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October 28, 2019

“Climate Crisis” v. Solutions

Jennifer Baker

Recently, Frederick County, as part of the new Livable Frederick Master Plan, added the words “climate crisis.” Thus, making the county now prioritize climate change as part of the master comprehensive plan for the county.


Imagine the surprise then, when a new proposed solar array/panel farm on Biggs Ford Road was unanimously opposed by the same county planning and zoning that brought us Livable Frederick.


The new solar farm would be located on a portion of a farm and will include roughly 151 acres to be used as a utility scale development. At the end of the contract, the land would be returned to farmland – as the land under the panels would not be disturbed.


The family farm over the years has had many opportunities to sell at large sums of money to developers, but instead they wanted to secure the future of the land in a way that would allow a return to use as farmland.


Surely, a solar farm would be an approved use of the land and would help reduce the carbon footprint by providing solar energy as well as removing land from the pipeline of developments.


Unfortunately, the “climate crisis” listed in Livable Frederick does not allow for such a use.


Per Ryan Gilchrist, developer of solar development for Lincoln Clean Energy, in Sunday’s Frederick News-Post, the county’s solar ordinance is so restrictive that it creates a “de-facto ban on all utility scale solar development in the county.”


Planning and zoning director Steve Horn also weighed in saying “as long as local jurisdictions have done their homework, done planning and put forward reasonable approaches to accommodating the [solar] industry, then I think the local decision process should take precedent.”


One might ask what reasonable accommodations are since Livable Frederick, which was developed by planning and zoning “experts,” now includes the words “climate crisis” to emphasis the need for things such as renewable energy.


At present, the solar developers will appeal to the Public Service Commission to allow the land to be used as a solar farm at a hearing tomorrow, October 29 in Baltimore.


As Livable Frederick continues to work its way into county life, residents in favor of new climate change restrictions and mandates to reduce carbon footprints may wonder what could possibly cause the county to deny a vital upgrade as they see it to save the planet for future generations.


Is this a case of “climate crisis” – or another case of not in my back yard?


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