South County Overtaxed

At a time when property taxes in Prince George's County are truly a burden, mostly driven by its education system, we, the Prince George's south county residents, now also face uncontrolled residential and commercial growth.

Maryland has no money to immediately improve Route 210 south of the Beltway, a major and dangerous transportation corridor that extends south to Indian Head, but the county is approving building permits for thousands of new south county homes and a smaller number of commercial developments, all of which will depend on Route 210, its feeder roads, its ailing schools and, in one case, a bankrupt volunteer fire department and its associated paramedic units.

Things are getting ready to break in south county. Roads, schools and taxpayers are overtaxed.

Residential and commercial growth in south county (as well as throughout Prince George's County) requires significant increases in the pace of road and infrastructure construction, expenditures that Maryland and Prince George's County can't financially make.

The latest blow to south county residents is a mega-development planned at the intersection of Routes 210 and 228. This development will draw new residents, new traffic and more development to south Prince George's County along congested Route 210. It offers a senior housing complex, a Wal-Mart, more new homes and a gasoline station. It offers not one retail facility of interest to south county residents.

The Wal-Mart is an enigma. Joining another Wal-Mart located only eight miles away, it is also near two additional Wal-Marts soon to be constructed in Clinton and La Plata. There has been discussion of a third Wal-Mart in Fort Washington. Earlier intended to be a "superstore," the Accokeek Wal-Mart has now been scaled back to a more ordinary size.

It is hard to understand how Wal-Mart could locate three to four stores closely together in a rural area and expect all of them to succeed. The question now for south county residents is whether the Planning Board will grant a permit to build the newest Wal-Mart at Routes 210/228, or for that matter, for the entire complex.

The larger question for south county residents, though, is whether south county will remain the area they know or whether it will be filled with new housing developments and mixed-use businesses.

The decision residents need to make now--and now is not too strong a word--is whether to involve themselves with the decision process or whether to watch the Prince George's Planning Board, bereft of opposing comments, rubber-stamp development application after application. The Planning Board, itself, is not obviously biased toward developers, but what they see and what they hear determines who gets what.

As a resident of south county, I hope that my fellow citizens will respond favorably to the small group of residents who oppose the newest Wal-Mart. I also hope they will stand up and be counted by the Planning Board as being in favor of keeping south county a good place to live both for humans and wildlife.

Jerry Wing

Accokeek

Wal-Mart and Watershed

I read with great dismay that once again a major development threatens the Mattawoman Creek watershed. In "Not in Their Neighborhood" Aug. 25, Prince George's Extra, the details of an enormous impact to the Mattawoman are laid out. At issue is the proposed building of a Wal-Mart store and sprawl-intense housing at the intersection of Routes 210 and 228.

The Mattawoman will suffer from the loss of wooded lands that filter out the very pollutants that the Wal-Mart and housing development would contribute. The massive parking lot would produce thermally charged, high-velocity runoff that kills biodiversity and degrades streams with silt. Pesticides and fertilizers from a garden center and lawns, vehicle fluids and other contaminants would also find their way into the Mattawoman. The Mattawoman is the most productive fishery in the Northern Chesapeake Bay. It is also the heart of the $35 million Maryland bass fishery and a significant reason why the Potomac River is considered the best tidal bass fishery in the nation.

Residents will certainly suffer from the inappropriate development as well. There will be negative impacts on traffic, smaller businesses and quality of living. This is a perfect example of Dumb Growth. Wal-Mart's strategy of saturating the market is reprehensible. If they really want to be a good neighbor, they should build in areas that have the infrastructure and have already been developed previously. How about a site in Oxon Hill, where people could really use the store? After all that has been done to protect Mattawoman Creek, it is obvious that building a major development at the headwaters is a dumb idea.

Bill Shepard

Maryland B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) Chapter

State Federation Inc.

Covering Controversy

I was very pleased with the Aug. 25 story about the Wal-Mart controversy. Coverage of this issue is important to many residents of the area, not just in Accokeek and along Route 210, but for many who use Routes 210 and 228 in commuting to other communities, such as Indian Head and Waldorf, for example. I think it is important to have good coverage of the issues involved, and I hope you will continue your detailed reporting.

I am opposed to building the Wal-Mart store because of its impact on traffic, the environment and the peaceful quality of this generally residential area. Please continue informing us, your readers, about the issues involved so that everybody affected by the outcome will be aware of developments and be able to express himself to his representatives in the county.

Marcia Nelson

Accokeek

The Prince George's Extra welcomes Letters to the Editor. E-mail to pgextra@washpost.com, fax to 301-952-1397 or mail to Letters to the Editor, Prince George's Extra, The Washington Post, 14402 Old Mill Rd., Suite 201, Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772. Please include address and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited.