WHQC SMA Frequently Asked Questions

Does a change in zoning mean I am at risk of losing my property?

No. A sector plan is aspirational and outlines goals and makes recommendations for the future of a planning area over a 25-year period. Sector plans do not take any ownership away from or impose development mandates on residential property owners. If a property owner wants to redevelop a property after the County Council approves and adopts a sector plan and the sectional map amendment, then the new zoning rules would apply.

What are the implications of any zoning changes to a property as a result of this plan?

If the plan process recommends rezoning, that will happen at the very end of the plan through a legal update to the zoning map. Even if a property is rezoned, nothing can physically happen to the property unless the owner initiates a change (e.g., sale or redevelopment). Keep in mind that sector plans only produce recommendations for the future; no change can occur to a privately-owned property unless initiated by the owner.

What is a Sectional Map Amendment (SMA)?

A sectional map amendment (SMA) is a comprehensive rezoning amendment for properties within an entire geographic area, such as a subregion, planning area, or part of a planning area. The purpose of an SMA is to revise zoning patterns to conform to the recommendations of the applicable master or sector plan. SMAs are adopted for most plans with the exception of the general plan and functional master plans. An SMA is being done concurrently with this sector plan and will recommend zoning changes for specific properties to achieve the sector plan’s vision and goals.

How will I know if my property is recommended for a different zone?

If your property is recommended for rezoning through this plan and SMA, you will be notified through US mail. Plan recommendations are evaluated through:

  • A public hearing and comment period at the Planning Board,
  • Several months of Planning Board work sessions, then
  • A repeat of the public hearing, comment, and work session process at the County Council.
What is the relationship between this SMA and the Countywide Map Amendment?

The Countywide Map Amendment (CMA) will change the zoning of every property in the County, outside of the City of Laurel, to implement the County’s adopted 2018 Zoning Ordinance. This sector plan and SMA are proceeding under the expectation that the 2018 Zoning Ordinance and the CMA will take effect on April 1, 2022 while this plan and SMA are underway. The CMA will be in place by the time this plan is approved. Specific zoning changes beyond what is covered in the CMA are needed to create the sector plan at West Hyattsville.