Opponents of the proposed Bay of Americas development at Oxon Hill on the Potomac River this week told a hearing examiner that the project would upset the area's residential character and increase congestion on already clogged roads.
The plan for a 442-acre commercial, hotel, marina and residential project at Smoot Bay, south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, received tentative approval in November from the Prince George's County planning board.
The third public hearing on the request for zoning changes was held Monday night before county hearing examiner Barry Cramp, who must complete his report in 30 days. Planning department staffer Michael Petrenko predicted any ruling on the zoning request would be appealed to the County Council, however.
Oppositon to the project is being spearheaded by lawyer James F. Vance, who lives in Camp Springs and who successfully fought several large south-county development plans in the past.
"These proposed high-density, high-intensity uses in the rural suburban Oxon Hill area are outrageous," said Vance, who called the project a "land grab" by the county planning board. The board will oversee details of the development if the zoning is granted.
Vance contends that the surrounding community is opposed to the project, but the project's developer, James Burch, disagreed.
In earlier testimony before the hearing examiner, Burch cited a poll he had commissioned that found a 71 percent approval rating for the development among residents of the Oxon Hill area.
George Smith, an economist with the county office of economic development, also testified earlier that the $500 million project would ultimately generate thousands of jobs jobs and $5 million in taxes a year.
Petrenko expects the zoning case to reach the County Council for a final decision by April.
Construction could begin within 90 to 180 days of zoning approval, Burch said. The planning board approved the zoning last fall on several conditions, including a requirement that the state fund a $30 million highway improvement to serve the project.