New Zoning Ordinance Could Bring Dramatic Change to Historic Greenbelt’s Density, Open Spaces, and Skyline

zoningOn October 23, 2018, the Prince George’s County Council voted to approve a new zoning ordinance. This new ordinance is estimated to become effective in 2020. At that time, the current zone which caps density (the number of residential dwelling units) in Historic Greenbelt will go away.

The new zoning ordinance will allow for:

  • Increased Density – the number of dwelling units which may be built in GHI
    would increase by over 500%!
  • Increased Building Height – up to 5 stories for townhouses/apartments and no height limitation on commercial buildings
  • Less Green Space – as a result of infill development on existing green spaces

The County Council also authorized the creation of a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay (NCO) Zone for the Greenbelt, Maryland National Landmark District that includes GHI. This NCO will provide a framework for protecting the existing character of Historic Greenbelt.

The City of Greenbelt has requested GHI’s input regarding the NCO and is expected to submit a proposed NCO to Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) and the County Council for review and approval.

If approved, the Greenbelt NCO would identify the development standards for the expansion of existing buildings, including most GHI additions or new construction in the Greenbelt National Landmark District.

GHI’s Board of Directors has asked its Zoning Task Force to draft a NCO proposal for consideration by the City and wants your comments by Monday, December 31, 2018.

Read the Zoning Task Force’s draft:

Why Does This Matter?

  • GHI owns 250 acres of land near major transportation routes. As a single owner of a large parcel of land, GHI may become attractive to developers;
  • Increased density, height, and mass as well as less green space may significantly change the character of the existing community and have other impacts such as more traffic;
  • Decisions regarding how we modify our homes currently reside with GHI. Do we wish the NCO to place greater restrictions on additions than what is currently in place?
  • Too many architectural design standards in the NCO may slow down the permitting process for additions to GHI units, as the County’s Planning Director will have to review most addition proposals for compliance with the development standards in the NCO.

Consider the following as you think about what the Greenbelt NCO proposal should say, then discuss the idea with your family, friends, and neighbors:

  • What defines the character of our existing community?
    For example, is it: Green space (woodlands and interior parks)? Super blocks? Low density? Low height? Sunlight? Walkability with inner sidewalks? Architectural features? Roosevelt Center? Other?
  • What characteristics of our community do we wish to see protected?
  • Do we wish to see the Roosevelt Center and Historic Apartments protected
    as well?
    If so, how (limits on height? types of uses? architecture?)?
  • Should an Architectural Review Board be established?
    Note, one of the goals of the new zoning ordinance was to provide clear
    rules/guidelines to property owners about how their property may be developed – does adding a review board help accomplish this goal?
  • If we wish to see more density or development in Historic Greenbelt, where should this occur?

What’s Next?

The GHI Board of Directors accepts member comments through Monday, December 31, 2018.

The Board will review the comments –> The Zoning Task Force may update GHI’s draft NCO proposal with member feedback –> The Task Force submits the proposal to the Board for approval –> If approved, GHI sends the proposal to the City of Greenbelt and its Department of Planning and Community Development for review and incorporation into a City approved NCO –> The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) and the Prince George’s County Council evaluate and approve/reject the proposal.

Take Action Today (before the comment period ends on Monday, December 31, 2018)

  • Email your comments to
  • Deliver your comments in person at the receptionist’s desk in the Administration Building at 1 Hamilton Place
  • Mail your comments to GHI, Attention: Executive Assistant, Manager’s Office, 1 Hamilton Place, Greenbelt, MD 20770
  • Inform your friends and neighbors about this critical issue and encourage them to make comments


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