Is Urbana becoming an extension of Montgomery County?


The plan which includes 43 townhouses laid out infront of the Urbana Library which can be seen by Parcel CC.

Christina Hance-Aloi, Reporter

That’s a question circulating the community that you’d never think you’d hear. You’re probably wondering why that’s even a question, so here’s why.

If you’re an Urbana resident, you’ve noticed the new development over the years. Whether it’s Stonebarn, the Woodlands, or Boxwood at Villages of Urbana. Now new building plans have hit the town courtesy of Natelli Communities, the real estate development company that built the Villages of Urbana and most of the other neighborhoods in our community.

These building plans consist of 43 new townhomes on the piece of green space in front of our very own Urbana Library. One resident, Karen Butman, who has lived in Urbana for 19 years expressed her opinion on the plan, “I do not support the building of all those townhouses. The schools are overcrowded, [especially] the Middle and High school. How can these schools accommodate more children? And do a good job teaching?” 

This brings the question of how many people are too many people?

According to World Population Review, as of this year; Urbana has a population of around 14,500+ people. This number is only expected to grow with a projected number of around 15,800 by 2026, which leaves parents worried for their children’s education. The schools are already overcrowded, how can the schools possibly hold more kids?

When I asked Urbana High School’s Assistant Principal Michael Hombach how many more students he believes Urbana high can accommodate, he answered “We’re already in some areas, in terms of the cafeteria, in terms of parking, and traffic… We’re already a little uncomfortable. In terms of instructionally, in terms of teaching students, in terms of putting kids in proper class sizes, we could accommodate more students. Most of the growth related things that we are dealing with now are the inconveniences like how long it takes everyone to get here in the morning, and how difficult traffic could be. “ Many messages have been sent to students over the past few weeks about new traffic patterns in an attempt to combat issues of people pulling into the Natelli YMCA to drop off their kids. Though the YMCA entrance and UHS parking lot connect which is quite inconvenient for students and teachers. 

Students feel the effects of the numbers when they walk in the cafeteria or try to exit the school. I also asked if any changes around the building have had to be made to accommodate the number of students, Mr. Hombach replied, “We’ve had to add cafeteria tables and teachers, now teachers double up. During a teacher’s planning, instead of them having the room to themselves, they would have another teacher using their room. Teachers now float to 3 different classrooms a semester,” This makes it very inconvenient for teachers but due to circumstances, this is the only solution to the number of students in the building. (at the moment)   

I stopped William Knepper, a student here at UHS in the halls to ask him how he feels about the whole situation of overcrowding in our school. He gave many valid points including, “Each teacher is subject to like 150 students on a regular, they really can’t focus directly on one individuals needs which prevents them from learning which is why elementary school is so much more effective than the later years of high school,” Bigger classes means less one-on-one learning, which can affect learning as many studies prove according to Public School Review

Superintendent Dr. Dyson designated Elizabeth Pasierb, the Supervisor of Facilities Planning for FCPS to answer a few questions that I had related to student numbers. When Ms. Pasierb was asked how FCPS is combating such high numbers in the Urbana area, she told me that Urbana Middle currently has a percent utilization of 110%, and Urbana High is right behind with a percent utilization of 101% which has led FCPS to carefully monitor any enrollments and development. In case you were confused, the state rated building capacity is what determines the percent utilization, the middle school has a SRC of 1,020 while the high school has a SRC of 1,899. For the middle schools, she added, “The adjoining Windsor Knolls MS is currently at a capacity of 75% SRC. To balance enrollments between the middle schools, we could adjust the attendance area boundaries” This could mean a new redistricting in the future for middle schoolers.

The adjoining Windsor Knolls MS is currently at a capacity of 75% SRC. To balance enrollments between the middle schools, we could adjust the attendance area boundaries.

— Elizabeth Pasierb, Supervisor of Facilities Planning for FCPS

At the high school level, Ms. Pasierb talked about FCPS “planning for another high school in the eastern part of Frederick County to address capacity issues at Walkersville, Oakdale, Linganore, and Urbana. This project is included in the out years of the 10 year Educational Facilities Master Plan,” The new school would be in the next 8 to 10 years, yes that is a long time, but at least it has been thought of.   

I asked for their opinion on the building plans as well, the response I got was actually quite surprising. “We are aware of this development. While the construction is new, these units, and the potential students generated from these units, have always been included in the plans for the Villages of Urbana.  In reviewing the site plans, our Facilities Planning team did request additional sidewalks to improve the pedestrian safety in the neighborhood” so this brings questions because many said this was a compromise from a 200 unit apartment building, how many more units does the Villages of Urbana have included? 

Though these 43 townhouses may not be many, they still could have effects on the schools just because of the already overcrowded school environment. Lisa Guiliani, a realtor in Urbana who has lived here for 20 years expressed her outlook on the plan considering Natellis past, “In a perfect world the developer would donate the land to the community and allow it to be kept as green space.  However, Mr. Natelli is a businessman and I do not think it is realistic to expect him not to develop it.  I am disappointed with townhouses as I think that area is already congested and aesthetically speaking the commercial space would be more attractive.  Plus Urbana is very densely populated.  We just do not need more townhouses.” It is surely not expected for Mr. Natelli to donate the land like she said, but it would be a great act of kindness. Could there be another compromise?

Most likely not, but those who reside in Urbana have great hopes. It has been brought to my attention that there is a petition started to keep the green space, and so far it has over 700 signs. If you are interested in signing it, click here. You could also contact Natelli through their website to express your opinions on their latest project which many have already, or there is even a public meeting on February 8th at Winchester Hall in Frederick. 


“Urbana, Maryland Population 2023.” World Population Review, Accessed 1 February 2023.

Chen, Grace. “Smaller Class Sizes: Pros and Cons.” Public School Review, 20 May 2022, Accessed 1 February 2023.