The District Council—made up of members of the Prince George’s County Council-- will hear oral arguments for the proposed Maryland Book Exchange apartments on July 9, according to Karen Campbell, a Prince George’s County Council spokeswoman.
The oral arguments come after an appeal by the College Park City Council, who say the planned six-story student apartments at the site of the Maryland Book Exchange violates the city’s 2010 Approved Central US 1 Corridor Sector Plan, which lays out specific guidelines regarding development in the city.
The city council appealed the decision after the Prince George’s Planning Board voted 4-1 in favor of the development earlier this year. College Park City Council Attorney Suellen Ferguson prepared an official appeal shortly after the county council’s vote.
Mayor Andrew Fellows says the property does not fit in with downtown College Park.
“It’s out of sync with the Sector Plan,” he said. “From a planning perspective, it’s much higher and much denser than the Sector Plan outlines.”
Since the proposed apartment will be six stories at its peak height, opponents say the building clashes with the strict guidelines for building height set out in the Sector Plan.
And for some College Park residents, another large apartment building simply is not needed.
I think College Park does not need any more apartments,” said Diana Owen, who lives blocks away from the proposed building. “Though I think people would be more inclined to live in them if they were more reasonably priced and closer to the bars.”
The new apartment building will include a floor of retail space—the existing Maryland Book Exchange will use this space—and will house more than 300 units, according to the design plan by developer R&J Co., who currently owns the property.
County council officials will hear both sides of the case in the oral arguments, says Campbell, and will come to a final decision 60 days after the arguments. The 60 days do not include a recess taken by the county council in August.
The county council sits as the district council when deciding cases on land use.
“Basically, both sides will give their arguments for the case,” Campbell explained, adding the county council will vote on its final decision regarding the Maryland Book Exchange.
If the district council votes in favor of the Maryland Book Exchange Property, then the property will have the final approval of the county council.