Mount Rainier plans to annex Queens Chapel commercial area

Mount Rainier officials soon plan to launch an annexation campaign to bring large swath of commercial properties – no residential – west of Queens Chapel Road inside its borders. Pictured above: Samantha Olatunji, Mount Rainier’s director of economic development. The move has been more than a year in planning. If successful, it could bring in a projected $416,300 in annual tax revenue. It would also help diversify the city’s tax base, which is heavily dependent upon revenue from property taxes on private homes.

Monday Map: Explore population, housing density in Prince George’s County

See correction notice below article. Density is a hot topic in local politics. Consider the city of Hyattsville. Residents there are in the midst of a contentious and ongoing debate over the future of the long-abandoned Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission offices next to Magruder Park. Developer Werrlein Properties has proposed to build as much as 71 townhomes and 14 single-family homes on the site, which measures 0.01175 square miles.

Fed up with Hyattsville, WSSC property-owner closes parking lot

Reacting to local opposition to redevelopment plans for his property, the owner of a long-abandoned Hyattsville office complex will close public access to a large parking lot next to Magruder Park. Pictured above: A rendering of a residential redevelopment proposal for the long-abandoned WSSC offices in Hyattsville. This parking lot has been the focus of a contentious debate in Hyattsville over a proposed demolition and redevelopment of the abandoned headquarters of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which has sat dormant since the early 1990s. The property is owned by Douglas Development Corp. In 2017, Douglas Development partnered with Crownsville-based Werrlein Properties to propose a redevelopment of the property into a mix of detached- and single-family homes.

College Park retail strip bought for $1.6 million

A small retail shopping center has traded hands in northern College Park. According to state property records, 9913 Rhode Island Ave. was bought by an individual named Harry Lan for $1.6 million in a fee simple sale recorded May 31. The previous owners were Raj Paul Wahi and Neena Wahi, who first acquired the property in 2001 for a price of $525,000. Attempts to reach Lan for comment were not successful.

Werrlein’s WSSC proposal heads back to Hyattsville

A controversial proposed residential redevelopment of WSSC’s long-abandoned offices will return before Hyattsville City Council next month. Pictured above: A rendering of townhomes proposed to be built on a parking lot that’s part of the long-abandoned WSSC offices in Central Hyattsville. Illustration courtesy Werrlein Properties and the City of Hyattsville. Hyattsville City Council previously declined to support a change in land-use rules submitted to county planning officials to allow the developer, Werrlein Properties, to build townhomes on a portion of land adjacent to Magruder Park. Specifically, Council declined to support an amendment to the list of acceptable uses for that parcel, which presently holds a parking lot and is zoned “open space.”

Werrlein Properties envisions demolishing the abandoned office complex – including its art deco flourishes and an asphalt parking lot adjacent to Hyattsville’s Magruder Park – and replacing it with a mix of single-family homes on the site of the office building and townhomes on the site of the parking lot.

With eye to horizon, Mount Rainier financial woes detailed

With the final approval of its annual budget and an eye-opening briefing on the state of the city’s finances taking center stage at last night’s City Council meeting, Mount Rainier elected officials and staff further pressed a narrative of a city government successfully – perhaps slowly – emerging from a period of severe administrative mismanagement. Pictured above: Kevin Greenville, Mount Rainier’s director of finance
The budget process had been at-times contentious, due in part to the shoddy state of the city’s financial department. According to Miranda Braatz, town administrator, and Kevin Greenville, Mount Rainier’s relatively-new financial director, poor financial record-keeping predating Greenville’s hire prevented town administrators from accurately assessing recent spending. A key complaint from Mount Rainier’s cadre of Council watchdogs had been the omission of actual year-to-date spending numbers – also called “actuals – from budget planning documents throughout the budget deliberation process. City Council members, as well as Greenville and Braatz, each have repeatedly said they too are frustrated by the lack of these numbers, but emphasized they must press on with the budget in order to meet state-mandated financial deadlines.

Doc drop: Read Greenville’s Mount Rainier finance report

During Mount Rainier City Council’s June 19, 2018 meeting, finance director Kevin Greenville released an anticipated report detailing the state of the city’s financial department. More reporting on that meeting, including some reaction from Council members, can be found here. Greenville’s seven-page report provides a broad overview of Mount Rainier’s finances since he was hired in October 2017. In the report, Greenville details a number of financial irregularities and mismanagement he attributes to former Mount Rainier financial director Vijay Manjani, who held the position from 2004 through 2017. The full report, embedded below and linked here, goes into even more granular detail than I could include in my meeting coverage, but consider it required reading if you want to understand the narrative used by elected officials and city staff to explain the present state of Mount Rainier’s finances.

New owner for Mount Rainier apartments

An apartment building in Mount Rainier traded hands last month. According to state property records, Nemesio Properties LLC purchased a three-story, 14,540-square-foot mutlifamily building that stands on 20,700-square-feet of land at 4230 34th Street for $1.6 million. The fee-simple sale was recorded May 31. The building dates to 1954 and is known by the name “The Manor in Bunker Hill”. The property was previously owned by Habib M. Latiri and Corazon C. Latiri, who acquired it in 2006 for $1.25 million.

Motorist kills pedestrian in Bladensburg

A motorist struck and killed a pedestrian in Bladensburg this past weekend, according to Prince George’s County Police Department. According to a police announcement, the incident occurred June 17 at about 12:20 p.m. at the intersection of 48th Street and Annapolis Road. The victim was described only as an adult woman. She died several hours later after being transported to a hospital. Her identity has not been released, pending notification of her family.