current info

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Clear Choices in Prince George's County: Strip Mall or...?

Gazette staff and HPC Commissioner Thompson,

I hope the Gazette editorial page and Greg Holzheimer give coverage to the issue that Commissioner Thompson has kicked into the public arena with his blogsite editorial “PG 79-63 A Potential Historic District for Upper Marlboro.” It merits wider discussion, and the Gazette provides an excellent forum.

There’s a very clear choice facing Upper Marlboro residents. And Thompson points out that the decision is not between doing nothing or developing another commercial strip akin to Alexandria’s nightmarish Rt. 1 corridor. Upper Marlboro could seek historic district designation.

Colonial Williamsburg, for example, is a model for Upper Marlboro. Their planning decisions demonstrate how massive new commercial, housing and other development can enhance and be inspired by a designated historic district. Thompson boldly points out that some prominent locals who oppose historic district designation have privately stated their intention to rezone their land, then “sell and get out of town.” John Peter makes a highly controversial point – it reminds me of chap who shouts out the obvious point in the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” And Thompson’s shout should make good newsprint. He’s sadly correct when he challenges the genuineness of tears being shed by some local preservationists who nonetheless intend to destroy the treasures in their stewardship. They must be reminded of their moral obligation to save the archeological and architectural gems left to us by earlier residents of this County.

I don’t know why this point needs to me be made, but it does: Although it’s the “Upper Marlboro way,” the fact that some of these historic properties were built by ancestors of the current owners doesn’t legitimize their decisions to build strip malls atop them. It makes their decisions more embarrassing.

A balanced solution: Upper Marlboro residents must discern a middle ground between the obligations to one’s community, and a crass interpretation of one’s individual property rights. A balance can be found. Establishing a historic district with it’s Local Advisory Committee (LAC) in greater Upper Marlboro could provide those communities with a review board that ensures future new growth is not just a “quality dollar maker” for the developer, but also a quality, aesthetic addition that enhances your tremendous historic heritage.

Any editorial, and the article by Greg, might put Upper Marlboro’s historic district proposal in context. There are a number of other County areas that are aggressively trying to designate themselves as historic districts. This is the latest wrinkle in the campaign by our Historic Preservation Commission and the rapidly emerging preservation constituency to improve the County’s long-term future. Prince George’s can become the Washington region’s “preferred living environment” among its neighboring jurisdictions. But not by building more schlock like Fairfax County’s Route 1 corridor.

Dave Turner

Monday, March 30, 2009

Prince George's County to decide the fate of PG79-63 - a Potential Historic District

Prince George’s County will soon decide whether to permanently destroy a possible historic district. The inclusion of a shopping mall in the district will adversely and permanently alter the character of the northern part of the proposed Woodland district of eastern Upper Marlboro. As some people are at this time considering designating Upper Marlboro itself as an historic district, commercial development is looking to put an end to one already in place. But, the residents of Old Crain Highway decided not to apply for historic status because it would hamper individual efforts to ultimately negate the history of place. The desire of some residents is based upon a personal market strategy which is to sell the land at maximum return and eventually leave the county while those who stay will have to deal with the changes in traffic, crime, and pollution. Designation of an area as a historic district will not directly affect property values, unlike inclusion of a strip mall in a rural historic setting. Because Local Historic District properties are protected from insensitive development, owners may be more inclined to make improvements to their properties, and this may increase the value of all property in a given district. [1]

This is the issue here in Crain Corner; some will make money at the expense of the rest, rather than all raising the aggregate value together through common purpose. National and statewide economic studies show that historic district designation first stabilizes property values, and then slowly values begin to rise. In most cases properties in local historic districts appreciate at rates greater than: (a) the local market as a whole, and (b) similar neighborhoods that are not designated. This is akin to the principal behind subdivision covenants, which are put in place by a homeowners association to ensure quality improvements and to enhance property owners’ investments (though private covenants are often more restrictive than public ordinances). A historic district that is aesthetically cohesive and well promoted can be a community's most important attraction. The retention of historic areas as a way to attract tourist dollars makes good economic sense. The protection of local historic districts can also enhance business recruitment potential. Companies continually re-locate to communities that offer their workers a higher quality of life, which is greatly enhanced by successful local preservation programs and stable historic districts.

[1] Frequently Asked Questions about Local Historic Districts

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Prince George’s County Legislative/Regulatory Digest: March 30 – April 3, 2009

Prince George’s County Legislative/Regulatory Digest: March 30 – April 3, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

County Council
LINK TO FULL COUNTY COUNCIL AGENDA two agenda together at this link scroll down

1:00 p.m. County Council Agenda Briefing (Room 2027)
1:30 p.m. Call to Order (Council Hearing Room)

CB-13-2009 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE BUILDING CODE for the purposeof amending the Prince George’s County Building ordinance, adopting certain amendments to the 2006 Edition of the International Building Code, International Mechanical code, International Energy Conservation Code, and International Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings, and amending certain Sections to include modifications as it relates to building standards.
The Chairperson (by request – County Executive); referral to PZED

CR-13- 2009 - A RESOLUTION CONCERNING SCHEDULE OF MISCELLANEOUS BUILDING PERMIT FEES for the purposed of adopting a schedule of miscellaneous building permit fees under the Building Code. The Chairperson (by request – County Executive); referral to PSFM

(a) Letter to Samuel J. Parker, Jr. concurring with the Planning Board’s request for a three-month extension to prepare the Preliminary Subregion 4 Master Plan and Sectional Map Amendment. The Chairperson (by request – Planning Board)

7:00 p.m. Joint Public Hearing – (Council Hearing Room)

Subregion 5 Preliminary Master Plan and Proposed SMA:

“The Joint Public Hearing for the Preliminary Subregion 5 Master Plan and Proposed SMA will be held on Tuesday, March 31st at 7:00 p.m. (doors will open at 6:00 p.m.) in the Council hearing Room on the First Floor of the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro, MD. This is an opportunity for all interested persons to express their views concerning the preliminary master plan and proposed sectional map amendment.

The Prince George's County Planning Department is preparing a master plan and sectional map amendment for the Subregion 5 area. The goal of this project is to update the 1993 master plan for the Subregion to further the policy recommendations of the 2002 General Plan

A master plan is a written report, approved by the District Council, which establishes how the county would like the land in the project area to develop in the future. It establishes recommendations that guide the county officials in making decisions on the use of land within the project boundary.

A sectional map amendment (SMA) amends the county’s official zoning map to implement the recommendations in an approved master plan.”

Wed., April 1, 2009

PZED Committee Meeting (Room 2027) 10:00 a.m.

CB-7-2009 (Dean) - An Ordinance concerning Validity Periods for Detailed Site Plans and
Specific Design Plans for the purpose of temporarily suspending or tolling the validity periods of all approved applications for Detailed Site Plans and Specific Design Plans that are currently in a
valid status.

2. CB-8-2009 (Dean) - A Subdivision Bill concerning validity periods for Preliminary Plans of
Subdivision for the purpose of temporarily suspending or tolling the validity periods of all approved applications for Preliminary Plans of Subdivision that are currently in a valid status.

Board of Appeals
V-7-09 Roger & Helen Wirin - Request for a variance of 2 feet side street line setback for an accessory building to validate an existing craft cabana and obtain a building permit to construct a deck and screened room at 14711 Cambridge Drive, Upper Marlboro.

V-8-09 Camark Land Company, LLC - Request for a variance of 223 feet setback from an existing ball field and playground to construct a facility for the incidental retail of gasoline at a vehicle repair and service station at 12300 Old Baltimore Pike, Beltsville.

V-123-08 Family Auto Auctions, LLC - An appeal from the determination of the Zoning Inspector to issue Violation Notice No. Z-886-9-09, dated December 11, 2008, citing Petitioner for use of the property not in conformance with the use and occupancy permit and/or accompanying plan and use of a building, structure and land for vehicle sales and/or public auction without a use and occupancy permit, on I-1 (Light Industrial) zoned property at 12405 Crain Highway, Brandywine.

V-3-09 4004 Branch Avenue, LLC - An appeal requesting an extension of the grace period for the correction or cessation of Zoning Violation Notice No. CPZ-0365, dated December 15, 2008, issued by the City of College Park, Department of Public Services, citing Petitioner with violation of Prince George's County Code Sections 27 551(a)(1)&(2) (Parking lots are for the sole purpose of accommodating the passenger vehicles of persons associated with the use which requires the parking lot. Parking and loading areas and their access driveways shall not be used for any other purpose), requiring Petitioner to reserve the parking lot for the purpose of accommodating
the passenger vehicles of those persons associated with the use and cease all other uses of the parking lot, on M-U-I (Mixed-Use Infill) zoned property at 9031 Baltimore Avenue, College Park.

Thurs., April 2, 2009
HEHS Committee Meeting (Room 2027) – 10:00 a.m. Agenda not posted as of March 29th 9:00 am
Planning Board Meeting April 2, 2009First Floor County Council Hearing Room
Administrative/Parks and Recreation Items 8:30 a.m.-
Development Review Items 10:00 a.m.-‘ ‘
5-09051 PRINCE GEORGE’S BUSINESS CENTER Council District: 05 Tier: Developed.1 Lot, I-1 and I-2 Zones (7.89 acres) 4-07070Located on the east side of Claybrook Road, north side of Sheriff Road. (PA 72)American Resources Management Group Limited Partnership, Applicant
Landover Gateway Sector Plan and Sectional Map Amendment Work session to Review Digest Testimony and Resolution to Adopt the Landover Gateway Sector Plan and SMA Council District: 05
STAFF RECOMMENDATION: APPROVAL of staff recommendations on testimony analysis and the resolution to adopt the Landover Gateway Sector Plan and endorse SMA for transmittal to the District Council (OSEI)
SDP-0802 BOWIE CITY HALL (Maps)(TCPII/006/09)Council District: 04 Municipality: Bowie.Tier: Developing.Located directly south of the intersection of Evergreen Parkway and Excalibur Road. (PA 71B)M-A-C Zone (6.17 acres) (12/3/08)City of Bowie, ApplicantRequest: Bowie City Hall/Police Station.
STAFF RECOMMENDATION: • SDP-0802 – APPROVAL with conditions • TCPII/006/09 – APPROVAL with conditions
DSP-01037/01 PRINCE GEORGE’S MUSLIM ASSOCIATION PROPERTY (Maps)(AC-08021) Council District: 03 Municipality: None.Tier: Developing.Located northwest of the intersection of Lanham Severn Road and Main Street. (PA 70)R-55 Zone (5.46 acres) (4/24/08)Prince George’s Muslim Association, Inc., ApplicantRequest: 375 Square-Foot Addition to existing Mosque and Private School.
70-day limit has been waived.
STAFF RECOMMENDATION: • DSP-01037/01 – APPROVAL with conditions • AC-08021 - APPROVAL
DSP-08067 THE SHOPS AT QUEENS CHILLUM (Maps)Council District: 02 Municipality: None.Tier: Developed.Located in the southwest corner of the intersection of Queens Chapel Road and Chillum Road. (PA 68)M-X-T Zone (6.05 acres) (2/4/09)Chillum Center, LLC, ApplicantRequest: Amending the Table of Uses for West Hyattsville TDDP.
Action must be taken on or before 4/15/09.
CSP-08005 THE SHOPS AT QUEENS CHILLUM (Maps)Council District: 02 Municipality: None.Tier: Developed.Located in the southwest corner of the intersection of Queens Chapel Road and Chillum Road. (PA 68)M-X-T Zone (6.05 acres) (2/4/09)Chillum Center LLC, ApplicantRequest: Amending the Table of Uses for West Hyattsville TDDP.
Action must be taken on or before 4/9/09.
05070 GREEN HILLS Council District: 08 Municipality: None.Tier: Developing.Located on the west side of Lumar Drive and approximately 1,500 feet south of Allentown Road. (PA 76B)9 Lots, R-E Zone(9.94 acres) (3/16/09)Krause Design and Construction, Applicant
STAFF RECOMMENDATION: APPROVAL of a one-year extension

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Prince George's County and Development Axioms

Development Axioms
As we consider the re-zoning of land in Woodland, Upper Marlboro so that someday we can build a strip mall at Crain Corner, the wicked, messy world of land use policy comes in to clear focus. I am indebted to the work of Dr. Robert Lackey for my land use "riff" on his essay: Axioms of Ecological Policy, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Corvallis, Oregon 97333

Policy Axiom 1 — The policy and political dynamic is a zero-sum game

The most unsettling part of development, land use and ecological policy for most residents and stakeholders is that the selection of any proposed policy will result in winners and losers. There is no “win-win” policy, which we of course expect our politicians to find; the search is fruitless even at a superficial “political” level of analysis. To quote Dr, Lackey, “There are always winners and losers even though people running for office may try to convince the voters otherwise.”

In the escalating quest for land, a finite resource, in areas of expanding human populations or expanding economic activity, the competition for developable land can be fierce and nasty. Any land use decision results in a set of winners and another set of losers. The winners and losers may be those in this generation or future generations, obvious or vague elements of society, or in near or distant regions. The benefits and costs may be both monetary and nonmonetary; may be realized immediately or over many years; and may be diffused across many segments of society or concentrated on a few. As in most policy options result in some interest groups getting what they want (or at least most of what they want), others getting little or none of what they want, and still others ending up somewhere in between. In short, the role of the policy analyst is often to identify for the policy maker who are the winners and who are the losers. In contrast, the role of the policy maker is to decide who wins and who loses.

Searching for the nonexistent but ever politically tantalizing win-win solution
often ends up frustrating everyone. Except for the most trivial policy issues, compromise is necessary to craft a proposed policy that is democratically possible. Thus, Land-use and its sub set of ecological policy winds up as the classic zero-sum game. Accepting this reality encourages serious discussion about how to best resolve complex development, land use and ecological policy issues.

Policy Axiom 2 — The distribution of benefits and costs is more important
than the ratio of total benefits to total costs

Benefits are the consequences of a policy options or decisions that are categorized
as good outcomes. Benefits are sometimes measured solely in terms of money, but are
more broadly encompassed by all the desirable things that are most likely to happen.
Conversely, the costs are the undesirable outcomes that are likely to happen (often, but
not always, measured in monetary terms). Complicating policy analysis is that, exclusive of money, one person’s benefits may be another’s costs. Preserving a wetland, for example, is a benefit for those wishing to preserve such land in its unaltered condition, but such a policy option is a cost to those who wish to ditch and drain the same land to build a retail strip mall.

To the uninitiated it may seem that the most important factor in decision making
is weighing the total benefits against the total costs. Rather, it is usually the case that the most important factor is the perception of who receives the benefits vs. who will bear
the costs.

Weighing costs vs. benefits is tricky. Because costs and benefits are not simply the things that are measurable, but include loss of personal freedoms, religious or spiritual preferences, individual rights, etc. Benefits and costs can be categorized as either “real” or “perceived.” Real benefits and costs are the things that analysts are keen to measure, perhaps mostly because they can be measured. Perceived benefits and costs, however are the things that people mostly weigh in determining their position on a particular policy issue. They are arguably impossible to measure with much confidence.

Policy Axiom 3 — The most politically viable policy choice spreads the
benefits to a broad majority with the costs limited to a narrow minority of the

Democracies theoretically operate on delegated compromise validated by periodic voting. To gain sufficient political support (votes) for a proposed policy, it is prudent for
the decision maker to spread the benefits across a sufficiently large number of people to garner majority support. The corollary is that those (including future generations) who bear the costs should be a minority and the smaller the better. In political dialog the narrowly-defined minority is often labeled pejoratively as a “special interest” or some other term meant to isolate the group from the majority and weaken the force of its argument.

Consider the question of whether a particular dam should be removed to help
restore native aquatic species. Almost assuredly the policy debate will be framed as a
conflict between the general interests of society (e.g., providing reliable electricity,
protecting native species, or maintaining cheap barge transportation) vs. special interests (e.g., greedy electric power companies, elite environmentalists, or corporate grain farmers). To market their policy preference, proponents will try to couch their choice as that of the majority (mainstream) and the opponent’s position as being that of a small minority (special interest).

Or consider the strip mall proposal which is framed as one of economic activity in construction and jobs as well as one of providing service to the greater community versus the environment and history. Each side of this debate will claim to be in a majority

None of these policy advocacy tactics necessarily are wrong, immoral, or unethical, but rather reflect the nature of democratic debate. Those involved in policy analysis or providing science to help inform policy debates, however, should be attuned to such tendencies.

Policy Axiom 4 — Potential losers are usually more assertive and vocal than
potential winners and are, therefore, disproportionately important in decision making

With many policy questions, those who bear the costs, the losers, have a disproportionately greater influence on the decision making process. While policy analysis tends to evaluate the rationality of competing policy arguments, the political process tends to weigh breath and vigor in support of each competing policy option.
Issues of perceived fairness are important in the political process, but difficult to quantify
in policy analysis.

For example, consider the possible listing (under the U.S. Endangered Species Act
or the Canadian Species at Risk Act) of a fish species found only in a relatively small
geographical area. Except for committed preservationists, most people see the issue as
not pivotal although they may philosophically support species preservation in general.
In contrast, those whose land and livelihood will be adversely affected are likely to be
aggressively hostile to the proposed listing.

Policy Axiom 5 — Many advocates will cloak their arguments as science to
mask their personal policy preferences

Technocrats, as I apply the label, are individuals with scientific training who are responsible for implementing law, land use or zoning codes or ecological policy. There is an understandable impulse by technocrats to insert what they think is or should be the appropriate public policy goal or option. For example, should ecological restoration be aimed at recreating the ecological condition that existed at the beginning of the Holocene, just prior to 1492, or at the end of last week? The answer requires making a value judgment C a policy choice which is necessarily a political judgment C and it is not a scientifically derived decision. Ecologists and other scientists should assess the feasibility and ecological consequences of achieving each possible restoration target. Selecting from among the choices, however, is a societal enterprise.

Similarly, notions of degraded or damaged ecosystems, the metaphors of
ecosystem health or biotic integrity, or the relative importance ascribed to natural
conditions vs. altered conditions need to be calibrated by societal values and preferences, not by those offered by scientists and technocrats. For example, one person’s Adamaged@ecosystem is another person’s Aimproved@ ecosystem. A Ahealthy@ ecosystem can be either a malarial swamp or the same land converted to an intensively managed strip mall. Neither can be seen as objectively Ahealthy@ except through the lens of an individual’s values and preferences.

Policy Axiom 6 — Demonizing policy advocates supporting competing policy
options is often more effective than presenting rigorous analytical arguments

Some people become frustrated when they fail to recognize that political debates are partly logical argument and partly image. Negative images are often considered more effective in swaying people than positive ones.

In fractious land use policy debates, proponents often spend more energy demonizing their opponents than sticking to rational policy analysis. Experience shows that such tactics are often effective in policy debates; many people are moved by negative arguments.

The conflict is over which of the myriad competing human priorities is most important — food, electricity, water, transportation, fishing, or a host of others. To label proponents of abundant electricity, efficient farming, cheap transportation, or shopping malls as “enemies of the environment” is unfair in policy debates and counter productive. Rather, each policy choice or priority tends to constrain others.

Policy Axiom 7 — If something can be measured accurately and with
confidence, it is probably not particularly relevant in decision making

The most important factors in policy making cannot be quantified or at least not quantified in a credible way. Examples of such unquantifiable but important
factors are weighing the relative importance of electricity vs. the well-being of threatened species, balancing a prosperous farming sector vs. maintaining runs of wild salmon, or sustaining a high degree of personal mobility vs. a high level of air quality through emission regulations on automobiles, or even protecting a open space habiat vs. creating a strip mall..

The disconnect between what matters most to policy makers and what can be measured is a reality that should recognize and which will not likely change in the foreseeable future. In a pluralistic society, with a wide array of values and preferences competing for dominance, the land use policy debate is usually centered around whose values and preferences will carry the day rather than over scientific or technical information.

Policy Axiom 8— The meaning of words matters greatly and arguments over
their precise meaning are often surrogates for debates over values

Many citizens get frustrated in land use and ecological policy debates because
the advocates of various competing choices often seem to argue over semantic nuances rather than getting on with making decisions. The precise meaning ascribed to key words is important and is often the battleground over what policy option is ultimately selected. The debate over definitions is really a policy debate. How should pivotal words such as “ecosystem health,” “sustainability,” “degraded,” “biological integrity,”
“endangered,” “wild,” “congested”, “declining property values” and “impaired” be defined? Definitions chosen will lead (at least in the mind of the uninformed) to a particular policy option. Thus, the debate over what might appear to be semantic nuances is really a surrogate debate over values and policy preferences. Because certain definitions tend to help support one particular policy preference, participants in policy debates devote considerable energy to trying to get their definitions adopted.

Citation: Lackey, Robert T. 2006. Axioms of ecological policy.
Fisheries. 31(6): 286-290.

Prince George’s House Leader Optimistic About Soccer Study Law and Transit Development Goals

Prince George’s House Leader Optimistic About Soccer Study Law and Transit Development Goals

Press Release March 27, 2009
Griffith Presses For Full Disclosure of Stadium Prospects.

Annapolis, Md. – Prince George’s County House Delegation Chair Melony G. Griffith (D-25) announced today that she is moving forward with legislation authorizing the County Government and Maryland Stadium Authority to decide whether a professional soccer stadium for DC United should anchor an upscale transit-oriented development project.

“Our bill gives the County a fighting chance to join all the other jurisdictions in this state that already have called upon the Maryland Stadium Authority to evaluate similar projects,” Griffith said. “My constituents want to know what the experts think about this one.”

Griffith says she is “unabashedly optimistic” the bill (H.B. 1282) will clear the Maryland House in time for the Senate to take up the plan next week. She already has crafted a series of amendments to the bill to mirror community feedback. Under Griffith’s amendments, the bill:

• Withholds any State investment in building a stadium until a site design, cost estimate, and comprehensive financial plan are complete.
• Creates a public process to study the site design and cost of the stadium.
• Drives attention for a potential stadium to locations that promise a transit-oriented mixed-use development project that planners say is sorely lacking in the County.
• Empowers Prince George’s County Government to study co-location of a county headquarters for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

The amended bill will require the State to pass a second law – perhaps as early as next year – before any public financing can be committed to building a stadium project. Griffith believes that opposition voiced may be well intentioned but fueled by misunderstanding.

“My bill is only about getting good information,” Griffith said, “and we shouldn’t wait until the next recession to find opportunities for Prince George’s County to enhance its commercial tax base. I am not interested in a stadium project for the sake of a stadium project. I want to know if this project will spark development of an employment center at one of our underutilized Metrorail stations.”

Griffith’s proposal has garnered support from some local elected officials and planners. County Executive Jack Johnson testified last week before the House Appropriations Committee that a stadium project would enhance prospects for commercial development at the Morgan Boulevard Station located near FedEx Field. In a recent letter to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority about the proposal, Park and Planning Chairman Samuel J. Parker, Jr., urged the transportation agency to work with County leaders to keep the possibilities open.

“[P]articularly during this time of intense economic challenge, we believe the public interest would be well served if we seize this unique opportunity to spark a redevelopment initiative of major significance for Prince George’s County,” Parker wrote. “The coordinated project would bring hundreds of jobs to an area in serious need and ultimately result in vibrant place where people work, live and play every day.”

According to Griffith, passing her bill is “only a first step in the right direction” to find out if the project really is feasible. The planning process spelled out in the legislation authorizes the Maryland Stadium Authority, DC United and the parks commission to hammer out an agreement to jointly fund a careful study and site design for the proposal.

“The bill by no means makes anything a done deal,” Griffith said. “By my estimation, the community and County leadership will have more than a half-dozen opportunities to vet any plan in public before deciding whether to go forward, and several other occasions to shape the project if it actually gets off the ground.”
“I want to give our taxpayers the benefit of all the best minds working to solve a serious problem for our County’s long-term fiscal health,” she said. “There’s really no good reason to delay a workable process for gathering such critical information.”

For more information, contact:
Gerry Eggleston
301 858-3074
410 841-3074
Prince George’s House Leader Optimistic About Soccer Study Law and Transit Development Goals

Friday, March 27, 2009

CB7 & CB8-2009: extension of development plans in Prince George's County

March 28th (CB-07/09) 2009
The Prince George’s County Council will be taking up two bills to suspend certain rules of development in order to assist a major business force economically. Specifically CB-007-2009 and CB-008-2009 would remove time caps on valid development plans which otherwise might expire because the capital or market is not currently available. Under current provisions, development plans must commence with in a specific time or the plans expire and the process must start over.
On bill is pertains to the sub-division code and the other amends zoning: AN ORDINANCE concerning Validity Periods for Detailed Site Plans and Specific Design Plans For the purpose of temporarily suspending or tolling the validity periods of all approved applications for Detailed Site Plans and Specific Design Plans that are currently in a valid status….

SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED by the County Council of Prince George's County, Maryland, sitting as the District Council for that part of the Maryland-Washington Regional District in Prince George's County, Maryland, that the provisions for the running of validity periods contained in Sections 27-287, 27-527, 27-528, 27-546.07, and 27-548.08 of the Zoning Ordinance of the County Code, are hereby temporarily suspended until April 15, 2011.
SECTION 2. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED that the suspension of the validity period for a given application shall only be applied if the application is, at the date of the adoption of this Ordinance, in an active, current validity period. This suspension shall not be applied to any application where a validity period has expired prior to the date of the adoption of this Ordinance or to any application whose validity period begins after the date of the adoption of this Ordinance
SECTION 3. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED that the provisions of this Ordinance shall be abrogated and be of no further force and effect after April 15, 2011.
SECTION 4. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED that the provisions of this Ordinance shall take effect on the effective date of CB-8-2009.

April 1, 2009 – 10:00 a.m.
ROOM 2027
a) Presentation by Committee Staff
(including comments received by the Committee)
b) Comments from Sponsor
c) Questions from Committee Members
d) Comments from Agencies
e) General Discussion
f) Motion and Vote
1. CB-7-2009 (Dean) - An Ordinance concerning Validity Periods for Detailed Site Plans and
Specific Design Plans for the purpose of temporarily suspending or tolling the validity periods of all
approved applications for Detailed Site Plans and Specific Design Plans that are currently in a
valid status.
2. CB-8-2009 (Dean) - A Subdivision Bill concerning validity periods for Preliminary Plans of
Subdivision for the purpose of temporarily suspending or tolling the validity periods of all approved
applications for Preliminary Plans of Subdivision that are currently in a valid status.
PZED Committee Members:
Samuel H. Dean, Chair
Eric C. Olson, Vice Chair
Marilynn M. Bland
Thomas E. Dernoga
Andrea C. Harrison

Prince George's County Considers a Strip Mall in the Rural Tier

Prince George’s County is going to consider in a few weeks altering the geo-political boundaries of its rural tier in order to bring a strip mall into and on top of an historic register nomination district near a major east coast waterway. They public claim is that there is a need for the neighborhood do be destroyed because it does not have enough strip malls. The idea that this project is for the neighborhood is purposely vague because the developer and the neighbors, as well as Prince George’s County’s politicians who will decide this use, know that “[a] strip mall is a collection of several stores located in the same building that share a common parking lot. Typically strip malls contain stores like video rental stores, small grocery stores, fast food restaurants or small independent cafes. The strip mall is often located at major intersections in a town or city and is normally most easily accessed by car. Due to a typically high volume of traffic, bicycling or walking to a strip mall can be difficult.” [1]

My sense of the will of neighborhood is limited, but I suspect that we are not against shopping malls, and are in fact happy to see a project which conforms to the broad outline of the general plan. We would support of course the will and desires of the local neighborhoods impacted and would most likely not weigh in on way or another. We known that as we drive along the large and small highways of Prince George’s County, it is all too easy to wave our hand and say: "look at all these unseemly strip malls that make this place look like every other!" But if we are looking for a hardware store, need a cup of coffee, or need some engine repair, our tune changes: we are grateful that we can easily spot the Home Depot, the local independent supply store, the Starbucks, or the tractor & lawnmower dealers. The locale saves search costs, for which we are glad indeed, and we demonstrate this feeling by voting for them with our own money. [2]

But most of us chose to live slightly disconnected from the infrastructure of urban living, instead opting for the infrastructure of nature. We chose to live removed from a small walk to a bakery or 7-11. Because we so chose to be slightly removed from these perceived necessities, we do not feel underserved. If we are underserved, it is by the outside traffic which takes a short-cut through the historic Woodland District, making it hard of us to go to….shopping malls. Adding one more right in our midst would only exacerbate this traffic infrastructure “under-service”. I might also suspect a slight “under-services” when it comes to school facilities but that is another story which this strip mall will not address.
[1] Tricia Ellis-Christensen WiseGeek, copyright © 2003 – 2009 ;
[2] In Defense of Strip Malls, Mises Daily by Brad Edmonds Posted on 5/24/2007 12:00:00 AM;

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Prince George's County's 19th century land use plan

When it comes to protecting the environment, to enhancing quality of life for everyone, Prince George’s County recently seems to have gotten off the train and begun walking backwards towards the past. First it decided that placing a waster transfer station right next to and slightly overlapping an nationally, as well as state recognized critical area and wildlife habitat, ½ mile from one of the Chesapeake Bay’s major tributaries is a great idea. In deed this site was specifically noted in the general plan for Prince George’s County has part of the rural tier not suitable for industrial development. So of course the county decided using 19th century mentality to place the waste transfer station in the most environmentally sensitive location they could find.

This placement was a 19th century land use decision; land is to be used, it is a blank worthless canvas unless we can put the artifices of man on top and tame unruly nature. Of course such thinking did not consider where drinking water or clean air might come from, because, 19th century thinking knew that clean air and clean water came from God at no charge. The 19th century also thought that some people deserved to work in bondage, or begrudgingly, work and live in an apartheid society, a situation remembered in family lore, but paved over for shopping malls, because the land is cheaper in the rural tier, and endless, why pay more in the city when you can pave over history and the environment at the same time?
The 21st century, seemingly foreign to this county idea that the environment enhances quality of live and that, for instance, biologically harmful, not readily degradable, black trash bags arriving un-beckoned from the composting facility with its state of the art wire mesh protection device are a signal of far worse destruction to come. The bags blow on the wind with the usual litter and will make a perfect landscape addition for guests at the proposed hotel and neighborhoods in the vicinity of Upper Marlboro across from the waste transfer station.

Did I mention community ambiance the smell will create for the new cutting edge up-scale strip mall just north of the waste transfer station? Of course the county will say, “Don’t worry about the odor at Crain Corner, in the rural tier, on currently residential zoned property. We are siting the strip mall just far enough away that you will not be able to smell anything and besides the prevailing winds will mostly ensure that the bags, debris and litter will not make it north to the brand new, yet-another, much needed strip mall.

and just in a report from the news media:

Residents skeptical of retail center near Marlboro Meadows
Developer stresses community input
by Greg Holzheimer Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Green is the color of the Prince George's County RuralTier

The trees and the green space of the rural tier in Prince George’s County is a fundamental pillar of human experience. Psychologists, sociologist and many residents agree on the view that the quality of urban life depends largely on the amount and quality of nearby green spaces. Urban green space not only improves ecological and psychological environment of urban population but also uplift economic conditions of the community. Thus Central Park in New York City, which no doubt has more developmental value than say Crain Corner in Upper Marlboro is off limits for commercial, industrial or residential development.

Green is the color most restful for our eyes, presumably because we evolved in a predominantly green environment. The Prince George’s County general plan recognizes this basic precept. Green spaces, significantly, bring a certain harmony to the urban environment and therefore, play a vital social role in ceasing urban tensions. In presence of trees, city dwellers take part in the rhythm of day and night so that their minds come to rest and find peace (Bernatzky 1978). The rural tier along with the park system serves several important functions like maintenance and sustenance of natural process such as water, gaseous nutrient cycles, support of flora and fauna, and maintenance of psychological health through beautification and enhancement of the appearance of a particular area to paraphrase (Wenger 1984). Recently planners and residents have come to understand the critical and crucial ecosystem service that green areas provide. From carbon storage and storm effect dampening, to habitat and refugium functions, to agriculture and yes to cultural informing services, the rural tier has a value beyond pavement, building, purchases and employment (all of these are important, we needs stores and the jobs they produce).

Of course a vibrant Prince George’s County needs businesses and healthy businesses need customers and employees who want to live in the area. We need both quality businesses and quality of life patterning in harmony, not one at the expense of the other. That is why there is a general plan which provides for both development and urban green spaces which managed and, to the extent under the plan allowed, exclusively on the basis of their aesthetic and spiritual values than on utilitarian benefits.

The enormous rate of growth of Prince George’s County along with the growth of urban development, has led to sometimes drastic exploitation of the nature resulting to an unhealthy and unwealthy ecology. Cities are experiencing the problems like deterioration of air quality, higher air temperature, increased noise levels, greater psychological stress and decreased sense of community. Increasingly society recognizes the need for urban green spaces. “With lack of green space, the exponential population increase in the twentieth century will make physical, social, psychological and environmental hazards in the third world countries.” [1]
[1] Miyan Rukunuddin Ahmed, Rakibul Hassan People's Perception toward Value of Urban Greenspace in Environmental Development;

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Prince George's County & the Crain Corner Strip Mall

There are, apparently, approximately 1 shopping center of some description for every 5600 residents in Prince George’s County. (161 centers 890,000 residents) Development plans call for the addition of at least three more of various sizes near Crain Corner in Upper Marlboro. Some of these are in the plan and to some extent; one is a gross violation of the general plan for Prince George’s County. Local proximate residents are told that we are under served. We are also told that our two local, showing signs of age shopping centers do not fit the new standards of strip mall quality. So we are to infer that we should discard the old centers, not rehabilitate them, and develop three new ones. This of course would give us five, plus Home Depot, two or so car dealerships and a variety of convenience stores. But we are under served.

On the environmental side, we have exactly one river, which cannot be replaced, and one nominee for Historic National Register recognition and should residents want it, Historic District status which will be irrevocably lost if the strip mall goes forward. And the open space ecosystem services which will be paved and built over cannot be recovered at a cost anyone would be willing to pay. We who did not ask will receive as a benefit of the proposed development at Crain Corner an influx of outside traffic we do not want, rural property facing a 40 foot buffer of invasive species hiding parking lots which we are told will not lower the value of our properties. Ever wonder why there are so few strip malls on River Road in Potomac? Could it be because they do not bring value to the quality of life?

Of course a few of us will profit handsomely from the sale of land, but because the rest of us were not prescient enough to also file to destroy this section of the rural tier near to the Patuxent River, the winners will be fewer then the economic losers. This is the free market we are told; if so let us also rezone our land, and move away too, leaving future generations with our dilapidated, out-of-date shopping mall, our gift to our children, concrete and environmental degradation. We only know what we have lost when we look around and it is no longer there.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Does Prince George's County have a Plan - that means anything?

The Prince George's County General Plan,approved by the County Council in October 2002, provides long-range guidance for the future growth of the county. It identifies Centers and Corridors where intensive mixed use (residential, commercial and employment development) is to be encouraged. The plan also divides the county into three development tiers (Developed, Developing, Rural) recognizing the different development goals and needs of different parts of the county. The plan also makes recommendations for infrastructure elements: green infrastructure, transportation systems, and public facilities. The plan includes guidance for economic development, revitalization, housing, urban design and historic preservation. Future implementation efforts are outlined.

The question would seem to be: is the county following the guidelines or are we simply making decisions on the fly with the plan as eye candy for the rest of us not in the development business? Reading the General Plan for the rural Tier one wonders how we were blessed to get a Waste Transfer Station, and with in a few miles yet another, strip mall.

The Rural Tier is comprised of the eastern and southern portions of the county in the Patuxent River, Potomac River, and Mattawoman Creek watersheds. The Rural Tier is the most scenic part of the county and is characterized by fine landscapes, most of the county’s remaining farms, extensive woodlands, numerous streams, and diverse wildlife habitat. Development activity includes mining and widely dispersed, large-lot residential home sites. The preservation of the remaining environmentally sensitive features in this Tier is a priority for any future development. Transportation system policies seek to ensure the operational integrity of the road network for a development pattern that is envisioned as remaining essentially as it is today. The hiker and biker trails system in this Tier is principally recreational in purpose and design.

The vision for the Rural Tier is protection of large amounts of land for woodland, wildlife habitat, recreation and agricultural pursuits, and preservation of the rural character and vistas that now exist. Land use, environmental, transportation, and public facilities policies recommended for the Rural Tier are intended to balance the ever-increasing pressure for residential development and landowners’ equity with the desire to maintain rural environments and character. The policies address: retaining or enhancing environmentally sensitive features and agricultural resources; designing future development to retain and enhance the rural character; providing for a transportation system that helps protect open space, rural character, and environmental features and resources; and assigning minimal priority to public sector capital improvements.

The Environmental Infrastructure Element emphasizes the need to protect important environmental assets - by placing the Waste Transfer Station in the middle of the critical area - and make wise use of the county’s resources. The plan proposes the identification and protection of a green infrastructure. Green infrastructure is defined as a network for large, undisturbed land areas (hubs) connected by designated pathways for the movement of wildlife and humans (green corridors). In addition to the identification of the green infrastructure elements, this plan includes policies that are important to sustainable, liveable communities. Preserving ecological functions - by placing one more strip mall with imperivous surface parking lots -, providing for energy conservation, reducing light pollution, and encouraging construction that uses green building techniques are essential elements of sustainable communities in the twenty-first century and are addressed in this plan.

Prince George's County will consider another strip mall

In an effort to present a level playinf field and a complete understanding of the situation in the Woodland Historic area strip mall re-zoning plan just east of Upper Marlboro, I am posting a letter from Fred Tutman.

"I feel fervently that if we can overhaul some of the planned development craziness being proposed in our vicinity it might buy us some breathing room while the economy slows down a bit and the stuff in the pipeline evaporates. There are some business interests that are hell bent on infusing economic growth for themselves by floating projects for which there are no commercial tenants, or houses where there is negligible consumer demand and no capacity. It’s old school stuff. For example Columbia, MD’s current plan to put 5,500 new homes in the middle of the existing planned community in downtown Columbia (even while the developer is facing bankruptcy) is just such a cockamamie plan-- I suspect to inflate the stock value of the company involved and create the illusion of prosperity for the stockholders and politicians. When in doubt about hard times, let’s build a stadium or a housing development. Better still let’s build some Federally funded roads and that way economic growth will just drive to your doorstep! I think that sort of unsustainable nonsense will soon be deader than most of us care to admit even now, but it’s a convulsive reflex for a segment of the economy that knows no other way of doing business except to build new stuff instead if investing in existing communities and replacing old facilities. The same folks who think that traffic jams are a great business opportunity and who want to build an ICC and a second Bay Bridge too. It is basically publicly subsidized growth and I think it is gradually sun-setting through the current economic collapse and tough straits--but the business practices and the societal ethic need a bit more time to catch up with reality.

We don’t plan our “economic growth” in a vacuum. As citizens have pointed out, some holistic look at impacts makes a lot more sense than just looking at this single project and arguing that it is good for the area without some discussion of capacity, traffic, schools, the environment and so forth. So far as I know the only clear cut arguments in favor of the Faison project is the usual jive about “jobs” and shopping opportunities but some folks I suspect will make money from building it whether or not it ever actually thrives as a viable retail center or not.

To me the bottom line is that this project requires a zoning change and special consideration from the people we elected. The most obvious outcome is that it will enrich the builder and the people who want their land rezoned. If the project goes forward, neither of those parties will live here. There is no question of an entitlement or property rights at all. Nobody is entitled to get whatever zoning they might dream of on their own parcel of land without a fairly high standard of review. Otherwise let’s all rezone and move someplace else? I think we need to just keep raising the level of review and public transparency on exactly what about this specific project and this specific site warrants all the percs that the County is prepared to lavish on them. Surely there is more information available to the County than we were offered the other night by Faison reps? What are the merits to the project that they have alluded to and which the County is favorable to? Beyond that a comparable discussion of what’s in it for the community most effected by the planned project is a natural corollary. The vague nonsense about what’s good for the overall retail economy therefore must be good for Crain Highway is just plain shallow and silly and we need to keep drawing attention to the deficit of merit based arguments….. "

Patuxent Riverkeeper
18600 Queen Anne Road
Rear Barn
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
Member, Waterkeeper Alliance

Historic Sites in and near Woodland Historic District -Crain Corner

0.15 Miles
National Register
Compton Bassett, Dependencies and Cemetery

0.42 Miles
National Register

0.51 Miles
Historic Site
Ashland Hay Barn

0.66 Miles
Historic Resource
House at Hills Landing

0.78 Miles
Historic Site
Marlboro Hunt Club

0.86 Miles
Historic Site
Eckenrode-Wyvill House

1.07 Miles
Historic Site
Bowling-Buck House (burned and lost)

1.12 Miles
Historic Site
Wyvill House (Linden Hill)

1.15 Miles
Historic Site
Bleak Hill

1.44 Miles
Historic Resource
Archaeological Site 126, Western Branch

1.5 Miles
National Register
St. Marys Beneficial Society Hall

1.5 Miles
Historic Site
Crandell-Rothstein House

1.54 Miles
Historic Site

1.58 Miles
National Register
Darnalls Chance/Buck House

79-063-05 across the street from the strip mall to be
National Register
Bowling Heights

1.65 Miles
Historic Site
Upper Marlboro Post Office

1.69 Miles
Historic Resource
Magruder Law Office

1.7 Miles
Historic Resource
Archaeological Site 128, Billingsley

1.73 Miles
Historic Resource
Dr. William Beanes Grave

1.73 Miles
Historic Site
Pentland Hills

1.74 Miles
Historic Resource
Old Marlboro Elementary School

1.76 Miles
Historic Resource
Old Marlboro High School

1.78 Miles
National Register

1.79 Miles
Historic Site
Trinity Episcopal Church and Cemetery

1.79 Miles
Historic Site

1.82 Miles
Historic Site
Digges-Sasscer House

1.83 Miles
Historic Resource
Crain Highway Monument

1.83 Miles
National Register
Mount Pleasant and Cemetery

1.84 Miles
Historic Site
Church Street House/Talbott House

1.87 Miles
Historic Site
Jarboe-Bowie House

1.88 Miles
Historic Site
Turner House, Thomas J.

1.9 Miles
Historic Site
Union (Memorial) Methodist Church

1.91 Miles
National Register
Kingston and Cemetery

2 Miles
Historic Site
Chews Bridge

2.1 Miles
Historic Site

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Prince George's County Considers the Destruction of History

From the Historic District National Historic Register Nomination PG79-63 June 1990

The proposed commercial zoning and eventual construction between US 301 and Old Crain Highway in Upper Marlboro will permanently destroy a potential national treasure in Prince George's County. We cannot go back and save the land once we destroy its character. A people who do not have a history worth remembering, do not have a future worth saving. We are defined by our current problems and our common past.

The Woodland Historic District includes land on both sides of Old Crain Highway and Marlboro Pike, for a length of approximately two and one half miles between Bowling Heights on the North and the Patuxent River at Hills’ Landing on the south. This is the national nomination which will be destroyed if the politicians of Prince George’s County ignore the rural tier plan for development in the rural tier. Buildings on the over 1300 acres of the national register nomination district range from 1780 to the present, including one federal style brick plantation house (1780), a Greek revival style frame plantation house (1852), an Italianate farm dwelling (1867), a Gothic mansion (1870), Queen Anne style houses and many houses from the early to mid 20th century. The area consists of rolling farm land, woods and cultivated fields, with streams which are tributaries to the nearby Patuxent Rover. The road itself is one of the oldest roads in Prince George’s County.

Virtually all of this land was at the end of the 18th century the possession of Clement Hill. Four of the important architectural buildings in the district were built for members of the Hill family. In addition to the houses built by the local carpenter John Wyvll for the Hill families, there were buildings constructed for members of the Wyvill family. Also in the district are two dwelling build by freed-men after the Civil War. At the time of the survey, there were 88 sites and building in the proposed district.

There is ample oral history not yet recorded of the African Americans who lived, build and died in this area; if we pave it over and do not hear their stories, we will have nothing left to remind us of their hardships and tribulations which built this county. We will have a few houses with no memory of the unwilling partnership that shaped this county; we shall have history without context.

Developing Prince George's; a letter to the Council

Ms. Redis Floyd
Clerk of the Council for
Prince George’s County, MD
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772 18 February 2009

Re: OPPOSITION to Zoning Change for Meyers Property/Subregion 6 SMA

Dear Ms. Floyd,

I submit this letter in OPPOSITION to the proposed zoning change from R-A to C-S-C within the sub region 6 sectional map amendment for the 43 acre Meyers property. I request that the original zoning be retained. The current residential 2 acre development is in keeping with the rural nature of the greater context in which this parcel is located.

The context of the property falls with in a National Register Historic District (PG79-63) eligibility nomination area as defined in a survey and study produced by M-NCPP in June of 1990. The complete disregard for both the rural tier designation as well as the destruction of a national historic registry area is beyond comprehension except to add yet one more strip mall to eventually connect with endless strip malls of Charles County. Prince George’s will not be enhanced by this commercialization but rather made poorer by the loss of ecosystem services which once gone are irreplaceable.

The “Woodland” historic district within which this property falls is a last chance in Upper Marlboro to have both open space and historic memory of those events in the past that provided the foundation for our future. A community with no past has no definition and no future, but is rather loose upon the whims of the moment adrift without connection to those fundamental concepts and efforts which define quality of life.

The proposed Woodland Historic District (PG79-63) includes land on both sides of Old Crain Highway and Marlboro Pike extending for approximately 2.5 miles including Old Crain Highway a designated historic highway which will be completely subsumed and destroyed by this project. Homes range from ca. 1780 to the present in a text book presentation of the complete history of this county. Included but not limited to are architectural styles ranging from a Federal style plantation house to Greek revival plantation home, to Gothic and Queen Anne style buildings right up to the present vernacular. All told there are approximately 80 plus historic buildings in this 2 mile stretch of uniqueness that will be negatively impacted and forever altered by the proposed strip mall. In addition the probability of slave quarters and graves not yet located are by necessity within the historic district waiting to be studied and recognized and added to our common past.

If the proposed destruction of history is not enough, the concept of the rural tier and the protection of the Patuxent as well as the ecosystem services which we all take for granted and assume are free, must stop before it is too late. The decision to have a rural tier was a wise decision and arbitrary encroachment does a disservice to the idea of countywide planning. Ecosystem services range from informing such as the historic nature discussed above to regulation and supporting services such as erosion control into the Patuxent, storm water management, carbon cycle management, climate change, clean air and clean water management and processes. Open space and the plants found on the open spaces provide these services for free. But once lost they cannot be replaced as noted so long ago in Aldo Leopold’s seminal warning to those who think in short horizons of even shorter gain.

I am well aware as a property owner the immediate return on investment that the first exception will get. I am equally aware that if this goes through I will be compelled to work to aggregate my property with my neighbors and begin seeking equal remedy through rezoning asking for equal consideration of rezoning as my residence will ultimately be untenable facing the rear of a shopping mall and that then the best use of my land would perhaps be a professional office park. The snowball effect will destroy the unique character of this land and the natural area it supports. The idea that one of us should prosper and the others then be denied an equal opportunity to rezone violates all sense of fairness and equality. I am prepared for residential development as I am prepared to seek rezoning for commercialization of my property should this proposal goes through. Once the train leaves the station it is unreasonable to expect some of us to loose property value opportunity when another neighbor has been granted such an exception, so it becomes a matter of all or none.

I note further that property exists along Route 301 currently which could be used for enhanced commercial siting and that the need for yet another strip mall does not on the face of it offer a compelling need except for the benefit of the current property owner. The additional traffic which because of the wonderfully thought out idea of a centralized trash collection station would make Old Crain Highway a major alternative use road, and the strip mall would simply add to the impossibility of safely driving through the community. In the end this project will benefit the current owner and the developer leaving the rest of us with long term negative impacts to deal with. There is no way of saving what we have and allowing this concept to go forward, so the question is the public good and public value versus short term short sighted market choices.

In closing I am opposed to this project which is in violation of the spirit of the master plan and of the county plans for a new Prince George’s. I am asking respectfully to keep the present zoning, to preserve the historic nature, to honor your own plans, and to enhance our already diminishing ecosystem infrastructure. Do not continue to enable short term exceptions to the planning process but support fully your vision of a common good for every citizen on equal footing.


John Peter Thompson
4400 Old Crain Highway
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
301 952 1933

The Sucker's Bet; Destruction of the Prince George's Rural Tier

Does undeveloped land provide value? This is taken from a presentation that I give around the United States but not here in this county While others are trying to preserve or save or get back what we have, we blithely pave it over copying the mistakes of other people from other times thinking we have arrived. This thinking is like the person who rolls the dice at a craps table making the same bet as the previous earlier winning bet one roll later, a cousin of the sucker's bet.

"The services and value provided by undeveloped land and waters that people enjoy from healthy ecosystems are the unobtrusive foundation of daily life. Yet people often underestimate or simply ignore the values from these "ecosystem services" when making land-use decisions— only to realize later how difficult, expensive, and sometimes impossible it is to replicate services once they are lost. Vegetation and soil help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere by capturing and storing it for use in producing roots, leaves and bark. Use of vegetation, shade structures, and other techniques to cool the air can reduce costs associated with urban heat islands. Vegetation provides cooling through shading and evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration alone can reduce peak summer temperatures by 2 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit. Around the country, polluted and contaminated stormwater runoff accounts for 70 percent of water pollution in urban areas and is the leading cause of poor water quality and the degradation of aquatic habitat.7 According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Wadable Streams Assessment (WSA) in 2006, 42 percent of U.S. stream miles are in poor condition compared to the best available reference sites in their ecological regions. The WSA found that the most widespread stressors across the country are nitrogen, phosphorus, excess sedimentation, and riparian disturbance(i.e., evidence of human disturbance in or alongside streams). When development results in an overall reduction in tree canopy cover, buildings are more exposed to both direct sunlight and wind. This exposure increases the demand for air conditioning in the summer and for heating in the winter." Copyright 2008, Sustainable Sites Initiative from my work on the technical subcommittee see also

Exactly what kind of high end retail will want to be near the county trash station?