The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of planning and zoning in the 2023 General Assembly.
Planning and zoning is an integral function of county governments and an area that spurs a high level of interaction with residents and business owners. In its planning & zoning advocacy, MACo seeks to protect the ability of local governments – those closest to the people and with the most insight into local needs for growth and reservation – to balance community and business interests.
In addition to the swearing-in of a new governor, the 445th legislative session kicked off with more relaxed health and safety measures compared to the turbulence of the last few years. This enabled MACo’s policy team to dynamically engage with private-sector stakeholders, legislators, and representatives from all divisions of government. Under these more conventional circumstances, MACo’s advocacy led to a plethora of favorable outcomes for its members.
Reporting and Funds
MACo opposed SB294. This bill repeals a definition of “consistent with” that is applicable in priority funding areas (PFAs) with respect to whether a local jurisdiction’s adoption of zoning and other specified local laws under specified circumstances is consistent with the jurisdiction’s comprehensive plan. In the absence of the repealed definition, a more stringent definition applies that requires consistency with land uses and densities or intensities in the plan. SB294 Comprehensive Plan – Implementation and Review in Priority Funding Areas failed in the General Assembly.
MACo originally opposed HB830/SB477. This bill requires the construction of a new housing unit to include in or on the garage, carport, or driveway one dedicated parking space with electric vehicle (EV) supply equipment that is fully installed (“EVSE-installed parking space”) or one EV-ready parking space. The bill further requires the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) to study the cost of requiring EV-ready and EVSE-installed parking spaces at multifamily residential buildings and related issues. SB 477/HB 830 Residential Construction – Electric Vehicle Charging passed the General Assembly.
MACo supported HB1188/SB931. This bill defines “generating station” in the Public Utilities Article and in so doing establishes that generating units or facilities that meet specified requirements may be constructed without obtaining a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Public Service Commission (PSC). The bill also makes a conforming change to align the capacity limit for generating stations with a requirement for certain solar systems to file an application for approval to construct a generating station with PSC and provide a 1.0% deposit. The bill specifies the intent of the General Assembly that the bill apply to solar energy generating facilities and eligible customer-generators under the State’s net metering law. HB 1188/SB 931 Public Utilities – Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity – Solar Photovoltaic Systems passed the General Assembly.
MACo supported HB1099 with Amendments. This bill prohibits the Public Service Commission (PSC) from authorizing, and a person from undertaking, the construction of a solar energy generating station that uses a battery-based energy storage device unless the device will be, and is designed to be, protected by an automatic fire suppression system. The automatic fire suppression system is subject to approval by the State Fire Marshal. The bill does not apply to a solar energy generating station with a nameplate capacity of less than two megawatts. HB 1099 Electricity – Solar Energy Generating Stations – Fire Suppression failed in the General Assembly.
MACo supported HB1100 with Amendments. This bill establishes a Battery Storage and Solar Arrays Safety Training Grant Program within the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) to provide grants to local governments to train local fire departments on the dangers and hazards of lithium-ion battery storage systems installed with solar arrays and how to respond to emergencies involving such systems. HB 1100 Battery Storage and Solar Arrays Safety Training Grant Program and Fund failed in the General Assembly.
MACo opposed HB692/SB489. This bill specifies that a county or municipality has the authority to process any local permit required under a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) issued by the Public Service Commission (PSC). A county or municipality must process such a permit within a reasonable time and in accordance with local laws, to the extent that local laws are not preempted by State law. A county or municipality is prohibited from conditioning the approval of a local permit required under a CPCN on receipt of specified zoning reviews or approvals or on a finding of consistency with the local comprehensive plan or zoning. HB 692/SB 489 Public Service Commission – Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity – Local Permits passed the General Assembly.