Developing a choice area of real estate called the "golden triangle" has been a concern of officials, developers, planners and citizens in the Greenbelt area since 1956.
Shopping centers, a mini-convention center, office and medical buildings and a recreational vehicle park have all been proposed at one time of another for the land.
The 56-acre plot, called "the most valuable land in Prince George's County" by Greenbelt Mayor Gil Widenfeld, forms the shape of a triangle with Greenbelt Road as its base, and Kenilworth Avenue and the Beltway on its sides.
A meeting was held Monday in Maryland National Capital Park and Planning (MNCPPC) offices after Greenbelt officials expressed concern over plans for a road ramp and an auto dealership on part of the land.
Developer Kenneth H. Michael, members of the MNCPPC, the Maryland Transportation, the National Park Service, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, representatives of the Prince George's COunty Council and Greenbelt officials presented their views on the development.
Last year Michael, acting as developer for owner N. A. Kravitz Co., was granted a sewer allocation for 6.5 acres of the southeast corner for Capital Cadillac. Capital Cadillac is currently under contract to buy a site on the triangle property.
But the Maryland Department of Transportation decided last fall to buy four acres of the same land to build an access road onto the Baltimore-Washington Parkway from Greenbelt Road.
The decision nullified Capitol Cadillac's sewer allocation and raised a question with Greenbelt officials about possible traffic congestion in the area.
"We didn't even know the sale was going on," said Mayor Widenfeld. "And we are opposed to the ramp being built. The state would close the South Way Road to B-W parkway, which is used primarily by Greenbelt residents. The proposed ramp is not needed and it will just take up five or six acres of valuable commercial land."
Widenfeld raised another Greenbelt concern-what he called "piecemeal development."
"We want the utlimate in quality development. Capital Cardillac is only one piece and it is being approved without a concept plan. We want to see an overall plan of the parcel. If the land is frittered away it may become an impact area rather than an asset."
Developer Michael indicated at the meeting he is going ahead with the plans he has made for the property. He plans to move the Capitol Cardillac site northwest of the ramp area. "I've been working on this for five years. You cannot come up with a plan if you don't know what the game is all about.
"A concept plan is meaningless because you can't guarantee it will happen with time and with what the market would bear. And county facilities have restricted us. We need to find something with low traffic generation and low sewer needs do we got the auto dealership."
Michael proposed an office building a bank or saving and loan, a medical complex and larger buildings to accompany the auto dealership on the property. "Things do have a way of progressing slowly. I want to see the kind of development the city of Greenbelt wants. I live here too."
National Park Service officials from Greenbelt Park came to the meeting because "We failed to take notice of another influence (the Westchester Apartment complex built on the western half of the park) until it was too late,"said Martha Spice, a Greenbelt Park employee.
Greenbelt Park, a 1,110-acre national park with a 178-unit campground and hiking and bicycling trails, is located on the southern boundary of the triangle. Park rangers are concerned that an increased traffic flow frome the Kenilworth-Greenbelt Roads combined with the slower traffic recreational vehicles could cause problems. Many people already use the park road as a a commuter road through the area and park employees estimate that 35,000 to 50,000 vehicles per month enter the park during peak use in the summer.
Michael's planners, Walten-Madden, Cooper Inc., have promised to produce a concept plan for the site "within weeks." Michael said he directed his planners to talk to Greenbelt officials "specifically to get your wisdom on the subject."
Nothing has changed but everybody has heard the same thing all in one day," noted Jack Downs, MNCPPC director.
The delayed development of the area, worth over $100,000 an acre, may now be moving forward. High traffic density existing on Greenbelt and Kenilworth Roads, a 435,000-square feet and water and sewer restrictions, will still have to be planned for and buyers will still have to be found.
Frank Derro, MNCPPC planner, said "the triangle has good visibility. That is a limited access triangle."
Derro added, "After this maybe we ought to change the name from golden triangle to silver triangle."