County Council, Politics, and Development
Because the County Council is responsible for local land-use decisions, including the Beltsville area, a lot of local politics revolves around development issues. And, while every county's General Plan of development for the past 60 years has prioritized Smart Growth principles and had policies to rein in sprawl, not one single plan has ever successfully prevented ever-consuming sprawl. So, it is no surprise that at the end of one council's term of office and with the incoming council dedicated to Smart Growth, there would be a flurry of legislative and political activity.
The last couple of weeks after the summer recess have seen a flurry of legislation being rushed through the process so that they may be enacted before the end of the term. For example, one bill eliminates most of the Council's authority to hear zoning and site plan cases, and another would preclude amendments to the zoning ordinance without a supermajority (this bill was pulled). This second bill was intended to make it harder to enact Smart Growth policies.
Several other bills propose developer-friendly amendments to the brand-new Zoning Ordinance that effectively loosens regulations on certain properties by allowing developers to access or apply for looser regulations than the new ordinance would permit.
All of this, and even more, has been very controversial. The good news is that it has engaged a substantial number of public members around development, environment, and climate issues.
Fairland Regional Park Ready to Expand
When the Konterra Town Center's site plan was approved a dozen years ago, Konterra was required to dedicate over 40 acres of land to Fairland Regional Park across from the skating rink and the pool. However, the timing for the transfer was tied to Konterra subdividing its property to break ground. Between the fiscal crisis and the more recent demise of retail stores, Konterra Town Center has been on hold waiting for development economics to sort itself out. Now, Konterra is processing its first two residential development applications and is ready to dedicate the land to the park. The Council Member expects Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) to develop a variety of athletic fields, but I also expect M-NCPPC to update its Fairland Regional Park Master Plan which will include a community engagement process. Stay tuned.
Gas Stations and Residential Neighborhoods
On September 16th, Council Member Dernoga’s bill, County Bill (CB)-76-2022 focused on gas stations passed out of the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee. The bill will ensure gas stations will not be bunched together in abundance or near residential neighborhoods without submitting a plan to the District Council first for select zones.
Drive Thru Trunk or Treat
Join Council Member and the rest of the District 1 Team for Trunk or Treat 2022 on Tuesday, October 25th from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM at Beltsville Academy. This will be a free and fun event for the whole family. Participants will need to drive through rather than walk up. Check @TomDernogaD1 on social media for additional information. Donations of candy would be greatly appreciated and may be dropped off at the District VI Police Station at 4321 Sellman Road.
Please keep in touch. Email us at email@example.com or call 301.952.3887. Se habla Español. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @TomDernogaD1