Montgomery Seeks Public Input on Small Cell Antenna Zoning

(Photo courtesy of Montgomery County Office of Public Information)

Montgomery County is seeking input from residents on a draft Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) that would address the deployment of small cell antennas on public property, including streetlights and low buildings.

Small cells are wireless antennas that have a smaller footprint and shorter range than macro cells (what you would typically imagine as a large, tall, and free standing cell tower), allowing them to be placed on short poles and existing structures such as streetlights and buildings. The technology is proliferating in part to increase network capacity and coverage as the demand for wireless services has increased.

Additional background from the county’s Office of Public Information:

Because wireless technology is evolving, Montgomery County has recently received an unprecedented number of applications to deploy small cell antennas in residential neighborhoods as well as commercial areas around the County. Federal law is clear that Montgomery County cannot pass zoning laws that would have the effect of prohibiting service throughout the County. Therefore, the proposed ZTA is intended to allow providers to provide service while protecting the character of both our residential neighborhoods and commercial areas by regulating how and where these antennas can be placed, and how they should be screened or camouflaged.

Community meeting information:

  • Date: Monday, October 23, 2017
  • Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
  • Location: Stella B Warner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, 3rd Floor Hearing Room, Rockville, MD 20850

To view the live community meeting remotely:

For more information on the meeting, to view the amendment, and to submit comments visit:

Montgomery County Transition Facilities Coordination Group – Information on Draft ZTA Amendment

 

Montgomery Passes Legislation On Short-Term Rentals

Legislation Addresses Short-Term Rental Services Like Airbnb and HomeAway

The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to enact two legislative proposals that address the legal and regulatory status of short-term rentals in the County. The two measures, Zoning Text Amendment 17-03 and Bill 2-16, represent Council Vice President Riemer’s and the Montgomery County Planning Board’s recommendations to balance the substantial economic potential for County residents of short-term residential services like Airbnb with concerns about regulating these services.

According to a press release:

ZTA 17-03 makes bed and breakfasts limited uses in most residential and mixed-use zones. It limits the total number of adult overnight guests in a short-term rental to six, limits the total number of adult overnight guests per bedroom to two, and requires one off-street parking space for each rental contract. These measures put in place a regulatory framework that did not exist before, addressing concerns about the potential for residential housing to be used exclusively as a short-term rental service.

ZTA 17-03 was approved with two revisions: (1) The dwelling unit used as a short-term rental must be the property owner’s or owner-authorized resident’s primary residence, which was an amendment recommended by the PHED Committee and (2) If the property owner or owner-authorized resident is not present in the residence, the property can be used as a short-term residential rental for a maximum of 120 days in a calendar year, which was an amendment recommended by Councilmember Katz.

The Council also enacted Bill 2-16, which requires that several conditions be met to receive short-term residential licensing. Bill 2-16 was introduced by Council Vice President Riemer and cosponsored by Councilmember Rice.

“By bringing all the stakeholders together, we were able to find a balance that works for us here in Montgomery County,” said Council Vice President Riemer. “This legislation will allow residents and visitors to get the value of home-sharing services, while preventing abuse and stopping investors from creating de facto hotels in residential neighborhoods and taking valuable housing stock off the market.”

Useful Links

Montgomery County Council Bill 2-16

Montgomery County Council Zoning Text Amendment 17-03

MDE Releases Draft Nutrient Credit Trading Regulations

A Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) news release (2017-10-11) announced the release of draft regulations that would establish a water quality nutrient credit trading program. The draft regulations culminate a series of attempts that began in 2012 to establish a viable nutrient credit trading program. MACo believes a strong trading program can assist local governments in meeting their water quality goals under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load. From the MDE news release:

The Maryland Department of the Environment has proposed regulations to establish the Maryland Water Quality Trading Program and accelerate the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay while bringing economic benefits to Maryland. The regulations are proposed under Maryland environmental law to ensure enforcement and accountability under the federal Clean Water Act.

The proposed regulations are designed to provide greater flexibility and reduce costs in achieving Maryland’s goals under its blueprint to meet federal pollution limits for the Bay. The voluntary program would establish a marketplace for private sector participation in meeting Bay cleanup goals.

Nutrient and sediment credit trading offer attractive alternatives to more costly traditional approaches for improving water quality and have the potential to achieve results more quickly and at a lower cost, accelerating efforts to restore and improve water quality. The trading program that would be established by the proposed regulations expands opportunities for all sources by giving them access to a water quality marketplace and flexibility in meeting and maintaining their pollution limits by acquiring credits generated from load reductions in local watersheds in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“Maryland is a leader in reducing greenhouse gases and is now poised to make similar gains for clean water with nutrient credit trading,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “We can speed up the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and reduce the cost of restoration with innovative partnerships and regulatory safeguards.”

The proposed regulations were developed with significant input from the Maryland Water Quality Trading Advisory Committee. Earlier this year, the Maryland Departments of the Environment and Agriculture published a draft “Maryland Trading and Offset Policy and Guidance Manual” in consultation with the Advisory Committee.

In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), with pollution limits and load allocations for the pollutants nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. Maryland developed a Watershed Implementation Plan, or blueprint, that allocates pollution loads for the wastewater, stormwater, septic, agricultural and forest sectors.

The Maryland Water Quality Trading Program will allow agricultural sources that have reduced their pollution beyond the required “baseline” to produce credits that can be purchased by counties or municipalities to meet Bay cleanup requirements to reduce polluted stormwater runoff. The cost of reducing nitrogen could be as low as $200 per pound in the agriculture sector, compared to an estimated $3,800 per pound for urban retrofits to reduce stormwater runoff.

The proposed regulations include mechanisms for the Department of the Environment to certify credits for trading. The certification process relies heavily on EPA Chesapeake Bay Program modeling tools, expert panel reviews of Best Management Practices and other technical and policy support. The Department of the Environment’s review would include limits on the geography within which a trade can take place and evaluate expected improvements in water quality.

The Department of the Environment submitted the proposed regulations yesterday to the Administrative Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) Committee for a 15-day review. The Department expects to submit proposed regulations for publication in the Maryland Register in November. A public comment period would follow that publication.

Useful Links

MDE Draft Nutrient Credit Trading Regulations

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Nutrient Credit Trading

Queen Anne’s Making Progress On SKI Sewer Project

Failing septic systems can cause hydraulic fractures and water contamination. In order to address this issue on South Kent Island (SKI) in Queen Anne’s County, sewer lines are being extended to replace aging septic systems. The $34 million project to connect 1,518 existing homes and eight commercial properties to Queen Anne’s County’s public sewer system. The project will be implemented in four phases over a 10-year period.

The County’s initiative to provide public sewer will overcome the site limitations of the region by segregating the sewage effluent from the high groundwater. The plan will also provide superior treatment of the effluent at the existing Kent Narrows / Stevensville / Grasonville (KNSG) wastewater treatment plant by eliminating pathogens as well as reducing nitrogen loads.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) estimates that 30,400 pounds per year of nitrogen are currently being discharged into the Chesapeake Bay from the SKI service area. After connection to the KN/S/G wastewater treatment, MDE estimates that 13,100 pounds per year of nitrogen will be discharged from the SKI service area. This is a reduction of 17,300 pounds per year of nitrogen, which far exceeds the nitrogen reduction from alternative on-site sewage disposal systems. This reduction in nitrogen loads will also help the County reach about 33 percent of its septic system goal for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan.

Estimated project costs were reduced significantly through the use of the septic tank effluent pumping (STEP) system that limits transmission of effluent to greywater. This technology eliminated the need for intermediate pumping stations and minimized sources for inflow and infiltration.

The Queen Anne’s County Department of Public Works on Tuesday released a September progress report.

According to the report:

STEP
Contractor installed 19 tanks for the month. That brings the total tanks installed, as of 9-30-17, to 142. That equals about 23% of the contract amount paid to date with 21% of the contract time used. The contractor will be installing tanks on Utah next week. The contractor has indicated that they will be mobilizing an additional crew to start installing tanks. They will also be working on installing electrical disconnects on some of the sites that already have tanks installed. They will be contacting the homeowners of those sites before working on the outside electrical meters. County staff has received 588 easements to date. This is about 76% of all easements required.

Community
Contractor installed about 1500 lf of pipe by the open cut method this month. They have also installed 10 clean-outs for the month and connected several drill shots to open-cut pipes. This equates to about 67% of the contract paid out with 41% of the contract time used. Contractor will finish installing pipe in phase “C” and move to phase “B” to finish connection there.

Transmission
Contractor installed about 1050 lf of pipe by the open cut method this month. That makes about 76% of the contract paid out with 41% of the contract time used. This pipe is filling in some areas that were skipped over due to the extremely wet conditions at the time they were first there. It is also connecting some drill shots together. Contractor will continue filling in these gaps heading south along RT 8 from Baltimore.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: BPW Approves Long-Standing Kent Island Sewer Project

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Tackling Complex Public Works Projects at #MACoCon

Board of Public Works Approves $23 Million In Rural Legacy Grants

The Board of Public Works unanimously adopted a Maryland Department of Natural Resources recommendation approving 17 Rural Legacy Program grants – totaling over $23 million. Funding from these grants will permanently protect over 6,500 acres of working farms, forests and open space in 18 counties.

According to a press release:

The projects include protecting productive farmland, natural habitat, scenic view sheds, shorelines, wetlands, and woodlands as well as cultural, historical, and natural resources.

Established in 1997, the Rural Legacy Program is designed to preserve large tracts of productive and valuable agricultural and forested lands that contain exceptional features. The program acts through local government or private land trust sponsors to purchase conservation easements from willing property owners in 31 locally-designated rural areas located in every county. To date, the program has permanently protected 91,398 acres.

Here is a listing of Rural Legacy Program grants (alphabetically by area):

Read the full press release for more information.

LGAC Charts Local Path For Bay TMDL Final Phase

The Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) met on October 5 and 6 to prepare recommendations regarding local government participation and concerns in meeting Chesapeake Bay Agreement goals, including the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) for the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). The meeting took place in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

LGAC is part of the Chesapeake Bay Program and advises the Executive Council on local government engagement, challenges, and needs in meeting Bay water quality and habitat goals. Its membership includes county and municipal representatives from all six bay watershed states and the District of Columbia.

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state environmental agency representatives briefed LGAC on the Bay TMDL midpoint assessment, including how additional pollution loads from growth, the Conowingo Dam, and climate change would be incorporated into the pending local water goals that will be issued by EPA. One proposal regarding the Conowingo Dam load would add the load to the Susquehanna River basin and those basins where it would be most “cost effective” to treat the loads (primarily the upper eastern and western shore areas in Maryland).

Each Bay state also reported out on their local engagement efforts and current best practices and challenges. The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay discussed its local watershed education and capacity building project. In Maryland, the Alliance will be working directly with MACo on curriculum development for local elected officials. Another presentation addressed alternative financing for stormwater projects.

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp participated in the meeting on behalf of Maryland’s counties. For further information, please contact Les at 410.269.0043 or lknapp@mdcounties.org.

Useful Links

LGAC Webpage

Chesapeake Bay Program Website

 

Sustainable Maryland Offering Community Resiliency Workshops

Sustainable Maryland is offering a series of leadership training seminars on building community resiliency throughout Maryland in partnership with the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland. MACo and the Maryland Municipal League are co-sponsoring the events.

From a Sustainable Maryland announcement email:

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, BUILDING COMMUNITY RESILIENCE, will incorporate examples, stories and tools that will help communities: define resilience; foster strategies to develop resilience actions; and improve participants’ ability to communicate the importance of resilience to residents.

The training is being held at three different locations and dates:

There is a $35 registration fee that includes breakfast, lunch, and program materials. Parking at each event is free.

AGENDA

Contact Mike Hunninghake at mikeh75@umd.edu or 301-405-7956 if you have any questions.

Useful Links

Sustainable Maryland Website

Environmental Finance Center Website

Princess Anne Revitalization Contingent on Partnerships & Individual Projects

A DelmarvaNow article (2017-10-02) discussed the revitalization of historic downtown Princess Anne in Somerset County and highlighted the both individual projects and partnerships that have made the ongoing revitalization efforts successful. The article noted that Princess Anne contains approximately 250 historically important buildings downtown, including a uniquely designed courthouse.

One critical aspect discussed by the article is the town’s partnership with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). UMES staffs the Hawks Corner, a community engagement office located in downtown Princess Anne that is staffed by UMES Coordinator for Outreach and Strategic Initiatives Walter Woods:

Inside is exhibit space displaying art created by students, meeting space that’s available to the community and a storefront where Hawks merchandise is sold. …

Woods, who is a member of the International Town Gown Association, wants to focus on creating what he calls “One Princess Anne.” His plans include offering Business During Hours events, a play on the Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours gatherings, and monthly brown bag lunch meetings in which UMES faculty members will present informal talks on down-to-earth topics, such as cancer research, beets or childhood obesity.

According to the article, another key aspect of Princess Anne’s revitalization is based on key individual projects, such as the ongoing renovation of the former Princess Anne Pharmacy building, which will house a Behavioral Health Services branch and Maple Shade Youth & Family Services on the first floor and four apartments on the second floor.

Dr. Niru Jani, chief administrator of Behavioral Health Services, with offices in Salisbury, Cambridge and other Shore locations, purchased the property at auction this summer. …

“The building is so beautiful, we want to bring it back to its original glory,” Jani said. “When the storefronts are completed inside, we want to restore the exterior, but we are hoping for help in the form of grants to help with the cost of the facade restoration.”

The article also described other new or renovated businesses on the main street of Somerset Avenue, including the Washington Inn & Tavern, a wine store, liquor dispensary, consignment shop, florist, antique shop, several salons, an ice cream shop, and “Independence Hall” – a mixed used building which allows “pop-up shops” on the first floor and has apartments above. The town secured a grant from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore to offer free live music and food trucks every Thursday in July and August. The article stated that the town attracted roughly 1,000 attendees people to the Thursday events.

Cecil Looks To Boost Economic Development

The Cecil County Office of Economic Development will present two resolutions to the Cecil County Council aimed at bringing two new distribution centers and hundreds of jobs to the County in the coming months.

According to a press release:

Maryland’s Department of Commerce has conditionally agreed to grant up to $360,000 from the Maryland Economic Development Assistance and Authority Fund (MEDAAF) to Lidl US, LLC. The grant will assist the German supermarket chain in acquiring property and establishing a new 790,000 square foot distribution center in the Principio Business Park in North East, Maryland. As required by the MEDAAF statute, the County will contribute $36,000.

The proposed Lidl project will cost an estimated $105M for the land acquisition and site construction and $45M in additional costs for equipment and interior needs. The company expects to hire 100 permanent full-time employees by December 2018.

“Lidl’s commitment to Cecil County in 2016 was the first of a recent flurry of activity for Principio Business Park, which also includes Amazon, TruAire, and Project Melo. This Regional Headquarters and Distribution Center will allow Lidl to continue expanding north along the eastern seaboard,’ said Cecil County Director of Economic Development Christopher Moyer.

Also slated to develop at the Principio Business Park is Project Melo, a U.S.-based manufacturer. Maryland’s Department of Commerce has conditionally agreed to loan Project Melo up to $1.2M to assist in establishing a new 1M plus square foot distribution center. Plans call for anticipated project costs at approximately $16M for land acquisition, $65M for construction and improvements and $3M for equipment. The County will contribute a $170,000 conditional loan.

Initially, Project Melo expects to hire 225 full time employees at the site by the end of December 2021 and 225 additional full time employees by the end of 2023.

The resolutions will be presented before the Council on October 3, 2017.

Read the full press release for more information.

State Development Plan Process Outlined For Sustainable Growth Commission

The Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission received an overview of the state’s anticipated process for developing a new State Development Plan to replace the recently repealed PlanMaryland at the Commission’s September 25, 2017, meeting in the Town of North Beach. As previously reported on Conduit Street, Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan formally repealed PlanMaryland through an executive order in August and laid the framework for the adoption of a new Development Plan (which is required by state law).

Special Secretary for Smart Growth Wendi Peters and Maryland Department of Planning Planning Coordination Director Chuck Boyd stated that the Development Plan process would include considerable outreach to stakeholders – especially local governments. The initial plan will be a framework developed over the next 2 years that will be further altered as necessary. The Hogan Administration views the Development Plan as a dynamic document rather than a static one. Local governments would be consulted at the start of the process and the creation of the Development Plan would be a collaborative effort. Peters stressed that the Development Plan would not be a “top down approach” – a concern that had been raised against PlanMaryland by MACo and other stakeholders.

The Commission also heard updates on the Reinvest Maryland 2.0 report (which is being formatted into final draft form for approval in November) and local planning updates from Town of North Beach Mayor Mark Frazer, Town of Chesapeake Beach Mayor Pat Mahoney, and Calvert County Deputy County Administrator Wilson Parran.

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp and Garrett County Planning and Land Management Director Deborah Carpenter serve as the MACo representatives on the Commission. The Commission’s next meeting is scheduled for November 13 in Ellicott City.

Useful Links

Governor Hogan’s Executive Order 01.01.2017.18

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of PlanMaryland

Sustainable Growth Commission Webpage