What are Growth Tiers and how are the relevant to zoning and residential density?

In response to the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012, Senate Bill 236 (a.k.a. Septic Bill) the Board of County Commissioners adopted the Growth Tier Map on April 25, 2017. The Growth Tier Map divides the county into four tiers based on existing and/or planned sewerage service and planned growth areas. This is relevant because there are certain requirements and restrictions on permitted residential density based on a parcel’s location within the Growth Tier Map. 

In Tier IV, those areas planned for agricultural/resource protection, preservation, or conservation, only minor residential subdivisions are permitted (seven lots or fewer). In Tier III, areas not planned for public sewerage service, the Planning Commission must hold at least one public hearing prior to approval of a major residential subdivision (greater than seven lots). In Tier II, areas planned to be served by public sewerage service, only minor residential subdivisions (seven or fewer lots) are permitted if the development is not connected to public sewerage service. In Tier I, areas with existing public sewerage service, development will be served by public sewerage systems.

An example of why this is significant is the reconfigured Residential District areas in the vicinity of Prince Frederick Town Center in the draft zoning map, which are predominantly a mix of Tier II and Tier III areas. The Residential District has a permitted residential density with the purchase of Transferable Development Rights of four dwelling units per acre. But the ability to achieve maximum density permitted is dependent upon the ability to create smaller lots, which is only possible with connection to sewerage service. So, for instance, for the parcels located in Tier III areas, like those along German Chapel Road, the parcels north of Prince Frederick, and the parcels east of Prince Frederick, because these areas are not planned for sewerage service minimum lot areas would be 30,000 square feet (roughly 2/3 of an acre), and a residential density of four dwelling units per acre cannot be achieved with minimum lot areas of that size.

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1. Why is the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance being updated?
2. Why is the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance Update process happening before the St. Leonard Master Plan Update and the updates to the other Town Center Master Plans?
3. What changes are being proposed for St. Leonard Town Center?
4. What is the Waterfront Community District (WCD)? Why has the WCD been proposed as part of the Zoning Ordinance update?
5. Why has the Waterfront Community District (WCD) been delineated the way it has been in the draft Zoning Map? Why is the WCD not limited strictly to waterfront properties?
6. Will the Waterfront Community District (WCD) cause property taxes to increase? Will it affect homeowner’s insurance? Will it make me change the deed to my property?
7. Will the Waterfront Community District (WCD) lead to more restrictions when making modifications to properties or dwellings?
8. Will the proposed Zoning Ordinance Update result in houses being built on tiny lots?
9. What are the differences in allowable residential density between districts?
10. What happened to the policy which allows for an increase in permitted residential densities within the one-mile radius/perimeter of town centers?
11. What are Growth Tiers and how are the relevant to zoning and residential density?
12. What type of development can be built in each zoning district?
13. How can we properly comment on draft Articles 4 through 8 without knowing the allowable uses?
14. How are the use tables changing between the current vs. draft Zoning Ordinance?
15. What do the acronyms represent on the Draft Zoning Map?
16. What are the differences between the Farm and Forest District (FFD) and Rural Community District (RCD)?
17. Why is there no longer a Wetlands District in the proposed draft zoning?
18. How will the proposed draft zoning districts effect a property that is also an Agricultural Preservation District?
19. What are the reasons and possible consequences of the proposed Industrial Districts in the area around Lusby?
20. Are there any new Residential District zones in the area around Lusby and Solomons? If so, what are the reasons and possible consequences?
21. Is it possible to publish a version of the proposed zoning ordinance update in black line so that the public can easily identify the suggested revisions on the County’s website?
22. How will the text amendment process be impacted by the Zoning Ordinance Update?
23. Is there a glossary of terms for those unfamiliar with the terminology used in the draft Zoning Ordinance?
24. Is there a mailing list to sign up for in order to keep informed about the Zoning Update process?
25. Are there regulations in the Floodplain Article that protect the environment?
26. Are there regulations in the Zoning Ordinance that protect streams outside of the Critical Area?
27. Is the new Zoning Ordinance going to change the residential density permitted in the Critical Area?
28. What studies were performed before the Floodplain and Critical Area articles were developed? Do they consider the impact of rising water levels?