Bay Ridge is a unique community. Its proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and delightful features, such as mature trees, beaches, and the “Big Woods,” are prime attractions for those who live here. For residents who want to modify their properties, here are some basic guidelines from county regulations and the BRCA policy on zoning.

County Regulations

You can get specific information on the county’s requirements by calling the Office of Planning & Zoning at 410-222-7430 or by reviewing the county’s zoning (Article 27) and subdivision (Article 26) codes on the County’s website, www.aacounty.org, and at local public libraries.

Please note: many county rules change if a property is waterfront, a corner lot, or “nonconforming” – that is, if it has some aspect that does not meet current code. All new construction or modifications should conform to the zoning and subdivision code provisions now applicable to Bay Ridge’s R2 zoning.

Some basic home renovation projects do not require a permit but most do. Please check with the permit center before beginning a project. You may also want visit “Is a building permit required?” www.aacounty.org/IP/PAC.index.cfm section of the Permit Application Center’s web page.

For more information, visit or call the county’s Permit Application Center:

Heritage Office Complex
2664 Riva Road
Annapolis, MD 21401

BRCA Zoning Policies

The BRCA has a long tradition of land use advocacy in the community. The BRCA position on land use is directed at the long-term preservation of the physical character, quality and residential use of Bay Ridge. Through this policy, we seek to:

  • Support the zoning and subdivision ordinances and critical areas
  • Support Anne Arundel County legislation and maintain the low density, single-family, residential character of our community
  • Assure the bulk and density of construction within Bay Ridge conform to county rules
  • Preserve and enhance existing open space and pervious surface
  • Encourage preservation of our streetscapes and the community’s historic character
  • Protect the forest & wetlands commonly known as the Big Woods.

The BRCA has adopted the following policy that is administered by the BRCA Board through the BRCA Zoning Committee:

The BRCA encourages property owners to construct and improve their properties in a manner consistent with the county’s rules and will generally oppose:

1) Variance applications except those necessitated by proven disability.

2) Applications for special exceptions.

3) Development of the Big Woods. This policy will be administered through the BRCA Board and/or Zoning Committee. All property owners are encouraged to contact the Committee with any questions they have regarding land use.


Almost all Bay Ridge is within the critical area 1,000 feet or less from tidal water (lake, river, bay or inlet) and law requires that, if you cut a tree down, you must replace it with a native species. The county maintains a list of acceptable planting options. For more information about tree removal and replacement regulations, contact the county’s Office of Environmental and Cultural Resources (OECR).


If you have property within 100 feet of water (the buffer zone), you can maintain existing landscaping (cut grass, prune hedges), but you can’t cut or radically prune trees (even dead ones) or clear thickets without a county-approved buffer management plan. This county requirement applies even if there’s a road between your property and the water. Buffer management concerns impose a responsibility on BRCA and its residents to carefully protect the ecological health of the community-owned common property comprised of the big woods, the beaches, walking paths and the bluffs and waterfront areas. For information on the county’s buffer management regulations, call OECR, 410-222-7441.


As owner of all the land between mean high tide and the County roads River Drive and Bay Drive, BRCA has an approved Buffer Management Plan.  Under the BMP we are allowed to mow up, BUT NOT SEAWARD OF, the green-dashed line demarcated the River Drive Portion of the BMP. Thus, residents of River Drive are cautioned not to mow beyond the green line in the exhibits at that previous link.  Likewise, residents along Bay Drive are asked not to mow seaward of a line one foot back from the crest of the hillside of Bay Drive, and allow BRCA to mange vegetation on the slope in compliance with the Bay Drive Portion of the BMP.


This refers to land covered with material that will not allow water to seep through, such as a house, driveway or concrete patio.

Anne Arundel County has strict rules governing the amount of impervious surface area allowed on a residential site. Driveway gravel and similar materials are deemed to be impervious. Common gardening enhancements like stone paths also raise impervious surface concerns. Before you add impervious material to your property, please call the county’s Office of Planning & Zoning at 410-222-7430.

Questions about land use?

CONTACT BRCA Here’s some information about critical buffer areas and why protecting them is important.