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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.
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