It is a tie game now with Bowie leaders backing plans for a new Wal-Mart Supercenter in the city and the Prince George’s County Planning Department staff siding against the big-box store.
The decision is now in the hands of the county’s zoning hearing examiner and District Council, which is made up of County Council members.
Planning staff cited in their Nov. 26 report that the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter, which would be across the street from the Wal-Mart currently on Crain Highway, does not fit into the 2006 master plan for the area, which calls for a high-end department store and not big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart. Mill Branch Crossing, the proposed site for the store, is at the intersection of Crain Highway and Mill Branch Road and calls for a mixed commercial shopping center.
“To ignore the master plan recommendation was to substantially impair the master plan’s integrity,” said Tom Lockard, planning coordinator for the Prince George’s County Planning Department, who wrote the staff report.
On Thursday, the planning board sent the project to the zoning hearing examiner, who will hold a public hearing at a yet-to-be-determined date, Lockard said.
The examiner has the power to approve or deny the application, and that decision can be appealed by the District Council, according to county zoning laws.
Wal-Mart’s plan to shutter its current site and open a larger store nearby received recommendations of approval from the Bowie City Council and the city’s planning staff, according to council minutes and the city staff report. However, the city’s Advisory Planning Board recommended the store not be approved.
The new store would bring a 80 more jobs and update Bowie’s 20-year-old Wal-Mart, said Amanda Henneberg, Wal-Mart spokeswoman. The store currently employs about 250 people, she said.
“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,” Henneberg said.