CHESTERTOWN — After a first reading Tuesday, the Kent County Commissioners approved scheduling a public hearing for code home rule bill 7-2020, which would amend the county’s land use ordinance by creating a new section titled “Countywide Standards for Utility-Scale Solar Energy Systems.”

The new section will address landscape buffers, installation and maintenance, and setbacks to support required landscape buffers for utility-scale solar energy systems in the county, reads the Tuesday agenda item.

Participating via video conference, Bill Mackey, director of Planning, Housing and Zoning, said the new standards are modeled on regulations adopted by Queen Anne’s County for utility-scale solar installations.

Mackey said the Department of Housing, Planning, and Zoning collaborated with the Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance to develop a draft of the text amendment. The Kent County Planning Commission favorably recommended the proposed zoning text amendment with the new language.

Per code, the next step for approving the amendment is the public hearing.

The commissioners also approved amending the land use ordinance to address requirements by the State of Maryland. The change will adopt a Critical Areas map to function as a temporary overlay zone in the county as it goes through its comprehensive land use rezoning process.

The commissioners approved an additional revision to clarify the county boat slip rental agreement. In a prior meeting, they approved permitting the transfer of slips between commercial vessels used by commercial watermen.

Public Works Director Mike Moulds said within the commercial fishing vessel use, which is tracked by the county, there are various subcategories. He sought clarification as to which categories the commissioners want to allow transference.

Commissioner Ron Fithian said slips should be allowed to be transferred between watermen.

“If you’re trying to make a living and have a commercial use, then somebody that’s going to give up a slip with a commercial license could transfer it to you,” Fithian said.

Moulds said the change was approved by County Attorney Tom Yeager. The change also will not impact grant funding from the Maryland Department of Resources.

The changes were made effective Wednesday, Nov. 18.

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