Prince George’s County Considers Legislation to Diversify Business Landscape

by Nick

The Prince George’s County Council is reviewing legislation aimed at curbing the proliferation of fast-food establishments in local neighborhoods. While proponents assert it promotes healthier options, critics argue it infringes on free enterprise.

The proposed bill mandates that businesses seeking property acquisition must notify the county of any intended changes in land use. This provision allows council members and the public to weigh in on, and potentially contest, such alterations. Councilwoman Karen Toles, the bill’s sponsor, emphasizes its aim to prevent the dominance of less desirable businesses like fast-food outlets and nightclubs in repurposed storefronts.


Toles remarked, “If you go on Branch Avenue, it’s nothing but liquor stores, it’s nothing but fast food… Residents have expressed a desire for more healthy eating options.”


Presently, businesses can change property use without notifying authorities. While the proposed legislation impacts any business seeking to alter a location’s use, its primary focus is on fostering healthier eating alternatives and reducing detrimental food and beverage consumption.


The bill, co-sponsored by Council President Andrea Harrison and members Mary Lehman, Obie Patterson, and Ingrid Turner, aims to enhance transparency in public decision-making.


Critics like J. Justin Wilson, a senior research analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom, denounce the proposal as “government paternalism.” Citing a study from 2009, Wilson argues against the premise that proximity to fast-food restaurants significantly affects children’s weights.

The push for healthier eating choices coincides with recent county initiatives, such as awarding a $300,000 loan to a Little Caesars Pizza owner for opening two Prince George’s locations. Toles clarifies that the legislation aims to promote public awareness rather than impose regulations on specific food items.

“The public has a right to know what’s coming,” Toles stated. “It’s not about regulating Big Macs.”


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