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Zoning and subdivision regulations Update

Envision Montgomery 2040, the City’s comprehensive plan, identifies as a key recommendation an update of the zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations. The city is now undertaking this effort to align Montgomery’s zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations with its future vision for development.

NEW: Watch a Presentation About the First Module of Updated Zoning Ordinance

The project team presented an overview of the first of two installments of the updated Zoning Ordinance to the Planning Commission on October 26, 2023. Watch the recording of the presentation and review the consultant team’s presentation.

To view the draft document and submit your comments, navigate below to the “Projects Documents” tab.

What is included?

This module includes several key elements of the updated development regulations. First, it contains a new set of streamlined zone districts. The new district line-up carries forward the existing districts used in the City’s residential neighborhoods with some consolidation of nearly identical districts to reduce duplication. It also adds new districts that are intended to support the redevelopment of some the City’s commercial sites. In addition, the zone districts are presented in a whole new way, with more colorful tables and dimensional drawings that illustrate how the dimensional standards impact the look of development in each district.

The second key element of the updated Zoning Ordinance is a set of new use regulations. All permitted principal, accessory, and temporary uses have been consolidated into one section of the Zoning Ordinance. The list of uses have been updated, and they have been organized into tables that show, at a glance, which uses are permitted in which zone districts. New uses have been added, such as tiny homes and cottage homes, novel housing options that are proposed to be allowed in appropriate parts of the City. The standards that apply to specific uses have been carried forward and, where appropriate, updated to help improve the quality of development in the City. New standards have been added, such as for cellular communications towers. The updated Zoning Ordinance also includes new or updated definitions of all the uses.

Finally, the updated Zoning Ordinance consolidates all the administrative procedures into one section. Procedures are important because they govern the review and decision-making process on all development applications, such as rezoning applications or a request for a special exception or a variance.  This updated set of administrative procedures has also been reorganized and streamlined to be easier to use and understand, with flowcharts that illustrate each step of the development review process.

What is a zoning ordinance?
A zoning ordinance is the adopted law of a city that regulates land use, growth, and development. It defines distinct zoning districts that apply to property and generally governs the purpose, location, and size of development in each district. A zoning ordinance also includes provisions for the development proposal review process and for standards regulating parking, signage, building design, and resource protection.

What are subdivision regulations?
Subdivision regulations are the adopted law of a city that regulates how individual properties can be subdivided or split. It defines characteristics for lot size, lot configuration, street right-of-way widths, access, and other similar regulations for properties. These regulations complement the zoning ordinance requirements for future development.





Why rewrite the zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations?
While Montgomery has pursued zoning updates to specific areas, such as the SmartCode for downtown, the last update to the zoning ordinance was in 1985. The regulations are cumbersome and no longer reflect the best practices of modern planning and zoning techniques. The purpose of the rewrite is to address such issues and develop new regulations that reflect the policy direction set forth in the new comprehensive plan. The result of the project will be a new set of regulations that are modernized, easier to use, and better aligned with the city’s future vision and development goals.

The comprehensive rewrite of the zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations is a significant undertaking that began in May 2022 and will continue into the first half of 2024. There will be multiple opportunities for public input and feedback at key stages in the process. The graphic below depicts the timeline for the update.

How does the zoning ordinance relate to the comprehensive plan and future land use map?

The comprehensive plan is a policy guide that identifies goals and actions to guide future development and redevelopment in the city. It addresses a long-range vision for development, housing, environment, economic development, transportation, community facilities and services, and other related topics. It acts as a guidebook for decision-makers and is not a legally binding document. The Future Land Use Map within the comprehensive plan depicts the general character and land use that is appropriate throughout the city and its planning jurisdiction, and is used to inform City Council as it makes decisions about potential zoning changes.

The zoning map, zoning ordinance, and subdivision regulations are legal documents that define the land uses and the development characteristics allowed on a specific property within the city today. They also include the legally binding regulations that implement policies in the comprehensive plan.

How long will the project take?

The comprehensive rewrite of the zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations will take about two years to complete.

Who is managing the project?

The project is being conducted under the direction of the City’s Planning Department, with assistance from Clarion Associates and Planning NEXT.

Where can I get copies of the current regulations?

The Existing Documents tab provides links to the current zoning ordinance, subdivision regulations, and the downtown SmartCode.

Where can I find draft documents?

The Project Documents tab will include all draft materials that will be released during the project, including the presentation from the kickoff meeting held with Planning Commission on May 26, 2022.

How can I get involved?

Sign up for the project mailing list on the right side of this page to receive emails about upcoming events, the release of draft work products, and opportunities to comment on the drafts. This website also will be updated regularly to announce opportunities to review documents and provide your input.

The City’s existing zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations were last updated in 1985. The Downtown SmartCode was most recently updated in 2019 and adopted in 2007. Links to the current regulations are provided on the right.

Zoning Ordinance Module 1 Available for Review

A draft of the first module of the updated Zoning Ordinance is now available for public review. Let us know if you have comments or questions about this module.

Comments - First Module of Updated Zoning Ordinance - Aug. 24, 2023

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