Burtonsville in Crisis:
Solutions for Revitalization
5. Site History

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The 40-acre tract in Northern Burtonsville, next to the Burtonsville Crossing shopping center, is zoned RC (Rural Cluster) and falls under the Fairland Master Plan, which was completed in 1997.  Below is a history of this property.

Land Placed into RC Zone and Moratorium to Keep Land Prices Low for ICC (1998)

In 1998, the County Planners recommended approval for 291 units, in three (3) four-story buildings (Special Exception No. S-2322).  However, the Board of Appeals did not approve the submission because neither the ICC or the new Route 29 bypass had been funded or finalized as yet. 

If the ICC had taken the Northern route, most of this land would have been used for ramps.  This is why this land was placed in the less costly RC zone in the first place.  Such a low zoning would reduce the State's purchase price should be it be needed for the ICC Northern Route.

Consequently, there was no activity on this property for some time, as this tract fell into a development moratorium.  Following the completion of the Route 29 bypass and the selection of the ICC Southern Route, the property came out of moratorium.

Senior Housing Proposed

In 2008, the landowners proposed 86 senior condo units in five, 4-story buildings, including a small community center, next to the fire tower to the North (see:  S-2724 Board of Appeals case, Stanley D. Abrams, Attorney for Patuxent Ridge, LLC, requested a special exception pursuant to Section 59-G-2.35, Housing and related facilities for senior adults of the Zoning Ordinance).  This application requested:
a.  construction of five independent living, four-story condominium building for seniors, which included a total of 86 units;
b.  156 parking spaces including six handicapped spaces; and
c.  a separate community building for recreation and social facilities.
As this Special Exception moved forward, the County Planners stated they would support a three-story project, but not the four-story buildings as proposed.  However, they suggested that a four-story senior project would make sense if placed next to the Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center, which is next to at least three (3) four-story office buildings and large ten-story transmission towers.  The Community also seemed favorable to such a suggestion.

Below are the project engineer's notes about this Special Exception, referred to as Patuxent Ridge:
"We have also worked with the Owner on a site to the North, Patuxent Ridge.  The Fairland Master Plan recommended that the Patuxent Ridge site be developed as housing for the elderly."

"During the course of the review of the Patuxent Ridge site, M-NCPPC staff stated that they preferred that the elderly housing be moved next to the Burtonsville Crossing parcel because that parcel is closer to the existing commercial area and services."
(Memo to Patuxent Ridge, LLC from Petra Engineering, March 4, 2009).

Senior Housing Project Relocated Per County Recommendation,
Then Denied (2009)

In an attempt to work with the community and the County, the Developer withdrew his Senior Housing Special Exception application and placed this land under contract with the New Hope Korean Church.  Church use is  "by right" in the RC zone, which means a Church can be built on this property and no special exception or rezoning is required.

As per the County's recommendations, the Developer then moved the senior housing project South, next to the Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center, and applied for a sewer and water category change.  However, this request was denied as premature.  The County Planners also discouraged the Korean Church from developing their church on the Northern site.  Consequently, the Church's request for a water and sewer category change was deferred and not approved:

Patuxent Watershed Conservation Planning Area WSCCR 08A-PAX-01:
Burtonsville Associates, LLC Columbia Pk.
•  16000 block, Pt. Parcel P293, Waters Gift;  •  Map tile: KS62;
WSSC:   221NE04
•  East side of Columbia Pk. (old U.S. 29) south of Dustin Rd. 
•  Fairland
Master Plan (1997)
•  Lower Patuxent River Watershed (MDE Use I) RC Zone;

•  Existing use:      Farm (agricultural)
    Proposed use:   Senior adult housing Requested - Service

Area Categories W-6, S-6  to W-3, S-3
County Council Action:   Deny the request for categories W-3 and S-3;
                                       Maintain W-6 and S-6.

1.  The applicant may not refile a new request for this property before September 30, 2009, without prior approval from DEP.

2.  The Council notes that the category change request application, provided well in advance of action on the required senior housing special exception, is premature.  The owner and the proposed user may consider reapplying when the special exception process has advanced to at least a hearing before the Hearing Examiner.

Church Use Not Approved, in Violation of Federal Law

The anti-development traditions are so strong in Burtonsville that even a Church was viewed as a hostile intruder.  Although the RC zone is a "by-right" use for a Church, the County Planners broke Federal law and refused to support the New Hope Korean Church's plans to develop the property.

To better understand this new Federal law, which has since been upheld on appeal, see the recent case entitled, Reaching Hearts International, Inc. vs. Prince George’s County (U.S. Court of Appeals, Case No. 08-2281).  The Montgomery County Planners embraced the same arguments against the New Hope Korean Church’s plans as were made by neighboring Prince George's County against the Reaching Hearts International church.  In that case, Reaching Hearts was much closer to the reservoir, in the same watershed, than the Burtonsville site.  They were confronted with the typical impervious rules and were subsequently denied their request for a sewer and water category change. 

The Federal Court in Greenbelt rejected the County's right to limit or stop church development, regardless of the alleged environmental issues or laws.  After making Prince George's County pay $3.7 million in damages to the Reaching Hearts church, the County was forced to give full approval to the Church’s original plans.  The appellate court upheld the decision.

Today, it is obvious that Montgomery County was wrong to deny the New Hope Korean church’s request for a water and sewer category change in the same watershed.  Federal Law prohibits any County from hindering church development by withholding water and sewer approval or placing impervious restrictions on the land to supposedly protect the environment.  Such anti-development strategies, as they relate to church use, is clearly against Federal law.

Below are articles regarding the Reaching Hearts case: 

"Church wins $3.7M in case against county,", May 1, 2008;

"Dernoga shows no regrets,", September 11, 2010;

"Adventist church, neighbors square off on proposed site,", May 5, 2011;

"Prince George needs to give up fight against church,"
Washington Post, September 29, 2011'

"Pr. George's council ordered to reconsider church's request for water, sewer lines,"
Washington Post, December 21, 2011;

"Prince George's Council removes barrier for Reaching Hearts church,"
Washington Post, January 24, 2012;

Federal Law Trumps County Regulations

Today, Federal law grants a wide-range of privileges for Church development.  Churches, mosques, and synagogues are exempt from impervious rules as well as the withholding of sewer and water, which would prevent their development.

No religious institutions today can be denied sewer or water, or be forced to follow low impervious rules.  These environmental rules are viewed by the Federal court as an excuse to discriminate and stop church development.  Montgomery County is not above the federal law.

The Reaching Hearts case demonstrates that a church can (a) build next to the drinking source and (b) ignore the low lot coverages that have been imposed by the County to supposedly protect the watershed.  

This recent, nearby case (about a mile away) and others like it in Maryland, shows that local counties CANNOT prevent churches from building what they want, where they want.  This Federal law applies to the entire 40-acre Burtonsville tract.  If the County does not approve housing on this land, it will become home to a number of churches and/or church schools.

Burtonsville needs housing, not more parks or churches.  This 40-acre tract should be developed for multi-family housing.  This would have the most positive and immediate impact on this dying community.

Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan Expanded to Include
North Burtonsville (2011)

As the County's Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan proceeded, some complained that the County was ignoring the RC zone next to the shopping center.  Others complained that the County seemed to be turning down all development in this area, even for a church or senior housing.  This made no sense.

In order to address this oversight, on July 19, 2011, the County Council voted to study the Northern 40 acres of RC land that the Planners were content to ignore.  The land North of the failing Burtonsville Crossing shopping center, as well as some other land on the West side of old Route 29, became part of the Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan.

The website shows the action taken by the County Council on July 19, 2011.  Below is an excerpt:

"The commercial crossroads properties at Maryland 198 and US 29 have seen redevelopment and circulation changes that have many area local merchants, property owners and residents questioning the area's economic future. 

Changes that will impact the crossroads area include:  a master planned loop/service road, State Highway's MD 198 corridor planning effort, and the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) at Fort Meade on Maryland 198 in Laurel.

This plan, which began in November 2010, will update the Burtonsville commercial area in the 1997 Fairland Master Plan to provide land use, zoning and other recommendations that will enable the US 29/MD 298 crossroads area to thrive.  The scope proposes to focus on the commercial core along MD 198 but will also examine the Burtonsville Crossing site for improved connections, expanded public spaces, and a greater diversity of uses.  The study also will evaluate the need for a planned loop road and recommend design improvements for the future state highway, MD 198 project.

On July 19, County Council voted on a resolution to add the properties north of the PEPCO line to the plan's study boundary.  The broad goal is to evaluate the connectivity, design, and environment of the area so that it can become a place that is more balanced and livable...."

The Planners further state:

"On September 19, 2011, about 55 residents and property owners were given an update by planners on the status of the plan.  The second half of the meeting was designed as a workshop to gather ideas on what the community envisioned for the expanded boundary areas.  We heard questions and comments on the following:

•  the decline of tenants in the Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center,

•  how the RC zoned parcels north of the commercial area became part of the Plan,

•  the Patuxent watershed and stormwater and sewer capacity concerns with future redevelopment,

•  preservation of the fire tower through park acquisition,

•  the suggestion that the proposed church could relocate in the vacant Giant site.

Planners hope to get more comments on the staff recommendations for the crossroads area in the days and weeks to come.  This effort is the Department's first neighborhood plan with the intent of helping make small areas in Montgomery County more balanced and livable places....

Planners Fail to Offer a Viable Solution (Summer, 2012)   

On June 7, 2012, at a public hearing held at 7:30 p.m., the Planners presented the Burtonsville Neighborhood Crossroads Plan to the Planning Board.  The Planners allowed very little testimony, and it was not clear at that time how the Planning Board would vote.

At the hearing, the Planners pushed forward their plan to provide 600 much-needed residential units on the Burtonsville Crossing shopping center, even though they knew this plan was not feasible and refused any development next door.  However, the Planners concealed the fact that the Owner of the shopping center had not agreed to demolish the shopping center much less build housing above the retail stores.  They failed to inform the community that their Plan actually provided no new housing within the next decade, if ever, as promised. 

The Planners again repeated their Plan at a worksession held on July 12, 2012.  In addition, they included a further reduction to the impervious use on the 40-acre tract next to the shopping center, from 10% to 8%.  Such a change would render the 40-acre tract useless for development.  The landowners protested, claiming that such Draconian measures would constitute a "taking" by the County.  The Commissioner of the Planning Board, Norman Dreyfass, agreed.  The landowners' attorney, Mike Nagy, pointed out numerous flaws and errors in the Planners' argument, which the Planners refuse to address.

On July 26, 2012, the Planning Board approved the Planners' draft of the Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan.  Unfortunately, the Planning Board ignored the Landowners' plan for a solution to the Burtonsville bypass crisis.  In addition, they disregarded the County Council's call for "greater diversity of uses" so that Burtonsville could become "a place that is more balanced and livable."

The Planners and the Planning Board knowingly promoted false and misleading information to the public and to the County Council in order to uphold the long and disastrous, no growth traditions of this small town.  This matter is so egregious that the Inspector General's Office has been asked to investigate the Planners' fraudulent report.

Planning Board Divided (2012)

While a vast majority of the Burtonsville community is in favor of developing housing next to the failing shopping center, so are some members of the Planning Board.  The Montgomery County Planning Board's website ( for the Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan fails to reveal that the Planning Board is divided regarding development in the RC zone.  In fact, they tried to disguise this fact by stating on their website:

"On July 26, 2012, the Planning Board approved its draft of the Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan.  The Planning Board draft was unanimously approved (5-0) for transmittal to the County Executive and County Council. The plan amends the 1997 Fairland Master Plan." (see, page 1).

Note the Planners' choice of words:  "unanimously approved (5-0) for transmittal to the County."  The use of this language misleads the public into believing that the Report itself was unanimously approved 5-0, which is not the case--only the transmittal of the Report was approved 5-0. 

The Planning Board Commissioner, Norman Dreyfass, supports multi-family development in the RC zone.  He did NOT support the no growth position of the Planning Board.  During the Planning Board hearing of June 7, 2012, Mr. Dreyfuss correctly noted, that the 40-acre RC tract is “an island surrounded by highways.”  Commissioner Dreyfass concluded that this land should not be treated as if it were rural in nature, nor should it have any impervious limitations.  This land should be rezoned for multi-family housing.

The Planners deliberately failed to report to the public that there was division within the Planning Board concerning the RC zone.  This is just another example of how the Planners are manipulating the process for their predetermined agenda.

Public Hearing:  Burtonsville Crossroads Plan
(September 20, 2012)

The long-awaited public hearing for the Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan took place on September 20, 2012.  There was very little opposition to stop residential development in the RC zone.  In fact, only 30 people attended, half of which were residents of Burtonsville, indicating that the public is not very threatened about new housing in Burtonsville. 

To view a video of the hearing, click here, press "Evening Public Hearings", and scroll down to retrieve the video by date:

Evening public hearings
Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan     Sep 20, 2012        00h 49m         Video

The no-growth advocates, about a dozen, incorrectly claimed that any development in North Burtonsville would endanger the drinking water of 650,000 people in addition to ruining their scenic views.  With so much at stake, one would expect the 230-seat hearing room to be filled with hundreds of citizens showing their support.  However, the auditorium was empty.  After a "massive" two-year campaign to stop development in North Burtonsville, there was no deep support for the status quo or against developing residential housing next to the Burtonsville Crossing shopping center.

In fact, far more people signed the Save Burtonsville petition than those who came out to oppose the public hearing.  Over 200 people have signed the petition, enough to fill the auditorium.  Such a situation demonstrates the overwhelming support to revitalize Burtonsville with new residential housing.  The local newspapers and blogs also reflect support for smart growth.

Of course, the Planners' tried to spin this obvious lack of support to fit their agenda.  Kristin O'Connor defended the poor turnout:
"'So far, we’ve done a massive amount of outreach, so it does not surprise me that we didn’t have a huge amount of people coming out against or having issues with the proposal,'” O’Connor further states, 'It pays off in the end to really do that community outreach early and often'" (see "Community voices support at Burtonsville Crossroads public hearing," by Kara Rose, Gazette, September 25, 2012, corrected October 2, 2012).
While it is true that the Planners have promoted a long and expensive ("massive") campaign against any development next to the shopping center, the fact so few attended speaks volumes.  It proves that there is no support for the Planners' "no development status quo" position, nor is there any great concern or fear from the community about the drinking water.

At the hearing, sixteen speakers made short, three-minute oral presentations.  Below are highlights:

a.  "NO GROWTH" ADVOCATES FAIL TO PROVIDE ANY EVIDENCE AGAINST DEVELOPMENT.  The “no growth” crowd pushed forward their typically false and misleading statements regarding the importance of the watershed and reasons this 40-acre tract should remain forever undeveloped.  However, they offered no credible facts to support their long obsession against development, nor did they provide evidence to suggest Burtonsville would receive 600 condo units as promised by the Planners.

b.  PLANNING BOARD ADMITS THEY WERE DIVIDED.  John Carter from the Planning Department was the first speaker at the September 20th hearing.  He admitted that the Planners were divided over the RC re-zoning issue.  He had to confess that Norman Dreyfuss, the Planning Board Commissioner, did NOT support the no growth position of the Planning Board, and supported multi-family development in the RC zone. 

Carter also made the point that there was a "broad consensus" of support for their plan to create 600 new housing units.  He cited numerous community meetings, all allegedly supporting the new plan at the shopping center and stop any development next to it.  However, Carter failed to inform the Council that the Owner of the Shopping Center did not share his view and had no plans to demolish their shopping center.  Consequently, no new units were going to be built within the next decade as promised.

c.  PETER KHIN UNABLE TO DEFEND POSITION.  As part of their orchestrated and staged zoning process, the Planners enlisted Peter Khin, on behalf of the East County Citizens Advisory Board, to support their flawed Plan.  While this sounds like an official, objective group, they, too, have embraced the long-tradition of no growth. They do not represent the community's viewpoints, nor did they make any efforts to obtain the facts or understand the issues.

When Peter Khin was later asked by Tom Norris to explain the basis for his group's decision to support the Planners' no growth position, he refused to answer.  Below is the question posed to him:

“On what basis was your decision made? In other words, what evidence did you rely on to conclude that this large tract, next to commercial zoning and surrounded by major highways, should never be developed? Or did everyone trust the Planners to give them the correct environmental data, without doing any investigation?”

Mr. Khin was asked a second time, he again refused to answer.

Planners' Website Misleading (2012)

Further manipulation of public opinion can be seen on the Montgomery County Planners' website.  The Planners are so intent to manipulate public opinion, that they selectively post links that support their agenda, ignoring any information that contradicts their position.  They long ago stopped posting links to local articles that are critical of their agenda.  In fact, after the Committee to Save Burtonsville was launched in August of 2012, the Planners ignored a number of articles about the fate of Burtonsville, written by Colesville Patch and Just Up the Pike, and deliberately refused to post these articles on their website.  Some of these articles are:

"  Property Owners, Planners Spar Over Future of Rural Area" Colesville Patch, by Whitney Teal July 30, 2012

"Consensus to 'Save Burtonsville,' But Disagreement Over How and Where," Just Up the Pike (See, Resources, Articles/Blogs.)

The Planners have not been working in good faith for the past two years.  A comparison of the articles in the Resources section of this website (section #10) with the articles on the Planners' website shows a very different public discussion and sentiment.  The entire process has become a pre-determined sham.

While the public discussion shows growing support for development in North Burtonsville, the Planners really don’t care what the public wants.  They had their minds made up long before the County Council requested them to study the facts, and so, too, did many on the Council.

The Planners, and some Council members, refuse to honestly address the issues or study the facts.  They were content with the numerous myths, outright falsehoods, and diversions regarding the shopping center and the RC zone next to it.  The Planners are not working for the public good.  They have been disregarding and manipulating public sentiment for the past two years, and have avoided any discussion about the real issues that refute their no growth position.  The community should not tolerate this outrageous and dishonest situation.

Broad Consensus for Development (2012)

The Planners are NOT being honest with the community.  They are not united regarding the development of the RC zone, nor does their no growth position in the RC zone represent the sentiment of the business community or the majority of the residents.  Such facts refute the often-repeated myth that there is a broad consensus for “no development” on this site.  This is not true.

While there is a 30-year long tradition against residential housing by a few anti-growth zealots, the present community supports common sense development next to the two struggling shopping centers.  No one wants--or needs--another park as the Planners propose.  The Planners also know that it is unrealistic to promise residential housing (condos) in the Burtonsville Crossing shopping center.  They are deliberately misleading the public on this critical and fundamental point.

Virtually all of the merchants support development next to the shopping center:  from Zimmerman's to Starbucks to Jerry’s Sub Shop to the beer & wine stores.  So, too, the restaurants, i.e., Zen Asian Grill, Pepino’s, Cuba de Ayer, Cheeburger (which has since gone out of business), etc.  Even Seibel’s supports new residential zoning on this 40-acre site.  Virtually every merchant and restaurant in Burtonsville wants and needs multi-family development on this site.  None of them want a park.  They want people.  They want customers as soon as possible.

Furthermore, none of the merchants want to see the Burtonsville Shopping Center torn down and rebuilt as proposed by the Planners.  Such a long, arduous process, if it ever took place, would further exacerbate the economic problems, driving more businesses to ruin.  The Planners' proposal makes no sense.  It is a fraud.  Its only purpose is to stop much-needed residential development in Burtonsville.

PHED Committee Ignores Smart Growth in Burtonsville (November 5, 2012)

On November 5, 2012, three County Council members from the Planning, Housing & Economic Development (PHED) committee met to discuss the Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan and make recommendation(s) to the County Council.  The three members were Nancy Floreen, Chair, along with members Marc Elrich and George Leventhal. 

The hearing is available on the County's website, or click here.  You can also go to the Council Video On-Demand section, press "Committee Worksessions" and scroll down to retrieve the video by date:

Committee Worksessions
PHED          11-05-12 AM         00h 58m          Video

a.  RC LANDOWNERS ATTORNEY NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK.  While the attorney for the Owner of the Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center, Edens, was allowed to participate in the meeting.  Mike Nagy, the attorney for the RC landowners, was denied any participation whatsoever.  The Committee also refused to address the “thorough and detailed" Report, Burtonsville in Crisis:  Solutions for Revitalization, written by Tom Norris of the Committee to Save Burtonsville.  This Report clearly refutes the Planners' no growth position and underscores their fraudulent claims that the shopping center will provide the much-needed residential core. 

b.  COMMITTEE REALIZES CROSSROADS PLAN NOT CREDIBLE.  It did not take long before the three Council members realized that the Planners' proposal for 600 units was not credible.  Nancy Floreen called it “speculative,” while the other two members admitted there would never be any new housing units as proposed for at least 30 years, if ever.  As one member stated, "The vision is fine, but it may not get there for 30 years--that's something that people don't want to embrace" (video, 25:20).

Of course, this is what many have been saying from the very beginning.  The Planners have essentially spent over two years developing a knowingly fraudulent plan that fails to provide any new housing for Burtonsville.  This was pointed out earlier in the Burtonsville in Crisis Report (see Chapter 3, Competing Solutions, page 12):

“After a number of discussions with Eden’s management and some tenants, it is clear that they have no intention of redeveloping this small, 13-acre site any time soon, much less demolishing it to build new condominiums in a bad condo market. It is disingenuous for the Planners to mislead the public and the County Council regarding this critical point.”

The Planners' much-touted solution to "up zone" the shopping center so that it can self-demolish and then build 600 new condos on top of the retail stores is not realistic or helpful.  It was never going to happen and the Planners knew this fact all along. 

Why has it taken so long for the County leaders to understand that the Planners have failed to develop a working proposal for Burtonsville?  This should have been obvious before thousands of taxpayer dollars were wasted on a two-year “massive” public relations campaign by the Planners that has turned out to be worthless and very dishonest.  

Why did the Planning Board approve such a flawed plan in the first place?  They had testimony in the record that clearly indicated the Shopping Center was not going to self-demolish, much less rebuild a mixed-use project.  Yet the board approved this fraud anyway, refusing to consider the needs and wants of the landowners, business leaders and the community.

It is obvious that this planning and zoning process is flawed.  Apparently, there has been a back room deal all along to stop any and all residential development in Burtonsville, which is why Burtonsville looks so bad today.  This is not by accident, but by political design and plan.  This is what has been taking place for years in this part of the County and now it has become public for all to see.  

c.  RC LANDOWNERS' PROPOSAL IGNORED.  While it was obvious to the PHED Committee that the Planners' proposal was not realistic or credible, the Committee refused to let anyone speak on behalf of the RC landowners, who actually have a credible, smart growth proposal that will address the crisis.  Such an obvious lack of fairness and transparency speaks volumes.  It demonstrates that there is another, pre-determined, back room agenda driving the zoning process in Burtonsville.

The only realistic solution to help revitalize Burtonsville is to develop a residential core next to the shopping center.  This common sense plan was always--and still is--the only realistic plan to help save Burtonsville.  Those that oppose smart growth are doing so with a stubborn and irrational disregard for the community’s obvious needs.

It is clear that there has been a back room deal long ago to stop any and all development in Burtonsville.  This is why the politicians are once again proposing the status quo. The Committee adjourned the hearing, refusing to even discus the landowners' proposal for smart growth next to the shopping center, which has overwhelming support from the community.

Something is very wrong in Burtonsville.  The local politicians have caused this crisis by failing to promote a residential core.  Now, eight (8) years after the Route 29 bypass was created, they refuse to admit their folly and correct this error.  They have long ago sold out to the no growth crowd that has ruined Burtonsville for all to see.  Such irresponsible lack of action is not helpful or acceptable.  

The Committee to Save Burtonsville, which is now supported by over 200 petition signatures, will not remain quiet.  We are reaching out to the State leaders in the hope that legal action against the County will not be necessary.

Planners Deceive Community (2012)

The bottom line:  the Planners have been deceiving the community for the past two years with their claims that the Owner (Edens) will raze the shopping center and rebuild it as a mixed-use center, with 600 condos.  This was never going to happen and Edens has never said otherwise.  It was never a serious idea, much less one that would solve the crisis in Burtonsville.

The Planners repeatedly told the community that this “mixed use” plan would solve the crisis in Burtonsville and provide a much-needed residential core.  But now we all know better.  It was never going to happen.  It was only a diversion, meant to stop the landowners' plan to develop new housing next to the failing shopping center.   Their agenda was to stop growth all along.

Kristin O’Connor continues to promoted this charade to the public in September:

“Planner Kristin O'Connor told Colesville Patch last month that the owner Edens, which is building a large mixed-use development in Fairfax County called the Mosaic District, is open to the idea. The plan could generate as many as 600 new homes in the area, but many properties including Norris's would remain under Rural Cluster zoning, which allows just one house per 5 acres“ (see "Consensus to 'Save Burtonsville,' but debate over how," GreaterGreater Washington, September 17, 2012).

Contrary to the deliberate misinformation from the Planners, Edens is not "open to the idea.”  It has no plans to tear down the shopping center and use the extra zoning for residential housing.  They only wanted the C-2 zoning so that they could obtain an anchor tenant in the old Giant Food location.  They never asked for--nor did they want--the zoning the Planners were promoting.

The Planners have not been honest or forthright with the community or the County Council.  They have been pretending there would be a residential core in town, when this was never true.  The Planners were working hard to keep the status quo in place. Their underlying goal was to prevent any residential development next to the shopping center.  They are against creating jobs, revitalizing Business Route 29, or developing a residential core in town.

Now that the public knows there will be no new housing in Burtonsville, what is the point of this new County Plan?  It fails to address the lack of housing to support the merchants, much less help revitalize the town.  No wonder people feel that the political process is flawed and corrupt.  No wonder many are upset with the lack of leadership and the waste of resources.

Burtonsville is a sad example of what happens when the no growth zealots control the local politicians.  Economic disaster and blight are the results.

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