Waldorf Station – Sprawl Masquerading as Transit Oriented Development

Chapter 9 – After over a decade of messing around with Waldorf Crossing, it now has a new name – Waldorf Station – and a strange look for an alleged Transit Oriented Development (TOD). The TOD part has become something of a standing joke around Charles County because:

• The property is bisected by Rt. 301, an eight-lane highway
• The proposed development is predicted to increase traffic congestion and dependence on automobiles
• Light rail, if it comes at all, will be on the east side of Rt. 301
• The project will be anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter located on the west side of Rt. 301 (we already have a Wal-Mart on the east side where the rail part of TOD will be located)

The footprint for the new store will be nearly double the allowable single-story footprint limit under TOD zoning. In order to “shoe-horn” a big-box store into the limited space between Rt. 301 and Mattawoman Creek, the developer moved the proposed alignment of the Western Parkway extension making the road longer and intruding into the Resource Protection Zone (RPZ) along the Creek.

When the Waldorf Crossing Station property was rezoned to TOD, it was sold to the community as a high-quality, walkable, mixed-use development, but over the years it has become something entirely different. Now, it’s just another big-box store dependent on large parking lots full of cars to further jam local roads. Surely, TOD is supposed to be more than a name with “Station” in it.

One has to ask how we are supposed to cope with even more traffic on Rt. 301. The county staff report indicates that the level of service for some intersections will be degraded below acceptable levels of service (LOS) requiring the developer to provide mitigation measures, but does not clearly predict the new LOS grades for all of those intersections. The County Attorney’s office is blocking a Public Information Act request for that information.

It gets worse. According to the county’s Planning, Growth and Management staff, the approval process only looks at the intersections, not the impacts to the roads beyond the intersections.

Imagine that. You have to wonder when someone is going to realize that the cars passing through those intersections are going somewhere, even if it is an eight lane parking lot at rush hour.

Read more from our ongoing series, “Charles County’s Comprehensive Plan fiasco.”