Prince George's County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan has proposed a new comprehensive growth plan that sharply cuts back residential development because, Hogan says, the county cannot afford any more rapid growth.
Under Hogan's plan sewer hookup for nearly 99 percent of about 12,400 planned residential units would be delayed. The plan, however, would not affect about 25,000 residential units whose hookups have already been approved.
"In the past, we generally tried to encourage growth in the county," said Edmond M. Piesen, the county's chief environmental planner, who prepared Hogan's plan.
However, in the wake of last fall's overwhelming voter approval of the TRIM ceiling on tax revenues, "We have to hold off on new building and do some serious thinking about where we want to go the next 10 years."
Hogan's plan must win the approval of the County Council before it takes effect. Council members contacted yesterday said they had not yet read the plan and so could not comment on it.
A slowdown in development would mean a significant change for Prince George's, which during the 1960s was the fastest-growing county in the nation.
In a letter to the County Council included in his new proposed 10-year water and sewer plan, Hogan said that Prince George's population, estimated at 672,000, would have grown to 800,000 in the next decade if he had approved all the developer's requests.
"The county would face [this propect] with extreme difficulty due to the revenue limitations imposed by TRIM," and "public service needs generated by this potential population increase."
Piesen added, "a lot of the requests [for new development] are located outside the beltway, in semirural areas. With development, there is a need to finance public services. The thinking is that, under TRIM, many single-family homes and town houses cannot pay their way."
Hogan's plan, a draft of which was submitted to the County Council Monday, also recommends that a much-debated plan to double the capacity of the Piscataway Sewage treatment plant in Prince George's be scrapped.
The recommendation is likely to irritate Montgomery County officials, who earlier this year blocked a separate attempt by Prince George's council members to kill this proposal. Montgomery's council members argue that Prince George's should agree to expand the plant and allocate some of its treatment capacity to new development in Montgomry.
Hogan's recommendation on the Pistcataway plant is consistent with the long-held belief of Prince George's policy makers that this plant should be used largely to accommodate development in Prince George's, and not as a regional facility.
Nonetheless, his recommendations on new residential developments are a marked departure from the policy of former county executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr., who, in the days before TRIM, actively promoted the construction of new homes and light industry.
Kelly's last water and sewer plan, released last July, approved almost 6,000 residential units for sewer hookups, including more than 5,800 single family homes and two houses. Overall, Kelly approved around 30 percent of the requests for connections, according to the county officials.
In contrast, Hogan proposed denying requests for a total of 3,071 town houses units, more than 8,000 single-family homes, and 996 apartment units.Of the five requests he approved, one was for a shopping center, one was for a community centre, and one was for a new Moose lodge. A total of 130 homes were approved of more than 12,400 requested.
Most of the requests came from developers in outer-beltway areas of the county, where sewer lines have not been extended.
Most notable among the developments that Hogan recommended be at least temporarily postponed was the Golfamerica site in Mitchellville, where 480 single-family homes ar planned. The developers requested a water and sewer hookup within two years, but Hogan suggested that the builders be given a lower priority that would postpone their connection from five to seven years.
Piesen noted that Hogan was interested in encouraging high-rise development around the county's Metro stations and redevelopment of inner-belt-way areas, rather than large new developments in the southern and western parts of the country.
Hogan was not available for comment on the plan yesterday.
The water-and-sewer plan, which was submitted to the council almost two months after it was due, will be considered by the council after public hearings are held. The council may amend the plan before approving it and submitting it to the Maryland Department of Health for final approval.