22 Aug 2014
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Bowie Walmart Zoning Hearing Set for February

Walmart will pitch its proposed Supercenter at the Mill Branch Crossing property one more time at this public hearing.

Walmart will get another chance to pitch its proposal for a new Supercenter on Route 301 in Bowie, this time before the zoning hearing examiner at hearing set for Feb. 26.

Staff of the Prince George's County Planning Board reviewed an application from the retail giant in December, and recommended that the special exception to build a the store be denied. The planning board opted not to review the application and instead sent it to the zoning hearing examiner's officer for review.

Zoning hearing examiner hearings are public. Each "side" is usually given one hour to present its case. Anyone may attend the hearing and offer public comment.

The special exception is required for any retailer seeking to build a store in excess of 125,0000 square feet in Prince George's County. The proposed Walmart Supercenter in Bowie would be 186,000 square feet, significantly larger than the current 130,000 square-foot store in Collington Plaza. 

Planning board staff recommended denial of the application on the grounds that they felt did not comply with the 2006 Bowie and Vicinity Master Plan. The master plan states that "big-box" stores are discouraged on the Mill Branch Crossing property, where Walmart hopes to build its new Supercenter.

The Bowie Advisory Planning board had similar misgivings about the store location and recommended that the Bowie City Council reject the plans, although Bowie city staff recommended approval. Staff reasoned that the store did not "substantially impair" the master plan. 

The Bowie City Council ultimately agreed with staff's assessment and  supported the special exception application 6-1. Councilman Henri Gardner (District 3) was one of the supporters of the plan. He reasoned that the promised 200 new jobs would be good for the city, and also cited the fact that Walmart has already been in Bowie for 20 years. 

The proposed store would replace the store that has been in Bowie for two decades. The new location would be roughly across the street and is part of the company's  plan to increase its presence in Prince George's County

The Zoning Hearing Examiner hearing to review the Walmart special exception application will take place at 1 p.m. on Feb. 26 on the second floor of the County Administration Building, located at 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Dr. in Upper Marlboro.

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