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Large chunk of Montgomery County faces residential building moratorium

By Tate Mikkelsen  – Staff Reporter, Washington Business Journal

Montgomery County has ordered a one-year halt on residential construction covering an area equal to about 12% of the county’s land area, while raising transportation and school impact taxes to address infrastructure and school overcrowding.

Beginning July 1, the area surrounding those schools with a projected cumulative utilization of more than 120% will be placed on moratorium following the county Planning Board’s annual school test, a yearly assessment based on estimated upcoming use of school facilities.

The moratorium affects the land surrounding four school clusters — the geographic area around a high school and its feeder middle and elementary schools — affecting almost 30 schools, in addition to the area surrounding eight additional elementary schools. The 60 square miles covered by the moratorium is roughly equal to four cities of Alexandria.

This will not block any preapproved projects in the affected areas.

There are several other clusters and schools over 120% capacity which will not be placed on moratorium, for now, due to placeholder projects or anticipated capital improvement projects, said acting Chief of Financial Planning Jason Satori during a presentation to the Planning Board. 

Nine individual schools and two clusters will be placed on moratorium if the student body increases. While Satori noted in his presentation that this is not expected to happen in the next year, the schools are all between one and 40 students away from overenrolling. 

Along with the construction halt, transportation and school impact taxes are being raised based on construction costs and updated student generation rates. The average transportation tax will increase by just shy of 11%. School impact taxes are increasing by dwelling type — single-family will experience a 14% tax increase from $23,062 to $26,207 and multifamily low-rise around a 10% increase from around $19,937 to $21,961. 

Montgomery Planning Board member Norman Dreyfuss cast the lone vote against the moratorium, saying, “It’s really self-defeating, and I think for the school boards, PTAs, and the citizens that spoke to us — all they want is for the schools to be expanded.”

Affected high schools:

  • Walter Johnson
  • Montgomery Blair
  • Albert Einstein
  • James H. Blake

Affected middle schools:

  • Eastern
  • William H. Farquhar
  • Takoma Park
  • Newport Mill
  • North Bethesda
  • Tilden
  • Sligo

Affected elementary schools:

  • Cloverly
  • Sherwood
  • Stonegate
  • Oak View
  • New Hampshire Estates
  • Pine Crest
  • Montgomery Knolls
  • Easy Silver Spring
  • Piney Branch
  • Takoma Park
  • Highland
  • Oakland Terrace
  • Rock View
  • Glen Haven
  • Flora M. Singer
  • Woodlin
  • Ashburton
  • Kensington Parkwood
  • Wyngate
  • Farmland
  • Garrett Park
  • Luxmanor
  • Burning Tree
  • Burnt Mills
  • Clopper Mills
  • Cloverly
  • Lake Seneca
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • William T. Page
  • Judith A Resnik
  • Sargent Shriver
  • South Lake

This data is based on projections for the MCPS 2024-25 school