmembers Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, will be meeting regularly through September to review the changes in the zoning ordinance that have been suggested by the County’s Planning Board. The committee will use the worksessions to make recommendations to the full Council, which will eventually decide what changes will be implemented.

The PHED Committee will meet in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. Both sessions will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcasts also will be streamed through the county’s web site at

Detailed information about the zoning rewrite can be found at a new site that is part of the Council home page at: .

A floating zone includes standards that must be met before that zoning district can be approved for an existing piece of land. An owner must submit an application for a zoning map amendment (called a local map amendment). The zone does not “land on the ground” until the application is approved. In that respect, the zone “floats” until it lands by Council approval.

A successful floating zone application only requires conformance with the applicability standards and approval by the Council. Floating zones do not require proof or a change or a mistake in the original zoning. To have a chance to be approved, the development allowed by the proposed zone must be deemed compatible with the areas in which it may thereafter be located.

There have been 50 local zoning map applications submitted in the County over the past 10 years. Many jurisdictions use floating zones to provide for unforeseen circumstances. The proposed code would allow a wide variety of zones in many locations. The PHED Committee will discuss whether it believes that the flexibility inherent in the Planning Board’s proposal creates too much uncertainty for neighbors of single-family detached homes.

The PHED Committee will continue its review of zoning changes on July 26. Among the topics scheduled to be addressed at that worksesssion are requirements for parking and signs.

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