Bay Restoration Progress & Phase III WIPs Debated at 2019 Summer #MACoCon

Different perspectives were offered on Maryland’s new Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) during the “Endgame: Can Our Phase III WIP Meet Our Bay Restoration Goals?” panel on August 16 at the 2019 MACo Summer Conference. Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles presented an overview of the WIP approval process. Maryland is waiting on final comment and approval from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Grumbles noted that Pennsylvania’s draft Phase III WIP…

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2019 Summer #MACoCon Highlights County Recycling Challenges

Attendees to the 2019 MACo Summer Conference received important updates on recycling and composting during the “Reduce, Reuse…Now What?” panel on August 16. Panelists discussed the state of the national recycling economy, the current state of composting in Maryland, and recent changes to recycling facility regulations. Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Land and Materials Director Kaley Laleker discussed pending regulations that would clarify how recycling facilities handle solid waste that is often mixed in…

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It’s Not All About Getting High

Drones can do all sorts of things. In the words of one of today’s panelists on the MACo Summer Conference panel, The Underappreciated Upsides of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, a drone program is much like a cannabis business -- it’s not all about getting high. The six panelists from various county government agencies, state government, and the private sector shared many applications for county use, including: Surveying Construction monitoring Media, sharing county news with residents Communications and public…

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Hogan Administration Releases “A Better Maryland” Development Plan

A Maryland Department of Planning press release (2019-08-07) announced the release of the new state development plan, A Better Maryland. The plan will guide growth, preservation efforts, and infrastructure development throughout the state. Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order in 2017 ordering the creation of A Better Maryland and rescinded PlanMaryland. MACo had expressed concerns over PlanMaryland due to its top-down approach and creation of new (and in MACo's view redundant) land use classifications. A Better Maryland is developed from…

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Howard Announces $8.1M Grant to Repair Damage from 2018 Flash Flood
New Cut Road after severe flooding in 2018 (photo courtesy of Howard County Government)
Howard Announces $8.1M Grant to Repair Damage from 2018 Flash Flood

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball this week announced that the County has received an $8.1 million grant from the National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) to rebuild the portion of New Cut Road that washed away in the May 2018 Ellicott City flood. The 2018 Ellicott City flood caused one death and resulted in an estimated $20 million worth of damages. In 2016, Ellicott City was ravaged by a flash flood that claimed two lives and caused roughly…

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Court of Appeals Approves MDE Stormwater Permits for Carroll, Frederick

Stormwater permits issued to counties by the Maryland Department of the Environment were upheld by the Maryland Court of Appeals, following legal review of their scope and multiple separate provisions. The Court's decision, on a split opinion, seemingly settles a prolonged challenge over the State's means of carrying out the federal Clean Water Act. In this respect, like many, the US Environmental Protection Agency has delegated its authority to the State department, who in turn…

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City Water Billings Back Online, Will Offer Flexibility After Outage

Baltimore City's water billing system is back up - the last element of the city's computer systems to be restored after a massive cyber attack this Spring. Users will receive retroactive billing for multiple months- and the City is offering payment plans and no penalties to help accommodate users facing daunting lumped payments. From coverage on CBS station WJZ's website: Water meters continued to record water consumption, DPW said, but because of the network outage,…

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State Grant Will Help Allegany Residents Get to Work

Allegany County this week received a $300,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to provide more residents with reliable transportation to and from work. The three-year pilot program will expand bus routes to and from the North Branch Industrial Park (NBIP) — home to several large employers, providing residents with access to high-quality job opportunities. According to the Cumberland Times-News: “It’s no secret that sometimes transportation is a barrier to employment for individuals,” said…

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Baltimore City Likely to Pass Plastic Bag Ban

A Baltimore Sun article (2019-08-02) reported that a super-majority of the Baltimore City Council and Mayor Bernard "Jack" Young currently supports legislation that would ban plastic bags at checkout counters and impose a 5-cent charge on any other type of bag provided. The legislation is intended to reduce litter and plastic waste and encourage consumers to bring their own reusable bags when shopping. The article noted that the City Council has considered plastic bag bans eight times…

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What is a “Protected Intersection” and How Do We Get One?

Montgomery County will be the first East Coast community to launch a "protected intersection" with integrated lanes for pedestrians and bicycles, marking a new look for locally-developed infrastructure. From coverage on the WTOP website: The intersection, which will be at the intersection of Second Avenue and Spring Street near downtown Silver Spring features a number of safety features designed to protect pedestrians and cyclists from traffic. Bike lanes run on both Second Avenue and Spring…

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