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County might up definition of 'adequate' school crowding

June 07, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com

Washington County officials on Tuesday discussed raising from 90 percent to 100 percent the capacity level above which elementary schools would be considered overcrowded for the purpose of requiring developer mitigation.

The proposal, which would make it easier to build new subdivisions in many areas, was one of 17 potential changes county staff have suggested as part of an effort to bring clarity and consistency to the county's acceptance of school mitigation payments.

Mitigation payments are allowed under the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance to make way for development that would otherwise be prohibited because of limited school capacity.

On Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners narrowed the list of 17 suggestions to five changes that a majority of the board was interested in exploring.

Those changes were:

  • Raise the standard for elementary school capacity in the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance to 100 percent of the school's state-rated capacity. Currently, the APFO's limitations kick in for elementary schools when they exceed 90 percent of state-rated capacity. Middle and high schools are considered adequate until they exceed 100 percent of their state-rated capacity.
  • Provide a formula for developers to use as a starting point for proposing school mitigation payments.
  • Clarify at what point in the planning process mitigation payments are due.
  • Add a provision allowing the county to reopen school mitigation negotiations after a mitigation agreement is approved.
  • Re-examine the time period for which potential students from a development that is approved, but not built, are factored into school capacity calculations.

The commissioners decided against making any changes to the excise tax ordinance, setting a standard calculation for school mitigation or setting an absolute prohibition on developing in areas with overcrowded schools.

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