Commissioners Remove Community Solar from Code
Westminster, MD, Friday, July 14, 2023 – Yesterday in Open Session, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners (BCC) conducted a public hearing and upon its conclusion, voted to remove subsection §158.153(E) Solar Energy Generating Systems - Community solar energy generating systems (CSEGS), in agricultural district- from the Carroll County Code. The Commissioners voted today but the action will take effect 10 days after the vote, or July 23, 2023.
On March 9, 2023, the BCC adopted a six-month moratorium on the processing, review, permitting, and construction of community solar energy generating systems in the agricultural district to allow for further discussion regarding an appropriate approach to community solar in Carroll County. A six-member solar workgroup was established in March that included stakeholders tasked with studying the existing requirements in §158.153(E) and returning to the BCC with proposed recommendations for code changes. The group considered issues and concerns raised by the BCC and the community.
On May 18th, staff presented the work group findings to the BCC for consideration. In review of the presentation and report, the BCC voted to forward a recommendation to the Planning & Zoning Commission to remove §158.153(E) from the County Code, thereby prohibiting any type of commercial solar development in agriculturally zoned land. On June 20th, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted favorably for the recommended text amendment. The July 13th public hearing and subsequent vote completed the process of the text amendment.
Commercial solar development is allowed on select other zoning districts in the county such as industrial, commercial, and employment campus.
“This is not a decision against solar energy nor is it a decision against farmers and ag landowners using solar to offset their operational costs,” said Board of Commissioner Vice President Kenny Kiler. “Carroll County recognizes and is supportive of solar as a renewable energy source and encourages its development, including on agricultural properties, where farms are successfully using solar on residences and outbuildings.”