Zoning Updates. The West Laurel Civic Association has a long history of proactive work protecting the zoning outlined in the Master Plans of both Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. The pressures continue with development around us and more is coming. The WLCA continues to engage developers and planning boards to keep the few remaining large tracts of open land zoned Rural Residential. Here is a recap of what is currently happening in and around West Laurel.
Kingdom Hall of Laurel (July 2013). (Sweitzer Lane at Route 198). The Kingdom Hall of Laurel opened in mid-July. There is still some minor finishing work but the building is now occupied.
Shell station on Rt 198 in West Laurel (January 2016). After zoning efforts (in which the WLCA was quite involved) and construction that lasted for most of 2105 (during which local citizens, Councilwoman Mary Lehman and the WLCA worked to get corrected various environmental travesties), the new station and Dash-In convenience store (both open 24/7, managed by Zeshan Shahid) opened late 2015. WLCA was then instrumental in getting removed SHA's erroneously installed no U-turn sign on Rt 198 that prevented reasonable access to the station from West Laurel and in arranging to hopefully again get free air services there for our residents. [Tommy, who for years managed that station is now running the automotive service at West Laurel Garage (on Minnick Rd. down Old Gunpowder Rd.; 301-776-6485).]
SHA's "MD 198/MD 28 Corridor Improvement Study” (January 2016). In remission since Maryland's State Highway Administration built the ICC, a couple of years ago SHA revived this effort, providing options ranging from 'no-build' to adding extra lanes on Rt 198 virtually the entire distance from West Laurel to Rt 28 and on Rt 28 over to Georgia Ave. WLCA's representative on SHA's focus group for this project (B. Sollner-Webb) and and many attendees at an open house held in Spring 2015 argued it made no sense to do their desired widening without addressing the jammed narrow section of Rt 198 through Burtonsville, which they were not planning on doing. Since then, efforts may have stalled, but a 1/2016 online posting suggests SHA may plan another meeting for late 2016.
SHA's 'US 29 (Columbia Pike) Interchange Improvement Project' just south of Rt 198 (January 2016). Since a Spring 2015 public meeting on potentially freeway-izing the remaining at-grade intersections of Rt 29 south of Rt 198, as of 1/2016 there evidently has been no further information.
Avalon Manor (Joyce Lane) (July 2014). Being built by Sturbridge Homes, as of mid-January 5 of the 6 homes have been sold with prices beginning at $544,000. Information on the development is at http://sturbridgehomes.com/new-homes/prince-georges-county-new-homes-in-burtonsville/avalon-manor/
Eglise de Dieu (Route 198 and Riding Stable Road), formerly known as Snowden's Birmingham Manor (since the February 2014 Hotline). No change since our last HOTLINE. There is no updates from the Montgomery County Planning Board. Unofficial feedback is that the project has run into problems as the lot size is only 4.5 acres and the project requires 5.0 acres. WLCA continues to monitor.
A New Life Church of Christ (corner of Brooklyn Bridge and Leo James Court). The WLCA Board has met with this church twice to discuss their initial design. The church provided an update at the February 13th WLCA Board meeting. The church is a small church, less than 2,500 square feet, and is permitted within the existing zoning.
Reaching Hearts (Brooklyn Bridge Road) (Summer 2014). The project was approved with additional landscaping buffers. The hearing for Reaching Hearts was held on December 12th with multiple residents from West Laurel present. After multiple meetings with the RHI team, the WLCA submitted a letter stating: "Based on the proffers, updated landscaping plan, and agreement to abide with Staff Report recommendation 11 "Residential development shall require approval of a new preliminary plan of subdivision prior to approval of any building permits." by Reaching Hearts International, the West Laurel Civic Association has no objections." For the full report go to http://www.mncppcapps.org/planning/Resolutions/2013%20Resolution%20PDFs/13-148.pdf
Gudelsky Property (southwest corner of Bond Mill and Route 198). The proposal is for an indoor-outdoor soccer facility consisting of one indoor facility, one outdoor field, a 3-story club house, and 200 parking spaces is moving forward slowly. Mr. Gudelsky's team is pursuing the necessary changes to the zoning code as a first step. No formal paperwork has been submitted.
Iager Farm/Maple Farm (south side of Route 216, Fulton) (January 2016). Since July 2013 when the Howard County council voted to grant the property a combination of mixed-use and low-density zoning or a mix of commercial along Route 216 and approximately 180 homes (2 per acre), there has been no further information.
Bentley Manor (previously Fairland Park) (Old Gunpowder Road and Route 198) is moving forward with their development which spans both Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. The majority of the 385 lots are in Montgomery, where NVR now has 216 singles and 31 MPDU towns. The Prince George’s development is sizable: 104 singles and 34 town houses. All the lots are platted, and are largely permit-ready. (As of Fall 2014, many have already been built.)
Konterra (Old Gunpowder, Virginia Manor) (since the February 2014 Hotline). No update from our last newsletter. Because of the size of Konterra, the Prince George's Planning Board approved conceptual designs for the overall project with a community-based design review board to provide inputs on specific design components. At the first meeting, the design of the initial office building to serve as a Konterra business headquarters was discussed.