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Frequently Asked Questions - Zoning 

The NEW Zoning Ordinace is now in effect!

1. Where can I find the zoning classification of my property?

The zoning of your property can be found on the official electronic zoning MCATLAS.ORG/ZONING.  You may also request the information through 311.  Please provide your name; daytime telephone number; email address and property location for which you are requesting a zoning classification. A representative from the Permitting Services Department will research your property and contact you with the requested information

2. Can I get a copy of my plat for my house?

A copy of the plat may be on file in our office.  You will need to complete an Information Request Form so the Department can Research the requested information.

3. I own property in Montgomery County.  Can I subdivide the property?

You must contact Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission for information on subdivision of property. The Department of Permitting Services does not regulate the subdivision process.

4. I need written confirmation of a Zoning classification or specific use for a property.  Will DPS provide a written statement?

Yes, please see the Zoning Confirmation Page for residential or commercial uses and properties.

5. My neighbor built a building I think is too close to my property and he didn't get a permit.  What can I do about it?

DPS investigates all questions about buildings without permits, building too close to property lines, buildings that exceed the height limits for the zone, and not building in accordance with approved plans. You can submit a complaint online. You can also file a complaint by calling 311. Please make sure you leave the address of the property, the issue you are complaining about and your name and telephone number if you wish us to contact you about the results of the investigation. You may request that your name be held confidential. You can also call and leave complaint information and not give your name however, we will be unable to contact you with the results of the investigation.

6. I want to put up a deck or a shed. How close to the property lines can it be?

The setbacks for your property depend on the zoning in which your property is located. The zoning of your property can be found on the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission website  The development standards (setbacks) for a shed or deck can be found on the Zoning Webpage.  If you would like to speak with a Zoning Specialist, one is available at the Department of Permitting Services during normal business hours or contact 311 and a Specialist will return your call.

7. Where can a fence be placed?

Fences that are 6.5 feet or less in height (and not on a property abutting a historic park) are not subject to setbacks.  The fence must be placed on the subject's property.  Fences on corner lots are also subject to additonal restricitons to prevent visual obsutructions.

8. Can I place a fence in an easement ?

Yes, if you have written permission from the easement holder.

Who to Contact :

  • Forest Conservation: MNCPPC
  • Stormdrain: MCDPS-ROW (public) or HOA (private)
  • Water/Sewer/WSSC: WSSC
  • PUE (Public Utility Easement): Power Company (PEPCO, BG&E, Potomac Edison), Washington Gas, Verizon, and/or Comcast
  • Stormwater Management: MC-DEP

9. If I live inside an incorporated Town, do I get a building permit from the Town government or from the County government?

If your property is located in one of the following incorporated Towns: Poolesville, Washington Grove, Laytonsville, Barnesville, Brookeville, then you must receive zoning approval from the town government and then come to DPS for a county building permit. All permits, plan reviews (other than zoning), and inspections will be conducted by the County government. Check this listing of Municipalities.

10. The community I live in has a homeowners association; do you require their approval before I can obtain a building permit?

If you live in Montgomery Village in Gaithersburg, Churchill/Waters Landing Town Sector in Germantown or Clarksburg Town Center, then the homeowners association (HOA) approval is required when you apply for a building permit. You must bring the HOA's written approval with you when applying for the permit. If your neighborhood has a HOA, it is suggested that you receive their approval and bring it with you when applying for the County Building permit.

11. I want to put up a deck or a shed. How close to the property lines can it be?

The setbacks for your property depend on the zoning in which your property is located. The development standards (setbacks) for a shed or deck can be found on the Zoning Webpage. You may also call 311 and a Specialist will return your call with the property information. information for you.

13. My neighbor is building a house (or addition, shed, porch etc.). Where can I go to see the plans?

You may request to see a copy of the plans from our office. You can submit a Request for Public Information online. You could also complete a Request For Information form and mail, fax or bring the form into our office. Requests for information are answered as quickly as possible.

14. When my neighbor gets a permit, how long do I have to appeal the permit?

You have 30 days from the date the permit it issued to apply for an appeal through the County Board of Appeals. The telephone number is 240-777-6600.

15. Where can I find information about operating a business from my home?

Section 59-3.3.3 of the Montgomery County Zoning Ordinance, has all the information concerning the types of home occupations.  See Home Occupations or Home Health Practitioner for additional information.

16. Can I keep horses on my property?

 If you live in an agricultural zone

  • For 1-2 horses, 2 acres;
  • For 3-10 horses, one acre per horse;
  • For more than 10 horses, an additional one-half acre per horse.

If you do not live in an agricultural zone, you need a Conditional Use from the Office of Zoning and Hearing Administration.

17. It looks like my neighbor has too many people living in his house. How many people can live in a house?

Any number of persons related by blood or marriage, or up to five unrelated persons living as a single housekeeping unit can live together in a home. Note: (Group Living may exceed 5 unrelated persons -see question 19 for group living definition).

18. What is a Group Living? Section 3.3.2

Group Living: A facility licensed, funded, certified, or registered by the State of Maryland or the County as required for group living or domiciliary care home offering residential accommodations, supervision, or assisted community living for the residents.  Group living may be classified as follows:

  • Dormitory
  • Independent Living Facility for Seniors or Persons with Disabilities
  • Personal Living Quarters
  • Residential Care Facility