Zoning Commissioner's Policy Manual

This little-known part of the Baltimore Rules and Regulations was adopted in 1991 and last revised in 1992. While many parts of the Code on which it is based have changed many times, this document has not, yet it continues to be referenced as the law-of-the-land. The last revision was "approved" on May 13, 1992 by the Director of the Office of Zoning Administration and Development Management, thus it is claimed to be valid. It provides "interpretations" of the County Code, which are sometimes more stringent than the laws that the Council actually considered and voted on. It is hard to find a copy, since there is none in the libraries or online, as now required by the County Code for all new Regulations. A copy can not even be found in the law library located in the County Court House.

In fact, in a Code Enforcement case several years ago, when the defending attorney tried to refer to the Sign Code part of this ZCPM, the hearing officer ruled that that section of the ZCPM was null and void since the underlying County Code had changed.

As an example where the ZCPM is more strict in its interpretation than the County Code: The BCZR (the law passed by the County Council) defines "home occupation" (which is allowed in many residential zones) and requires that "no commodity is kept for sale on the promises". This clearly means that it is the selling which is not allowed, not the storage of goods which may be sold elsewhere. The ZCPM, on the other hand, starts by saying that "this statement clearly indicates that a person can, for instance, make dresses for customers. However, they cannot make and stock dresses for sales display on the premises". But then it goes on to say that a trader's license (which any such business must have) requires that "no equipment, inventory, stock, or commodity will be DELIVERED or STORED on the premises" (emphasis in original), and then requires the applicant to sign an affidavit to this effect when getting a trader's license. (How many such business owners in this county do you suppose are in violation of the affadavit they were forced to sign and gave the address of an empty storage facility? I personally know of one!)

A copy of the table of contents and of some of the pages is included here for reference. Anyone desiring more information will have to go into the zoning office in Room 111 of the County Office Building or the Director of PAI's office to see a copy. Good luck!

Click here for partial copy.   |   Copy of adopting documents

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Updated 29 Sept 2017 by MAP