The Compass - eNews from Baltimore Planning

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A monthly eNewsletter from the Baltimore City Department of Planning

December 2016

A Message from the Director…

This month, during the final meeting of the term, Baltimore's City Council voted to approve the rewrite of the Zoning Code, known as TransForm Baltimore.

This is a historic moment for Baltimore, ushering in a new era for planning and development. The Zoning Code rewrite is the first in over forty years.

The new Zoning Code will make the development process simpler and more streamlined, promoting mixed-use neighborhoods while making the City more walkable. Its approach will truly modernize Baltimore into a better city for its residents, businesses, and institutions.

This issue provides an overview of the process that lead to the new code, and highlights a few of the key changes in it. In the coming year, the Planning Department staff will provide additional guidance and support to permit applicants, residents, and community associations in navigating the changes. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our office with any questions.

Best wishes for a warm and festive holiday season,

Thomas J. Stosur, Director 

Planning Staff Honored at Meritorious Service Medal Ceremony


Five Department of Planning staff members were honored with the Meritorious Service Medal on November 29.

The honorees included:

Eric Holcomb, CHAP Executive Director and Division Chief

Beth Strommen, Office of Sustainability Director

Holly Freishtat, Food Policy Director, Office of Sustainability

Laurie Feinberg, Assistant Director of Planning

Brenton Flickenger, Planner Supervisor/Southern District Planner

Recognizing excellence, the Meritorious service award is a testament to dedication, commitment and service to the City of Baltimore, by Baltimore City employees.

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Historic Rewrite of Zoning Code Finalized

The approval of Baltimore City’s new zoning code on December 5, 2016 is a major accomplishment for the Department of Planning, City Council and the City of Baltimore as a whole. The new zoning code represents the first comprehensive update since 1971. Since then, the code became increasingly antiquated with time – it supported the separation of land uses and automobile oriented development, and maintained zoning district categories that bore little relation to the actual uses on the ground.

Countless hours of work went into developing the new zoning legislation, with the goal of ensuring that the City’s new code is predictable, understandable and enforceable. The zoning code is designed to implement the vision outlined in the City’s Comprehensive Master Plan and Sustainability Plan. The Department of Planning began a process to rewrite the code in 2008, working with a Zoning Advisory Committee made up of community members, developers and stakeholders from other agencies. Dozens of citywide meetings were organized to discuss the proposed code.

The new code takes a different, more flexible, approach – paving the way for mixed-use development like biotech parks and more walkable residential neighborhoods.

Some of the changes to the new zoning code include:

  • The new Industrial Mixed Use District (IMU) allows for the conversion of multi-story industrial buildings into artist live-work spaces, offices, galleries, retail or limited residential alongside light industrial uses.
  • The code implements and promotes many sustainability principles such as community gardens, urban agriculture, bicycle parking and walkability.
  • The creation of Zoning Districts for Educational and Hospital Campuses, allowing a Campus Master Plan. This allows greater flexibility and a more streamlined development process.

The draft zoning code was converted into an ordinance by the City’s legislative staff and was then introduced by the City Council at the Mayor’s request in October 2012. In all, City Council considered more than 800 amendments to the code. Ultimately, City Council gave preliminary approval to the new zoning code in October 2016 and final approval in December. The zoning code will take effect on June 5, 2017, giving agencies six months transition time for full implementation.

The new code is simplified and better organized. More resources to help applicants and residents navigate the new code will be posted on the Department of Planning’s website, and staff is available and ready to answer any questions.

The New Zoning Code can be viewed here. This link includes text and maps. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document has been prepared and is also available here. Community members are encouraged to send questions about the new code to The Department of Planning will use these questions to update the FAQ over time.

The Department of Planning wishes to express its sincere gratitude to all of the stakeholders who attended meetings, expressed opinions, wrote proposals and worked in collaboration with staff and City officials to achieve this important milestone for Baltimore.

2017 CAMP Offset Grant Application now available

The Office of Sustainability is pleased to announce the 2017 Critical Area Management Program (CAMP) Offset Grant application is now available.  The City of Baltimore accepts proposals from non-profit organizations wishing to access CAMP Offset funds.

The City has a set of guidelines for development within 1,000 feet of the City's shoreline. If on-site mitigation is not possible, developers may be allowed to pay into the CAMP Offset Fee Fund, managed by the Department of Planning.

This application is released on an annual basis to encourage existing and prospective grantees to come up with exciting ideas for CAMP-funded projects that will improve quality of life and the quality of our waterways in Baltimore.  Any community group, non-profit, faith-based organization, or other non-profit institution may apply.  The application may be found by clicking on the image below:


New Historic Signs Placed at Confederate Monuments

CHAP signs

Planning staff in the Historical and Architectural Division, working with the Department of Transportation and the Baltimore National Heritage Area, recently installed four new signs next to the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Confederate Women’s Monument, Lee Jackson Monument, and the Roger B. Taney Monument. The purpose of the new signs is to interpret the historical context of the monuments, per recommendations of the Special Commission to Review Baltimore's Public Confederate Monuments.

The Commission's report was released in September 2016, and may be accessed at: