College Park backs out of Cafritz property appeal -- Gazette.Net


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College Park officials are silencing their concerns of a proposed mixed-use development in Riverdale Park, after the City Council voted 5-4 against a motion to appeal the Cafritz Property’s rezoning application.

If passed, the motion made by Councilwoman Stephanie Stullich (Dist. 3) would have tasked the city with submitting a formal appeal to the Prince George’s County District Council arguing against the approval of the rezoning application for the Cafritz Property development in Riverdale Park. If a county circuit court judge ruled in favor of a submitted appeal, the rezoning request would go back to the District Council for revisions and reconsideration.

The Cafritz Property, named after land owner Jane Cafritz, is a proposed $226 million town center in Riverdale Park complete with 1.9 million square feet of mixed-use space, including retail, office and residential, with a Whole Foods grocery store as its staple tenant.

“What’s paramount is that the proposed density of this site is excessive,” Stullich said. “If this developer had listened to the community input on this issue and proposed a more moderate development we would be in a different position today.”

Councilman Fazlul Kabir (Dist.1), who voted against the appeal, said he has concerns with the estimated $25,000 legal fees it would cost the city to file an appeal. City manager Joe Nagro said the city had already spent more than $21,000 in legal fees throughout the Cafritz rezoning application process. Kabir also noted that not appealing the property would be better for maintaining a relationship with neighboring municipalities such as Riverdale Park, who voted in favor of the property.

“Sometimes I think we need to weigh pros and cons and accept reality,” he said.

Six area residents came to the meeting to support the council filing an appeal. Many of them said they also testified against the property during the planning board and district council hearings before the property’s application was approved.

“I continue to have serious concerns about this project. With the traffic I have yet to see anything to delay my fears for what Route 1 will become,” said resident Jim McFadden. “Adding one million plus square feet … is just going to exacerbate the problem.”

Riverdale Park officials were also present to give their views on approving the property proposal and urged the City Council not to submit an appeal.

“I would like to ask that you rejoin Riverdale Park in a concerted effort to make this development into the best development it can be. We do have very strong conditions in place to address virtually all the conditions that were laid in front of you this evening,” said Riverdale Park Mayor Vernon Archer regarding the agreed upon conditions in the approval such as completing a traffic study, creating a detailed site plan and making headway on building a vehicular bridge over the CSX tracks near the property.

Since the District Council’s 7-2 favorable vote was mailed to all property stakeholders and concerned residents July 18, the deadline for appealing the District Council decision is Aug. 17. After the deadline, a Circuit Court judge will consider any filed appeals and decide whether to grant final approval to rezone the property, said College Park Attorney Robert Manzi.

djgross@gazette.net