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Riverdale Park Residents Rebuff Development Plan

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Residents of Riverdale Park voiced their opposition to a high-density development in their neighborhood, which would include a Whole Foods.
Armando Trull
Residents of Riverdale Park voiced their opposition to a high-density development in their neighborhood, which would include a Whole Foods.

The battle between residents and a developer continues over a mixed-use project in Prince George's County.

Nearly 50 residents came to Monday's public hearing before the Prince George's County Council on whether to change the zoning restrictions of Riverdale Park, in order to allow for commercial development, including a proposed Whole Foods Market. Half of the residents wore bright red in opposition.

"It's the wrong development in the wrong place," says resident Joe Kelly, who has lived in the community since 1985. "It has very little to do with opposition to Whole Foods. It has a lot to do with opposition to building a very dense development in the middle of single family homes."

While proponents say they think the development would create jobs and convenience, traffic along Route 1 is a major concern for opponents. The issue  kept coming up during the public hearing yesterday.

"We're not saying that we aren't for something," said Jean Kline, who's lived in the area for 50 years. "It's just that we're opposed to what this is going to bring. 995 residential units is far too much for this tiny little property."

But other members of the community, including Louis King, say they're not worried about gridlock, because they can walk more if the new "walkable community" is built.

"The nearest grocery store is over at P.G. Plaza, which is what? A mile and a half, two miles from my house," he said. "And this will be within walking distance, so I think that'll be a plus."

The developer, Jane Cafritz, argued the project could actually ease congestion: "They may not be aware of what our plans are in terms of connecting and making the traffic flow more easily," she said of opponents, adding that the project would offer "alternative ways to get places, whether it's by Metro or shuttle or bike trail, because we're extending the hiker biker or plain walkability."

The County Council is expected  to vote on a rezoning plan sometime this week.

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