Thursday, Aug. 30, 2007

Residents oppose entertainment site plan for Wilmer’s Park

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Opponents of legislation recently passed by the County Council that would allow for an entertainment park to be built in the rural tier are seeking a review of the legality of the bill.

Members of the Accokeek, Mattawoman, Piscataway Creeks Communities Council and the Greater Baden Aquasco Citizens Association filed a petition for judicial review of the bill that amended zoning laws to allow for the application of a special exception for an entertainment park in the rural tier.

Opponents have dubbed the measure the ‘‘Wilmer’s Park Bill” because they see it not as an independent zoning amendment, but as a bill specifically aimed at allowing for construction of a concert venue, nursing home and restaurant on what now stands as Wilmer’s Park, off Route 381 in Brandywine.

Kelly Canavan, president of the AMP Creeks Council, contends that since the special exception is only useful to the owners of Wilmer’s Park, it violates the uniformity provision the Prince George’s County Zoning Code.

That provision states that all regulations should be uniform for each class or kind of building throughout any district or zone.

‘‘A site-specific text amendment violates the uniformity provisions of Article 28 by establishing a special set of rules that are applicable to a specific property although it may theoretically apply to a handful of other properties that have no intention of using the text amendment,” Canavan wrote in an e-mail.

The Council passed the bill July 24 by an 8-1 vote.

David Billings, chief of staff for Councilwoman Marilynn Bland (D-Dist. 9) of Clinton, who originally proposed the bill, said Bland still stands by the council decision.

But Billings also said Bland is not opposed to the group filing for the petition. ‘‘They do have the right to do that,” he said. ‘‘No one is opposed to that.”

Billings said he has seen opposition coming from places other than Brandywine, where Wilmer’s Park is located. He is curious as to whether those against the bill know what is best for Brandywine.

‘‘If you are from Accokeek or Aquasco, you need to go talk to people in Brandywine, who are near the park,” Billings said.

County Councilman Eric Olson (D-Dist 3) of College Park, the only member of the council to vote against the bill, was unavailable for comment.

But in a July 26 story in The Gazette, he said he voted against it because he was concerned about large-scale development in the rural tier.

Bruce Chatman, the developer of the Wilmer’s Park project, declined to comment.