The current Zoning Ordinance allows a myriad of floating zones. The draft zoning code introduces a completely new set of floating zones: Residential Floating zones, Commercial/Residential Floating zones, Employment Floating zones, and Industrial Floating zones. If applying for a floating zone on property in a commercial or mixed use zone, there are no prerequisites for an application and the maximum density allowed is based on the size of the tract and the pre-existing Euclidean zone. If applying for a floating zone on property in a Residential zone, the proposed development must meet a number of requirements. For instance:
-For a property in a Residential zone, if a developer wants to apply for a floating zone that increases density or includes commercial uses, the floating zone must be recommended in a master plan or the application must satisfy 6 out of 15 prerequisites in 3 different categories.
-In addition, if applying for a Townhouse Floating, Apartment Floating or CRN Floating zone, the zone must be recommended for the property in a master plan or the property must front on a nonresidential street or must abut or confront property in a Residential Townhouse, Residential Multi-Unit, Commercial/Residential, Employment, or Industrial zone. If applying for a CRT Floating, CR Floating, or Employment Floating zone, the zone must be recommended for the property in a master plan or the property must abut or confront property in a Commercial/Residential, Employment, or Industrial zone. If applying for an Industrial Floating zone, the zone must be recommended for the property in a master plan, or the subject property must abut a property in an Industrial zone. This means that these floating zones (Apartment Floating, Commercial/Residential Floating, Employment Floating, and Industrial Floating) cannot be applied for in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
-If an application satisfies the locational requirements and prerequisites, the County Council will consider the application. The Council must make specific findings before approving a floating zone such as whether the floating zone will conform with the master plan and be compatible with adjacent development (Section 8.2.1.E). These criteria are consistent with current rules. In addition, the limits on density are more restrictive than under the current floating zones, and there are new height and screening restrictions for many buildings.
-For context, the existing code, under certain circumstances, also allows R-60 and R-90 zones to be rezoned to numerous floating zones with a myriad of non-residential uses. The C-T, O-M, TS-R, TS-M, and PD zones, for example, are all floating zones that allow commercial uses and higher densities and that have been approved on residential property.
-The current code rarely requires the specific recommendation of a master plan as the sole method for a successful Local Map Amendment application (LSC, RS and Mineral Resource Recovery); the draft rewrite never requires a master plan recommendation. Of the more than 20 currently mapped floating zones, only one requires a master plan recommendation (the RS zone). A master plan recommendation may facilitate the Local Map Amendment (floating zone approval) process, but it is not a statutory requirement.