In a major attack on antidevelopment forces in Prince George's County, County Executive Parris N. Glendening yesterday lashed out at county residents who have worked recently to block such proposed projects as the Konterra minicity near Laurel.
He called those forces a "small group of misguided citizens who want to bring all development to a halt," charging before a receptive audience of business executives, lawyers and developers that the citizens have forged "an unhealthy alliance with elected officials."
Although that so-called alliance "has been alarmingly effective in preventing quality development," it will not block growth in the county entirely, Glendening said.
Instead, he warned, it will yield "disorderly, scatter-gun economic development" of tacky suburban strips and haphazardly placed businesses lacking adequate transportation, water, and other facilities.
The speech by the county executive, who is fond of describing himself as "unabashedly probusiness," came in the wake of the County Council's vote last month blocking most of the requested rezoning for Konterra, the proposed 2,000-acre minicity in the northern corner of the county.
The council is expected to consider next week whether to retain the stringent restrictions placed on development of the remaining 488 acres approved for "mixed-use" zoning at the site.
But two key figures in that opposition, who came uninvited to Glendening's speech, maintained in interviews later that they represent the majority of citizens, and they charged that the county executive was the tool of development interests.
"It's a declaration that he wants more campaign contributions from builders and developers, most of whom don't even live in the county," said Waler H. Maloney Jr., a former county attorney who is the most vocal critic of Konterra.
Glendening, who described Konterra as "an excellent example of the type of development we are trying to foster in the county," said he "disagreed with the council on this vote, because I think it is important to send very strong signals to the Washington metropolitan area -- and, indeed, the nation -- that Prince George's County thinks big and encourages large-scale develoment.
"It is important to emphasize that opposition to most large-scale developments come from a small, albeit vocal, minority," Glendening said, speaking at a lunch marking the installation of the county's new Economic Development Advisory Committee.
"There is simply no doubt in my mind that the overwhelming majority of county citizens favors quality economic development," he said. "We have, however, too often become captives to those opponents of any and all progress."
Referring to the continuing council debate over the proposed project, Maloney later blasted the speech as a "grossly improper attempt to influence the outcome of a pending case."
"The people who already live here don't want" development, said Carmen Anderson, who waged a successful war against Brookefield, a 2,500-acre "new town" development in the southern end of the county rejected by the County Council in August.
"Most of this is being done for the benefit of a very few business people," added Anderson, who also battled unsuccessfully to block development of the Bay of the Americas, a luxury waterfront complex planned for Smoot Bay near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. It won the approval of the County Council last year.
Glendening argued that the approach of "the naysayers, the false prophets of no-growth" is "the road to disaster. . . . " He said that the county should be working to encourage planned development along major transportation corridors and to restore older residential and industrial neighborhoods.
"My fear is that this plan . . . will slowly erode -- with a whimper, not a bang -- because the small group of misguided citizens who want to bring all development to a halt will convince enough elected officials to go along with them," Glendening said. "Frankly stated, what is needed is a little backbone."
Glendening did not specify the County Council members to whom he was referring.