Variances and Departures


Please email applications to Marianne Baird at or mail your completed application, with check payable to the City of Bowie to: 

City of Bowie Planning Department
15901Fred Robinson Way
Bowie, MD 20716

All visits to the office are by appointment only, by calling 301-809-3047. If you have any questions please call 301-809-3047 or email Joe Meinert, Planning Director.

What is a Variance?

A variance is a mechanism to obtain relief from the strict application of certain requirements such as building height, building setback, and yard requirements. They are appropriate in situations where strict conformance would result in unusual practical difficulties or undue hardship for the owner of the property. For example, a lot might be so narrow as to make it impossible to observe the side yard setback requirements when building a home. 

The City Council is authorized to grant variances upon a recommendation from the Bowie Advisory Planning Board. The County Planning Board and District Council are also authorized to grant variances associated with development applications on which they take the final action. 

New Planning Director Variance Administrative Request (PDVAR)

The Planning Director may issue a variance in uncontested cases and cases where the variance requested is of a minimal nature, where in the judgment of the Planning Director the applicant otherwise satisfies the criteria for the grant of a variance.


What is a Departure?

A departure grants relief from the strict application of requirements for:

(1) the design of parking and loading facilities;

(2) the number of parking and loading spaces;

(3) sign regulations; and

(4) landscaping, buffering, and screening requirements of the County Landscape Manual.

The City Council is authorized to grant departures upon a recommendation from the Advisory Planning Board. Click here to download the departure application.