The Kent County Commissioners will hold a Public Hearing on May 26th at 10AM to receive input about CHR 3-2020.  This legislation is proposing to allow data processing centers, just about anywhere in Kent County.  Of particular concern is the inclusion of the Agricultural Zoning Districts (AZD).  On farms 200 acres or greater data processing centers would be allowed, no size restrictions and no limits on quantity.  KCPA is opposed to this change in the Land Use Ordinance.
The purpose of the county’s AZD is “to encourage the use of agricultural land for farming and other agricultural businesses.”  Data processing centers have nothing to do with farming or the associated agribusiness that Kent County has long encouraged.  
The Kent County Planning Commission unanimously rejected recommending CHR 3-2020, stating that the centers are “not compatible and not clearly defined in the Village, Intense Village, and Agricultural Zoning Districts [and] no public need has been identified.” The Planning Commission furthermore stated that “current zoning districts: Employment Center, Industrial, and Commercial are adequate to support this industry [and] the proposal is inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan.”
KCPA is not in opposition to data processing centers in Kent County, but there is land zoned for this purpose in the Industrial, Employment and Commercial Zoning Districts that is readily available with the needed fiber and high-power electrical service (data centers use large quantities of both water and power).  
With the Governor’s signature on the legislation introduced by Senator Steve Hershey there should be adequate tax incentives to attract investors to the available land without pirating our valuable farmland.  The principal of Think Big and Kent FIBER Optic Systems, Dee Anna Sobczac, lobbied for the tax incentives which allows a 10-year waiver on sales and use tax and for counties to waive personal property tax on data center equipment, including servers, computers, air conditioners, cooling towers and ventilation fans if the data center invests at least $2 million and creates 5 qualified positions. Data centers would require the lease of fiber capacity which would help KentFOS recoup on its fiber investment in the County.
KCPA encourages you to speak up for the protection of our farmland.  Let the Commissioners know that data processing centers do not belong on farmland, and that the precedent of allowing non-agricultural uses on Kent County Farmland is a dangerous precedent.
Public Hearing May 26, 2020 at 10 AM.  

Please note that due to Covid 19 this Public Hearing is not physically open to the public. To view the meeting on line please go to the Kent County website to watch the live feed of the meeting. Participation during the comment period is by phone using the call-in option

You can call in anytime during the meeting (and also a short time before it starts) to get in the cue for comments.
1. Dial 1-872-239-8359 Conference ID 615 347 570 then press #
2. Wait for the prompt to give your name and press #. There may be a pause between prompts. Please be patient.
3. Then mute your phone. You will be able to hear the proceedings on your phone after you have been accepted to the meeting.
4. The commissioners will announce when they are taking comments on each item on the agenda.
5. When comments for the data center are opened un-mute your phone and turn off the sound on your computer if you are watching  to avoid crossover noise and time delays.
6. Wait for your name or phone number to be announced before making your comments.  They will probably start with asking you to state your full name.
7.  Please be patient with this process. It is new and different for all of us both as the participant and as the government.
Hearings are open to the public, and public comment is encouraged.  Written comments will be accepted until noon on May 22, 2020.  Comments will be read by County staff during public testimony.
By phone during public comment using the call-in option
1-872-239-8359 Conference ID 615 347 570 then press #
Public comments can be submitted prior to hearing by the following methods:
By email 
By letter
The County Commissioners of Kent County
400 High Street
Chestertown, MD 21620
Written comments will be accepted (email or letter) until noon on Friday May 29th.
Please contact the County Commissioners’ Office at (410) 778-4600 or by email at no later than noon on May 21, 2020 if you need further instructions on how to observe the conduct of public business, participate in the public hearing process, and provide testimony if desired.
For your information: