UPPER MARLBORO – Although the Prince George’s Plaza Preliminary Transit District Development Plan (TDDP) includes land within the city of Hyattsville, surrounding neighborhoods and cities want the Prince George’s County Planning Board to know the plan will affect them too. On Oct. 22, the county planning board held a public hearing on the TDDP and […]
UPPER MARLBORO – Although the Prince George’s Plaza Preliminary Transit District Development Plan (TDDP) includes land within the city of Hyattsville, surrounding neighborhoods and cities want the Prince George’s County Planning Board to know the plan will affect them too.
On Oct. 22, the county planning board held a public hearing on the TDDP and listened to the concerns, suggestions and approval of the plan from county residents and local leaders.
“The opportunity to provide testimony tonight is part of the ongoing process that will replace the 1998 Prince George’s Plaza Transit District Development Plan for the transit district overlay zone,” said Planning Board Chairwoman Elizabeth Hewlett. “The new overlay zone will also update portions of the 1994 approved master plan for planning area 68. In addition, this plan will update numerous functional master plans for this area of the county and build upon the recently approved planed Prince George’s 2035 general plan”
The plan is an accumulation of work of multiple government bodies and subsidiaries and includes suggestions for rezoning the area. Residents have until Nov. 2 by close of business to submit written comments on the plan.
The planning board will have a work session on Nov. 19, followed by board action on Dec. 3. The District Council public hearing is set for Feb. 16, 2016. If any amendments are added to the plan another public hearing will be held. District Council action is tentatively set for April 5, 2016.
More than 10 concerned citizens and public officials sat in on the meeting and offered their opinions. Perhaps the largest voice came from University Park residents who are concerned about the future of their city in relation to the proposed plan.
Lenford Carey, the mayor of University Park, said while the TDDP zone does not include University Park, the residents of the town work, play and shop in the Prince George’s Plaza area. The site is of “keen interest” to the town.
Carey said a major concern for the city is a perceived lack of a comprehensive storm water management plan in regards to runoff from the area into University Park.
“Prince George’s Plaza is a longtime upstream neighbor of the town, but impervious surfaces comprise over 90 percent of the mall and there is virtually no storm water management there,” Carey said. “The results are flooding of University Park and downstream in Riverdale Park. We need provisions in the plan which will fix this.”
Carey said other concerns of the town include school crowding and sufficient parking. He said the planning board needs to take a serious look at these because they are “huge livability issues.”
University Park attorney Suellen Ferguson said storm water management and transportation management are key to making the TDDP a success. Without those two “legs of the stool,” she said, the plan will not stand.
“Frankly, without these ‘details’ being taken care of, at the same time as this plan goes into effect, is a terrifying prospect for University Park,” she said.
Ferguson said the town already cannot handle the overflow of cars, lack of parking and storm water runoff. Adding to those problems would “overwhelm” the town.
“The plan rightfully notices that there are jurisdictions close to us, such as Montgomery County and Arlington County, which have successfully put a high density development area next to existing housing. But those successful efforts have been in tandem with a (transportation demand management district) and a parking district,” she said. “To make any recommendation to the district council that does not have each of these in it …will mean disaster.”
Another concern for the town, Ferguson said, is while the plan includes a downtown core and neighborhood edge, the core is not a real core. This means there is no tapper from the “downtown core” to the neighborhoods of University Park.
“Core generally references a middle – I kind of think of it as a doughnut – there is no doughnut here,” Ferguson said. “There is one side of the doughnut, which is the neighborhood edge that’s in Hyattsville. The other side of the doughnut is those properties that are one lot deep along Adelphi Road that separate a 16-story possibility from the core to University Park.”
The only building between the possible 16 and 32-story buildings are the Hyattsville Library, which will also undergo a redevelopment, a church and a community center.
Brett Hess, a University Park councilmember, said he is also worried about the possibility of 32-story buildings in the area.
“I was asked before I got here, ‘you’re not going to make the ‘don’t block the sun argument,’’ and I guess if I’m supposed to be embarrassed by making that argument. I guess I won’t make it. But, what I will say, if from the front porch of residents of University Park, they could walk the distance of one and a half football fields and be at the front door of a 32-story building,” Hess said. “That’s too close”
Hess said he wants the board to really take into consideration the surrounding areas of Prince George’s Plaza as they continue to look at the plan.
Residents from the city of Hyattsville also attended the public hearing.
Tom Wright, a Hyattsville council member, spoke as a resident at the hearing and said he understands the developers desire to shrink lanes on East-West Highways, but asked the board to take a deeper look into the potential of the change.
“Lane reductions could create traffic congestion, causing shift in driver patterns to seek alternate routes through neighborhood streets,” Wright said.
Wright said he is sure developers and designers have considered the issue, but wished to remind them that the plan within in the TDDP zone will affect surrounding areas.