Harford County filed a brief to Harford County Circuit Court on January 18, 2023 changing the County’s position on the current Forest Conservation Plan (FCP) for Abingdon Business Park.
The County is now in agreement with the Maryland Supreme Court, which raised concerns about the current FCP. Any permits issued under the current plan are no longer valid and there is a stop work order.
The Save Abingdon Woods Coalition took this position back in September of 2019 when meeting with the Harford County Director of Planning and Zoning to point out a number of serious deficiencies in the current Forest Conservation Plan and to ask the county to seek a new one by starting from scratch with a new Forest Stand Delineation and a new Forest Conservation Plan.
Save Abingdon Woods and Friends of Harford and others are delighted to learn that the current administration agrees with this position.
Abingdon Business Park and Perryman Peninsula share burdens from proposed mega-warehouse complexes. One writer to the Aegis shared those concerns.
The following Op-Ed was published in the AEGIS January 26, 2022
County should halt warehouse developments to protect environment
I watched the last couple meetings of the Harford County Council and was interested in the comments about Perryman.
The citizens living in Perryman have every right to be concerned about adding more warehouses, especially ones built on Harford County wells. Also more heavy truck traffic on county roads increases the already dangerous conditions. All this is above and beyond what they should have to deal with. Developing this property would increase environmental damage to Bush River and the Chesapeake Bay.
Billy Boniface, chief adviser to County Executive Barry Glassman, wrote to the owners of the Perryman property and suggested they put the property in preservation. He indicated this would create a lifetime legacy for the county and the property owners. Members of the Abingdon Business Park coalition have asked Boniface to write a similar letter to the owners of this 325 acre property. He did not acknowledge this request. Citizens involved with Abingdon coalition have also voiced concerns at the council meetings. They have written letters and met individually with their representatives. They mentioned the vacant warehouse and retail spaces, concerns about the effect of pollution, heavy traffic and loss of property values. The folks in Abingdon, as in Perryman, want to see a halt to warehouses that are adjacent to or in residential areas regardless of the zoning. They want to make sure the Ha Ha Branch, Otter Point Creek, Bush River and the Bay are not contaminated by heavy truck traffic and related chemical runoff.
This council voted to include Abingdon Business Park in the enterprise zone in April 2019. This was a bad decision.
Enterprise zone tax relief is for under developed property or property that needs revitalization. This incentive is to create good paying jobs. The enterprise zone investment is to create an economic engine for the county. Warehouse jobs are not high paying jobs. Robotic machinery is often used in place of workers. And as we know, warehouses often stay vacant at county taxpayer expense.
Destroying woods, wildlife, streams and rivers can never be undone. Harford County residents deserve better.
Janet Hardy, Abingdon
For more information on the opposition to proposed projects click on links below.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.