The Prince George's County Council yesterday approved a plan to control development in the fast growing southwest section of the county.
The plan generally calls for changes in zoning in a corridor along Indian Head Highway to limit residential development to lots of an acre or larger, while preserving existing 1/4-acre zoning in the Camp Springs area. Major employment centers also are proposed for large tracts along the Beltway between Branch Avenue and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The actual zoning changes will be enacted by the council over the next two years.
Three new roads proposed by planners to accommodate expected growth in the 43-square-mile area, bounded by the Potomac River, Suitland Parkway, Andrews Air Force Base and Tinkers Creek, became the focus of heated debate between pro and antidevelopment forces who view them as crucial to the area's future. In the end, the council voted to include only one of the roads in the plan although studies by county planners indicate that all three are needed to accommodate future growth.
The plan was approved by a 9-to-2 vote after a heated discussion. Amendments covering each of the roads were voted on separately.
By a bare 6-to-5 majority, split along north-south lines, the council approved a plan to widen Allentown, Palmer and Tucker roads into a four- to six-lane divided highway connecting Branch Avenue and Indian Head Highway. A road designed to accommodate development around the Rosecroft Metro terminal and an expressway connecting Rosecroft with the extreme southeast portion of the county were defeated.
Council member Floyd Wilson of Glenarden, who voted in favor of the Allentown Road proposal, said the southern end of the county has to accept its share of future development. "You're always trying to see that development will be restricted to the Beltway . . . and I'm sick of it!," Wilson said, his voice rising.
William Amonett, a council member from the southern part of the county, countered that new roads will spur unwanted development. "All the residents of the south county are opposed to is making it into a garbage pit," he said.
Voting against the overall plan, but for different reasons, were council members Ann Lombardi and Sue Mills. Lombardi said that without adequate roads, "We have created a landlocked employment area, and these reasons are sufficient for me to vote no." Mills, who opposed all three roads, said the plan was "half a loaf and I am not willing to settle for half a loaf."
In a separate action, Lombardi, who has complained of having been "dealt out" of her seat on the council by a recent redistricting plan, introduced a last-minute alternative. The plan would take her out of a Bowie district considered unwinnable and place her in a south county district with Amonett, who is considering running for county executive.
Lombardi admitted that the alternative plan, drawn by south county Republican Ella Ennis, has only a slim chance of passage.