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Once Again, District Council Continues Cafritz Hearing

Proceedings will resume Monday at 11 a.m. in Upper Marlboro.

Another six hours of testimony, yet there was still no decision regarding the rezoning of the Cafritz property.

The hearing will resume Monday in Upper Marlboro, making it the fifth in a series of meetings that have lasted anywhere from six to 12 hours each.

The Prince George's County District Council must decide whether or not the 37-acre property on the northern end of Riverdale Park should become mixed-use town center zoning over its current residential zoning.

A proposed $226 million dollar project hangs in the balance— a project which would include a 120-room hotel, 990 housing units, office and commercial space including a Whole Foods.

Yet some residents in Riverdale Park, University Park and neighboring communities are voicing their strong opposition to the project. They believe it will create more traffic, more overcrowding at schools and environmental issues.

At Friday's hearing, people on all sides of the issue spoke including Del. Justin Ross (D-Prince George's), who was in the hot seat for nearly an hour, while people questioned his support for the project.

They asked if he'd support the Whole Foods if it were developed in other parts of Prince George's County. Ross said he would, but that currently the council was looking at this project and Whole Foods wanted to open along the Route 1 corridor.

Jim Voelzke, an architect for the Cafritz project, was questioned for more than an hour about his expertise in the field of urban design by those opposing the project.

The hearing will resume at 11 a.m. in Upper Marlboro Monday.

Tell us what you thought about the hearing today? Did you learn anything new? Was there something you wish was discussed?

The District Council's hearing on the proposed rezoning of the Cafritz property resumed Friday in Upper Marlboro. Below is a summary of the procedings.


Update, 5 p.m.: Even after six hours of testimony Friday, a decision was not issued by the district council on the rezoning of the Cafritz property.

The hearing will continue Monday at 11 a.m.  Come back to Patch for details about the hearing Monday.

Update, 12:30 p.m.: The expertise of Jim Voelzke, an architect for the Cafritz project, is being debated by legal representation at the hearing.

Currently the legal teams are debating whether Voelzke's testimony should be entered into the record as an expert of architecture or urban design.

Voelzke has worked with nearly two dozen projects related to Whole Foods.

Update, 12:11 p.m.: Del. Justin Ross (D-Prince George's) gave testimony in support of the Cafritz project, although he noted that the development of a bridge over the CSX tracks would be important to the project.

Ross believes the county is primed to receive development like the Whole Foods at this time.

Under cross-examination Ross was asked if he would support a Whole Foods at other sites in Prince George's County like the University Town Center. Although he supported development there, he said Whole Foods wants to develop on the Cafritz property.

Update, 11 a.m.: Testimony has resumed at the Prince George's County District Council's hearing on the Cafritz proposal.

The council is continuing testimony from the list of speakers from Monday, however, official representatives on behalf of the towns of University Park and Riverdale Park are able to speak on behalf of their communities.

Riverdale Park resident Kate Kelly asked that the council leave the residential-feel and greenery around their home.

While, College Park resident Stephanie McGloughlin testified against killing an urban forest.

University Park resident Ellen Thorp argued that the local elementary cannot handle the high density housing proposed for the Cafritz property.

So far 88 exhibits have been entered into the record.

Stay tuned for updates from today's hearing.

Original Post, 5:30 a.m.: The Prince George's County District Council is once again set to resume its hearing on the Cafritz rezoning application this morning at 10 a.m. in Upper Marlboro.

Progress was slow at Monday's session——but the council managed to hear a considerable amount of testimony from residents and experts on the merits of the Cafritz proposal.

That stood in stark contrast , where a bevy of objections and confusion over the hearing procedures prevented any serious consideration of the project itself.

Attorneys and council members also took advantage of their right to cross-examination on Monday, questioning several testifiers at length.

The Cafritz family is seeking to have its 37-acre parcel on the north end of Riverdale Park 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.

Though the plan , critics charge that the development would pose extreme fiscal, environmental, and traffic pressure on the surrounding communities.

Friday's hearing can be viewed via live feed at this link. (Note: the video will only become active when the meeting begins.)

Previous District Council coverage:

  • April 11: 
  • April 13: 
  • April 30: 

Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this post, we misidentified Stephanie McGloughlin. We regret this error.

susan May 04, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Kudos once again to Patch for timely succinct reporting!


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