Almost back to back in a two block area on Rte. 1 in College Park are a Lum's, a Jiffy Shoppe, the Pizza House, Hungry Hermans, the Italian Gardens, a Greek deli, the Little Tavern and a Pizza Shoppe.
Last week, when the Prince George's Council was asked to grant water and sewer hookups so one more pizza restaurant could be built in the same area, several members of the council objected. They asked the council staff to develop a new allocation system that would allow them to put requests for fast food establishments at the bottom of the country's economic priority list.
The proposed restaurant in College Park was one of five restauarants, four of them fast-food oriented, to request water and sewer. Three of them were located near the Rte. 450 Bladensburg Roads area.
It was the College Park application that riled council member Parris N. Glendening the most. He said he was already annoyed by the visual effect of all the signs, storefronts and parking lots on Rte. 1.
"This is all the junk we don't want in all the places we don't want it," said Glendening."We have to flat out turn down some of these things."
A resident of nearby University Park and a professor at the University of Maryland. Glendening said the area is already ugly. "On U.S. Rte. 1 we had a beautiful tract of land next to that bank building, and when we allowed a Ponderosa Steak House to be built next to it. Now the bank building is all closed in and here we go with another (fast food place) to put next to it."
Several council members said the county should accept fast food restaurants as the new American way of life. "Look at White Flint Mall, with its fast food row," said Francis B. Francois. "Sophisticated market surveys show those are the restaurants to have. What we have on Rte. 1 is an automotive oriented fast food row."
"You don't approve something just because you have a customer for it," Glendening said. "Otherwise we could use the same reasoning for porn houses."
Council member Samuel W. Bogley said the legal problems that could arise under a new policy, which the council requested within 30 days, may present the major stumbling blocks for a percentage system. "But we still sit as the policy-making body of the county. If they have the zoning and if there is a need in the area, and not an imbalance, we could not say no (to a request), he said."
To reject any requests for new commercial and industrial hookups in the lower Anacostia Basin, however, would require the country to set up standards and percentages for certain kinds of industrial and commercial growth within the allocation system. The county currently has a percentage system for residential development which allows single family and town-house development, but not apartment developments.
The council has approval rights for water and sewer allocations because of the tight restrictions on the use of the lower Anacostia Sewage Treatment Plant. Up until recently, a moratorium in the area prevented any kind of development from taking place.
"These are property owners (fast food developers) who have suffered under the sewer moratorium," said Bogley. "They are looking for the quickest way to turn the property over to make a buck. But fast food shouldn't take over the whole allocation for commercial. We have to allow room for other commercial properties that usually take a longer time to develop."
"The difficulty we have with industrial and commercial properties that usually take a longer time to develop."
"The difficulty we have with industrial and commercial percentages is that there are so many variations," said Kenneth Duncan, council adminstrative officer. "In housing it is much more simple. With such a wide range and type of uses, it might be difficult to get broad categories organized."
"Once a commercial category is completed or filled," said Glendening, "they (the applicants) would have to go to the end of the line and wait for an opening or a new percentage to be established.If you say no to a number of these developers, then we will start getting other tupes of development."
Seven hundred thousand gallons are now reserved exclusively for industrial and commercial developments with a growht potential of 100,000 gallons more per day under expanded guidelines for the system. Of the total currently allotted to commercial use, 5 per cent is used by restaurants, both fast food or convenience and sit-down, while 10 per cent has gone to office and 22 per cent for shopping center expansion. The rest is given to mixed uses, retail stores, liquor stores, recreation and commercial centers.