PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY COUNCIL
ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT CARD
WALTER MALONEY (D-DI5TRICT 1) 60% STEPHEN DEL GIUDICE (D-DISTRICT 2) 50% ANNE MACKINNON (D-DISTRICT 3) 33% AUDREY SCOTT (R-DISTRICT 4) 67% MARVIN WILSON (D-DISTRICT 5) 50% RONALD RUSSELL (D-DISTRICT 6) 50% DOROTHY BAILEY (D-DISTRICT 7) 33% ISAAC GOURDINE (D-DISTRICT 8) 67% JIM ESTEPP (D-DISTRICT 9) 50%
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY LEAGUE
OF ENVIRONMENTAL VOTERS
PREPARED BY: TOM BEAL PRINCE GEORGES AUDUBON SOCIETY LARRY BOHLEN PATUXENT GROUP OF SIERRA CLUB ROBERT CALLAHAN PRINCE GEORGE'S CIVIC FEDERATION ABRAHAM LINCOLN COALITION OF CENTRAL PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS DAN MONNIG MEMBER OF PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY BAYWATCHERS OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY FOUNDATION WITH ADVICE FROM: ROBERT BOONE ANACOSTIA WATERSHED SOCIETY LYNDA DEWITT COALITION TO SAVE BELT WOODS Affiliations listed for identification purposes only.
Dear Prince George's County Voter:
This environmental report card was prepared by a diverse group of Prince George's County residents affiliated with organizations dedicated to a healthy environment and livable communities in the County. We hope that you will find it useful in determining how your elected representative is voting on these issues.
The votes were selected to reflect a broad range of environmental concerns that are inseparably linked to our health and prosperity. Several votes show the level of commitment Council members have to protecting and enhancing existing developed areas - essential in its own right and a key to preserving remaining open spaces. Other votes consider the ways that development must pay for itself in order to avoid continued suburban sprawl which threatens air quality, the Chesapeake Bay and funding for schools, police, and fire protection.
The range of voting scores shows that some members of the County Council are more concerned about the health of the environment than others. It is our hope that all members will take action to improve their scores in the years ahead, reflecting concern for the community instead of their short- term goals of re-election and campaign financing.
We invite you to share this report card with others and to bring forward suggested issues for future report cards. By working together, we can ensure that the County Council works for our environment, our health, and our communities.
-Prince George's County League of Environmental Voters
Issue #1: Protecting Belt Woods.
A resolution came before the County Council on March 13,1995, requesting that the Council support state legislation calling for County matching funds of $1 million toward the purchase of Belt Woods. H.B. 366 and S.B. 222 would have had a greater chance of passing the General Assembly had there been commitment from the County to make an equal contribution.
The Belt Woods is an old growth forest ecosystem with the highest measured density of neotropical songbirds ever recorded in the United States. The forest, located in Central Prince George or County, was originally set aside for permanent protection by owner Seton Belt in his will. This unique natural area is now threatened by development plans pursued by the Episcopal Church, the recipient of Belt's estate, after they succeeded in overturning Belt's will.
The pro-environment vote is Yes. Council members Del Giudice, Estepp, Maloney, and Scott voted for the resolution. Council members Bailey, Gourdine, MacKinnon, and Wilson voted against it. Councilman Ronald Russell left the room shortly before the vote. His absence was the deciding vote and therefore contributed to the failure of this resolution.
Issue#2: Antidote to Sprawl: Revitalization Tax Credit,
On June 13, 1995 CB-14 was enacted to promote the redevelopment of the Carroilton Mall and Shopping Center, including the addition of new anchor tenants. The bill is p art of a series of revitalization tax credits granted to communities located inside the Capital Beltway since 1993. According to the bill's legislative history, "This refurbishment of an existing shopping center and inclusion of additional tenants will promote redevelopment within thecensus tract area and revitalization of an existing commercial property."
This action is good for the environment because it rewards use and maintenance of existing developed land and infrastructure, benefiting the local community. In tun, revitalization inside the Beltway diminishes the pressure for 5 sprawl development - this saves open space reduces ai~j)ollution~enerated by farther distances driven, and protects Chesapeake Bay by diminishing the polluted runoff that would be produced by more pavement
The pro-environment vote is Yes. All Council members except Walter Maloney, who was absent, voted for the bill.
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY COUNCIL
Maloney Del Giudice MacKinnon Scott Wilson Russell Bailey Gourdine Estepp 1. Belt Woods + + - + - a- - - + 2. Less Sprawl a0 + + + + + + + + 3. Stadium Zoning + - - - - - - + - 4. Stadium Sewer + - - - - - - + - 5. Livable Cities - - - + + + - - - 6. Neighborhood Air + + + + + + + + + Score: % Pro-Environment 80% 50% 33% 67% 50% 50% 33% 67% 50%
+= Voted for the environment a+=absence (advantage for environment) a0=absence (no effect)
-= Voted against the environment a-= absence (disadvantage for environment)
REDSKINS STADIUM - A BAD LAND USE PRECEDENT
There are two basic issues of environmental concern regarding the Redskins Stadium bills. Both warrant a scorecard rating. The first is the special zoning treatment this project received. The second is the location chosen for the stadium.
Issue #3: Redskins Stadium Zoning Approval
The purpose of bills CB-53 and CB-54 was to create specific zoning and land use exemptions, as well as to streamline and accelerate the review process, in order to facilitate the construction of a football stadium on the Wilson Farm tract. Balancing development, quality of life and environmental needs requires comprehensive planning. Changes in land use rules without adequate review and public input threatens this balance.
The pro-environment vote on these two bills is No. Council members Gourdine and Maloney voted against the bills. Council members Del Giudice, MacKinnon, Scott, Wilson, Russell, Bailey, and Estepp voted for the bills.
Issue #4. Redskins Stadium Sewer Extension
The purpose of CR-37 is to amend the Comprehensive 10-Year Water and Sewerage Plan to allow construction of a stadium on the Wilson Farm tract. All new sewer service is required to undergo this approval process.
The current Washington, D.C. football stadium is in an urban area directly adjacent to mass transit. Thc proposed site is undeveloped farm, field, and wooded land removed from the Metro system. Building the stadium on the Wilson Farm tract will have a variety of negative effects including storm water runoff, traffic, and pollution. The land was originally purchased under Program Open Space for the benefit of local communities. The siting of the stadium is opposed by a broad spectrum of environmental, civic, and local community groups.
Th pro-environment vote on this resolution is No. Council members Gourdine and Maloney voted against the resolution. Council members Del Giudice, MacKinnon, Scott, Wilson, Russell, Bailey, and Estepp voted for the resolution.
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY LEAGUE OF ENVIRONMENTAL VOTERS
P.0. box 1227
COLLEGE PARK MD 20741
Issue #5: Making Our Cities and Towns Livable: Municipal Tax Differential
Enacted on June 13, 1995, CB-5 set the municipal tax differential rate for 1996 at the same rate as in 1995. The differential is the amount of County property tax returned to residents of municipalities because many services are provided by their municipalities rather than by the County.
The bill was opposed by most municipalities because it would hamper their ability to provide essential services or force them to raise residents' taxes. It is a form of double-taxation. Additionally, most towns in the County lie inside the Beltway - an area facing the prospect of urban decline unless investment and service levels are maintained. Healthy inner beltway communities are required to prevent leap-frog sprawl development which imposes economic and environmental costs on all County residents.
The pro-environment vote is No. Council members Russell, Scott, and Wilson voted against the bill. Council members Bailey, Del Giudice, Estepp, Gordine, McKinnon, and Maloney voted for it.
Issue #6: Protecting Our Neighborhoods and Our Air Quality
Previously, crematories were permitted by right in areas zoned I-1 (Light Industrial) and I-2 (Heavy Industrial). Their use was permitted in other areas by special exception only. CB-27 requires that a special exception must now also be granted for crematories in I-1 and I-2 zones. This special exception requires that a crematory must not adversely affect the health, safety, or welfare of residents or workers in the area; and it must not be detrimental to the use or development of the neighborhood. This legislation makes it more difficult to locate a crematory in any area of the county. County residents' quality of life is protected by this bill.
The pro-environment vote is Yes. All nine council members voted correctly on this issue.
Loosening Road Improvement Regulations for Developers
In the 1970s, the county passed a law that made developers responsible for improving roads congested by increased traffic from proposed developments. The intent of the law was that development should not occur unless funding existed to upgrade roads to accommodate increased traffic. In 1993 this requirement was loosened for certain areas in the southern part of the county, so that when land was subdivided it was no longer necessary to improve road conditions to optimum levels. The rules were not loosened however, for other parts of the county. CB 85, proposed by Council Members Del Giudice and MacKinnon, sought to relax the traffic improvement requirement for all development stages.
This bill was vigorously opposed by civic and environmental leaders at a public hearing in November. Citizens pointed out that this bill would encourage sprawl development and its attendant air pollution, toxic runoff, and habitat destruction. In addition, over-loaded roads and intersections pose a safety hazard and discourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
The County Council voted unanimously to postpone discussion of CB-85 indefinitely. The issue may resurface in the next year and we will be keeping a close eye on it. Because there was no vote taken to show which Council members opposed the bill, we are unable to include it in the report card calculations.