Despite complaints from area residents, rezoning requests for Riverdale Park are moving forward.
A plan to build the first Whole Foods Market in Prince George's County is moving forward, despite lingering controversy.
On Monday, the county's district council voted 7 to 2 in favor of a rezoning request that would allow the market to be built as part of a mixed use development in Riverdale Park. The 36-acre parcel adjacent to route one is currently zoned for residential use. The proposed development would include 900 residential units, 22,000 square feet of office space and 168,000 square feet of retail.
Critics fear something this dense would increase congestion on Route 1, but David Iannucci, assistant administrative officer of economic development for the county, says that's not necessarily so.
"The traffic's been examined closely, and one of the priorities of the county is to have developments near the Metro station, look for denser development, and create more of these opportunities where you have livable walkable communities," says Iannucci.
Council member Eric Olson, who voted against the request, says the Metro station is not close enough to support a walkable community.
"The heart of this development is about eight-tenths of a mile from the College Park Metro station, so a lot of people living there are going to be driving there," says Olson. The development will only serve to increase traffic congestion on U.S. Route 1, he added.
Critics also believe the approval is a violation of the county's master plan.
"This is 2 million square feet of development and that's not what was envisioned in the planning document," Olson said.
But Iannucci disagrees. "The district council's actions are consistent with the law and with the proposal. The county does not believe this violates the master plan," he said.
If supporters of the project are successful, construction could begin as early as 2013. Olsen warns that the rezoning request may be challenged in court.