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Task force to study population pressure

School capacity will be one of the topics examined by the Adequate Public Facilities task force, a new group appointed by Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman to ensure infrastructure in the county is keeping pace with population growth.
School capacity will be one of the topics examined by the Adequate Public Facilities task force, a new group appointed by Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman to ensure infrastructure in the county is keeping pace with population growth. (Staff photo by Amy Davis)

County Executive Allan H. Kittleman has appointed 24 county residents to a new task force to review the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO), which has not been closely examined in more than a decade.

Kittleman named Diane Mikulis, former chairwoman of the Howard County Board of Education, to head the task force.

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"Howard County has grown tremendously over the past two decades," said Kittleman, who established the APFO Review Task Force through an executive order. "We've seen the population grow by 87,000 residents. We've added 21 new schools to accommodate more than 16,000 new students. Thousands of additional cars are on the roads. We are committed to preserving our excellent quality of life, which means we have to examine whether we are keeping pace with infrastructure and service needs."

The Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance was first adopted by the County Council in 1992. It provides a set of guidelines for the construction of schools, roads and other infrastructure needs and serves as a blueprint for governmental agencies in planning for the county's future.

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The task force, which will begin meeting June 4, will consider the planning guidelines that indicate adequate development of school capacity, road capacity, public transportation, housing stock and other public facilities that may be appropriate.

Over the past 20 years, the number of households in Howard County has increased from 79,260 in 1995 to 96,680 in 2005 to 110,370 in 2015. The Howard County Public School System reports that student population has grown from 37,547 in 1995 to 54,134 today. Eight county schools presently exceed 110 percent of their board-approved capacity.

"Even though the pace of growth has slowed somewhat in recent years, it remains critical that we revisit the APFO to ensure its guidelines are adequate," said Mikulis. "Roads, schools and other public facilities must be able to serve the projected population. During my time on the Board of Education, I worked with the APFO charts to plan school construction – new schools and additions to older facilities. We may need to adjust the current charts and recommend changes to stay ahead of the curve."

APFO Review Task Force members include:

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·         Task Force Chair Diane Mikulis, Former Chair, Howard County Board of Education

·         Task Force Vice-Chair Cole Schnorf, Senior Vice President & Director of Development, Manekin

·         Reginald Avery, Oakland Mills representative, Columbia Association/PTA Council

·         Marianne Brackney, community representative

·         Steven Breeden, Principal, SDC Group

·         Jeff Bronow, Division Chief of Research, Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning

·         Diane Butler, community representative

·         Richard Freas, Retired Deputy Chief, Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services

·         Heidi Gaash, community representative

·         Joel Gallihue,  Manager of School Planning, Howard County Public School System

·         Anna Marie Gannon, Howard County educator

·         Alice Giles, Member, Howard County League of Women Voters

·         Dave Grabowski, Former Chair, Howard County Recreation & Parks Advisory Board

·         Abby Hendrix, Teacher, Montgomery County Public Schools

·         Stu Kohn, President, Howard County Citizens Association

·         Caryn Lasser, Strategic Planning Coordinator, Howard County Public School System

·         Brent Loveless, community representative

·         Lisa Markovitz, community representative

·         Christine O'Connor, Member, Howard County Board of Education

·         Paul Revelle, Board of Directors, Bridges to Housing Stability/Housing Advocate

·         Patty Smallwood, Real Estate Agent, The Smallwood Team

·         John Startt, President, JST Builders

·         Sharonlee Vogel,  Former Chair, Howard County Transportation Board

·         Rick Wilson, Principal, Folly Quarter Middle School

The APFO Review Task Force will meet twice monthly for six months and present recommendations for needed updates and improvements to the County Executive by December 1, 2015. APFO Review Task Force meetings, which are open to the public, will be held in the Bel Air Room of the Ascend One Building at 8930 Stanford Boulevard, Columbia.

-Staff reports

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