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Zoning issues you may face when building a new home

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2023 | Land Use & Zoning

Building a new home is an exciting venture. It promises a fresh start, a space that truly reflects your tastes and needs. However, before you dive into this project in Harford County, Maryland, it is important to understand the potential zoning challenges that could arise.

Zoning laws regulate how and where individuals can build. Understanding these rules can help you plan better and avoid unexpected roadblocks.

Residential zones

Harford County has several residential zones, and each comes with its own set of requirements. From lot size to building height and setbacks from property lines, you must ensure your construction plans align with the designated zone for your property. Familiarizing yourself with the nuances of these zones will be important to avoid delays or redesigns.

Land use restrictions

Certain areas in Harford County may have land use restrictions due to environmental concerns or historical significance. For instance, if you buy property near a wetland or a historically significant site, there might be stringent regulations regarding construction. You will need to check if your property falls within any of these sensitive zones and understand the associated restrictions.

Accessory structures and uses

While your primary focus might be on the main house, if you plan to add accessory structures like a shed, garage or pool, you will need to be aware of the regulations governing these additions. Harford County’s zoning regulations detail the allowed size, location and number of accessory structures on residential properties. For example, in some residential districts, the size of the ADU cannot be larger than 50% of the square footage of the main home, or 1,000 square feet, whichever is larger. Additionally, the height of the ADU cannot be taller than the main home.

Parking and driveway regulations

You might have grand plans for a winding driveway or a multi-car garage, but be sure to check the zoning regulations first. Harford County has specific requirements about driveway width, the number of parking spots and even the type of surface you can use.

Public hearings and neighbor objections

If you wish to do something that does not align with the current zoning regulations, you might need to seek a variance or special exception. This process often involves public hearings where neighbors can voice their concerns or objections. Being aware of this process and preparing for potential community feedback can help streamline your construction journey.

By doing your research and ensuring your plans align with the county’s regulations, you can make your home-building journey smoother and more enjoyable. Remember, resources are available within the county’s planning and zoning department to help guide you through the process.