Ordinance Spotlight: New veterinarians and Veterinary hospital zoning exceptions (Charles County,MD)
Today we are highlighting an ordinance from Charles County, Maryland.
Recently the Charles County Board of Commissioners introduced Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) #21-162. This ordinance would allow veterinarians and Veterinary hospitals to be located in the county’s Central Business Zones. In Charles County, a Central Business Zone is defined as one that provides appropriate locations for “high-intensity commercial uses and encourages development consistent with a traditional downtown area.” The county’s” Central Business (CB) Zoning District is roughly 661 acres of land. Locations of CB zoned properties in Charles County are illustrated on the map below.
The legislation states that the minimum area of the veterinary hospital lot needs to be no more than ½ acre in size. As for locations, the hospitals will need to be, at a minimum, 75 feet from any road or street and no less than 125 feet from the nearest home. In addition, the Veterinary hospital or veterinarian should be at least 125 feet from the nearest dwelling in HVC and HVG zones.
For those unfamiliar with zoning in Charles County, HVC and HVG zones relate to subzones established that together form the entirety of the Hughesville Village District. Hughesville is a city in Charles County.
Charles County code states that Hughesville Village Core (HVC) is a subzone created to:
Meet the retail and commercial service needs of area residents;
Create a safe and walkable environment with attractive streetscapes and storefronts that contribute to a lively and safe public space along Old Leonardtown Road.
Promote building forms that enhance the village’s character and are oriented to the public streets and/or public open spaces.
Promote commercial architecture whose design ensures that all sides are visually interesting.
Provide for village-scaled, single-family development along new neighborhood streets with pedestrian and vehicular connections to Old Leonardtown Road.
The Hughesville Village Gateway (HVG) subzone shares identical goals as the HVC but distinct goals. HVGs are to:
Create attractive entrances to Hughesville on Old Leonardtown Road and MD Route 231 through thoughtful design and landscaping of property frontages.
Allow uses of a larger scale and with deeper front setbacks than in the Core Subzone, to complement existing conditions along MD Route 231 and the northern portion of Old Leonardtown Road.
The Planning Commission staff report noted the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) findings that Veterinarian jobs are expected to increase 16% from 2019-2029. A growing pet population has driven the job growth for Veterinarians at a rate three times faster than the national average. There is also a sizeable aging pet population that will require the services of a veterinarian. The report claims that these changing trends reflect the community’s desire, need for, and expectation of access to veterinary services in the county’s urban area.