Land Use Experts Talk County Policies

Posted Date: 
December 18, 2012


Vice-Chair Gus Bauman introduced the MCCC members and the panel: Bob Kaufman, Director of Government Affairs, Maryland National Capital Building Industry Association, Steve Elmendorf, Partner, Linowes and Blocher, LLP, and Jennifer Russel, Director of Planning, Rodgers Consulting, Inc. The panel discussed land use issues in Montgomery County, MD.
Bob Kaufman began the discussion by framing land use policy in the United States versus other nations globally. The US ranks behind Saudis Arabia now in ease by which it takes to receive a building permit. Kaufman continued by issuing a "Pre-test" to begin the discussion. Questions included, "How much is collected annually from Impact Taxes on Housing for schools?" He then reviewed all the answers with the group. Kaufman explained that the point of the exercise was to illustrate how difficult it is at times to build something in Montgomery County.
Steve Elmedorf presented next about the new transportation "tests" in Montgomery County. Elmendorf discussed the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, which says that the planning board cannot approve a new subdivision unless the public facilities that support it are "adequate". This includes schools, roads, police, fire protection, libraries, etc. The two most important ones to building something in the County are schools and roads. Although "adequate" is not clearly defined, there are laws that regulate and "test" where public facilities are adequate for new development.
He discussed the Subdivision Staging Policy, which establishes regulations that "test" new subdivisions on traffic and school capacity. The Council recently adopted a new policy, which will take effect on January 1, 2013. The transportation test is called LATR and the test messages critical lane volume. The County Council established a standard by which new development needs to "pass" the test or pay additional fees to offset the new demand on public facilities. The Council established a new test in addition to allow building to occur taking into consideration whether roads and transit infrastructure are "adequate".
Jennifer Russel then discussed the school test portion of the Subdivision Staging Policy. The Planning Board evaluates capacity in each high school cluster no later than July 1 of each year - compared to enrollment projected by MCPS go each fiscal year with projected capacity in 5 years. If the program capacity is greater than 120% at any grade level in that cluster, the Planning board cannot approve any residential subdivision in that cluster during the next fiscal year. She explained that if projected enrollment at any grade level exceeds 105% utilization, but is below 120%, the Planning Board may approve a residential subdivision in that cluster if the applicants pay a School Facilities Payment prior to receiving a building permit. Remaining capacity must also be watched during the school year.
MCCC members asked questions about competitiveness related to building in other jurisdictions.
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