Developers with housing projects delayed because of school overcrowding will have a way to get their plans on the fast track as part of a proposal approved by county officials.
But it will cost them.
County Executive Robert R. Neall approved a plan last week worked out by school and planning officials to allow developers to pay into a school building fund if their developments are in communities where overcrowded schools have shut down construction. The county's adequate facilities ordinance prohibits building new homes in areas where the schools, fire service, roads and sewer and water facilities are inadequate.
The practice of allowing developers of large subdivisions to pay more than the regular impact fees in exchange for construction permits is not new, said Ardath Cade, director of planning and zoning.
The Columbia-based developers of Russett Center, Russett Center Limited Partnership, paid $4.2 million in 1988 to get approval to build 3,500 housing units. And Constellation Development paid $3.7 million in special fees to construct 3,966 units at Piney Orchard as part of an agreement worked out three years ago, said Stephen M. LeGendre, deputy county attorney.
Robert Strott, senior vice president of KMS Group, said the county wants to encourage the development of large planned communities rather than "helter skelter" housing proposals.
He said in order to meet the requirement for schools, developers of large-scale projects asked to be allowed to pay money up front to ensure a project's completion.
"It's really an insurance policy that you won't be shut down in the middle of a big project by overcrowded schools," Mr. Strott said.
Mrs. Cade said the new policy will provide relief for up to 12 developers of smaller projects who have completed the two-year subdivision review process and have been delayed by overcrowded schools.
"It's a way for allowing moderated growth, which is important to an area's economic base, without having a negative [impact] on the people living in the communities," she said.
Formal agreements that spell out how much individual developers must pay to win a waiver on the school requirement will begin going out to the developers in the next few weeks, Mrs. Cade said. She declined to identify the developers.
Under the formula worked out by planning and school officials, a developer would be assessed fees based on the number of housing units planned, the type of units and the type of school overcrowded in the community.
A developer building in a community with an overcrowded elementary school would pay $3,800 for each single-family home, $2,550 for each town house and $1,250 for each apartment.
A development in a community with an overcrowded high school would cost the builder $2,096 for each single-family house, $1,343 for each town house and $950 for each apartment.
The fees would be assessed in addition to regular impact fees, which range from $2,096 for each single-family home built to $950 for each apartment.
The figures are based on population trends and the costs of new schools. Figures show that single-family homes traditionally produce more school-aged students than town houses and apartments.