Planning Commission & Board of Appeals Training Kicks Off 2017 #MACoCon

Lower Eastern Shore Regional Planner Keith Lackie discusses PFAs

The Maryland Department of Planning kicked off the 2017 MACo Summer Conference on 2017-08-16 by offering its free planning and land use course. The several hour course outlines the history of land use in Maryland, basics of planning and Smart Growth, engaging with elected officials and the public, and key land use issues currently facing the state.

While designed for planning commissioners and board of appeals members, any interested county official can attend. The course is required under state law and is offered at the MACo Summer Conference, MML Annual Convention, and online. You do not have to be registered for the MACo conference to attend this session.

Maryland Department of Planning staff, including Assistant Secretary for Operations Robert McCord, Lower Eastern Shore Regional Planner Keith Lackie, and Director of Planning Coordination Chuck Boyd walked attendees through the course materials.

Useful Links

Planning Commission/Board of Appeals Training Course Webpage

Hogan Stresses Bay & Environmental Achievements in Sun Op-Ed

In a Baltimore Sun op-ed (2017-08-10), Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan discussed his Administration’s efforts on restoring the Chesapeake Bay and the need for Maryland to find a solution for the sediment and nutrient pollution posed by the Conowingo Dam. The dam basin, which for decades has served as a trap for sediment and nutrients flowing down the Susquehanna River, appears to be at capacity.

Hogan noted that his Administration has: (1) spent $3 billion in Bay restoration efforts in two and a half years; (2) restored funding for Program Open Space and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund; (3) developed a new Phosphorus Management Tool for agriculture; (4) enacted a revised Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act and Maryland Climate Change Commission; (5) prohibited natural gas hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”) in the State; (6) worked to update the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI); (7) undertaken infrastructure resiliency efforts based on climate change, sea level rise, and severe weather events; (8) supported clean cars and electric vehicle legislation; and (9) invested in green jobs and clean energy.

From the op-ed:

In today’s world, far too much of our public discourse has degraded to half-truths and personal attacks rather than conversation and compromise. One obvious casualty has been the environment, which is now routinely used as a wedge instead of a common cause. Finding the right balance on environmental policy is important, but we all aspire to achieve the same goals — protecting and preserving the natural world we inhabit for our children and grandchildren.

Hogan called for finding “common ground” on environmental issues and taking “smart and balanced actions” to further environmental protection and promote economic growth.

 

Baltimore County Considers Body Camera Use For Police Officers Employed As Security Guards

A Baltimore Sun article (2017-08-10) reported Maryland Senator Jim Brochin is considering legislation that would require Baltimore County police officers to use their body cameras when working a second job as a security guard. The proposal is based on an incident where an off-duty uniformed County police officer fatally shot a man while working as a security guard outside of a Catonsville Giant supermarket. The article noted that some other local governments, including Baltimore City, Howard County, and the City of Laurel require that the police body cameras be used when an officer is working a security job in uniform.

In the article Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz noted his support for similar measures in the past and that the County would need to examine the costs for providing and maintaining the cameras for secondary employment and whether the secondary employer should share in those costs. From the article:

“I’ve been a strong proponent of police body cameras,” [Kamenetz] said. “I think that they are a very useful tool.” …

“If the rules of the county Police Department allow them to wear their uniforms when they’re not on duty and they’re in a different job, then the same rules have to be enforced in regards to body cameras,” Brochin said. “This incident raises obvious questions.”

The article also noted that the officer is on administrative duty pending the results of the shooting investigation.

Work Begins on First Sports and Recreation “Smart City” in the Nation

Source: Johnson Controls

A Sustainable Cities Network article (2017-08-09) reported that work is under way on the first sports and entertainment “smart city” in the nation. Johnson Controls has started development on the Hall of Fame Village LLC at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and will be the largest construction project in the state. Johnson Controls is working in conjunction with the Hall of Fame and Industrial Reality Group. According to the article, the project began in 2016 and the village is expected to open in 2020 (for the National Football Leagues 100th anniversary) with final build-out occurring by 2040. The development is estimated to cost $700 million and will generate $15.3 billion in new revenue over a 25-year period. From the article:

A professional services contract calls for Johnson Controls’ products, services and solutions to be used within the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village, including the museum. This will provide for the creation of a showcase “smart city” with the company providing a suite of building management systems to assure “world-class” environments and yield significant operational cost savings over the life of the agreement, according to the partners. …

Just as important are the smart technologies that will bring the village to life — technologies related to heating and cooling, fire and security, lighting, the fan experience and scoreboard, and a building- and campus-wide operating system. The operating system will allow window shades to adjust according to the movement of the sun, lights to dim as more natural light enters rooms, employees to control cubicle temperature and security cameras to capture faces of people entering and exiting buildings as identification badges appear on monitoring screens.

“Our innovative, integrated, technologies will provide the right combination of safety and security at the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village in an environment that demonstrates how we connect ‘cities’ that run smartly and reliably,” said Kim Metcalf-Kupres, vice president and chief marketing officer, Johnson Controls.

The project will include the following facilities: (1) Hall of Fame Museum; (2) Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium; (3) Black College Football Hall of Fame; (4) National Youth Football and Sports Complex; (5) 25,000 square-foot four-star hotel and conference center; (6) Hall of Fame Promenade (a mixed-use restaurant, retail, and residential area); (7) The Center for EXCELLENCE (a coaches university); (8) performance center; (9) player care center; and (10) Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Experience (a $120 million virtual reality experience and waterpark).

Useful Links

Hall of Fame Village Website

Open Meetings Board Considers Legislation, Training Issues at 2017 Annual Meeting

The Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board (OMCB) held its 2017 annual meeting on August 3 in Annapolis and considered both potential legislation and training issues. MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp attended and offered comments, as did representatives from the Maryland Municipal League (MML), Dorchester County, and a private Anne Arundel County law firm.

The 3-member volunteer board consists of former Anne Arundel County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson, attorney Rachel Shapiro Grasmick, and attorney April C. Ishak. Hodgson chairs the board. OMCB receives and reviews alleged violations of Maryland’s Open Meetings Act.

OMCB discussed the following issues:

  • Review and approval of several reports required by 2o17 legislation (HB 880/SB 450) including the tracking and recording of new training requirements under the Act. OMCB’s report examined a variety of ways the training data could be maintained and ultimately recommended that having each public body keep its own records regarding training was the most practical and cost-effective solution. OMCB also approved a recommendation to work with MACo, MML, and the Maryland Association of Boards of Education to distribute open meetings information on behalf of OMCB. The organizations will also provide OMCB with specific email lists to better target information distribution.    a
  • Review and approval of OMCB’s 25th annual report. The report noted that between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, OMCB received 32 complaints regarding 26 public bodies, with one complainant submitting 9 complaints. There were also 6 docketed compaints remaining from the prior fiscal year for a total of 38 complaints. OMCB issued 27 opinions, finding violations of varying seriousness in 18 opinions.
  • Consideration of potential legislation for the 2018 Session. OMCB decided not to introduce any legislative proposals for the 2018 Session. However, the board members did discuss processes to ensure they were consulted on legislation affecting the Act or the Board and to take a default position of oppose to any relevant legislation they had not had a chance to review. The OMCB also discussed the evidentiary challenges and enforcement usefulness of addressing complaints filed more than one year after the alleged violation, or where the public body no longer exists or its members are completely different.

Knapp commented that MACo supported the OMCB recommendations and actions, as did the other attending outside representatives.

Useful Links

OMCB Webpage

HB 880 / SB 450 of 2017

Op-Ed Urges Strong New RGGI Carbon Reductions

In a Maryland Reporter op-ed (2017-08-09), Standard Solar Chief Development Officer Tony Clifford advocated for Maryland’s continued participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the multi-state agreement that set caps on carbon emissions from power plants and established the first carbon trading market in the United States. In the op-ed, Clifford argued that as the RGGI agreement is being revised, Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan should support the strongest carbon percentage reduction under consideration – a 3% reduction per year including an extra boost at the start.

In support of his position, Clifford cited:  (1) the more than 40% carbon emission reductions already seen in Maryland’s power plants; (2) the additional carbon reductions and over $700 million in auction revenues the 3% proposal would generate for Maryland; (3) Marylander support for even stronger RGGI reductions than what is being considered according to a 2016 Sierra Club Poll; (4) the additional jobs, revenue, health benefits, and energy cost savings the 3% proposal would generate for Maryland based on current RGGI performance; and (5) the role RGGI plays in addressing climate change. From the op-ed:

Recent history suggests Gov. Hogan should be open to strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. In 2016, the governor signed bipartisan legislation establishing an ambitious 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for our state. This was a big win for Maryland, but to achieve that target we also need to strengthen RGGI.

By leading boldly on RGGI and pushing for the strongest possible emissions reductions, the governor can protect Maryland’s citizens, economy, and natural resources while securing major benefits for Maryland families and businesses.

Here is some basic background on RGGI from RGGI’s own website:

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RGGI is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector.

Following a comprehensive 2012 Program Review, the RGGI states implemented a new 2014 RGGI cap of 91 million short tons. The RGGI CO2 cap then declines 2.5 percent each year from 2015 to 2020. The RGGI CO2 cap represents a regional budget for CO2 emissions from the power sector. See Program Overview for more information.

States sell nearly all emission allowances through auctions and invest proceeds in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other consumer benefit programs. These programs are spurring innovation in the clean energy economy and creating green jobs in the RGGI states.

Useful Links

RGGI Website

Sierra Club News Release on RGGI Poll (2016-08-11)

Hogan Seeks Bids For Conowingo Dam Test Dredging

A Baltimore Sun article (2017-08-08) reported that Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan announced plans for a dredging test project for the Conowingo Dam and has requested bids from private companies. The test project is expected to be completed this winter and would determine whether further dredging would be cost effective. The article said that Maryland would pay for the project. According to the article, there is an estimated 31 million cubic yards of sediment behind the dam and dredging would cost $3 billion based on a United States Army Corps of Engineers analysis. Maryland Environmental Service CEO Roy McGrath indicated the bid requests are based on 25,000 cubic yards of dredging. From the article:

The area behind the dam has filled up with sediment and is unable to trap more. Hogan said he worries that one big storm could wipe out recent improvements in the Chesapeake Bay’s health.

“It is absolutely vital that we find real solutions for the problem,” Hogan said at a news conference on the banks of the Susquehanna, in front of the dam.

The article also noted mixed reactions from environmental groups, with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) noting that dredging only addresses sediment pollution and not nitrogen pollution. CBF Executive Director Alison Prost argued that eliminating the sources of pollution was more cost-effective than dredging the dam. However, Chesapeake Bay Commission Executive Director Ann Swanson noted the test project could provide useful data on addressing the Susquehanna River and Conowingo Dam situation.

A Washington Post article (2017-08-08) noted that the test project would cost Maryland about $4 million and that the State would seek to split any future dredging costs with other stakeholders:

Benjamin H. Grumbles, the state’s secretary of the environment, said the test project would cost the state about $4 million. The state will issue a request for proposals Aug. 31 and award a contract this fall, with the dredge operation starting before spring. …

Grumbles said that the state will pay for the test project but that the administration plans to discuss cost-sharing options with other states, the federal government and private partners for a potential larger-scale operation in the future.

Useful Links

Additional Coverage by the Daily Record (2017-08-08)

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Conowingo Dam Issue

 

 

Annapolis Mayor Prohibits Commentary on President, National Issues on City Social Media

A Baltimore Sun article (2017-08-06) reported that Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides has instructed city administration officials to refrain from commenting about United States President Donald Trump or national policy issues on social media. The order includes both positive and negative comments and was  issued in response to an Annapolis Police Department Facebook response to a recent Trump remark about how the police should handle certain suspects. From the article:

“This is going to distract us from our core mission of serving the citizens of Annapolis,” Pantelides wrote in the email. “To reiterate do not post anything whether it’s positive or negative about the president or national politics. Focus your time and energy on helping to make the city of Annapolis better.”

The article noted the Pantelides was concerned about the time and resources needed to “deal with the blowback from this,” and that national issues are typically more political than and disconnected from municipal concerns. The order allegedly reinforces a previous unwritten policy about not using city social media platforms to comment on national issues.

The story serves as an example of how many county and municipal governments are struggling to define how to appropriately use official social media accounts.

Hogan Hosting Second Conowingo Dam Summit

A Bay Journal article (2017-08-08) discussed Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan’s second Conowingo Dam summit, which is set to convene on August 8 in Darlington, MD. According to the article, the summit is by invitation only and will be closed to the press, although Hogan plans to hold a press conference after the conclusion of the summit. From the article:

Local officials from rural Maryland counties have complained that they’re being forced to go along with other pollution reduction measures, such as a clampdown on septic-based development, that are far less effective in comparison to the impact that might come from dealing with the buildup behind the dam.  Those complaints have resonated with Hogan….

Hogan, however, has maintained that the dam is a neglected source of the Bay’s water quality woes. And in his newly assumed position as chairman of the Bay Program’s Executive Council, he has leverage to highlight the issue. He has indicated that he holds Exelon Corp., owner of the hydroelectric dam, the federal government and the upriver states of Pennsylvania and New York responsible for the continuing flow of sediment and nutrients down the river.

The article reiterated that after Hogan’s first Conowingo summit last year, the State issued a request for information seeking solutions to the pollution caused by Dam and received at least 11 responses. The article also noted that representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection would be attending the summit.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of the Conowingo Dam

Chesapeake Executive Council Webpage

Discover how the Conowingo Dam will factor into the upcoming Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans and the potential responsibilities on Maryland’s counties at the What Will We See in Phase III? A Bay TMDL Update discussion at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Balance Food & Home Safety With Business Growth at #MACoCon

Learn how environmental health officials protect the public by ensuring safe food and homes, their role in driving economic development by providing certainty and safety, and the balancing act they sometimes must perform to allow for new and innovative business models.

Walking the Tightrope: Protecting the Public, Energizing the Economy

Description

Environmental health officials work to protect the health and safety of county residents. They also play an important role by increasing confidence in our growing and changing economy. From familiar needs like restaurant cleanliness to the challenges and opportunities presented by the up-and-coming food truck industry, these dedicated officials always have health and safety – and the economy – in mind. For example, by ensuring the safety of our food, environmental health officials increase consumer confidence to eat at restaurants. By ensuring proper sanitation in our homes, they increase lender confidence when providing mortgages or developer loans. Speakers will discuss the roles environmental health officials play in both protecting the public and energizing the economy, and highlight how those roles work with respect to home lending and the emergent food truck industry.

Speakers

  • Donald Wilson, Environmental Health Director, Caroline County
  • Willy Dely, Founder, Au Jus Solutions
  • William Castelli, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Maryland Realtors Association

Moderator: The Honorable Sharon Green Middleton, Baltimore City Council Member

Date & Time: Friday, August 18, 2:15 PM – 3:15 PM

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: