City council reviews preliminary Magruder Pointe plan
By Sophie Gorman Oriani
There was much discussion during the Feb. 3 and Feb. 18 city council meetings, as the members discussed a preliminary plan of subdivision (PPS) for the upper parcel of the Magruder Pointe development.
The proposal, which has already been viewed by the City of Hyattsville Planning Committee, outlines the layout of a proposed 31 lots in the upper parcel of the Magruder Pointe development, where the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission building formerly stood. These lots are targeted to offer roughly half detached homes and half townhouses.
At the Feb. 3 meeting, Kate Howard, city planner, noted that “the planning committee would like the city council to pay extra attention to the stormwater mitigation, as well as request additional details on the storm water plan from the applicant throughout the next stages of the review.”
Jim Chandler, assistant city administrator and director of Community and Economic Development, explained at the meeting that applicants must submit a “stormwater concept,” but aren’t required to engineer a complete stormwater plan until later in the approval process. The City of Hyattsville requested that the applicant demonstrate that the upper parcel can handle its own stormwater without depending on the lower parcel.
The attorney Norman Rivera represented Werrlein Properties at the Feb. 3 meeting. Under pressure from Councilmember Danny Schaible (Ward 2), Rivera admitted that the section of the lower parcel contracted to be sold to the city is included in the density calculations for the lower parcel. (Since the city’s section would remain undeveloped, including its square footage in the calculations makes the overall density appear lower than it would if the density were calculated based only on the developed section.) He also admitted that some stormwater on the lower parcel may be directed onto the city’s section of the lower parcel.
Hyattsville Mayor Candace Hollingsworth had some sharp words for Rivera. “The responses that are received seem as though we are kind of crazy for asking [for more information],” she said. “I have to say, it’s incredibly offensive that every occasion that we have had an opportunity to engage with you, in particular, Mr. Rivera, you have been dismissive of the people’s concerns. You have been demeaning in the way you interact with us, and I would hope that the next time you are before the body, you have a different level of respect for this body and [the] information we are trying to seek on behalf of our residents.”
The development of Magruder Pointe has been marked by legal tangles and delays. On Feb. 18, the council voted to send correspondence to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Chairman Elizabeth Hewlett and to legal counsel, asking them to postpone the hearing for the upper parcel’s PPS until the judicial review of the city’s litigation regarding the lower parcel has concluded. The review was heard on Feb. 26, and the ruling had not been issued as of press time.
On Feb. 18, the city also passed a motion authorizing the mayor to send a letter to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission with some suggested conditions, should the commission decide to proceed with the hearing.
Among their requested conditions, the city asked that the number of townhouses on the upper parcel be limited to ten, to fit the density requirements of the Prince George’s County District Council, rather than the 15 originally proposed. Following the Feb. 3 meeting, the applicant had already agreed to eliminate one single-family home to meet minimum lot size requirements.
The city also requested that the internal roadway running through the development should be built to a public standard and dedicated to the city as a public right of way.
The hearing is currently scheduled for March 12, 2020.