Baltimore County Solar-Farm Bill Withdrawn

Baltimore County councilman Wade Kach withdrew legislation Tuesday that would have regulated the emerging use of solar facilities on rural lands, saying council members could not agree on limits for the size of such projects. The seven-member council was set to vote Tuesday evening on the measure — which would have addressed issues such as height and setback regulations — but Kach withdrew it instead.

As reported by The Baltimore Sun,

The original bill limited solar installations to no more than 20 acres, or half of a property, whichever was smaller. Kach said some council members wanted to increase the size limit to 35 acres, which he said is the equivalent of 27 football fields.

“If you all can envision the Ravens football field, multiply it by 27, that is the size that some on this council believe would be appropriate for the rural part of Baltimore County,” said Kach, a Cockeysville Republican whose district covers the northern part of the county.

Kach also said he expects legal challenges to proposed solar projects.

The legislation was proposed amid growing interest from farmers who want to lease their land to energy companies.

The council heard concerns from rural residents who say the facilities would be an eyesore, and from those worried it would take fertile farmlands out of production.

MACo has adopted energy facility siting as a legislative initiative priority for 2017. A new generation of power facilities – from solar farms to emergent technologies such as biomass or gasification – could be freed up to ignore local zoning and oversight. This decision threatens local land use control; long term planning efforts; and the important rights of communities to guide their own historic, agricultural, and residential character.

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