MDA Awarded $1 Million Grant to Promote Healthy Soil Practices

A Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) press release (2019-10-10) announced that MDA has been awarded a $1 million grant through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund (CBSF) to promote healthy soil practices. Farms that adopt healthy soil practices can increase carbon sequestration and protect local and Chesapeake Bay water quality.  From the press release: “This grant will allow the department to expand its efforts in promoting the benefits of soil health for Maryland farmers and our…

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Submit Your Questions Now for the #MACoCon Smart Growth Subcabinet Meeting

The Smart Growth Subcabinet will be meeting at the 2019 December MACo Winter Conference and answering your questions on land use, environment, transportation, and other important county issues. Let MACo know if you have a topic you want directly addressed at the meeting (see instructions near the end of this post.) A Chat with the Smart Growth Subcabinet Description The Smart Growth Subcabinet oversees and advises on Maryland’s growth policies and laws. Its members (mostly…

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MACo Talks Solar Across the State

As previously reported on Conduit Street, there are multiple workgroups studying the issue of renewable energy siting (especially utility-scale solar) that will result in policy recommendations and legislation for the 2020 Session. Over the past several weeks, MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp has participated in various workgroup meetings and meet with county officials about this ongoing issue. Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting Created by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan through Executive Order,…

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Guess the Name of Frederick City’s Official Ice Cream Flavor

A Daily Record article (2019-09-16) reported that the City of Frederick has designated "Monocacy Mud" as its new official ice cream flavor. The flavor is German chocolate-based and made by South Mountain Creamery in Middletown. It is available for purchase through the Hometown Harvest Kitchen restaurant located in the city. The official flavor was unveiled at The Great Frederick Fair. From the article: South Mountain Creamery partnered on the promotion with the Tourism Council of Frederick…

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Washington County Planning Commission Offers Recommendations on Solar Siting

A Herald-Mail Media article (2019-09-12) reported that the Washington County Planning Commission has offered recommendations on how to incentivize large solar projects on industrial spaces instead of prime farmland. The recommendations touched on tax breaks, requiring the use of buried transmission lines, and wildlife corridors. The County is seeking to revise its zoning for utility-scale (more than 2 megawatts) solar projects after a recent Maryland Court of Appeals decision found that the State, through the Public Service…

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EPA Finalizes “Waters of the US” Rule

The revised rule governing the "Water of the United States" definition - effectively establishing the scope of federal environmental regulations - has been published as final, to take effect in 60 days. Counties across the country had raised concerns that a 2015 proposed EPA rule would expand the scope of federal regulation far beyond navigable waterways, and potentially affecting waterways as small as agricultural drainage ditches. A 2019 proposed revision had been subject to public…

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MACo Needs County Participants for Renewable Energy Siting Advisory Committee

Currently there are three separate workgroups looking at renewable energy siting issues (primarily solar and wind) in Maryland and the work of these groups will likely result in legislation or policy changes that will directly affect local land use planning and taxing authority. MACo is active on all three of these workgroups and is seeking interested county participants to serve on a Renewable Energy Siting Advisory Committee that will help guide MACo's positions on this…

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Former Planning Secretary Criticizes “A Better Maryland”

Former Maryland Secretary of Planning Richard Hall criticized the state's new development plan, A Better Maryland, and recent Smart Growth efforts in a Baltimore Sun op-ed (2019-09-09). Hall served as planning secretary under the Martin O'Malley Administration and created the state's first development plan, PlanMaryland. Hall offered his view on the differences between the two plans, claiming that A Better Maryland was as substantive as a "funnel cake on the Ocean City Boardwalk." From the op-ed: What is the…

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Frederick Council Adopts “Livable Frederick” Comprehensive Plan, Moves Beyond Zoning Maps

A Frederick News-Post article (2019-09-03) reported that the Frederick County Council approved the County's new comprehensive plan, dubbed "Livable Frederick." The new plan, which does not include zoning maps and instead takes a more "aspirational" approach to the County's land use goals, has been under development for nearly four years. The article stated that the Council passed the plan in a 6-1 vote. The sole opposition came from Council Member Phil Dacey, who expressed concern that…

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Maryland Releases Finalized Phase III WIP

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) posted the final version of the state's Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) on August 23, 2019. The WIP outlines Maryland's plan for reaching its final 2025 nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment reduction goals under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load. From the Phase III WIP's Executive Summary: The Phase III WIP builds on lessons learned from Phases I and II and charts a course to 2025 that…

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