Kent County Government - Planning, Housing, and Zoning

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What do I need for a building permit and how long does it take to get a permit?
A. It is best to allow up to two weeks for a permit. Permits are reviewed by the Health Department, Planning and Zoning, the Building Inspector and other agencies where applicable.

For a building permit form, click here.

Q. Do I need a permit for a shed on skids?
A. Yes. A shed 200 square feet and under does not require inspections. Sheds over 200 square feet must have a permanent foundation and require plan review and inspections.

Q. Can I start construction prior to receiving approval and a permit?
A. No. Allow at least two weeks to get a permit.

Q. Can I store an untagged vehicle on my property?
A. Vehicles, campers and boats must have a current license or be stored in a garage or shed.

Q. What is the 100-Year Flood?
A. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the "100-Year Flood" designation does not refer to a flood that occurs once every 100 years. It means a flood of that level has at least a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year.

Q. Is my property in the 100-Year Floodplain?
A. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has prepared maps indicating the approximate locations of the 100-Year and 500-Year floodplain. These maps are available in the Department of Planning and Zoning. To determine if your property or the structures on your property are in the floodplain, we can assist you in the following ways:

Visit us at the Department of Planning and Zoning in the County Government Center, 400 High Street, Chestertown, MD 21620

Call us at (410) 778-7423 or fax us at (410) 810-2932. Please have available your name, address, tax map, parcel number, lot number if applicable, and the distance of your home from the nearest road and waterway;

E-mail the Planning Department at sadams@kentgov.org. Please include the property owner's name, property address, tax map, and parcel number. We will return your e-mail with your floodplain designation based on the information submitted.

Q. What is the population of Kent County?
A. 2000 Census - Kent County – 19,197; Chestertown – 4,796; Galena – 428; Millington – 416; Betterton – 376; Rock Hall – 1,396

2005 Maryland Department of Planning estimate - Kent County – 19,899

For additional information concerning population projections, land use, or housing and population characteristics, contact the Department of Planning and Zoning.

Q. What is the critical area buffer and may I clear the buffer for a view?
A. The critical area buffer is a naturally vegetated area, or an area established in vegetation and managed to protect aquatic, wetland, shoreline, and terrestrial environments from man-made disturbances. The buffer is a minimum of 100 feet and includes slopes of 15% or more, hydric soils, and highly erodible soils. The buffer is expanded 4 feet for every 1% of slope, if the slope is over 15%, or to the top of the slope, whichever is greater in extent. The buffer is measured horizontally from mean high tide, edge of tidal wetlands, or tributary streams.

The critical area buffer may not be cleared for a view. Natural vegetation within the buffer shall be preserved and protected unless one of the following apply:

  • A permit or plan is approved
  • An approved forest harvest plan is followed
  • Individual trees may be cut for personal use provided this cutting does not impair the water quality of existing habitat value or other function of the buffer. Trees shall be replaced on an equal basis for each tree cut.
  • Trees which are leaning over the water may be cut, but stumps and roots shall not be disturbed.
  • The disturbance provides access for water-dependent facilities or shore erosion protection structures.
  • Landowners may treat trees and shrubs to maintain or improve their health.
  • Sanitation, salvage, or other timber cutting practices may be performed under a forest management plan or to prevent an immediate threat to life or property. These lands shall be replanted or forest cover allowed to regenerate.

Vegetation in the buffer removed for reasons listed above shall be re-established over the entire disturbed area during the next planting season at a rate of 2:1. These plantings shall be approved by the Department of Planning and Zoning. In addition, Article VI, Section 9 of the Land Use Ordinance shall be followed exactly.

Natural vegetation removed for an approved purpose shall be in accordance with an approved buffer management plan. Click here for a buffer management plan form.

Q. I own a piece of waterfront property and want to expand my existing home, which is located within the Critical Area 100 foot buffer. Is this allowed?

A. According to the Kent County Land Use Ordinance, the expansion of dwellings existing as of April 12, 1988 which are located in the minimum 100-foot buffer may be expanded if the property is located in area with a modified buffer and the expansion meets the criteria:

  • All opportunities for expansion outside of the minimum 100-foot buffer are exhausted.
  • New construction is not closer to mean high tide of the edge of tidal wetlands than the existing dwelling or the average line of neighboring properties.
  • An area of natural vegetation equal to 3 times the footprint of the expansion shall be planted in the 100-foot buffer. If there is not enough area in the buffer to accommodate the required planting, the required planting shall occur on the same property.

Additions which are located outside the 100 foot buffer may be permitted if the addition complies with all other applicable regulations. You may also want to contact the Kent County Health Department (410) 778-1361 to discuss enlarging your home.

Q. What are my setbacks?
A. The setback requirement varies depending on your zoning classification, road adjacency, and in some cases, a building envelop established through the platting of a subdivision.

To find out your setbacks, phone our office at (410)-778-7475, fax at 410-810-2932 or e-mail the Planning Department at sadams@kentgov.org. Please be sure to include your name, address, tax map, parcel number and lot number so we can find your property on the zoning maps.

Q. What is my zoning?
A. The zoning on your property depends on the property's location. To find the zoning of your property, we can help you in several different ways:

Visit the Department of Planning and Zoning at 400 High Street in Chestertown;
Call us at (410) 778-7423 or fax us at (410) 810-2932.

If you have the 911 address, name, tax map, and parcel number, we can tell you the property's zoning over the phone;

E-mail us at sadams@kentgov.org. Please include the property owner's name, property address, tax map, and parcel number. We will return your e-mail with your zoning based on the information submitted.

Q. I believe I've found a violation of the Land Use Ordinance and I'd like to file a complaint.
A. To report a violation, you may call our office at (410) 778-7475, fax us at (410) 810-2932 or e-mail us at sadams@kentgov.org. Be sure to include the location of the property and a description of the activity occurring on the property. Please remember that we will keep a printed copy of complaints received by e-mail and therefore the complaint will not be anonymous.

When we receive a complaint, an inspector is assigned to visit the site and to determine if a violation exists. If a violation exists, the inspector contacts the property owner and begins enforcement of the ordinance. In some cases, while the activity on the property may be annoying or unattractive, it does not always violate the ordinance. In that case, the property owners must work out the issues privately.


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