Revisions made to the city of Frederick’s adequate public facilities ordinance (APFO) could delay start times for developments that would push public school enrollment over capacity.
The changes to the APFO were approved Thursday night by the Board of Aldermen at its public meeting. The purpose of the APFO is to prevent development from growing beyond what the city can sustain with its current facilities and services.
The primary change was that developers who fail the “school test” — meaning schools are beyond 100 percent capacity — will have to fail the test five times before they can proceed, rather than three times.
Developers must wait one year between each test.
Developers that do not want to wait can instead pay a fee to move forward. The board also changed the name of the fee from “school construction fee” to “school mitigation fee,” at the request of Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak.
Additionally, the aldermen can now use the fund that the mitigation fee feeds for “programming,” such as before- or after-school programs, in addition to school construction at their own discretion.
Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner spoke during public comment to commend the city aldermen for changing the school test wait time from three years to five. She disagreed, however, with the use of the fund for programming, since the APFO is specifically for facilities.
Public comment was generally split, with contributors criticizing the APFO for being too harsh on developers, and others criticizing it for not doing enough for students.
The revised ordinance passed 3-2, with aldermen Roger Wilson and Ben MacShane opposing.
After the meeting, Wilson said that while a couple of good changes were made, he thinks that the ordinance still needs a lot more work.
“It falls short of what’s needed to make sure we do not have overcrowded schools and congested roads,” he said.
Other changes to the APFO included excluding affordable housing from the school mitigation fee.