Some Prince George’s County residents say a proposal to revitalize the Bowie-Mitchellville area would increase traffic, produce greenhouse gases and create other environmental problems.
If certain parcels of land are rezoned for commercial use, Wanda Cooper of Kettering said the plan would also increase taxes and force the county to build more schools.
“We have had enough strip malls in our county,” she said Monday, Oct. 4. “And things being built that don’t help the community.”
Cooper joined nearly two dozen others who testified during a virtual public hearing before the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and Prince George’s County Council members sitting as District Council, which reviews zoning and land use matters.
The discussion focused on a document labeled “Bowie-Mitchellville and Vicinity Master Plan” with a focus on five areas along several state roads: Bowie State University, Old Town Bowie, Bowie Town Center, Free State Shopping Center and Collington Local Employment Area.
Some of the goals in this area of 59 square miles include:
- Create more pedestrian-friendly paths with additional housing options along Route 450.
- Construct a new fire and emergency services station at Woodmore and Mount Oak roads in Bowie.
- Build additional student housing, a grocery store and other businesses near Bowie State University’s MARC station.
- Refurbish Old Town Bowie as a Maryland Arts and Entertainment district.
Thomas Lester, project manager in the county’s Planning Department, said one way to maintain the rural and agricultural areas would be to not extend water and sewer lines.
To spruce up economic, residential and transportation viability, some people disagreed with the answer being to rezone the area’s land. About nine residents from Cameron Grove, a 55-and-older residential community in Upper Marlboro, expressed their disagreement with a zoning proposal to change from residential suburban to commercial near Six Flags America. The land currently populated with trees sits about a mile east at Central at Central Avenue (Route 214) and Church Road in Bowie.
Some said the Bowie-Mitchellville document contradicts the county’s 2035 plan, which includes goals to promote mixed-use development around Metro and planned Purple Line light-rail stations and “supporting neighborhood reinvestment in existing public infrastructure, services and facilities…”
“We’re already faced with an amusement park in a residential community that causes traffic backup along 214 which spills over into our community,” said Cameron Grove resident Linda Salmon. “We don’t want the additional traffic that commercial development will bring.”
Janet Gingold of Kettering, speaking on behalf of the county’s Sierra Club, said commercial development on the Six Flags property would negatively affect the Belt Woods Natural Environment Area along Church Road. The land, managed by the state’s Park Service, has been designated a National Natural Landmark as “one of the last stands of old-growth hardwoods on the Atlantic Coastal Plain.”
Joseph Meinert, planning director for the city of Bowie, said the city council supports the overall plan.
However, it opposes residential development around shopping centers except the Bowie Town Center area. In addition, it requests the planners and District Council downgrade a portion of Central Avenue between Jennings Mill Drive to Route 301 as an expressway to an arterial road “which would allow us to do complete street planning and serve the population in a multi-model fashion.”