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TOWN POSITION ON LANDOVER WMATA RAIL STORE
Town of Cheverly
News and Announcments

                                                                        Mike Callahan
                                                                        Mayor, Town Of Cheverly
                                                                        6401 Forest Rd
Cheverly, Md. 20785
301-789-8009

Office of the Secretary
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
600 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC

Re: Hearing #602
~~~~~~Docket R14-02

To: ~WMATA Board

The Town of Cheverly strongly supports the concept of Transit Oriented Development, and understands the need for Metro to expand to eight car trains as it expands its system. ~However, we strongly believe that the placement of a maintenance facility at the Landover Station fails to meet the strategic goal of Transit Oriented Development and will stunt the development of Mixed Use development at the Landover Metrorail station. ~

Metro ridership has remained static over the last ten years. ~Stagnating ridership creates revenue problems that result in increasing subsidies by the county and federal government as well as increasing dares to commuters. ~This ridership problem can only be addressed by building new stations or encouraging development near existing stations. ~The Town of Cheverly, in partnership with Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC-PG), and the Prince George's County Government have developed the Route 202 Corridor Plan, the Sub Region 4 Plan and the Plan Prince George’s 2035 with the intent to encourage Mixed Use Development at the Landover Site, which would correspondingly increase ridership.
These plans envision development at this site that would be similar to the development in the Clarendon area which has exploded with high density development, restaurants, shopping, and multi-modal transportation option. ~While some may be skeptical of these plans, we simply ask that the skeptics and the WMATA Board consider what the Clarendon area looked like in 1977. ~

Building a rail yard at the Landover Metro, already one of the least used Metro stations, compounds decades of poor decisions that have been made at that site. As stated, Prince Georges County recently adopted numerous plans that call for mixed use development at the Landover Metrorail station. ~It is our understanding that WMATA was consulted as part of these planning efforts. ~The WMATA rail yard proposal directly contravenes these plans and essentially ensures that the Landover station and the surrounding area will remain in an industrial state into the future. ~~
Instead of considering these County plans and looking to the future, the WMATA study gives short shrift to the impact of this project to an area with a high proportion of low-income, minority community members. The report instead notes that existing conditions make additional industrial development negligible, with only passing reference to proposed non-industrial uses (residential and mixed use) in the area. ~
This assessment is highly problematic as its overall summary appears to be “the solution to poor planning and development near the Landover Station is to continue poor planning and development.”. ~WMATA, and the County, can do better.
We strongly disagree with placing a maintenance facility at the Landover Station for the following reasons:
No Site Selection Process: The only alternatives evaluated were a build or no build option. ~There was no attempt to evaluate other potential sites, nor were there any specific criteria listed that would help to identify an optimal site. ~
If a selection process was utilized, it would identify key criteria required for the placement of maintenance facility and most likely would have determined that it should not be located at an existing station because of the disincentive to development. ~It is hard to accept that the Landover Station with its development possibilities and environmental issues would be the optimum location. ~
It would have been valuable to study locations that have rail access but are not directly at Metro Stations. ~While we are not aware of Metro real estate holdings, one such location, the Cameron E Turner Facility exists less than a half mile away from the Landover Station. ~This facility currently is the home to bus storage, offices and training. ~As an indoor facility it would prevent the noise and visual blight that creates the disincentive to development. ~
How can we believe that Landover is the optimum location for this use when no other sites were evaluated?

Conflicts with County Development Plans: It is clear from Table 3-3 that the assessment recognized that this proposal conflicts with the Route 202 Corridor Plan, the Sub Region 4 Plan and the Plan Prince George’s 2035. ~
The assessment however, makes no further mention of this conflict nor is there any attempt to mitigate these conflicts in the preliminary design of the rail yard. ~It should be noted that the Route 202 Corridor Plan, Sub Region 4 Plan and the Plan Prince Georges County 2035 were all a result of a public process that include many listening sessions and education meetings. ~These plans reflect the public’s desire to have vibrant Mixed Use Development at the Landover Station. ~
In contrast, the WMATA assessment was performed with no public input, virtually no communication and a brief Public Hearing where the public was not allowed to ask questions. ~Instead the public was expected to comment on a plan that WMATA provided no education on. ~
Conflicts with Environmental Assessment: The Environmental Assessment and Appendix are comprehensive recognizing the value of the undisturbed woodland and wetland area as a functioning ecosystem that~drains into Lower Beaverdam Creek. ~~~
This proposal seeks to clear an 8.1 acre wooded area, drain the non-tidal wetland (seeking a map amendment of the area for a Special Flood Hazard Area), increase the impervious surface and introduce a maintenance use that will increase noxious runoff into the stream. ~This proposal was developed even though Appendix C indicates that 2.3 acres of the studied site is a regulated floodplain. ~
This proposal conflicts directly with the Anacostia Watershed Restoration Plan, which was developed by the Anacostia Watershed Partnership in 2010. ~According to Table 3-3 this document was not considered in the study. ~
Given the unique environmental characteristics of this site, a maintenance yard should never have been considered. ~However, if a project like this was proposed significant mitigation techniques should have been identified and documented. Yet the study calls simply for a 25-foot stream buffer along Lower Beaverdam Creek and participation in the Department of Natural Resources Fee-in-Lieu fund. ~This is a minimal response especially given the toxins expected from a rail yard of this type.
The assessment also highlights that the cumulative effects of building the rail yard would increase the impervious surface resulting in additional storm water runoff within the Lower Beaverdam Creek watershed and an overall reduction of forested area in the county. (Attached is a more detailed letter from the Cheverly Green Infrastructure Committee)
Conflicts with Noise Study: It is difficult without a noise expert to understand, never mind debate the statistics accumulated in the study. ~However, a layman’s reading of the noise study is “well there are already some pretty noisy things here, so why not more”. ~
It is useful to consider the issues raised by residents near a similar facility in Falls Church over the last five years. ~Apparently, the noise issues there were deemed significant enough that Metro is now participating in a mitigation of the problem. ~
A weakness of this study is that it simply considered the noise issue at a single residence across Route 50. ~The study did not reflect plans to add mixed use development on the Landover Site and it did not consider the "Ridges" development that is currently in the Preliminary Site Plan process at MNCPPC. ~Interestingly one of the issues facing the "Ridges" development is external noise levels. ~What does the WMATA plan do to those levels?
SUMMARY: ~The public continually hears that Metro ridership is remains static and that the only opportunities to increase revenue is to increase regional and federal subsides or to increase fares. ~Yet when Metro is confronted with a construction problem of this type it continues to make decisions that disincent development near Metro Stations. ~Is Prince George’s County to suffer because our Metro Stations have not yet been developed? ~
Given the conflicts in the WMATA assessment that are highlighted above it is the desire of the Town of Cheverly that WMATA table this proposal until a full public Site Survey process can be completed, so that other locations be included for consideration. ~~
We understand that the Carmen E Turner building may not be the optimum location and that it may not be at all feasible to build there. ~However, we wanted to use it as an example of the advantages a site similar to the Camen E Turner facility. ~It is an indoor facility that would eliminate the visual blight and noise associated with a facility of this type and it would potentially eliminate the impacts to the environment. ~~~
We are sure that there are other properties between Metro stations that might have the same advantages as the Carmen E Turner site and should be considered in a site survey process.
MITIGATION:If WMATA continues with this plan, inspite of the conflicts noted above it is critical that it take the necessary steps to mitigate the problems a facility of this type would create for the area. ~~~
  • The Site Must be enclosed to prevent visual blight and noise emanating from the site.
  • The Site Must have a green roof to assist in protecting the environment and to improve the visual blight of the site.
  • A full environmental plan should be developed to address the issues identified in WMATA’s own assessment.
  • WMATA should build a pedestrian bridge across Route 50 for the purpose of linking the Landover Hills area to the Landover Metro

                                                                Respectfully,


                                                                Mike Callahan
                                                                Mayor, Town of Cheverly


CC: County Executive Baker, County Council Chairman Mel Franklin, County Councilperson Harrison, County Councilperson Mary Lehman, US Representative Donna Edwards, US Representative Steny Hoyer, State Senator Victor Ramirez, State Representative Tarlau, State Representative Fennell, Elizabeth Hewlett, Chairman Prince George’s County Planning Board, Fern Piret, Planning MNCPPC, Jim Foster. Anacostia Watershed Society, Teresa Dudley, Kentlands Neighborhood Association, Mamia Smalls, Radiant Valley Neighborhood Association, Mayor Walker, Landover Hills, Paula Davis, Landover Knolls Neighborhood







 
Cheverly Executive Offices:   6401 Forest Road, Cheverly, MD 20785  (301) 773-8360
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