Upzoning Plan Faces Opposition in Prince George's County

A rezoning plan in Prince George's County, Maryland is receiving strong criticism from residents who worry redevelopment without tenant protections will lead to displacement.

December 2, 2021, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

National Harbor

Brad Holt / Flickr

"Lawmakers in Prince George’s County, Maryland, unanimously approved a zoning plan Monday that could entice more development to Langley Park," reports Ally Schweitzer for DCist. But community groups worry that the Countywide Sectional Map Amendment could displace the thousands of low-income immigrant households living in the area.

CASA de Maryland, an immigrant advocacy group, is calling for "a zoning process that values community voices over those of developers," saying that the current plan will push immigrant families out of affordable housing as more luxury developments spring up. Meanwhile, the county is calling the plan an important step forward and says it is working on other affordable housing initiatives outside of the zoning code.

The new zoning plan is designed to align more closely with modern development standards in anticipation of two new light rail lines coming to Langley Park. The rules allow for higher density development in certain neighborhoods, which could lead to more redevelopment of the mid-rise buildings that house current residents, Schweitzer writes. Cheryl Cort, policy director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth, says while upzoning is important, her organization would like to see stronger tenant protections put into place first, and is asking the county to exercise their Right of First Refusal by purchasing multi-unit buildings to preserve as affordable housing

In neighboring D.C., the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) and District Opportunity to Purchase Act (DOPA) provide similar mechanisms that have helped preserve more than 500 units of affordable housing—a small but significant achievement.

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