The mayor of Bowie said yesterday that he will seek an appeal of the Prince George's Planning Board's approval of the University of Maryland Science and Technology Center unless the developer agrees to help alleviate traffic congestion and pay for improved fire service.
The 466-acre research center, owned jointly by the University of Maryland Foundation and the Carley Capital Group, a Washington developer, won zoning approval from the Prince George's County Council in 1982 and was given design approval by the planning board on Thursday. It will eventually include nearly 6 million square feet of office space, 110,000 square feet of retail space and a 12-story hotel, and will create about 15,000 jobs.
The developers said yesterday that they hope to break ground late this summer.
Bowie Mayor Richard Logue, citing the tax revenues and the prestige the project would bring to the city, said that generally he favors the project. "We are very supportive of the project," he said. "We think it is an extremely fine asset to the community, [but] if it creates gridlock it's not going to help us."
He criticized the planning board yesterday for not tying construction of the project to improvement of already congested roads near the center, located at the northeast corner of Rtes. 50 and 301. Logue said he was confident that an agreement with the developer could be worked out, but added that if it is not, he will ask the City Council to appeal the case to the Prince George's County Council.
"Once again, the planning board has made no effort to assure that there will be no negative impact on the traffic through our community," said Logue. "We [in Prince George's County] keep bragging that, unlike Montgomery County, our roads are in good shape, but we keep approving projects without requiring the developer to make sure the roads stay in good shape."
The planning board limited the development to 400,000 square feet until the intersection of Rte. 3 (Crain Highway) and Belair Drive, which has a traffic light, is improved to an interchange with a ramp.
The city, however, wants the interchange of Rte. 3 and Belair Drive to have a two-lane ramp, instead of a one-lane ramp as planned.
The city also wants Carley Capital Group to donate $275,000 to improve fire services, most likely by buying a new fire truck, as well as donate five shuttle buses for travel between the research center and the New Carrollton Metro station. The Mark Vogel Companies, developer of the nearby Bowie New Town Center, a massive residential, retail and office complex approved earlier this year, agreed to similar demands, Logue noted.
Paul Rodbell, attorney for the Carley Group, said the group would instead install fire suppression devices throughout the research center and will also take steps to "make sure that there is not a [traffic] mess out there."