Council to Discuss City’s Position on Greenbelt Sector Plan

A balloon test showing a potential 18 story building rising next to north College Park neighborhood

At tonight’s Council work session, the City Council will discuss the draft greenbelt sector plan and brainstorm a letter to Park and Planning with its position on the plan. The Council will vote on the position letter in the next week’s Council meeting.

Last Thursday, the North College Park Civic Association (NCPCA) took a position against the draft plan expressing a number of concerns. Later NCPCA president John Krouse sent the Mayor and Council a letter with the following concerns:

1. Beltway Ramps. The 2012 Plan proposes a new alignment of the proposed Beltway Interchange near the Metro Station that would bring the ramps closer to the North College Park community and would increase noise, light, and pollution into our homes.

The proposed alignments are very different from the ‘preferred option’ of the Maryland State Highway Administration for the construction of new ramps to the Metro Station from the Beltway. The ‘preferred option’ was endorsed by NCPCA, and was reflected in the 2001 Sector Plan. The new ramping system contradicts the SHA study and the previously communicated priorities of NCPCA.

2. Highway Alignment: The 2012 Plan is unclear regarding the alignment of the new Greenbelt Station Parkway. Although the text on page 138 indicates an ‘eastern alignment’ just west of the Indian Creek stream valley and State of Maryland preservation land, the maps on p. 121 and p. 131 clearly show the road in a ‘western alignment’ near homes in College Park.

The ‘western alignment’ indicated would reverse the ‘eastern alignment’ of the 2001 Sector Plan, and would increase noise, light, and pollution into our homes. The ‘western alignment’ would also negatively impact sensitive environmental areas of Narragansett Run, and may adversely impact stormwater flow from College Park.

The ‘western alignment’ is contrary to the previously communicated priorities of NCPCA regarding this highway. Although the 2012 Plan provides a strategy to preserve Narragansett Run in its current stream alignment to the fullest extent possible, it is not clear how this goal can be accomplished given the highway alignment shown on p. 121 and p. 136.

The 2012 Plan also does not include new strategies to offset runoff from impervious surface being added in the South Core, which may have negative impacts on College Park residents. Concerns about flooding caused by the development of impervious surfaces in the South Core have previously been communicated by NCPCA to M-NCPPC. Flooding and groundwater drainage are major concerns of North College park residents.

3. Architectural Design. The 2012 Plan does not provide sufficient guidance to promote attractive development facing College Park residents at the Greenbelt Metro, and does not adequately address direct visual and shading impacts, or impacts caused by noise and light reflection into homes. Page 322 allows up to 100% glass fenestration of wall area for a major employer or GSA campus.

It is also unclear how the security requirements of a major GSA tenant would be incorporated into the development, given the public uses of the Greenbelt Metro Station and the proximity of nearby homes. College Park residents have consistently raised concerns about these issues, including concerns about the proximity and design of Metro parking garages.

The 2012 Plan does not provide adequate guidance and strategies to address these concerns.

4. Building Height. The 2012 Plan does not provide adequate guidance regarding the building height transition zone from the Metro Station and railroad tracks. NCPCA continues to have concerns about the height of these buildings and their distance from homes in College Park.

Although the building height transition zone of p. 204 shows a maximum building height of 12 stories, the text on the same page indicates that 250 ft east of the Metro Station the maximum height could be 20 stories. The text on p. 203 prominently states “Building heights outside the 250-foot height transition zone may range from 4 to 20 stories.”

NCPCA residents are concerned that buildings up to the 8-floor maximum within the 250-foot building height transition zone as well as the 20 story maximum outside the transition zone would tower over our neighborhoods and reduce access to light in the morning.

Building heights and step-backs from the Metro Station and railroad tracks have been a major concern of College Park residents and the previously communicated priorities of NCPCA. These concerns have not been adequately addressed in the 2012 Plan.

Lastly, it unclear what impact the guidance of the 2012 Plan would have in view of zoning approvals granted since adoption of the 2001 Sector Plan which have since been connected to a widespread criminal conspiracy.

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