Prince George\'s County Bill Threatens Trail Easements



A bill to severely restrict trail easements is on the Prince George's County Council's Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee agenda for next Wednesday, March 18. The bill (CB-10-2009, see attached file), introduced by Tony Knotts, would keep trail easements from being created on “individually residentially zoned lots” and place severe restrictions on building trails on existing easements. Restrictions would include having the trail open to the public only between 9 am and 4 pm, gating the trail when it is not open to the public, and having M-NCPPC Park Police man security posts every 1,000 feet.


Trail easements are frequently established as a condition for the approval of new subdivisions, and they are an important way to expand our future trail system. We need to inform the County Council that the easements are an important element of the County's overall policy for improving bicycle and pedestrian access.


The March 18 committee meeting (see attached agenda) will be at 10 am, Room 2027, County Administration Building. Committee meeting are open to the public, but usually there is no public comment period. If the committee goes along with the bill, there will be a  public hearing later and then the vote by the entire council. Before next Wednesday’s committee meeting, we need to have people e-mail, write or phone committee members asking them to oppose this bill and any other attempts to deny the public use of public trail easements.

If you live in the district of one of the committee members, it is especially important for you to let your council member know that you oppose the bill.

PZED Committee Members:
Samuel H. Dean, Chair (District 6), (301) 952-3426
Eric C. Olson, Vice Chair (District 3), (301) 952-3060
Marilynn M. Bland (District 9), (301) 952-3820
Thomas E. Dernoga (District 1), (301) 952-3887
Camille A. Exum (District 7), (301) 952-3690

Letters can be mailed to:
The Honorable Marilynn M. Bland
Chairperson, Prince George’s County Council
14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772

AN ACT concerning

Public Trails

For the purpose of restricting the location of public trail easements on private lots.

BY repealing and reenacting with amendments:


Section 24-123,

The Prince George's County Code

(2007 Edition, 2008 Supplement).

SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED by the County Council of Prince George's County, Maryland, that Section 24-123 of the Prince George's County Code be and the same is hereby repealed and reenacted with the following amendments:



Sec. 24-123. General requirements.

(a) The Planning Board shall require that plats conform to the following:

(1) The rights-of-way of all highways, streets, and transit facilities shown on the General Plan, functional master plans, and area master plans shall be shown on the preliminary plat and, when reserved or dedicated, shown on the final plat.

(2) All proposed streets shall be continuous and in alignment with existing or platted streets in adjoining subdivisions so as to create a street network that is functional and easily understandable. Generally, streets should cross other streets at right angles.

(3) All internal subdivision streets shall be wholly within the County and shall not be designed to directly connect to an adjacent county unless the applicant has obtained the prior written approval of the District Council and the appropriate land use authority of the adjacent County.

(A) An applicant must file a written request for said approval. The request shall be filed with the Clerk of the District Council. The District Council must either approve or disapprove said request within forty-five (45) days from the date of filing. Failure of the District Council to act within said forty-five (45) day period shall constitute an approval of the request. For purposes of this provision an internal subdivision street shall be deemed to be a public roadway having a right-of-way width of eighty (80) feet or less.

(B) After public hearing before the District Council, the Council shall not allow the proposed bi-county subdivision unless it finds that delivery of public safety services, utility services, and tax collection will be timely and adequate for the lots in Prince George’s County.

(4) All streets proposed for dedication to public use shall be designed to the standards of the County road ordinance and street standards for width and minimum curve radii or to the standards of municipalities having jurisdiction. Variations from these standards may be granted by the Planning Board upon the recommendation of the Department of Public Works and Transportation or upon the recommendation of the municipality or other governmental authority having jurisdiction.

(5) Arterial highways shall have a minimum right-of-way width of one hundred and twenty (120) feet; collector streets, a minimum right-of-way width of eighty (80) feet; and parkways, such right-of-way width as may be designated by the Planning Board. The width of secondary subdivision streets shall be not less than fifty (50) feet and the width of primary subdivision streets not less than sixty (60) feet.

(6) Land for bike trails and pedestrian circulation systems shall be shown on the preliminary plat and, where dedicated or reserved, shown on the final plat when the trails are indicated on a master plan, the County Trails Plan, or where the property abuts an existing or dedicated trail, unless the Board finds that previously proposed trails are no longer warranted. Notwithstanding the above, an easement for bike trails and pedestrian circulation systems shall not be created on individual residentially zoned lots.

(7) Bike trails and pedestrian circulation systems constructed on easements held on residentially-zoned property shall comport with the following requirements:

(A) Landowners within one-half mile of the subject residential property for the proposed trail must be notified via first-class mail of the pending construction of the trail. The notice shall contain a list of subject properties on which the proposed trail will be situated, as well as the date for the public hearing. Signs notifying the public of the proposed bike trail shall be posted on the subject property and shall comport with the requirements of Section 27-125.03 of the Zoning Ordinance;

(B) Upon thirty (30) days notice, a public hearing shall be held before the Planning Board on the proposed bike trail and pedestrian circulation system. At the conclusion of the public hearing, the record shall remain open for a period of fifteen (15) days to allow for public comment on the proposed bike trail and pedestrian circulation system;

(C) On the portions of the trail constructed employing easements on residential property, manned security posts shall be provided at intervals of every one thousand (1,000) feet. The posts shall be manned by members of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Park Police;

(D) Locking barriers shall be provided at the beginning and end of each residential area on which trails are constructed on easements on residential property. The barriers shall be locked during all hours the trail is not open to the public; and

(E) Trails constructed on easements on residential property shall be open to the public between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. daily.

SECTION 2. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED that this Act shall take effect thirty (30) calendar days after it becomes law.


March 18, 2009 – 10:00 a.m.

Room 2027


a) Presentation by Committee Staff

(including comments received by the Committee)

b) Comments from Sponsor

c) Questions from Committee Members

d) Comments from Agencies

e) General Discussion

f) Motion and Vote



1. CB-7-2009 (Dean) - An Ordinance concerning Validity Periods for Detailed Site Plans and

Specific Design Plans for the purpose of temporarily suspending or tolling the validity periods of all

approved applications for Detailed Site Plans and Specific Design Plans that are currently in a

valid status.

2. CB-8-2009 (Dean) - An Subdivision Bill concerning validity periods for Preliminary Plans of

Subdivision for the purpose of temporarily suspending or tolling the validity periods of all approved

applications for Preliminary Plans of Subdivision that are currently in a valid status.

3. CB-9-2009 (Knotts) - A Subdivision Bill adding an exemption from the requirement of filing a

subdivision plat.

4. CB-10-2009 (Knotts) - A Subdivision Bill restricting the location of public trail easements on

private lots.


�� Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations Comprehensive Amendments

Arie Stouten, M-NCPPC

Henry Zhang, M-NCPPC

PZED Committee Members:

Samuel H. Dean, Chair

Eric C. Olson, Vice Chair

Marilynn M. Bland

Thomas E. Dernoga

Camille A. Exum

by B' Spokes

Like most people I live a hectic life and who has the time for much exercise? Thanks to xtracycle now I do. By using my bike for daily activities I can get things done and get an hour plus work out in 15 minutes extra of my time, not a bad deal and beats taking the extra time going to the gym. In case you are still having trouble being motivated; the National Center of Disease Control says that inactivity is the #2 killer in the United States just behind smoking. ( ) Get out there and start living life! I can carry home a full shopping cart of groceries, car pool two kids or just get lost in the great outdoors camping for a week. Well I got go, another outing this weekend.
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Thanks for the heads up. My dad is Tom Dernoga, I'm sure he is against the Knotts bill, but I'll be sure to bring it up with him today.