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.
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.
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.