Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: HeraldMail HomeCollectionsApfo

Washington County Commissioners move forward with alternative school-mitigation plan

The proposal will establish a standardized formula to determine monetary contributions from developers when additional students are expected to be generated by new development

July 16, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

A proposal to add an alternative school-mitigation contribution to the county’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance moved forward Tuesday, after the Washington County Board of Commissioners came to an informal consensus on draft revisions.

The adequate facilities ordinance amendment will establish a standardized formula to determine monetary contributions from developers when additional students are expected to be generated by new development, causing public schools to exceed capacity thresholds, according to Stephen T. Goodrich, director of the county Department of Planning and Zoning.

The county’s current ordinance does not include a formula for the school-mitigation cost.

Goodrich’s proposal included a formula that takes into account the cost of a school seat, years of useful life of the seat or school building, pupil generation rates for the type of dwelling units under consideration, and the number of years a student will spend in that type of school.

Sample applications of the formula show that a 100-unit, single-family home development would cost about $3,040.39 per unit, or $304,039.

Advertisement

A 100-unit development for apartments would come out to be $2,436.43 per unit for a total of $243,643, while a 100-unit townhome development would cost $1,598.06 per unit, or a total of $159,806, according to Goodrich’s estimates.

“This is a major step,” County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said.

Goodrich asked the five commissioners if they preferred to have the mitigation contribution  levied against developers for pushing only one level of the school system over capacity, such as just an elementary, middle or high school.

“The way the text is prepared now, you only pay for the school that is over,” Goodrich told the commissioners.

Goodrich said county staff members have found that students who start school in Washington County tend to finish locally rather than moving out of the area.

The board decided that the contribution formula should be applied to developments that put any level of school over its rated capacity.

Commissioners President Terry Baker said that the proposed costs would be significantly lower than traditional costs to developers in the past, which averaged around $6,800 per unit.

“Using all three, you’re still getting over a 100-percent savings,” Baker said.

In the past, the school-mitigation payment has been handled on a case-by-case basis with developers, such as the commissioners’ 4-1 approval of a proposal on June 25 for a multifamily housing development in northwest Hagerstown at a cost of $544,000, or $2,000 per unit.

Under the proposed change, The Reserve at Collegiate Acres, a 272-unit apartment development, would have been charged about $2,400 per unit. Baker voted against that mitigation proposal because he said it was unfair to future developments.

The APFO revision will allow a developer to “lock in” the cost of a student seat in the formula for a full year starting when they go through the mitigation process, according to Tuesday’s discussion.

The amendment also provides for the commissioners to update the student seat cost annually, based on the average cost of construction from past and future projects, as well as capacity.

The proposed APFO change will be advertised in advance of an Aug. 6 public hearing.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|