College Park Council split on tax cut rule changes for student-housing developer

College Park City Council is divided over whether or not to make-good on a tax cut erroneously granted to a developer last year.

Planned Beltsville Treasury facility raises environmental concerns

Concerns about polluted creeks, increased car traffic, and loss of wildlife habitat dominated a public hearing on a Treasury Department proposal to build a 1 million square-foot cash factory on the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. 

“This project is sited in the wrong place,” said Greenbelt City Councilor Rodney Roberts during the meeting. “It should not be on BARC at all.”

The virtual hearing was hosted Dec. 2, 2020, by representatives from the Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the government office in charge of the production of U.S. coins and cash. The public meeting is part off a mandatory environmental review process for new federal facilities. More specifically, the meeting sough comment on a draft environmental impact report prepared for the project. 

The Proposal

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing wants to build a 1 million square foot cash production facility at a 104-acre tract of land along Poultry Road between Odell Road to the north and Powder Mill Road to the south.

Adelphi neighborhoods to get new master plan

Prince George’s County officials are developing a new master plan to guide development policy near the planned Adelphi Road Purple Line Station in College Park – despite the contractural uncertainty around the transit project. At its Oct. 29, 2020, meeting, Prince George’s County Planning Board approved a measure authorizing planning staff to launch a master planning process for a 163-acre area surrounding the future transit station. The study area is centered on the intersection of Adelphi Road and University Boulevard, and includes parts of Hyattsville, College Park, and unincorporated Adelphi. That area is home to several mid-century suburban tract housing developments.

Report shows how College Park has changed since 2011

A draft report from the College Park City-University Partnership lays out a 10-year-vision for the college town designed to boost the share of year-round residents in the city, increase transit usage among residents, and recruit new tech firms to College Park’s Discovery District neighborhood, among other goals.  

This is the second long-term planning document of this type to be produced by the City-University Partnership, a nonprofit created in 2011 to boost economic development in College Park and to bridge the town-gown divide by creating a forum for city and university officials to develop common policy goals. 

The report envisions a College Park that, in 2030, “is a growing, thriving, equitable and sustainable community” peppered with start-up companies, walkable neighborhoods, and high-performing local k-12 school options. To achieve this, the report identifies four policy areas for city and university officials to focus on: Housing and development, transportation and mobility, public health and safety, and education. Within each, the report identifies several goals for city and university officials to pursue. 

The full 130-page report can be found in this week’s College Park City Council worksession agenda packet. The report, while focused on setting policy goals for the next 10 years, is notable for an extensive, data-driven exploration of socio-economic changes that have played out over the past decade in College Park. 

Demographically, College Park saw population grow by 7.4 percent between 2011 and 2018, about average compared with other cities.

Fish processing plant proposed in College Park

A D.C.-based fish wholesaler wants to open a fish processing plant, fish market, brewery and aquaculture facility in northern College Park’s Branchville neighborhood that would employ more than 350 workers. But the company has hurdles to overcome, including potential opposition to industrial development from residential neighbors, a lack of financing, and the fact that it does not own the land nor has not reached an agreement with the property owners. The site in question is the former Stone Industrial property near the intersection of 51st Avenue and Branchville Road. Bordering a suburban neighborhood, the Stone Industrial property once housed a plastic-tubing manufacturer. In 2018, the business closed and the property was sold to Finmarc for $6.2 million, which is still actively pursuing a plan to redevelop the site into a mix of townhomes and apartments.