The Board of Appeals Seeks a New Member

As I’ve said before, I don’t often talk about land use. But here’s a bit of news. The Board of Appeals has an opening and the County Council has put out a call for applications. Short version of the details is that you should apply by June 5th. The Board of Appeals has two roles in Howard County. In the first role, cases for conditional uses, sometimes called special use permits, are heard by the Board of Appeals Hearing Examiner. Under some circumstances, parties may appeal a decision of the Hearing Examiner and the case will then be heard by

Chernobyl as Brownfield

There’s an interesting article about possibly using the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone1 to store radioactive materials. That’s interesting, and probably stupid, but that’s not important right now. What struck me is a comment on the article at Slashdot referring to Chernobyl as seriously brownfield. And that doesn’t seem right. Brownfield sites are locations where the land is contaminated with some sort of hazardous waste or pollution. But the implication in brownfield is that the site can be cleaned up. This contrasts with greenfield, wide open land, and greyfield, developed, but not dangerous and suitable for redevelopment. Think of an abandoned mall.

Tyler’s Paper on the Advantages of Sustainable Mitigation

There’s a great article by Jenna Tyler at IUPUI (who doesn’t have a website?) on how to use green infrastructure for sustainable mitigation. The key take away is that FEMA could use smarter funding for hazard mitigation, and create naturally resilient mitigation options. You can read it in the current issue of Consilience. 2016: Issue Sixteen An online, open-access, interdisciplinary journal of sustainable development, run by students of Columbia University. Image by Balaji / Wikimedia. That’s not very sustainable.

EPA Course for Local Governments on Climate Change

The Environmental Protection Agency has put together a only training course on adapting o climate change: Local Government Climate Adaptation Training | Environmental Health Resources for Community Members | US EPA This training was developed with the assistance of EPA’s Local Government Advisory Committee. This is actually really cool. The course is set up like a standard webinar, but we shouldn’t hold that against it. Running this on Coursera would make a lot more sense, but there you go. The course begins with an introduction to climate change and its effects (drought, severe weather, flooding, permafrost melt, and so forth).

Circling the Drain

On Tuesday night, the Howard County Council heard testimony for a proposal to eliminate the Stormwater Management Fee. I have stayed out of this debate, which has now raged on for a couple of years. But that doesn’t make sense since I kind of know a lot about water policy and I have taught a lot of public finance. This kind of seems right up my alley. So it’s time to talk about it. Right now, the fee is applied to all properties in Howard County based on what percentage of their land is covered with impervious surfaces. Surfaces are,

An Inconvenient Poop!

There’s a magnificently titled master’s thesis out of East Carolina University, “Flood Vulnerability of Hog Farms in Eastern North Carolina: An Inconvenient Poop.” Here’s the abstract: In the late 1990’s, eastern North Carolina experienced numerous devastating flood events from hurricanes and tropical storms. When Hurricane Floyd made landfall on September 16th, 1999, it caused the most disastrous floods in living memory for the region. The flooding of many very large industrial hog farms, and the potential impacts to human health by swine waste contamination, was a matter of great concern for residents across the ENC region. Few studies have been