States & Cities Ponder Ending Detached Single-Family Zoning

A New York Times article (2019-06-18) analyzed the debate taking place in some states cities about reducing or eliminating single-family detached homes and replacing them with townhomes, duplexes, or other multi-family dwellings. Supporters argue the move is necessary to address affordable housing, racial inequality, and climate change. Critics argue the move could create infrastructure challenges, reduce property values and quality of life, and fundamentally upset the character of certain neighborhoods. The article indicated that several jurisdictions are…

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Cecil Has a New Tool to Expand High-Speed Internet Access

In today’s world, internet connectivity is no longer a luxury—it is a necessity. Access to affordable internet, broadband, wireless, and cellular services is an essential component of a county’s economic development and the socio-economic advancements of its residents. Residents benefit from increased economic growth, improved labor market access and outcomes, access to better health care, enhanced civic participation, enriched education opportunities, improved quality of life, and overall competitive and vibrant communities. When Senate Bill 229…

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Baltimore County Considers Solar Panels on Government Properties & Parks

A Baltimore Sun article (2019-05-31) reported that Baltimore County is considering a plan to place solar panels on a variety of public properties and buildings. The plan would involve a power purchase agreement with no up front costs for the County. In exchange for receiving the generated energy and helping the County meet its goal of 20% renewable energy by 2022, the County would provide the participating solar company with financial benefits such as tax credits and…

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Attend MPCA’s Annapolis Planning Commissioners Workshop to Discuss Regional Issues

The Maryland Planning Commissioners Association (MPCA) is hosting a Regional Planning Commissioners Workshop in Annapolis on Friday, July 19. The Workshop is part of a regional series of workshops that highlights the role of being a planning commissioner, regional land use issues, and the technical assistance and resources that MPCA can provide. From the Workshop's flyer: Learn about the MPCA, network with fellow planners and commissioners, and  join us in a regional conversation Topics will…

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The County Program: Local Duties, Local Powers

State preemption of local laws, in particular those laws seeking to advance health, environment, and community preservation aims, is a national issue. This article is the first in a series exploring local government powers, their preemption, and implications for Maryland. What Makes Maryland #Countystrong? As compared with other states in the US, Maryland’s county governments have a relatively large role in the delivery of public services. This is in part because Maryland, unlike other states,…

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Land Trust Alliance Offers Utility Scale Solar Siting Webinar

The Land Trust Alliance has opened registration for a November webinar on the responsible siting of utility scale solar facilities, particularly on lands subject to a conservation easement. The webinar, titled "Things are Heating Up: How to Site and Design Utility-Scale Solar Projects Responsibly," will take place on November 13, 2019. From the webinar's webpage: Your most ardent conservation-minded landowner comes to you wanting to put solar on her farm as part of her efforts…

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Federal Courts Continue to Grapple with Sign Restriction Cases

A Route Fifty article (2019-05-20) reported that the federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked the City of Bel-Nor, Missouri from enforcing a local sign law that prohibits a resident from displaying more than one sign at a time on their property. The article noted that the holding is a follow-up on a 2015 US Supreme Court Case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, which ruled that setting specific guidelines for different types of signs was unconstitutional. After…

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GreenPrint Tool Helps Counties Value Open Space & Ecological Lands

A Maryland Planning Blog article (2019-05-29) highlighted the 1-year anniversary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) GreenPrint/Parcel Evaluation Tool. The Tool helps counties and other users put a dollar-value on the conservation and environmental  benefits of open space, forests, wetlands, and other ecologically important lands. From the article: “The Parcel Evaluation Tool was created to reveal the relative importance of natural areas across the state that typically may not be considered when making…

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MACo Submits Comments on “A Better Maryland”

MACo offered both praise and constructive criticism in its comments on the draft of the new state development plan, A Better Maryland. State law has required the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) to develop a statewide development plan for several decades. The Administration of Governor Martin O'Malley created the first plan, called PlanMaryland. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan rescinded PlanMaryland and ordered the drafting of a new plan via Executive Order in 2017. MDP developed the new plan…

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Counties Converse on Land Conservation at MET Conference

County elected officials and professional staff turned out to discussed the importance of land conservation at an annual conference hosted by the Maryland Environmental Trust. The Maryland Land Conservation Conference & Symposium focused on land preservation from agricultural, environmental, historical, and recreational perspectives. The second day of the Conference focused entirely on the role of counties in land preservation efforts. The Conference was held on May 16 and 17 at the Maritime Conference Center in Linthincum…

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