Ten months after the Prince George's County Council approved a portion of the proposed Konterra development near Laurel, the fate of the huge project is being argued again, this time before a Circuit Court judge.
A hearing began yesterday on lawsuits filed by both sides of the Konterra controversy, with opponents and the developers asking Judge James M. Rea to overturn the county council's November 1984 decision.
If the judge finds the council acted erroneously, he can overturn the decision, which rezoned 523 acres for the development, which would straddle I-95 south of Laurel. But the council denied the bulk of the developer's request to rezone 1,842 acres. Arguments will continue today, but Rea is expected to take weeks or months to issue a decision.
Opponents say the development is incompatible with a nearby residential neighborhood and will cause severe traffic congestion. They contend in the lawsuit that the council erred on several technical points in making its decision.
The opponents also alleged in the lawsuit that County Executive Parris Glendening and developer Kingdon Gould Jr. pressured the county council in favor of the rezoning application.
That rezoning, while less than a third of what Gould requested, was still the largest in county history.
It included 488 acres for "mixed use" residential, official and commercial building and 35 acres for offices.
The lawsuit filed by Konterra developers argues that the council should have granted the entire application for rezoning.
"We contend they should not have drawn the line for just 488 acres. The evidence before them supported approval for the entire [acreage]," said Gould's attorney, Glenn T. Harrell Jr.
As originally proposed, Konterra would have included 8,000 homes and nearly 15 million square feet of offices, industry and shops.
Harrell and Steven M. Gilbert, who is representing the county, are scheduled to present their arguments today.
Opponents of the project, represented at the hearing by attorney Jess Joseph Smith Jr., argue that rezoning should be overturned for several reasons, among them that the controversial "mixed use" zoning classification is illegal and that there are inadequate highway, water and sewer facilities in the area.
"The act of the County Council in granting this rezoning was unlawful using their standards," he told the judge.
Defending the council's action in granting the rezoning, Konterra attorney Harrell said, "What they did was well and good."