Prince George’s County’s chance for a greener future



Bioretention, Knollbrook Drive, Prince George’s County

On Tuesday, October 26 Prince George’s County Council has a chance to chart a new course for development in the county that is two kinds of green: good for our environment and good for our economy. Come to the Council hearing room at 9AM on Tuesday to make your voice heard: County Administration Building 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772-3050.

Studies have shown that building green:

  • Attracts customers who are willing to travel farther, visit more frequently, and spend more money in business districts with trees and natural landscaping (link)
  • Increases residential property values 28% compared to similar properties without street trees, median plantings, and other green improvements (link
  • Planting a tree within 50 feet of a house can increase its value by about 9%, while location of a house within ¼ mile from a park increased values by 10% (link)
  • Is on average no more expensive than traditional practices, while attaining higher occupancy levels, lease rates, and sales prices (link)
  • Managing stormwater runoff through state-mandated ESD methods is in most cases cheaper than standard engineering alternatives (link)
  • Is increasingly required to attract federal tenants – GSA has mandated that by 2015 18% of federal buildings in its portfolio will incorporate green practices (link) - (over 1000 properties!) Prince George’s County can position itself for major growth by getting ahead of this curve and building the federal buildings of the future


Bioretention, Mother Jones Elementary School, Prince George’s County

Prince George’s County has an opportunity to move in this greener direction by enacting the clean water bill (CB-80), which will require builders to manage stormwater runoff onsite instead of sending it rushing offsite via curbs, gutters, and storm drains where it carries pollution to our waterways and causes severe erosion. The costs of these downstream problems are passed on from builders to taxpayers when stormwater is not adequately controlled onsite.


Storm debris on Anacostia River after heavy rain in August 2010.

CB-80 will:

  • Save taxpayers money for costly infrastructure repairs on roads, bridges, etc. (link)
  • Brightwater Consulting has estimated, based on MD DNR data, that the stream restoration backlog in the county is over $900 million because an astonishing 88% of our stream miles are degraded
  • Reduce the county’s compliance costs for strict new water quality rules being implemented to protect the Chesapeake Bay (link)
  • Restore our degraded rivers and streams by requiring improved stormwater runoff controls as part of the new and redevelopment process.
  • Existing development has caused existing problems, so strong redevelopment standards are vital to cleaning up our county’s environment!
  • Improve our quality of life by introducing green practices such as tree plantings, rain gardens, green roofs, etc. at all development sites, increasing the aesthetics of both new and established communities in the county
  • Lead to the higher quality development Prince George’s County citizens have wanted for years. The experience of neighboring counties, and cities like Philadelphia, is that higher environmental standards attract higher quality builders constructing higher quality projects. Don’t believe the polluters who say that higher environmental standards will stop redevelopment!

 
L: Stormwater flooding of Paint Branch caused the Jiffy Lube on Route 1 to lose 50 feet of it's parking lot.  R: A "Green Street" in Prince George's County.

When all these factors are considered you can see that it makes financial and environmental sense for the county to enact CB-80. If you agree, please contact these council members and ask them to vote for CB-80 on October 26:

Council members Harrison and Knotts approved CB-80 when it came up for a committee vote earlier this month, so please thank them for those votes and ask them to continue to support CB-80 for passage by the full council.


Mount Rainier’s Vision for a Green Downtown

Additional Resources

County Mayors Sign-On Letter

County Activists Sign-On Letter from Committee Hearing

Illustrations of Existing ESD in Prince George’s County and Around the US

_________________

  1. "Casey Trees Green Issue Briefs, Green Business Districts." Available here 
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  2. "Casey Trees Green Issue Briefs, Green Residences." Available here 
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  3. "The Determinants of Neighborhood Transformation in Philadelphia: Identification and Analysis—The New Kensington Pilot Study." Available here 
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  4. "Green Building Costs Less Than Conventional Building."  Available here 
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  5. EPA case studies (actual built projects costed for different stormwater systems): Compiled from Tables 1 and 2, “Reducing Stormwater Costs through Low Impact Development (LID) Strategies and Practices.” Available here; MD case studies (real world sites with conceptual stormwater designs): Meliora Redevelopment Report, 2008, Available here 
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  6. "All New GSA Construction To Achieve LEED Gold: Leases Require LEED Silver or Energy Star." Available here 
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  7. According to Mayor Adam Ortiz, Prince George’s County built a $7 million pumping station to address stormwater-caused flooding in the Town of Edmonston. Additionally, WSSC estimates costs of $7-$45 million over the next several years to repair pipes damaged by stormwater-caused erosion. 
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  8. For more details, see press release here and here 
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