Frederick Council Passes Bill to Adjust School Construction Fees

The Frederick County Council yesterday approved a bill to adjust school construction fees assessed on developers whose projects fail the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) Schools test. APFOs are used to slow or restrict growth until adequate infrastructure or public services are in place to serve the new population of residents.

According to WFMD:

These builders can either build the new school capacity and let their projects go forward, or they could stop building homes until the schools are adequate. A law enacted by the last Board of County Commissioners lets developers pay a certain amount toward school construction, and their project is allowed to continue.

This legislation adjusts the fees annually, starting in January 1st, 2019 to January 1st, 2026, without any action by the Council, and are based on the recent school construction cost data from the state, plus two-percent. The annual increase will be no more than six-percent.

Supporters of the legislation pointed to the fact that while school construction costs have steadily increased, developer fees have not been adjusted since 2014. Opponents of the bill argued that increasing developer fees will inevitably drive up housing costs.

Rising school construction costs are a concern for county government officials across Maryland, and ensuring a continued state commitment to education is a MACo Legislative Initiative for the 2019 General Assembly Session.

The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education will recommend major shifts in the relative role of state and local funding in each of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions. At the same time, the 21st Century School Facilities Commission and its legislative outcomes recommended an increased annual State contribution for capital projects, and required ongoing study of school construction project funding and priorities.

MACo advocates for a partnership approach to meeting the education and facility needs of Maryland’s students that fairly balances state responsibilities with local obligations, and seeks equitable and efficient solutions to meet current expenses and future goals.

Useful Links

Read the full article from WFMD

Conduit Street Podcast: Split the Check for School Construction? Not So Fast…

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: It’s Not Apples-to-Apples in School Construction Funding

MACo Symposium Shines a Light on Solar Siting Issues

County elected officials, planners, and other technical staff from across the state attended a MACo-sponsored symposium on the benefits and challenges posed by community and utility scale solar facilities. The symposium addressed the role of solar in Maryland, the approval process for large solar facilities, different stakeholder perspectives on solar, county planning and zoning issues, and county revenue and taxation issues.

Maryland Public Service Commissioner Michael Richard discussed how the solar siting process worked. Richard noted that while the Public Service Commission (PSC) can preempt local authority in siting solar facilities, it was a power that should be used very judiciously and carefully. Richard also stressed that the PSC gives serious consideration to local government recommendations and concerns on solar sites. Solar United Neighbors Lauren Barchi provided the industry perspective on the approval process and discussed how different kinds of solar projects are categorized.

From L to R: Amy Moredock, Katheleen Freeman, and Derick Berlage

Kent County Planning, Housing, and Zoning Director Amy Moredock; Caroline County Planning and Codes Director Katheleen Freeman, and Prince George’s County Countywide Planning Division Chief Derick Berlage described how each of their respective counties developed zoning rules for large solar facilities. Key concerns raised by the panel included (1) protecting prime agricultural lands, historical sites and viewsheds; (2) managing Forest Conservation Act requirements; (3) and how to handle sensitive environmental lands, such as within critical areas.

Carroll County Management and Budget Director Ted Zaleski and MD-DC-DE-VA Solar Energy Industries Association Executive Director David Murray discussed how counties can earn revenue from solar sites. Zaleski focused on property tax assessments, personal property tax assessments, Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) programs, and permitting fees.

From L to R: David Murray, Colby Ferguson, David Smedick, Nicholas Redding, Lynn Heller

A separate panel provided different stakeholder perspectives on solar projects. The panel included Murray, Maryland Farm Bureau Government Relations Director Colby Ferguson, Sierra Club Maryland Chapter Campaign and Policy Director David Smedick, Preservation Maryland Executive Director Nicholas Redding, and Climate Access Fund Founder/CEO Lynn Heller.

The symposium also provided information on several successful solar projects in Frederick and Prince George’s Counties and included a facilitated audience discussion at the end of the day.

The Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club and Solar United Neighbors co-sponsored the symposium.

Useful Links

Sierra Club Maryland Chapter Website

Solar United Neighbors Website


Nature Conservancy Hosting Listening Sessions on Solar & Wind Siting

The Nature Conservancy is hosting three listening sessions across Maryland to discuss how to better site solar and wind facilities in the state while still protecting other land uses. County officials are invited to participate. There is no cost to attend but you must register in advance.

From the registration page:

The Nature Conservancy is hosting three listening sessions to gather input from a wide variety of stakeholders about renewable energy deployment across Maryland. These facilitated discussions will focus on how we can accelerate renewable energy development in places that balance impacts on natural resources and other vital land uses. From the input received, we will develop a report that evaluates the feasibility of future development and identifies hurdles for deployment.

Each listening session will address the same questions (more detail on the topics will be provided upon registration) so please attend whichever session is most convenient. Snacks and refreshments will be provided.

The three sessions include:

Frederick, MD
October 17, 2018
12:30-3:30 PM
Olde Mother Brewing
526 N Market St, Frederick, MD 21701

Annapolis, MD
October 22, 2018
12:30-3:30 PM
Governor Calvert House
58 State Circle Annapolis, MD

Salisbury, MD
October 26, 2018
12:30-3:30 PM
Evolution Craft Brewing Co. & Public House
201 E Vine St, Salisbury, MD

Useful Links

Registration Page

Nature Conservancy Website

Montgomery County Council Debates Next Steps for Small Cells

The Montgomery County Council continues to consider a proposed zoning text amendment (ZTA) that would allow the attachment of small cells to existing utility poles in residential areas. 

Time — specifically when to take action on the residential zoning proposal — was the central issue of discussion. As Bethesda Magazine reports:

Council President Hans Riemer said during a work session Tuesday that now is as good a time as ever to pass the legislation in the event that the county takes the FCC to court over the matter. Failing to pass the measure, he said, would show weakness.

Timing concerns included (1) the recent FCC small cell order which preempts local governments on certain issues and is anticipated to be challenged by a number of jurisdictions across the nation; (2) elections in a few weeks will lead to many new faces on the council unfamiliar with the details of the 2 year+ local process; and (3) anticipation that another statewide small cell bill will be introduced during the 2019 session.

The article also discussed outstanding technical issues that still need to be addressed including setbacks distances from buildings and where conditional use zoning should apply. The council will discuss the proposal again at their October 23, 2018 council meeting.

For more information:

County Council Ambivalent Over Whether To Take Action on Small Cell Antennas Bill (Bethesda Magazine)

FCC Approves Small Cell Order; Limits Local Authority (Conduit Street)

Montgomery County Sets Zoning Standards for Small Cell Antennas (Conduit Street)

Statewide Small Cell Bill Falters; Focus on Local Efforts (Conduit Street)

MDP Highlights Pending Land Use Challenges for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

MDP logoA Maryland Planning Blog article (2018-10-03) discussed how Maryland is preparing for connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) and the land use challenges this emergent technology may pose. The article noted that many vehicles already on the road have some level of autonomous control (such as traction control, lane changing, maintaining distance from other vehicles, and parking), full self-driving vehicles are likely to appear in the near future. The article noted the work that the Maryland Department of Transportation has done through its CAV Working Group and CAV Strategic Action Plan.

The article focused on the potential land use implications, noting that the full effects of CAVs are not yet known. From the article:

The land use impacts of CAVs are not yet known or understood. As the technology draws nearer, local comprehensive plans will need to address the changes CAVs may have on street design and parking, zoning codes, as well as on other modes of transportation, including transit, bicycles, and pedestrian facilities.  Several metropolitan planning organizations (MPO), states and local governments are considering these changes in their comprehensive or transportation plans.

The article noted that the Wilmington Area Planning Council for Cecil County, Maryland and New Castle County, Delaware has included CAV language in its Long-Range Transportation Plan and that the District of Columbia is also considering CAV language in its comprehensive plan. The article also referenced several American Planning Association reports:


  • The American Planning Association has completed several recent reports on the topic.  These include:
  • “Autonomous Vehicles: Planning for Impacts on Cities and Regions,” a general overview on how CAVs may affect cities and regions;
  • “Preparing Communities for Autonomous Vehicles,” a detailed review of CAV effects including design;
  • “Principles for Autonomous Vehicle Policy,” an overview of CAV policy principles; and
  • “Planning for Autonomous Mobility (PAS 592), Executive Summary,” a new report that provides basic knowledge and policy recommendations in planning for CAVs.

The article also stated that CAVs were frequently raised during the first round of the Maryland Department of Planning’s listening sessions for the new State Development Plan, A Better Maryland.

Useful Links

CAV News Webpage (through Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration)

Wilmington Area Planning Council Website

American Planning Association Website 

Public Comment Period Open For 2040 Maryland Transportation Plan

The public comment period is now open for the 2040 Maryland Transportation Plan (MTP). The MTP is a statewide transportation plan that outlines how Maryland will develop and maintain its transportation network for the next 20 years. and guides all transportation projects and investments. The MTP is updated every 5 years.

The draft 2040 MPT outlines seven goals and numerous recommendations on how to achieve those goals. From the 2040 MTP’s webpage:

[MDOT] held an internal MDOT engagement session and has conducted external surveys, including an interactive online survey for Maryland residents to learn about and provide input on their transportation priorities in Maryland. All of these interactions, along with our mission statement and existing plans and programs have helped to shape the development of the draft 2040 MTP goals and objectives.

A goal is a broad statement with a desired result that reflects the overall MDOT mission statement. The objectives are more targeted outcomes within the goal area. Within the goals and objectives, associated performance measures are being developed to evaluate how well we annually achieve the 2040 MTP goals. An advisory committee is working with us to provide recommendations on these performance measures.

Source: Maryland Department of Transportation

Public comments may be to MDOT via email at Public comments are due by November 14.

Useful Links

2040 MTP Draft Plan

2040 MTP Public Survey Results

MTP Technical Memorandum Conditions, Trends, and Challenges (published February, 2018)

2040 MTP Timeline



A Better Maryland is Visiting a Community Near You

The Maryland Department of Planning is conducting its second round of community outreach for A Better Maryland.

We previously visited your community and we are returning to continue the dialogue. Your suggestions were incredibly informed and detailed and we would appreciate your assistance this fall.

-The Maryland Department of Planning

A Better Maryland

The department has teamed up with the Smart Growth Subcabinet, the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, American Planning Association (APA) Maryland, and planning directors from across the state to compile and analyze previously provided input.

They have compiled feedback by county on their website.

The following are scheduled visits throughout the state:

Allegany County: 
Tuesday, October 9, 6:00 pm
Frostburg State University
Lyric Theatre
20 E. Main Street
Frostburg, MD 21532

Baltimore City: 
Thursday, November 8, 7:00 pm
Morgan State University
Center for Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies, Room 111
5299 Perring Parkway
Baltimore, MD 21214

Baltimore County: 
Thursday, October 25, 7:00 pm
New Town Elementary School Cafeteria
4924 New Town Boulevard
Owings Mills, MD 21117

Cecil County: 
Tuesday, October 23, 7:00 pm
Town Hall
515 Broad Street
Perryville, MD 21903

Charles County: 
Thursday, October 18, 7:00 pm
Waldorf Cultural Center
109 Post Office Road
Waldorf, MD 20602

Howard County: 
Thursday, November 15, 7:00 pm
Howard County Library
East Columbia Branch – Lucille Clifton Room AB
6600 Cradlerock Way
Columbia, MD 21045

Kent County: 
Wednesday, November 14, 6:30 pm
Chestertown Town Office – 2nd Floor
118 N Cross St
Chestertown, MD 21620

Montgomery County: 
Wednesday, October 24, 7:00 pm
Gaithersburg Community Center – Room B
810 S. Frederick Ave
Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Prince George’s County: 
Tuesday, October 16, 6:30 pm
Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
6600 Kenilworth Ave
Riverdale, MD 20737

Somerset County: 
Wednesday, October 17, 6:30 pm
Somerset County Commissioner’s Office, Room 111
11916 Somerset Ave
Princess Anne, MD 21853

Talbot County: 
Thursday, November 1, 6:00 pm
Talbot County Community Center
Wye Oak Room
10228 Ocean Gateway
Easton, MD 21601

Washington County: 
Wednesday, October 10, 6:30 pm
Hagerstown Community College
Career Program Building, Rooms 212 and 214
11400 Robinwood Dr
Hagerstown, MD 21742

Meeting Topics:

  • Tackling the Economic Development Needs of the Next Century
  • Sustaining the Environment into the Future
  • Preserving Land
  • Improving Economic Growth and Development in Existing Communities
  • Meeting Renewable Energy Goals
  • Addressing Maryland’s Transportation, Infrastructure, and Technology Challenges and Opportunities
  • Creating Workforce/Affordable Housing
  • Building Capacity in Communities
  • Protecting Historic and Cultural Resources
  • Creating Quality Places
  • Coordinating State Agencies in Planning Processes
  • Adapting and Becoming Resilient to Climate Change
  • Respecting Regional Distinctions
  • Improving the Delivery of Programs and Services to Local Jurisdictions


Howard County Council, Main Street Businesses Wrestle With Proposed Ellicott City Flood Plan

Baltimore Sun article (2018-09-28) explored the dilemmas posed to Ellicott City businesses and the Howard County government as the County Council prepares to vote on funding for a five-year flood control plan. The plan was developed after two historic floods that caused millions of dollars in property damage to the City’s Main Street and several deaths. From the article:

On Monday, the Howard County Council is scheduled to vote on a bill that would allocate nearly $17 million toward a five-year flood control plan. The bills represent part of a larger $50 million package — advocated by County Executive Allan Kittleman and Ellicott City’s representative on the council, Jon Weinstein — that would implement a massive flood mitigation effort.

The package includes culvert projects, expansion of a channel for the Tiber River, creation of new open space along the Patuxent and the controversial proposal to purchase and raze 19 buildings, including 10 in the historic district. Officials say removing buildings would create an open space to deepen and expand the channel to slow floodwaters.

The article presented the viewpoints of several Main Street business owners on the County’s proposed flood control plans as well as the their personal decisions about whether to reopen or close up shop. Concerns included whether the flood control plan is sufficient to mitigate potentially catastrophic flooding and whether a current development moratorium for surrounding areas will be maintained in the future.

The article also discussed reactions to the most controversial part of the flood control plan – the demolition of 19 buildings. As previously reported on Conduit Street, historic preservation group Preservation Maryland expressed strong opposition to the demolition, citing the results of a Mason-Dixon poll that found 74 percent of the residents would prefer a flood control plan that did not raze the buildings. Kittleman and Weinstein responded that the decision to demolish the buildings was based on engineering studies, running numerous “what if” scenarios, and public safety considerations.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Ellicott City flooding



Sustainable Growth Commission Discusses A Better Maryland, Transportation, and Parks Plans

The Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission heard on updates on the new State Development Plan, A Better Maryland; the 2040 Maryland Transportation Plan; and the Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan at its September 24, 2018, meeting in Leonardtown.

A Better Maryland

Maryland Secretary of Planning Robert McCord, Special Secretary of Smart Growth Wendi Peters and other Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) representatives provided an update on the new State Development Plan, A Better Maryland. The plan, which is expected to be finalized in 2019, is currently being developed by MDP after several rounds of statewide listening tours.

The plan will broadly focus on environment and economic development issues – the two top areas of concerns raised by listening tour participants. The plan will be developed around four issue groupings: (1) environmental issues; (2) economic development issues; (3) community development issues; and (4) collaboration/coordination issues. MDP has currently identified 14 issues that will fall under these four issue groupings.

Environmental Issues

  • Sustaining the environment into the future
  • Preserving land
  • Adapting and becoming resilient to climate change

Economic Development Issues

  • Tackling the economic development needs of the next century
  • Improving economic growth and development in existing communities
  • Meeting renewable energy goals
  • Addressing Maryland’s transportation, infrastructure, and technology challenges and opportunities

Community Development Issues

  • Creating workforce/affordable housing
  • Building capacity in communities
  • Protecting historic and cultural resources
  • Creating quality places

Collaboration//Coordination Issues

  • Coordinating State agencies in planning process
  • Respecting regional distinctions
  • Improving the delivery of programs and services to local jurisdictions

The plan will provide further details on addressing each of these issues as a full draft of the plan is developed.

2040 Maryland Transportation Plan

Charles Glass from the Maryland Department of Transportation provided an update on the state’s draft 2040 transportation plan, which will chart Maryland’s long-range transportation funding and project programming. The plan is updated every 5 years. The 2040 plan contains seven overall goals:

  1. Provide better transportation choices and connections
  2. Ensure a safe, secure, and resilient transportation system
  3. Maintain a high standard and modernize Maryland’s multimodal transportation system
  4. Improve the quality and efficiency of the transportation system to enhance the customer experience
  5. Promote fiscal responsibility
  6. Facilitate economic opportunity and reduce congestion in Maryland through strategic system expansion
  7. Ensure environmental protection and sensitivity

Each goal includes a set of objectives and strategies for achieving those objectives. The 2040 plan will include significant components to begin addressing: (1) electric vehicles; (2) autonomous and connected vehicles; (3) climate impacts; and (4) the shared mobility economy.

Public comments on the draft 2040 plan are due by November 14.

Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan

Sandi Olek from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources provided a short update on the state’s recreation plan. The recreation plan, which includes information and plans created by local governments, is needed to access federal funding for parks and land preservation. The theme of the pending plan will be connectivity, including ensuring equitable access to green space.

Leonardtown Update

Leonardtown Mayor Dan Burris and Town Administrator Lachelle McKay provided an overview of the town’s revitalization and growth plans. Both noted their positive working relationship with St. Mary’s County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioners James Guy, Tom Jarboe, and Michael Hewitt also attended the meeting.

MACo representatives on the Commission include Garrett County Planning and Land Management Director Deborah Carpenter and MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp. The Commission’s next meeting is scheduled for November 26, 2018, in Gaithersburg.

Useful Links

Sustainable Growth Commission Webpage

Learn to Grow Your Community Forest at Sustainable Maryland Workshops








Sustainable Maryland is offering a leadership training workshop on “Growing the Community Forest” to municipal and county elected officials and staff. The workshop is offered on three different dates in Central Maryland, Western Maryland, and the Eastern Shore.

From an email notice (2018-09-24) of the event:

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland will host Sustainable Maryland’s annual Leadership Training workshops in November. This training series fosters leadership skills to engage diverse stakeholders, reduce contention, and garner support for sustainability initiatives.

This year’s workshop topic, GROWING THE COMMUNITY FOREST, will incorporate examples, stories and tools that will help communities to strengthen and expand local tree canopy. Trees are unique amongst urban infrastructure, in that over time, they appreciate in both value and capacity. Learn about the benefits of a healthy community forest; funding sources and technical assistance available for maintaining and growing your town’s tree canopy; and examples of how to engage residents to support this vital green infrastructure in their neighborhoods.

The cost for county officials and staff is $35, which includes breakfast, lunch, program materials, and parking. The event is co-sponsored by MACo and the Maryland Municipal League.

The workshop dates and locations include:

  • Thursday, November 8, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm at Hyattsville City Hall, Hyattsville
  • Thursday, November 13, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm at Cambridge Police Department, Cambridge
  • Wednesday, November 14, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm at University System of Maryland, Hagerstown

A full agenda will be available soon. If you have any questions please contact Mike Hunninghake at or 301-405-7956.

Useful Links

Register for November 8 Hyattsville Workshop

Register for November 13 Cambridge Workshop

Register for November 14 Hagerstown Workshop

Sustainable Maryland Website