Council Vote on the Update to the Subdivision Staging Policy Expected by November 16

Below is some information on the progress of the update to the Subdivision Staging Policy at the Montgomery County Council. We still have a few more Council work sessions to go before the update is approved and adopted by November 16, 2020.
In the meantime, the County Council has taken many straw votes reflecting major policy changes, including:

  • Eliminating the Housing Moratorium countywide.
  • Utilization Premium Payments (UPP). Establishing three tiers of UPPs at 105 percent, 120 percent and 135 percent utilization, including seat deficit thresholds along with the utilization thresholds. The Council has not yet decided the payment amounts associated with the different tiers.
  • Use of UPP Funds. Requiring that UPP revenue be spent on any project that alleviates overutilization at the school for which the funds are collected. The projects would have to be at the same school level that adds capacity.
  • Four-Year Projections. The Annual School Test will evaluate projected school utilization four years into the future using certain school utilization adequacy standards.
  • Utilization Report. The Annual School Test will include a utilization report that will provide a countywide analysis of utilization at each school level as well as utilization trends for each individual school.
  • Calculating Student Generation Rates. Analyzing all single-family units and multifamily units built since 1990 to calculate countywide and School Impact Area student generation rates. Low-rise and high-rise multifamily units will remain distinct structure types for the purposes of evaluation and impact taxes.
  • MCPS Participation on DRC. Extending MCPS’s role on the Development Review Committee (DRC) to include providing comment on the application’s impact on schools (currently MCPS’s role is limited to discussions around dedicating land for schools).
  • Retesting at APF Validity Extension. Requiring that a development application be retested for school infrastructure adequacy when an applicant requests an extension of their Adequate Public Facilities validity period, with a limitation that only requires the retest if the application’s unbuilt units are estimated to generate more than 10 students.
  • School Impact Tax Discount for 3-Bedroom Units. Providing a 40 percent discount on school impact taxes to multifamily units with 3 bedrooms in Infill Impact Areas.
  • Large Home Surcharge. Eliminating the current school impact tax surcharge on residential units larger than 3,500 square feet.
  • Enterprise Zones. Eliminating the impact tax exemption for former Enterprise Zones.
  • Opportunity Zones. Exempting development in Opportunity Zones from all impact taxes. The Council also supported the City of Rockville’s request to not include their Opportunity Zone in the exemption.
  • 25 percent Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDUs). The impact tax exemption on market rate units for projects providing 25 percent MPDUs is limited to amount of the applicable school  impact tax in the Infill Impact Areas and the applicable transportation impact tax in the Red Policy Areas.
  • Net Impact Basis. Impact taxes will continue to be applied on a net impact basis, providing a credit for any residential units demolished.

Work sessions are expected to continue through next week. The policy must be adopted by November 16.

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.

It’s not too late to talk about the Subdivision Staging Policy

Montgomery Planning Board Adds Work Session for 2020 Update to the Subdivision Staging Policy

The Montgomery County Planning Board will hold an additional work session for the 2020 Update to the Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 from 7 to 9 p.m. to give Montgomery County Planning Department staff final decisions on the draft policy. The meeting will be conducted virtually and can be watched live or listened to by dialing 301-495-4708 and using the password 87871111 when the meeting starts.

Following the final work session, Montgomery Planning staff will take the Planning Board’s guidance and make edits to the draft policy, renamed as the County Growth Policy, before going back to the Planning Board for approval on July 30, 2020. Once the Planning Board approves the policy, it will be transmitted to the Montgomery County Council for its review and approval.

View past SSP 2020 Update work sessions:
Thursday, June 18, 2020 – Planning Board Work Session – Schools Element

Thursday, June 25, 2020 – Planning Board Work Session – Transportation Element

Thursday, July 2, 2020 – Planning Board Work Session – Schools Element and Taxes

Thursday, July 9, 2020 – Planning Board Work Session – Transportation Element and Taxes

Thursday, July 16, 2020 – Planning Board Work Session

The 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.

After the Planning Board work sessions, the Planning Board Draft of the policy and related County Code amendments will be sent to the County Council and County Executive for review. By law, the Council must approve the growth policy by November 15, 2020. Community members are encouraged to continue to submit comments to inform the Planning Board draft via email until July 16. The Planning Board voted to keep the public record open through July 16. Any comments received before then will become part of the public testimony and public record for the policy. View the SSP At-a-Glance explainer in English and Español to learn more about the recommendations.

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

Montgomery Planning Department Drafts Major Changes to County Growth Policies

On Thursday, May 28, the Montgomery County Planning Department will present new growth policy recommendations to the Planning Board as the update to the 2016 Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP). This is the quadrennial update to the Subdivision Staging Policy, which is the county policy that balances infrastructure with growth. This update, which renames the SSP as the County Growth Policy, 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.

“Over the past year, Montgomery Planning has worked closely with the community and county agencies to take a closer look at the impacts of growth on critical public services,” said Montgomery County Planning Director Gwen Wright. “Recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work in a diverse county like ours, these recommendations guide future growth in a data-driven and appropriate way while giving our communities the public education and transportation facilities they need to thrive.”

Major Recommendations at a Glance:To view the recommendations in more detail: County Growth Policy – Working Draft & County Growth Policy – Working Draft Appendices

Recommendations for Schools:
Create School Impact Areas: To foster a more context-sensitive policy, designate School Impact Areas throughout the county based on similar amounts of development, type of development and amount of school enrollment growth. The areas are identified as Greenfield, Turnover, and Infill Impact Areas.

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

Turnover Impact Areas: Areas where student enrollment growth is low, 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: Automatic residential development moratoria (temporarily stopping approvals of new housing developments in an area) 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. Exceptions to moratoria will include residential projects estimated to generate less than one student at a school in moratorium, and projects where the residential component consists entirely of units age-restricted for residents 55 and older.

Restructure and Recalculate School-Related Taxes: Update the student enrollment rates and estimates used to calculate school impact taxes, which developers pay to help support Montgomery County Public Schools’ school construction projects.Update the calculation of the recordation tax on home sales to make it more progressive and to generate more funding for school construction and affordable housing initiatives.Require developers pay a premium for residential development projects served by overcrowded schools in areas without automatic residential development moratoria.

Transportation Recommendations:
Transportation Impact Studies – A Vision Zero Impact Statement will be required for studies that examine a residential development plan’s transportation impact, and travel safety considerations will be prioritized as a mitigation strategy.

Motor Vehicle Transportation Adequacy – Traffic congestion adequacy standards for evaluating proposed residential projects will be modified to be less stringent when the proposed development is near Metrorail stations and along transit corridors.

Master Plan Transportation/Land Use Balance – To determine if the balance between land use and transportation for master plans is adequate, a policy area-level review process will be introduced based on measures to ensure a plan’s consistency with the county’s long-range planning goals and objectives. Measures to be considered include accessibility, travel time, vehicle miles traveled per capita and non-auto driver mode share.

About The Subdivision Staging Policy
The Subdivision Staging Policy is the tool by which the County ensures its essential public facilities, particularly schools and transportation systems, keep pace with development. It tests the County’s infrastructure for adequacy based on projected capacity, growth, and future development. The policy is updated every four years to ensure that the tools used for evaluating the impact of development on essential public facilities, such as a delay-based transportation test or student generation rates, reflect the latest growth patterns of the County.

The community is invited to give comments and feedback on the recommendations by sending in written testimony to the Planning Board by emailing the Chair at MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org or signing up to testify at the public hearing scheduled for June 11. The Planning Board will then hold work sessions through mid-July before sending its draft of the policy and related County Code amendments to the County Council for review. By law, the growth policy must be approved by the Council by November 15, 2020.

No — don’t click away. There is some really interesting data in this Subdivision Staging Policy presentation.

The Planning Department gave a fascinating presentation about the Subdivision Staging Policy at our community meeting earlier this month. I encourage you to grab a cup of coffee and peruse these PowerPoint slides.

The Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) is the set of policy tools that guides the timely delivery of public facilities to serve existing and future development, and defines adequacy and how we measure it. The policy is updated every four years, and the County Council must adopt the new SSP by November 15, 2020.

If you don’t have time to look at all the slides, here are few especially interesting ones.

Subdivision Staging Policy — a wonky name but an important policy

The Montgomery County Planning Department is kicking off efforts for the next update to the Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP), which is scheduled to be reviewed and approved by the County Council by November 2020. The current SSP is the reason for the moratorium on new construction in the Walter Johnson cluster. (Well, technically the reason is that WJ is at 120% of capacity, but that test was set by the current SSP.)

Background

The purpose of the Subdivision Staging Policy is to establish a process that can give guidance on matters concerning land use development, growth management, and related issues. It includes guidelines for the Planning Board and other agencies in administering laws and regulations that affect the adequacy and timing of public facilities needed to support growth and development, and is to be adopted by the Council every four years.

The Subdivision Staging Policy is the tool by which the County ensures its essential public facilities, particularly schools and transportation systems, keep pace with development. It tests the County’s infrastructure for adequacy based on projected capacity, growth, and future development. The policy is updated every four years to ensure that the tools used for evaluating the impact of development on essential public facilities, such as a delay-based transportation test or student generation rates, reflect the latest growth patterns of the County.

Previous SSP

.You can read a short chart here to see how the 2016 SSP compared with the 2012 SSP to get an idea of some of the changes that are possible.

More info

Click this Montgomery Planning Department page to watch videos on the SSP, sign up for the SPP newsletter, get more info, and share your thoughts about the SSP.

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.