Charging that Councilman David G. Boschert sold out to developers, citizens on a growth management committee blasted him yesterday for "sabotaging" their plan to control a town center in Odenton.
The six citizens who served on the Odenton Town Center Growth Management Committee called a press conference to attack Boschert's proposed moratorium on new growth controls.
They urged his colleagues on County Council to avoid waiting six months and pass the original growth management bill Monday.
"Increasingly, it appears that you pay more attention to special interests than you do to the citizens you represent," the group wrote in a letter to the Democratic councilman from Crownsville.
Boschert, who suggested waiting six months to resolve disputed sections of the plan, called the criticism "totally unfounded." He defended the moratorium as a strategic attempt to persuade three developers, who also sat on the 11-member committee, to back the bill and build a MARC train station in the town center.
"The bottom line is we just have a difference of opinion," he said. "I feel that it's my responsibility to take a slow and positive approach. If we don't do it properly, I'm afraid we will lose the entire train station."
While one of the citizens hand-delivered copies of the letter to the rest of the council, the developers pursued a different lobbying tack.
A full-page, $2,343 ad appeared in Wednesday's Maryland Gazette urging Odenton residents to "support a moratorium" and oppose the growth controls.
Although the headline said "The West County Chamber of Commerce supports Governor William Donald Schaefer and Councilman David Boschert," the advertisement was placed by Halle Enterprises, said Geoffrey Johnson, an insurance salesman and chamber member who also served on the advisory committee. Halle Enterprises, a Silver Spring-based development company, owns about 40 percent of the 215-acre town center site.
The chamber gave its stamp of approval because members believe "if this bill passes, there's a significant chance that the developer will not pay for the train station or the interchanges we desperately need on Route 32," Johnson said. He joined Halle and two other town center developers on the committee in opposing the bill at the council meeting last week.
But Schaefer apparently did not authorize using his name on the ad, said Joel Lee, executive assistant to the governor.
While Schaefer promised to press the State Highway Administration to reach an agreement with Halle for a Route 32 interchange, the developer "extended that far beyond what the governor intended," Lee said.
Pat Wellford, president off the Greater Odenton Improvement Association and one of the six citizens who criticized Boschert, called the ad "misleading." She pointed out the ad appeared to be a chamber endorsement, not a developer's campaign.
Wellford and the five other committee members said they believe Boschert's proposed six-month delay "will destroy the town center concept" and permit uncontrolled growth.
By continuing to negotiate with the developers, the citizens contend, Boschert will water down the bill and destroy their efforts to chart "planned, orderly growth."
Boschert said he wants only to win the train station deal. If Halle refuses to set aside land and build the station, Boschert said, throngs of residents from high-density developments in the town center and surrounding area will jam already heavily-traveled roads.
Although the citizens pointed out that Odenton already has a train station, Boschert said it "has more riders than it can handle now." He predicted "virtual gridlock" looms ahead if developers build high-rise apartments and offices without a train station.
The developers on the advisory committee have objected that the proposed controls are far too restrictive to permit building an innovative center with office buildings, apartments, shopping, movie theaters and recreational areas.
But the citizens maintain they settled on fair compromises with the developers. They said they were surprised by the developers' minority report to the Council and "shocked" that Boschert introduced the moratorium.
Boschert said he is asking his colleagues to back him. Although several have said they support the growth-management plan -- including Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, who said she expects the bill to pass.
But at least one councilman agreed with Boschert.
"I don't see the urgency with the whole damn thing," said Councilman Michael Gilligan, D-Glen Burnie. He added that "David only wants what's best for Odenton."