When the Cafritz team goes before the Prince George's C, it will be without the backing of the College Park City Council.
In a 6-2 decision Tuesday night, the council voted to oppose the developers’ request to change 37.34 wooded acres south of College Park from single-family housing (R-55) to Mixed-Use Town Center. The rezoning would allow developers to construct a Whole Foods Market, fitness center, hotel, office space and about 1,000 residential units.
The council of Riverdale Park voted the same night in unanimous support for the rezoning, and Monday, also in support of the rezoning. Both town councils voted for approval on the basis of many conditions regarding traffic, parking and other sticking points of the project.
The three municipalities have been with the developers, with the goal of reaching a consensus on the many concerns surrounding the project.
“I will agree the developer compromised. I think they made some important comprises,” said College Park Councilwoman Stephanie Stullich (Dist. 3), who put forth the motion to oppose the rezoning. “The experience of working with the other towns … I think was a very positive experience.”
The conditions include provisions for one of the most contentious issues: a .
The developers must achieve certain check points in permitting, construction and financing for the bridge before building and occupancy permits may be issued for more than 100,000 square feet of retail, office and hotel space and 120 residential dwelling units. Building permits can be issued for only 382 residential units until the CSX crossing is complete.
This would allow the developers to complete the bridge by middle of 2016, Cafritz attorney Chip Reed said. The Whole Foods Market would be finished by January 2015.
The developers agreed to pay for half of the cost of the bridge, not exceeding $5 million. The rest of the bridge would be paid for through .
University Park Mayor John Tabori, who was at the meeting, said that he believed the requirements for the bridge construction are tight enough that the developers “aren’t going to be able to wiggle out of it.”
Detailed Site Plan
The conditions also require that the developers provide a detailed site plan before major parts of the development, which would allow the councils to review the project at each stage.
“All municipalities in this area would have a voice and ability to know about and participate in the development should it go forward,” Riverdale Park Mayor Vernon Archer said.
But Stullich wasn’t confident.
“I’m really distrustful about what will really happen at this site,” she said.
Stullich argued that the plan failed to meet criteria for MUTC zoning, it’s too far from Metro transit stations and the project is too dense. She warned against the potential traffic impact, and the amount of surface parking. There was also no guarantee that high-quality retailers will come to the site, she said.
Stullich has campaigned against a northern road , and the developers have vowed against such an access point. However, the county planning staff suggested in its staff report in December that such , which made Stullich wary.
“I appreciate the developers’ stance, but I do think there’s potential for future pressure along those lines,” Stullich said.
Fifteen College Park residents spoke at the meeting, all but two of them supporting Stullich’s motion to oppose the rezoning. One Riverdale Park resident spoke in favor of the developers, and one University Park resident spoke in opposition of the project.
New City Councilman Fazlul Kabir (Dist. 1) and Councilman Bob Catlin (Dist. 2) voted against Stullich’s motion, supporting the rezoning.
Kabir said that he originally opposed the rezoning until he learned that the conditions would require the developers to build the CSX crossing in the first phase of the development.
“This is what we’ve been asking them [for],” Kabir said.
Mayor Andrew Fellows said that if he had to vote, he would have supported the motion to deny the application.
The council's votes will serve as advisory roles for the Prince George’s County Planning Board, which will hear the rezoning case Thursday in Upper Marlboro. The county’s District Council will be the ultimate decider on the rezoning application.
Editor's Note: This article has been corrected. A previous version inaccurately described one of the concerns about the development included in Councilwoman Stephanie Stullich's motion. We regret the error.