County Executive Steve Schuh to Propose Solar Energy Facilities Legislation
Annapolis, MD (August 7, 2018) – Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh today announced he would propose legislation to tighten existing solar energy facilities provisions in Anne Arundel County.
“Planning and Zoning’s eight month moratorium has produced a measured, thoughtful approach to solar facilities in Anne Arundel County,” said Schuh. “I believe our proposed legislation will strike a much needed balance between supporting renewable energy and protecting the rural character of our County.”
The proposed legislation will address various forms of solar energy generation facilities, including accessory use (such as solar panel on residential homes), community use (generation for limited number of end users) and utility scale use (generation for sale to utilities, not end users). Accessory uses will be permitted in every zoning district. Community and utility use will generally be a special exception use in RA districts, but conditional use in certain other districts. Provisions protecting sensitive environmental areas as high-grade agricultural soils will be included.
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 announced in December an immediate eight-month moratorium on the issuance of any approved dispersed energy operations, citing concerns regarding the impact of industrial solar energy operations in rural areas of the County.
Before the implemented moratorium, activities like industrial solar energy facilities 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 provided 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. The moratorium for new applications will remain in place until solar facility legislation is enacted.