Frederick County Council members unanimously passed legislation that will allow a developer to build the final 15 homes of a development in Ijamsville.
Councilman Steve McKay (R) helped draft the bill on behalf of County Executive Jan Gardner (D). It was spearheaded in part from dozens of residents of the Days Range Community Association, who argued their home values were decreasing thanks to 15 empty lots in their neighborhoods.
The lots are empty because the developer let the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) Letters of Understanding (LOU) expire after several homes were already constructed. The APFO tests whether developments can meet requirements regarding roads, local school capacity and other public infrastructure needs.
McKay felt this was an “honest” mistake, and his and Gardner’s legislation allows developers to apply for re-testing of the APFO and to pay school construction fees by adding language to the county’s school construction fees code. They can apply if their development, among other requirements, meets the following criteria:
- The development is 60 dwelling units or less
- More than 50 percent of the development’s units are built and have certificates of occupancy
- The total number of projected students, upon newly built homes, does not exceed 10
School construction fees are paid by developers who are building in areas where schools are already crowded.
McKay said before Tuesday’s vote the bill creates a “very narrowly constrained set of modifications” to the county’s APFO. He added once the bill takes effect and the final 15 homes in the Ijamsville community are built, he intended to ask the council to take the language out, so other developers don’t take advantage of any possible loopholes.
Mike Wilkins, the county’s director of the Department of Development and Review, said at a council meeting in September he or other county planning staff did not know of any other developments or projects that would utilize the law change countywide.
“I’d rather deal with those situations one at a time, rather than leave in some messy ordinance,” McKay said before Tuesday’s vote about any possible developers trying to take advantage of the bill.