Rural Baltimore County, particularly the pristine North County, is the primary source of high quality drinking water, agriculture, open space, recreation, fishing, and many historic sites. Over time, the County has made it a priority to preserve these areas through important pieces of legislation and land use regulation. The North County is truly the crown jewel and the breadbasket of Baltimore County.
Currently, Baltimore County does not have any regulations in place to regulate “solar farms,” or any form of enterprise which places solar energy on a parcel of land for the purpose of generating solar power for commercial use on agricultural land. However, a recent administrative decision by the County has determined that commercial solar farms may be located in rural areas of the County as a “public utility.”
While it is undisputed that solar energy is a is a form of clean and renewable energy that can lead to reduced air and water pollution from the use of fossil fuels, I am deeply concerned about how the proliferation of commercial solar farms will impact the rural and agricultural character of Baltimore County.
Currently, there is no established appropriate zoning for solar facilities in rural areas, nor is there any limit on the maximum number of solar arrays allowed. Most troubling is that there are no regulations regarding the removal of solar panels at the conclusion of their usable lifespan. It is too often the case that once agricultural land is developed, it seldom, if ever, returns to agricultural use.
After hearing these concerns from my constituents, I have introduced legislation calling for a six month moratorium on commercial solar farms so that their potential land use and environmental impact can be studied by the Baltimore County Planning Board. It is my intention, following this study, to draft legislation which will ensure that these vital rural areas remain protected, and that preserved agricultural land will be put to agricultural use.
The moratorium will NOT include solar panels for residential or agricultural use which produce energy in lieu of traditional fossil fuel for water heating, central air, and electricity. Furthermore, the moratorium will not include solar fields on government owned properties. This moratorium will ONLY impact the use of solar panels for commercial use.
The work session for this legislation will take place on October 11th at 2pm. The work session is open to the public, and I encourage any who are interested with this issue to testify on behalf of the legislation. The vote for the moratorium and study will occur on the October 17th legislative session which begins at 6PM.
As always, I welcome your input in the comments section below or via firstname.lastname@example.org