The Prince George's County Council gave the go-ahead Tuesday for construction of a controversial Laurel condominium project by approving a necessary zoning change.
The change had been requested by developers Dennis and Gary Berman, owners of the Laurel shopping center, who want to build 1,000 "luxury" condominium units on a now-vacant parcel at the juncture of Md. Route 197, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Muirkirk Road. A group of surrounding homeowners opposed the project, arguing that the area lacks the necessary roads, schools and police and fire services to accommodate the high-density development.
The area had been zoned for single-family homes since a sectional map amendment in 1975, and the zoning hearing examiner opposed the change. But the Bermans argued that the site, located between two major thoroughfares, was appropriate. A number of area business owners also argued that the units, to cost between $150,000 and $250,000 each, would enhance property values.
Council members voted 7 to 3 to approve the zoning change, arguing that the project, a mixed use development of town houses, high-rise and mid-rise buildings, represents the kind of housing the county needs. Those opposing were council members Frank Casula, whose district encompasses the project, Sue Mills and Floyd Wilson, who agreed that the area's resources would be stretched too thin.
Tuesday's vote requested the Office of Law to draft the appropriate ordinance. The project comes up for final vote next Monday at 1:30 p.m.
Residents vowed to bring more constituents to next week's meeting, and to request an opinion by the state's Department of Transportation.