For too long, the City has continued to approve the development of new homes, adding more students to already overcrowded schools. They have done so with complete disregard for county laws designed to prevent new development from occurring when schools are too far over capacity to accept new students.
If Crystal Spring were still in the county (it was annexed into the city in 2005), the 130 non-age restricted homes could not be built for six years or until the school overcrowding problem was resolved because of the Anne Arundel County Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. However, the City has no such law in place at this time and continues to shift responsibility for this issue to county education officials, ignoring the overcrowding of our public schools.
The schools where children would attend from Crystal Spring include Hillsmere Elementary and Annapolis High School. Hillsmere has been closed to new enrollment from county developments for some time and is currently using four trailers as classrooms to address student overflow. Annapolis High has also recently been closed for new enrollment due to overcrowding and has eight trailers.
Several Aldermen have proposed sensible legislation that would add school overcrowding to the City’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. However, under pressure from developers, the Council decided by a close vote to delay consideration of this change until July 11.
While City officials hesitate, kowtowing to developers, how many more developments will gain approval? How many more students will be forced into portable trailer classrooms? There are currently 18 new development projects in the pipeline for the Forest Drive corridor that include more than 1,270 housing units. The City has already approved 152 homes next to Quiet Waters Park and 48 homes at Rocky Gorge, and many others are near approval.
Equally concerning is the fact that it appears the City has not been following the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance that is already in place. New reports suggest that the City has continued to approve new development without ensuring that there are an adequate number of police officers to accommodate the population growth attributed to the new developments. We have also already seen the effects of not properly preparing for increased traffic generated by new developments.
How long will City officials refuse to pass legislation to include strong provisions in its Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance that parallel the County’s provisions to ensure overcrowded schools are not packed with more students?
As the City continues to weigh these decisions, please click here to send a note to the Mayor and Aldermen expressing your support for legislation with teeth like the County’s that adds schools to the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. If the City is approving development that adds students to our county-run schools, it only makes sense that they should have similar laws that take school capacity into account.