Howard County Citizen Task Force Reviews Development Policies Around Schools

A task force of Howard County citizens and employees is recommending stricter limits on residential development where area schools are crowded.

The recommendation is based on a review to the county’s adequate public facilities ordinance which attempts to manage development and the pace of public facilities.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

Howard County is the fastest growing county in the state, according to March estimates by the Census Bureau. The county has grown by 8.6 percent since the 2010 census, adding 4,700 residents last year, census estimates indicate. Eight county schools exceed 110 percent of their board-approved capacity, with most over-capacity schools concentrated in the northern and eastern parts of the county.

The committee, which includes 23 citizen representatives and two county employees that met from June 2015 to March, recommends the county further decrease the threshold at which schools are considered closed to development to from 115 to 110 percent over-enrolled. However, the recommendation, crafted after more than six hours of negotiations between developer representatives and members of community organizations, allows developers to move forward with development by paying a fee when certain schools are overcrowded in areas where they want to build.

If a school’s projected enrollment is over 115 percent of current capacity, developers can pay a fee triple the amount in the current law and double the amount if the school is between 110 and 115 capacity. The recommendation also pushes developers to pay a scaled public school facilities surcharge and a new household fee dedicated to public school construction.

The article notes that County Executive Allan Kittleman created the task force to review the ordinance for the first time in nearly a decade, but is not bound by the recommendation.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun.