It could be the county's own version of the Y2K time bomb: Commission 2000 was created in July by the County Council to make sense of the myriad and confusing plans and regulations that govern--or misgovern--how Prince George's grows.
"We need to find a system with a little more balance and certainty for all parties involved," said panel Chairman Steven J. Del Giudice, a lawyer and former County Council member from Hyattsville. "Right now, there's very little certainty for anybody. Both the community and developers are suffering."
The panel is large, with 53 members, and represents diverse and conflicting interests, from developers to no-growthers to politicians to people who loathe politicians.
This combustible mix, with the help of county planners and outside consultants who are being paid $150,000, was directed to submit a two-year plan for approval by the end of this year but is months behind schedule. The panel also is charged with proposing by the end of next year a draft revision of the county's General Plan, last done in 1982.
But despite a sense of urgency that led to its appointment, and a concern that runaway growth could overtake rational analysis, Commission 2000 didn't get underway until November. The panel held public forums in March and is not expected to hold another formal meeting until mid-summer.
"I think it holds a lot of promise, but they're moving way too slow and jerking us around on lengthy processes, professional planning jargon and all that," said Carmen Anderson, of Brandywine, who represents the Prince George's Civic Federation on the panel, which is being guided largely by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission staff.
Following the 1982 general plan, county government focused on specific areas, "but we lost the county perspective," said Tom Tyson, Commission 2000 staff director. "There's been a lot of detail to localized areas but no guidance to make choices on where development should go on a countywide basis."
Now, the panel is looking at four different scenarios. The first is to allow development to proceed under currently approved plans and trends in employment and population growth, as projected by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Second is to retain the plans but time the growth. Another is to change the plans, lowering density in some areas, raising it in others. Last is to impose strict limits on annual residential growth, as in Howard County, which caps growth at 2,500 units a year.
This summer, the staff and consultants will run computer tests on the four approaches to gauge their effects on schools, transportation and the environment. Working from the results, Commission 2000 then will come up with a "preferred alternative."
But not everyone is convinced. Thomas Dernoga, a panel member and lawyer who represents Beech Tree opponents, said: "Every three or four years, the development community and planning gurus have to come up with a new spin about development, to make it acceptable."
Mary Kilbourne, a leader of the Beech Tree opposition and a member of the panel representing the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said she has mixed feelings but supports the panel's efforts. "I see so many who give up and say there's nothing we can do," she said. "That's what they want us to do."
Del Giudice said the Beech Tree project illustrates the dilemma for both citizens and developers. "One of the things we need to examine," he said, is how long a developer should have to build according to an approved plan before the plan itself becomes outdated or inappropriate.
"Are there no-growth people out there? Yes," he said. "Is that what Commission 2000 is about? No." Instead, he said, it's "about growing in a smart way that makes more sense, makes better use of existing infrastructure . . . [that is] better coordinated with existing and planned [roads and schools]. If the infrastructure isn't being funded, then there's a legitimate question whether the growth should take place . . .
"There will be lot of disagreement over what smart growth is," Del Giudice said. "A lot of people can park their camel under that tent."
Commission 2000 was formed by the Prince George's County Council to examine and make recommendations about growth and development in the county. The group is expected to make a report on its findings later this year.
Stephen J. Del Giudice, Hyattsville
Council member Ronald V. Russell (2 nominations)
* Samuel Dean, President, Lake Arbor Civic Association, Mitchellville
* Jack C. Sims, Mayor, City of District Heights, District Heights
Council member Walter H. Maloney (2 nominations)
* John W. Croft, Upper Marlboro
* Thomas Dernoga, Laurel
Former council member Del Giudice (2 nominations)
* Mike Franklin, Hyattsville
* Denise Hamler, Cottage City
Council member Thomas R. Hendershot (2 nominations)
* Frank Pesci, New Carollton
* Jim Herl, College Park
Council member Audrey E. Scott (2 nominations)
* Jim Cronk, director of planning and economic development, Bowie
* Gary G. Allen, Bowie
* Alternate: Theodore L. Chambers, Bowie
Council member Marvin F. Wilson (2 nominations)
* James M. Trent, Bowie
* Shawna Jones, Cheverly
Council member Dorothy F. Bailey (2 nominations)
* Jacqueline Brown Woody, Upper Marlboro
* Demetrius Windom, Capitol Heights
Council member Isaac J. Gourdine (2 nominations)
* Bruce Purvis, Fort Washington
* Betty Wooten, Fort Washington
Council member M.H. Jim Estepp (2 nominations)
* Marie Helen McGlone, Brandywine
* Jay Padgett, GeoServices Corp., Forestville
County Executive Wayne K. Curry (7 appointments)
* Jay Addison, Upper Marlboro
* David Harrington, Bladensburg
* Felton Magee Jr., Mitchellville
* Jerry Mathis, Fort Washington
* Douglas Peters, Bowie
* Manervia Riddick, Washington Gas, Forestville
* Richard Stewart, Mitchellville
Prince George's County Planning Board (3 nominations)
* Elizabeth M. Hewlett, chairman, Upper Marlboro
* Regina J. McNeill, commissioner, Upper Marlboro
* Roy I. Dabney, vice chairman, Upper Marlboro
Prince George's County Public Schools (3 nominations)
* Donna Hathaway Beck, Upper Marlboro
* Eva Williams, Lanham
* Leni Stern, Bowie
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (1 nomination)
* Duane Oates, chairman
* Alternate: Juanita Miller, commissioner
Prince George's Chamber of Commerce (2 nominations)
* Adrian R. Gardner, Mitchellville
* David Murray, Beltsville
Suburban Maryland Building Industry Association (2 nominations)
* Roger M. Lebbin, president, Mid-Atlantic Builders Inc., Rockville
* Steve Spano, General Manager, Lanham Office, Loiderman Associates Inc., Lanham
Prince George's County Board of Realtors (2 nominations)
* Boyd Campbell, treasurer, Lanham
* Ann Pell, president, Upper Marlboro
* Alternate: Joel Rozner, Greenbelt
Farm Bureau of Prince George's County (2 nominations)
* Joseph S. Perrie Jr., president, Upper Marlboro
* Mildred Darcey, Brandywine
Prince George's County Historic Preservation (1 nomination)
* James D. Williams, University Park
NAACP (1 nomination)
* Hardi L. Jones, president, Landover
Prince George's County Municipal Association (2 nominations)
* Lee P. Walker, association president, Landover Hills
* Margaret Mallino, mayor, University Park
Apartment and Office Building Association (1 nomination)
* Lesa Hoover, vice president for Maryland, Edgewater
Chesapeake Bay Foundation (1 nomination)
* Mary E. Kilbourne, Upper Marlboro
Western Shore Conservancy (1 nomination)
* Michael Pawlukiewicz, director of environmental research, Urban Land Institute, Washington
Prince George's County Economic Development Corp. (1 nomination)
* Marva Jo Camp-Pender, Mitchellville
Prince George's County Labor Coalition (1 nomination)
* Lew Robinson, president, Prince George's County Educators Association, Forestville
Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO (1 nomination)
* Tonya Love, Capitol Heights
Prince George's Civic Federation (1 nomination)
* Carmen Anderson, president, Brandywine
* Alternate: Roger Goll, Bowie
Sierra Club Patuxent Group (1 nomination)
* Mary Vogel, Camp Springs