Will You Throw the First Pitch?

Screenshot 2017-06-26 15.05.44
Step up and share your county’s IT needs at MACo’s Summer Conference.

This year’s MACo Conference offers attendees an opportunity to voice county government information technology interests directly to private sector providers in an informal, informational format.

Share challenges & discover capabilities in this new Tech Wednesday offering.

SWITCH PITCH” IGNITE! — Meet Your Match: Solutions to County IT Challenges

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Gain quick insight into what tech can do for county governments in this fast-paced session. County IT and management professionals will state their needs, and vendors in the Tech Expo Tradeshow will respond with their pitch for solving the top tech issues. Attendees will get a chance to learn a little about a lot of vendors in a short period of time. Listen and learn!

Example County Pitches

  1. How do I empower employees to work from home in a secure and productive manner at minimal cost to the County?
  2. There are so many mobile apps in the market. Other than reading through the reviews, how can one determine the overall quality of a mobile app?  Is there a standard to check an app’s quality? What is it?
  3. What and where have been some of the more successful public/private partnerships providing broadband to unserved rural areas?

SIGN UP HERE TO BE A PART OF THIS SESSION Space is limited – Reply by July 19.

Have a pitch, but you are not attending this session?  Contact Robin Clark Eilenberg at MACo.

Tech Wednesday Vendor List

  • AVI-SPL, Inc
  • CDW-G
  • Comcast
  • Commvault
  • Cybersecurity Association of Maryland, Inc.
  • Data Networks of America
  • ePlus Technology Inc.
  • Esri
  • Freedom Broadband
  • Fujitsu America, Inc.
  • GovDeals, Inc.
  • Juniper Networks
  • Lenovo
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Maryland Libraries
  • Maryland Relay
  • Motorola Solutions, Inc.
  • Musco Sports Lighting
  • NIC Maryland
  • Phillips Office Solutions
  • Presidio
  • Prosys Information Systems
  • Regent Development Consulting, Inc. (RDC)
  • Ricoh USA, Inc.
  • Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc.
  • Rudolph’s Office & Computer Supply, Inc.
  • SAIC
  • ShoreScan Solutions
  • Splunk
  • Sprint
  • Supply Solutions, LLC
  • Tomi Environmental Solutions

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

1,000 Jurisdictions Now Committed to Complete Streets

A Sustainable Cities Network article (2017-06-17) reported that more than 1,000 jurisdictions in the United States have committed to the “Complete Streets” initiative at the end of 2016. The Complete Streets program is designed to make streets safe and accessible to everyone regardless of “age, income, race, ethnicity, physical ability, or how they choose to travel.” The findings are based on a report by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition. From the article:

Communities adopted a total of 222 new complete streets policies that year. Nationwide, a total of 1,232 policies are now in place, in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, including 33 state governments, 77 regional planning organizations, and 955 individual municipalities.

These policies are the strongest ever passed. When the National Complete Streets Coalition first evaluated complete streets policies in 2006, the median score was 34 and by 2015 the median score had risen to 68.4. In 2016, the median score leapt to 80.8. Before 2012, no policy had scored higher than 90. And it wasn’t until 2015 that any policy scored a perfect 100. In 2016, 51 policies scored a 90 or higher, including 3 policies that scored a perfect 100. These gains are a testament to communities’ commitment to passing strong, impactful policies.

By passing strong complete streets policies these communities are making a clear commitment to streets that are safe and convenient for everyone. And they do so at a time when our country desperately needs safer options for biking and walking. …

Complete streets is more than a checklist. It’s a frame of mind. A complete streets approach integrates the needs of people and place in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation networks. Complete streets redefines what a transportation network looks like, which goals a transportation agency is going to meet, and how a community prioritizes its transportation spending. It breaks down the traditional separation in planning for different modes of travel, and emphasizes context-sensitive, multimodal project planning, design, and implementation. In doing so, a complete streets approach can make streets safer and more convenient for everyone.

The article also explained the need for programs such as Complete Streets:

As a nation we face an epidemic of obesity and its related illnesses. The U.S. Surgeon General has recommended making biking and walking a routine part of daily life to help address this health crisis, yet in too many communities streets are not built to safely accommodate these activities. Smart Growth America’s recent report Dangerous by Design 2016 outlined the enduring problem of pedestrian fatalities in the United States, and highlighted the 46,149 people who were struck and killed by cars while walking between 2005 and 2014. Over that period Americans were seven times as likely to be killed as a pedestrian than by a natural disaster. During the same period, more than 7,000 people were killed while biking.

Dangerous by Design 2016 also showed that people of color and older adults are over-represented among pedestrian deaths, and that pedestrian risk is correlated with median household income as well as rates of uninsured individuals. That means people of color most likely face disproportionately unsafe conditions for walking, and low-income metro areas are predictably more dangerous than higher-income ones.

Because of this context, for the first time this year the study looked at the income and racial demographics of the communities included in its analysis. The data showed that communities passing or updating a complete streets policy in 2016 were, on average, slightly more white and more wealthy than the United States as a whole. The average racial makeup of these communities was 76.3 percent white, 10.3 percent black or African American, 0.8 percent American Indian, 5.3 percent Asian, 0.1 percent Pacific Islander, 4.1 percent other, and 3.1 percent two or more races. In all, 77 percent of localities that passed policies in 2016 had white populations greater than the national average of 73.6 percent. The median household income of communities who passed or updated a policy in 2016 was $59,347, about 10 percent above the national average of $53,889.

Taken together, it is clear that communities are consistently passing stronger and more effective complete streets policies, a significant accomplishment. It is also clear that the challenge now is to help communities of all income levels and ethnicities benefit from this progress equitably.

The article noted that the top three scoring jurisdictions with perfect scores of 100 were: (1) Brockton, Massachusetts; (2) Missoula, Montana; and (3) Wenatchee, Washington. In Maryland, jurisdictions or agencies with Complete Streets initiatives include: (1) the State; (2) State Highway Administration; (3) Baltimore City; (4) Baltimore County; (5) Montgomery County; (6) Prince George’s County; (7) Annapolis; (8) the City of Frederick; (9) Rockville; and (10) Salisbury.

Useful Links

Best Complete Streets Policies of 2016 Report

Dangerous by Design 2016 Report

Smart Growth America Website

National Complete Streets Coalition Webpage

NACo Webinar: National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization – What Counties Need to Know

On Monday, June 26, the National Association of Counties (NACo) will host a webinar to educate stakeholders about the potential impact of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The upcoming webinar titled “National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization: What Counties Need to Know” will provide participants with an overview of the NFIP and how it works. Additionally, the webinar will provide an update about legislation that Congress is developing to reauthorize the program before it expires on September 30, 2017.

Monday’s webinar will feature Caitlin Berni, Vice President for Policy and Communications at Greater New Orleans, Inc., who recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee about the potential impact of changes to the program on communities throughout the United States.

NACo encourages local leaders from communities that participate in the NFIP to register for the webinar by clicking here.

Additional information is available on the NACo website.

PSC Nixes Wind Project in Allegany County

The Maryland Public Service Commission has sided with a public utility law judge’s order denying a wind-power developer’s request to construct a 17-turbine wind farm on Dan’s Mountain, effectively killing the project.

Cumberland Times-News reports,

In a 16-page document released Friday, the PSC affirmed an order issued by Chief Public Utility Law Judge Terry J. Romine in January. The PSC denied Dan’s Mountain Wind Force’s request for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity as well as any other outstanding requests or motions not granted, according to the document.

Dan’s Mountain Wind Force had appealed the judge’s decision in February.

“We find that the project will have an adverse impact on the esthetics of the local communities on and around Dan’s Mountain,” according to the PSC documents. “Further, we find that the adverse impact caused to the comfort of nearby residents by the noise produced and the shadow flicker perceived will not be fully mitigated by incorporating licensing conditions …”

Allegany County officials had also previously denied permits for the project.

Dan’s Mountain Wind Force has argued that the project will create much-needed jobs and tax revenue for the county.

Construction costs were estimated at between $90 million and $100 million by the developer.

Last year during a PSC hearing, Allegany County residents spoke out in opposition of the proposed project, many citing health concerns.

Opponents of the project formed an organization named ANCHOR (Allegany Neighbors & Citizens for Home Owners’ Rights) to challenge the wind farm, expressing concerns including noise and destruction of the views in the neighborhood.

“We find that benefits that may accrue to the public at large by construction of the project do not justify or offset subjecting the local community to the adverse impacts that will result from the project’s construction and operation,” according to the PSC documents.

Read the full article for more information.

TopGolf Plan for South Baltimore Is Ready for Possible Tee-Off

A proposal to open TopGolf at the site of Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter site near M&T Bank Stadium in South Baltimore has been sent to city economic development officials by Towson developer Caves Valley Partners, City Councilman Ed Resiginer said this week. Reisinger represents the 10th District, which includes the area.

Baltimore Business Journal reports,

In the meantime, the city has signed a contract to acquire a 40,000-square-foot facility at 2800 Wegworth Lane near Westport and Cherry Hill for a new BARCS shelter, said Scott Douglas, a principal at Douglas Commercial LLC, which listed the building for sale. Douglas declined to reveal the sales price.

Caves Valley in early April submitted the lone bid for a 2.5-acre parcel of city-owned land at 301 Stockholm St. in response to a request for proposals issued earlier this year by the Baltimore Development Corp., Resiginer said. Another 7 acres located adjacent to the BARCS site would make the development property total 10 acres.

Arsh Mirmiran, a partner in Caves Valley, did not respond to a request for comment.

Adding TopGolf, a national chain with locations in cities that include Las Vegas and Charlotte, N.C., will boost the area’s vibe as am emerging entertainment zone. TopGolf’s feature a 240-yard high-tech driving range, a sports bar and restaurant and party rental hall. The area is currently highlighted by the home turf of the Baltimore Ravens and the Horseshoe Baltimore casino.

The Dallas-based company has been searching to move into Baltimore for about a year. TopGolf is planning its first Maryland location off Interstate 270 in Gaithersburg.

Reisinger said this week the bid to build a TopGolf location there by Caves Valley was moving through city development channels. The site was identified in a 2015 South Baltimore Gateway Master Plan by the city Department of Planning as part of a new “entertainment hub.”

Read the full article for more information.

Frederick Council Passes Bills on Election-Year Zoning, Affordable Housing

The Frederick County Council approved a bill Tuesday night that will halt zoning decisions in the heat of election seasons.

The Frederick News-Post reports,

The bill is similar to a policy used by the Board of Aldermen in the city of Frederick and was put forward by County Executive Jan Gardner (D) with the goal of preventing the appearance of political pressure and undue influence in zoning decisions during election campaigns and in the lame-duck period after them.

Amendments to the bill last month changed the window in which the council could not consider such applications from July 1 in an election year to one day after the council’s inauguration in December.

Under the bill as passed, the County Council wouldn’t be able to make such decisions for about five months during the fourth year of their terms.

The bill passed on a 4-3 vote. Republican councilmen Tony Chmelik, Billy Shreve and Kirby Delauter voted against the bill. Democrats Jerry Donald, Jessica Fitzwater and M.C. Keegan-Ayer supported the bill, along with council President Bud Otis, who is unaffiliated.

Gardner said Tuesday evening that she will sign the bill when it’s presented to her office.

“I’m very pleased that it passed. It’s a win for good government,” she said.

Shreve attempted to change the bill again on Tuesday night, with an amendment that would have the moratorium begin after the 2018 election. He said the current council was elected to carry out their full duties for full four-year terms.

But Donald pointed out that the bill simply lengthens one area of the council’s legislative powers beyond the lame-duck prohibition already included in the county’s charter.

Shreve’s amendment failed in a similar 4-3 vote.

Chmelik said he opposed the measure because it could create a time burden for builders and developers. He said that industry was also unfairly targeted by the legislation while others were not.

But supporters of the bill said at previous public hearings that special scrutiny should be reserved for zoning decisions, which can permanently change the character of areas in the county.

Also on Tuesday night, the council gave final approval to a bill that increases the fees developers pay in lieu of building affordable housing.

The new calculation — which takes into consideration the “affordability gap” between average home sales and the purchasing power of households earning 70 percent of the area median income — would increase the fee to $26,500 for the next three years.

The previous fee was $17,500.

Under the bill, which was sponsored by Fitzwater, the new fee would be calculated triennially.

It passed 5-2 with support from Chmelik, Donald, Fitzwater, Keegan-Ayer and Otis.

Read the full article for more information.

Delmarva Farmer Editorial: No Knockout in BAT Septic Fight

A Delmarva Farmer editorial (2017-06-13) reviewed the 2017 legislative fight over the use of best available nitrogen removal technology (BAT) septic systems outside of the critical areas and argued against efforts over the interim to impose additional requirements on septic systems in rural areas. In 2016, Governor Larry Hogan repealed a regulatory requirement that BAT septic systems had to be used outside of the 1,000 foot critical area buffers for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays. BAT septics remain mandatory within a critical area and counties can require BAT septics outside of the critical area. In response to Hogan’s repeal, several Baltimore-area legislators sponsored legislation (HB 281/SB 266) to codify the prior BAT requirement in statute. A heavily amended version of the bill passed the Senate but was not voted on in the House of Delegates.

From the editorial’s recap of the 2017 Session debate:

The repeal was hailed as a common-sense move by its supporters as wastewater coming from septics often goes through a battery of natural filtering and may never reach a waterway.

Opponents said it would encourage rampant home building increasing pollution from their septic systems. …

“It makes no sense to put an enhanced nutrient removal system in the middle of a farmland 25 miles from any critical area in the state and require (homeowners) to pay any more than necessary,” said Sen. Edward Reilly, R-Anne Arundel, on the Senate floor during debate. “This focuses the efforts and the money on the most important parts of the state.” …

The BAT septic systems can reduce nitrogen by about 60 percent but as the Maryland Association of Counties pointed out in its testimony on the bill, “the nitrogen reduction that will be generated based on the costs required to install (and maintain) BAT systems is neither efficient nor cost-effective.”

The editorial also argued against new requirements on rural septic systems that are being considered by a House Environment and Transportation Committee summer work group:

“We are eager to develop a plan that will reduce pollution from septic systems including better maintenance of the older systems and protect all waters of Maryland from this contamination,” said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, president of 1000 Friends of Maryland. “Rural development must not be a source of new pollution and everyone must do their fair share to protect Maryland waters.”

Doing their fair and then some are the farmers in rural Maryland employing filter strips, precision agriculture and nutrient management to cut pollution going into tributaries and the Bay.

Requiring an upgraded septic would amount to a “double dip” for farmers. Consider the young farmers that the state and nation yearn for.

Upgrading or building a new house on the farm would tack that much more cost on the debt they take on. Is that a fair share?

Useful Links

HB 281 / SB 266 of 2017

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of BAT Septic Systems


Next Gen Program Helps Beginning Farmers With Land Purchases

The Next Generation Farmland Acquisition Program (NGFAP) offers land acquisition assistance to young and beginning farmers and will beginning accepting its initial round of applications in July. NGFAP has been in state law for a number of years but never received start-up funding until the 2017 Session.  The program is based under the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO).

An initial explanatory sheet has been released explaining how NGFAP works and what interested farmers will need to qualify. From the explanatory sheet:

The NGFAP is basically a rapid-response, farmland conservation easement-option-purchase program, designed to help facilitate the transfer of farmland to a new generation of farmers, while also effectively helping to preserve agricultural land from future development. MARBIDCO expects to have nearly $2.5 million to distribute to selected “Next Gen Farmers” during the coming fiscal year (when their farms are being purchased).

Essentially, the NGFAP allows MARBIDCO to provide a qualified “beginner farmer” with a farm purchase down-payment to meet the equity requirements of a commercial lender (in order to help the bank make a farm purchase loan). …

Through the NGFAP, MARBIDCO will pay up to 51% of the Fair Market Value (FMV) of the agricultural land only (with a cap of $500,000) with these funds being provided as a down-payment at a real estate settlement. The Next Gen Farmer will then have a period of several years to sell the permanent conservation easement on the farm to a rural land conservation program (thus extinguishing the development rights on the property forever).  If the Next Gen Farmer cannot sell the permanent easement within the specified timeframe, the option will be exercised (for no additional money) to grant the easement to a “default easement holder” (most likely either the county agricultural land preservation program or a farmland conservation program selected by MARBIDCO).

MARBIDCO anticipates that the NGFAP application materials will be available for viewing on its website by July 1, 2017. …

Further information about the NGFAP may be obtained by contacting Allison Roe, MARBIDCO Financial Programs Associate, at (410) 267-6807, or by visiting MARBIDCO’s website at www.marbidco.org (after July 1st).

Useful Links


State Highway Solicits Input On Traffic Impact Guidelines 

The Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration (SHA) is continuing its work updating its Access Manual to make it more customer service-oriented, and continues to coordinate with counties and municipalities to seek their input. The most recent draft of most of the Access Manual is available here. However, the most recent draft of the traffic impact study (TIS) and mitigation guidelines, which SHA continues to receive input from a number of counties from, is available here.

SHA continues to solicit feedback on these guidelines, and will accept comments through the month of June. Comments may be sent to AMForum@sha.state.md.us. Please copy MACo Associate Director Barbara Zektick at bzektick@mdcounties.org on any county comments submitted. 

In general, the guidelines defer to counties’ Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances (APFOs), where they exist – but SHA may require additional study or mitigation for any development that requires an SHA Access Permit and “generates 50 or more peak hour trips.” Specifically, the latest draft states:

Many counties/jurisdictions have established Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances (APFOs) which outline their requirements for TIS report preparation. The following list summarizes situations regarding the appropriate application of county/jurisdictional APFOs and MDOT-SHA guidelines:

• At the discretion of the MDOT SHA District Engineer, a TIS may be required by MDOT-SHA for any proposed development that generates 50 or more peak hour trips, or any redevelopment that generates 50 or more peak hour trips over the existing site development.

• For those counties/jurisdictions that have not established their own APFOs relating to traffic impact studies, where MDOT-SHA determines the potential for a significant roadway safety concern where an MDOT-SHA Access Permit is needed, MDOT-SHA’s traffic impact study guidelines and procedures should be followed.

• In some cases, where MDOT-SHA determines the potential for a significant roadway safety concern attributable to the proposed development, or redevelopment may not be adequately addressed through County/jurisdictional APFOs, the following supplemental guidelines and procedures established by MDOT-SHA for traffic impact study report preparation and traffic mitigation may be necessary. Any questions with respect to applicability to these supplemental guidelines and procedures should be established during initial scoping for the TIS.

• In cases where no MDOT-SHA Access Permit is needed, the following guidelines and procedures established by MDOT-SHA may be used as guidance for the applicable county/jurisdiction where development or redevelopment is proposed.

Intergovernmental Agriculture Commission Talks Agritourism, Milk, Grant Opportunities

Today the Governor’s Intergovernmental Commission for Agriculture (GICA) held its first meeting of 2017. GICA meets twice a year. The Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) has a seat on the Commission, currently held by MACo Board Member and Talbot County Councilmember Laura Price.

Kevin Atticks and Kelly Dudeck of Grow and Fortify presented on how counties and the State can promote value-added agriculture, including agritourism, within their jurisdictions. They highlighted 22 recommendations made by the group in a report prepared for the Baltimore Metropolitan Council last year.

State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci reported on inspection guidelines for wedding barns, indicating that he intends to relax enforcement of sprinkler requirements for certain events held in barns.

Kirk Engle, representing the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, discussed how the Department partners with dairy farmers and producers to ensure compliance with state and federal laws. The first thing he advises new contacts, he told the group, is to contact their county planning and zoning office to ensure compliance with county land use laws and policies.

Finally, Rural Maryland Council Executive Director Charlotte Davis presented on grant opportunities through the Council, including the Prosperity Investment Fund, which provides grants to county governments and others for projects which improve quality of life in rural Maryland, including infrastructure development. Proposals are due June 9.

Presentations and minutes from the meeting will be made available on GICA’s website. 

MACo Associate Director Barbara Zektick attended the meeting.