Eastern Shore Land Conservancy


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Conserve, steward, and advocate for the unique rural landscape of the Eastern Shore.

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Queen Anne’s County Comprehensive Update


Last week Queen Anne’s County began an update of its zoning code. This is a good practice that Eastern Shore Land Conservancy tracks after a county or municipality has updated its comprehensive plan (as Queen Anne’s County did in 2022). Counties are required to update their comprehensive plan every decade, and the public is usually heavily involved in the comprehensive planning process, with countless public meetings, hearings, and task forces. But until the priorities of the new comprehensive plan make it into a county’s zoning code, they won’t reliably shape the projects of the future. If a county spends 18 months building a pro-conservation and smart-growth-centric comprehensive plan, but doesn’t then take the steps necessary to update their zoning code, conservation and smart growth will be hemmed in by outdated zoning rules. The zoning code and comprehensive plan must support one another.


One common issue ESLC pays attention to is the diversity of housing within a county or town. Rather than offering only single-family detached homes, a healthy community will offer a variety of housing (townhouses, cottages, duplexes, small-scale apartment buildings etc.) that suits a variety of people, incomes, and living situations. In order to address these community housing needs, the state of Maryland now requires a new “Housing Element” to be included in all comprehensive plan updates. Still, no matter how robust the “housing element,” an out-of-date zoning ordinance can end up hindering efforts and favoring the development of single-family homes rather than other housing options that better suit the community.


Queen Anne’s comprehensive update will be a long process that is estimated to take two years. Residents will have many opportunities to provide public comment. First the Queen Anne’s Planning staff will review the existing code and the comprehensive plan and make recommendations to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission will then review the recommendations in a public meeting. Public comments can be made on the record either in person at the meeting, or via letter. After the review and collection of comments, the Planning Commission will vote to make a recommendation to the County Commissioners.  


In the next step in the process, the County Commissioners will review the Planning Commission’s recommendations and discuss them in a public meeting where again comments can be made in person or via letter to the commissioners. Within the comprehensive zoning code update the county will include new state and federal regulations; social, economic, and environmental changes; and deficiencies, ambiguities, and contradictions between the code and the comprehensive plan.  


Watch the July 13th QAC Planning Commission Meeting here.

Check out former meeting agendas here and here.

And stay tuned with ESLC for further updates! 


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