2020 End of Session Wrap-Up: Planning & Zoning

This post summarizes the status of various planning and zoning bills that MACo took a position on during the 2020 Regular Session. Planning and zoning is an integral function of county governments, and an area that spurs a high level of interaction with residents and business owners. In its planning and zoning advocacy, MACo seeks to protect the ability of local governments – those closest to the people and with the most insight into local…

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U.S. Census Bureau to Suspend Field Operations Until April 1

The U.S. Census Bureau today announced that it will suspend field operations until April 1 in order to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. The bureau will refocus its resources on phone calls instead of in-person visits. Census data is used to allocate billions of dollars in federal funding for education, health, transportation, housing, community services, and job training. Moreover, businesses and industries decide where to locate new facilities and services based on census…

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Modest Homes Act Passes House With Amendments

HB 1406 The Planning for Modest Homes Act of 2020 has passed the Maryland House of Delegates 99-35, and has been referred to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. Initially, MACo opposed the bill as it would have required all counties to arbitrarily amend their comprehensive zoning plans to allow triplexes in areas zoned for single-family housing. HB 1406 has since been amended to require that comprehensive plans, to the extent practicable, include…

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Counties Oppose Removal of Local Permitting Authority for Electric Fences

On March 12, 2020, MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu and Bill Jorch, from Maryland Municipal League, testified before the Senate Finance Committee to oppose SB 883 (CF HB 1216) – Business Regulation – Security Systems – Battery-Charged Fences. This bill, proposed by businesses wanting to avoid the permitting processes some counties require, would restrict local permitting authority and oversight over electric security fences. From the MACo Testimony: In Maryland, zoning regulations, permitting requirements, and code enforcement are…

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MACo Opposes Removal of Local Authority Over Solar Energy Siting

MACo Legal & Policy Counsel Les Knapp testified with Caroline County Planner Kathleen Freeman to the House Economic Matters Committee on March 5, 2020 to oppose HB 1390 - Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity - Electric Facilities - Study and Procedures. The bill would: (1) remove current incentives for energy developers seeking a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Public Service Commission (PSC) to follow local zoning and land use requirements;…

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Counties Raise Concerns Over “One Size Fits All” Housing Bill

MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler submitted testimony to the House Environment & Transportation Committee to oppose HB 1406 - Land Use - Development - Middle Housing (Modest Home Choices Act of 2020). This bill would force all counties to arbitrarily amend their comprehensive zoning plans with a "one-size-fits all" approach that will not directly address housing affordability across the state. From the MACo Testimony: Some of the biggest affordable housing shortages are in rural jurisdictions…

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Hearing Canceled on Ill-Conceived Rental Licensing Program

The hearing on HB 1199 - Real Property – County Rental Property Licenses – Requirements and Limits was canceled the morning the bill was set to be heard. MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu was set to oppose the bill as it would require counties to establish a licensing program for single-family dwelling units operated as residential rental property and cap licenses for these properties at 15% of all the single-family dwelling units in the county.…

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MACo: Oversight for Electric Fences Should Remain Local

On March 2, 2020, MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu testified with Bill Jorch, from Maryland Municipal League, to oppose HB 1216 (CF SB 883) - Business Regulation – Security Systems – Battery-Charged Fences. This bill would restrict local permitting authority and oversight over security fences. From the MACo Testimony: Counties understand battery-charged fences are intended to serve as security systems to safeguard property and to serve as a deterrent to theft. The fences deliver an…

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Bill Would Repeal Shore Counties’ Limited Approval Authority Over New or Expanded Toll Facilities
(photo source: Wikipedia)
Bill Would Repeal Shore Counties’ Limited Approval Authority Over New or Expanded Toll Facilities

Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller yesterday introduced legislation (SB 1069) to repeal the shore counties’ limited approval authority for new or expanded toll facilities. Since 1978, the majority of affected county governments must consent to the construction of a toll road, toll highway, or toll bridge in Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester counties. According to Maryland Matters: In an interview, Miller said local leaders should not have the power to…

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