The City Council is currently considering Ordinance O-8-18, which would strengthen the City’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) as it applies to schools. We are asking residents to please support this important legislation with the two amendments described below. Residents have one final opportunity to provide public input on the legislation at the City Council meetings on Monday, April 23, at 7pm in Council Chambers (160 Duke of Gloucester Street). In addition, please click here to send an email to the Mayor and Council. Please be sure to mention the mayor and aldermen who pledged to support this legislation during the election as outlined below.
As a reminder, this ordinance is intended to restrict development when our schools have reached capacity and can no longer accommodate new students. The City first passed its APFO in 2016, but it was so weakened by amendments that it was rendered practically meaningless. Instead of restricting development when schools are at 100% of state-rated capacity as the County has for decades, the city’s APFO required elementary/middle schools to reach 105% and the high school to reach an astonishing 120%. This means schools like Hillsmere Elementary and Annapolis High that are closed to county developments have been forced to continue accepting more students from city developments. More students have been forced to attend classes in temporary trailer classrooms like the ones in the photo below.
The Mayor and five of eight sitting aldermen (Tierney, Arnett, Savidge, Rodriguez, and Paone) signed our candidate questionnaire during the election and pledged to strengthen the ordinance if elected. The pledge they signed is as follows: “If elected, would you support and work to enact an ordinance that would parallel the County adequate public facilities ordinance and mandate that when any public schools—elementary, middle, or high schools—are at 100% of state-rated capacity, no new non-age restricted residential developments of four or more units may be approved for six years or until the school overcrowding is remedied?”
The new ordinance (O-8-18) as proposed does not match this pledge, so we are urging the Council to make these two important amendments:
Amendment #1: O-8-18 reduces the threshold to 95% for all schools (elementary, middle and high). The capacity threshold issue has been complicated by the fact that the County recently passed a temporary measure to reduce their threshold to 95%. However, this will sunset after three years or when they pass the County General Development Plan and the county law will go back to 100%. 95% vs. 100% is irrelevant for City feeder schools, so we are urging the Council to keep it simple and pass the ordinance as pledged–at 100%.
Amendment #2: The other major difference between O-8-18 and the county APFO is the applicability of the ordinance. O-8-18 is weaker than the county law because it only applies to developments of 11 or more, rather than developments of four or more. Thus, we are also asking the Council to amend O-8-18 to bring it in line with county law and make it applicable to developments of four or more units.
How will this legislation impact the Crystal Spring development? Contrary to popular belief, this is not just a senior development! In addition to the massive Providence Point senior community of 383 units and 48 assisted living beds proposed that will clear 25.45 acres of forest, the subdivision plan filed also calls for development on two lots totaling 18.5 acres on the western half of the property that will be retained by the owner. They are planning to clear an additional 13.3 acres on these two lots, and while they have not given details about what will be built, current zoning would allow up to 147 non-age restricted homes. This would further overcrowd our roads and schools, but if O-8-18 passes, it could significantly restrict what can be built on this part of the property.
The County runs the schools and therefore it only makes sense that the City should abide by the same rules set by the County for judging school capacity. Please join us in supporting this important legislation and urging the Mayor and five members of the council to keep their campaign pledges!