The farmland dwellers and the subdvision dweller who live on the southwestern outskirts of Upper Marlboro turned out 150 strong at a Prince George's County Council hearing last week to protest a development proposal that would put a community of 4,500 people in their midst.
"We would like to see the Upper Marlboro area developed in small and large estates with wooden fences and bridle paths," said Dorothy Troutman, who lives on Osborne Road not far from the 504-acre Sasscer Hill tract, where the development is proposed.
"Townhouses, patio houses and a local activity center do not belong" in the area, she added. "We came here to approve of low density zoning. We want to keep Marlboro country."
The Prince George's County Council gave indications this week that it agrees with the residents who favor low-density zoning. In a straw vote at a work session Tuesday, the Council members voted 8 to 0 to zone the land for 2 acre lots. The Council will not formally act on this matter until next month.
Sasscer Hill Associates, developers of this property which sits to west of Croom Station Road, to the south of Rte. 4 and is bisected by Rte. 301, have asked that their property be designated a Comprehensive Design Zone.
Under this designation, the developers would be able to build 1,341 homes, 640 of them townhouses.
Former U.S. Sen. Joseph D. Tydings, the attorney for the joint venture of six developers, told the five council members present at the hearing that the development would not begin until 1983, and would continue in stages until year 2000.
Tydings argued that the Comprehensive Design Zone designation "is a tool which will give the county council the opportunity to protect the county . . . the beauty of the CDZ is that you have control over each stage of the development."
The control Tydings referred to would be the council's right to approve each new stage of development within the CDZ zone before it is started.
Tydings also argued that 270 of the 504 acres in the project "will remain as bridle paths, bike paths and lakes - you'll never get that if you develop it lot by lot, house by house."
However, just before Tydings spoke, Hal C. B. Claggett, an attorney whose family has lived in the area for 10 genarations, forcefully declared that people would come to live in Sasscer Hill "from the densely settled area they want to escape. . .
"As they come, they'll destroy what is already here an the way of life of the poeple who have contributed to this county with their sweat . . ." Claggett said, pounding his palm on the lectern as he spoke.
The Sasscer Hill development proposal is just one of a series of projects, both proposed and completed, in the Upper Marlboro area. Just south of the Sasscer Hill tract is the large Marlton subdivison, and another large development is proposed for an area surrounding nearby Brown Station Road.
The Upper Marlboro area 16 miles east of downtown Washington, a rural stretch of tobacco farms with the Prince George's county seat perched in their midst, remained largely undeveloped until the past decade.
The hearing at which local residents were voicing their opposition to the Sasscer Hill development proposal was scheduled as a hearing on the proposed amendments to a major rezoning plan that would affect 118 square miles in southwestern Prince George's County.
That plan, known as the Upper Marlboro and Lower Patuxent sectional map amendment, would downzone 86 square miles of the affected area, classifying it as an area where homes must be built on lots no smaller than five acres.
Another 10 square miles would be zoned for 2-or 1-acre lots.
At present, the entire area is zoned in the Rural Residential, or R-R category, which allows development on half-acre lots.
Major downzoning proposals similar to this sectional map amendment are currently being fought in the state courts in Montgomery County and in the state Court of Appeals.
Warren Kahl, the council's planning coordinator, last week called the sectional map amendment "both a means of growth control and a means of encouraging the kind of development we want."
The entire sectional map amendment must be voted on by the council this fall.