As you very likely know, the Landy Property would be a luxury development in a fenced, gated community with security on 34 acres off of Belcrest Rd. between Northwestern High School and Toledo Terrace. Originally approved in 2001, the plan has undergone a number of revisions. The revamped plans required a lot of work and are moving in the right direction, that is worthy of note. However, our area has grown significantly in the last 6 years and the Landy project’s improvements have not kept pace with an evolving community and its needs or concerns.
The latest iteration is hard to nail down as 3-bedroom units come and go (see below) and the unit number wavers between 1216 and 1262. What is clear is that the project is not consistent with the transit oriented development that our area needs. In addition, the Landy’s massive scale would cast a long shadow, metaphorically and literally. Shadow-wise, the M-NCPPC planning file has not been updated since the original 2001 plan. But even that less bulky building would have thrown a substantial shadow. The current proposal’s two buildings with 7-story base and 16-story towers would shadow Northwestern High School all of the year and the University Hills neighborhood a good bit of the year.
Construction would be done in phases and could take 8 years depending on market conditions. The M-NCPPC staff report recommends approval with conditions. Issues and impacts of concern to immediate neighbors and area residents include:
▪ Additional traffic in an already congested area? No Metro shuttle plans at this time and great reluctance by developer to put this in place.
▪ Parking? This development falls into the Prince George’s Plaza Transit District Development Plan (TDDP), yet plans 2.34 parking spaces per unit. This ratio is significantly higher than typical for transit oriented development.
▪ Why so much parking in a transit oriented development? Quite possibly because planning staff have apparently misinterpreted awkwardly worded language appearing in the TDDP document. The parking cap for this TDDP area appears to be meaningless as planning staff exclude structured parking from their calculations.
▪ The TDDP recommends establishing a Transportation Demand Management District, this has never been done in our county and needs to happen ASAP…as in before Landy is approved.
▪ School impact? Students fall into the cachement area for University Park Elementary School, a school that is already well over capacity–as are the other elementary, middle and high schools in the area.
▪ Over-55 community? The possibility of designating a portion of the project for residents over 55 was raised as a way to diminish the impact on area schools. Recently at a community meeting, the developer offered that a third of units would be designated for over-55 residents and students. An odd mix at best.
▪ Student rentals? Yes, when queried re: student rentals, Blumberg agreed to enforce county law prohibiting more than 5 unrelated individuals from residing together.
▪ Public safety? University Town Center’s student housing has been a time consuming drain on Hyattsville’s police force. A development of this size should be considered carefully with this need in mind.
▪ 3-bedroom units? The Prince George’s Plaza Transit District Development Plan mandates all 3 bedroom units be condos. This development would like this rule waived for 40 3-bedroom units.
▪ Environmental impact? Not good, this is not a sustainable design and 8 years of construction will not be good for stream health or adjacent habitat given the high failure rate of environmental mitigation.
Blumberg could build the previously approved plan, but does not wish to for a whole host of reasons. Yes, things can be done to change the current plan’s problems–but unless pressed by the community, Planning Board and District Council, Blumberg will not. All the concerns expressed and the suggested changes cost money.
Obviously, it is time for creative solutions to transit needs, traffic congestion and crowded schools. Developers, county staff and elected officials need to step up. Please communicate your opinion of this project to your representatives, council member and our Planning Board. Letters to the Planning Board should reference DSP-99048/01 and allow sufficient time for letters to be received. If you email, please replace the AT with the @ symbol.
Samuel Parker, Jr., Chairman
Prince George’s County Planning Board
County Administration Building, 14741 Gov. Oden Bowie Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Send a carbon copy to your council member and:
Fern Piret, County Planning Director
see address above