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Proposed Bowie Walmart Hits Planning Board Bump

Prince George's County Planning Board staff recommended disapproval of the retailer's application for a special exception to build a Supercenter within city limits.

A rendering of the proposed Bowie Walmart Supercenter.|Photo courtesy: Walmart
A rendering of the proposed Bowie Walmart Supercenter.|Photo courtesy: Walmart  Download PDF 
The proposal for a new Walmart Supercenter in Bowie hit another road block Thursday when the Prince George's County Planning Board staff recommended disapproval of the retail giant's application for a special exception to build the 186,000 square foot store.

In their report, planning board staff said they had "serious misgivings" about the plans' lack of conformance with the 2006 Bowie and Vicinity Master Plan. 

"...the application does not conform to the master plan policies, strategies, and guidelines pertaining to the type of commercial building and uses, which specifically discourages 'big-box' commercial uses," reads the staff report.

A few weeks ago, the Bowie City Council recommended approval of the special exception—which is required in Prince George's County for any retailer building a store larger than 125,000 square feet—based on the city planning staff's report on the project.

In their report, city staff concluded a Walmart Supercenter would not "substantially impair the master plan." 

A week prior, the Bowie Advisory Planning Board came to the opposite conclusion, and recommended that the council not support the special exception

Currently, there is a 20-year-old Walmart on Route 301 in Collington Plaza. Walmart proposed to replace that store with a new and updated Supercenter that would be located roughly across the street. The proposal for this store is part of the company's plan to increase its presence in Prince George's County

The proposed store—which, if approved, would be located at intersection of northbound Rt. 301 and Mill Branch Road—would employ about 80 more people than the current store, and have a significant grocery component. 

The planning board staff's disapproval of the special exception to build the store does not shut down the project completely. 

The planning board did not hear Walmart's application for special exception Thursday, but instead remanded it to the county's Zoning Hearing Examiner's Office for a public hearing, reported the Gazette. The zoning examiners hold public hearings on various zoning matters in Prince George's County, and have the authority to approve or deny applications, such as the the one submitted by Walmart. 

The decision of the zoning hearing examiners can be appealed to the Prince George's County District Council, which is made of the Prince George's County Council Members. 

Walmart remains optimistic about building a new store in Bowie. 

"We look forward to providing the community and our customers in the Bowie area with more convenient shopping options that include both affordable food and a wide assortment of general merchandise," Amanda Henneberg, a spokesperson for Walmart, said to Patch in an email. 
McGibblets December 17, 2013 at 06:06 AM
Pardon me but the obese population that dominates the Walmart crowd is largely under-represented in that rendering.
William H. Wilson December 17, 2013 at 07:48 AM
Approve the new Walmart for the good of the local population. We need local price competition with Safeway and Giant. Jobs and revenue in PG will be increased. That's the name of the game. Bring it on!!!!!@
gary allen December 17, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Bowie has long had aspirations for having its own planning and zoning authority. Such a goal comes at a price.-Adherence to the master plan for five years. It is unfortunate that our Council sees no inconsistency between their desire for control of a process they so casually set aside in the name of adding “jobs” and this issue.The salaries of most of these jobs could not even qualify for purchase of homes in the community, which endorsed the change in the Master plan. Bowie’s citizen Planning Advisory Board recognized this and recommended against the special exception. The Prince Georges District Council (which recently supported a higher minimum wage.) will certainly see this inconsistency also and agree with its Planning Board staff.
Fred Tutman December 17, 2013 at 05:02 PM
The character and intensity of use that the new Walmart plans to export onto this soybean field on a rural country road located across the street from the existing Walmart speaks volumes about the sort of planning authority and integrity represented by Bowie's aspirations in the rural tier. While the site has been annexed into Bowie's municpal jurisdiction, the adverse impacts on the rural lifestyle enjoyed by the neighboring farms and residence would be catastrophic. The whole point of Euclidean zoning is to put compatible uses together. The whoel point of good neigborship is to treat your neighbors with respect. There is nothing respectful, decent or compatible about a Walmart located in a farm field, surrounded by other farms. Arguments about zoning, annexation status and so forth are nothing more than a pretext for economic opportunism. This is sprawl into the rural tier--pure and simple. Indeed the site was moved out of the rural tier through the unilateral efforts of former Bowie Mayor Audrey Scott. The search for new tax base does not justify disabling of the quality of life or the plundering of relatively uncluttered ecosystem enjoyed by Bowie's neighbors (who are not Bowie constituents) all because Walmart cannot find a way to better utilize or redevelop their existing site located directly across the already gridlocked highway? A shockingly bad plan. Dumb growth at its worst. There goes the neighborhood.

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