A privately owned airport in the Washington suburbs may soon be closed to make way for a residential development.
An aerial view of the Freeway airport site along Route 50 in Bowie
The 132-acre airport property is located at the intersection of Route 50 and Church Road, approximately 11 miles from Washington The airport has been Property by the Rodenhauser family since 1947, and currently operates as a flight school and maintenance facility.
The company has faced financial difficulties for the past two decades, since flight regulations were changed after 9/11. Kim Rodenhauser said at a Prince George County Council hearing in September 2019. Due to these financial problems, he said the family is looking to close the airport and redevelop the property. She read a letter to the board from her father, Stan Rodenhauser, who died in July 2019.
A few days before the council hearing, a small plane took off from the airport damaged on Route 50 and hit a car. No one was seriously injured but the accident has increased the controversy around the continued operation of the airport, WTOP reported. An airport representative refused to provide his name or comment when he was reached by phone on Thursday morning.
A site plan for the development of the Freeway Airport property in Bowie
The county council in November past a bill that changed the zoning of the site to allow for higher residential density. The site had previously been zoned to allow for one unit for every 2 acre, but the change increased it ninefold to allow for 4.5 units per acre.
While the zoning change has passed, it is dealt with some opposition by Bowie officials and residents on the scale of increasing density. Much of the opposition focused on traffic problems on Church Road, which people at the hearing described as a rural road. Council member Derrick Leon Davis, who sponsored the bill, said the idea that the road is rural is outdated.
“There was a time when Church Road was a rural road, and that was many decades ago,” Davis said at the September 2019 hearing. “It’s no longer a rural road. It is suburban which tends to move more urban from the Fairwood development. ”
Fairwood is a subdivision of 1,800 homes built about 15 years ago, just north of the airport.
St. John Properties plans to use the new zoning designation to build 509 residences on the site with a density of 4.23 units per acre. It requires 416 townhouses and 93 single-family houses. The company declined to comment.
Planning committee staff recommended approval of the project last week, provided the developer provided further analysis for noise, environmental impact, and other issues. The planning council is expected to review it at its October 29 hearing.
UPDATE, OCTOBER. 22, 1:55 pm ET: This story has been updated to include comments from the September 2019 hearing.
CORRECTION, OCTOBER. 22, 2:25 PM ET: This story has been updated to reflect that while the Freeway Airport is privately owned, it is open to the public.