BOWIE – A few proposed residential developments presented before the Bowie City Council fostered mixed reactions from community members, developers and local politicians in its Dec. 2 meeting at Bowie City Hall.
Present at the legislative session were Mayor Tim Adams, Mayor Pro Tem Adrian Boafo, Councilmembers Dufour Woolfley, Michael Esteve, Roxy Ndebumadu, Henri Gardner and Ingrid Harrison, City Attorney Elissa Levan and City Manager Alred Lott.
Bowie’s Planning and Community Department Director Joe Meinert introduced an item on the agenda that involves the redevelopment of the now-defunct Glenn Dale Golf Course. The project, labeled Preliminary Plan No. 4-19005, has garnered a great deal of interest from local developers aiming to set up the property for redevelopment.
Meinert’s staff presentation of the Glenn Dale Golf Course Redevelopment project sought guidance as to whether the city council wanted to weigh in on the new proposed preliminary plan. The golf course lies just outside the city limit within the Glenn Dale planning area, and in 2003 was zoned ‘R-R’ or rural residential land, pointed out Meinert.
Norman Rivera, the attorney of record for the Glenn Dale property, was given the floor after Meinert’s subdivision plan proposal to deliver an informational presentation on the proposed “Fairway Estates at Glenn Dale” community.
His presentation visualized the transformation of a former golf course to a residential community consisting of 209 single-family detached homes and 63 townhomes on 125 acres.
“We are here tonight just to show you our plans, get your input. It’s an ongoing process,” Rivera said. “After the planning board hears the subdivision plan, they will hear a detailed site plan where we bring before you and the rest of the community our architecture for all the builders.”
Rivera added that he had numerous meetings with the community “went very well” in response to a question from Adams.
“It’s the first time that I’ve been to a community meeting where they clapped instead of throwing tomatoes,” Rivera said. “So we work closely with the Glenn Dale Citizens Association.”
Adams went on to ask a question about school overcrowding near the venue, which has been a significant area of concern for residents and community leaders. Councilmembers also asked about overcrowding in addition to potential traffic issues.
In response, Rivera said his colleagues’ traffic studies indicate that they are in good standing; also, he estimated the single homes to range from $300,000 to the low millions. Rivera mentioned Prince George’s County Public Schools’ P3 model, an initiative designed to create thousands of middle and high school seats to avoid forecasted county-wide overcrowding when asked about the elementary school overpopulation issue in particular.
“Our main thing is just that the school capacity issue is something that we continue to talk about a lot. We have a very new city council and this is priority No. 1, 2 and 3 for us,” Esteve said. “And as well as road improvements to the area, and just making sure this is the kind of neighborhood that ends up contributing to the community and not diminishing from it in any way.”
Rivera’s proposal drew opposition from Gardner, Ndebumadu and Woolfley. Garner, in particular, stated that there is enough residential projects and that the city “can’t say yes to every project.”
“We have to put the brakes on it because if we’re a little too hasty, we’re going to find ourselves pretty much dealing with a lot of headaches rather than a lot of solutions,” Garner said. “And the Glenn Dale project, being that it’s not residing in the City of Bowie, the City of Bowie wouldn’t collect any residential taxes from this.
“So we would receive all of the headaches but not any of the benefits — the headaches being the overcrowded roads, the headaches being the overcrowded classrooms… I just want to say this respectfully to you, Norman; I just don’t think this is a good project for the residents of Bowie.”
The County Planning Board’s hearing on the Glenn Dale redevelopment project is expected to occur in early 2020.
The remainder of the legislative session was spent discussing the South Lake Detailed Site Plan. The applicant, South Lake Partners LLC, is seeking the city of Bowie’s recommendation of approval of a detailed site plan proposing a total of 1,035 dwelling units: 344 detached single-family dwellings, 563 townhouse units and 128 condominiums.
Mike Byrd, chairman of the Bowie Advisory Planning Board (BAPB), gave a brief synopsis of the BAPB’s Nov. 12 meeting before answering a variety of questions from the city council.
Nat Ballard of Rodgers Consulting delivered a seven-minute PowerPoint presentation of the Detail Site Plan’s details. The proposed project would be a mixed-use development designed to sit along Crain Highway near Central Avenue. In addition to the housing units, the South Lake community features a variety of proposed private recreational amenities, including two playgrounds, two open play areas, a “tot lot,” a pre-teen lot, a pocket park, a dog park, a clubhouse-swimming pool complex and a 13-station fitness course planned along a 0.72-mile trail system.
Similar to the Glenn Dale project, the South Lake proposal fostered disapproval from community members, some of whom urged the city council not to approve the proposal.
“There’s no one in here, developers included, that thinks this is a good idea. I know this because it makes no sense,” said Phillip Murray, a resident of the Collington Station neighborhood in Bowie. “You can’t put a small city right there, the way (MD) 301 and Central Avenue is right now, and unless it’s widened today, you can’t tell me that it’s not going to have a negative impact on everyone that lives around there… So this can’t pass.”
The city council moved a motion to postpone approval of the South Lake development proposal until its Feb. 3, 2020 meeting, where before the meeting’s adjournment.
The council will assemble for its next meeting on Dec. 10.