A Prince George's County Council member changed his position on a large mixed-used development planned for near Six Flags after some residents objected to the proposal that would develop more than 20 acres of land in Bowie on the Upper Marlboro line.
In a meeting at the Cameron Grove retirement community Friday, Council member Derrick Davis was driven to tears.
“It's the personal attacks by people who know me that hurt,” he said at the meeting.
More than 100 of his constituents accused him of sneaking through legislation that would change zoning in their community without their knowledge.
“Don't be condescending,” one constituent said at the meeting. “Don’t continually tell us about how honest you are. Let the record speak for itself.”
“We thought that he was very devious and didn't really answer the questions,” Cameron Grove Board of Directors President Phillipa Johnston told News4 Tuesday. “It was unfortunate that he wanted to blame the developer for everything.”
Davis sponsored two bills that would change what could be built on undeveloped land adjacent to Six Flags on Central Avenue, clearing the way for a 300-unit apartment building and mixed-use retail proposed by developer Velocity Companies. Residents accused Davis, who endorses the company on its website, of communicating with the developer over his constituents.
“I will accept that people could be opposed to an idea, but I can’t accept people think someone bought me for an idea,” Davis said at Friday’s meeting. “See, I can't accept that.”
Monday night Davis released a statement standing by his record, saying in part, "I plan to withdraw Council Bill 59 and Council Bill 60 from the legislative process to provide continued opportunities for community engagement."
While the process is stopped for now, residents worry about the future of that land and county development.
“It's really bigger than this particular development, Tracee,” Johnston said. “They won't follow their own rules; they let these developers go around the county and pick a piece of land and say, ‘Oh, that's a nice piece of land. Let me see what I can put on it.’ No, it can't go like that anymore.”
News4’s request for an interview with Davis was declined. A spokesperson for the council said he sticks by his statement and has no further comment at this time.
In a statement to News4, the developer said it hopes to move forward with its project and will continue meeting with community leaders to engage in an open and public process.
Velocity Companies CEO Brandon Bellamy’s statement on the proposed project:
As a long-time resident and business owner in Prince George’s County, I, along with our team, take a holistic approach when creating, evaluating, and developing a project. We look at how it serves the needs of the immediate communities as well as its impact on the future of our County. From our over 13 years in business, we know that projects take open and frequent communication along with strong partnerships with communities, elected officials, and the private sector.
The Velocity Companies is a mission-led and purpose-driven company. We take great pride in operating with a high standard of excellence, integrity, and character. We are driven by our commitment to providing a significant impact in under-invested communities, and we continue to pursue projects that champion the health and vitality of local economies through meaningful development.
Understanding the sensitivities and the intricacies of this development project, we have been meeting with numerous community leaders from various communities in order to engage them in an open and public process to begin the land use approvals in accordance with Prince George’s County’s zoning code. The requested text amendment allows for us to further explore the possibilities for this site.
We are hopeful that with continued dialogue and collaboration, we will finetune the Mitchellville Park Town Center project into a development that:
- Provides amenities, including sit-down restaurants, anchor grocer, and other retail options for the surrounding community and our County
- Provides housing that will alleviate a part of the housing shortage crisis in our region; and
- Will contribute to our County’s commercial tax base that provides services to our residents, including public safety, schools, road improvements, etc.
We are confident that we will achieve a development proposal which addresses the concerns of the community while meeting the retail and housing needs of our County and our region.