Forests are critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay and act as an important filter.

Hearing Recap: Georgetown University’s Solar Field Proposal in Charles County

03/08/2019
By Kimberly Golden Brandt

At a public hearing held by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) on February 27, Smart Growth Maryland and its partners in the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County spoke out against Georgetown University’s plans to clear-cut 240 acres of Southern Maryland’s largest forest for an industrial-scale solar facility.

As reported in the BayNet, Smart Growth Maryland was joined by citizens from across Maryland who opposed Georgetown’s controversial project. Many speakers voiced their support for renewable energy, but noted that the location selected for this project is wrong – the negative impacts associated with destruction of the forest and degradation of high-quality streams significantly outweigh the renewable energy benefits.

Field of solar panels. Courtesy, Baltimore Sun.

Green projects should not destroy green resources was a sentiment heard throughout the hearing.

Maryland’s forests are natural sponges that support groundwater recharge and mitigate flooding. Forests also filter sediments and other pollutants before they reach streams and rivers. Several downstream property owners expressed concerns with the impacts that deforestation and extensive grading will have on their properties, especially in light of the extreme rain events that are increasingly common.

The importance of protecting Tier II high-quality streams, which are growing rare as Maryland loses forest to development, was also highlighted.

As everyone who signed up to speak did not have an opportunity to do so, the hearing will be continued at a later date and the record will remain open until April 17, 2019.  Comments can be emailed to MDE at jeffrey.thompson@maryland.gov and the leadership at Georgetown University at president@georgetown.edu and vicepresident@georgetown.edu.

Please take a moment to ask MDE to deny the permit required for this project and to ask Georgetown to employ their considerable resources to advance sustainability without destroying forests and degrading streams.

Smart Growth Maryland

 

Kimberly Golden Brandt · Director of Smart Growth Maryland

Kim Brandt leads Smart Growth Maryland, a project of Preservation Maryland, dedicated to the preservation of forests, farms and open space, and revitalization of Maryland’s cities and towns.

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