Comment on Calvert Co. Proposed Zoning Amendments

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Calvert County, please don’t take away parking spaces that will make ICEing more likely; consider pre-wiring for EV charging stations instead.

One EV driver spoke at Oct. 21, 2014 Calvert Co. Public Hearing. SoMdNews
Comments open until Nov. 5, 2014. 
more info

In August, the Calvert County, Maryland Department of Community Planning and Building presented a number of proposed amendments to the county zoning ordinance including a requirement to install EV charging stations at parking lots with more than 50 parking spaces.

The Board of Commissioners balked at the idea of requiring businesses to shoulder the burden of expensive charging stations and the Dept. of Community Planning and Building came up with a new proposal to provide an incentive rather than a requirement to install EV charging stations. The new proposal is:
An incentive to reduce the required number of parking spaces by 2 spaces is available for parking areas requiring 50 or more spaces, when an electric vehicle charging device is provided to serve a minimum of two vehicles.

Map_of_Maryland_highlighting_Calvert_County.svgIn other words, if a parking lot has 50+ parking spots, and the property owner installs two charging stations, the zoning requirement for the number of parking spots at that location is reduced by two. If you consider that the two charging station spots are reserved for plug-in vehicles, this means that a total of four fewer parking spaces would be available for gas-powered vehicles. Fewer parking spaces combined with a couple of empty charging spots seems like it would encourage ICEing as much as anything.

Lightpole charging station

Stations using pre-installed wiring from light post.

There are approximately 80 plug-in vehicles and only one public charging station in Calvert County. The number of plug-in vehicles will undoubtedly rise as will the need for more public charging stations. As an alternative, I suggest that the Dept. of Community Planning and Building provide an incentive or requirement to install wiring, but not the actual charging equipment, in any new parking construction. A similar zoning amendment was adopted by Montgomery County earlier this year.

I believe the future for electric vehicle infrastructure is better served by having all new parking construction incorporate wiring for the subsequent installation of charging stations rather than creating a situation that will increase the chances of EV charging stations being unavailable because gas-powered vehicles do not have an adequate number of spaces to park in.

Following is the letter with my comments that I sent to Mary Beth Cook, Deputy Director, Zoning Officer of the Calvert County Department of Community Planning and Building on September 15, 2014.

Dear Ms. Cook,

I wish to comment on the proposed text amendments to the parking regulations that seek to expand the number of electric vehicle charging stations in the county.

I am a Maryland resident and have driven a fully-electric vehicle for over two years. I have visited the single charging station in Calvert County, the one at Walgreens in Lusby. I have read the news reports and watched video of your presentation at the Board of Commissioners work session on August 19, 2014.

I ask that you consider requiring that wiring for future charging stations be installed in all new parking construction. Much of the barrier and cost of installing charging stations in existing parking lots is trenching through concrete and asphalt. Even those who may think it is premature to install charging stations at this time may agree that having “charging station ready” parking lots is beneficial to the long-term interests of the public.

Montgomery County, Maryland considered this in their Zoning Text Amendment No. 14-01 earlier this year. Here is a link to that amendment which was adopted April 22, 2014. Here is a memo with in-depth discussion.

The parking area of the George Howard Building in Howard County, Maryland is an example of one of these pre-wired parking lots. Attached is a photo that shows an informational sign on a light pole that indicates the future possibility of EV charging and another photo of the first two stations that were recently installed using the pre-existing wiring.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Lanny Hartmann