Finally, the much awaited revised draft of the Baltimore City Zoning Code has been released under the name “TransForm 2.0”.  The effort to rewrite the Zoning Code was instigated by the Department of Planning in 2008.  The first version of the draft was released in June of 2010 and the first draft of the zoning maps was released in November of last year.

By now, most of us have heard that the City’s Department of Planning is proposing a major overhaul to the Zoning Code.  The current version was written in 1971, and all seem to acknowledge that the existing Code is overly complex and outdated. 

By its nature, the existing Code encourages development styles that are now disfavored and arguably detrimental.  For example, the existing regulations encourage the separation of uses whereas today it seems you constantly hear buzz acronyms such as “PUDs” and “TODs”.

Of course another big topic of late is the greening of development and a focus on sustainability.  You may be aware that Baltimore City adopted its Sustainability Master Plan back in 2008.  The elements of that plan have been incorporated into this new draft of the Zoning Code.

TransForm 2.0 focuses on four main goals with the first being to simplify the zoning, development and code administration processes.  Second, and maybe one of the most exciting changes, the new Code will list broad generic category of uses for the various districts.  In contrast, the existing Code follows the exclusionary zoning format – meaning if a use isn’t listed it isn’t permitted.  Third, TransForm 2.0 stresses the desire to reuse existing buildings and create walkable communities.  Last, the new draft focuses on improving design via new design standards and guidelines -- stressing better site design and greener landscaping.

Comments on Version 2.0 are being accepted until at least December 1st of this year.  A series of informational meetings has already begun, and of course formal public hearings will occur once the new Zoning Code is introduced as legislation before the City Council.  Complete information on this topic can be found at the City’s website – www.rewritebaltimore.org.