October 21, 2019
Written testimony on CB-55-2019 and CR-133-2019
The Howard County League of Women Voters urges a negative vote on CB 55 and CR 133.
We supported the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA, SB 516) in the Maryland legislature this year which requires Maryland to get 50% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and had specific goals for increasing wind and solar. This local law will make it more difficult for Maryland to reach its critical and ambitious climate goals.In the recent past, (fall 2016) the Howard County Council authorized solar on agriculture preservation in CB 59-2016. We believe the current Howard County policies as reflected on the Planning and Zoning website for agricultural preservation uses are reasonable and do not need to be modified.https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Planning-and-Zoning/Conservation-and-Preservation/AgricultureGiven the mandates of CEJA for clean energy, we think it is critical for the county to go forward with planned solar projects. A one year moratorium could have a severely adverse effect on the development of the solar industry in this county.
We saw on Facebook that Council member Jungman plans to offer an amendment to limit the impact of this bill to Commercial Solar Facilities on Agriculture Land Preservation Program easements only, however we still oppose this bill. We think the current rules are sufficient to preserve some farmland for other uses. And at the solar panels end of life they will be removed and the farmland will be fully restored.
This moratorium would make it harder for BGE customers to sign up for locally-sourced solar energy.
With regard to CR 133, action is ongoing at the State level. Senator Pinsky had a solar siting study bill in the 2019 legislature (SB 744) which passed the Senate but not the House of Delegates and that in August 2019 Governor Hogan established a Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting which will make recommendations on solar siting both on an interim basis to the legislature In January 2020 and a final report in September 2020. The legislature and the Governor may develop policy in the future, but we believe a Howard County study at this time recommended by CR 133 is premature.Finally, solar panels are not antithetical to agriculture as some allege. Yale Environment 360 notes putting solar panels on less than 1 percent of the world’s agricultural land could produce enough energy to fulfill global electricity demand. (They cite this August 2019 study published in the journal Scientific Reports.) We do not have to choose between solar and feeding ourselves. In addition the panels provide an income stream which can help farmers stay in business.
For all these reasons, we urge disapproval of CB 55 and CR 133.
September 8, 2019
The League recognizes that demographic changes, zoning laws and housing patterns in Howard County have created great socioeconomic disparities in school populations resulting in significant achievement gaps among lower income students. There is considerable evidence that student achievement improves in integrated classrooms.
The League believes that CR -112’s call for the Howard County Public School System to develop a plan to integrate its schools comes at an appropriate time and urges its passage by the Council and the County Executive.
February 24, 2019
Senate Bill 535
The League of Women Voters of Howard County supports Senate Bill 535, which will enable Howard County to enact legislation to provide for public financing for Board of Education candidate campaigns.
January 3, 2019
Re: Case No. ZB 11201
To Planning Board members:
The League of Women Voters of Howard County supports approval of the Enterprise Homes petition to amend the New Town District PDP to increase the number of approved dwelling units and density allowance.
The League has been a long time supporter of adequate housing choice in Howard County within economic reach of persons of all ages as well as supporting increased diverse housing types. We recently adopted a position that assures that redevelopment of existing residential properties will not reduce the existing number of moderate and low income units.
Enterprise Homes plan to maintain the 300 low income units and add 300 market rate units fulfills that requirement and establishes new mixed income communities. This concept also incentivizes developers to invest in low and moderate income housing.
We urge you to support this amendment to the PDP to enable this project to move ahead.
The League of Women Voters adopts its positions after thorough study and consensus of its members.
Thank you for your consideration.
Howard County Council Bill 2-19: The League of Women Voters of Howard County opposes passage of Howard County bill number 2-19, the proposal to require Orphans’ Court judges to be attorneys. We base our opposition on a League of Women Voters of Maryland’s 2010 position that supports selecting both attorneys and non attorneys as Orphans’ Court judges.
The League of Women Voters of Maryland positions are adopted after studying the issues and arriving at a consensus of all the states local chapters.
Thank you for your consideration of our position.
- Howard County Council Bill 74-2017
- Howard County Council Bill 30-2017
- Howard County Council Bill 9-2017