The Prince George's County Council yesterday unanimously approved legislation designed to give the county government the power to guide development in the vicinity of existing and proposed Metrorail stations.
The new transit district overlay zones, as they are called, will allow the council to restrict or expand plans for new commercial, residential and industrial development that presumably will be attracted by transportation centers.
There are five operating Metro- rail stations in the county. Three of them are on the Orange Line at Cheverly, Landover and New Carrollton, and two are on the Blue Line at Capitol Heights and Addison Road.
A northern Green Line extension to Greenbelt, with four stations, is planned for completion in 1991, and a southern extension of the same line, with three stations, ending at Rosecroft or Branch Avenue, is planned for 1993.
The new planning designation, devised by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will not in itself change the zoning around Metro stations, but it will guide rezonings.
"There is a lot of development coming into Prince George's County, and this is going to be a vital tool to help bring municipal input into the process," said council member Richard Castaldi, one of the bill's sponsors.
The New Carrollton Metro station and its proposed accompanying office park is a likely target for the first use of the designation, according to the bill's supporters.
No one spoke in opposition to the legislation at a public hearing yesterday.
Paul Rodbell, spokesman for the Prince George's Chamber of Commerce, called the new zoning tool "a tremendous opportunity to attract development."
Council member William Ammonett, the chief sponsor of the measure, added that the designation could do as much to limit development as it could to encourage it.
"Sometimes it's desirable to keep activity confined," Ammonett said.
Specifics of each transit district overlay zone will be proposed by the county's Planning Board following a public hearing and then will go to the County Council for another public hearing and final action.
The zoning hearing examiner, who normally passes nonbinding judgment on proposed zoning changes in the county, would not participate in this process.
Metro spokeswoman Marilyn Dicus said that the legislation's only expected impact on the transit authority would be in planning for "future joint development activities" under consideration by the county government and Metro.
A feasibility study is under way to determine what form any such development should take.