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Prince George’s County Listening Sessions, March 8, May 9, and June 6, 2018

What We Heard in Response

Regionalism and Regional Planning ♦ Public Services ♦ Demographics ♦ Economic Development ♦ Housing ♦ Infrastructure  ♦ Training and Education ♦ Transportation ♦ Environment  ♦ Community  ♦ Funding ♦ State Agencies ♦ Technical Assistance ♦ General

The comments below represent the statements or points of view of one or more individuals who participated in the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) “A Better Maryland” Development Plan Listening Sessions. These comments do not represent any official position or policy of MDP or any other State agency, nor do they represent any official position or policy of any local jurisdiction or local planning agency.

Regionalism and Regional Planning

The state development plan should look at all types of communities – urban, suburban and rural

The State should more actively participate in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (WashCOG). In particular, the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) should be a participant in their local planning directors’ workgroup

The social disparity issues that show up in our school classrooms needs to be addressed from a regional perspective

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Public Services

Pay disparities for teachers in Prince George’s County make it difficult to hold on to good teachers, who are attracted to higher salaries in Montgomery County

Good education of our children is important to good quality employers and jobs

Since the state contributes a large amount to the school budget, the state should require a top to bottom audit of school expenditures. Knowing whether dollars are spent wisely is a key factor in improving our schools and attracting businesses

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Demographics

The State Data Center needs to coordinate the 2020 Census – Complete Count effort. The County needs help with its part in determining which areas were underserved in the last census and whether these areas are still considered underserved. Also, promotional and marketing plans need to be provided to local jurisdictions. Time is running is out

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Economic Development

Economy and jobs are the top factors in the county that determine a high quality of life

University of Maryland at College Park is an important economic force in our county

New development seems to be concentrated in the College Park/Riverdale area, while other parts of the county have no new retail activity

There is a need for regional economic development coordination to attract large employers, like we had when working to attract FBI headquarters

State agencies do not really understand and respond effectively to how local communities grow

The Planning Board continues to approve Walmarts, car washes, laundromats, storage facilities, etc. in prime areas – a short walk from Metro stations. It is not the best we can do

The Board blames outdated 1980s zoning regulations or grandfather clauses as justification for their decisions

Prince George’s County can be a gold mine for the state, but not with the current development policies

The County has identified growth nodes and it would be great if the State would provide support based upon these designations and priorities for funding purposes

WashCOG has also identified over 120 Activity Centers in the DC area with 34 in Prince Georges County

In those growth centers that need State participation, such as improvements to SHA roads, the County could attract more private sector investment if the State would prioritize these areas for targeted improvements

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Housing

The County has a high level of foreclosures. It would be good if the State provided a data base that showed where the foreclosures were located and who was the legally responsible owner

There is a need to know who owns a property in foreclosure, so we can get them to address code violations, like overgrown weeds and illegal dumping

Housing best practices:

The County recently completed a comprehensive housing strategy

The County is in the process of completing a zoning regulations rewrite

In the Lewisdale area, the community has been changing from suburban to more urban, with less owner-occupied housing and more investor-owned housing

There is a need to require more affordable housing given the type of housing investment taking place in this area

There are insufficient affordable housing opportunities for our immigrant families

We have a problem with overcrowded housing in some neighborhoods. There are 8 cars in front of the house, when there normally should be 2

The State has not incentivized the construction of affordable housing, and the private sector is building infill high rise (expensive) housing that is slowly chipping away at the green spaces in our community

There is a higher proportion of jobs and population in the eastern part of the county, so this is where we need to plan for housing opportunities

A student housing shortage still exists in College Park, even though 7,000 to 8,000 units have been built in recent years

There is a need for more housing so people can live closer to work/school around University of Maryland and College Park

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Infrastructure

The County is interested in working with the State to facilitate quality of life communities through its capital improvement projects. For example, State road projects should include capital improvement elements that promote high quality communities, such as bus stops with shelters and sidewalks that connect with the neighborhood. Too often these items are deleted from projects due to funding constraints, or not included at all

The State should help fund critical transportation infrastructure projects

The state development plan needs to address statewide utility issues:

Cell tower placement and 5G wireless technology

Utility permitting

Undergrounding of utilities

The schools are overcapacity and underperforming:

Greenbelt Middle School was built for 900 students and now has 1,300

The school system is not performing as well as it could

Uncoordinated cancellation of classes due to weather events has been very disruptive to families and indicative of poor management

Schools are trying to serve and do too much, and are not accomplishing enough

Outdated schools are behind in terms of 21st century technology. Need to modernize and take care of our children

How are we dealing with our multi-cultural communities and the issue of our non-English speaking communities?

We want good stuff for our schools – but we don’t want to pay for it

The schools should be taken over by the State

Immigrant students have been neglected

There is favoritism toward the schools in certain neighborhoods. Nothing has changed in terms of fairness

Shame on the county and the state regarding our schools

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Training and Education

The County has a need for training of elected and appointed officials. Frequently people are elected and appointed to serve and don’t have knowledge of how planning and zoning works. Planning could start a training academy that would address this need

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Transportation

State Highway Administration (SHA) has not been responsive to designing and building Main Street commercial corridors that reflect “Complete Streets” and “Main Street” design principles. Need to design multi-modal complete streets

The County is trying to develop more compact, transit oriented, pedestrian friendly communities. The County needs help with getting bus stops and shelters on State roads, and providing sidewalks to bus shelters and stops

Capital bike share is coming to Prince George’s County to help with last mile transportation

SHA needs to attend the County development review meetings. Attendance at the bi-weekly coordination meetings would be beneficial for the County to understand SHA issues

The southern portion of the County roads handle a great deal of pass through traffic between Southern MD and Washington DC. There needs to be better State commitment to road improvements on Rt.-4, Indian Head Highway; and Pennsylvania Ave, and on the north side along B-W Parkway

SHA is not doing enough to improve State roads for the County to grow and have good economic development. There needs to be a regional study to look at the impacts on the County from neighboring jurisdictions and how the land use-transportation decisions there have an impact in Prince George’s County

SHA has not kept up addressing pedestrian and bicycle users. Need a complete streets response from SHA and this will help with economic development

SHA needs to incorporate more context-sensitive design into its planned transportation improvements that accommodate different modes of transportation and recognize the surrounding land use characteristics. Road designs for urban areas should be different than those of suburban and rural areas

SHA needs to promote more placemaking opportunities

With the proposed widening of MD-295, the State proposes to take over the road from the federal government. But, this was formulated with no local input or participation. Prior to the State announcing the project, the local jurisdictions should have been consulted and asked for input

The State cannot grow without better transit support and alternatives. More MARC service, better service and service coordination to the Laurel, NSA/Fort Meade area are needed

Not sure how Maglev is going to help the transportation congestion issues in the County

Transportation in southern MD is a nightmare. Route 210 needs some simple cost-effective road safety improvements. People cannot cross the road to ride the transit service

SHA needs to better maintain the medians and cut the grass

More attention needs to be devoted to regional bus service. There are opportunities for better regional transit coordination among the counties and between bus and rail trips

“Bus on the shoulder”, which is the routing of a bus onto the shoulder of a road instead of the general service lanes, should be fully explored

Light rail service to southern Maryland should not be discounted but seriously considered

Traffic is a problem throughout the county for many reasons:

A conscious decision was made to not build any more roads

It is important to remember that not everyone can ride bikes or wants to use transit

Through traffic, starting and ending outside the county, is a major problem on our roads that only exacerbates our local traffic conditions

Need more north/south arterials between Washington DC and Baltimore

High density residential development often does not account for car ownership and use

We are forcing communities to have bike lanes, yet not everyone wants them

MD 295 has not been expanded to accommodate the additional traffic around Ft Meade due to BRAC

Transportation patterns and preferences are changing. Millennials don’t want to drive. There is more car sharing taking place

Need more transportation options to address the east-west divide in the county

We are not doing a good job maintaining our existing roadways, let alone adding new roads

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Environment

We want Maryland to have a constitutional amendment to ensure residents have access to clean water and air

Local and state planning has been ignoring the facts about our hydrology and topography

You can’t have clean water if you ignore our hydrology

Our flood maps, showing the 100-year storm boundary, are outdated

Recent floods have exceeded federally mapped flood boundaries

The oceans are rising

The placement of a liquid natural gas pipeline going through the county is a major concern

Statewide fracking is also concern, as it promotes more gas transmission through Prince George’s County

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Community

The County is a strong supporter of transit oriented development (TOD) and would like to see more projects. The State should assist in the development of County TOD opportunities

The University of Maryland plays a critical role in promoting a vibrant and unique College Park community

There is a cultural divide between our African-American communities and our immigrant communities

We are slowly losing the green spaces in our neighborhoods

A gas station is proposed to go on a forested lot next to an abandoned shopping center

We need to preserve our limited green spaces and redevelop the existing impervious surfaces in the county

Abandoned industrial and commercial sites (greyfields) should be subject to a demolition tax

Parking is hard to find or create in our communities

It is nearly impossible to install a parking space in front of your yard. You need a permit to pave or put gravel down on your property to get cars off the street, especially in older neighborhoods. You cannot get a curb cut permit

People are coming to the county regardless of the lack of public improvements, which is making traffic even worse

Property taxes in Prince Georges County are outrageous, particularly in view of the services received and the condition of public schools. High taxes make homes less affordable and the county less attractive

The state needs to reign in out-of-control taxes

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Funding

State funding for critical infrastructure projects is imperative

At times funding is being wasted on special projects. There needs to be more accountability and cost-effective determinations on State spending

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State Agencies

State agencies need to coordinate with local governments more on transportation and land use planning

The state development plan should have an “action plan” for state agencies and local governments

Greater collaboration is needed between state agencies and local government

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Technical Assistance

The State should develop and provide information to local jurisdictions on things like emergent technologies and their potential impact on local jurisdictions, e.g., solar/wind energy, driverless vehicles, climate change, etc

Prince George’s County has a local municipal planning assistance program. It would be good if Maryland Department of Planning could coordinate its local planning efforts with the County

Special areas of interest include: grant writing, project management and other activities that go beyond the planning stages

Capacity building is also a critical need

Local municipalities lack planning resources and the County resources could be supplemented with State assistance. The State and County should get together to discuss this issue

If the State could provide a municipal circuit rider for planning assistance that would make a world of a difference

The State could assist local jurisdictions in dealing with utility companies. The utility companies are not amenable to providing urban environments the needed support to promote walkable pedestrian friendly communities. The State could facilitate in convening regional workshops with the local utility companies

It would be very beneficial to everyone if State agencies periodically convened a work group of stakeholders to review State programs and evaluate their effectiveness using locally determined criteria

This could improve the effectiveness of the program by identifying potential adjustments or enhancements to the program, as well as market the program to other local governments

Small municipalities need help with technical assistance and capacity building because the county doesn’t really provide these services to them

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General

Assets

Diversity

Community Activism

Location

Access to so many other places

Close to Washington DC and Annapolis

Sense of community

Greenbelt – design of the community, its historic and cultural assets

Community design is important

Unity in the Community

The Purple Line has unified communities, with construction underway and associated parks and trail connecting people and places together

The County’s parks and greenways provide connections for everyone

Challenges

Affordable housing

Crime problems

Traffic

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