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Boonsboro officials worried ordinance could hinder growth

January 11, 2006|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Boonsboro Mayor Charles "Skip" F. Kauffman told the Washington County Commissioners Tuesday night the town feared adopting a county ordinance would bring development there to a "halt," forcing taxpayers to bear the cost of town improvements rather than developers.

"That's scaring the heck out of us," Kauffman said.

Kauffman was referring to the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO), which, in part, sets limits on growth based on school capacity.

The County Commissioners have asked municipalities to adopt an APFO similar to the county's ordinance. Municipalities that adopt the ordinance receive a portion of the county's excise tax.

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The commissioners met with the Boonsboro Town Council at Boonsboro's Community Center at Shafer Memorial Park.

Kauffman said the town is planning several growth-related improvements, including a more than $5 million wastewater treatment plant and a collector road around town to direct traffic away from downtown.

He said contributions from developers would help pay for the projects.

"Our downtown traffic is getting horrendous," Kauffman said.

The county's APFO uses a 90 percent school capacity threshold to determine whether an elementary school is adequate to accommodate enrollment growth and 100 percent thresholds for middle and high schools.

If a school is considered at or over capacity, new residential development might be put on hold while developers work out plans, such as donating money or land for a new school, to resolve the capacity issue.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Boonsboro Elementary School is at 106 percent capacity, Boonsboro Middle School is at 84 percent capacity and Boonsboro High School is at 97 percent capacity.

Should Boonsboro revise its APFO to be in line with the county's, Commissioner James F. Kercheval said development in the town wouldn't necessarily stop because of the school capacity issue.

He said, for example, developers might be able to work out temporary plans that would place portable classrooms at the school until a permanent solution is in place.

"Developers will work with you to try to come up with these agreements," Kercheval said.

"It doesn't necessarily mean (development) will stop," he said.

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