Bill Creating New Climate Change Planning Vision Withdrawn in House

Delegate Barbara Frush, the sponsor of legislation (HB 881) that would have added a new thirteenth planning vision addressing climate change, has withdrawn her bill.  MACo had proposed an amendment deleting the vision as unnecessary and onerous for local governments.

The new planning vision would have read: “Preparation and adaptation – consideration of climate change risks, including sea level rise, increased precipitation and temperature, storm surges, and flooding, based on available data predicting the likelihood of future extreme weather events.” Planning visions are broad goals that must be incorporated into local comprehensive plans.

 

From MACo’s testimony:

MACo does not object to the State components of the bill, including the ongoing climate change impact assessments and model local ordinances. Such information and tools assist counties in forming their own climate change adaptation strategies. However, MACo does object to the requirement of having to incorporate yet another major policy component into local comprehensive plans that are already burgeoning with mandated information.

Since 2006, counties have seen significant new land use and environmental mandates that have required major additions or changes to a county’s comprehensive plan or related planning processes.

 

SB 256, which was heard by the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on February 17.  The Committee has taken no action on that bill.

MACo HB 881 Testimony

MACo SB 256 Testimony

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of HB 881

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of SB 256

General Assembly Holds Phosphorus Legislation Pending Agreement With Governor

The Maryland General Assembly has put a hold on passing legislation (HB 381/SB 257) that would have codified controversial phosphorus management tool (PMT) regulations for agricultural lands after reaching a tentative agreement with the Administration of Governor Larry Hogan.  The General Assembly has delayed discussion of SB 257, which is on  the Senate floor, until March 25, pending the Administration modifying regulations it introduced several weeks ago.  (HB 381 has not moved from the House Environment and Transportation Committee.)  The bills would have adopted PMT regulations that had been introduced by the outgoing Administration of Governor Martin O’Malley but withdrawn by Governor Hogan shortly after his inauguration.  Hogan subsequently introduced his own version of the PMT regulations.  From a March 18 Washington Post article:

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has agreed to a firmer deadline for fully implementing regulations that limit the amount of chicken manure farmers can use as fertilizer — ending tense negotiations among his administration, state lawmakers, Eastern Shore farmers and environmentalists worried about pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. …

By 2022, all farmers will have to abide by the new rules, although some farms could be granted an extension until 2024 if major problems arise. An advisory committee will oversee the phase-in process and must approve any extensions.

“We have agreement on a solution that represents one of the most important steps forward in environmental policy in the last decade,” said Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Hogan. “We thank all parties for their hard work on this critical issue.”

Further coverage from a March 18 Baltimore Sun article:

Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George’s County Democrat, introduced [SB 257] after Hogan — in one of his first acts as governor — withdrew the anti-pollution regulations before they became final.

Pinsky said his negotiations with the governor’s office are getting to a point where the substitute rules are strong enough to deal with the problem of phosphorus runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.

“I think we’re close if not at consensus,” Pinsky said.

While acknowledging that agriculture must meet its federal and local water pollution requirements, MACo had opposed the bills, citing the negative impact on agriculture and the ability of county governments to apply sewage sludge on agricultural lands.

MACo HB 381 Testimony

MACo SB 257 Testimony

New Online Tool to Track Property Development Proposals in Harford County

Harford County has introduced a new online tool for citizens to track property development proposals in their communities.

According to Harford County’s press release:

“Track-it” uses interactive county maps showing properties that are subject to a public meeting in the development process, identifying the meeting’s purpose, date, time and location. Track-it also links to available background on each proposal and general information about the development review process.

“Property development proposals are important to Harford’s communities, and my administration is committed to transparency for property owners and their neighbors alike,” said County Executive Barry Glassman. “Citizens should not have to stop along a roadside to read meeting notices on properties near where they live, work or travel. Track-it is a prime example of how we are using technology to improve service to our customers, the citizens of Harford County. I would like to thank our Department of Planning and Zoning for developing this new application.”

Accessible by computer, phone or other mobile device, Track-it is the first in a new line of Maps & Apps being produced by the Department of Planning and Zoning.

For more information, read Harford County’s press release or visit www.harfordcountymd.gov.

Spring 2015 Maryland Planners Roundtable To Discuss Rural Broadband Infrastructure

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The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) will be hosting its 2015 Spring Planners Roundtable on March 25 at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center in Annapolis, Maryland.  As part of its agenda, the Roundtable will be seeking input from local government leaders on the topic of rural broadband infrastructure in Maryland.

From the MDP notice:

The meeting takes place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Please Note:  Networking and registration begin at 9 a.m. (arrival before 10 a.m. is optional). Continental breakfast to be served.

View the agenda and register at the link below.
If you have any questions about the meeting, please contact Steve Allan: (410) 767-4572 or steven.allan@maryland.gov.

MACo Supports Clarity from State Highway Administration

Andrea Mansfield, MACo Legislative Director, testified to the House Environment and Transportation Committee on March 12, 2015 to support HB 762, State Highway Administration- Entrance to State Highway- Permit Process. This bill clarifies the process which State Highway Administration grants entrance permits to certain highways for commercial and industrial properties. Specifically, this bill would require the State Highway Administration make a decision to grant or deny an entrance permit within 45 days of the receipt of the request.

The written testimony explains:

As the bill’s fiscal note indicates, SHA responds to most permit applications within a reasonable amount of time. However, there are circumstances where a response seems unnecessarily delayed or it is not clear why a permit was denied. This can cause both local governments and developers to expend needless time and resources while waiting for an answer that is often not accompanied by any explanation. HB 762 would address these concerns in a reasonable manner.

 For more on MACo 2015 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.

Counties Seek Clearer Process For Highway Access

The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, heard testimony on SB 656, State Highway Administartion- Entrance to State Highway- Permit Process, on March 10, 2015. MACo Legal and Policy Counsel, Les Knapp, presented testimony urging committee to support with amendments . This bill would clarify and create more certatinty for the process in which the State Highway Administration grants entrance permits to certain State Highways.

The written testimony explains:

SB 656 would require the SHA to grant or deny specified residential, commercial, and industrial highway entrance permit requests within 60 days after receipt of a written request from a land use authority for the jurisdiction in which the proposed entrance is to be located or 120 days after receipt of a complete permit application. When determining whether to grant or deny a request for a permit, SHA must: (1) consider whether the proposed entrance is consistent with the comprehensive plan for the jurisdiction in which the proposed entrance is to be located; and (2) must determine whether to grant or deny the permit request based on whether a preponderance of reliable evidence indicates that the proposed entrance is consistent with the comprehensive plan and meets other requirements of the permit.

The suggested amendment would replace the comprehensive plan consistency test in the bill, not to eliminate or change any existing comprehensive plan consistency requirements.

The cross file of this bill, HB 621, was heard last week, March 5, 2015, in the House Environment and Transportation Committee.

For more on MACo’s 2015 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.

MML and MACo Support Land Use Adoption Authority

Les Knapp, MACo Legal and Policy Counsel, testified to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on March 10, 2015, urging the committee to support with amendments SB 551, Land Use- Plans- Development and Adoption. This bill would clarify the authority of the legislative body of a noncharter county with land use authority to substantively amend a comprehensive plan submitted by that jurisdiction’s planning commission and increase the time in which action must be taken on a comprehensive plan.

The amendments suggested by Maryland Municipal League, and supported by MACo, increase the bills transparency through increased meetings and a single 60-day extension past the initial 90 days for review.

The written testimony explains:

Ultimately, the final authority over a comprehensive plan should rest with the elected local legislative body. Furthermore, charter county legislative bodies already possess the power to substantively amend comprehensive plans. SB 551 simply grants parity for noncharter counties and those municipalities with land use authority.

The cross-file of this bill, HB 919, was heard in House Environment and Transportation Matters last week.

 

For more on MACo’s 2015 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.

MACo Supports Clarity for New State Highway Bill

Les Knapp, MACo Legal and Policy Counsel, testified to the House Environment and Transportation Committee, March 5, 2015 to support with amendments HB 621, State Highway Administration- Entrance to State Highway-Permit Process. This bill would bring clarity and certainty to the process to grant entrance permits to certain State highways.

The written testimony explains:

HB 621 would require the SHA to grant or deny specified residential, commercial, and industrial highway entrance permit requests within 60 days after receipt of a written request from a land use authority for the jurisdiction in which the proposed entrance is to be located or 120 days after receipt of a complete permit application. When determining whether to grant or deny a request for a permit, SHA must: (1) consider whether the proposed entrance is consistent with the comprehensive plan for the jurisdiction in which the proposed entrance is to be located; and (2) must determine whether to grant or deny the permit request based on whether a preponderance of reliable evidence indicates that the proposed entrance is consistent with the comprehensive plan and meets other requirements of the permit.

Finally, SHA must promptly provide a written notice and explanation of the reasons for granting or denying a permit request to the permit applicant and each land use authority for the jurisdiction in which the proposed permit is to be located. A land use authority may appeal a permit denial as a contested case to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

The amendment that MACo recommends is to replace the comprehensive plan consistence test in the bill. The amendment does not eliminate or change any existing comprehensive plan consistency requirements – only removes this new and unwarranted State determination.

 

For more on MACo’s 2015 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.

MACo Supports Local Legislative Power for Land Use

Les Knapp, MACo’s Legal and Policy Counsel, testified to the House Environment and Transportation Committee on March 3, 2015, to support with amendments HB 919, Land Use-Plans-Development and Adoption. This bill clarifies the authority of the local legislative body with land use authority and increases the time period wherein a local legislative body must take action on a submitted plan before it is adopted.

The amendments submitted by the Maryland Municipal League, and supported by MACo are

  • Requiring public meetings to increase transparency
  • Legislative body may adopt a single 60-day extension past the initial 90 days

From the written testimony:

 With the proposed amendments, HB 919 would properly vest final decision-making authority over comprehensive plans with an elected legislative body for noncharter counties and municipalities with land use authority and provide parity with the existing authority of charter county legislative bodies. The bill also creates reasonable time limits wherein a legislative body must take action on a comprehensive plan submitted by a planning commission or have it deemed adopted.

For more on MACo’s 2015 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.

Carroll Commissioners Adopt Master Plan

Carroll County Commissioners have unanimously adopted a master plan that will “outline future economic, residential and agricultural development”. This plan has been in the works since 2009.

According to the Carroll County Times,

“This plan addresses the short-term needs of the county while looking to the future without jeopardizing either of those two,” said Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5. “It shows you can have a plan that recognizes the need for economic development and the financial base that’s needed without jeopardizing the rural nature of the community, and I truly believe you can have a document that allows for good, solid long-term planning without jeopardizing the core values of our county and our nation.”