CHESTERTOWN — At the Kent County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Amy Moredock, director of planning, housing and zoning, gave a departmental update.
Moredock said she has taken part in several panels on the Public Service Commission’s policy of preempting local zoning ordinances for power plants. The issue arose in Kent County in response to the Mills Branch Solar project, which would site a utility-scale solar array on a large tract of farmland in the county.
The county is awaiting a decision by a public utility judge on the Mills Branch case. “We hoped for a decision within 60 days, but it could be six months,” Moredock said.
Other solar utilities are planning installations in the county, including one on the Clark farm just outside Chestertown, she said.
The PSC ruled in the county’s favor in the case of OneEnergy Blue Star Solar, which requested exemption from the state’s reforestation act for a solar farm in Massey. Moredock said the applicant is working to comply with the ruling, and is expected to reappear before the planning commission early next year.
The planning commission is “nearing the final stretch” in its update of the county’s comprehensive plan, Moredock said. Still to come in the process are a review of the water resources element, a detailed document much of which will be merged into the water and sewer element. There will be a final public forum, after which the plan will come to the commissioners for consideration.
Moredock also listed projects she expects to come before the commission in the next few months, including the Dollar General store in Worton and a proposed cell phone tower on Morgnec Road. Several text amendments are also being considered, she said.
Moredock will be attending a workshop on denied access sewer lines, an issue on which Commissioner Ron Fithian said he would like clarification of state policy. He said denied access lines allow the county to bring sewer service to small developments where a separate wastewater plant would be prohibitively expensive.
In Other Business:
• Moredock requested permission to have a large scanner moved to the planning office from the water and wastewater office, where it is now located. She said she had an estimate of between $1,000 and $1,800 for the move, which requires disassembly of the scanner before moving.
The commissioners asked her to seek additional estimates before next meeting. They approved a disbursement of $1,795 for the operation.
• The commissioners approved an application for local historical designation for the Radcliffe Cross property on Quaker Neck Road. The property, which dates to the late 1700s, is a rare example of Greek revival architecture. It was also the home of author Richard Ben Cramer.
• Leslie Raimond of the Kent County Arts Council introduced members of the cast of “Red Devil Moon,” a musical by Pam Ortiz and Robert Earl Price for which the commissioners provided funding for a week of performances at the New York Fringe festival. Ortiz and the singing group Sombarkin thanked the commissioners and performed a song from the play.
• The commissioners approved an agreement with the Maryland Governor’s Office for Children to fund Family & Community Partnerships of Kent County. Rosemary Ramsey-Granillo, director of F&CP, said the contract does not require a match from county funds.
• Pat Merritt, chief finance officer for the county, reported on state income tax reconciliations for the previous fiscal year. She said the county saw an increase of $787,509 over the previous tax year. However, she said, the reconciliation process can be skewed by late filings and results are not consistent from one year to the next.
• Scott Boone gave an update on the county’s fiber-optic installation, which he said is moving toward completion after a Maryland Department of Transportation decision to allow the contractor to lay fiber at railroad crossings.
• Marty Holden, director of public landings, gave an update on projects completed during the year. Among those listed were improvements to the piers at Cliff City, Bayside Landing and Betterton. All except Cliff City, which required a 50-50 match, were funded entirely by grants.
Holden said two dredging projects, for Fairlee Creek and Mill Creek, are being delayed because the channels need to be cleared before they can be dredged.
• The commissioners approved three employment requests by Marty Hale, director of human resources. A mechanical equipment operator was reclassified as a mechanical technician, with no change in salary. Also, the commissioners filled a vacancy for a dispatcher at the Office of Emergency Services and a vacancy for a recreation supervisor in the parks and recreation department.