Maryland Lawmakers Push Bill to Prevent Limits on Clotheslines


ANNAPOLIS, Md. — There are many high-tech ways to save money and conserve energy. This isn’t one of them.

Hanging laundry out to dry is a time-tested, easy way to cut utility bills, said Maryland Democratic state Sen. Nancy King. Wednesday she urged the state Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to support a measure that would give all Marylanders the right to dry their clothes the old-fashioned way.

The bill would prohibit governing boards, community associations and landlords from banning outdoor drying at single-family homes and townhomes. It would allow rules about the time, location and manner in which homeowners or tenants use clothes lines or similar devices on their property.

For example, a homeowners association could restrict outdoor drying to daylight hours, she said.

“We’re not trying to tromp on the homeowners associations,” said King, who lives in upscale Montgomery Village — a community that, she said, allows outdoor drying, with restrictions.

Using clothes lines is more environmentally friendly than electric dryers, King said, and can help families save money on energy bills. But she said some Marylanders, including a friend who owns a home with a “big yard” in Crofton, are not allowed to hang clothes outside at all.

After the brief hearing, Ruth White, a member of the Climate Change Initiative of Howard County, followed King out of the room to thank her for the bill.

White said she hangs her towels and sheets outside to dry in the summer. She said the bill would allow more people to reduce their energy bills and their carbon footprint — and give clothes a fresh smell, minus the dryer sheets.

Andrew Fortin, vice president for government and public affairs with the Community Associations Institute, said he doesn’t have an issue with clothes lines, but rather the way the bill may override existing neighborhood covenants and agreements.

When someone buys into a property association, they do so knowing they will be subject to certain restrictions, he said. If they do not like the covenants, they can work within the association to change them, Fortin said.

Jeanne Ketley, president of Maryland Homeowners’ Association Inc., said she has no problem with the bill as it pertains to single-family detached homes. However, she said she is concerned about possible safety issues at townhomes or other attached units.

Committee Chairman Brian Frosh is also a co-sponsor of the bill. He said he likes the bill, but was not able to gauge the committee’s reaction.

One member of the committee asked King whether the bill would apply to other items in yards, such as holiday decorations. She said it only applies to clothes lines or similar devices.

“I thought I’d be lucky to just get this passed,” she said.

Capital News Service contributed to this report.