Category Archives: Events

Cafritz Conundrum

Well, the Cafritz family will be updating our community next Saturday on the status of their project. Whether our much sought “input” has been considered as they revised the project is debatable. Apparently, the number of residential housing units has been roughly halved, while the commercial space remains the same (or slightly expanded).

Mmm, those traffic guys–were they listening? Has Traffic Wizard Wes Guckert magically rerouted traffic from the failed Route 1/410 intersection to accommodate additional commercial traffic?

It is the holiday season, so everyone’s getting together and doing the “hey, long time, no see” routine. But this update’s timing is a little odd. We can hope for nice cookies and all, but why now?

Turns out the clock is ticking. The Cafritz team suddenly realized that they needed to file for a rezoning ASAP, probably January 2009. Why? Oh, it takes a little while, sometimes 18 months. Out of respect for the electoral process (2010 is a local election year) the County Council, acting as District Council, stops reviewing development projects in April 2010. So, darn-they better hurry.

email-lady.jpg

Please try to attend. But, we know (and they know), the timing is just horrendous. Here’s the Email Lady, just click to her to send a note to the Cafritz team–be sure to cc Council Member Eric Olson and Chief of Staff Dannielle Glaros of District 3. Ask the Cafritz team to post this presentation online immediately, let them know what you think of their plans and inquire about a second January presentation for the many folks who cannot attend. For your review: our past posts and the Cafritz team’s past presentations.

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Filed under Cafritz Property, Calvert Hills, College Park, Developers, Events, Public Input, Riverdale Park, University Park

Countywide Visioning Process Launches

Envision Prince George's

Friday brought the second one-day economic outlook forum called “Envision Prince George’s” sponsored by the Prince George’s County Planning Department of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), along with the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and Prince George’s County government. And while the morning was interesting and worthwhile, the afternoon presentations were the real deal.

Dr. Stephen Fuller, Director of the Center for Regional Analysis and professor of public policy at George Mason University gave a frank and unvarnished assessment of the strengths of the county and pulled no punches as he discussed where we were and where we needed to be to compete regionally for jobs. He spoke persuasively about past land use decisions and current opportunities. Richard Florida, professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and author of The Rise of the Creative Class and Who’s Your City, followed with a fairly general talk. But on the heels of Fuller’s brief, it had a little more impact.

Planning Board Chairman Samuel J. Parker, Jr. stole the show though with his announcement that the Planning Board would launch a visioning process, with an opportunity for significant public input. This process, while long overdue, will allow community input to shape our area’s future development.

Envision Prince George’s has four major goals:

  • Educate a broad cross-section of community stakeholders about the collaborative visioning process and need for their participation.
  • Engage individuals and groups across the county in a facilitated process to solicit their input into the vision for the county’s future.
  • Articulate their desired outcomes as a shared vision for quality of life in the county.
  • Translate that vision into subsequent goals and implementation strategies that help shape agency work programs and guide county policies. (Emphasis added)

The final product will be a community development framework that can inform decision-making, for example, in land use development, planning, and community services that are in alignment with future vision of the county as described by its committed and engaged citizenry.

Many jurisdictions across the country have forward-thinking plans, one of them is just across the Potomac. In 1960, Arlington County, Virginia adopted a comprehensive plan with five basic elements. Politicians have come and gone, but the comprehensive plan has continued to provide a unifying framework for Arlington’s growth. It has been updated, but basic principles remain intact and the county is now the transit-oriented development model for the rest of the nation.

Let’s hope that the same sort of coherent and community-driven plan, along with an updated zoning ordinance, can come out of Prince George’s visioning process. Kudos to Mr. Parker and his colleagues for kicking this off. Visit the project site and sign up now to help shape your county.

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Filed under Community, Events, Infrastructure, Planning, Planning Board, Public Input, Route 1 Corridor

US 1 Corridor Sector Plan News

US 1 sign

Why Are We Doing This?
If, like me, you were curious as to the rationale for the sector plan update, here’s the short version. The City of College Park requested that M-NCPPC revisit the sector plan to better address development concerns such as architectural guidelines, building height and other issues. To quote the project site:

Unanticipated development pressure in the area and an inadequate transportation system has resulted in conditions at odds with the recommendations and design standards of the current plan.

Updated Boundaries
On September 17 at a community meeting in College Park, M-NCPPC planner and project manager Chad Williams announced revised boundaries for the update to the US 1 Corridor Sector Plan. The new boundaries will stop at Guilford Road, the southern edge of College Park, and will not include the Cafritz property, portions of University Park or Riverdale Park. In response to opposition from the University Park Town Council and other county officials, this area was dropped from the plan. The northern boundaries of the proposal remain unchanged and have expanded beyond the 2002 sector plan.

Understanding the Process
You maybe be wondering: what’s the process and how does the community fit in? The US 1 Corridor Sector Plan will follow an 18-month planning cycle. The College Park community meeting was part of the pre-planning phase, presumably to hear initial public comment.

So what’s next? Next week, there’s the Planning Board initiation to formally begin the project. In two months, December 5-10 (location TBD), there will be a series of open design meetings (called a charrette) where community members can make specific recommendations. This is our best opportunity to express specific ideas and concerns about development along US 1.

Next summer, there will be public hearings on the first draft of the plan and the following spring (2010) the proposal will go before the county council for approval. The project web site has more information on the process and schedule.

And The Next Meeting is…
On Thursday, October 2 in Upper Marlboro, the Planning Board will initiate the US 1 Corridor Sector Plan. What is this, you ask, and is it important for the community to attend? This is a regular meeting of the Planning Board and the Sector Plan will be one of many issues discussed. Can the public comment on the proposal to the full planning board? Yes. If you would like to speak, please contact the Planning Board at 301-952-3560 to ensure adequate time is added to the agenda.

This excerpt from the RFP for this project summarizes the public outreach plan; hopefully a more complete plan will be available after the project’s formal initiation. The full RFP appears here, skip to page 10 for the meat of the request.–Michelle H.

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Filed under Events, Public Input, Route 1 Corridor, Route 1 Sector Plan

Updating the Route 1 Sector Plan

Exciting summer reading!

Planner Chad Williams of M-NCPPC will make a presentation on the Central US 1 Corridor Sector Plan and Sectional Map Amendment on Monday for the University Park Town Council (event details here). The public is invited and Mayor John Tabori hopes residents of neighboring communities will attend as well.

Williams will discuss the possibility of extending the Route 1 Sector Plan’s boundaries, which encourages dense, mixed-use development along Route 1. The plan is currently confined to Route 1 in College Park but a preliminary proposal would move the southern boundary to East-West Highway/410. Williams will discuss

  • the plan’s purposes
  • preliminary boundaries
  • consultant team
  • timeline
  • citizen participation process

But the plan’s proposed boundaries will be the evening’s focus. The towns of University Park, Riverdale Park and the Calvert Hills neighborhood of College Park would be impacted by the boundary extension. What are the positives and negatives?

Would this allow Route 1 towns to better address traffic concerns? Would it involve rezoning Route 1 properties from single family to mixed use? Would it be better to pursue comprehensive planning standards along Route 1 from Eastern Ave. to 495? This might knit together our sector plans, transit districts and overlays into a coherent whole.

Williams presented a lot of information on growth in the Route 1 corridor at a crowded November gathering in College Park. His PowerPoint and the plan is available here, under Council Forum on November 2007. It provides an overview of projects already approved and in the pipeline and details the dramatic increase in housing and commercial inventory headed for Route 1.

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Filed under Calvert Hills, College Park, Community, Events, Growth, Hyattsville, Planning, Public Input, Riverdale Park, Route 1 Corridor, Route 1 Sector Plan, University Park

Last? East Campus Meeting

UPDATE: Portions of the presentation from this meeting are now available, including the PowerPoint with a look at the architecture. Check our Events page–if you missed the meeting, you have another chance. Time to start thinking about the $180 million dollar question: do taxpayers wish to foot the bill (through a TIF) for East Campus infrastructure in exchange for future tax revenues? Will the traffic and school impacts be worth it?

Did you miss the June 19th East Campus Open House? That’s OK, it was not really ready for prime time: significant building changes were made just before the meeting, no presentation or informational session took place and out-of-date architectural renderings were shared. The Gazette, Rethink College Park and Diamondback all offer reports.

But we’ll hope for the best as the East Campus public input process lurches forward with the next meeting on Monday, July 14. This Steering Committee meeting provides an opportunity to see Foulger-Pratt/Argo’s Detailed Site Plan (DSP). No conceptual site plan is needed and the DSP will be submitted for development review shortly. Then, especially if you live nearby, you can become Person of Record PDF (actually anyone can).

Folks, this is where the rubber meets the road. The committee will likely be looking for more detail on these issues:

  • LEED certification
  • Storm water management
  • Sustainability
  • Parking update
  • UMD shuttle status
  • Traffic study
  • the TIF necessary to make the project possible
  • East Campus’ impact on area infrastructure
  • and last, but not least, architecture. That’s a whole ‘nother post.

Please attend the meeting, talk with your rep about any concerns or email your rep. Unfortunately, nothing new has been posted to the East Campus site, but you can review materials from past meetings here, just click on the meeting’s topic. Previous posts here, Rethink College Park’s work here.

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Filed under College Park, Community, East Campus, Events, Public Input

Reminder: Stacy Mitchell on Connecting Retail & Growth to Community

State Street, Madison WIWednesday, November 28
7 pm Refreshments
7:30 pm Talk & Discussion
Hyattsville City Hall

4310 Gallatin St., Hyattsville MD 301-985-5000
Remember, we invited you? Join us.
As growth in the Route 1 corridor accelerates, what can we learn from other communities? How can we avoid becoming Anyplace USA? Can we use retail as a catalyst for good community development? How can local governments avoid retail sprawl and build a vibrant local business economy? From innovative small-business initiatives to cutting-edge land-use policies, Mitchell offers communities concrete strategies that can create a more prosperous and sustainable future. More on our Events page.

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Filed under Community, Events, Growth, Local Economy, Retail, Route 1 Corridor

Listen Up

anm8e2d3838157781f9.gifThe standing room only Route 1 Development Forum hosted by Council Members Campos, Dernoga and Olson began a conversation that is long overdue in our area, gathering our elected representatives with planners, school and state highway officials in one room to talk with their constituents about growth. Unsurprisingly, schools and traffic surfaced as the community’s main concerns.

M-NCPPC Planner Coordinator Chad Williams quickly ran down the numbers for the 7-miles of the Route 1 corridor: 61,630 well-educated people in 20,790 dwelling units spread across stable neighborhoods. While unemployment is lower than the county average, the poverty level is above average. According to M-NCPPC, due to the University of Maryland, the area’s demographic skews younger and in some cases, poorer, than the county average.

Filed and in the development pipeline, 7,600 more units, with perhaps a total of 15,000 dwelling units including residential or mixed use projects still in the early planning stages (Cafritz, East Campus, etc.). Over 7 million square feet of retail and office space is built, under construction or planned.

While some student housing will be excluded from the school surcharge meant to fund new schools, PGCPS uses this student yield formula: multiply .44 by the number of residential units. Using the conservative number of 7,600 units, we get a yield of 3,344 new students in an already overcrowded region.

During the presentation and audience Q & A, the State Highway Administration SHA) and Prince George’s County Public Schools representatives indicated what a huge disconnect there is between our planners’ priorities and the community’s. The SHA rep suggested that traffic might be best alleviated by support for the I-95/UMD Connector, a remark that went over like a lead balloon. County and state traffic planners acknowledged that with upgrades proposed for Route 1 between Eastern Avenue and the Beltway take place, no new capacity will be gained for the corridor.

The planned improvements do not include the entire Route 1 corridor or where major new developments are under consideration, e.g., between Riverdale Park/Hyattsville and College Park. Failed intersections such as Route 1 and 410 also will not be addressed. Continue reading

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Filed under Community, Elected Offcials, Events, Growth, Public Input, Schools, Traffic