Marc Elrich, left, and Hans Riemer, right

Montgomery County Council member and Democratic county executive candidate Marc Elrich responded Thursday to criticism leveled by council President Hans Riemer over Elrich’s stance on development issues—a topic that has become central to the county executive race days before Tuesday’s primary.

“He doesn’t care about staging, he doesn’t care about division of transportation, he doesn’t care about school capacity—it’s all about development,” Elrich said about Riemer in an interview outside the Silver Spring Civic Center on Thursday. “He may think I’m backwards, but he doesn’t understand what he’s doing and the county is going to pay for it.”

Elrich has been publicly feuding with the transportation and pro-smart growth website Greater Greater Washington since the website published a post criticizing his past opposition to development and described him as supportive of “not-in-my-backyard” (NIMBY) residents who oppose any new development outright. The website described Elrich’s position on new development as an impediment to getting more affordable housing built in the county. The article also described Elrich, one of six candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the top leadership post, as progressive on social and economic issues such as raising the minimum wage, but not on building more housing.

Riemer weighed in on the dispute on Facebook on Wednesday in a post that linked to the Greater Greater Washington article.

“The description of Marc as progressive on economic and budget issues, but backwards looking and even regressive on housing and development is entirely consistent with my experience serving with him on the Council for the last 8 years,” Riemer wrote. “Time after time I found myself working alongside him on issues like raising the minimum wage, but sparring with him over the need to make living here more affordable and attract more jobs to the county.”

Riemer added that Elrich is “too often willing to amplify” the voices of a “small but vocal few who are vehemently opposed to making the changes we need to make for the future.”

Riemer, who is vying for re-election in a field of 33 Democrats hoping to win one of four at-large council seats, said Thursday he wrote the post because he believes staunch opposition to new development could impact the county’s future.

“I feel very strongly for my vision of the future and I have often clashed with councilman Elrich and that’s quite OK, that’s what the process is for,” Riemer said. “But I just wanted to state my view.”

The two had a brief verbal altercation when they encountered each other outside the early voting center at the Silver Spring Civic Center over the dispute Thursday afternoon, according to witnesses.

Elrich maintained Thursday that his opposition to county master plans for specific areas and some new development has always come from his view that infrastructure—such as schools, roads and parks—should be in place or be built to accommodate new development. County master plans guide land use, zoning and the development of infrastructure in areas over a period of 15 to 20 years.

Elrich has partly campaigned on a plan to request that developers pay for more for local infrastructure projects. Elrich said he believes in the concept of “staging,” which requires new development to be paused until certain infrastructure improvements are made.

He said he has voted against master plans for downtown Bethesda, Lyttonsville, Rock Spring and White Flint 2 due to what he saw as inadequate infrastructure plans to accommodate growth.

“I would have voted for Bethesda if they figured out staging, what they’re going to do with schools,” Elrich said Thursday. “If they figured out what we’re going to do with schools in any of these other plans they approved, I would have said, ‘Fine, OK.’ ”