Scorecard Update- Bill 21-003 Gas Station Bill

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! 

Bill 21-003 Gas Station Bill – Sponsors: Council Members Johnson, Wagner, Giangiordano, Beulah. 

Allows Motor vehicle filling stations or service station in the B2 or B3 Zoning district if EITHER: 

  1. All adjoining properties are served by a public water source, OR
  2. They will be sited on a minimum one-acre parcel which is located within 1 mile of the Harford County Water Service boundary.        MORE INFORMATION ON THE BILL 

SCORECARD UPDATE June, 2021

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.

Friends of Harford Legislation Request

Friends of Harford (FOH) requests the Harford County Council to AMEND Zoning Code 267-39 (F); REMOVING the Director of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) as the only grantor of waiver for trees, shrubs, plants and specific areas considered priorities for retention and protection as described in 267-39 (D). 
 
In addition, CREATE legislation to commission a Waiver Advisory Board to include members from various county organizations: Environmental Advisory Board, DPZ, Planning Advisory Board, Harford Soil and Conservation Board, Parks and Recreation Board, Historic Conservation and Harford County Forestry Board.
 
Introduction and approval of an amendment to Zoning Code 267-39 adding an oversight committee for granting waivers for trees, shrubs and plants accordingly is the FIRST STEP to reassuring the citizens of Harford County that areas that contribute long-term aesthetic, environmental, and economic benefits will be reviewed in a fair and appropriate manner when development of these area are requested.
Friends of Harford Tree Waiver Legislation Request

Virtual Harford County Government Hearings & Participation During COVID

Harford County Government published the following links on its website for information on hearing dates, how to participate virtually and where to watch County Council meetings and Zoning hearings. See Below

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

Auston Pyrolysis Decision

The Harford County Circuit Court upheld the decision in Case 5886 to deny the tire pyrolysis operation by Auston Transfer and Processing on 6 acres in Joppa off Route 7. 

The property, Auston Transfer, used for shredding and recycling scrap tires requested a new system to incinerate tires within a closed chamber.  The property is zoned CI- Commercial Industrial.  Planning & Zoning approved the use in this zoning category. 

Within the time frame allowed, two Joppa citizens appealed the determination made by the Director and asked that the matter be reviewed by the County’s Hearing Examiner.  They were assisted by the People’s Counsel.  That decision was appealed because it considered the determination of the Planning and Zoning Director to allow this use in CI, was improper and that the pyrolysis system belonged in GI-General Industrial zoning.

As of this decision, the Hearing Examiner, County Council and now the Circuit Court all agree that the Director of Planning & Zoning overreached his authority and made a “legal error” in deciding to allow this use in CI. 

In addition, the Circuit Court added that material and information which is not in the Zoning Code itself, should be made available to the public.  In this case it was the Industrial Codes used by the Department of Planning & Zoning. 

Why is this relevant?

Friends of Harford is sharing news of this decision because it is an example of how the system is supposed to work. The community had concerns about the potential for negative effects to the environment and of the proximity of the tire burning near their homes. At each level, the facts were brought to light and the decision was made not to allow this type of facility in a Commercial Industrial Zoning. Had the tire pyrolysis plant been allowed in CI, it would have set precedent for future types of facilities in CI zoning.

 

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