The Prince George’s District Council on Monday decided to continue debate over a proposed development project in Riverdale Park that would include the construction of a Whole Foods Market.
The District Council—the name the County Council takes when it reviews land-use matters—heard an appeal case of a decision made last Spring by the Planning Board in favor of the $250 million project . The plan, one of the most controversial projects in the county in recent years, could come back for more discussion and a vote later this month. A deadline for a decision is November 8.
In the nearly four hour hearing Monday, opponents of the project told the panel that the developer, Washington-based Calvin Cafritz Enterprises, has failed to comply with certain conditions the District Council set during the early approval process about a year ago.
They don’t specifically oppose construction of a Whole Foods, but take issue with the overall development project which also includes the construction of residential, hotel and retail spaces in a 37-acre site on Route 1 inside the Beltway.
University Park Mayor John Rogard Tabori said his town supports the project, but said officials there are seeking assurances from the developer that a bridge will be built over nearby CSX tracks.
The bridge would serve as another access point to the development, and is considered a central piece of the project, he said.
The developer included a conceptual plan for the construction of the bridge in the presentations to the Planning Board, but critics say it was not specific and failed to include details about how the bridge construction would be funded.
“This project has been an exceedingly complex and difficult one,” Tabori said.
Other concerns raised include questions of whether the developer has a plan to address traffic to roads in the area, and whether there would be buses available to shuttle people within the community. Some residents also said the recreational facilities proposed in the project are not sufficient.
Supporters of the project are asking the panel to uphold the Planning Board’s vote and move the project forward to allow for the construction of the popular organic food store.
Bruce McLeod, a spokesman for the developer, has previously said company officials are confident the council will approve the project. The developer aims to start construction this fall and open the store in early 2015.