Community groups in Prince George’s County, Maryland, are accusing a council member of attempting to change land use to make way for a massive development without their knowledge.
In a meeting at the Cameron Grove retirement community, 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 people from various communities in his district gathered in opposition to two bills he sponsored that would change what can be built on undeveloped land adjacent to Six Flags on Central Avenue in Upper Marlboro. It's currently owned by the amusement park and Pepco.
“We are concerned about what we consider an underhanded deal made with the developer and a lack of transparency,” one resident said.
If the bills pass, developer Velocity Companies proposes building 300 apartments and mixed retail, including a grocery store and gas convenience store. The project boasts almost 52,000 square feet of living and retail space in the center of one of Prince George's County's wealthiest communities.
“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. “See, I can't accept that.”
Davis has been accused of introducing bills that changed land use without the community knowing before. In Westphalia, residents stopped a plan for a large Amazon distribution center.
In this instance, Davis told residents it was up to the developer to communicate its plan, saying as a councilman he must be an impartial party. But an image of Davis is on this developer's website with a testimonial endorsing the company's work. The developer did not respond to a request for comment.
“What I won't do is allow you to slander me, because there’s nothing nefarious about anyway I've operated ever in this job and in my life,” Davis said.
He said residents don't understand the process, but residents said they aren't the ones who don't understand.
“Go back. Say no,” one resident said. “That's what we’re telling you to do. Say no.”
“Don't be condescending,” another resident said. “Don’t continually tell us about how honest you are. Let the record speak for itself.”
At the end of the meeting, Davis asked residents if they would be willing to meet with the developer and hear the presentation again.