Neighborhood Association discusses possible housing developments
By Mathew Schumer
On Aug. 31, the North College Park Community Association gathered at Mama Lucia restaurant for a presentation about two housing developments proposed for North College Park.
Paint Branch Preserve North would include 131 single-family town houses on a nine-acre parcel, and Paint Branch Preserve South, a 13-acre development, would offer 97 similar homes. The proposed developments would be located west and south, respectively, of the north end of Autoville Drive, near Cherry Hill Road.
Matthew Tedesco, a principal with McNamee Hosea, scheduled the meeting on behalf of Stanley Martin Homes. Prince George’s County Planning Department requires developers to hold a preliminary neighborhood meeting before submitting their application to the county for review.
After welcoming everyone to the meeting, Tedesco introduced Brandon Gurney, vice president of land acquisition for Stanley Martin Homes. Gurney gave a short history of the company and its work in the area, including the Riverdale Park Station Homes and Riverfront Apartments in Hyattsville. He noted that the project has been in preliminary planning stages for at least a year.
Responding to an audience question about plans for access to Cherry Hill Road from the two developments, Tedesco stated that the county requires the developers to make road improvements only along the front edge of the property. He added that Lenhart Traffic Consulting, Inc., of Severna Park, is on tap to conduct a traffic impact study to evaluate potential improvements.
“One of the main positives is that we are going to be making improvements to the roadway network on Cherry Hill and Autoville, to make that intersection much safer,” Tedesco noted. “We will also construct increased sidewalks, bikeways and connectivity to trails. Currently, all the southern property is underdeveloped, and the northern property is somewhat developed, so we’re also going to be doing state-of-the-art stormwater management in that area.”
Some at the meeting expressed concern about population density. Tedesco explained that the zoning regulations allow for up to 30 homes per acre and pointed out that only seven per acre are planned for the developments. Attendees also voiced concern about the potential strain of an influx of children to College Park schools. Tedesco stated that the developers will be paying the school facilities surcharge required by Prince George’s County. This fee is collected when building permits are issued.
A few people then asked if the Paint Branch Preserve development will include affordable housing units. Tedesco reported that the housing will be sold at market rate.
Former City Councilmember Mary Cook, who attended the meeting, said that she worked on the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s 2010 Central U.S. 1 Corridor Sector Plan for a year and a half in an attempt to improve the liveability of the area surrounding the development.
“They have forgotten about some of the other pieces [of the Route 1 plan],” said Cook, “which required small professional offices and possibly a little retail. Is that the answer? I don’t know, but they have to be more cognizant of the density that they are proposing and how that will impact everybody in College Park, not just in my neighborhood.”
Under a standing city ordinance, anyone who wants to remove (or even prune) a tree must apply for a permit. Some attendees wondered whether or not the developers plan to adhere to this ordinance, but Tedesco assured them that they will. He stated that any trees that are removed will be relocated in the area.
“We love it up here,” said James Woodhouse, whose home is situated between the developments. “I always said that if somebody wants to come up and build a home and enjoy it, then they’re welcome to, but don’t destroy what we’ve got here.”
Tedesco anticipated that attendees at the meeting could voice concerns. “It’s what we expected,” he said. “There are a lot of committed long-term residents in this part of College Park. They’ve been here for a very long time and feel very strongly about their community and neighborhood, and we respect that. We definitely want to be responsive to their issues and concerns and address as many of them as we can.”
At the request of College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn, there will be a second meeting about the development in the near future, though as of press time, no date has been set. The meeting will be held at College Park City Hall.