Critical Areas

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Baltimore Critical Area Management Program


The State of Maryland requires that the City of Baltimore and other jurisdictions prepare and adopt a Critical Area Management Program (CAMP) to:

  1. Improve the water quality of the Bay by controlling pollution from stormwater runoff and;
  2. To conserve and protect wildlife habitat along the shoreline of the Bay.

Requirements and Standards for Critical Area Review

The CAMP establishes guidelines for development of properties within the first 1,000-foot of land measured from the mean high tide line along the shoreline or bulkhead.   Development in the Critical Area is subject to Critical Area review and requirements each time one or more of the following public actions occurs:

  1. Building/Grading Permit
  2. Rezoning
  3. Zoning Variance
  4. Conditional Use/ Special Exception
  5. Subdivision
  6. Other City, State, and Federal project requirements

After a preliminary review, Department of Planning staff will determine if a project is considered “significant”.  The following actions are “significant development” and require a full review and notification of the Critical Area Commission, and must meet the City’s CAMP requirements:

  1. Any disturbance in the Buffer;
  2. Any disturbance in a Habitat Protection Area (HPA);
  3. Development in the Resource Conservation Area (RCA) resulting in 5,000 sq. ft. or more of disturbance;
  4. Development in the Intensely Developed Area (IDA) resulting in 10,000 sq. ft. or more of disturbance;
  5. Substantial alteration to applications previously submitted to the Critical Area Commission; or
  6. Improvements to an existing structure that are estimated to be greater than 50% of the base full cash value of the property.

Disturbance is defined as breaking the soil. Only significant development is subject to the CAMP requirements.  Development may be determined to be significant when the cumulative impact of development of a site over time reaches the threshold of significant development.

The City’s CAMP is established as an overlay zone within the Baltimore City Zoning Code under Title 8 Subtitle 3, which establishes definitions, use restrictions, and administrative processes for conditional uses and variances within the Critical Area.  The requirements for significant development projects in the Critical Area can be found in the City’s 2002 Critical Area Management Program Manual, which is supplemented by the 2011 Draft Critical Area Management Program Manual, which contains updated state requirements for Buffer Mitigation calculations.

Additional Resources

Contact Information

JaLeesa Tate, Coastal Resources Planner
417 E. Fayette Street, 8th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202