BOWIE – The county council is preparing to give its amendments and approvals to the Prince George’s County Zoning Rewrite, and the city of Bowie wants its opinions noted as well. At the Jan. 17 meeting, the city council voted 7-0 to approve the city planning staff’s recommendations on the draft zoning ordinance modules. The […]
BOWIE – The county council is preparing to give its amendments and approvals to the Prince George’s County Zoning Rewrite, and the city of Bowie wants its opinions noted as well.
At the Jan. 17 meeting, the city council voted 7-0 to approve the city planning staff’s recommendations on the draft zoning ordinance modules. The comments of residents, municipalities and stakeholders will inform the county council’s discussion on the ordinance. The city’s planning staff presented five pages of recommendations, and according to Joe Meinert, Bowie’s planning director, there are many provisions the city staff supports.
“We found in a large number of instances, the new zoning ordinance rewrite standards are actually going to improve upon the city’s development guidelines. So in that respect we are pleased to see those types of changes,” he said.
The staff recommendation also included several suggested changes to the draft modules. Among them are the increase of lot coverage requirements in the single family residential, 6.7 zone; opposing counting private yard spaces as open space set-asides; and revising the threshold for when a parking plan is required from 100 spaces to more than 20. Staff also supported allowing home gardens in any yard on residential properties, according to council documents.
Councilman Isaac Trouth voiced concerns about the changes to the Signage regulations in the proposed ordinance in anticipation of developments like the mixed-use Karington project with the potential for many signs.
“We have a more stringent sign requirement than does the county,” Trouth said, wanting to make his commitment to limiting signs known. The council voted to include those concerns as an amendment to city staff’s recommendations.
Trouth also doubled down on a point of opposition included in the recommendation; some uses or constructions not allowed under the zoning ordinance can be approved as departures under the current law. According to council documents, the rewrite would change some of those to adjustments to be handled at an administrative level. The documents state staff “oppose the new process for departures because it takes away functions currently assigned to some municipalities and gives the approval authority to the (county) planning director.”
Councilman Michael Esteve had more more general concerns that dealt with the impacts the new ordinance would have on density in the city. He asked whether the zoning change would result in residential uses being permitted in areas where the current zoning does not permit it.
Meinert said the intent was to translate the old zones into new ones, not to make zoning changes.
“Basically, they are trying to follow that same pattern throughout. So you’re not going to see any surprises, so to speak, where they’re going to change the zoning to allow something that’s not allowed today,” Meinert said.
Esteve also wanted to know how the new zones created by the ordinance compare to the old ones in terms of residential density. Meinert said generally, the new zones are “more generous.” Esteve said that concerned him.
“That’s an issue where I’d really like us to consider the impact on the city,” Esteve said. “We’ve been getting a lot of concerns from residents lately about increased dense residential units. To the extent that this plan enables that to happen or makes it easier, that’s definitely something we’re going to hear from our constituents about, so that’s an area I’d like us to have a conversation about with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and our county leaders.”
The city’s comments on the rewrite will be given to planning staff as well as to the county council.