The Prince George's County Council, in a 6-to-1 vote, decided to send back to the planning commission and application to construct a 310-room Holiday Inn in the Metro East development near New Carollton because insufficient parking space was included n the site plan.
The decision, which came this week, nearly a year after the application was first submitted, will allow hotel developer Ralph Decklebaum to amend his original site plan and add 77 parking spaces, bringing the total for the proposed $15 million hotel to 580. Decklebaum originally asked to build only 503 spaces.
County law requires that the amended site plan be reconsidered by the county planning commission and the zoning hearing examiner before it can again be voted on by the County Council. To expedite the amendment and review process, the council asked that the planning board and the examiner send the amended application back to them within 90 days.
The three-hour debate over the application, which grew heated at times, turned on the requirements of a county parking ordinance. Russell Shipley, attorney for the aplicant, argued that the formula in the ordinance for deciding the necessary number of parking spaces requires a great deal of double counting.
The oppostion, led by attorney William V. Myers, who represented local hotel interests, said, however, that the ordinance should have been translated literally and that 1,059 spaces should be provided for the Holiday Inn.
By sending the application back to the planning commission, the council, in essence, voted not to decide. It thus did not take a side and will allow the zoning review process to begin anew with an amended application.
"What they (the applicants) are saying is 'don't ask us to waste money. Don't ask us to throw money on the ground like it's nothing and build all these unneeded parking spaces," said Council Chairman William B. Amonett, just before the council voted.
Council member Gerard T. McDonough took issue with Amonett and the other six members present.
"We've been the targets of bait-and-switch tactics before,' McDonough had said earlier. "If the applicant wants to build a development here, he'll have to abide by the county parking ordinance."
Referring to the hotel site plan, opposition lawyer Myers has argued, "If you acquiesce in the wholesale dismant-ling of the master plan and the zoning ordinance, you will have turned the Quenn Anne of Prince George's County into the Titanic."
New Carrollton City Administrator John Brunner told the council, "What we have here is a large sardine trying to put itself in a small can . . . Other hotel owners will consider this a mockery of the law. If you don't pay attention to the parking ordinance, what you'll be doing is saying that we have no standards for development here in Prince George's County."
In the final vote, however, it appeared that Shipley's argument -- that the proposed Holiday Inn had a unique location and that the parking ordinance double-counted the hotel's clientele -- held sway. After the council vote, Shipley said Decklebaum would submit an amended version of the orgiginal site plan this week, providing for 580 spaces.
The consensus of the council appeared to be that in the future it would be willing to consider a site plan allowing for 580 spaces, but that approval would hinge on whether the hotel developers could come up with a safety valve for overflow parking, such as a cooperative agreement with owners of nearby office building who have excess parking space.
In earlier decisions this year, the planning board and zoning hearing examiner had recommended that the hotel developers provide more parking. The planning board, in a resolution passed during the summer, said it would support construction of the hotel if 767 parking spaces were provided.
A few months ago, the zoning hearing examiner announced that he would oppose construction of the hotel unless more parking was provided, at the same time implying that at least 545 spaces were needed.
County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan has already announced his support of the project, saying he considers it a boon to economic development in Prince George's County.