Rockville’s Mayor and Council have started the process for revising the city’s development standards, with some saying a moratorium on development in areas with over-capacity schools is not working.
Others said the standards provide a necessary framework for controlling development within the city limits.
The city’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance and associated Adequate Public Facilities Standards are supposed to prevent overcrowding in schools by imposing a moratorium on development in areas where schools are already over capacity. Council member Mark Pierzchala said during a Mayor and Council meeting on Monday that the moratorium has not prevented over-capacity schools, however, especially in the Richard Montgomery schools cluster.
“It just hasn’t worked,” he said.
Pierzchala said he hoped the Mayor and Council could revise the development standards within the current term of office. The city of Rockville will hold municipal elections in November, with the inauguration of newly elected officials set for Nov. 18.
Philosophically, Pierzchala said, he would favor dumping the APFO, but since the county has one, Rockville should have one, as well.
He said that how quickly new schools are built depends more on the will of elected officials at the state and county levels, rather than the city’s development policies.
“We’re trying to solve a political problem with a policy solution,” Pierzchala said.
Council member Tom Moore questioned whether the APFO was having the intended effect and called for looking into alternatives.
“[An APFO] is better designed for areas that are newly developing,” rather than Rockville’s pattern of infill development, he said.
He said the ordinance has endangered affordable housing and investment in the city.
Council member John Hall said properties cannot be developed if the infrastructure cannot support them.
“It’s not the law that’s at fault here. It’s the lack of adequate infrastructure to support development,” he said.
Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio said residents need “a crane working in Rockville all the time,” but officials must make sure the infrastructure can support the people living in the city. The APFO or something like it can provide a framework to make sure infrastructure keeps up with development, she said.
“If you don’t have something, everybody who’s got a piece of land is going to want to build it to the max,” Marcuccio said. “That affects the quality of life.”
Council member Bridget Donnell Newton said the APFO is a good tool to help Rockville manage growth within its borders.
“We need to set standards that are good for us, and they’re not always what’s good for the county,” she said.
The Mayor and Council are expected to discuss the city’s development standards again in July.