Tonight the Hyattsville and University Park councils discuss the Landy Property, 1100-1300 units to be built on Belcrest Road behind Northwestern High School, and tomorrow Hyattsville hosts a public meeting for the same project. Citizens and council members will be operating without benefit of the M-NCPPC’s staff report or recommendations, which strikes us as more than a little backward. It would seem that
Public Input> Staff Report> Municipal Review> Planning Board Action
would be a more logical sequence of events than the current planning process.
While this project received preliminary approval in 2001, the plans have been subject to considerable revision and controversy. There are couple pluses to the project.
- Decent design
- On-site environmental mitigation
- Upscale development
However, there are a host of negatives.
- Too many units—whether it is 1100 or 1300 apartment units, though spacious and upscale, are still apartments. Hyattsville would prefer condos, but that’s probably not realistic given the housing market. Let’s at least get one tower designated for condos upfront and work towards converting the entire development.
- A tremendous impact on area schools that are already overcrowded—the 2001 staff report’s predictions are based on erroneous school capacity numbers. There appears to be no movement by PGCPS to provide the additional seats we need for students of all ages.
- Too tall for the neighborhood—while one commenter has made the point that the site’s topography will make 16 stories seem like less, the unit count is too high given other conditions. Reduce the height.
- Too many parking spaces—this site falls within the Prince George’s Plaza Transit District Development Plan. Residents should be encouraged to use the Metro, providing 2 parking spaces per unit will not accomplish this and will make Belcrest a parking lot at 8 am on weekdays.
- Providing a shuttle will encourage Metro use and pedestrian improvements must be a given.
- Public safety issues—Hyattsville’s Planning Committee recommends approval of this project be contingent on annexation. But do they have the infrastructure in place to cover a development of this size?
Because the Prince George’s Center Plaza Towers East property is part of the same parcel, our understanding is that developer Marvin Blumberg is not subject to the public safety impact fee. Ten percent of the parcel is already developed, so it is grandfathered in. School impact fees will be paid—but where will they be used?
Take a look at the map and the adjacent green spaces that buffer several area streams. This project cries out for a green roof and sustainable development practices. If you agree, speak with your council member, attend your council meeting tonight and make time for the public meeting at St. Mark’s tomorrow.