UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who called, wrote, and testified. We were heard loud and clear. The Planning Board denied the dramatic upzonings in CR-62-2017.
The Planning Board, in agreeing with the Staff report presented to them, had this to say: “This method of re-zoning is exactly what State law prohibits. The proposed process contemplated in CR-62 does not exist in the local ordinance and also does not exist in State law, therefore it is disallowed by State law. The Planning Board literally has no legal process corresponding to CR-62 for either the Planning Board or planning staff to follow, with regard to the proposed re-zonings.
As there is no local process and it appears that CR-62 is inconsistent with the laws of this state, we advise the Planning Board to recommend that the District Council amend CR-62 to correct geographic and planning area errors detailed by planning staff and, if zoning map amendments are still proposed, to initiate an SMA in accordance with Part 3, Division 4 of the Zoning Ordinance.”
Hopefully the Council will follow their own rules and procedures from here on out.
Follow up on the successfull 10/10 hearing by contacting the Council and telling them to reject the extreme upzoning in CR-62-17. We had a fantastic turnout and spoke in a strong unified voice: This proposal is bad for South County, bad for all of Prince George’s County, and probably illegal. Several people called Mel out by name. The councilmembers appeared to be shaken by the testimony and Mary Lehman of District 1 asked to have her name removed as a sponsor of the bill since she was persuaded to withdraw her support of it.
Let’s build on that momentum! Please call Mel Franklin (301-952-3820) and/or your Councilmember and send written testimony to voice your opposition to the rezoning of more than two thousand acres in the rural part of Prince George’s County to M-X-T (mixed use) zoning. M-X-T can include high density housing and commercial and industrial uses (like National Harbor or a landfill).
It is very helpful for folks all over Prince George’s to call and write! Addresses are listed below.
Despite promises not to cave to developer pressure, just in time to campaign for the 2018 election, Mel has done just that. His proposal to upzone thousands of acres along Accokeek Road, Gardner Rd., Floral Park Rd., over to Clinton, and down to the Mattawoman Creek, would obliterate the rural part of Prince George’s. It doesn’t make any sense!
He has already pushed CR-62-17, a bill proposing the changes, through the District Council. On Oct. 10, there is a required joint public hearing before the zoning changes can go into effect. We need everyone to oppose the upzoning, laughably called a “Minor Amendment” to the Subregion 5 Master Plan/SMA.
Most or all of the councilmembers are running for office in the next election. Contact them today and tell them that they must preserve rural and agricultural land, and prevent worsening traffic and further strain on our emergency services and schools. Mel has betrayed our trust and does not deserve our votes in another election. Hopefully the same won’t be said of the rest of the council.
Here are email addresses:
Council Chair Derrick Leon Davis (District 6) — CouncilDistrict6@co.pg.md.us, Council Vice-Chair Dannielle Glaros (District 3) — firstname.lastname@example.org, Mary Lehman (District 1) — CouncilDistrict1@co.pg.md.us, Deni Taveras (District 2) — DLTaveras@co.pg.md.us, Todd Turner (District 4) — District4@co.pg.md.us, Andrea Harrison (District 5) — email@example.com, Karen Toles (District 7) — CouncilDistrict7@co.pg.md.us, Obie Patterson (District 8) — Councildistrict8@co.pg.md.us, Mel Franklin (District 9) — MFranklin@co.pg.md.us, Redis Floyd (Clerk of the Council) — Clerkofthecouncil@co.pg.md.us
CouncilDistrict1@co.pg.md.us, DLTaveras@co.pg.md.us, firstname.lastname@example.org, District4@co.pg.md.us, email@example.com, CouncilDistrict6@co.pg.md.us, CouncilDistrict7@co.pg.md.us, Councildistrict8@co.pg.md.us, MFranklin@co.pg.md.us, Clerkofthecouncil@co.pg.md.us
From the County website: “Written testimony and/or exhibits will be accepted in lieu of or in addition to, oral testimony. To be accepted into the record, written testimony or comments must be original, signed documents. E-mails or faxes will not be considered unless followed by an original. Mail all written testimony to the Clerk of the Council, County Administration Building, Rooom 2198, 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772.”
Below is the testimony given at he hearing on behalf of AMP Creeks. Some of the things mentioned might seem a little strange, but they are referring to specific language in CR-62-17. We are following up with written testimony as well.
October 10, 2017
I am Kelly Canavan, speaking on behalf of the AMP Creeks Council and myself.
The proposal outlined in CR-62-17 (“Proposal”) to upzone thousands of acres by an order of magnitude would destroy the character and quality of life for those of us living in the Southern third of the county. Moving large swaths of forested and agricultural land from rural designations to M-X-T through the Minor Amendment process is illegal and, like everything about this process, sketchy.
The Proposal is so vague that it cannot be reconciled with the Minor Amendment rule (“Rule”). It denies residents due process because it does not articulate its purposes and projected impacts.
The Rule can only be used to do two things:
(1) advance the goals of an approved comprehensive plan, functional plan, or development district plan; or
(2) safeguard the public safety health and welfare of citizens and residents within the plan area boundaries.
The Proposal does neither. It makes only passing references to unarticulated goals and visions, making it impossible for us to fully analyze them. There is no mention of safety, health, and welfare.
Instead, the Proposal states that the “District Council finds that new…residential development hold (sic) potential for providing dedicated funding sources to address” transportation problems. This formula has proven to be ineffectual, and it defies logic. Adding thousands of cars to our roads does not alleviate traffic jams.
The Proposal goes on to discuss green building techniques and so on, which is certainly missing the forest for the trees. The best way to protect our green infrastructure is to not decimate it and replace it with commercial or industrial properties and high density housing that is not appropriate for a rural area.
In the Proposal, septic systems are described as “proliferating” and the sewer system as “underutilized”. Both of those claims are laughable to the point of being disingenuous. New septic systems are sometimes installed when a new house is built in the affected area. They are few and far between, and environmentally friendly. In contrast, our sewer system is a disaster that for more than a decade has been constantly overflowing BY DESIGN and by mistake, pumping millions of gallons of sewage into our waterways each year and stinking up our communities. I live close enough to Piscataway Wastewater Treatment Plant to know. The idea that you would deliberately and strategically further tax this decrepit and failing system is utterly mind-boggling.
Further, if the Council has come to its senses and decided that mining is inappropriate, the answer is to amend the Subregion Master Plans to eliminate the mining requirement, not to replace it piecemeal with zoning that is actually more destructive and will certainly have a more lasting impact than the mining.
Mining rarely needs emergency services, generates little traffic besides truck traffic, and does not overcrowd schools, but M-X-T development would create extremely heavy and polluting traffic, and strain schools and emergency services.
The Proposal does not meet requirement C of the Rule:
(c) The scope of the minor amendment shall be limited to:
(1) a geographic area which is not more than 50% of the underlying plan area, but not limited to a single property or property owner;
(2) limited to specific issues regarding public planning objectives; or
(3) for the purpose of correcting errors in the text or maps in the applicable plan.
Notwithstanding subsections (1) through (3), herein, the minor amendment process shall not be utilized for any amendment which would require major transportation analysis and/or modeling, revised water and sewer classifications, or any Adequate Public Facilities analysis.
In particular, these boundary and zoning changes would absolutely require major transportation analysis, revised water and sewer classifications, and adequate public facilities analysis.
In your September 21 letter to the Planning Commission, you directed only that they examine growth boundary changes, not zoning changes. What possible upstanding purpose could there be for that? And, again, without information from the Planning Commission, how can we – or you – make informed arguments and decisions about this proposal?
It appears that you are trying to be sneaky about changing the boundaries of the growth areas so that you can get around the requirements of the Rule. This entire plan smacks of orchestrated favors for specific property owners at the expense of the larger community and County in general, much as text amendments have often been used illegally in the past.
Who does this serve? Why has there been no public outreach about the Proposal? Why was it rushed through the process in a way that minimized opportunities for public input? Why was a more appropriate zoning process not used to examine these changes?
Councilmembers, if you have not visited the areas that will be affected, we ask that you do so at different times of the day and night to get a real understanding of what the Proposal would mean for those of us who would be forced to live with its consequences if you vote for it.
We strongly oppose this proposal and encourage you to do the same.