To the fast-food gourmet, the two-block area on Rte. 450 must seem like heaven: There's an Arby's, Gino's, Mr. Donut, Roy Rogers, Jiffy Shoppe, Ice Cream Man, Taco House, Red's Grill, the Good Earth Restaurant, Bon's Big Boy, Rustler Steak House and Ho's Chinese Carry-Out.
But as far as the members of the Prince George's County Council are concerned, all that fast food just gives them heartburn.
So it was plop-plop, fizz-fizz time for the council on Tuesday. By a 10-0 vote, the council passed a resolution it hopes will bring fast relief by preventing further construction of fast-food and family-style restaurants in the College Park Rte. 1 area.
Specifically, the legislation will empower the council to deny water and sewer hookups to any proposed commercial development in the Anacostia bsin that uses more than 50 gallons of water a day for each full-time employe.
Because the average fast-food restaurant uses 133 gallons of water per day per full-time employe, the council hopes to be able to use the legislation to bring the hamburger heaven glut under some sort of control.
"We have made some major errors in letting several of these (kinds of) restaurants be built," said Glendening. "On U.S. 1 we had a beautiful piece of land next to a large bank building. And what did we permit there? A Ponderosa (Steak House) and a Burger King."
In a country that is constantly pushing "new quality," many council members consider the growing number of fast food developments "nothing but an eyesore."
Notorious "fast food alleys" in College Park, Bladensburg, and Riverdale are "not what you call prime cut establishments, according to one council member. In one three-mile stretch along Annapolis Road, there are 20 fast food carry-outs and 17 family-style restaurants, according to a survey taken by the council. And in College Park, around the university campus there are 16 more.
Though they voted for the measure, at least three council members said that fast food as a concept should not be condemned. It is "just the new American way of life," and as a new lifestyle it should be tolerated along with the development that inevitably accompanies such shifts, one said.
"The eating habits of people today are changing," said council member Francis White. "It is now the time of the quick pickup instead of the sitdown meal at home."
These are already about 400 "quick pickup" types of restaurants in Prince George's prompting fears that "the new legislation might be 10 years too late," according to a council staffer.
It is definitely "too late" for the strip just north of College Park. A McDonald's, Roy Rogers, Col. Sam's and a Lums surround the proposed main north entrance into the University of Maryland.
The legislation will not effect the whle Rte. 1 strip that runs all the way from College Park to Laurel - an area that is a classic example of the now discredited strip zoning theory of planning.
The council's control over water use will now permit it to deny any development's request for sewer hookups, restricting other high water users as well as the fast-food establishments.
"Hotels, supermarkets, drug stores and other types of restaurant could be affected by the bill unless the developer of a project can prove it would "improve the variety and diversity of services and employment opportunities in the area.
Some will undobtedly try to persuade the council that their fast-food outlet will do just that.
After all, said council member William B. Amonett, "beauty is in the eye of beholder."