In July of this year, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals called for a halt to rezoning efforts that would add over 500 townhomes and 100 single family homes where Bowie Freeway Airport currently sits, saying the rezoning “unlawfully violates the uniformity requirement, and therefore is illegal and unenforceable”.
Following community opposition during a town hall meeting, former Prince George’s Councilman Derrick Leon Davis withdrew legislation to add a 300-unit apartment building and retail development across from the Cameron Grove Resort Center
Both rezonings are now going forward regardless. A little-known process by the County Council to amend the Bowie, Mitchellville, & Vicinity Master Plan green lights these developments on Bowie Freeway Airport and near Cameron Grove, along with hundreds of townhomes at Frank’s Tree Nursery. By altering the Master Plan, these changes are effectively grandfathered in to future zoning.
This is happening despite complaints from the Planning Board, saying that the proposed rezoning was “inconsistent with the overall approach toward growth management”.
The surrounding areas along Annapolis and Enterprise Road are primarily single-family homes, zoned as rural, and have had significant traffic increases in recent years. Newer developments, such as Fairwood and Vista Gardens, have substantially reduced the number of trees in surrounding areas, leading to higher temperatures and more humidity. Zoning powers in Prince George’s County are held by the County Council, excluding in the City of Laurel, and many have pointed to the ties between campaign donations and new developments.
During a rally outside the Wayne Curry Administration Building, community advocates including Bowie resident Michael Bridges secured a future meeting to discuss zoning with Councilman Hawkins. Councilman Hawkins noted that “he was more sensitive to this issue”, as many residents had discussed this during his recent re-election campaign. According to organizers, the main goal of the meeting with Hawkins was to delay a meeting of the County Council to allow more time for the Planning Board’s findings.
In a meeting with Councilman At Large Calvin Hawkins on August 24th, community advocates cited impact on traffic, pedestrian safety, emergency response, and overcrowded schools as reasons to oppose this development.
“Most importantly, the community is not made aware of such drastic changes to their neighborhoods with limited notification at Frank's Nursery”, says Milly Hall, the leader of the Concerned Citizens for District 4 & Surrounding Areas.
Carol Boyer, the secretary of the Concerned Citizens group, says their organization was promised an update regarding moving the zoning hearing to a later date, a promise that has not yet been fulfilled. There are two Bowie planning meetings, occurring on September 13th & 19th, and the County Council’s zoning hearing is on September 27th.
Following this meeting in late August, Councilman Hawkins introduced CB-091 to require a ⅔ vote of the County Council to enact zoning map amendment changes.
Milly Hall believes this proposed legislation would “derail the incoming council members, who were mostly voted in because of their community support, from having a majority vote” on zoning matters. Further, she asks why the Council, with 5 of the 11 members not returning, are opting to change the voting structure of the County Council.