Friends of Harford Scorecard, Update March 2021

View the lastest Harford County Council legislative “scorecard” provided by Friends of Harford. Stay tuned for updates on land use legislation and track how your County Council representative voted! 

Highlights:

Bill 21-001 Community Solar Energy Generating System (CSEGS)

Sponsor: Council President Vincenti for County Executive Glassman
Adds CSEGS to Zoning Code definition as a principal use of sun for electric power generation

  • Added as a Special Development where Director of Planning & Zoning has sole authority to allow
  • Limits to 2 megawatts of capacity (AC)
  • Not allowed in AG
  • Not allowed in Natural Resource District or Chesapeake Bay Critical area
  • All residential has acreage limitations and added buffering
  • Allowed in all business, commercial and industrial districts with current buffers
  • Required decommissioning to original land with a payment to the County of 115% of anticipated cost for the
    entirety of the use For more Information

FOH: Opinion: A Special Exception rather than a Special Development should be required for approval to allow neighbors the opportunity to weigh in on the use. This use should be allowed in the AG District.

Amendments introduced by Councilman Wagner and sponsored by all County Council members.

New Definition- Viewshed as an area of land, water or other environmental element that is visible from a fixed
vantage point, in context with historic preservation. Viewsheds may be described as areas of particular scenic or historic value that are deemed worthy of preservation from impacts resulting from development or other
forms of change.

Replaces uses and districts with the following:
• Requires the use to be a Special Exception (not a Special Development)
• GI District will be a permitted use and not require a Special Exception
• Removes parcel size limitations
• Increases structure location to 250′ from offsite dwelling unit from 200′
• Adds that no location will be within the Viewshed of a property listed on Harford County Historical list.
• Site shall avoid visual corridors that are scenic Viewsheds or areas. Shall not be located within 1 mile
on either side of any designated scenic by-way on any County or State maintained road.
• Increases time for restoration of site for decommissioning from 6 to 12 months.
• Increases bond, surety, letter of credit or other financial assurance from 115% to 125% of anticipated
cost of removal.
Vote was unanimous in approval of all amendments.

View Scorecard

Friends of Harford Legislative Input- Bill 21-001 Solar Energy

Friends of Harford President, Stephanie Flasch, provided input for Bill 21-011 during the February 2, 2021 County Council Meeting. Remarks below.

RE:  FOH Supports Bill 21-001 Solar Energy with Amendments

Friends of Harford (FOH) is dedicated to advocating for responsible land use policies and practices that reduce environmental impacts. We commend the County’s legislative efforts for alternative energy initiatives.  Bill 21-001, Solar Energy, is an opportunity to enact small scale clean energy sources but must be amended to reduce negative impacts on Harford County’s landscape so the legislation is a win, win for all.

FOH reviewed solar energy best practices, HarfordNext Environmental Stewardship and Community Planning Areas chapters, plus solar energy legislation in effect in other Maryland Counties to evaluate the Solar Energy bill.  FOH requests the following amendments:

  • Define Power and Regenerative Plants, Harford County’s large scale solar projects permitted in GI district.   The definition can clarify the difference between large scale solar utilities and the Community Solar Energy Generating Systems (CSEGS) as an accessory or small-scale solar development.  The language in the both definitions need to identify key differences. Development Standards B (8) allows up to 3 CSEGS on one parcel;  how  is this different from large scale solar projects?
  • Change Permitted Use from a Special Development (SD) to a Special Exception (SE).  Allowing the community and adjacent property owners the ability to provide feedback on the impacts proposed to their property or community. The county has no experience with a small scale solar accessories in the designated zoning, therefore a Special Exception would at least potentially allow neighbors to help set site-specific requirements to protect themselves, or if necessary, to stop the project.  An SD denies both possibilities.
  • Solar developments should not exclude Agricultural districts. Agricultural protections can be designed to address different developmental-related risks.    For example, sitings prohibited in Rural Legacy Areas, on land under conservation or preservation easement plus a two-mile buffer from designated Scenic Byways in the County.  These type of restrictions assist in preserving the local heritage, the scenic views, and protect against the detraction of events held in agricultural areas.  The addition of the Agricultural District allows a Use that does not destroy valuable land with permanent development. 
  • Incorporate The Department of Natural Resources guidance on Solar Site Pollinator Habitat designations into Development Standard Section B (5) to gain benefits at the solar site and enhance habitats surrounding the site.
  • Use limitation must be included.  Maximum square feet occupied on lot or a percentage of the land to ensure the size is appropriate for the districts and minimizes the impact on the communities. Similar to Use limitations sited for Accessory Use and Structures § 267-27.
  • CSEGS projects should be limited to balance County initiatives with Maryland Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (Md-PACE) program. Harford County Code, Chapter 123 Article VIII: Clean Energy Loan Program provides incentives and opportunities for clean energy programs; solar energy sources on existing structures.

Bill 21-001, Solar Energy is a step in the right direction to enact standards for small-scale solar projects but requires amendments to reduce the long term impacts on Harford County’s landscape and communities. Thank you for your consideration for Bill 21-001 amendments.

FOH Scorecard June, 2020 UPDATE

View the lastest Harford County Council legislative “scorecard” provided by Friends of Harford. Stay tuned for updates on land use legislation and track how your County Council representative voted! 

Highlights

County Executive VETOES Bill 20-005 and Council Overturns Veto with Shrodes Dissenting

Bill 20-005 Claims settlement information

Sponsors: Councilman Robert Wagner and Andre Johnson

Requires the Administration to notify the County Council of any legal claims/lawsuit settlements over $100,000 from any fund to be reviewed and approved.

Currently only those claims paid out by the Self- Insurance fund needs review and approval by the Council.

[Amended on 4/21/20 to require Administration to deliver written report to the County Council every 6 months and include all information pertinent to claims or lawsuits. Amendment withdrawn 5/5/20.]

The Council may not disclose information until there is public notice. This remains unchanged from original bill 94-032.  More Information

Friends of Harford Legislative Scorecard 

 

Legislative Scorecard UPDATE February, 2020

View the lastest Harford County Council legislative “scorecard” provided by Friends of Harford. Stay tuned for updates on land use legislation and track how your County Council representative voted! 

NEW Proposed Legislation:

  • Bill 20-001 Commercial Amusement and Recreation
  • Sponsor: Council President Vincenti for County Executive Glassman
  • Summary: Amends the Zoning Code adding COMMERCIAL AMUSEMENT AND RECREATION as a Permitted Use in the R4 Zoning District, subject to specified requirements regarding yard buffers, hours of operation, and allowable lighting sources. Plus, amendment introduced will increase hours of operation to 8 AM to 10 PM daily.

Read Bill Here

This bill is needed to support Resolution 001-20; a $1 sale of 25 acres Washington Court Surplus Property to Coppermine Fieldhouse, LLC; requiring the owning company to use land as an athletic field
facility for 20 years.  This is not currently allowed in the R4 Zones. Read Resolution HERE.

Friends of Harford Opinion: Legislation should not be enacted County-wide for one company, owner or project. Rather, a use not permitted in a zoning district may be granted via a Special Exception as are Country and Swim Clubs, and Assembly Halls for example in R4.   

Public Hearings: 2/4/20 6:15 pm 

Friends of Harford will update the scorecard after the vote. 

Harford County Legislative SCORECARD

Legislative Scorecard UPDATE December, 2019

View the lastest Harford County Council legislative “scorecard” provided by Friends of Harford. Stay tuned for updates on land use legislation and track how your County Council representative voted! 

 

Harford County land use legislation “scorecard”
provided by Friends of Harford

Zoning Changes Update & New Scorecard

Friends of Harford News and Views
June, 2019

Bill 19-016 – Zoning Code Changes- Public Hearing Input- June 4, 2019

Recently, Friends of Harford President, Stephanie Flasch provided public input on Bill 19-016 (Zoning Code Changes) See full text of comments here. 

See full text of Bill 19-016 HERE. 

There is still time for citizens to send their comments to the County Council.
Call or email the County Council at (410) 638-3343 or council@harfordcountymd.gov 

Friends of Harford tracks the voting records for land use legislation via the SCORECARD. The Friends of Harford scorecard will be updated with amendments and voting record for land use legislation. 

Scorecard

Why We Asked

Friends of Harford- Why we asked the Candidates these questions:

Unless you’ve been personally affected by a County land use decision, you may be wondering why we asked these particular questions of local candidates.  The following links provide reasons for the questions asked.

View the candidate responses HERE. 

Reasons we asked the County Executive Candidates these questions

Reasons we asked the County Council Candidates these questions

Election 2018- Voting Info

Have you registered and reviewed the candidates for the 2018 GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY?

Land use decisions are made locally. In anticipation of the upcoming election, Friends of Harford asked Harford County Candidates for County Executive and County Council questions about land use issues.

Link to responses HERE.

THE 2018 GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY

2017 Comprehensive Zoning Review WRAP-UP

Comprehensive rezoning is over for another 6 to 8 years.  This round there were 115 requests by residents or their agents.  Every Councilman introduced amendments to grant a more intense use for a property than the one received in the legislation as presented by County Administration. 

It should be noted that a Land Use Study conducted by the County in 2011 and again in 2014 declared that there was more than adequate land available for every use, be it residential, business or commercial-industrial available well beyond the next CZR era. The study also showed there will be a need for more Residential zoning long before there is a need for more Business or Industrial zoned land. 

Rezoning to a more intense District (up-zoning) often means additional facilities/services will be required from the County.  The cost of funding these new roads and other required infrastructure will be borne by the taxpayers.  Harford County elected officials are responsible for balancing the citizens’ quality of life and taxpayer funding for future infrastructure requirements caused by approved zoning changes. 

In all, 836 acres received requests for rezoning.  Approximately 250 acres were up-zoned from less intense to more intense categories of zoning, e.g., from agricultural to residential, from residential to business, or business to industrial.  Approximately 80 acres were up-zoned in intensity, e.g., R1 rezoned to R3, B1 rezoned to B2, etc.

Comprehensive Zoning Review Bill 17-015 with Amendments CHART

To sum up by District:

FOH is satisfied with the District A results.  District A had 20 requests for more intense rezoning.  Three up-zonings were supported by the County, two of which had the endorsement of the community.  One additional up-zoning was by amendment from the Councilman. About 8 acres went from Residential to Business or Industrial zoning, while about 10 acres went from B2 to B3 zoning.

FOH is severely disappointed with District B rezoning. District B had 25 requests with 2 requests withdrawn.  About 57 acres were granted more intense kinds of zoning, including 50 Agricultural acres converted to Business or medium-intensity Residential zoning. Plus, 14 acres increased intensity within the same zoning category (majority were from B2 to B3, the Highest Business Intensity).

FOH strongly opposed the high intensity up-zoning of about 45 acres at the outer edges of the Development Envelope (intersection of Mountain Road (Route 152) and Route 1), recently added and approved July 2016 by Harford County Council.  Severe up-zoning was granted even though there are rural homes and a farm in Agricultural Preservation on the Development Envelope’s boundary in this area .  The decision was in violation of HarfordNEXT, and contrary to the rationale applied in District F, where the County reduced an owner’s request for R2 zoning to only R1 at the Development Envelope boundary near rural homes.  FOH is disappointed with the representation and lack of explanation from District B County Councilman and Administration regarding the approval of intense up-zoning to R2 and B3 in the Fallston Community area.

FOH was reasonably satisfied with the results of District C.  District C had 17 requests.  While we disapproved of the conversion of 3 R2-zoned properties to B2 or Commercial Industrial,  these totaled less than 1.5 acres. 

FOH is pleased with the results of District D.  District D had 23 requests.  We supported the community in their work to insure that the 3 properties at the intersection of Routes 23 and 24 were restricted to R1 zoning, and that the Madonna property remained AG.

FOH was also content with the results of District E.  District E had 11 requests.  We agree with the amendment to rezone the 6 requests next to Ripkin Stadium to B1, and the zoning has been coordinated with the city of Aberdeen.

FOH was very disappointed with District F results.  District F had 20 requests.  In spite of Harford expecting to need residential units long before the county runs out of either Business or Industrial-zoned land, District F sacrificed 122 acres of Residential land in favor of yet more Industrial land.  There was a net loss of 100 acres of high-density (primarily R4, some R3) residential land converted to Industrial, partially offset by a loss of 21 acres of  Agricultural land that was rezoned to R1 (lowest density).  The only good news was the Treese Way development off Laurel Brook was not up-zoned and remains R1;  it has many  Natural Resource Districts.

In summary, Districts A, C, D and E were largely acceptable and we thank the Administration and Council members from those districts.  We remain strongly opposed to the rezoning results of Districts B and F.

Final Bill 17-015 Chart with Amendments & FOH Evaluation