Developments in Montgomery County may soon have to satisfy new adequate public facilities tests for transportation and schools.

As part of an update of
the county’s Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP), Planning Department staff are
currently working to develop the tests which could go into effect in late 2020
or early 2021.

The current school
adequacy test can trigger a moratorium on new residential subdivision approvals
in areas with overcrowded schools until the county approves school construction
projects that will alleviate that overcrowding. Last July, that process halted
new subdivision approvals in several areas, including White Flint. Large parts
of the county’s growth areas are currently closed to new residential

Consequently, the process
is stopping projects that could add to the county’s residential and business
tax base and generate funds for expanded schools. In response, planning staff
are considering alternate remedies, including charging higher impact fees on
projects in areas with overcrowded schools. 

For the transportation
test, planning staff are focusing on two issues.

The first is a possible expansion of the Unified Mobility Program (UMP). Under the UMP concept, county staff would not focus on transportation needs adjacent to a proposed development site. Rather, they would consider transportation improvements needed in a master plan area and assess a prorated portion of those costs to new developments, based on the size of each development. For example, the Bethesda UMP Fee was first proposed at $14.34 per square foot and would also apply to existing buildings. That fee would be levied in addition to the transportation impact tax. Staff are revaluating the scope of capital costs included in the UMP fee and looking to lower total fees.

Secondly, planning staff
are re-examining the county’s Vision Zero policy, which aims to eliminate
pedestrian accidents. This policy would require developments that generate 50
peak-hour pedestrian trips to make ADA and other improvements to intersections
and sidewalks.Currently, some aspects of Vision Zero conflict with
transportation regulations that aim to improve vehicular movement though road
improvements. Changes to the SSP may alter those transportation regulations in
order to increase pedestrian safety. The planning board recently approved use
of statistical analysis to prioritize funding of capital projects based on risk
of future crashes.