Bill to Pause Townhome Construction Moves to Committee Before Council Vote

WASHINGTON INFORMER: When Prince George’s County Council member Wala Blegay (D-District 6) won a seat to represent her central county district, one of her primary concerns was addressing suburban sprawl. On June 15, a subcommittee voted to hold the legislation in Committee before sending Blegay’s bill to pause townhome construction to the full Council for a vote.

In a December WIN-TV interview, Blegay said, “The sprawl in our community, saturating our streets with townhomes … [and] development that’s really unwanted.”

Blegay introduced a bill in April to pause townhome developments outside of transit-based areas and high-density areas. Some critics, particularly those in real estate and development, noted the impact this would have on the county’s long-term fiscal health and housing stock. 

“They’re already deciding not to do deals in Prince George’s County. People are just very nervous about investing in the county, where there’s just so much uncertainty about if they’re going to be able to move forward,” Graf said. “We have a housing shortage and we need all options to address it. We understand the intent of the sponsor to obtain more transit oriented development (TOD) but it should be done through incentives and working with the industry, not mandates and moratoriums.”

Former County Council member Derrick Leon Davis, who represented District 6 before resigning in 2021, said “the idea of a moratorium is antithetical even to the stated priorities of this Council.”

“A moratorium will help make housing less affordable, by formula it will reduce the amount of ‘infrastructure’ being built to support our road network, and begin to erode any confidence businesses had begun to have in the Prince George’s County Government,” Davis said. “Six schools are scheduled to come on line this fall, with several more planned  to begin construction immediately thereafter all through the county’s P3 School development program. Unfortunately, the new Council majority is practicing the politics of populism instead of the more difficult path of leading the County.”

Blegay hosted a town hall days prior to the vote to hear more perspectives. Some guests, such as Bowie activist Milly Hall, attended to voice support for the legislation, while lobbyists such as Juwan Blocker stated some concerns. 

Cheryl Cort of the Coalition for Smarter Growth sent an email stating the organization’s opinion on the legislation days before the vote.

“But a townhouse ban is an overly broad, indiscriminate approach that overlooks the underlying problems of Prince George’s zoning: too much single family zoning across the vast acres outside the beltway, and not enough flexible residential and mixed use zoning inside the beltway,” the statement explained.

Photo: Prince George’s County Council member Wala Blegay (D-District 6) (Courtesy photo)


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