Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 287

151st General Assembly (Present)

Bill Progress

Out of Committee 6/2/22
Reported from Committee; to list ready for consideration (Ready List)

Bill Details

6/2/22
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLES 9, 14, AND 22 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO SCHOOLS.
This Act addresses the relation between land development and school capacity and facilitates greater coordination between the counties and local school districts with regard to planning. In addition, the Act enables Kent and Sussex County to use the Voluntary School Assessment (VSA) and other agreements to address the impact of residential development on school capacity. The following is a summary of the Act’s 7 sections: Section 1 of the Act amends Chapter 26 of Title 9 of the Delaware code pertaining to zoning in New Castle County. First, it amends § 2656 of Title 9 to require that New Castle County’s comprehensive plan for planning and development include an educational element concerning the construction and allocation of school facilities within school districts. Second, Section 1 of the Act amends § 2661(c) of Title 9 to remove language providing that any regulation or ordinance adopted by New Castle County linking residential development to school capacity is preempted by state law and of no force or effect. Section 2 of the Act amends Chapter 49 of Title 9 of the Delaware code pertaining to zoning in Kent County. First, it amends § 4956 of Title 9 to require that Kent County’s comprehensive plan for planning and development include an educational element concerning the construction and allocation of school facilities within school districts. Second, Section 2 of the Act amends § 4961 of Title 9 to add a new subsection (d) concerning the certification of adequate school capacity for proposed residential developments. Section 4961(d) enables Kent County to require residential developers to provide a certification from the Secretary of the Department of Education concerning school capacity prior to recording a major record subdivision plan; however, no certification is required where the proposed development is (i) restricted to providing housing predominantly for individuals 55 years of age or older; (ii) for low income housing; or (iii) the developer has pledged to pay a VSA. Section 3 of the Act amends Chapter 69 of Title 9 of the Delaware code pertaining to zoning in Sussex County. First, it amends § 6956 of Title 9 to require that Sussex County’s comprehensive plan for planning and development include an educational element concerning the construction and allocation of school facilities within school districts. Second, Section 3 of the Act amends § 6961 of Title 9 to add a new subsection (d) concerning the certification of adequate school capacity for proposed residential developments. Section 6961(d) enables Sussex County to require residential developers to provide a certification from the Secretary of the Department of Education concerning school capacity prior to recording a major record subdivision plan; however, no certification is required where the proposed development is (i) restricted to providing housing predominantly for individuals 55 years of age or older; (ii) for low income housing; or (iii) the developer has pledged to pay a VSA. Section 4 of the Act amends § 842 of Title 22 of the Delaware code to conform with the changes to § 2661 of Title 9 contained in Section 1 of the Act. Specifically, Section 4 of the Act removes language providing that any regulation or ordinance adopted by New Castle County linking residential development to school capacity is preempted by state law and of no force or effect. Section 5 of the Act amends § 103 of Title 14 of the Delaware code to remove a specific reference to New Castle County. Section 6 of the Act directs the Department of Education to develop guidance and policies for implementing §§ 2656(g)(11), 4956(g)(11), and 6956(g)(11) of Title 9, concerning the requirement that the Counties consider an educational element in developing their comprehensive plans for planning and development. The Department of Education is to develop these guidance and policies by July 1, 2024. Section 7 of the Act provides that, effective as of January 1, 2023, the Counties must include the educational element in their comprehensive plans within the next comprehensive plan update following the Act’s enactment into law. This Act is a substitute for and differs from Senate Bill No. 287 in several respects. Section 1 of Senate Bill No. 287 would have amended § 2661(c) of Title 9 by removing an exception to the requirement that a residential developer provide a certification of adequate school capacity for proposed residential developments where the developer has pledged to pay a VSA. Section 1 of this Act leaves that exception intact. In addition, Section 1 of Senate Bill No. 287 would have added language to § 2661(c) permitting a school district to require a residential developer to enter into an agreement to resolve school capacity issues arising from a development that are not addressed by the VSA. This Act does not include that language. Sections 2 and 3 of this Act include an exception to the requirement that a residential developer provide a certification of adequate school capacity for proposed residential developments where the developer has pledged to pay a VSA. Sections 2 and 3 of Senate Bill No. 287 did not include this exception. In addition, Sections 2 and 3 of Senate Bill No. 287 would have added language to § 4961 and § 6961 of Title 9 permitting a school district to require a residential developer to enter into an agreement to resolve school capacity issues arising from a development that are not addressed by the VSA. Sections 2 and 3 of this Act does not include that language. Section 4 of Senate Bill No. 287 would have amended § 842 of Title 22 to remove an exception to the requirement that a residential developer provide a certification of adequate school capacity for proposed residential developments where the developer has pledged to pay a VSA. Section 4 of this Act leaves that exception intact. Section 5 of Senate Bill No. 287 would have amended § 103 of Title 14 to provide that in calculating the VSA, the Secretary of the Department of Education shall consider the cost of off-site roadway improvements required by the state transportation department. Section 5 of this Act does not make this amendment. Section 8 of Senate Bill No. 287 would have required New Castle County to include the educational element in its comprehensive plan by December 31, 2025. Section 7 of this Act provides instead that, effective as of January 1, 2023, New Castle, Sussex, and Kent Counties must include the educational element in their comprehensive plans in their next comprehensive plan updates following this Act’s enactment into law.
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