Past NCP Issues
New zoning regulations were approved in April 2009 specifically allowing creameries in RC2 and some other agricultural zones. This issue originated from the Prigel's case on Long Green Road in which the community association and a neighbor are fighting the building of a creamery on a dairy farm.
Mike Pierce spoke before the Planning Board on behalf of NCP and, while voicing support for such agricultural value-added processes as a way to ensure the survival of farms in the North County, stressed the need for the legislation to be completely reviewed and modified to ensure that unintended consequences and further ambiguities are not created. Comments were provided to the board regarding the lack of specificity in the proposed bill for definitions, restrictions, and protection for both existing farms and other suitable uses of rural land. Following some changes, an acceptable bill was passed.
The creamery was built, with financial assistance from the county, and began selling ice cream on September 25, 2010. Meanwhile, the legal battle continues. On May 25, 2010 the Board of Appeals turned down another challenge and a Court of Special Appeals case was heard on June 2, 2010.
NCP will be following up on this complex issue.
DOWNLOAD NCP'S LETTER TO THE PLANNING BOARD (PDF) >>
› Agricultural Estate Taxes
Under current law, only the first $1,000,000 of a farm's value is excluded from estate taxes, thus placing a financial burden on the heirs, which often forces them to subdivide for development or sell ouright. This is especially dire for farms placed in preservation, since the development option has been given up. This discourages preservation.
Three bills were considered by the Maryland House that were intended to address this problem.
- HB 160/SB 155 would have eliminated the estate tax for farms subject to an Agricultural Preservation Easement if passed to a close relative.
- HB 221 went further by eliminating the estate tax for any farm and personal property passed to anyone who will continue farming.
- SB 790 was similar to HB 160/SB 155 but extended the benefit to land in other preservation programs and provided for an exclusion phased in over 5 years.
NCP supported the third, as being an essential component of the preservation of Northern Baltimore County.
In the end, none of these passed, but a compromise bill, SB296/HB1571, passed which provides a 3-year deferral on the payment of estate taxes and then provides for another 3-year, interest-free payment period, thus allowing the heirs to make better decisions about the future of their farm without the pressure of immediately paying the taxes. The state will monitor the use of this deferral process to assess the importance of further changes.
› Master Plan
The rural portion of the 2020 Master Plan has been approved by the Planning Board and sent to the County Council. After a public hearing, the Council approved it on May 3, 2010.
DOWNLOAD RURAL PORTION OF MASTER PLAN (PDF) >>
Hearings were held throughout March for the urban area portion, which includes the water resources element.
› Wind Turbines
Prompted by a request from the County Council, the Office of Planning prepared a report and proposed legislation to allow small wind turbines in the county. The Planning Board held two hearings at which many persons spoke for and against stronger restrictions. The proposed legislation was approved by the Planning Board and passed to the County Council for action. The Council held a public hearing April 19, 2010 at which many speakers asked that changes be made before it is introduced as legislation. It was never introduced.
On July 6, 2010 new legislation was introduced (Bill 62-10) for a 5-year pilot program for wind turbines on commercial agricultural, institutional, and manufacturing zones. It was withdrawn before consideration.
Bill 93-10, passed in September 2010, is limited to allowing a temporary anemometer tower, in order to provide data for evaluating the effectiveness of a wind turbine prior to permanent construction.
DOWNLOAD NCP's LETTER TO THE PLANNING BOARD (PDF) >>
DOWNLOAD NCP's LETTER TO THE COUNTY COUNCIL (PDF) >>
› Program Open Space Funding
The Maryland legislature is considering a recommendation to futher limit POS funds as a part of the new budget. Although we had hoped that the funds would increase substantially as the economy picks up, since they are based on a percentage of real estate transfer fees, the idea being considered is to place a cap on the amount going to POS - with anything over this going to SHA to fund stormwater remediation. While stormwater remediation is also important, POS funds are an investment in the future and essential to land preservation. NCP has submitted a letter to the legislators involved in this decision.
News article >> Letter >>
› Nutrient Management Guidelines
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has issued new Nutrient Management Guidelines in an effort to better protect the Bay from farm runoff. The Farm Bureau had written a letter which went into detail on their opposition to many of the proposed provisions which it believed would be detrimental to farming. READ THE LETTER >>