Frederick Council Passes Bill to Adjust School Construction Fees

The Frederick County Council yesterday approved a bill to adjust school construction fees assessed on developers whose projects fail the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) Schools test. APFOs are used to slow or restrict growth until adequate infrastructure or public services are in place to serve the new population of residents.

According to WFMD:

These builders can either build the new school capacity and let their projects go forward, or they could stop building homes until the schools are adequate. A law enacted by the last Board of County Commissioners lets developers pay a certain amount toward school construction, and their project is allowed to continue.

This legislation adjusts the fees annually, starting in January 1st, 2019 to January 1st, 2026, without any action by the Council, and are based on the recent school construction cost data from the state, plus two-percent. The annual increase will be no more than six-percent.

Supporters of the legislation pointed to the fact that while school construction costs have steadily increased, developer fees have not been adjusted since 2014. Opponents of the bill argued that increasing developer fees will inevitably drive up housing costs.

Rising school construction costs are a concern for county government officials across Maryland, and ensuring a continued state commitment to education is a MACo Legislative Initiative for the 2019 General Assembly Session.

The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education will recommend major shifts in the relative role of state and local funding in each of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions. At the same time, the 21st Century School Facilities Commission and its legislative outcomes recommended an increased annual State contribution for capital projects, and required ongoing study of school construction project funding and priorities.

MACo advocates for a partnership approach to meeting the education and facility needs of Maryland’s students that fairly balances state responsibilities with local obligations, and seeks equitable and efficient solutions to meet current expenses and future goals.

Useful Links

Read the full article from WFMD

Conduit Street Podcast: Split the Check for School Construction? Not So Fast…

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: It’s Not Apples-to-Apples in School Construction Funding

New NACo Report on Community Engagement and Affordable Housing Development

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has released a report, Housing Connections: Promoting Affordability Through Community Engagement, to help counties improve community participation in shaping affordable housing programs.

The report features three case studies of counties implementing innovative strategies to engage their communities: Nassau County, N.Y; Orleans Parish/New Orleans, La. and Tillamook County, Ore., It also showcases several community engagement resources for affordable housing programs.

For more information:

Housing Connections: Promoting Affordability Through Community Engagement (NACo)


Home High-Cost Home

Based on national data, Maryland county residents have relatively high median mortgage owner costs, with 19 counties in the highest bracket.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has released data compiling county-by-county statistics on 2016 housing costs. As NACo reports, 64% of all counties nationally have median monthly homeowner costs of more than $1000.

NACo’s data shows the median monthly owner costs for mortgaged housing for all counties in the nation. Housing costs are an important factor in county governance. While high housing costs may help support needed revenues for roads, schools, and other social services, they also may create challenges for maintaining inclusive communities and economic development opportunities.

Maryland appears all blue in NACo’s mapping tool – indicating that all Maryland counties are the the top three highest brackets for housing costs, with median monthly homeowner costs of more than $1,022.

20 of 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City are dark blue in the map, because they are in the top 20% nationally, with median monthly homeowner costs between $1,303 and $3,294.

For more information, see the National Association of Counties’ County Explorer.

Screenshot 2018-09-28 08.56.36
The coloration of Maryland counties in this capture indicates a relatively high cost of mortgages compared to other counties in the nation.

Sustainable Growth Commission Discusses A Better Maryland, Transportation, and Parks Plans

The Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission heard on updates on the new State Development Plan, A Better Maryland; the 2040 Maryland Transportation Plan; and the Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan at its September 24, 2018, meeting in Leonardtown.

A Better Maryland

Maryland Secretary of Planning Robert McCord, Special Secretary of Smart Growth Wendi Peters and other Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) representatives provided an update on the new State Development Plan, A Better Maryland. The plan, which is expected to be finalized in 2019, is currently being developed by MDP after several rounds of statewide listening tours.

The plan will broadly focus on environment and economic development issues – the two top areas of concerns raised by listening tour participants. The plan will be developed around four issue groupings: (1) environmental issues; (2) economic development issues; (3) community development issues; and (4) collaboration/coordination issues. MDP has currently identified 14 issues that will fall under these four issue groupings.

Environmental Issues

  • Sustaining the environment into the future
  • Preserving land
  • Adapting and becoming resilient to climate change

Economic Development Issues

  • Tackling the economic development needs of the next century
  • Improving economic growth and development in existing communities
  • Meeting renewable energy goals
  • Addressing Maryland’s transportation, infrastructure, and technology challenges and opportunities

Community Development Issues

  • Creating workforce/affordable housing
  • Building capacity in communities
  • Protecting historic and cultural resources
  • Creating quality places

Collaboration//Coordination Issues

  • Coordinating State agencies in planning process
  • Respecting regional distinctions
  • Improving the delivery of programs and services to local jurisdictions

The plan will provide further details on addressing each of these issues as a full draft of the plan is developed.

2040 Maryland Transportation Plan

Charles Glass from the Maryland Department of Transportation provided an update on the state’s draft 2040 transportation plan, which will chart Maryland’s long-range transportation funding and project programming. The plan is updated every 5 years. The 2040 plan contains seven overall goals:

  1. Provide better transportation choices and connections
  2. Ensure a safe, secure, and resilient transportation system
  3. Maintain a high standard and modernize Maryland’s multimodal transportation system
  4. Improve the quality and efficiency of the transportation system to enhance the customer experience
  5. Promote fiscal responsibility
  6. Facilitate economic opportunity and reduce congestion in Maryland through strategic system expansion
  7. Ensure environmental protection and sensitivity

Each goal includes a set of objectives and strategies for achieving those objectives. The 2040 plan will include significant components to begin addressing: (1) electric vehicles; (2) autonomous and connected vehicles; (3) climate impacts; and (4) the shared mobility economy.

Public comments on the draft 2040 plan are due by November 14.

Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan

Sandi Olek from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources provided a short update on the state’s recreation plan. The recreation plan, which includes information and plans created by local governments, is needed to access federal funding for parks and land preservation. The theme of the pending plan will be connectivity, including ensuring equitable access to green space.

Leonardtown Update

Leonardtown Mayor Dan Burris and Town Administrator Lachelle McKay provided an overview of the town’s revitalization and growth plans. Both noted their positive working relationship with St. Mary’s County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioners James Guy, Tom Jarboe, and Michael Hewitt also attended the meeting.

MACo representatives on the Commission include Garrett County Planning and Land Management Director Deborah Carpenter and MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp. The Commission’s next meeting is scheduled for November 26, 2018, in Gaithersburg.

Useful Links

Sustainable Growth Commission Webpage

Beltway Communities Awarded Revitalization Funding

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development awarded $9.75 million to communities within Baltimore and Capital Beltways for revitalization projects. 

The funds were awarded from the Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative and the National Capital Strategic Economic Development Fund. They will support 64 projects and leverage nearly $372 million in additional investments.

As announced by a DHCD news release:

The Fiscal Year 2019 awards [from the Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative] will support 59 projects including: continuation of a home rehabilitation program in Brooklyn Heights and Arundel Village in Anne Arundel County; construction of a new facility in the Pigtown neighborhood of Baltimore to house a culinary arts training program to prepare adults for well-paying jobs in food service; a building improvement program to encourage and sustain small businesses in the Waverly Main Street District in Baltimore, and; supporting home repairs for low- to moderate-income elderly homeowners in the Dundalk community of Baltimore County.

The Fiscal Year 2019 awards are the first awards made through the [National Capital Strategic Economic Development] fund and will support five projects including architectural and engineering services for the rehabilitation of Hillbrooke Towers, a 55-unit apartment complex near downtown Silver Spring in Montgomery County, and development of Palmer Park Meadows Townhomes to create nine affordable townhomes in the Palmer Park neighborhood of Hyattsville in Prince George’s County.

Read the full news release to learn more.

Baltimore City Honors Former Councilman

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Former Baltimore City Councilman Kenneth Harris, whose life was tragically cut short when he was murdered ten years ago, was honored Tuesday by Mayor Catherine Pugh and members of the City Council.

The Kenneth N. Harris Senior Community Center will be a place where young people can learn, play, and achieve.

According to WMAR:

Tuesday afternoon, everyone from Mayor Catherine Pugh and current city council members to his family took pride in dedicating the facility to him.

“I know he’s happy and smiling down right now from heaven,” said Harris’ son, Kenneth Harris Jr.

“This is just a display of our love and care for an individual who loved and cared for his city,” said Mayor Catherine Pugh.

Harris was murdered 10 years ago during a robbery in Northeast Baltimore outside of a jazz club. The men responsible are in prison, but that’s not what defines the former councilman.

“Seeing the sign with my father, seeing the impact he had on this community and on myself included, it’s just so emotional but very happy,” Harris said.

The center will host a head start program facilitated by the YMCA and a program to help kids with homework, social skills, and aftercare.

Harris Sr. grew up in west Baltimore and served north and northeast Baltimore as a city councilman for eight years.

Read the full article for more information.

1000 Friends of Maryland Merges With Preservation Maryland

Land use and Smart Growth advocacy group 1000 Friends of Maryland recently merged into historic preservation group Preservation Maryland. Former 1000 Friends Executive Director Kimberly Golden Brandt will now oversee a new campaign for the combined organizations called Smart Growth Maryland. From the Preservation Maryland webpage on Smart Growth Maryland:

Smart Growth Maryland is a campaign of Preservation Maryland which advocates for a more environmentally and economically sustainable future that creates opportunities for all Marylanders through better development patterns. …

Smart Growth Maryland focuses its work in three critical areas: advocacy, education and technical assistance.

The staff of Smart Growth Maryland advocate at the local, state and federal level for programs and policies which incentivize smarter growth patterns and protect critical natural, cultural and historic resources. In addition, Smart Growth Maryland also presents at workshops, trainings, seminars and conferences throughout the state to provide access to the latest trends in smart growth. Smart Growth Maryland’s professional staff also works throughout the state to assist counties, municipalities and developers that are contemplating smart growth projects. Staff provides a wide range of expert technical assistance with projects aimed at revitalization, land-use planning and resource conservation.

The webpage notes that Smart Growth Maryland is a program fully within Preservation Maryland and will be annually reported on Preservation Maryland’s IRS 990 form. Tax-deductible contributions made to Preservation Maryland can be specifically restricted to the Smart Growth Maryland campaign.

Useful Links

Preservation Maryland Website

Over $8 Million in Community Development Grants Awarded to Local Programs

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has administered over $8,162,455 in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to support 17 community development and infrastructure projects across 12 counties.

As DHCD announced:

The program has always proved a versatile tool in supporting a wide variety of development goals. The Fiscal Year 2019 awards will assist diverse projects including: regional sewer system improvements in Allegany County; development of a Head Start and daycare facility in Cecilton (Cecil County); construction of a community center for senior citizens in St. Michaels (Talbot County), and; supporting the continuation of an afterschool program serving approximately 80 children in Hancock (Washington County).

The CDBG program is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and helps fund affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, infrastructure development, and other community development activities.

For more information read the DHCD news release and view the complete FY2019 CDBG Awards awards list.

HUD Vouchers to Help Counties House People with Disabilities

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded $4.4 million in Mainstream Housing Choice Vouchers to local housing authorities across Maryland to house non-elderly people with disabilities. The Baltimore Sun reports:

The $4,412,074 has been allocated to local housing authorities in Baltimore city and Howard, Mongtomery, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Carroll counties, and other jurisdictions. The money will allow Maryland to provide permanent affordable housing to 454 people with disabilities, according to HUD.

Read The Baltimore Sun to learn more.

Data Firm Drills Down into Small Businesses in Opportunity Zones

New interactive map to help connect local governments and small businesses.

A data firm has launched an interactive map aimed to help local governments find and target small businesses eligible for investment within the federal Opportunity Zones program.

Route Fifty reports:

The company, SMB Intelligence, earlier this month rolled out an interactive map and dataset that now feature about 2,800 small businesses and chains, located throughout the U.S., that are both “investable” and located within areas that are eligible for the program.

There’s been interest in the data. Since posting it online, he said, about 40 state and local agencies, and 50 investors have reached out to SMB about it. The firm has plans to provide the data, which is updated every two weeks, to 15 agencies on a pilot basis starting in September.

The article notes a free version of the map is available on SMB’s website, however due to the labor involved in gathering data SMB may eventually charge to access it after the pilot run.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Opportunity Zones are a new tool to encourage long-term private investment in low-income communities by providing federal tax breaks on any capital gains that result from specific investment in those communities. Federal officials have designated all 149 areas Maryland officials chose for the program which will be effective for 10 years.

Read Route Fifty and visit SMB Intelligence’s interactive map to learn more.

Related Coverage from Conduit Street:

DHCD to Host MD Opportunity Zone Conference

Maryland Identifies “Opportunity Zones”, Awaits Federal Approval