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Turner & Hawkins: 50-Year-Old Zoning Law Update Moves Prince George’s Forward map.

By Todd M. Turner and Calvin S. Hawkins II

The writers are members of the Prince George’s County Council. Turner represents the 4th Council District and was the council chair in 2019 and 2020. Hawkins is the council member at-large and serves as council chair in 2021.

The Prince George’s County Council has maintained as a top priority, advancing the county’s new zoning ordinance and countywide map amendment. On Nov. 29, in its final legislative session of 2021, the county council unanimously adopted Council Resolution-136-2021, approving the countywide map amendment and completing a seven-year, multimillion-dollar effort to modernize the county’s 50-year-old zoning ordinance.

This was the final step in a process that worked to ensure fairness, equity, transparency and inclusion countywide, with over 400 community meetings, thousands of written comments, and considerable council review and public input, engaging three county councils and two county executives.

The process began with the 2014 council adoption of Plan 2035 — the County’s General Plan. The county and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission embarked on updating the county’s zoning and subdivision ordinances. Two earlier attempts were unsuccessful. The county council adopted a new zoning ordinance in 2018, following more than four years of community, stakeholder and consultant input, however the new zones required an adopted CMA for implementation. In 2019, the council authorized M-NCPPC to prepare a CMA, the process to place all properties in the county into one of the new zones most equivalent to its existing zone.

Due to COVID-19 and declared states of emergency, a scheduled in-person joint public hearing on the CMA was postponed in March 2020, and in November 2020, a rescheduled virtual joint public hearing was also postponed, this time to seek state legislation to ensure compliance with the state ethics law. During the 2021 Maryland General Assembly session, state lawmakers passed HB-980, amending the state ethics law and permitting the CMA process to proceed to completion.

Prince George’s County Councilmembers Todd M. Turner (left) and Calvin S. Hawkins III.

The county council and M-NCPPC conducted two days of virtual public hearings in September 2021, which included nearly 100 witnesses and more than 350 exhibits containing over 8,000 pages.

The county council, with adoption of CR-136-2021, approved M-NCPPC rezoning recommendations consistent with HB-980 for over 300,000 County properties on 319,000 acres of land.

The long-awaited new zoning ordinance, effective April 1, 2022, will apply nationwide best practices that streamline the development review process, making it simpler and more user-friendly; allow for greater public input; maximize smart growth economic development; and advance a sustainable environment to achieve a competitive edge in the region. The number of existing zones in the county has been reduced from 73 to 43, and the number of uses from several thousand to several hundred, to achieve uniformity in zoning throughout the county.

We thank our past and current council colleagues, our legislative branch staff, the M-NCPPC Planning Board and staff, County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks, former County Executive Rushern L. Baker, the Prince George’s State Senate and House delegations, and our residents and other stakeholders for their invaluable hard work, contributions and commitment to participating in this process and bringing us to this defining moment.

We look forward to the implementation of the county’s 21st century zoning ordinance over the next several years, and to the many critical economic development opportunities it will present for our communities and residents.

To learn more about the new zoning ordinance and countywide map amendment process, please visit


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Turner & Hawkins: 50-Year-Old Zoning Law Update Moves Prince George’s Forward