The Prince George's County Council voted 8 to 1 yesterday to appeal a Circuit Court judge's ruling that challenged its 1984 decision to grant only partial rezoning for the planned Konterra minicity near Laurel.
County Attorney Thomas Smith said after the vote that the new spate of legal action brought by the council and last week by residents of the area, could delay final action on the ambitious project up to three years.
The county appeal was expected to be filed today, Smith said.
Judge James Magruder Rea's Oct. 28 decision that the council erred in granting limited rezoning for the project was "sort of a reflection on the integrity of the . . . council to zone," said council member Frank Casula, one of the project's chief proponents.
In October 1984, the council voted to rezone 488 acres of the project for mixed use, the largest rezoning that has ever been granted in the county. But at the same time, the council denied the rezoning request for about 970 acres sought by the Konterra developers, and asked the planning board to give it further study.
Rea's decision upheld the rezoning for the 488-acre area and said that the "council did not put forth any valid reasons for such denial" for the 970 acres of the project. His opinion was a rare instance of a county court overturning a council zoning decision.
James Herl said, "Not to vote to appeal in this matter would be an admission that we acted improperly as a zoning body."
Some of the council members who said last week they would be reluctant to appeal said they changed their minds after Smith told them in a closed executive session that the citizens' appeal of a separate portion of Rea's decision forced the council to react.
"We could do absolutely nothing and we would still be bound by a decision in which we did not participate," Smith said.
The Konterra Legal Defense Fund, the Beltsville-based citizen group opposing all of the development, filed an appeal last Friday that argued against Rea's decision to uphold the council's partial rezoning.
Only Sue V. Mills voted against the motion to appeal. "I don't disagree with the judge in what he did," she said. Council members Anthony Cicoria, Herl, William Amonett, Jo Ann T. Bell, Richard Castaldi, Hilda Pemberton, Floyd Wilson and Casula voted to appeal.
Bell said that the continuing delay on the Konterra project is regrettable. "I'd like to see it started," she said. "A lot of jobs in construction, in development are there to be had. It will place Prince George's County on the map.
"But now we'll have to sit and wait."