School Capacity Cap Could Lead to Residential Development Moratorium

The Mayor and Council will hold a public hearing, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22 at City Hall, on possible amendments to the city’s Adequate Public Facilities Standards.

One of the proposed amendments would increase the school capacity test of the Adequate Public Facilities Standards from 120 percent of program capacity up to 150 percent for two specific areas of the city, the Town Center Performance District and the South Pike area near the Twinbrook Metro station.

The potential change would avoid a potential residential development moratorium in those areas due to school capacity projections set out in Montgomery County Public Schools’ recommended Fiscal Year 2020 budget. Other options are being considered that may not modify the program capacity test, while still avoiding a potential moratorium. Another proposed amendment would change when the schools test is done for project plan applications, from the time of project plan approval to the time of site plan approval.

Based on the yet-to-be-adopted MCPS budget, school capacity in the Richard Montgomery and Walter Johnson high school clusters, as of July 1, 2019, is projected to be over the 120 percent capacity limit at the high-school level in five years, which is the test outlined in the city’s APFS for all new residential developments. Because of those capacity limits, developers in those school clusters in Rockville would be unable to obtain approval for new residential projects. The proposal would potentially allow new residential development proposals in the Town Center and South Pike areas to be approved, if the revised school capacity test is met.

The Mayor and Council will also consider changes to the city’s Comprehensive Transportation Review, which is the adequacy test for transportation capacity. The proposed change would allow analysis of intersections controlled by the county or state to be based on the standards of the relevant jurisdiction, rather than the city’s standards.

The APFS and Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance were enacted by the Mayor and Council in November 2005 as a way to determine if the city could accommodate new development and redevelopment while ensuring the provision of transportation, schools, fire and emergency services, and water and sewer services. (The Mayor and Council eliminated the fire and emergency services tests from the APFS in November 2017.)

To watch the Mayor and Council’s Dec. 17 meeting on the APFS, visit www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter, and select the TV icon next to the agenda item.

To testify at the Jan. 22 meeting, call 240-314-8280 by 4 p.m. the day of the hearing or by submitting testimony in writing to cityclerk@rockvillemd.gov or City Clerk’s Office/Director of Council Operations, City Hall, 111 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850.

Rockville Mayor and Council meetings are broadcast live on channel 11 on county cable systems, live streamed at www.rockvillemd.gov/rockville11 and available a day after the meeting at www.rockvillemd.gov/videoondemand.