College Park Forgoes Appeal of Cafritz Decision
Mayor Andrew Fellows broke a tie vote of the City Council Tuesday night.
The College Park City Council rejected a motion Tuesday night to appeal last month's District Council approval of the Cafritz property rezoning plan.
Mayor Andrew Fellows broke a tie vote of the council, which split 4-4 on the measure. The city faced an Aug. 17 deadline to file an appeal.
Councilmembers Patrick Wojahn (Dist. 1), Monroe Dennis (Dist. 2), Robert Day (Dist. 3), and Stephanie Stullich (Dist. 3) supported an appeal, while councilmembers Fazul Kabir (Dist. 1), Bob Catlin (Dist. 2), Marcus Afzali (Dist. 3), and Denise Mitchell (Dist. 4) were opposed.
Though Mitchell and Afzali both voted against the project when it came before the council in January, Afzali said Tuesday that he did not support the use of municipal resources for an appeal.
"I don't think we're actually doing any good for the city by this," he explained, citing legal expenses and expected court challenges by individual residents.
"This is not the end of the process … it's a very long process, and [there are] multiple other points to actually make this appeal," Afzali added.
Fellows said he opposed the Cafritz plan but was confident that an appeal "would still go forward" even if the city didn't jump in.
But Stullich, who introduced the resolution, said it was important for College Park "to take a consistent and principled stand on this issue."
"It would be wrong for us to say 'We're just going to a take a pass because we're just going to rely on this group of individual citizens,'" Stullich said.
Under the Cafritz plan—which cleared the District Council, 7-2, on July 10—a 36-acre parcel on the north end of Riverdale Park is set to be rezoned from single-family detached residential (R-55) to mixed-use town center (M-UTC).
If the approval withstands court challenges, the developer intends to build some 900 units of housing, a 35,000-square-foot Whole Foods, a 120-room hotel, and additional office and retail space.
Per conditions attached to the approval, the developer must clear several other hurdles before construction can begin, including a traffic study, a preliminary plan of subdivision, a detailed site plan, subdivision plats, and certain benchmarks for building a road bridge over the neighboring CSX tracks.
Supporters say the project will spur economic growth and bring a desirable mix of retail and residential development to the area. Critics charge that the plan will impose extreme fiscal, environmental, and traffic pressure on the surrounding communities.
Half a dozen College Park residents spoke at Tuesday's meeting, each voicing support for an appeal.
"I would really ask you to appeal it and demand a reasonable and practical solution to Route 1," said Jim McFadden.
Riverdale Park Mayor Vernon Archer and Councilmember Jonathan Ebbeler (Ward 1) also spoke, asking their College Park counterparts to refrain from a court challenge.
"I would certainly like to go back to the table with a united municipal voice to move forward on this project," Archer said.