The following is my written testimony pertaining to Council Bill 61-2017 (CB61-2017), which would amend Howard County’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO). If enacted, APFO would be changed in a variety of ways, including the requirement of periodic reviews; completion timelines for certain types of road remediation projects; amendment of the title of certain charts and other terminology; and requiring certain waiting periods related to development. Information regarding CB61 can be found here. I presented oral testimony to the Howard County Council during their Legislative Public Hearing on Monday, July 17, 2017; however, due to time constraints, I and others had to testify on both CB61 and CB62 (also related to APFO) within the same 3-minute period.
My written testimony regarding CB62-2017 can be found at http://stevehunt4hoco.com/2017/09/08/cb62-2017/; there will be a special Legislative Public Hearing on both pieces of legislation on Monday, September 11, 2017:
MY TESTIMONY ON CB61-2017
SUPPORT WITH AMENDMENTS
Chairman Weinstein & Members of the County Council,
My name is Steve Hunt, and I live at 9630 Park Avenue, Laurel, Maryland. I’m writing to provide comments pertaining to Council Bill 61-2017 (CB61), and while I serve as Chair of the Howard County Board of Appeals, I’m writing to you as an individual.
I would first like to take a moment to acknowledge the service provided by the APFO Task Force, and thank the members of that group for all of their efforts in reviewing this important ordinance. Having watched recordings of nearly all of the meetings, I appreciate their efforts over a nearly year-long process, along with those of the Administration for putting this group of citizens together.
In reviewing CB61-2017, I would say that I am in support of most of the recommendations set forth. I’m especially pleased to see that there is a proposal to have regular reviews of APFO itself going forward. I believe that this ordinance is too important to be reviewed only when the citizens of our County demand a review; rather, it should be reviewed on a regular basis, as is the case with the General Plan, Zoning Regulations, and other critical County documents.
That said, I would like to propose several amendments to this legislation that would further strengthen APFO:
First, I would like to see the capacity percentage under the so-called “schools test” lowered from its current percentage of 115% to 110%, without that tolerance being subject to the surcharge change recommended by the Task Force. I understand that these two items were connected as part of a deal between members of the Task Force; however, the surcharge change is approved at the state level, while the percentage can be approved at the County level. I would recommend passing the percentage decrease now, and (if still desired) propose the surcharge change to our State Delegation as part of their review ahead of the next state legislative session. With growing concerns over school capacity and redistricting, I believe now is the time to address the percentage issue.
Second, I would like to see what is referred to as the “wait time” for development in those areas that are deemed constrained under and APFO schools test increased from its current max time of 4 years. There are other Maryland jurisdictions (Anne Arundel, for example) where the wait times are longer, and those longer wait times held up in court under the “takings” legal precedent. I believe the Council and/or Office of Law have information pertaining to recent court rulings; a thorough review should be done to see what the County’s options are here.
Finally, I would like to see a “fire test” added to APFO. As important as it is to make sure we have the proper capacity at our schools and roads that can support our continued growth and development, I also think we should make sure our ability to deliver critical services such as fire and rescue is not compromised by any development.
I believe these changes, along with those set forth in the legislation, will create a stronger APFO, which will allow our County to continue to grow, but in a way that doesn’t negatively affect our ability to support that growth going forward. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I would encourage as many people as possible to attend the Special Public Hearing on these pieces of legislation scheduled for Monday, September 17, 2017. You can sign up to testify here; if you are unable to attend the hearing, you can provide written testimony by sending an email to email@example.com.
Again, I’d like to acknowledge the work of the APFO Task Force, who spent a great amount of time over a number of meetings performing a comprehensive review of the ordinance. Having served the County in a number of ways, I can fully appreciate the time and effort they gave to improve a process whose review was long overdue.
As always, please feel free to contact me with your thoughts, concerns, etc. Thanks.