The Maryland Zoning CheckUp

​​​Zoning is a fundamental component of local planning used by jurisdictions and their planning commissions to guide growth, redevelopment, and community design. Zoning codes/ordinances and maps are the essential documents by which zoning is applied. As with other planning documents like comprehensive plans, they must be maintained and updated regularly to ensure they are advancing community objectives in a coordinated and consistent manner. The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) prepared the Zoning CheckUp (CheckUp) to aid jurisdictions with this maintenance and to ensure consistency. Specifically, it is designed as a zoning code performance guide to assist planning boards or planning commissions in small and rural jurisdictions. 

The CheckUp is a voluntary tool that provides step-by-step guidance to reviewers through a series of prompts, questions, answers, and recommendations that streamline the review process so jurisdictions can ensure their zoning regulations are performing as intended.

The Ch​​eckUp

  • Is a self-evaluation tool for voluntary use in reviewing adopted zoning ordinances, codes, maps, and subdivision regulations.
  • Addresses a variety of zoning topics to improve the performance of existing zoning mechanisms.
  • Accounts for periodic plan amendments, plan updates, local annexations, changes in best practices, and changes to applicable federal or state law. 
  • Encourages annual re-evaluation to ensure adopted zoning ordinances, codes, and maps are meticulously maintained and are up to date.
  • May be used as part of board/commission-run workshops, professional staff, or by consultants hired to conduct reviews.
  • Can be tailored to the specific needs of a jurisdiction.

MDP ​also prepared a companion slide show to be used concurrently with the more detailed guide. If a planning commission is completing the CheckUp during a work session, MDP encourages users to utilize the guide while simultaneously displaying the slides on a common screen, thus ensuring everyone is on the same topic. Using this method, a planning commission can also effectively communicate the process to a public audience. The CheckUp outline below provides an overview of the essential CheckUp topic areas. Additional topic areas will be added periodically as they are completed. 

MDP strongly recommends that jurisdictions complete the CheckUp in order, starting with the introduction and continuing through Topic 4. However, some may choose to start on a topic in which they are most interested or may have the most concern. To ensure that​ the CheckUp can be used in this manner, some essential questions repeat themselves so topic area groups can work independently as needed. If you come across a question in one topic which your workgroup has already thoroughly addressed in a previous topic, please feel free to skip it.

Contact or if you have any questions about the CheckUp or if there is a particular topic area of interest where MDP ma​y assist.

The Zoning Checkup Outline   ​

Essential Topic Areas
Zoning Code
Comp Plan
1. Preserving the Official Zoning Map


2. Preserving the Official Zoning Code



3. Zoning Map Changes
4. Ordinance Integration​
Optional Topic Areas​​ 

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