Sign up to stay connected
Get the top stories of the day around the DMV.
Townhouse communities have sprung up across Prince George’s in recent years, leading local leaders divided on how to proceed in addressing challenges in the county. While the Council is considering a pause on townhouse developments in particular areas, some activists and leaders are raising concerns about what impact this legislation could have on the local housing market and long-term fiscal health of Prince George’s County.
“We’re developing sprawl and the sprawl is hurting us,” said Prince George’s County Vice Wala Blegay (D-District 6). “It’s really time that we control our development.”
Sponsored by Blegay and Council President Tom Dernoga, CB-52 would limit townhouse development for two years primarily to high-density areas and near transit hubs. The goal of the legislation is limiting the uncontrolled housing expansion and bringing development to the Blue Line Corridor.
“To bring true economic development to the county will be building in transit-oriented areas because that’s where you’re going to bring the jobs, that’s where the offices are gonna come, that’s where the employers want to be,” Blegay said in an April interview.
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) worries about losing investment and the housing crisis.
“Townhomes for first-time homebuyers, for young homebuyers and for many of our homebuyers of color are an entry point,” Alsobrooks explained. “It is because they are affordable for so many of us including me. I started out in a townhome. They are affordable.”
Lori Graf of the Maryland Building Industry Association said she is concerned about disincentivizing investment in Prince George’s and reducing access to affordable housing.
“They’re already deciding not to do deals in Prince George’s County. People are just very nervous about investing in the county, where there’s just so much uncertainty about if they’re going to be able to move forward,” Graf said.
In a recent article, Dan Reed of Greater Greater Washington gave four examples of planned housing developments that would’ve been prevented by this bill. Reed’s family first moved into Prince George’s in 1984, buying a townhome in Suitland before the townhouse boom of the 1980s as Prince George’s became a majority-Black County. Reed explained he believes that this legislation will further raise the price of single-family homes, making it harder to live in Prince George’s and forcing more County residents to move to Charles and Montgomery Counties.
The County Council has implemented county-wide rent stabilization measures and will soon be holding hearings over planned developments at Freeway Airport and Frank’s Nursery, both near Bowie.
Are these people crazy? It’s already nearly impossible to get new development approved in this county, and now they are planning to place a moratorium on more affordable townhomes? People need a place to live if they are going to work here, and they will go to other jurisdictions if they can’t find something affordable in this county. Businesses leave when they people leave, as there is nobody available to buy their products or work in their facilities.
Has the Council taken the time to look at all of the vacant commercial space throughout the county? Office space in our office parks is woefully under capacity, and our shopping centers all have far too many empty stores. It just doesn’t make sense to me for them to curtail the building of homes. I am not aware of any townhome projects that weren’t able to fill their homes with new residents/taxpayers. With all the hassles that developers have to endure in this county just to get their projects approved, it now makes sense to me as to why they opt to build in our surrounding counties.
My wife and I are lifelong county residents. I grew up in Hillside and District Heights, attended school here from grade school through college, and we’ve both worked our entire careers here. My wife and I are now having 2nd thoughts about keeping our retirement savings/pensions here as I shake my head wondering what in the h*** our county council has thinking over the past several years. Virginia is looking better and better every day.
Leave a comment