Bowie residents say they’re concerned a development project bringing in a large number of housing units will lead to increased traffic at already congested intersections.
The Melford project, being developed by Baltimore-based St. John Properties, is a 466-acre mixed-use development that will include a 122-acre area called Melford Village, according to the site’s conceptual site plan. The village will include 260,000 square feet of office space, 100,000 square feet of retail space, up to 2,500 units of residential housing and hotel space, according to the conceptual site plan.
Some residents say 2,500 new units of housing is too much.
Rich Dodson, who lives near the Belair and Crain Highway Intersection, said that was too large for an area that already has traffic congestion.
“That is a chief concern of those people who live in the area,” Dodson said.
At the stakeholder’s meeting, Melford developers told residents some of the village’s employment traffic would travel inside Melford’s office and retail space, lessening impact on roads outside of the village.
Martha Ainsworth, who lives adjacent to the Melford property at Sherwood Manor in Bowie, said the residential housing will still impact traffic outside of the village and the dense development could harm the nearby Patuxent Wetlands.
“My suspicion is that many more people will be living there than there are jobs,” Ainsworth said. “They will join the crowd of people who drive to Washington and Montgomery County.”
The final decision on homes at Melford will be decided by the Prince George’s District Council, which has authority over land development in Bowie.
Bowie has an agreement with St. John Properties that the developer won’t submit anything to the district council unless the Bowie City Council approves the plan, said Joe Meinert, Bowie planning director. The city can take its time and approve the best proposal for the city, he said.
City Councilman Henri Gardner (Dist. 3), who supported residential housing at Melford Village, said he shared residents’ concerns about traffic in that area. One of the more specific traffic concerns is emergency vehicle access, Gardner said.
Melford Village only has one entrance and exit, so emergency vehicles may face challenges moving through the area when responding to wrecks, he said.
“I’m going to be asking more questions and demanding more answers,” Gardner said. “We are bursting at the seams. We need to be careful about our expansion.”