Anne Arundel County Announces Eight Month Industrial Solar Operations Ban
Annapolis, MD (December 3, 2017) – At the urging of environmental advocates and the newly formed Agriculture, Agritourism, and Farming Commission, County Executive Steve Schuh and the Anne Arundel County Office of Planning and Zoning today announced an immediate eight-month moratorium on the issuance of any approved dispersed energy operations, citing concerns regarding the impact of industrial solar energy operations, also called “solar parks,” in rural areas of the County.
“We need to ensure the impact of heavy industrial activity like solar energy operations has been fully vetted by officials within the Department of Planning and Zoning,” said Schuh. “We must make certain these activities will not negatively affect the quality of life for residents in areas like South County and the Lake Shore Peninsula.”
On November 17th, the Growth Action Network of Anne Arundel County requested Planning and Zoning institute a moratorium, citing a need “to reexamine this issue and update […] laws before approving or accepting applications for ground-based solar systems.”
On November 30th, the Anne Arundel County Agriculture, Agritourism, and Farming Commission, formed after the recently enacted Agritourism reform law, voted to recommend an eight-month moratorium in open session.
Before the implemented moratorium, activities like industrial solar energy parks were permitted in lands zoned RA (rural-agricultural). In accordance with the County Code, allowing such industrial activity in rural lands reduces land use consistency and increases the likelihood of industrial land use encroachment into the rural and agricultural areas of the County.
The moratorium will provide an opportunity for Planning and Zoning, in collaboration with the Commission’s Dispersed Energy Committee, to study existing regulations and recommend appropriate measures and processes for current and future proposed energy operations.
After a thorough study of the impacts of these activities, officials from Planning and Zoning will work to refine the current code to allow for solar operations in the appropriate land use and zoning designations.