Prince George's County officials are proposing a new overlay zone to control and limit development of the 11,000 acres of the county's coastal acreage along the Potomac, Patuxent and Anacostia Rivers, as part of a statewide effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

"The new zone includes everything within a 1,000 feet of tidal waters," said Michael Pawlukiewicz, chief of water quality management for Prince George's Department of Environmental Resources. Within the overlay zone, the county proposes three development categories: intense, limited and resource conservation.

Of the 11,000 coastal acres, 6,400 are classified as "resource conservation" under the proposed regulations. In these areas, development would be limited to one dwelling per 20 acres.

"With this amount set aside for conservation and green space, we are allowed 320 acres of new development in the critical areas {of the county}," Pawlukiewicz said. Of this, the giant PortAmerica project near the Wilson Bridge will be allocated almost 100 acres because it is already served by sewer and water.

Competition among developers for the remaining acreage will be intense, predicts County Executive Parris Glendening. "We will insist on high quality, environmentally sensitive developments," he said.

Under the proposed legislation, a change in the overlay zone can only be approved by the County Council. Individual developers cannot seek piecemeal rezoning under the plan, Pawlukiewicz said. "We want control of the projects. Habitat and water quality are key if some developer wants us to allocate acreage to a project."

After public work sessions in June and a public hearing July 21, the proposed legislation goes to the Critical Area Commission for approval.

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