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Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance task force presents report to Executive Kittleman

Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance task force presents report to Executive Kittleman

April 12, 2016

Media Contacts:
Deidre McCabe, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
Carl DeLorenzo, Director of Policy and Programs, Office of the County Executive, 410-313-2172

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – After a comprehensive review spanning 10 months, a task force appointed last June by Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman presented its recommendations for the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) in a 24-page report.

Kittleman, who was briefed on the report late Friday, commended the 23-member group on its diligence, extending its initial six month commitment to 10 months and a total of 22 meetings so it could review every aspect of the complicated ordinance. The APFO, first adopted by the County Council in 1992, provides a set of guidelines for the construction of schools, roads and other infrastructure in the county.

“I’m extremely grateful to this group for its dedication and thorough review. They spent countless hours poring over formulas and details that ultimately will help the County make better decisions about growth and development. All residents will benefit from the work they’ve done,” Kittleman said. He added that he would carefully review all task force recommendations before making decisions about changes. Some changes might require legislation, which would then go before the County Council for review.

Kittleman established the APFO Review Task Force through Executive Order because the ordinance had not been closely examined in more than 10 years, and a review was needed to ensure growth did not outpace infrastructure. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest estimates for Maryland released last month, Howard County’s population grew by 1.7 percent in 2015, making it the fastest-growing county in the state.

Diane Mikulis, former Chair of the Howard County Board of Education, led the task force with Cole Schnorf, Senior Vice President & Director of Development of Manekin, serving as vice chair. “Our roads, schools and public facilities have to keep pace with our population growth, even though the rate is slower than when APFO first came about,” said Mikulis. “Many people still want to purchase new homes in Howard County, so we recommended a change in the housing development approval process related to a modified schools test. It’s really all about balance.”

“We had a diverse committee, representing civic groups, county agencies, county council appointees, developers, school advocates, builders and others, yet we were able to reach consensus on many issues,” added Schnorf. “We didn’t agree on everything, but I think the recommendations we’ve offered to the Executive are significant and will greatly improve APFO moving forward.”

Over the past 20 years, the number of households in Howard County has increased from 79,260 in 1995 to 110,370 in 2015. The Howard County Public School System reports that student population has grown from 37,547 in 1995 to 54,134 today. Eight county schools presently exceed 110 percent of their board-approved capacity.

The APFO Review Task Force passed 18 motions by a two-thirds majority. Notable recommendations include:

  • Revised schools test that adjusts program capacity and developers’ wait time and imposes a scaled public school facilities surcharge for developers and a new household fee dedicated to public school construction;
  • Renaming the school system’s Open/Closed Chart to the School Capacity Chart;
  • Requirement to convene a review committee at the conclusion of every General Plan cycle (every 10 years) at a minimum;
  • Exemption of Moderate Income Housing Units and certain age-restricted units from the allocations test;
  • Exemption of Downtown Columbia from the 300-unit annual allocation limit for a single elementary school district if the school region within which the school district resides is over 100 percent capacity.

In addition to the 24-page report, the full review contains hundreds of pages of appendices covering school enrollment projections, Downtown Columbia development, impact fees, building excise taxes, transportation needs, design manual guidelines, APFOs in other jurisdictions and additional relevant information. To review the full report and appendices, go to https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Branches/County-Executive/Adequate-Public-Facilities-report-2015.

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