(1) Background

Zoning is the legal power of government to regulate the use of private property for the purpose of protecting public health, safety and welfare. It is one of the police powers of the State of Maryland. In Prince George's County, this power is delegated to and exercised by the County Council, sitting as the District Council. The link between planning and zoning is critical. Legally defensible zoning controls are based upon sound planning principles as set forth in adopted and approved plans. Zoning based upon arbitrary opinion or the pressures of vested interests is neither legal nor appropriate.

The Prince George's County Zoning Ordinance is part of the County Code. It describes the various zones, lists the uses permitted in each zone, specifies densities and sets forth the procedures to change the zones. The ordinance establishes standards for the location of structures, building heights, setback and other area requirements. Zoning categories allow residential, commercial or industrial uses at varying densities or intensities. Some of the more recently adopted zones permit a mix of compatible land uses, subject to certain standards.