It was supposed to be different this time. Prince George’s County’s new general plan was supposed to embrace a bold new vision for a more sustainable and transit-oriented growth strategy. Sadly, the county ultimately decided to cling to its previous failed approach of mouthing platitudes of support for walkable urban development around transit stations, while actively facilitating suburban sprawl outside of the Beltway and far away from transit.
County residents and smart growth advocates feared this eventuality when planners released the preliminary draft of Plan Prince George’s 2035, the updated countywide comprehensive plan for long-term growth and development, last fall. The draft placed too much emphasis on outer-Belway sprawl, ignored the revitalization needs of most inner-Beltway communities, and downplayed neighborhood Metro stations. At the same time, the draft plan supported massive greenfield development outside the Beltway—both at mixed-use “suburban centers” like Konterra and Westphalia, and also in scattered single-family residential subdivisions.
Each subsequent revision of the plan only made matters worse. When the Planning Board adopted its version of the plan in March, it added hundreds of acres to the exiting suburban Bowie Regional Center, which was already too disconnected from transit and well in excess of the half-mile radius that usually typifies a transit station area.