I attended a presentation by the MNCPPC on the PG County’s new mixed use zoning at the PG Community College. The MNCPPC planner Chad Williams gave the presentation. The new zoning law’s intent is to create a “sense of place” in urban-like centers where there is high pedestrian traffic. This Urban Center code (UC) would emphasize how buildings and structures would appear (height, size, window and door openings, color, etc.). With exception to a few restrictions, the new zoning rules will focus on the appearance, instead of the use of the new buildings. This will give developers to build properties with faster approval. For example, unless a plan is put through rigorous public hearings etc., the approval process may take as little as 7 months, as compared to a minimum of 2-3 years that it currently takes. The faster approval process may pose challenges to the community members, who may not have enough say about the development in their neighborhoods.
The development of the Hollywood commercial district as envisioned in the Rt. 1 sector plan is not part of the mixed use zoning regulation, mainly due to “lack of time” issue – the new regulations are not passed into law yet. Also, the City of College Park and Greenbelt have requested the Park and Planning to postpone the implementation of the zoning rules in these two cities until further studies are done.