Tag: plan 2035

Testimony: CB 15 – Omnibus revisions to Zoning Ordinance to implement Plan 2035 (Prince George’s, Support)

March 20, 2024 (updated 4/17/2024)

Hon. Tom Dernoga, Chair
PHED Committee
Prince George’s County Council 
Wayne Curry Administration Building
1301 McCormick Drive, Largo MD

Dear Chair Dernoga and members of the Committee:

Please accept this testimony on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG), the leading organization advocating for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the Washington, DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all. We also support and work closely with RISE Prince George’s, a group of county residents and allies advocating for policies and practices that build shared, sustainable prosperity in Prince George’s County by creating safe, walkable, inclusive and transit-oriented communities.

We urge your support for CB 15. This is essential legislation to ensure the efficient, transparent, and effective use of the new zoning code, which implements the goals of Plan 2035. This new code supports Plan 2035’s priority focus on transit-oriented mixed use centers as a leading approach for strengthening the county’s economic competitiveness and tax base, and livability and sustainability. Much of the county’s future success depends on implementing the new, modern zoning code.

We participated in the extensive process to create the new zoning code, following the adoption of Plan 2035 in 2014. The new zoning code replaced a 50-year-old, outdated, confusing ordinance. It was a major advance for the county. It has been effective since April 2022. During this time, the need for further refinements to the code have been identified. CB 15 addresses these needs by including these key provisions: 

  • clarifying transition provisions – such as: grandfathering, access to prior zone uses for 10 years, fire loss reconstruction provisions, Woodmore Town Center access to prior approvals
  • Limitations on residential growth in the (Commercial, General and Office) CGO Zone outside the Beltway
  • Increased baseline residential density for Transit-Oriented/Activity Center zones

We strongly support the proposed changes to the NAC, TAC, LTO and RTO zones to allow increased numbers of homes per acre and some adjustments in height.  We have long expressed concern about the low densities permitted around transit stations in the new zoning code. The importance of allowing sufficient housing capacity around transit stations and major transit corridors is to attract quality investment that is feasible. Limiting sites in close proximity to high-capacity transit stations to low numbers of homes will waste the value of the taxpayer investment in transit, the many benefits of accessibility of transit, and discourage investment in quality mixed-use development.

We need more homes in multifamily buildings around transit stations and transit corridors to create a vibrant, mixed use, energetic environment that fosters walkability, thriving retail streets, and the kind of places that more people want to live in, work in, and visit. The proposed increased densities for Transit-Oriented/Activity Center zones help to advance the vision of great, walkable, transit-oriented communities.

We also support adding location standards to ensure that Transit-Oriented/Activity Centers are limited to the transit stations best suited for the level of development we expect in these centers.

Limiting residential growth outside the Beltway

We support the approach in the original legislation requiring that residential development outside the beltway in the CGO zone be reviewed and approved only through a Planned Development process. While the Planning Board revised this recommendation to allow multifamily, two-family, and townhouse dwellings on CGO sites of 25 or fewer acres with the approval of a Special Exception, we disagree. Given the permissibility of a Special Exception and the significant impact of growth outside the beltway, we recommend either specifying detailed Special Exception criteria or at least scaling back the number of acres allowed for Special Exception to five acres or less, or both. 

We know that many in the development industry are urging further delay in implementation of the new zoning code. We think further delay harms the county’s ability to attract new quality investment. The new code offers streamlined, easy to understand zoning regulations, and omnibus bill CB 15 provides helpful revisions.

We urge the Council to pass this bill without delay, while continuing to work to ensure the zoning code is supporting Plan 2035’s goals to focus most growth in Regional and Local transit centers, and inside the beltway.  

Thank you for your consideration. 

Cheryl Cort
Policy Director