County Council Continues to Consider the new updates to the County Growth Policy

The Montgomery County Council is continuing their review of the update to the County Growth Policy. Major changes include policy name change (from the Subdivision Staging Policy to the County Growth Policy), creation of school impact areas, limitations on the use of moratoria, requirements for premium payments in area with overcrowded schools, and incorporation of Vision Zero concepts in transportation adequacy review. Please review the Recommendations At-A-Glance for a brief overview of the schools recommendations.

Montgomery County Council Schedule

Monday, October 5  PHED Committee: County Growth Policy Schools Element | 9:30 AM
Friday, October 9  PHED Committee: County Growth Policy Transportation Element | 10:30 AMGO Committee: Impact Tax Bill | 1:30 PM
Monday, October 12  GO Committee: School Impact Taxes and Recordation Tax Bill | 9:30 AM
Tuesday, October 13  PHED Committee: County Growth Policy) | 3:00 PM
Tuesday, October 20  Full Council: County Growth Policy | TBD
Tuesday, October 27  Full Council: County Growth Policy | TBD
Tuesday, November 10  Full Council action

You can watch the Council work sessions live (or watch recordings of past work sessions) from the Council website.

What is the Subdivision Staging Policy?
The Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) — one of the many ways that Montgomery Planning helps to preserve the excellent quality of life in Montgomery County — is based on having sufficient infrastructure to support growth. It includes criteria and guidance for the administration of Montgomery County’s Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (APFO), which matches the timing of private development with the availability of public infrastructure. Every four years, an effort to update the Subdivision Staging Policy originates with Montgomery Planning staff before working its way through the Planning Board and the County Council. The purpose is to ensure that the best available tools are used to test whether infrastructure like schools, transportation, water and sewer services can support future growth.

Subdivision Staging Policy and the Community
Montgomery Planning prepares updates to the SSP every four years and this year’s update takes a special focus on schools in relation to growth and development in the county. Census information, demographic shifts, student generation rates, housing stock and projections, equity, along with master plans and development projects are some of the components that must be considered when looking at the policy. The transportation side of the SSP includes looking at transportation policy areas in the county, modes of travel, areawide development impacts and modeling data with a new focus on Vision Zero safety standards.
Since the update to the SSP started in summer 2019, two citizen advisory groups have assisted with this work: the Schools Technical Advisory Team and Transportation Impact Study Technical Working Group. Community members have also been engaged through local presentations, a community workshop in October 2019 and a series of roundtable discussions throughout the county.

View the Planning Board Draft and Appendices:
County Growth Policy – Planning Board Draft County Growth Policy – Planning Board Draft Appendices

The update to the schools element of the SSP included a review by an Urban Land Institute Virtual Advisory Services Panel (vASP) in April.

Read the ULI Final Report and presentation. Learn more about the vASP’s review of the SSP.

Additional resources, including links to Planning Board work sessions on the policy, can be found on Montgomery Planning’s website.

 

Our County Council testimony on the SSP/New Growth Policy

As one or two of you may know, tonight the County Council is holding a worksession on the proposed new Subdivision Staging Policy/SSP (now to be called the Growth Policy.) While it’s on very few radars, the SSP/Growth Policy affects development, schools, and transportation, so it affects practically all aspects of life here in Montgomery County.

You can learn more about the proposed policy and watch the County Council hearing live on CCM Channels Comcast HD 996 and SD 6, RCN HD 1056 and SD 6, and Verizon 30. It will be repeated on 9/18/20 at 9:00 pm. This meeting will also be live streamed on Facebook @MontgomeryCountyMDCouncil and YouTube @MoCoCouncilMD

Below is the testimony Friends of White Flint will be giving tonight.

Good evening. I’m Amy Ginsburg, Executive Director of Friends of White Flint.

Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit organization composed of residents, property owners, and businesses, works to transform the White Flint/Pike District area into a vibrant, walkable, transit-oriented community and fulfill the vision of the White Flint Sector Plans.

The new proposed growth policy will have a large impact on the development of the Pike District, and Friends of White Flint offers the following comments on the proposed policy.

Moratoria

As you know, stopping development with a moratorium does not actually solve school overcrowding as the vast majority of new students come from neighborhood turnover of single-family homes. Moratoria also prevent the county from increasing the housing supply and stifles the MPDU program.

Therefore, we wholeheartedly support the Planning Boards recommendation that eliminates automatic moratoria except for Clarksburg. We also support the designation of the White Flint area as an Infill Impact Area.

Impact Taxes

Friends of White Flint supports the recommendation lowering the impact tax from 120% of the cost of a classroom seat to 100% and lowering it to 60% in Activity Centers which includes the Pike District. We support this targeting of impact taxes to encourage transit-oriented development in urban centers such as White Flint and the lowering of the impact tax to 60%.

The Planning Board also recommends that developers would have to pay Utilization Premium Payments in areas with overcrowded schools as an alternative to an automatic housing moratorium. The White Flint/Pike District is considered an Activity Center so the highest possible impact tax/utilization premium payment would be 120%. Because this is revenue neutral, Friends of White Flint supports these new impact taxes and utilization premium payment.

Recordation Tax

The proposed increase in the recordation tax is progressive and would go to school construction and rental assistance for low-and moderate-income households. A million-dollar house would see a $1,400 increase in the recordation tax.

We like that the tax increase is progressive, and we agree that because school capacity issues largely stem from neighborhood turnover, it makes sense that this turnover funds school construction and rental assistance.  That said, we are wary of new taxes in the current economic and pandemic crisis.

Vision Zero

Friends of White Flint supports the recommendation to better incorporate the county’s Vision Zero goal, including increasing intersection delay standards along future Bus Rapid Transit corridors such as Route 355. Friends of White Flint fully supports requiring a Vision Zero Impact Statement that prioritizes travel safety considerations as a mitigation strategy.

Metro Station Traffic Tests

Finally, Friends of White Flint supports the proposal to remove traffic congestion adequacy standards around Metro stations, like the White Flint station, to promote transit-oriented development and recognize the unique requirements of development that lies within the walkshed of a Metro stop.

Thank you for considering our comments as you refine Montgomery County’s new growth policy.

Montgomery Planning Board Approves Update to County’s Subdivision Staging Policy and Transmits to County Council for Review

The Montgomery County Planning Board approved recommended updates to the Subdivision Staging Policy at their July 30, 2020 virtual Planning Board meeting. The action includes transmittal to the Montgomery County Council for its review and approval by November 15, 2020, which is required by county law. The approval of the policy, which is recommended to be renamed the County Growth Policy, follows a year’s worth of community engagement, six Planning Board work sessions and an Urban Land Institute virtual advisory services panel review.

In its ongoing efforts to balance expected county growth and development needs with school and transportation capacities, the Montgomery Planning Board recommends a series of policy changes to calculations and tools to measure and address school capacity utilization, traffic congestion, transportation safety and ways to fund needed infrastructure.

“Development moratoria do not help solve overcapacity issues in areas where resale of homes is largely the cause of school overcapacity. In these areas, a moratorium only suppresses the development and availability of housing, sometimes in areas that greatly need it to ensure our communities are equitable and able to accommodate our workforce,” said Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson.

“Many of our growth policies were initially created at a time when greenfield development was the norm,” said Gwen Wright, Planning Director. “The update to the growth policy now provides us with context-sensitive tools and solutions for a county that now sees mostly infill development.”

Major Recommendations At-a-Glance for Schools:

Create School Impact Areas: To reflect the different housing growth rates in different parts of the county and their impacts on student enrollment, School Impact Areas would be designated throughout the county based on similar amounts of development, type of development and amount of school enrollment growth. These areas are Greenfield, Turnover and Infill Impact Areas.

Greenfield Impact Areas: Areas with high student enrollment growth rates due largely to increased growth in predominantly single-family housing.

Turnover Impact Areas: Areas with little new housing where any student enrollment growth is largely due to turnover of existing single-family housing.

Infill Impact Areas: Areas with increased growth of predominantly multi-family units, which generate few students on a per-housing-unit basis.

Relax Most Housing Development Moratoria: Residential development moratoria will only apply in Greenfield Impact Areas. The Planning Board cannot approve any new housing development plans in an area under a moratorium, unless it meets certain exceptions to the moratorium.

Restructure and Recalculate School-Related Taxes:

Update the student generation rate calculations to be more context sensitive. Student generation rates are used to calculate school impact taxes, which developers pay to help support Montgomery County Public Schools’ construction projects.

Update the calculation of the recordation tax on real estate transactions to make it more progressive and to generate more funding for school construction and affordable housing initiatives.

Require developers to pay a premium for residential development projects served by overcrowded schools.

Adjust school impact taxes in desired growth areas to encourage investment and to complement important policy priorities related to housing, economic development and resource preservation.

Major Recommendations At-a-Glance for Transportation:

Transportation Impact Studies – Emphasis on travel safety: The Planning Board recommends requiring a Vision Zero Impact Statement for studies that examine a residential development plan’s transportation impact, and prioritizing travel safety considerations as a mitigation strategy.

Motor Vehicle Transportation Adequacy – Growth Where We Want It: Eliminating motor vehicle adequacy standards near Metrorail and future Purple Line stations and increasing the congestion standards along transit corridors.

Master Plan Transportation/Land Use Balance – A More Progressive Evaluation Metric: Determining if the balance between land use and transportation for master plans is adequate, by introducing a policy area-level review process based on measures to ensure a plan’s consistency with the county’s long-range planning goals and objectives. Recommended measures include job accessibility, travel time, vehicle miles traveled per capita and non-auto driver mode share.

What is the Subdivision Staging Policy?

The Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) — one of the many ways that Montgomery Planning helps to preserve the excellent quality of life in Montgomery County — is based on having sufficient infrastructure to support growth. It includes criteria and guidance for the administration of Montgomery County’s Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (APFO), which matches the timing of private development with the availability of public infrastructure. Every four years, an effort to update the Subdivision Staging Policy originates with Montgomery Planning staff before working its way through the Planning Board and the County Council. The purpose is to ensure that the best available tools are used to test whether infrastructure like schools, transportation, water and sewer services can support future growth.

Following the Planning Board’s vote, the County Growth Policy recommendations were submitted to the County Council for its consideration. The recommendations include a draft Council resolution for the County Growth Policy and three related bills to amend county code (these can be found in the appendix). The Council has scheduled a public hearing on the policy and bills for Tuesday, September 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Here’s the video of the testimony on the update to the SSP

The Montgomery County Planning Board held a virtual public hearing on June 11 on the update to the Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP). Friends of White Flint was one of the many people testifying about aspects of the policy.

View the video of the June 11 Planning Board Public Hearing.

The growth policy update includes recommendations that focus on school and transportation capacities as the county’s population grows and its development needs evolve. In its ongoing efforts to balance expected county growth and development needs with school and transportation capacities, Montgomery Planning recommends a series of policy changes updating calculations and tools to measure and address school overcrowding, traffic congestion, transportation safety, and ways to fund needed infrastructure.

Next steps for the update include a series of Planning Board work sessions that will be held virtually and are open to the public:

•           Thursday, June 18: Planning Board Work Session – Schools Element

•           Thursday, June 25: Planning Board Work Session – Transportation Element

•           Thursday, July 2: Planning Board Work Session – Schools Element and Taxes

•           Thursday, July 9: Planning Board Work Session – Transportation Element and Taxes

•           Thursday, July 16: Planning Board Work Session – Final Decisions

•           Thursday, July 30: Approval of Planning Board Draft

Our draft testimony on the proposed new Growth Policy

We’d love to know what you think about our draft testimony on the Planning Board’s proposed new growth policy which will replace the Subdivision Staging Policy. Please email your thoughts to info@whiteflint.org or comment on this post.

Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit organization composed of residents, property owners, and businesses, works to transform the White Flint/Pike District area into a vibrant, walkable, transit-oriented community and fulfill the vision of the White Flint Sector Plans.

The new proposed growth policy will have a large impact on the development of the Pike District, and Friends of White Flint offers the follow comments on the proposed policy.

Moratoria

As you know, stopping development with a moratorium does not actually solve school overcrowding; less than thirty percent of Montgomery County’s growth in school enrollment can be attributed to new development. The vast majority of new students come from neighborhood turnover of single-family homes. Moratoria also prevent the county from increasing the housing supply and stifles the MPDU program.

We wholeheartedly support the Planning staff recommendation that eliminates automatic moratoria except for Clarksburg. We also support the designation of the White Flint area as an Infill Impact Area.

Impact Taxes

Montgomery Planning recommends lowering the impact tax from 120% of the cost of a classroom seat to 100% and lowering it to 60% in Activity Centers which include the Pike District. We support this targeting of impact taxes to encourage transit-oriented development in urban centers such as White Flint and the lowering of the impact tax to 60%.

The Planning Board recommends that developers would have to pay Utilization Premium Payments in areas with overcrowded schools as an alternative to an automatic housing moratorium. For elementary schools, the premium payments would be 25% of the standard impact tax for the School Impact Area. For middle and high schools, the payment would be 15 and 20% respectively. If multiple schools serving the project site exceed the given threshold, then payments would be required for each.

Because the White Flint/Pike District is considered an Activity Center, the highest possible impact tax/utilization premium payment would be 120%. Because this is revenue neutral, Friends of Whit Flint supports these new impact taxes and utilization premium payment.

Recordation Tax

The proposed increase in the recordation tax is progressive — an 11 to 14% boost for homes priced $300,000 to $1,000,000; a 26% hike for $1 million homes; and a 31% rise for $2 million homes. Increased revenue would go to school construction and rental assistance for low-and moderate-income households. A million-dollar house would see a $1,400 increase in the recordation tax.

While we like that the tax increase is progressive, and we agree that because school capacity issues largely stems from neighborhood turnover, it makes sense that this turnover fund school construction and rental assistance.  That said, we are wary of new taxes in the current economic and pandemic crisis.

Vision Zero

Planning staff recommends adjustments that better incorporate the county’s Vision Zero goals. This includes increasing intersection delay standards along future Bus Rapid Transit corridors, including Route 355 in White Flint. Friends of White Flint fully supports requiring a Vision Zero Impact Statement that will examine a residential development plan’s transportation impact, and that prioritizes travel safety considerations as a mitigation strategy.

Metro Station Traffic Tests

Friends of White Flint supports the proposal to remove traffic congestion adequacy standards around Metro stations, like the White Flint station, to promote transit-oriented development and recognize the unique requirements of development that lies within the walkshed of a Metro stop.

With Focus on Schools, Montgomery Planning Launches Update of Subdivision Staging Policy

The Montgomery County Planning Department is updating the county’s Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) to ensure the County’s public facilities, particularly its school and transportation systems, keep pace with development and growth patterns. An overview of the SSP and the 2020 update process was presented to the Planning Board on Thursday, September 5, 2019.

As part of the SSP update, Montgomery Planning staff invites community members to apply to serve on the Schools Technical Advisory Team (STAT) and attend the SSP Community Workshop on October 7 at 7 p.m. at the Silver Spring Civic Building.
RSVP for the October 7 Community Workshop meeting
Apply to the STAT


“The update to the Subdivision Staging Policy is one of our most important initiatives,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “This effort happens every four years and lays the groundwork for how our county can grow and thrive.”

The policy is reviewed every four years and, in a presentation to the county Planning Board Thursday, officials said they are focusing heavily on how the policy pertains to school capacity.

Under the current SSP, schools that have enrollments exceeding 120% of their capacity are subject to a moratorium. The moratorium means no residential development projects can be approved in the school’s service area for at least one year, or until a solution is determined to alleviate the school’s crowding issues. There are currently 13 schools and four school clusters in moratorium, which began July 1.

The SSP may seem like government nerd-heaven, but it’s actually an important policy document for our county that affects the redevelopment of the White Flint/Pike District area. As you probably know, our area is in moratorium due to the SSP and overcrowding in the Walter Johnson cluster. We urge you to stay up-to-date and offer your input on the SSP.

Read more on Bethesda Beat.