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Infrastructure & Building Standards

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(Town of Riverdale Park Vision Statement)
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We want to preserve Riverdale Park's historical legacy while promoting progressive growth in the next millennium. To achieve this, we will encourage development that preserves the unique mixture of land uses, architectural design and styles of the buildings and structures in Riverdale Park. Development will conserve natural resources, foster the development of open spaces and parks, and create a cleaner healthier environment.

We will continue to be an attractive community by encouraging coherence, continuity, attractive design and individuality in our buildings, lots and streets. The town will create and follow guidelines to influence new development, renovation of existing structures, and infrastructure. To achieve our goal of progressive growth in the context of preserving our historical legacy, the town government will use its authority to enforce codes and standards, and exercise influence over zoning decisions.

General Guidelines

The most important general idea is that development provides a place for human beings to live in and use. People want to live in neighborhoods that provide variety, familiarity and a sense of belonging. We must foster development patterns that encourage people to truly live in their houses and neighborhoods. Appropriate size, variation of use, and style are essential elements in a truly human design. Sprawling development projects do not lend themselves to housing true communities and we reject such schemes within our town.

The original developers of Riverdale Park knew that neighborly cohesion required a "core" to the town. Today the idea of the neighborhood core is just as important and central to the well being of Riverdale Park. Luckily, we still have the original Town Center for the neighborhoods west of the Anacostia River, and the newer Riverdale Plaza for areas east of the Anacostia River. These areas are accessible by a quick walk, bicycle ride, or short car trip and can act as the centers each of the neighborhoods require. Cores have uses for both residential and commercial interests such as retail and office space, as well as civic and social facilities for neighborhood gatherings.

New Development And Renovation of Existing Structures

In order to ensure that new development and rehabilitation projects will fit with our vision we propose the following:

  • Neighboring structures will indicate a respect for one another's architectural styles, but there will be differences in building materials, size, facade treatment and details. In particular, developers/renovators will work to maintain some degree of consistency to promote a feeling of unity (e.g., set standard "build-to" lines for different areas.) However, that consistency will not be the only goal in building standards, since repeating the same three designs is as undesirable as repeating a single design, and would convey the same mass-produced effect.

  • Buildings will have varying footprints, heights, and architectural styles.

  • Lot sizes, block sizes and street configurations will vary.

  • Municipal, commercial and residential buildings will be energy efficient.

  • Buildings will serve multiple functions. A mix of land uses, housing, jobs and incomes creates a more balanced community, reduces traffic and creates better fiscal balance. Home offices in houses, as well as apartments over businesses, will provide residents with the opportunity to live near their workplace. In addition, allowing companies to build within walking distance of homes will allow residents to do their business in town.

  • A mix of housing types and costs will be available to residents. Apartments, "starter" homes, large family homes, and retirement homes in town will allow residents to live near their families through different stages of their lives. Homes will range from affordable to fancy, and add-on living spaces (e.g., mother-in-law cottages) will not be discouraged. These add-on living spaces provide housing for those who wish to be part of the community, but cannot maintain their own homes. Locations for businesses will be chosen so that businesses that require large square foot uses or produce excessive noise do not have an unfavorable impact on the community.


    The town will act with determination to have all streets paved to county standards with good drainage and well-maintained sidewalks. In our vision, continuous and protected sidewalks are constructed where possible. The town will continue to maintain street signs with clear markings and signs to protect pedestrians and playing children.

    We recognize that many of these goals cannot be accomplished without the cooperation of the Town and County in enforcing current standards. Thus, we encourage the Town of Riverdale Park to work towards getting Prince George's County to enforce its building standards. In lieu of this action, it may be necessary for the Town to find the means to enforce county laws. This means the town would issue building permits and insure that developers and property owners are implementing changes that are consistent with the standards set by the town and county.

    The town will resolutely enforce both the building and upkeep codes of our county and local municipality. In addition, we envision citizen volunteers helping their neighbors keep their homes and yards neat and in good condition. Finally, the town will insure that all property owners maintain their properties to an acceptable standard.

    Properties that have been left in disrepair will be bought by the town (as allowed by Maryland State law) and sold to owners who will restore and maintain them.

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    This page was last changed on Monday, July 5, 1999. Questions, comments, or submissions? See the Website Committee web page. This page has been accessed 7865 times.