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Planned Maryland solar farm running into zoning hurdles

A proposed 300-acre solar farm is running into hurdles in Kent County from the Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance and the county's commissioners. The Virginia-based company behind the project, Apex Clean Energy, is scheduled to have a motions hearing concerning the issues the county commissioners raised.

The company had originally planned a wind farm using the same land but met with heavy opposition. It then changed the plan to a solar farm instead, but it is still receiving heavy opposition to that plan as well. The county commissioners are arguing that the zoning ordinances for Kent County limit any proposed solar farm on agricultural land to parcels of 5 acres or less.

Through its attorney, Apex is arguing that the argument raised by the commissioners is in conflict with both the goals of Maryland as well as the county to promote clean energy. In response, the commissioners are arguing that the state does not preempt local control through ordinances. If approved, the farm would be located in the area around Kennedyville.

It is possible in some cases for developers to obtain conditional use permits for projects that conflict with local zoning laws. When applications for variances are contested, then motions hearings may be necessary, such as in this case. Developers who want to start on projects in specific areas may want to have their real estate attorneys research the local zoning laws. If a variance is needed, an attorney may help by completing the application and submitting it along with all of the required documentation for the project. The attorney could then provide representation at a subsequent hearing.

Source: My Eastern Shore Maryland, "County seeks merits hearing for Mills Branch Solar," Daniel Divilio, April 18, 2016.

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