In an unusual zoning case, the Prince George's County Planning Board last week reversed a rezoning decision made almost a decade ago involving property along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

The 37-acre tract had been rezoned from low-density residential to industrial in 1975. But anticipated roads have never been built and a nearby race track has closed, making the property more suitable for residential, said Eileen M. McCormack, a county planner.

"It doesn't happen all the time," she said. "It was just a case where what we thought the county would be like in the future never came to fruition."

The rezoning came after a request from a developer to change the tract from industrial to a higher-density residential zone. The board instead voted to restore the original zoning.

The developer, Realty Investment Associates, which has a contract to purchase the site, wanted zoning that allows homes on lots of 6,500 square feet. The board voted to require lots of at least 20,000 square feet, said McCormack.

The case is indicative of problems jurisdictions have in planning for future development -- no matter how how carefully plans are laid, circumstances will arise to alter them, say planners.

Ten years ago Prince George's planners believed that the Baltimore-Washington Parkway would be widened and incorporated into the interstate highway system and that trucks would be permitted to use it. The county was also planning for the construction of an Outer Beltway, both projects that would facilitate future manufacturing uses . At the time, the neighboring Midway Speedway was seen as an undesirable neighbor for residential development.

"So industrial seemed the most appropriate use," said McCormack.

But the two road projects have never been funded, much less built, and the speedway has since closed and the property turned into the Capital Institute of Technology.

"The 1975 rationale for industrial development in terms of compatibility with adjacent development and accessibility from major roadways is no longer valid," stated a staff report on the property.

McCormack said the low-density residential zone agreed on by the board is compatible with other homes in the area.