It is a rare event when a municipality completely rewrites its zoning ordinance. As many of you know, in 2014 Montgomery County adopted a new Zoning Ordinance and Prince George’s County is in the midst of a complete rewrite. VIKA is working with staff and stakeholders to track and make recommendations on the Ordinance based on our decades of experience working on development projects in the County.
The Big Picture
Whereas Montgomery County rewrote their code in part to help implement a number of individual sector and master plans envisioning communities focused on mixed-use and multi-modal transportation options, the Prince George’s County effort is meant to implement the recently approved General Plan “PLAN Prince George’s 2035”. This new code will replace over 1,200 pages of complex and confusing regulations in a code book that has not been completely updated in over 50 years.
This multi-year effort has several project goals:
- Streamline and simplify the regulations and development approval process
- Modernize and consolidate our zones and development standards
- Incentivize economic and transit-oriented, mixed-use development
- Protect and enhance stable residential neighborhoods
Another difference between Montgomery’s and Prince George’s approaches is that Prince George’s County is tackling their Subdivision Ordinance rewrite concurrently; Montgomery County is working on the final phases of their Subdivision Ordinance rewrite now, about three years behind the Zoning Ordinance rewrite.
Started in 2014, this multi-year project is well into its 3rd phase: preparing draft zoning code and subdivision regulations. The draft texts are being prepared and released in 3 modules. Module 1 (zones and uses) and Module 2 (development standards) have been released for public review.
Figure 2: Recent and remaining schedule from the Project Website
Upcoming releases include a rewrite/revision to the landscape manual and the 3rd module on administration, enforcement, and nonconformities. It is anticipated that draft Ordinances will be compiled early in 2017.
The Prince George’s County Planning Department has hosted many meetings around the County with communities, local governments, and civic associations. VIKA has attended these and has met with Department Staff to listen to the consultant’s and stakeholders’ ideas and to discuss particular issues and potential approaches.
Figure 3: VIKA has attended work sessions and presentations to stay informed and engaged in the process
The presentations and work sessions have been important because of the number of new ideas proposed for the Ordinance. These include, neighborhood compatibility standards, green building standards and incentives, increased roadway access and circulation, design standards for residential and non-residential and mixed-use, and large retail development standards.
How We Can Help Going Forward
VIKA will continue to meet with Staff and attend work sessions to provide input on concerns raised as we review and test some of the new ideas. Because we have several ongoing and upcoming projects in Prince George’s County, we’re working diligently with owners and attorneys to address potential issues and ensure we can have beautiful, buildable, marketable, and sustainable development going forward. If you have a site or use in mind, give us a call and we’ll work with you to determine the opportunities and constraints under the new code and get concerns in front of Staff to collaborate on solutions.