After going through a four-year process to approve a new zoning and subdivision ordinance last year in Prince George’s County, officials are going through the second phase to showcase a countywide map to implement the new zones.
More than 100 residents listened to presentations from zoning officials and viewed colorful maps Saturday, Nov. 23 at the Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Complex in Fort Washington.
The main purpose is eliminate the county’s more than 50-year-old zoning ordinance that officials said not only limited development, but make some the antiquated language that occasionally confused seasoned planners easier to understand.
However, a map amendment to formally incorporate the new zones must be approved by the council in order for them to become implemented.
“One of the best things through this whole process is that everybody in the community knows more about what zoning is and how it works and that’s a good thing,” said Derick Berlage, the county’s deputy planning director. “That means as development projects happen in the future, people will have a better understand of how the law works. It even helps experienced planners to read and interpret it much easier.”
When the county council officially approved the zoning ordinance in October 2018, it decreased the zoning districts from 73 to 43. In addition, it consolidated the uses from 1,200 to 250.
For example, in the county’s District 6 area overseen by Councilman Derrick Leon Davis, the zones are expected to decrease from 47 to 25.
Although all 15 Metro stations in the county would become transit-oriented zoning districts, the Largo Town Center station would be one of three labeled as a downtown regional area with high intensity.
The partial definition described the area as “vibrant, mixed-use centers intended to capture the majority of the county’s future residential and employment growth and development.”
Besides apartments and condominiums near the Largo station that officials say fit the “downtown” image, construction of the $543 million University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center plans to be completed by 2021.
The county also integrated modern technology for residents to view their properties online to determine what has been zoned. There’s also a brochure that highlights the countywide map amendment along with examples of current and proposed zones to provide mixed-use development.
Residents also view businesses such as Rivertowne Commons in Oxon Hill plans to become zoned a “neighborhood activity center,” which would allow for integrated use of commercial and residential development.
Carmen Mack of Oxon Hill said looking at the maps didn’t help her comprehend the new zoning areas. However, when she went on the website and began reviewing some of the colorful documents and photos, it became easier to read.
“I want smart economic growth in my community,” said Mack, who’s lived in the Oxon Hill area for about 45 years. “I want nice, sit-down restaurants. I want healthy food choices. I am concerned about how development is going to change my community.”
Council Chair Todd Turner (D-District 4) of Bowie attended Saturday’s session and said it’s possible the council could approve the countywide map with the new zones by next year.
“The new zoning ordinance allows for more flexibility, where it’s appropriate,” he said. “The future is kind of this mixed-use development. We are trying to bring our code up to the 21st century.”