Legacy Farms developer Roy MacDowell said the influx of students was not expected to take place so quickly based on projections. “It’s hard to know exactly how many children that people are going to have," he said.
HOPKINTON — The school district is set to get $500,000 from the developer of Legacy Farms after another spike in enrollment resulting from a major housing development still under construction.
As part of a host community agreement with the town, developer Roy MacDowell agreed to pay the $500,000 if the number of students from his development who enroll in the public schools exceeded 250 within six years of the first occupancy permit.
The latest data from the school district reports 329 students living in the development — 122 more than this time last year. The data is tracked twice a year as part of the agreement.
Legacy Farms is being built on more than 700 acres of former Weston Nurseries land on Rte. 135.
On Sept. 7, Town Manager Norman Khumalo sent a letter to MacDowell requesting the money. The one-time payment will go into the district’s gift account.
“The first certificate of occupancy for a dwelling unit in Legacy Farms was issued on June 27, 2013, so we are within the six-year window,” he wrote. “Therefore, the $500,000 payment required in the (agreement) is now due.”
As of Thursday, the town has not received the money, according to Elaine Lazarus, director of land use and town operations.
MacDowell said Friday afternoon that he will speak with town officials this week about the payment. The influx of students was not expected to happen so quickly based on projections, he said.
“How do you project ahead 10 years?” he said. “It’s hard to know exactly how many children that people are going to have.”
Additionally, if the total exceeds 266 students during the period of time expiring one year after the final certificate of occupancy or 18 years after filing the notice (July 31, 2012), a one-time payment of $270,000 for each 30 students is required, according to the agreement.
The money will be used to help offset the costs associated with the students coming from the development, said School Committee Chairwoman Nancy Cavanaugh.
The district’s pre-K through grade 12 enrollment is about 3,722 students — 190 more than projections prepared by the New England School Development Council (NESDEC). To help alleviate large classroom sizes and teaching loads, the School Committee approved several new positions at Marathon Elementary, the middle school and high school.
“The enrollment has gone up so quickly, we are trying to keep pace with it,” Cavanaugh said.
The growth is not limited to Legacy Farms, with 132 occupancy permits expected to be issued in town by June 2019. Some new developments include a 32-unit subdivision between Chamberlain Street and Whalen Road and a 24-unit subdivision on Whisper Way off Wood Street.
Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh will work the Planning Board and town officials to prepare for further spikes. The district is also looking into hiring a consultant to look into options for staffing and physical space at the schools.
“Some of our buildings are nearing capacity and we don’t have any additional room,” Nancy Cavanaugh said. “The schools are going to be looking at creatively finding space because we don’t have anywhere else to go.”
To date, 625 occupancy permits have been issued for both Legacy Farms south and north. Forty-five students come from the Woodview apartment buildings and 284 from condominiums built by Pulte Homes, according to the data.
The south side of Legacy Farms is complete, with 275 homes built by Pulte Homes and 240 apartment units run by The Praedium Group. Pulte still has 315 units to build out of 425 on the north side over the next several years.
A different company, Heritage Properties, is building 180 units of over-55 housing, which won’t allow schoolchildren, on the north side.
At final build-out, 1,120 units are expected at Legacy Farms — 940 of which have to potential for schoolchildren.
Selectmen Chairwoman Claire Wright served on the Planning Board when Legacy Farms was approved in 2010. The number of students was studied by several consultants before the plans were approved, she said.
“The density is a lot higher than we expected two-bedroom, or even three-bedroom, townhouse-type units would produce,” she said.
The town has worked hard to provide a top-notch education, she said.
“That is attractive to people,” she said. “We have great new growth income that is certainly helping, but that is projected to be leveling off in the next few years and the payments from Legacy are a one-time thing. The ramifications are there and we are going to have to deal with them.”
The homes are selling for much higher prices than expected, MacDowell said.
“The tax revenue coming into the town is significantly higher than we ever anticipated, which is the good news,” he said.
Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 508-626-4338 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JPhelps_MW.