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Op-Ed: Cafritz Plan Would Cause 'Immense and Wide-Ranging' Harm

Calvert Hills resident Joseph Grikis calls on the District Council to reject the developer's rezoning proposal.

The proposed rezoning of the Cafritz property would cause "immense and wide-ranging" harm to the surrounding community and should be rejected by county lawmakers, Calvert Hills resident Joseph Grikis writes in Thursday's issue of The Gazette.

Calling the development "highly debatable," Grikis argues that the Cafritz project lacks the attention to smart growth and economic development seen in the University of Maryland's nearby .

Under the Cafritz plan, the developer's 37-acre parcel on the north end of Riverdale Park would be rezoned from single-family detached residential (R-55) to mixed-use town center (M-UTC), easing the way for the construction of more than 900 units of housing, a 35,000-square foot Whole Foods, a 120-room hotel, and additional office and retail space.

The proposal, of the Prince George's County Planning Board in February, is due to come before the District Council on Wednesday, April 11.

But Grikis charges that those conditions "reflect a hasty and ad hoc process" and do not provide sufficient protection against added traffic generated by the development.

"I will urge my council members, as the stewards of tax dollars and public well-being, to view the Calvert Tract as part of a much larger neighborhood — one with limited resources and higher priorities — and deny the rezoning request," Grikis writes.

Read the full op-ed here.

Nick April 06, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Here are some of the other effects Mr. Grikis forgot: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes. The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria! These effects are more believable then those in his diatribe. For example, he laments the loss of "undeveloped woodland," ignoring the property's history, once as a plantation and then as dormitory housing. He claims that the Cafritz property approval was "hasty and ad hoc." Yet, since at least 2008, the Cafritzes have made known their intention. Any changes to their plans came because of their engagement with the community. I know of no other developer who has worked so diligently and honestly their community. The only hold out is College Park; however, recent events show us that they negotiated in bad faith, hoping that a tax-generating engine like Whole Food would land in their city limits, not in the city limits of their neighbors. Thus, on one side, you have College Park, pouting that it is missing out on development. On the other side, you have Riverdale Park, University Park, Hyattsville, the University of Maryland, and, of course, College Park's city staff. Or, to put it differently, on one side are those who oppose progress. On the other side are those who support smart development and job-creation. Come on over to the other side, we're getting a fantastic new grocery store in our neighborhood.
Linda V. April 06, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Mixed use is a hell of a lot better than another suburb! Just what we (and the environment) needs around here, more people in their cars in search of places to shop and eat. Won't these opposers take a big picture view of the environment, the economy, and quality of life? Say what they will, it all comes down to NIMBY.
Danny April 06, 2012 at 03:02 PM
it's funny... there was a lot of griping from the local NIMBYs about east campus, too, but then they set their signs on ruining the cafritz-property plans after EC floundered and cafritz inked the whole foods lease (and thus became closer to reality). now many of these obstructionists pretend they're supportive of EC, which they'll still have (probably) years to derail before groundbreaking.
Danny April 06, 2012 at 03:06 PM
wasn't calvert hills, where mr. grikis makes his home, "undeveloped woodland" at some point? it's quite presumptuous of him to insist that prime land owned by someone other than himself remain undeveloped simply because his own (already-developed) land is in the general vicinity. this NIMBY apparently wants his own house to be the last one built.
JG April 06, 2012 at 06:30 PM
No one is suggesting that the Cafritz woodland remain undeveloped. The fact the Cafritz property is undeveloped woodland, and lacks infrastructure, is an important factor in the rezoning criteria. Unfounded personal attacks have no part in public dialogue on public issues. You also lose support from more moderate or undecided people.
Nick April 06, 2012 at 08:13 PM
JG, don't confuse an attack against Mr. Grikis's poorly-reasoned argument with an attack against him personally. I don't think the more moderate or undecided people are confused by your attempt at a strawman argument.
SF April 06, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Interesting. I found Mr. Grikis's editorial to be reasoned, fact-based and not at all the emotional rant that one would think from the comments here. Pick a phrase, twist the context, come to the conclusion that only a lunatic could have made those statements. At the county planning hearings, the vast majority of speakers opposed the development. Not to preserve woodland, stop development or block the Cafritz family from making a little (or a lot) of money. I didn't get the impression that this was NIMBYism. Mostly they thought that 1,000 housing units was too many, the area didn't have the infrastructure to support it, and that the plan doesn't meet the MUTC zoning designation. In any event, Mr. Grikis, thank you for sharing your point of view. Some may disagree with those concerns.
Nick April 07, 2012 at 12:15 AM
SF, you must have a different diatribe. The one I read made the outrageous and unsupported claim that allowing job-creating development in Riverdale Park would cause "'immense and wide-ranging' harm." Without any evidence in support of this wild claim he goes on to make suppositions and twist facts. That is not a well-reasoned argument.
Kate Kelly April 07, 2012 at 01:29 AM
There are many reasons to oppose the development: It’s a bad fit for an area that could use more high-quality single-family housing and less in the way of rental housing. It will be far too dense to be compatible with surrounding land uses. The grocery store plan is just plain not good enough: It’s three-quarters of an acre of a building and surface parking facing Route 1. Tax increment financing of infrastructure and possible long-term tax abatements (see House Bill 898, now in the Maryland Senate) will cause any benefit from property taxes to be drawn off to finance the project’s infrastructure or forgone all together. All of the profits will leave the county. It’s not smart growth.
Kirk Marchand April 11, 2012 at 06:23 PM
I posted this on the original: Critics of the Cafritz development fail to take two or three important points into accout. Right now I use gas and clog up traffic going to Silver Spring. If I could go to a Whole Foods on the Cafritz tract, it would be on my way home from work and would not be out of my way, saving me a 20 mile round trip 4 times a week. Multiply out other people like me, traffic congestion that would be saved. There are other considerations as well. Cafritz is private property. They are entitled to profitably develop that property. As a real estate professional (as well as a high school teacher), I can tell everyone there is a glut of houses in the area. The development of the two student high rises has resulted in a large supply of vacant homes that used to be rentals. So putting houses there is out of the question. This leaves office space, condo apartments and retail as the only three viable options available to the owners. There are no other realistic options. Added to the convenience of being able to shop on my home from work, and the objections raised by Mr. Grikis do not balance out the benefits. K. Marchand College Park

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