In last night’s Council meeting, the City Council voted 4-4 on the motion to relieve the developer from their escrow obligation to develop and finance an extension of Hollywood Rd west of Route 1. Council members Mitchel, Dennis, Day and Kabir supported the motion, while Council members Wojahn, Brennan, Hew and Stullich opposed it. Mayor Fellows broke the tie by voting against it.
After the motion failed, the Council passed another motion authorizing staff to develop a scope of work on a feasibility study to build the proposed extension Road. Council members Mitchel, Dennis, Day and Kabir opposed the motion, while Council members Wojahn, Brennan, Hew and Stullich supported it. Mayor fellows broke the tie by voting in support of it.
I personally want to thank all the residents who either wrote to us or came out to the meeting and testified on the motion. I truly appreciate your time and valuable comments.
Recently, I met with a number of Autoville residents on the proposed site and found huge opposition from them. About 40 residents and local business owners came to the Council meeting. Those who testified spoke exclusively in support of the motion. Previously, the Council received a petition with 430+ signatures supporting the motion. The North College Park Civic Association (NCPCA) also voted (15-1) in support of a similar motion.
Residents are afraid that if the Hollywood Rd is extended to the west of Route 1, it may make it possible to connect Autoville Dr. with the extended Hollywood Rd one day (please see the map above), causing a large cut through / bypass traffic from Cherry Hill Rd to Route 1 through their neighborhood.
In addition to the fear that the residents have about a future connector road, they’re also concerned about taking properties from the businesses there, most likely though eminent domain. I met a business owner, who lives in the neighborhood and is opposed to selling the property through eminent domain. I am not sure how we can build the road without forcibly taking the property.
The issue of building an extension would have been a lot easier if we were to deal with an abandoned , run-down property that everyone hates to see. Instead what we have here is an issue of potentially negatively impacting a collection of College Park businesses who are serving many College Park residents and bringing customers from outside of the City. This is all we want as part of the campaign that we have been running to make College Park a vibrant place to live and do business with. It appears that there is no way we can build the road without forcibly taking the property from them (most likely through eminent domain). I think we’d like to be sensitive to the fact that we don’t hurt our local businesses negatively.
That said, I don’t think any of colleagues on the Council is against Route 1 development in north College Park. We’re working with the SHA to have contiguous side walks on Route 1, so that our families and children can safely walk on Route 1 and go to the businesses here. Also, the City has been working with grant money to improve interiors and exteriors of these businesses. As options to develop Route 1 in south side of Greenbelt Rd. runs out, we can only hope to see a better business landscape in north College Park. In the end, I think the supply and demand and free market economy will dictate the change in our business landscape. Let’s hope we’ll not need to exercise forceful government intrusion to make that change happen.