Frederick County Council Approves Legislation Covering Charging Stations

Elected officials also agreed to a zoning amendment regarding large data centers.

Frederick, Md (KM) Legislation covering charging stations for new homes was approved Tuesday night by the Frederick County Council The vote was 5-3.

The measure sponsored by Council President MC Keegan-Ayer would require residential builders to install conduits or “raceways” in new homes under construction which will allow for wiring to be stretched to a junction box. The wiring, when installed, would power a charging station for an electric car if a homeowner decides to install such a system in the future.

“The conduit system will allow the wiring to be pulled through whenever the homeowner decides  to install the charging system,” says Keegan-Ayer. ” And the beauty of the conduit or the raceway system is it will also allow an easy change out when technology changes, or the homeowner decides to upgrade.”

The original bill required the entire charging system to be installed in new homes, but an amendment to the legislation says the residential builder only needs to build the conduits or “raceways.” “It will help encourage the purchase and use of EV’s in Frederick County which will improve our  impact on the environment,” says Keegan-Ayer.

Councilman Steve McKay voted in opposition. He said there are several bill sin the Maryland General Assembly which cover electric car charging station. And if these measures pass, McKay says, they could supersede the local ordinance. “I think we should wait and see what they  do because otherwise we’ll be back here revising this in non-significant ways.”

Also voting “no” was Councilman Phil Dacey. He said it would add to the cost of constructing a new home. “Just because it cost $250 to install a materiel  doesn’t mean the builder is not going to pass on that cost and make a profit on it as well,” he said.

In her presentation, Council President MC Keegan-Ayer said it would cost between $800 and $1200 to install the wiring for a car charging station after the home is build. But if the conduits and “raceways” are put in while the house is under construction, it would cost $250 if a homeowner decides in the future to install the EV charging system.

Data Centers

In other action, the Council unanimously approved amendments to the County’s zoning ordinance permitting data centers to be located in areas zoned limited industrial or general industrial. The facilities are usually campuses using large amounts of land, and contain buildings hundreds of square feet in size.

Council President Keegan-Ayer said the measure also sets criteria these centers would have to meet which includes architecture, landscaping, screening, buffering and lightings. “It encourages good design to minimize visibility from adjacent roads and properties. It establishes an architectural review committee to review site plans prior to the plans being scheduled for Planning Commission consideration, and gives the Planning Commission the ability to consider the recommendations of the architectural review board as part of the site plan process,” she says.

Frederick County lost out to Loudon County, Virginia as the location of an Amazon data center.  . But Quantum Loophole is planning to build a data center at the former Eastalco property in Buckeystown.

Councilmembers Kai Hagen and Jessica Fitzwater had planned to introduce an amendment to this bill to¬† address water and energy use by these facilities. But it was withdrawn. “I think we recognize that this is still a big bite and it would be a significant change and it would delay the process and we’d like to come back to address that,” he said. “Interest is there in the community.”

Hagen also pointed that these data centers use large amounts of water and energy.

Police Accountability Board.

The Council also introduced a bill to set up a police accountability board and an administrative charging committee. A hearing is expected to take place at a later date.

By Kevin McManus