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Category: zoning

New Zone Proposed for Hollywood Commercial District

The City Council will consider approving a letter to the Clerk of the County Council with written testimony on the Countywide Map Amendment.

The Prince George’s County Council adopted a new Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision regulations in October 2018, but they will not become effective until new countywide zoning maps are approved. The process for approving these maps is known as the CMA and was initiated by the County Council in July 2019. The CMA is intended to be a technical, non-substantive exercise that replaces the current zone on each property with a similar new zone. You can see the existing and the proposed zones of each property in the county using the online swiping tool: http://zoningpgc.pgplanning.com/zoning-swipe-tool/ . There will be a Joint Public Hearing of the Prince George’s County District Council and Planning Board on the CMA on Monday, March 23, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. at Prince George’s Community College.

For most property in College Park, this is a one-to-one zone replacement with minimal change. For example, the existing R-55 zone (one-family detached residential) has a maximum density of 6.7 dwelling units per acre) and is the prevalent zoning category in City neighborhoods. It will be replaced with the RSF-65 zone (residential single-family) with a maximum density of 6.7 dwelling units per acre). The only substantive regulatory change is an increase in height from 30 feet to 35 feet and the elimination of the requirement for both side yards to equal 17 feet.

For the Hollywood commercial district, two different zones are proposed for this area, CGO (Commercial, General and Office and CN (Commercial Neighborhood). Currently, the district is part of the US1 DDOZ Corridor Infill area and is zoned C-S-C. (Commercial Shopping Center). These zones are inconsistent with the direction of the Decision Matrix to rezone the entire area to NAC (Neighborhood Activity Center). No rationale was provided for this decision and staff believes the NAC zone would be more appropriate for properties north of Edgewood Road. The purpose of the NAC zone is to provide for lower-density, small-scale, mixed-use centers that serve the surrounding neighborhood and are well connected to transit. The maximum allowed height and density is less than the CGO zone and slightly more than the CN zone although the CN and NAC zones are very similar. The west side of Rhode Island Avenue is zoned CGO and the east side is zoned CN although the conditions are very similar. The property on the south side of Edgewood Road is largely comprised of the Hollywood Shopping Center and is appropriately reclassified as CGO. Staff is recommending changing that to NAC zone as well, to keep it consistent with the proposed zone in the rest of the Hollywood commercial district.

Understanding New Zoning Laws

Join the Prince George’s County Council and the Prince George’s County Planning Department Today, April 9th at 6:30 pm for a Community Educational Forum about Understanding the New Zoning Laws. During the meeting, staff will be available to answer your questions about the new ordinance. The session will take place in the County Administration Building (14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772) in Room 2027.

(Prince George’s County Government)

Council Discusses Proposed County Zoning Laws

pg zoning rewrite
At tomorrow’s Council meeting, the City Council will consider approving a letter be sent to the Prince George’s County Planning Department with the City’s comments on Module 1 of the Prince George’s County Zoning Ordinance Rewrite that addresses zones and zone regulations, use regulations and interpretations and definitions.  The letter applauds the County for undertaking the arduous process of rewriting the Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations.  The current zoning code is outdated and cumbersome and the proposed new format and many of the recommendations contained in Module 1 reflect best practices that are welcomed.  The letter includes some concerns, however, about the shift to more by-right development and how that will impact public and municipal participation in the development review process

At last week’s worksession, the City Council discussed the new zoning laws that may affect College Park. The comments include:

1. For communities inside the beltway, replacing the existing Open Space (OS) zone with an Agricultural Land (AL) zone that provides for agriculture and forestry as well as single-family lots greater than 5 acres isn’t a good fit. College Park has both O-S and Reserved Open Space (R-O-S) property but the distinctions between them on the ground aren’t really clear. The City suggests that two different Public Land (PL) zones might be more appropriate: a PL-P zone with the primary purpose of preserving and protecting environmental features and a PL-R zone for parks and recreational facilities.

2. The UMD campus is zoned Rural Residential (R-R) but obviously does not fit this description. Even though UMD is exempt from zoning and permit requirements, there should be another zoning category applied to campus to more accurately reflect the intensity of its use. For example, an Urban Campus (UC) zone that recognizes a high- density, mixed-use campus environment would better describe the land use conditions.

3. The City supports the minor changes to the regulations under the proposed Single-Family Residential-6.7 (SFR -6.7) zone that will replace the existing One-Family Detached (R55) zone. College Park has many properties that are “grandfathered” in this zone. Since the grandfather provisions footnoted in the regulations today will be replaced with new “Transitional Provisions” that have not been drafted, it will be important for the City to review and comment on these provisions.

4. The Multiple-Family, Medium- Density Residential (R-18) zone is found in College Park, particularly in the Old Town neighborhood, but many of these properties are nonconforming. Rather than transition to the Multifamily Residential-20 (MFR-20) zone which retains the same density of up to 20 dwelling units per acre, the City recommends consideration of the Multifamily Residential-12 (MFR-12) zone. This zone would more realistically reflect an appropriate density based on lot size.

5. The City is concerned about the elimination of the Development District and Transit District 0verlay Zones (DDOZ and TDOZ) as well as the Mixed-Use-Infill (M-U-I) and Mixed-Use-Transportation (M-X-T) zones that have been instrumental in promoting redevelopment along the Route 1 corridor and in the College Park Metro Area. It will be difficult to translate the character and urban design standards developed in the specific plans for these areas to more generic base zones. The Route 1 Development District Plan (DDP) and the College Park/Riverdale Park Transit District Development Plan (TDDP) were developed fairly recently with extensive citizen involvement and support. It is important to retain the site-specific nuance captured in these plans as well as the flexibility that has been key to attracting new development. This is particularly true if the Planned Development (PD) zones are not part of the initial map amendment.

The City recommends a possible compromise that retains these plans intact until such time as a new Master Plan for the area is developed. The base zone could be called Mixed-Use-Development (M-U-D) in order to correspond with the MU-PD zone. The byright standards would be those contained in the respective plans. Modifications from the standards would be allowed through the PD process.

6. The standards in the Regional Transit-Oriented (RTO) Center Base Zones that make a distinction between the core (within a ¼ mile of a transit station) and edge (within a ½ mile of a transit station) may be too restrictive. It is important that actual site conditions be considered when applying these standards. It would be a mistake to create a situation where the new base zones appear to be downzoning and work against redevelopment efforts.

7. The proposed new Campus Activity Center Planned Development (CAC-PD) zone is almost identical to the Local Transit-Oriented Planned Development (LTO-PD) zone so is probably unnecessary.

8. The Boarding or Rooming House use is carried forward from the current ordinance and the definition is unchanged. This use has been problematic in College Park and is not used as originally intended. The City recommends that this use be eliminated. If it cannot be eliminated, the definition should be changed to clarify that the dwelling shall be owner-occupied or “operated by a responsible individual” [taken from definition of Group Residential Facility]. The number of guests and guest rooms (bedrooms) needs to be clearly stated to remove any ambiguity. It might also be appropriate to require that a special exception be obtained in order to address the impact to the character of the neighborhood prior to approval.

9. Urban agriculture should be defined as it is a growing trend. Food production should be encouraged as an accessory use on rooftops and permitted in all yards in single-family zones.

10. The definition of a fast-food restaurant under Eating and Drinking Establishments that includes how food items are paid for and what they are served on seems outdated and is not an important land-use distinction. It is recommended that the fast food category be deleted and a new category of drive-through restaurant be created. Drive-through restaurants should not be permitted in the MFR-20 and MFR-48 zones as they are defined as primarily multifamily zones with supportive, walkable retail.

11. Medical Cannabis is a permitted use in the State of Maryland and should be included in the code as a new use with use-specific standards for growing, processing, and dispensing. Buy cannabis only from legal stores. In addition, you can visit website to avail cannabis products. You may also visit Stiiizy Santa Rosa Dispensary to see products in person.

A dispensary, like CBD Hemp Direct, is typically considered a retail activity but might also be placed in the Health Care Uses category.

12. Various types of group living arrangements are defined and permitted in the code such as convent or monastery, assisted living facility, group residential facilities for populations with special needs, fraternity and sorority house, etc. The City suggests that there may be an opportunity to define a new use for students who lease single-family homes in neighborhoods near a college or university and to further regulate this use in terms of occupancy, parking and other standards. This use could be called “University Group Home.”

13. Add “Bike-Share Station” as a permitted accessory use under Transportation Uses in all zones.

14. Add “Dog Park” as a permitted accessory use to Parks and Greenways under the Open Space Use category.

15. The definition of Home Garden and Home-Based Agriculture are very similar and might be combined. The City recommends that gardens be allowed in the front yard and that regulations for garden fences be developed.

16. Add “Library, Personal” as a new accessory use permitted in all zones. This use is sometimes known as a “Little Free Library” and is a “take-a-book, return-a-book” exchange that is becoming increasingly common in neighborhoods. It should be considered similar to a freestanding mailbox in terms of being an allowable encroachment into required yards.

17. Both “Hookah Bars and Electronic Cigarette Stores” are becoming more popular and have some unique characteristics that might warrant them to be addressed in use-specific standards. Consider adding these as new uses in the code.

18. The City is still discussing the merits of allowing accessory dwelling units and home housing for poultry in single-family zones. We intend to provide more input on these uses at a later date.

County Bill May Stop Rental Property Conversion in College Park Neighborhoods

A proposed bill in the County Council may stop conversions of single family homes to rental properties in College Park.

The bill, proposed by Dist 3 County Councilman Eric Olson, will be discussed at our Council worksession tonight. The Council may take a position whether to support the bill when it will be formerly introduced in County Council next week.

The bill intends to create Single Family Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay Zone to “ensure that land in residential neighborhoods retains its traditional single family residential character, integrity and appearance”.

Here are a few highlights of the proposed ordinance.
1. The zone can be established within 2 miles radius of a higher educational institution, such as the University of Maryland. This may cover College Park and areas outside of city boundaries.

2. The zone may not include transient facilities such as boarding houses, tourist homes, inns, motels, hotels, school dormitories, hospitals or medical facilities etc.

3. The Planning Board may initiate or another person may request a zoning map amendment only with the concurrence (by
resolution) of the County District Council.

4. During the preparation of the proposed zone, the County will contact all owners of land, and any municipality lying (wholly or in part) within the anticipated boundaries of the proposed zone and any municipality within one mile of the anticipated District boundary, to invite comments and recommendations.

5. Once the zone is established, no new rental licenses (required pursuant to provisions of a city code) shall be issued within the boundaries of the proposed zone.

6. The County Council will take final action on a zoning map amendment at any time after the close of the final public hearing record. A two-thirds (2/3) super majority vote of the full District Council shall be required to override the recommendation of a municipality if any portion of the Zone Map Amendment which falls within the boundaries of the municipality.

7. The zone must contain at least ten (10) contiguous acres and at least thirty (30) existing single family houses.

8. A single family rental dwelling located within the shall be at least 800 feet from any other single family rental dwelling within a District

9. A waiver of the Code may be granted where the property owner of a single family dwelling within a District must relocate for temporary employment reassignment, military service assignment, or other similar circumstances that may require temporary relocation out of state or overseas.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Four Corner Property Owner Questions Zoning Changes

Dry Cleaner at the Four Corner - the property has been down zoned as Open Space

The owner of a property at the four corner area (Rhode Island Ave, / Edgewood Road) is asking some questions about its recent zoning changes.

The parcel includes a dry cleaner and a grassy area behind it.

The property is owned by Randy Sahaban, who currently lives overseas. Randy’s son-in-law Sid Saab came to NCPCA’s November meeting and spoke about the zoning changes in the property.

Sid said on June 18, 2010, the M-NCPPC sent a letter to them informing that their property was zoned as Open Space.

The property had been zoned as commercial (C-S-C) before. He expressed surprise on singling out their property as a target for down zoning, whereas every other property around the four corner area remains as fully commercial zoned (C-S-C).

“It’s unconstitutional, the county cannot do this to us” – said Mr. Saab with frustration.

One NCPCA member asked if the zoning changes happened during the Route 1 sector plan revision process two years ago, when Tom Dernoga served as county council member.

“The more innocent explanation of (this changes) is that the County may have included the building property along with the grassy land and they marked the entire property as Open Space.” – said NCPCA president and former council member Mark Shroder.

Mr. Shroder however said “the less innocent explanation is probably turning the property into a Open Space and make this into a park eventually”.

Sid said under the new Open Space zoning, the options to use the property is limited; it can only be used as a barn, a contractor lot or the space must be left open. The property can only have the use it had before it was down zoned (a dry cleaner) for only six months.

NCPCA members supported a motion to up zone the property back to C-S-C, should the issue come before City council again.

Zoning Ordinances Get Mixed Reviews


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The recently introduced zoning ordinances that would give the City of College Park more authorities over zoning related matters received mixed reviews in a public hearing last Tuesday night. Please see the video above.

According to the City, those additional powers will include “review of alternative compliance from landscaping requirements, certification, revocation, and revision of nonconforming uses, and minor changes to approved special exceptions.”

Dissecting City’s New Zoning Ordinance

The new zoning ordinance that the City has recently introduced is certainly fairly complex and needs some explanation. NCPCA has recently published a side-by-side comparison chart that Larry Bleau has thankfully prepared. I’ve embedded that below for your reading. The City officials will also be having a Town Hall meeting this evening at 7pm at Davis Hall to discuss this further. Please attend, if you can.

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City Eyes More Control Over Zoning

County zoning hearing notice (Flickr)

In an attempt to have more local control over zoning decisions inside the city, the City council has proposed an ordinance in this week’s council meeting.

Titled “Additional zoning authority pursuant to CB-16-2010”, the proposed ordinance, would give the City the ability  to take on a couple of additional powers.

Currently, Prince George’s County maintains controls over most of the zoning related matters – either the Zoning Hearing Examiners’ office or the Planning Board.

The proposed ordinance would allow more direct local control over these decisions.

According to the City, those additional powers will include “review of alternative compliance from landscaping requirements, certification, revocation, and revision of nonconforming uses, and minor changes to approved special exceptions.”

In most cases, requests for review under any of these items would go before the City’s Advisory Planning Commission(APC), which would make a recommendation, which could then be accepted by the City Council or brought up for review.

In some cases, including minor changes to approved special exceptions, which would not add more than 10% to the land covered by a structure, the City planning staff could decide whether to grant the change, but this decision would be subject to review of the City Council if requested.

“I believe that this ordinance would bring more local control and accountability to these zoning decisions – by placing them in the hand of local elected officials and City residents on the Advisory Planning Commission.”– commented District 1 council member Patrick Wojahn.

There are however concerns from some residents on the proposed changes.

“The City is already too restrictive and controlling and that’s why residents have to “apply for variances and permits.” – said one resident commenting on the additional power at the City’s hand.

Others have questioned if the City has additional qualified staff to oversee the additional zoning administration and how much it will cost the City additionally.

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