WHQC Frequently Asked Questions
Thank you for visiting our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for the West Hyattsville-Queens Chapel Sector Plan. Here, you will find answers to questions frequently asked during our engagement and outreach sessions with community members from throughout the plan area. The questions have been divided into categories based around the eight elements of Plan Prince George's 2035. Please click on each tab to see the questions and responses. If you have any additional questions or comments for the project team, please contact us directly at WHQC@ppd.mncppc.org or sign up to meet with the planning team during our Virtual Office Hours. We want to hear from you!
- Land Use
- Economic Prosperity
- Transportation & Mobility
- Natural Environment
- Housing & Neighborhoods
- Public Facilities
- Planning Process
How can we attract new businesses to the plan area while retaining existing small, local businesses?
Residents of the plan area have mentioned frequently that the small businesses in West Hyattsville add to the character and value of the area. Current commercial/retail spaces in the plan area have the potential to offer additional services that can bolster retail offerings and provide much-needed amenities to the West Hyattsville area. This planning process will be informed by efforts to connect with local businesses through interviews, focus groups, and community workshops to better understand the needs in the area.
Attracting new and retaining existing businesses is related to a variety of factors, including the additional demand created to support these businesses by increasing the housing stock and growing the local population. Promoting the attraction and retention of businesses is a collaborative effort by various parties, including, but not limited to, the City of Hyattsville Community Development Corporation and the Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Financial incentives are an increasingly vital tool in attracting businesses to a location in and retaining them in a competitive market; while this plan may recommend examples of incentives, specific incentive programs and grant programs are offered by a variety of agencies at the federal, state, and local level. Please contact these organizations for more information.
How can the pedestrian experience (along roads and trails) be made more walkable and safer in this plan area?
We are aware of both the current safety concerns for pedestrians and cyclists in this plan area (e.g., Ager Road, MD 500 (Queens Chapel Road)) as well as of current and future planned improvements to some of these corridors. We are also coordinating with state and county agencies to determine what walkability and safety will look like in this area and what solutions are recommendable. The project team will also make recommendations related to lighting in the plan. This includes an examination of the existing Parks and Recreation trails that have become commuter pathways to determine lighting and safety needs for early morning and evening commuters.
How will this plan address the parking challenges in this plan area?
The plan will look comprehensively at parking, both on- and off-street, and make appropriate, targeted recommendations that address any current and potential future challenges in this area. The plan area has, and will continue to gain, residents that walk, bike, and drive—so it will consider all modes of transportation. The County wants to develop transportation networks that encourage people to use multiple modes of transportation to get around.
How will the parks in the plan area be impacted by this plan?
The project team is currently working with the Department of Parks and Recreation to make recommendations for parks as well as address any impacts to the parks system in these neighborhoods. We will be looking specifically at ways to encourage safety and walkability in both areas.
How will the plan deal with environmental protection and restoration issues related to tree canopy, stream buffers, native plantings and invasive species, and light pollution?
The Prince George’s County Code requires preservation or mitigation of tree loss through its Woodland Conservation Ordinance. Stream buffers are Regulated Areas of the Countywide Green Infrastructure Network. The project team will be evaluating potential environmental measures that will improve stormwater management, including strategic opportunities to plant native trees and plants and, where necessary, restore stream buffers.
The project team works with partner organizations and other county agencies that work on the removal of invasive species. The Maryland Sierra Club currently has a program dedicated to invasive species removal. DPR also removes invasive species on M-NCPPC properties. Links to these agencies are provided.
Most light pollution comes from outdated streetlights. These will need to be retrofitted or replaced within the plan area, targeting areas with lights at the pedestrian level. The County’s adopted 2018 Zoning Ordinance requires all outdoor lighting to be “zero cut-off” lighting, which greatly reduces light pollution.
How is this plan dealing with flooding and floodplain issues within the plan boundary?
The flooding issue is actually a broader issue that is influenced by global climate change and regional development activity; it is an issue that stretches beyond the boundaries of this sector plan area. However, the project team is not blind to the impacts flooding can have on the quality of life of residents in this plan area. Much consideration is being given to issues around stormwater management for the plan area and how that is impacted by development and how it impacts liveability, walkability, and bikeability. The County has several agencies that study and regulate stormwater management, including the Department of the Environment and the Department of Permitting, Inspections, and Enforcement, and we are coordinating closely with all of them on these issues.
How will this plan address things like housing affordability, displacement, and a wider variety of housing options?
The project team will coordinate with the Housing Opportunity for All working group to explore strategies to preserve naturally occurring affordable housing in the area and in the County. This group is leading our housing policy and regulatory effort at the Countywide level, and our plan will incorporate any of their findings that are relevant to this area. Notwithstanding, as we move into project visioning and scenario development, we want to continue these discussions with community members and stakeholders around existing housing types and the addition of a wider variety of housing types that accommodate a number of different lifestyles. To clarify, this plan cannot mandate any zoning regulations and it can only provide recommendations. While strategies such as inclusionary zoning and ADUs (accessory dwelling units) are great tools to help keep housing affordable, implementation of these tools is something to be considered at a county-wide level and is outside of the scope of this plan.
Will this plan make recommendations for the natural gas facility on Chillum Road?
We are currently researching the history of the Washington Gas site. Generally, local governments do not regulate utilities. We will coordinate with Washington Gas to determine its future plans for the site, and proceed from there.
How will this plan address the issue of school overcrowding in the plan area?
The project team looks at population projections for new development to determine if the area will need any new facilities. Note, however, that school overcrowding is often a function of where the Board of Education draws school boundaries, and that enrollment figures ebb and flow generationally. This plan will look at anticipated enrollment in the buildout year of 2045 to determine the need for new facilities.
What development activity is happening in the plan area?
Currently, there are two primary developments in the pipeline for the plan area. They are the Riverfront at West Hyattsville and the construction of a new Kaiser Permanente location near the West Hyattsville Metro Station. You can stay up to date on development activity by checking PGAtlas or Development Activity Monitoring System (DAMS) pages.
Is the concept of mixed-use changing?
The concept of mixed-use as residential or office development above ground-floor retail is only one type of mixed-use development and is the hardest type to implement based on the need to have a critical mass of residents that can support retail options. Many pre-Great Recession plans and zoning assumed that this was the sole definition of mixed-use development.
The 2018 Zoning Ordinance, on which this plan will be based, allows for a range of horizontal and vertical mixed-use building types that focus on creating the pedestrian-friendly, transit-supportive environment that allows any number of vertical or horizontal uses. If buildings are constructed to allow for retail or restaurant uses on the ground floor, they can still support other services and businesses until the market exists to support retail or restaurants.
How can I get involved in this planning process?
Community members, organizations, and HOA groups are highly encouraged to participate in the planning process. There are a number of ways to get involved as the planning process unfolds. If you are interested in getting involved in the project you can contact the planning team via our project email account WHQC@ppd.mncppc.org. Additionally, you can sign up for project Office Hours to speak directly with the project planners. We will also continue to host virtual community events where you can also provide feedback and insight. The project team is also looking for better ways to reach and engage with Spanish-speaking and immigrant communities. If you have any recommendations for ways the planning team can better connect with these communities, please contact the planning team. Please visit the project website for more info and to connect with the project.
How do you coordinate with all the municipalities in the plan area?
The project team is working with all jurisdictions in the plan area and has conducted focus groups that include the municipal governments in the process. The project team will continue to brief each municipality’s legislative body and planning board during the planning process.
How was the sector plan area boundary determined?
The County's adopted 2018 Zoning Ordinance eliminates the Transit District Overlay Zone for the West Hyattsville Metro Station, whose zoning regulations have substituted for a plan in this area since 1992. The plan boundary was developed to include the area of this overlay zone and to incorporate commercial areas along the MD 500 (Queens Chapel Road) and MD 501 (Chillum Road) corridors and surrounding neighborhoods that are likely to face redevelopment pressure based on their proximity to the West Hyattsville and Prince George’s Plaza/Hyattsville Crossing Metro stations over the next 20-25 years. The goal is not to dissect communities but to strengthen communities. The project team wants to look at areas where there may be intense demand for redevelopment, which brings both opportunities and challenges.