Now, I like to stick up for my county. I believe that in many ways, Prince George's County has been dealt the short end of the smart growth stick. But the fact is that the county government isn't even trying, and it seems that any smart, transit oriented growth that does occur happens by accident or coincidence.
Washington Post article in Greater Greater Washington's Breakfast Links. A concrete plant has been approved near Sheriff and Cabin Branch Roads near Fairmount Heights.The Post article points out the multitude of other industrial plants near this site, surrounded on all sides by middle class residential zoning. GGW highlights this concentration, pointing out that the region in majority black. Pushing around non-wealthy minorities is not a new thing Prince George's County.
Cheverly Metro Station. Photo by Genista from Flickr
But what the Post doesn't point out is that the site where this concrete plant has been approved is less than a mile from Cheverly Metro station, one of the most underused stations on Metro. And it's on the same side of US-50 as the Metro station, meaning that useful growth could potentially occur in that area if Prince George's County wasn't treating it as a dumping ground for undesirable industry. It's a location inside the Beltway with easy access to the city and multiple forms of transit, including two Metrobuses that directly serve the site, five Metro stations within two miles (Cheverly, Landover, Deanwood, and Capitol Heights, and Addison Road-Seat Pleasant), and an Amtrak and MARC station at New Carrollton under three miles from the site. This is not the first, but only the latest controversy where PG County has throw its citizens under the bus and tried to drop an industrial plant in residential areas near Metro stations.
This site could be used for transit-oriented development at Cheverly station. It could be a crossroads between Cheverly and Capitol Heights. Instead it is home to an asphalt plant, a recycling transfer station, and a clay mine. And now, coming soon, a concrete plant. These uses would be far more suitably placed along US 50 outside the Beltway just a few short miles away, alas those areas have been blanketed with very low density McMansion developments. Byzantine laws promoting sprawl in PG will continue to force industrial growth in inappropriate places, including Fairmount Heights, one of the oldest black settlements in Maryland.
Prince George's County will not continue to prosper as it runs out of agricultural land while continuing to neglect its valuable inner ring suburbs. Transit investment will continue to be difficult to justify, making it more difficult to fund. And PG will continue to mean poor growth until the county's planning begins to take a look towards the future with regard to land use economy.