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Oral Arguments Planned for Maryland Book Exchange Apartments

The District Council will hear oral arguments July 9.

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 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 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.

, 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 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.

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HyattsvilleCouldBeBetter June 03, 2012 at 05:36 AM
College Park counsel is being ridiculous. Why complain about a 6 story building in downtown college park that is less than a mile from the new View 2 and Varsity highrises (talk about large out of place buildings on only one side of the road). Seems to me that the something fishy is going on here. College Park counsel also voted against the Cafritz development. Downtown college park needs more foot traffic, especially in the summer when the students are gone. Why are people here so afraid of tall buildings? 6 stories is hardly something to be afraid of.
Somuchfor Reason June 03, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Clearly you do not live here. The three high rises you speak of back to water shed and University property. The proposed Book Exchange backs to R55 zoned single family home residential and the Old Town Historic District. Further, there are no buildings over 4 stories south of Paint Branch Road. Of concern as well, the three buildings you mention are not at 100% capacity leaving many to wonder if another building of such a size is truly needed.
avp June 06, 2012 at 12:32 PM
I think it would be nice to have a residence there with retail space but not so big!!! Also why the he** isn't city council doing anything about the ridiculous rent landlords charge? They know there is the demand but come on! Especially for students and in this terrible student loan crisis. We the students are residents of the town for four years so we should be considered in these decisions and should have a voice too. So fed up with the CP counsel anyway. They have a lack of respect for the local businesses and the students and are only looking to make more money for themselves. That town is so corrupt.
Somuchfor Reason August 29, 2012 at 08:58 PM
avp - it's been some time since you've posted. Agree that rents are borderline R I D I C U L O U S - however there was absolutely no student turnout for the City Counsel hearing on rent control. We would love nothing more than to provide affordable housing for students in our community. I and many other owner/residents appreciate our student population at least the ones that are respectful, don't have outrageously loud frat parties, don't park on the lawns, hold onto their trash for disposal in appropriate receptacles, walk quietly along the neighborhood streets and don't urinate in our yards and against houses. Many student residents are respectful tenants. In deference to the landlords and the tax paying residents though, most students who rent are not respectful of other resident's rights and it is the city and the landlord who foot the bill for trash clean up (much of it huge amounts of broken furniture and discarded household goods that we pay to end up in the landfill). Further, take a tour of one of the "rental" house in the OT section of town at the end of the spring semester - you see the incredible amount of damage that 5 to 6 post adolescents living together can do on a dwelling. Often the "wear and tear" goes beyond the deposit forcing costly out of pocket expenses. Personally, I believe rent control is the answer along with a whole host of other changes. What do you say? Are you willing to put some time in to foster change? Reply here with options.

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