New standards urged for planning commission assessments

March 23, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

The Carroll Planning Commission should use new standards to determine whether schools, water and sewer systems and other public facilities are adequate to handle growth, the Board of Carroll Commissioners decided yesterday.

They voted unanimously to ask the Planning Commission to use standards written by a citizens committee and submitted to the commissioners in February 1993.

State law says the Planning Commission does not have to follow any standards recommended by the commissioners.

But if the Planning Commission were to follow the recommendations, seven schools would be considered overcrowded and seven others would be approaching that point, General Services Director J. Michael Evans said yesterday.

Planning Commission Chairman Louis J. Pecoraro said yesterday in a phone interview that he will review the report.

"I suspect the commission will take a look at it and determine whether to follow those guidelines," he said.

The Planning Commission already considers the impact of new development on schools, roads and other infrastructure, Mr. Pecoraro said. It can prohibit new housing development if facilities are not adequate.

The Adequate Facilities Advisory Committee Report was written by a citizens committee formed in August 1991 and chaired by Union National Bank President Joseph Beaver Jr.

The group studied how the county should best determine whether schools, water, sewers, solid waste disposal and fire and emergency services are adequate for the population.

Growth in Carroll is occurring mostly in three election districts -- Freedom/Sykesville, Westminster and Hampstead, -- Mr. Evans said. Almost 75 percent of new lots created last year were in those three districts.

Frank G. Schaeffer, chief of the Bureau of Development Review, recently compared current facilities with the recommended standards, Mr. Evans said.

Mr. Schaeffer found that the following schools would be considered inadequate by the recommended standards:

* Charles Carroll Elementary, Silver Run

* Freedom Elementary, Eldersburg

* Mechanicsville Elementary, Gamber

* Spring Garden Elementary, Hampstead

* Taneytown Elementary, Taneytown

* Westminster Elementary, Westminster

* Sykesville Middle,, Sykesville

Expansion work already has started at Mechanicsville and is proposed at Taneytown and Sykesville Middle.

Mr. Schaeffer also found that seven schools would be approaching inadequacy by the recommended standards. They are:

* Carrolltowne Elementary, Eldersburg

* Eldersburg Elementary, Eldersburg

* Friendship Valley Elementary, Westminster

* William Winchester Elementary, Westminster

* North Carroll Middle, Hampstead

* West Middle, Westminster

* Westminster High, Westminster

Currently, the Board of Education says a school is inadequate if it enrolls more than 25 full-time students above its capacity.

The new standards recommend that officials use a percentage of capacity instead, which allows them to consider the physical size of a school when deciding whether it is too crowded.

Larger schools could accommodate more students above capacity than smaller schools, the report says.

An elementary school would be inadequate if its enrollment was more than 105 percent of capacity, and a secondary school would be inadequate if its enrollment was more than 110 percent, the report suggests.

Board of Education officials told commissioners in another meeting yesterday that the county will need three new elementary schools, three new middle schools, one new high school and to renovate three other elementary schools by 2000.

The public school system is expected to have 4,500 more students by then.

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