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Editor’s Note: This is part two in a small series of articles by author James Wisniewski about the important and significance of green spaces in Greenbelt. Read his first article here.
“Perhaps nature is our best assurance of immortality.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
It is easy for us to take Greenbelt’s beauty and green spaces for granted in much of the same way many Washingtonians take the monuments and other DC landmarks for granted. We do so knowing that green spaces are only a short distance away. After the Prince George’s County Council introduced a new zoning ordinance on October 23, 2018 allowing for increased density, increased building height, and less green space, Greenbelt Homes, Inc. (GHI) and the City of Greenbelt acted quickly to get the county to create an exception based on the historical significance of Greenbelt, known as the Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Zone (NCOZ). Due to the complexity of the terminology in the proposed NCOZ, we need to make sure that the regulations:
- Do not allow for the removal of green spaces and
- Keep the integrity of historic Greenbelt intact.
On 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. Continue reading “New Zoning Ordinance Could Bring Dramatic Change to Historic Greenbelt’s Density, Open Spaces, and Skyline”
Mark your calendar and plan to attend the GHI Finance Committee meeting.
June 14 (Thursday) @ 7 p.m.
GHI Administration Building Board Room
1 Hamilton Place, Greenbelt, MD 20770
(!) Why it matters This meeting will hold discussions of aged receivables, the first quarter financial statements, and calculation of new member real estate taxes.
WSSC owns, and is currently responsible for the maintenance and replacement of water lines, including the lateral pipes up to and including individual water meters outside GHI masonry homes. GHI is responsible for the piping from the water meter into the homes. For the past ten years, WSSC has postponed plans to replace the aging water and sewer infrastructure for the masonry homes. The reason is WSSC would like to relocate the water meters to the curb and for GHI to take over the responsibility of the water lines from the curb up to the individual units. This would mean that GHI would be responsible for thousands of feet of buried pipe that WSSC currently maintains under a 1958 agreement. While WSSC has postponed the replacement of pipes, they continue to replace pipes as they fail. (The infrastructure for the frames homes was replaced in the 1980’s and has not reached the end of its useful life.)
In answer to a question raised at the January 25, 2015 Town Hall Meeting about the potential cost of this shift to GHI, GHI estimated that the cost to GHI members would be about $1.5 million.