Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 9, 2010

MD Appeals Court Finds City Planning Commission Failed to Adequately Consider Affordable Housing Project’s Effect on Public Schools

City residents sought review of a decision by the City Planning Commission which approved a use permit for construction of a 109 unit low-income housing development. The circuit court affirmed the decision of the Planning Commission but the city residents appealed arguing that the Planning Commission erred by approving the use application.  The Court’s standard of review was limited to reviewing the decision by the Planning Commission not the circuit court. Pursuant to the Rockville’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance and subsequent Adequate Public Facilities Standards (APFS), once a project has been approved, “capacity of public facilities required by that project is reserved, provided the project remains on its service commitment…”  Since the development was located near a school, appellants argued that failing to use adequate enrollment projections is insufficient to satisfy the APFS requirements.  Appellants also asserted that the Planning Commission failed to take into account the reserved capacity for projects that have not been built yet. 

The Court agreed with appellants because the Planning Commission conflated two very important concepts when it made assessments regarding the school.  Reserved student capacity and used student capacity are two different concepts and they should be measured separately.   Additionally, the Planning Commission failed to look at two years of enrollment to determine projections on enrollment, which was specifically set out in the APFS.  Also, student demand and student capacity are two separate concepts, which the Planning Commission failed to distinguish.  The Court also found that the Planning Commission failed to issue findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of its opinion. 

Anselmo v. Mayor and City Council of Rockville, 2010 WL 4273901 (Md. App., 11/1/2010)

The opinion can be accessed at:

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