Regular Meeting on October 11, 2007

Meeting began at 7:32 pm.  Mayor Steve Brayman, Councilmembers Mary Cook, Bob Catlin, David Milligan, and John Krouse were present; Jack Perry, MD Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, and MD Sen. Jim Rosapepe arrived later.  Faith Calhoun (on behalf of P.G. County Councilman Tom Dernoga) also attended.

A candidates forum was held for those running for City office.  The candidates present were Larry Bleau, Bill Flanigen, Jonathan Molinatto, Patrick Wojahn, Mary Cook, Bob Catlin, Jack Perry, and Steve Brayman.  As Stacey Baca could not be present, President Arthur Eaton read her statement.  The audience asked questions of all the candidates.  The forum concluded shortly after 9pm.

Moved by Peter Lakeland / John Krouse: Approve the minutes of NCPCA September 13 meeting without change; motion passed.

Treasurer Anna Ubeda reported a current balance of $1,752; no expenditures have been paid since the last meeting.  We need to obtain new checks since the bank just changed.  Moved by Bill Robertson / Mary Cook: Approve the Treasurer report; motion passed.

Maureen Malone, chair of the Variance Committee, reported that they received three variance notices, two of which were by email.  One was to add a second story to a house; the variances needed were to validate existing conditions.  They have not had a chance to drive by the other properties.  The other committee members are Bill Robertson and Seth Weene.

Anna Ubeda reported that PDC Campfire has a plan for 300 residential condos and 15,770 square feet of commercial on only 1.34 acres on US 1 in Branchville.  NCPCA did not take a position on the project but asked the developer to come back with additional details; the City opposed the plan.  In February the M-NCPPC approved the preliminary plan of subdivision with conditions, including a reduction in the number of units to 180.  The next opportunity for NCPCA to take a position will be at the time the detailed site plan is presented.  The City has received calls from others interested in buying the PDC site, but they have gone away once planning staff explained the situation.  We need to be highly vigilant with the project.

John Krouse reported that the wording of the survey and its accompanying letter for the proposed pedestrian bridge to the proposed development south of Greenbelt Metro had been completed.  He read both to the members, and said the survey would go out soon after a Spanish translation was completed.  The letter stated the bridge would be similar in design to the one in Berwyn, be made of steel and concrete, would have ramps, and that lights, security cameras, and an evening gate are being considered.  The survey, whose area is bounded by Greenbelt Rd., US 1, Edgewood Rd., and the tracks, will include a postage paid return postcard.

Larry Bleau reported to members the essence of a County proposal, still in concept phase, to improve Rhode Island Ave. and make it more neighborhood friendly.  The study area is from Greenbelt Rd. to US 1.  The project will have 3 phases.  Phase 1 is a signalized intersection at Edgewood Rd.  Both Rhode Island Ave and Edgewood would be widened to 3 lanes at the intersection to permit stacking and more efficient traffic movement.  When asked, County staff said that a roundabout is an interim solution, rather than a permanent one, but did not support that statement when asked.  Phase 2 is north of Edgewood.  There would be some safety improvements at Sunnyside Rd., sidewalks would be extended to the Sunnyside area, and a center turn lane would be added.  Phase 3 is south of Edgewood.  At Indian/Fox and at Hollywood there would be roundabouts, the service roads at each roundabout would be closed off, and where necessary additional access points would be opened to Rhode Island Ave.  Bike lanes would extend the entire length of the project.  Sidewalks would not be continuous, however, due to money limitations.  City Council, in general, liked the concept.  The next step is community outreach meeting, scheduled for November 19, 7pm, at Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, building 003 auditorium.

Larry Bleau read highlights of the executive summary of the report by Matrix Consulting Group on City law enforcement options.  The report recommended the City work with the University and County police forces, contract with PGCPD for six patrol officers, hire additional off duty officers as needed, fund a position to manage the program, engage in discussion with other police departments, possibly contract for additional services, create and fund a Community Service Officer position, and buy and use security cameras; it did not recommend a city police department.  A police department would cost $4.6 million annually, and a patrol force would cost $2.9 million annually.  Current law enforcement spending is $135 per capita; nearby cities spend an average of $309 per capita.  There is not a high level of beat integrity as officers are routinely dispatched to other areas.  A citizen focus group reported six issues: lack of police visibility, low response time, not enough County police in the City, different police departments do not communicate with each other, student parties get out of hand, and crimes involving guns.  The five options outlined were: 1) continue to use off duty officers ($35-$50/hr); 2) contract for supplemental patrol forces ($87/hr); 3) combine options #1 and #2; 4) a patrol force ($2.5 million/yr, startup cost $1.6 million); and 5) a full police department ($4.7 million/yr, startup cost $4.1 million).

Moved by Mark Shroder: extend the meeting until 10 pm.  Motion passed.

Bill Robertson reported that Fred Shaffer, a former NCPCA president, suffered a massive stroke and may not survive.  His wife does not want flowers.  Don Byrd suggested a $200 donation to the American Legion Post 217 in Fred’s name; we’ll take this up next month.

Jack Perry reported that the City would be cleaning out the brush on the hillside of Rhode Island Ave. next to Hollywood Elementary School.  He asked that, if we like how it looks, we telephone Public Works and let them know.

Joan Carol Poor reported that there would be a hearing of the JPI-West project before the District Council on November 5.  This is a large new multi-family project on the west side of Route 1, north of Cherokee Street, which NCPCA voted in May to support with conditions.

Betty Rodenhausen asked the number of code enforcement officers the city has; Jack Perry responded that we have 4 or 5.  Jack urged those who notice a code violation to call it in at 301-864-8877.

The meeting adjourned at 9:58 pm.                                                                                                               Submitted by Larry Bleau, Secretary.