A pair of Prince George's County Council members are dreaming of a neighborhood free of banquet halls, check-cashing businesses and pawn shops.
Under a proposal from Councilwoman Karen Toles, D-Suitland, and Councilman Obie Patterson, D-Fort Washington, those establishments and others would not be permitted in an area dubbed the St. Barnabas corridor.
The council members would also like to limit the number of liquor stores, gas stations, fast-food restaurants and nail salons that they say can promote crime and unhealthy living.
"We'd like to craft out the type of character we'd like to see along the St. Barnabas, Beech Road area," Patterson said. "We think this could be beneficial for developers, as well -- by having this type of upfront plan, we think it will save time."
The location, which sits about three miles northwest of Andrews Air Force Base and about two miles southeast of the D.C. border, is part of the county's Central Branch Avenue Corridor Revitalization Sector Plan. The plan's purpose is to transform the area along Branch Avenue from suburban sprawl into walkable neighborhood centers, with potential public transit stops.
"We were able to fine-tune a specific vision," Toles said. "We think it's a great precedent to set for what we want to see in Prince George's County."
Toles offered up legislation last year to help cut down on the number of fast-food restaurants in the county. She said she hoped the new proposal could lead to more healthy dining options, along with bookstores, coffee shops and craft stores.
The focus on banquet halls and other facilities that provide live music and dancing comes as Prince George's police have cracked down on such businesses. Thirteen dance halls were shuttered in 2012. Police have credited those stricter enforcement efforts with helping reduce the county's violent crime, which fell 6.7 percent last year.
"They've had some banquet halls that have led to crime and other issues," Toles said. "We'd like to avoid those issues going forward."