The Prince George’s County District Council will meet on Friday — the fourth day of hearings on the question of whether a mixed-use development that would include a Whole Foods should be built in the county.
More testimony is expected from individuals representing the Cafritz family, who hoped to build the development on a parcel of land just north of East-West Highway on Route 1. The District Council — the name the County Council takes when it hears matters related to development — met late into the evening Monday and heard testimony from area residents who both oppose and support the project.
The development has been controversial in part because the Cafritz family is seeking to rezone land that has been set aside for single-family residential homes into a zone that would allow for significantly more density. If approved, a spokesman for the Cafritz’s said the project would allow for the construction of 995 units of multifamily housing, a 120-room hotel, 22,000 square feet of office space and 168,000 square feet of retail on a 36-acre parcel, a spokesman for the family said. Opponents of the plan, however, note that a resolution passed by the county planning board in February would allow for up to 201,840 square feet of retail and flex space.
Supporters of the plan who appeared at Monday’s hearing said the development will bring life to the Route 1 corridor. Those who endorse the plan hope that construction of the Whole Foods Market will send a signal to other retailers that Prince George’s County can support high-end retail. But residents in the area fear the development will bring more traffic to the neighborhoods of largely single-family homes and overburden city services.
Legal tussling has forced the council to hold multiple hearings on the matter, which originally came before the council on April 11. The hearing that is currently being held is known as an evidentiary hearing and differs from other public hearings in that parties in the matter are subject to cross-examination.
People testifying on the matter will have three minutes to speak, but they can be cross-examined for an unlimited amount of time by other parties involved in the matter. As a result, it is not clear whether the board will be prepared to vote on the matter on Friday.