In May 2016, the Clarion Associates team presented new development standards and public facility adequacy measures for Prince George’s County’s proposed Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations. Module 2 addresses fundamental elements of neighborhoods such as walkability, building heights, streetscapes, public recreation, even whether a fence can be built. We encourage you to review Module 2: Development Standards and Public Facility Adequacy to determine how the proposals may impact your property and community. Here’s a quick guide highlighting ten key proposals made in Module 2.
- Protections for Single-Family Communities
Clarion Associates proposes Neighborhood Compatibility Standards to create a smoother transition between new multifamily and mixed-use development that may be constructed next to existing single-family neighborhoods. These standards help to establish and maintain vibrant pedestrian-oriented areas where differing uses can operate in close proximity to one another, like a shopping center across the street from a residential community. Applicable developments would have to comply with standards regulating many aspects of construction, which include building heights and setbacks, trash collection areas, parking and loading areas, and hours of operation.
- Required Form and Design Standards
Form and Design Standards help shape the public realm. Module 2 proposes mandatory Form and Design Standards for new nonresidential, mixed-use, industrial, and multifamily development. These standards would help to provide a predictable expectation of how new development would impact the surrounding community. Proposed elements to be regulated include building placement, location of offstreet parking, physical elements required on buildings, and the arrangement of windows and doors on a building’s front.
- Preservation of Agricultural Lands
Prince George’s County has a rich heritage in agriculture. In order to protect this legacy, Module 2 introduces Agricultural Compatibility Standards that help prevent new nonresidential and residential development from overtaking lands traditionally used for farming. In addition to promoting the rural and agricultural character in designated zones, the new standards would require proposed non-agricultural uses adjacent to existing agriculture to address the location of buffers, fencing, lot size configuration, and other techniques that help to ensure a better transition between the two uses.
- Addition of Green Building Standards
Modern zoning ordinances address the increasing desire for the built environment to be more harmonious with nature. Clarion Associates proposes green building standards to require development that promotes healthy lifestyles, reduces greenhouse gas emission, and protects our natural resources. Implemented through a scoring system, applicants would have to select from a list of green practices to satisfy the minimum point requirement in order to get an approval or permit. Green building incentives that could yield additional density in Transit-Oriented/Activity Center zones in exchange for more sustainable amenities are also proposed.
- Updated Public Facility Adequacy Standards
Adequate Public Facility (APF) standards establish requirements that public services, such as transportation, police, water and sewerage, parks and recreation, and schools, are available to accommodate proposed development. The recommendations carry forward many of the current practices, but there are several key updates. Most notable among these updates is the requirement of APF certification prior to receiving a preliminary plan of subdivision and, under certain circumstances, a building permit, final plat, or rezoning. Additionally, proposals in Module 2 would require APF (re)certification for building permits where a Planned Development Basic Plan or site plan was approved at least 10 years before the effective date of the Subdivision Regulations.
- Usable Green Space
While you may not notice, your local shopping center is full of green space. It just happens to be scattered throughout the development site. Open Space SetAside Standards would work to reconfigure those green pieces and create larger more functional public green areas. As a new section, Open Space Set-Asides Standards establishes minimum private open space requirements for new residential, nonresidential, and mixed-use development. It identifies the types of open space that can be used to meet the Open Space Set-aside standards, which can include paths, trails, gardens, squares, plazas, and vegetated walls.
- Modernized Parking Requirements
In many cases, today’s Zoning Ordinance requires development sites to have more parking than needed in the worst case scenario—Black Friday shopping. This excess parking creates additional impervious surfaces that could be reconfigured and used for improved stormwater management or creative public spaces. Recommendations for modernizing the County’s parking standards eliminate a one size fits all approach to parking. Proposed parking standards vary by density, where more urban areas with greater access to transit would have smaller ratios for required parking. This section accomplishes the reduction in total parking by expanding shared parking and allowing for more off-site parking depending on its location and pedestrian access.
- Improved Cyclist and Pedestrian Infrastructure
Several recommendations are provided that are meant to help improve the safety and mobility of pedestrians and cyclists throughout the County. They require bike parking facilities at schools, multifamily housing, and nonresidential properties; mandate the construction of sidewalks, bike lanes, and bike paths in new developments; establish safe pedestrian access ways through large parking areas; and encourage design standards that lead to more attractive and easier to navigate streetscapes. Additionally, “road adequacy” in the Subdivision Regulations becomes “transportation adequacy” to recognize the increasing use of transit, bicycle, and pedestrian modes of transportation in urban areas.
- Updated Fence Standards
The Zoning Ordinance determines the placement, material, and heights of fences in residential and nonresidential areas. A new standard is added to require that all fences, except for ones protecting livestock, be constructed with the “finished” side facing outward.
- Greater Street Connectivity and Mobility
The new Zoning Ordinance encourages a multi-modal approach to moving both vehicles and people throughout our communities. To help accomplish this goal, Module 2 incorporates a Street Connectivity Index, a metric that determines how connected a single-family residential development should be by calculating the number of blocks and intersections. Simply put, the Street Connectivity Index helps to determine how many paths a person can take to get to one destination in a development. This helps to improve circulation throughout a community by improving cross-access and creating a more defined street grid.