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Development and School Concurrency Discussed at Interlocal Meeting

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The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), Brooksville City Council and the Hernando County School Board (HCSD) convened on March 14, 2024, to discuss their Interlocal Agreement – relevant topics common to all three agencies. Residential and commercial development and its impact on the school system was a large part of the discussion.

Representatives from each board will form a working group to review and amend the current Interlocal Agreement between the agencies over the next few months. According to Jim Lipsey, Manager of Planning, Design and Construction for HCSD, the 2009 agreement should be amended because parts are no longer consistent with Florida Statutes, and some Administrative Code referenced have been repealed.

The board members also discussed school concurrency, expressing concerns about the impact future home construction will have on the school system.

School concurrency is a system of land use regulations designed to meet the demands placed upon public school capacity by new residential development. Before approving proposed residential development, the City, County and School District must jointly determine whether adequate school capacity will be available to accommodate the increase in student population. Government agencies must deny applications for new residential development if adequate permanent capacity will not be available or under construction within three years of approving the application.

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Questions of concurrency arose during the City’s presentation on development progress. Community Development Director David Hainley reported strong growth in Brooksville, with more growth on the way.

In 2023, 90-95 percent of the 198 single-family homes were constructed in Southern Hills, and the subdivision is on track for continued strong growth this year.

The City of Brooksville alone has approved 6,000 single-family homes and 1,400 multi-family units. Hainley reported that the 2024 projection did not include 300 multi-family units planned for the Arden Apartments, a 21.8-acre complex on the south side of Cortez Blvd, west of Broad Street. “We’re all over the place with development,” Hainley said, showing a map of planned projects throughout the city limits. 216 single-family homes are projected for 2024.

HCSD Board Member Mark Johnson explained that 7,400 dwelling units could generate between 2,100 and 2,500 new students, according to the calculation used by HCSD (0.3-0.4 students per unit). “Hernando High School is supposed to reach capacity in 2027. If you have 2,100 students, and if one-third are high school students, there won’t be any place to put them.”

Unincorporated Hernando County is building as well. Development Services Director Peter Schwarz reported that the county has seen roughly a 17 percent increase in population over the past ten years and expects the trend to continue. An estimated 10,800 more dwelling units are planned for the county, excluding the City of Brooksville.

According to data presented, the County’s population is estimated to rise to 210,000 by 2025, and to 252,000 by 2050.

The two governments communicate with HCSD when a planned project is approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The school district then provides a Finding of Available capacity that expires after two years unless a Development Agreement, Conditional Plat or Site Plan is issued.

The problem arises when plans are extended. The number of student stations available are then ‘held’ in concurrency, decreasing the school capacity available to an incoming developer. According to Lipsey, these plans “can be extended in perpetuity.”

Most of the BOCC is in favor of an expiration date for School Concurrency. The Interlocal Agreement working group has not been selected, and there are no dates certain for the return of their recommendations.

Map showing future residential development in the city of Brooksville. [Interlocal Presentation City of Brooksville]
Map showing future residential development in the city of Brooksville. [Interlocal Presentation City of Brooksville]

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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