Cafritz Team, Under Pressure From Towns, Requests Continuance

The move comes less than 24 hours after an ultimatum from Riverdale Park Mayor Vernon Archer.

The developers of the proposed Cafritz project have asked for a 30-day continuance from the Prince George's County Planning Board, acceding to requests from three different town councils to delay a key hearing on their rezoning plan.

In a Dec. 12 letter to the planning board, Cafritz attorney Chip Reed called for the matter be pushed back from its scheduled Dec. 15 hearing to the PGCPB's Jan. 12 agenda.

The move follows petitions for a continuance  and  on the grounds that the planning board's staff report was issued a day later than required.

And it comes less than 24 hours after Riverdale Park Mayor Vernon Archer said he would urge his council unless the developers agreed to a continuance.

Speaking at Monday night's Riverdale Park council meeting, Archer said the developers had reluctantly dropped their opposition to a postponement earlier in the day.

Under , the 38.5-acre parcel on the north end of Riverdale Park would be redesignated from residential (R-55) to MUTC, easing the way for the construction of more than 900 units of housing, a 35,000-sqft. Whole Foods, a 120-room hotel, and additional office and retail space.

Though officials have cited a variety of unsettled issues in their appeals for more time, the funding and design of the proposed CSX crossing has proven to be the principal sticking point in the towns' negotiations with Cafritz. 

Councilmembers are concerned that the traffic impact of the development would be unsustainable without an entryway across the CSX line, but the precise shape, location, and financing of that crossing remains a subject of debate. 

The towns have yet to adopt formal positions pending the conclusion — or failure — of those discussions.

With the looming Dec. 15 deadline apparently lifted, the Riverdale Park council held off on finalizing its Cafritz stance Monday night as originally planned, instead approving its own request for a continuance.

"I am completely uncomfortable recommending any form of approval until the crossing matter is settled," Archer told the council, adding that he wants the bridge to be built in a timely manner. 

Members asked that the hearing be postponed until Jan. 12 at the earliest.

Meanwhile — presiding over the University Park council meeting just few miles away — Mayor John Tabori said that the Cafritz team had pledged not to send its experts to the Dec. 15 hearing, rendering it unable to make a case to the planning board.

Still, Tabori said he would personally attend Thursday's session "in order to assure there's no shenanigans."

Reed was not immediately available for comment.


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