What are concurrency and APF ordinances?
Concurrency, adequate public facilities, and similar ordinances can help a community to manage and finance growth on a development-by-development level. They apply to transportation, water/sewer, school, and park facilities. The ordinances set forth legal requirements for a development applicant to assess whether the existing public infrastructure and public services are adequate to support the increased demands generated by the proposed development. If adequate facilities are not in place, the applicant is required to provide the additional facilities needed, wait until adequate facilities are available, or provide some form of alternative mitigation.
The financial agreements formalized under concurrency principles serve to ensure the implementation of a community's growth policies and growth management plans. Impact fees ensure that developers pay for the negative consequences to the environment, by directing the funding to necessary improvements as determined by the jurisdiction or agency.
Who can implement them?
Concurrency ordinances are typically developed and administered by local governments and/or regional public service agencies or authorities such as water and sewer district boards. Transportation ordinances should be coordinated with the state DOT to ensure consistent application of requirements for state and local highways. In any case, the implementing ordinances should define "adequate facilities" via level of service standards or performance standards and ensure that adequate funding will be available, or define a funding approach or strategies, to support expansion of the transportation network and/or other public facilities and services concurrent with new development.
What are the keys to success and potential pitfalls?
Technical Sufficiency: Concurrency ordinances standards require technical knowledge and staff administrative capacity. The process of review and analysis should clearly indicate how the public and private sector will work together to assess and address the impact of development on state and local roads. Professional planning staff or consultants are needed to evaluate the analyses submitted by applicants and work with them to develop mitigation strategies.
Where has this strategy been applied?
Examples in Montana
- City of Bozeman: The city has a strong concurrency policy to ensure that facilities are in place when need arises and that facilities are not built if they are not likely to be needed.
- City of Whitefish: The city requires concurrency in all urban areas for water and sewer; drainage; streets; public safety and emergency services; pedestrian, bikeway and trail facilities; parks and schools. The topic of concurrency is discussed in the City-County growth policy.
Examples outside of Montana
- Florida Growth Management Act: Florida has a long history with concurrency strategies, originating with the 1985 Growth Management Act. Concurrency requirements are used to set development standards for development in Florida. The principle of concurrency requires that a development may not proceed until specific infrastructure services, for example roadways and schools, are in place. Developments are not permitted if they reduce services below certain levels and are required to pay for themselves via a "pay as you grow" system.
Establishing transportation concurrency requirements that truly support local growth policies and plans has been an especially challenging issue in Florida. The original law had the unintentional effect of encouraging development on the fringes of towns and cities while discouraging infill and redevelopment in existing urban centers because roadways in undeveloped areas often have plenty of available capacity, or, if transportation improvements are required, it is usually less expensive to acquire or set aside right of way for roadway expansions in rural versus urban areas.
The Act has since been revised on multiple occasions since 1985 in order to provide localities with more tools to encourage growth - and associated transportation investments - within existing towns and cities. For example, Multimodal Transportation Districts allow developers to meet the requirements by providing bicycle, pedestrian, and transit facilities as well as roadway improvements, while Transportation Concurrency Exception Areas lessen or waive requirements in certain locations and Transportation Concurrency Management Areas allow the creation of areawide standards, for example averaging the level of service on multiple, parallel roadways. A special concurrency tool in Florida is the Development of Regional Impact review process, wherein developers of major projects based on the size or type of development are required to provide additional analysis and coordinate with FDOT and any jurisdictions in the region that may be affected by the project.
How can I get started?
A series of steps are required before implementing an adequate public facility ordinance. First, an evaluation of the existing and planned facilities is required along with defining the performance standards or level of service standards to be achieved and maintained. The ordinance then defines these standards and provides development review procedures and processes to assess the impacts of development along with specifying necessary improvements or mitigation. Monitoring procedures, infrastructure plans (often phased based on anticipated or preferred development patterns), and funding approaches (by the governmental agency and provided as part of development) also are required.