Some 800 Washington Redskins fans will need a new place to park on Sundays if Prince George's County rejects a parking lot owner's zoning appeal.
The 22-acre lot, situated between Sheriff Road and Landover Road just north of FedEx Field, has been providing parking for Redskins games and other events since 2005. But when the area was rezoned in 2009, parking there was no longer permitted.
The lot has remained open since then, as owner Brightseat Development Associates LLC went to the county asking for a nonconforming use permit. Thomas Haller, a lawyer representing Brightseat, said the county originally told the owner he could apply to keep the lot temporary or choose to turn it into permanent commercial parking. When he did the former, however, the County Planning Board rejected it and said he should have done the latter.
"There's a disagreement over whether the correct process was followed," Haller said. "He never intended it to be a permanent commercial parking lot. Our argument is that he did what he was told to do."
The Planning Board says the parking lot never went through the standard development process to ensure it meets the standards of local zoning ordinances, the County Landscape Manual and the Americans with Disabilities Act -- and what's more, the temporary permits that have allowed it to stay open since 2009 may not have been legal in the first place.
"Because the site was never properly developed in accordance with the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance when it was in the proper zoning category, the County Code provision confers no relevant rights on an owner who wishes to continue operations," Senior Planner John Ferrante wrote in his report to the Planning Board.
Brightseat appealed the ruling, and the issue will come before the County Council, sitting as the District Council, for a final decision. The County Council acts as the District Council for zoning and land use matters.
If the council goes along with the Planning Board's decision, the lot would have be zoned for and turned into a permanent parking facility to keep letting cars in. Haller said that would be pointless, because the parking is necessary only during the 10 annual
games and other FedEx Field events.
"One of the big issues with regard to Redskins games is you sit in traffic," he said. "When there's overflow crowds, they can use this lot. It's very helpful."
Otherwise, the lot will close once the current season ends. Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said the lot is not operated by the Redskins, and that if it closes, fans can park in FedEx Field's Gray lot, which is about 300 feet away and costs $40 for one prepurchased parking pass. Brightseat's lot generally charges $25 to park.