LAUREL – Updates to the city of Laurel’s Master Plan are one step closer to implementation after the city’s planning commission approved the revisions during its meeting on June 14. As the only municipality in Prince George’s County that has its own zoning rights, the master plan, which helps the city determine the appropriate use […]
LAUREL – Updates to the city of Laurel’s Master Plan are one step closer to implementation after the city’s planning commission approved the revisions during its meeting on June 14.
As the only municipality in Prince George’s County that has its own zoning rights, the master plan, which helps the city determine the appropriate use of lands and protect the public and safety of the community, is very important.
Now, the mayor and city council are set to review and critique the updates, some of which include collaborating with nearby jurisdictions to coordinate land use patterns, incentivizing the preservation of historic resources, and encouraging affordable housing opportunities for residents. Chairman of the Master Plan Review Committee G. Rick Wilson, who also sits on the planning committee, said these adaptations fall in concordance with Laurel’s growing population.
“What you see is that we’re moving from an edge, suburban area to more of an urban area,” he said. “We’re going to look like Bethesda after a couple more business cycles, and I think that’s a good thing. We’ve got to find a way to pay for services.”
The Master Plan Review Committee spent seven months crafting a more than 200-page report on the recommended updates to the plan, which was last reviewed in November of 2007.
Since then, Laurel’s population has steadily grown, in part because of the continued development. That includes improvements of 100 Main Street, the Resident Towne Centre, Anderson’s Corner/Avalon, West Side, Laurel Gardens and Hawthorne, which combine for nearly 2,400 multifamily housing units.
The report most notably highlights potential annexations of four principle properties in nearby areas that would help redefine the city’s corporate borders and reduce potential confusion between jurisdictional responsibilities, said Jack Brock, director of Laurel’s Department of Community and Business Services.
In compliance with state law, the city contacted Valbridge Property Advisors to conduct a fiscal impact analysis of annexation, which concluded the annexations diversify the city’s assessable base and are likely to contribute more revenue to the city’s $28.5 million budget for fiscal year 2016.
“The proposed annexations, overall, are at a modestly more than break-even point, which means if all of those lands were annexed, the amount of tax they generate would help cover the expenditures of public services,” Brock said.
The four areas include hundreds of residential and commercial parcels located east and west of Contee Road, the northwestern boundary of the city, and the eastern boundary between U.S. Route 1 and Route 197.
In a baseline analysis of Laurel’s revenues and expenses, Valbridge found annexing these areas would generate total net revenue of $547,167 – an estimated 18.9 percent margin of revenue over expenses.
Wilson said fewer and fewer residents of Laurel are homeowners, noting from 2000 to 2010 the owner occupancy percentage moved from 45 to 34 percent due to the 22 percent increase in apartments with 10 or more units.
As a result of this urbanization, Wilson said a larger emphasis must be placed on improving transportation services for workers and residents.
“If you’re disabled or you don’t have a car for the workweek, you are stranded. There is no way to get around. We’re going to all have to start thinking about a different style of transportation,” Wilson said.
The review committee reports recommended the city support the implementation of transit-oriented development, such as the Laurel Train Station, to include multifamily residential, retail commercial business offices and structured parking.
The revisions to the master plan will be discussed prior to approval during the mayor and city council’s upcoming meetings in July.