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The rezoning process is a formal legal proceeding by which an individual, a group of individuals, or the governing body may apply to change either the zoning classification of a particular property or a group of properties, or amend text contained in the Zoning Ordinance adopted by the Board of County Commissioners of Washington County. Applications to change a zoning classification are considered a Map Amendment. The governing body may initiate a zoning change to a larger group of parcels. This process is known as a Comprehensive Rezoning. Applications requesting modifications in the language included in the regulatory documents of the County are considered text amendments.
A petition to amend the Washington County Zoning Maps by rezoning a particular property (a piecemeal map amendment) may be submitted by the owner of the property, the contract purchaser or the agent for either party.
In accordance with Maryland Law in order for a piecemeal rezoning to be granted, petitions for zoning map amendments, when not part of a comprehensive rezoning undertaken by the governing body, must be judged by the “change or mistake rule.”
Change in Character of the Neighborhood:
It must be shown that there has been a change in the character of the neighborhood, since the last Comprehensive Zoning Plan. As part of this premise, an applicant is to provide an accurate and acceptable definition of the neighborhood where the change is alleged to have occurred, the specific events that have caused the change and describe the character of the neighborhood before and after the change.
Mistake in Original Zoning:
A mistake in the current zoning can be shown to have occurred when there has been a failure to take into account projects or trends probable of fruition. Decisions based on erroneous information, facts that later prove to be incorrect, events that occurred since the current zoning, or ignoring facts in evidence can all contribute to a legitimate mistake having occurred.
*Even when a change or mistake is sufficiently sustained, it merely allows the local governing body to change the zoning. It does not require the change. When conditions are right for a change, the new zone must be shown to be appropriate, logical for the location, and consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
A petition can be filed with the Washington County Planning Department to amend the text of the following documents: Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, Comprehensive Plan, Forest Conservation Ordinance, Solid Waste Plan, Subdivision Ordinance, Water & Sewer Plan and Zoning Ordinance.
Text Amendments are not judged under the “change or mistake” law that is required for Zoning Map Amendments. The applicant does have to provide which section of the Ordinance they are requesting to be amended, the desired verbiage, a detailed explanation of the reasons why the text amendment is being sought and the rationale for the change.
*Select Administrative Procedures, at the top of the page to get a detailed listing of filing procedures. *
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100 West Washington Street
Hagerstown, MD 21740
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