Washington County commissioners approve $544,000 school mitigation for developer

Opponents protest decision
Hagerstown Herald Mail
C.J. Lovelace
The Washington County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a school mitigation proposal with a local developer, despite a protest by opponents who turned out with signs asking the commissioners to deny the proposal in accordance with the county’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. The commissioners voted 3-1 to allow The Reserve at Collegiate Acres, a planned 272-unit multifamily development in northwest Hagerstown, to move forward at a cost of $2,000 per unit, or $544,000 total, to be paid for schools that will be directly impacted by projected growth from the new apartments. Commissioners President Terry Baker cast the dissenting vote. Commissioner John F. Barr was absent from the meeting. The county plans to hold a public hearing in late July to amend its APFO to add a formula and cost structure for future charges to developers that want to build in areas where schools may be at or over student capacity.

Mitigation fee

Frederick News Post
After hearing directly from representatives of the local building industry Tuesday, we became convinced their hearts were in the right place when they suggested a new provision that would allow them to pay to build in areas where schools are overcrowded. But they have a long way to go to convince us and, as they acknowledged, other members of the public that the solution they offered is a complete one. Only time will tell. As Steve Seawright said during an editorial board meeting at The Frederick News-Post, "By the time the next election comes around, while things are hopefully better, they will not have changed significantly enough that there will be things people can point to tangibly that says this has been made worse." A stumbling block to public acceptance is that this offer was made out of desperation by an industry in crisis. The national economy has not been kind to home-building, and combined with an overly stringent county growth regulation, has made building new homes in Frederick County almost untenable. As generous as the offer is, it is too self-serving. The regulation's main objective is to let builders build. Any benefits to the educational system seem peripheral to that.

Friends of Frederick County questions development mitigation fee plan

Frederick News Post
The nonprofit organization Friends of Frederick County is questioning whether a proposed school mitigation fee would be enough to cover the cost of needed public school improvements. Executive Director Janice Wiles spoke about the issue Tuesday with three concerned residents and Commissioner David Gray at C. Burr Artz Public Library. She used the Crum Farm development as an example of funds the fee could generate saying it would generate a maximum of $8.35 million while a new elementary school needed to serve the 550 new students would cost $25 million. "That's not even a third of what it would cost to build an elementary school," Wiles said.