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Proposed Upperco solar farm gets permission to move forward in Baltimore County development process

The developers of a proposed solar farm in northern Baltimore County on Tuesday received a limited exemption in the development review and approval process from the county’s Development Review Committee.

Hanover Pike Solar wants to install 1.85 megawatts worth of solar panels on a plot of land at 15009 Hanover Pike in Upperco, an attorney for the firm said. Because it was granted a limited exemption, the project does not need a concept plan, a community input meeting or an administrative law judge hearing, according to the Baltimore County government website.

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As a result of the exemption, Hanover Pike Solar can now apply for a building permit and move forward with the project.

Tim Kotroco, an attorney representing Hanover Pike Solar, said he was not sure how many physical panels would have to be constructed in order to generate 1.85 megawatts of tpower, because the technology changes rapidly. He said he did not know what sort of timeline the firm is looking at for constructing and installing the panels.

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The project plan calls for neighbors in the surrounding area to purchase the electricity produced by the solar panels “at a discounted rate.” Such “community solar” projects have been controversial in Baltimore County, with some communities opposing them because they could be installed on farmland and upset the bucolic aesthetic of the North County.

Teresa Moore, executive director of the Valleys Planning Council, said she was not opposed to solar power, but would like to see more consistency in how the county handles solar projects.

Moore said the review committee has been granting exemptions to other solar projects, which have been overturned by the Baltimore County Board of Appeals. Moore, who attended the review meeting Tuesday, said she thinks Baltimore County should “show some consistency” in the process.

“I don’t know if we’ll appeal it” in this case, Moore said, adding that she had not talked with her board of directors.

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The project could face another hurdle — the county’s comprehensive zoning map process (CZMP). Every four years, Baltimore County takes an overarching look at how land in the county is zoned; citizens and members of the County council can submit issues to be considered by the County Council.

County Councilman Wade Kach, a Republican who represents northern Baltimore County, filed a CZMP request to revise the zoning for the land on Hanover Pike from RC 2 to RC 50, a designation that would change the property’s zoning from agricultural resource conservation to “critical area” resource conservation.

Kach did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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