Prince George's County Planning Department

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
March 28, 2016

What is the MIOZ? 

The MIOZ is an overlay zone that contains regulations concerning the use and development of land within three overlapping geographies in the vicinity of Joint Base Andrews.  These areas represent the Impact Areas for Safety, High Noise, and Height, and are codified in Impact Maps within Part 10C of the Prince George’s County Zoning Ordinance.

What is the MIOZMA?

MIOZMA stands for the Military Installation Overlay Zoning Map Amendment.  It refers to the process to apply the Military Installation Overlay Zone to the Impact Areas.

What are the Safety Zones?

These areas are the locations, other than the runway, where aircraft accidents are most likely to occur and where activities on the ground, such as the creation of smoke, dust or electromagnetic emissions can threaten the safety of flight operations.  The Safety Zones include a 3,000 foot area beyond the base runways at either end of the base and has the highest accident potential is the Clear Zone, the next 5,000 feet beyond the Clear zone is Accident Potential Zone 1, and 7,000 feet beyond APZ 1 is Accident Potential Zone 2. 

When will the MIOZ take effect?

Although the Military Installation Overlay Zone was approved by the District Council last November under CB-42-2015, it cannot be applied to properties in the Impact Area until the Military Installation Overlay Zoning Map Amendment is approved.  Staff estimates this approval in October 2016. 

Why do these regulations extend beyond the Clear Zone?

The impacts of, and to, flight operations extend beyond the Clear Zone. The risk posed from airport operations and the need to protect base operations from encroaching land uses cannot be fully addressed by simply regulating the Clear Zone.

What kind of accidents are possible in the Safety Zones?

The Safety Zones are areas of the highest risk for an aircraft accident. Aircraft may crash into each other, with potential debris impact on the ground; they may crash into occupied or unoccupied buildings; or, they may crash into the ground.

After all the development that has been allowed, why is this  legislation being proposed now?

The risks of air operations have been obvious to area residents since Joint Base Andrews opened in 1943. The Air Force issued the first Air Installation Compatible Use Zone Study for Joint Base Andrews in 1974. The County developed the I-4 Limited Intensity Industrial Zone in 1980, which was intended to protect against encroachment but was not applied uniformly within the Impact Areas.  Many of the incompatible uses that exist today could have been prevented had some regulation been put in place.  This legislation will help minimize future encroachments.  Also, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) has sought to close bases, or at the least, relocate critical operations to bases where encroachments are kept at a minimum.  Were this to occur at Joint Base Andrews, it could have significant impacts on national security and to the economy of Prince George’s County.

The MIOZ refers to the need to have a Use and Occupancy Permit. I  heard that such permits were not required for churches. Is this true?

A Use and Occupancy Permit has been required within Prince George’s County for non-residential, non-agricultural uses since the County first enacted a Zoning Ordinance on November 29, 1949. Use of land or a structure for a nonresidential or nonagricultural use without such a permit is illegal.

All the MIOZ make my use or structure nonconforming? Can a nonconforming use be replaced by the same use after the MIOZ is  enacted? Are uses prohibited by the MIOZ “grandfathered” in?

A “nonconforming” use, structure, or building is one that is not in conformance with a requirement of the zone or zones in which a property is located. Uses and structures may already be nonconforming to the requirements of their underlying zone but may be not nonconforming to the MIOZ.

The following are nonconforming to the MIOZ:

  • Existing uses in the High Intensity Noise Area on the Prohibited Use List under Requirements for Noise.
  • Existing uses in the Safety Zones on the Prohibited Use List under Requirements for Safety.
  • Structures that exceed the height limits under Requirements for Height
However, an existing use on the Prohibited Use Lists with a valid use and occupancy permit on the day the property is placed in the MIOZ may continue to operate and may get a new use and occupancy permit to change owners, names, or occupancy without triggering the provisions of the MIOZ. Such uses are exempt from the provisions of the MIOZ.

Are new churches allowed?

Churches and places of worship are allowed anywhere in Prince George’s County where zoning permits. Within the MIOZ, the following limitations apply:

  • Within Accident Potential Zones 1 and 2, new churches are limited to 80 seats or a maximum gross floor area of 6,000 square feet, whichever is greater.
  • Within the Clear Zone, the area of greatest risk to people on the ground, churches and places of worship are prohibited.

Why aren’t we restricting JBA activity instead of many of the prohibited uses in the MIOZ?

JBA, as well as other military installations, are under the authority of the Department of Defense and are not subject to state and local laws.

I live in a single-family home. The MIOZMA establishes height limits that may be as high as several hundred feet. How does this affect me and why am I being placed in this zone?

The Prince George’s County Zoning Ordinance establishes height limits for a variety of uses, including single-family homes. These are established in the Ordinance or through approval of a Specific Design Plan for some neighborhoods. Nearly all single-family homes in the MIOZ area are subject to an existing zoning restriction on the height of their homes of 35-50 feet. The height restriction applicable to your property is that which is most restrictive.

In most cases, the MIOZ height limit will not apply to your single-family home.

However, a significant number of uses, including most industrial and commercial uses, are permitted throughout the County without a height limit. These uses, and land zoned for these uses, is interspersed throughout the Impact Area. In addition, telecommunications facilities have a large height limit that may have permitted structures to intrude into the airspace.

By comprehensively identifying the maximum height to which structures or landfill may grow, the MIOZ creates a safety net that accounts for properties where the use may change and where the existing zoning regulations did not account for height.

The letter I received contained a reference to an affidavit requirement and the intensification of zoning. Can you provide more information?

The Zoning Ordinance allows the District Council to change the underlying, or base zoning of properties in the Safety Zones and the High Intensity Noise Areas. If you plan on testifying at the April 5, 2016 Public Hearing in support of the intensification of your zoning, you needed to complete a state ethics affidavit by the deadline contained in your notice letter.

How can stakeholders provide input?

There is an MIOZMA Outreach meeting scheduled for March 21, 2016 at 6:30 pm at ShowPlace Arena where stakeholders can get their questions answered and better understand the potential impact, if any, on their properties.  Also, the Proposed MIOZMA Joint Public Hearing scheduled for April 5th 2016 will give stakeholders an opportunity to provide written and oral testimony to the Planning Board and District Council. 

Stakeholders are advised that the MIOZMA process is the legal process through which Prince George’s County amends its Zoning Map to apply the MIOZ to properties. The District Council will act on the following issues before it:

  • Applying the MIOZ
  • Amending two Development District Overlay Zones whose current provisions conflict with the MIOZ
  • Rezoning underlying properties whose current underlying zoning conflict with the MIOZ or whose property owners have requested rezoning.

The regulations and use restrictions within the MIOZ are not the subject of this process. The Council cannot change the regulations and use restrictions within the MIOZ through this process.

What are the restrictions outside of the APZ’s?

Uses that typically have, or require, outdoor recreation associated with them are prohibited in the High Intensity Noise Area (above 74dB); residential uses are permitted but with soundproofing to 45dB under the noise requirements.  Height limits also exist throughout the MIOZ.

How can the zoning be seen at the “street” level?

At what point in the development approval process is a project considered “vested”?

A project is usually considered “vested” when footings are placed in the ground.
However, the MIOZ exempts the following permits:

  • Permits for changes in ownership, name, occupancy; with no change in use
  • Permits for any grading or infrastructure improvements
  • Permits for any public utility, or private utility for public use;
  • Permits for fences or walls;
  • Alterations requiring a permit of a minor nature pursuant to Sec 27-255©;
  • Areas in Prince George’s County defined by the 2009 Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility Washington Joint Land Use Study as Imaginary surfaces “C” (part of the Approach-Departure Clearance Surface) and “F” (Outer Horizontal Surface) are not subject to the provisions of the M-I-O Zone.
  • Permits issued pursuant to one of the following development approvals, provided that the application was approved prior to the date of classification of the property into the M-I-O Zone and the validity period for such approval has not expired:
    • A final plat of subdivision approved for single family detached residential development
    • A preliminary plan of subdivision for development not otherwise requiring a DSP
    • A special exception for development not otherwise requiring a DSP
    • A Detailed Site Plan; or a Specific Design Plan