Current Planning Programs
Baldwin County Planning and Zoning Department staff develop long range, comprehensive land use plans and implements zoning and subdivision regulations in unincorporated Baldwin County. These land development programs strive to ensure that the rich quality of life enjoyed by citizens of Baldwin County today will be maintained, if not enhanced for future generations.
On August 8, 1991, the Baldwin County Planning and Zoning Act (Act No. 91-719) was passed by the Alabama State Legislature. This legislation and its subsequent amendments provide the basic framework for the County’s growth management activities. Specifically, the Act:
- authorized the development of the Baldwin County Planning and Zoning Commission and Boards of Adjustment;
- allowed the County Commission to create planning districts within the unincorporated areas of the County;
- allowed zoning within planning districts that vote their desire to come under County planning and zoning authority;
- required the development and maintenance of a "master plan" for the use and development of unincorporated Baldwin County.
Zoning is an important tool used by communities to help bring comprehensive master plans into reality. The fundamental purpose of zoning is to guide growth and development in an orderly fashion so as to protect public health, safety, and general welfare by encouraging the use of lands and natural resources in accordance with their character and adaptability. Zoning works by dividing an area into agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial zones. Zoning regulates the use of buildings, structures and land to be used for trade, industry, residence or other purposes by specifying which uses are permitted in each zone. For instance, most industrial uses would not be permitted in an area zoned for residential use. In this way, zoning serves to protect property values.
Zoning ordinances establish standards for the size and placement of buildings on the land. This is accomplished through regulations that specify the maximum height of buildings, the amount of land that may be covered by buildings, street setback lines and the minimum size of yards and other open space. This helps to prevent overcrowding of the land. Zoning ordinances also regulate the type, location, and size of signs and parking lots in commercial areas.
Zoning requirements are laid out in two documents: the zoning map and the zoning ordinance. The zoning map simply shows the boundaries of the agricultural, residential, commercial and industrial districts. The zoning ordinance refers to the local law containing the zoning requirements. Zoning regulations are administered and enforced by the Zoning Administrator who is appointed by the County Commission.