Prince George’s County Council is considering a bill to freeze new townhouse construction for 2 years. We agree that too much growth is occurring outside priority centers, leading to increased traffic and high infrastructure costs, while diverting resources from existing communities.
But a townhouse ban is an overly broad, indiscriminate approach that overlooks the underlying problems of Prince George’s zoning: too much single family zoning across the vast acres outside the beltway, and not enough flexible residential and mixed use zoning inside the beltway.
Instead of this blunt moratorium on one type of housing, we suggest another approach.
- The county should directly address the permissive residential zoning where too much land is zoned for low density residential development by identifying areas that can be rezoned for truly rural and agricultural densities (1 house per 20 acres). Also, rethink and scale back the sprawl “local center” plans such as of Westphalia, Brandywine, and Konterra.
- The county should revise residential and mixed use zones inside the beltway to facilitate a variety of housing types including townhouses, small multifamily buildings, accessory dwellings, and other missing middle housing forms, with greater densities focused closer to transit stations and bus corridors.
- Assess impediments to achieving the planned growth in Regional Transit Districts and Local Centers, especially at transit stations and inside the beltway, in achieving housing, transit-oriented development, and climate goals.
At minimum, townhouses should not be banned from inside the beltway, and from townhouse zones where they have existed for years, such as near Downtown Largo.