Coming Soon! New Tools and Resources for Communities to Assess Compatible Use Issues and Renewable Energy Siting in Maryland

Resources and Tools 

by Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Local Assistance and Training Planner and Sarah Diehl, AICP, compatible use Community Planning Liason

In the July 2020 edition of Planning Practice Monthly, we announced the launch of the Phase 2 of the collaboration between the Maryland Departments of Commerce (Commerce) and Planning on the Maryland Military and Civilian Compatible Use Project.  

Phase 2 implements some of the top recommendations of the Statewide Joint Land Use Response Implementation Strategy (SJRIS), completed in 2019 as the main deliverable of the project’s Phase I. 

The purpose of the Compatible Use Project is “to ensure that military activities do not adversely impact the quality of life in their communities and that development in the communities does not encroach on installation activities.”

In June 2020, Commerce and Planning were awarded the second of two Department of Defense, Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) grants to aid in implementation, including development of a:  

  • State of Maryland Military and Community Compatible Use website and handbook  
  • Renewable Energy Siting project that includes the creation of new military compatibility mapping layers and an ArcGIS StoryMap  

Planning is currently completing the compatible use website and handbook and has conducted extensive community outreach efforts, working with public and private stakeholders in various locations across the state. Planning conducted virtual workshops to understand informational needs and existing resources, and to identify additional resources that would best benefit Maryland’s military installations and defense communities. 

Commerce led and recently completed the Renewable Energy Siting Study, a collaborative process between state agencies, local governments, military installations, and the renewable energy industry to provide information and tools to mitigate potential compatibility conflicts early in the renewable energy development siting process.  

This important project will help achieve the sState of Maryland’s clean energy mandates, protect and sustain military operations and their economic contribution to the state, and facilitate streamlining of renewable energy development. 

The completed study includes the following materials: 

  • Military and compatibility mapping layers and a user guide will be added to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Power Plant Research Program’s existing online SmartDG+ renewable energy screening tool. These new map layers include military operational areas, military and non-military airspace structures, renewable energy potential, and other data to facilitate compatible renewable energy project siting. SmartDG+ users can create a coordination report that outputs a vicinity map, data, and points of contact for every layer within the selected area.  
  • A Maryland Military Assets and Considerations for Renewable Energy Development Report will include recommendations for enhancing the existing siting approval process to facilitate compatibility with military operations. It also characterizes the state’s military operations and provides recommendations to improve existing coordination between energy developers and the military for compatible siting of renewable energy projects.   
  • Project StoryMap provides easy access to all project information, including links to the SmartDG+ tool, Report, a project user guide, and points of contact for military compatibility in Maryland, military installations, and the web tool.  

Below are two screenshot images offering a sneak preview of the new Military and Compatibility layers of the SmartDG+ tool: 

Be sure to follow our coverage of these upcoming releases in Planning Practice Monthly. To learn more about the Maryland Military and Civilian Compatible Use Project, please visit the Maryland Military and Civilian Compatible Use project website.  

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