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Prince George's County: A Year in Review

UPPER MARLBORO - Prigroundbreaking courtesy of Mike Yourishin other option copynce George’s County has worked on numerous significant projects over the past year, including the rewrite of the county’s zoning code and establishing new administrative buildings in Largo.

County Executive Rushern Baker, III called 2017 “a great year” for the county.

Councilman Derrick Davis, who served as the county council chair in 2017, identified three events involving the county council to “ensure all of the people who come to Prince George’s County have those opportunities.”

These projects, which he referred to as “big rocks,” were the rewriting the zoning code, working the comprehensive housing strategy and the performance audit of the school system.

In 2014, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission undertook to rewrite the county’s hefty and convoluted Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations, which was written over 50 years ago. In October, the revised draft of the zoning code became ready for review.

“It was necessary to take that zoning code that had been growing and growing and growing and changing and morphing for many, many years and many, many decades into a usable set of rules that will guide fundamentally the growth and the success of Prince George’s County in the future,” Davis said.

Among the new provisions in this draft is a stipulation that after five years of building at specific mixed-use development sites, at least 18 percent of the development with a quarter-mile walking distance must be non-residential.

Over the last year, the county government has also continued work on the Comprehensive Housing Strategy (CHS), which was commissioned by the county council in March 2016.

CHS is intended to guide the county’s housing investments over the next decade.

Davis said the CHS would consider “all housing in Prince George’s County, looking for where housing needs are great, housing needs are replete and what we need to do to ensure that access to housing exists from some of the people with the greatest amount of means to people with the least amount of means. For the people with the greatest amount of ability to move about and those who have restricted the ability to move about.”

There were two public meetings regarding CHS in 2017.

During these meetings, participants watched a presentation on housing needs and preferences in the county, and then participated in activities to identify the housing concerns of different populations in the county as well as to list their own “housing values.”

The results of an audit of Prince George’s Public Schools (PGCPS) by the State Board of Education were published in November. The report’s findings included grading irregularities within PGCPS and that about four percent of the 5,496 sampled students who graduated should have been ineligible to do so.

Davis said he sees the performance audit as an opportunity for growth.

“We want to take a mechanism called our performance audit, or our process of continuous business improvement, and provide the necessary oversight to ensure that we are getting maximum bang for our buck (with the school system),” he said. “Currently we’re not, and we have a long way to go, but now we have a mechanism by which to utilize as a county council to measure and to attempt to figure out exactly how to get the best formula with regard to the resources that we get from the taxpayers and by law give to the school system.”

Baker pointed to moving the county administration to the center of the county as a significant milestone.

“Residents can get here,” he said. “They can take the Metro, they can drive, but it’s accessible in the middle of the county and surrounded by great economic growth. It’s within walking distance of the new regional medical center.”

In December, he and other county officials attended a dedication ceremony for the new Wayne K. Curry Administration Building in Largo.

Numerous county administrative offices will shift from their headquarters in Upper Marlboro to this building in early 2018.

Davis also said that he thinks there are a few things that may have slipped past “people’s radar screen,” including realigning the pay structure for “people who care for some of our most vulnerable individuals in our developmentally disabled community” after the minimum wage increase.

Overall, Davis said he would rate the year as a “B minus with room to grow,” though he added that “I’m always my most ardent and strident and harshest critic.”

“We always have room to grow, and we have much more to do. We are a county with a great rural opportunity for agriculture and other commerce. We are a county with a great suburban opportunity for those who want to live away from the hustle and bustle of the city, we are a county with a great urban opportunity, with great transit to support it,” Davis said. “Over the period of time that we still have, one year under the current form of government with many term-limited people…we have a year to tighten it up and get ready for the next wave of opportunity that is Prince George’s County.”

Baker said he had been encouraged by the economic development in the county over the past year.

“Our pace for the economic development has been exactly what we hoped it would be. I’m glad of the economic forecast for the county,” Baker said. “Our budget looked great this year. We were able to invest more in our community college. We’ve created more access to quality health care, job creation, transportation. Crime has gone down. I think the areas I’d like to continue to see us make improvements, and we are, is around our education system.”

UPPER MARLBORO—Prince George’s County has worked on numerous significant projects over the past year, including the rewrite of the county’s zoning code and establishing new administrative buildings in Largo.

County Executive Rushern Baker, III called 2017 “a great year” for the county.

Councilman Derrick Davis, who served as the county council chair in 2017, identified three events involving the county council to “ensure all of the people who come to Prince George’s County have those opportunities.”

These projects, which he referred to as “big rocks,” were the rewriting the zoning code, working the comprehensive housing strategy and the performance audit of the school system.

In 2014, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission undertook to rewrite the county’s hefty and convoluted Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations, which was written over 50 years ago. In October, the revised draft of the zoning code became ready for review.

“It was necessary to take that zoning code that had been growing and growing and growing and changing and morphing for many, many years and many, many decades into a usable set of rules that will guide fundamentally the growth and the success of Prince George’s County in the future,” Davis said.

Among the new provisions in this draft is a stipulation that after five years of building at specific mixed-use development sites, at least 18 percent of the development with a quarter-mile walking distance must be non-residential.

Over the last year, the county government has also continued work on the Comprehensive Housing Strategy (CHS), which was commissioned by the county council in March 2016.

CHS is intended to guide the county’s housing investments over the next decade.

Davis said the CHS would consider “all housing in Prince George’s County, looking for where housing needs are great, housing needs are replete and what we need to do to ensure that access to housing exists from some of the people with the greatest amount of means to people with the least amount of means. For the people with the greatest amount of ability to move about and those who have restricted the ability to move about.”

There were two public meetings regarding CHS in 2017.

During these meetings, participants watched a presentation on housing needs and preferences in the county, and then participated in activities to identify the housing concerns of different populations in the county as well as to list their own “housing values.”

The results of an audit of Prince George’s Public Schools (PGCPS) by the State Board of Education were published in November. The report’s findings included grading irregularities within PGCPS and that about four percent of the 5,496 sampled students who graduated should have been ineligible to do so.

Davis said he sees the performance audit as an opportunity for growth.

“We want to take a mechanism called our performance audit, or our process of continuous business improvement, and provide the necessary oversight to ensure that we are getting maximum bang for our buck (with the school system),” he said. “Currently we’re not, and we have a long way to go, but now we have a mechanism by which to utilize as a county council to measure and to attempt to figure out exactly how to get the best formula with regard to the resources that we get from the taxpayers and by law give to the school system.”

Baker pointed to moving the county administration to the center of the county as a significant milestone.

“Residents can get here,” he said. “They can take the Metro, they can drive, but it’s accessible in the middle of the county and surrounded by great economic growth. It’s within walking distance of the new regional medical center.”

In December, he and other county officials attended a dedication ceremony for the new Wayne K. Curry Administration Building in Largo.

Numerous county administrative offices will shift from their headquarters in Upper Marlboro to this building in early 2018.

Davis also said that he thinks there are a few things that may have slipped past “people’s radar screen,” including realigning the pay structure for “people who care for some of our most vulnerable individuals in our developmentally disabled community” after the minimum wage increase.

Overall, Davis said he would rate the year as a “B minus with room to grow,” though he added that “I’m always my most ardent and strident and harshest critic.”

“We always have room to grow, and we have much more to do. We are a county with a great rural opportunity for agriculture and other commerce. We are a county with a great suburban opportunity for those who want to live away from the hustle and bustle of the city, we are a county with a great urban opportunity, with great transit to support it,” Davis said. “Over the period of time that we still have, one year under the current form of government with many term-limited people…we have a year to tighten it up and get ready for the next wave of opportunity that is Prince George’s County.”

Baker said he had been encouraged by the economic development in the county over the past year.

“Our pace for the economic development has been exactly what we hoped it would be. I’m glad of the economic forecast for the county,” Baker said. “Our budget looked great this year. We were able to invest more in our community college. We’ve created more access to quality health care, job creation, transportation. Crime has gone down. I think the areas I’d like to continue to see us make improvements, and we are, is around our education system.”

Last modified onWednesday, 27 December 2017 16:18
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