Regular Meeting on February 14, 2013

Minutes of Regular Meeting on February 14, 2013

Meeting began at 7:32 pm.  Councilmembers Patrick Wojahn, Fazlul Kabir and Bob Catlin were present, as were Mayor Andy Fellows and P.G. County Councilman Mary Lehman.

Presentations

Staffing at Branchville Fire Station

Chief Marc Bashoor discussed the removal of career firefighters from Branchville Fire Station, planned for March 1.  The Public Safety Master Plan requires a 7 minute response.  Since there are several fire stations within 7 minutes of all of northern College Park, the County will reduce some career staff at Branchville Fire Station.  This will reduce overtime and rebalance staff, and will allow the Fire Department to dedicate units by filling personnel, rather than hiring additional staff.  The Branchville station will not be closed, although it does have the lowest call volume and the lowest population density in its service area.  There are 4 stations within 7 minutes of north College Park that have 22 people staffing them.  Countywide, volunteer firefighters own 75% of the equipment and 70% of the stations.  Chief Bashoor, in unrelated items, stated that smoke detectors should be replaced after 10 years, as their ability to detect smoke is impaired; and fire trucks will soon use new radio (RF) for GPS.

At this time the meeting took a short recess; snacks and beverages were served.

Relocation of FBI to Greenbelt Metro

Mr. Garth Beall of Renard Development presented a possible development plan for FBI relocation to Greenbelt Metro Station.  The need is that the FBI has doubled the number of personnel in the existing Hoover Building, which is 50 years old and lacks needed security features.  The FBI has two significant infrastructure requirements in locating a new site: it must be near a beltway interchange, and near a Metro station.  Renard Development met with FBI in 2009, met with WMATA, and modified the Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with WMATA.  Other sites being considered are several in VA and a few in Montgomery County.  An important attribute of the Greenbelt site is that it is near Metro.  A security requirement is a 100ft setback for the building.  The conceptual design has one exiting the Metro station on foot, crossing a plaza that would hold retail, entering a pedestrian tunnel that would have a security checkpoint, and through it entering the FBI building.  The plan would expand the beltway interchange; would include a fence outside of the stream; would include a hotel and future office space near the beltway; and would include retail in the plaza.  Estimates are 2.1Msqft for the FBI building, 750Ksqft for office, 150Ksqft for retail, an 800 room hotel, and 800 residential units.  Renard will try to keep the maximum retail and hotel building height at 8 stories, less than the 12 stories allowed by the Sector Plan.  There would be an elevated access road, 90% of the vehicles would come from the beltway, overall traffic would be 40% less than in the previous plan, and Metro would not lose any parking spaces.  The FBI building would be 12 stories max, but it would be situated farther from the Metro station entrance, on the eastern side of the property just south of the access road.  The Senate resolution caps the number of parking spaces at 4300, which is more than what is needed.  The hotel is to have 20Ksqft of unsecured meeting space, which would allow meetings with contractors and other visitors to take place outside the secure area and thus alleviate security problems.  The retail would be an important component, and the plan would discourage retail inside the FBI building.  To address noise the plan calls for the buildings and parking structure to be broken up and staggered to mitigate reflected noise, rather than being a massive single structure.  The access to Cherrywood Lane would be relocated to the south; the traffic circle would be kept.  The parking garage would be 7 stories; Metro’s proximity requirement for the garage is that it be at most 600ft from the station entrance.  The flyover from the beltway would greatly reduce the impact on wetlands at the courthouse.  Of those accessing the FBI building each day, it is estimated that 3000 would drive and 7000 would come by Metro.

Greenbelt Sector Plan

John Krouse reported that the County adopted the Greenbelt Metro Sector Plan.

Announcements and Reports

City Budget Wish List Update

City Councilmembers reported they have requested additional noise enforcement, more code enforcement officers, and an improvement of the Hollywood Commercial District streetscape.  Other non-wish list items related to the City’s budget: an expansion of City Hall will go forward, property tax assessments have decreased 7.65%, and staff’s worst case estimate is a decrease of $0.75M in property tax revenue.

Officer Reports

President John Krouse reported that he distributed 600 flyers alerting the community about the Greenbelt Metro development presentation.

Moved by Mark Shroder/Dave Turley: Adopt the minutes of NCPCA January 10 meeting without change; motion passed.

Treasurer Cheryl Molinatto, earlier in the meeting, had reported a current balance of $1,443.61; no expenditures have been paid since the last meeting, and $25 in dues were collected.  There were no other officer reports, and there were no committee reports.

Councilmember Patrick Wojahn announced a new College Park Neighborhood Business Alliance discount card and distributed them to those present, adding that he had additional cards for anyone who wants one, and they one could pick up a card at City Hall.

Moved by Mark Shroder/Larry Bleau: Adjourn the meeting.  Motion passed, and the meeting adjourned at 9:58 pm.

Submitted by Larry Bleau, Secretary.

Regular Meeting on January 10, 2013

Minutes of Regular Meeting on January 10, 2013

Meeting began at 7:30 pm.  Councilmembers Patrick Wojahn and Fazlul Kabir were present.

Presentations

Rhode Island Avenue Crosswalk

Traffic Systems and Technologies’ Sandy Dunmeyer gave a presentation about options for a crosswalk on Rhode Island Avenue.  There are several types of crossings: IRWL (In-Road Warning Lights), which are embedded in the pavement, are pedestrian activates, and directed at cars on the road, are the least expensive, but are not great when there is snow; RRFB (Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacon), which has signs on both sides of the road mounted on poles that use the same strobe flash used by emergency vehicles; PHB (Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon), which is a traffic signal for pedestrians, is the most expensive and would need a study to justify. The one they recommended was the RRFB.  The compliance rate (cars that actually stop when the signal is activated) is 68% for IRWL, 82% for RRFB, and 97% for PHB.  The height of the RRFB signal is 85″; it is visible at 1000′ if one has a direct line of sight; the period is 60 secs, which can be adjusted remotely; and it accumulates use statistics, which also can be accessed remotely.  Possible locations for such a signal are the intersections at Cherokee, Muskogee, Odessa, and Hollywood.

Rezoning of Shaban Property

Sid Saab, who manages the property at the northwest corner of Edgewood Road and Rhode Island Ave. and whose father-in-law, Randy Shaban, owns the property, reported that he has retained a zoning attorney and will file to have the property rezoned to commercial shopping center (CSC).  During the recent Sector Plan Amendment the property was down zoned to open space (OS), which would prohibit any retail or commercial use of the property, and the only grandfathered use would be a drycleaner.  He expects the case to be heard in 7-12 months.

JPI West

Amy Phillips and Chris Murphy, representatives of Monument Realty, which does a lot of development work in the DC area, gave a presentation about the plans for a mixed office, hotel and residential development on the west side of US 1 opposite Cherokee St., the rear of which abuts Autoville Road.  The site plan was approved in 2008, but the economy went south.  In 2011 it was renegotiated and the property is under contract in 2012; they plan to file with the Park and Planning Commission shortly.  They explained the  following changes to the plan: reduce the retail component from 25000sqft to 4000sqft; increase the number of residential units from about 200 to about 236; change the parking ratio to one per bedroom; change the roof to have a consistent pitch; not underground the utilities as requested, since, although it is a good idea, it is a more complex problem that would appear and would not be feasible, although they would pay into a fund to underground utilities at a later date; they want to participate in a shuttle system but would prefer to use The Bus route 17.  They plan to file in 20-30 days.  Commingled parking was originally planned, but retail tenants typically do not like not having parking in front of their stores, so it may be better to modify the plan than to leave retail vacant.  Initially the parking and rental rates were coupled so the parking subsidized the retail rental, but these will be decoupled: if a resident wants two spaces they will have to pay for two.  There will be dedicated commercial parking on the first level.

Greenbelt Metro

The Planning Board approved the greenbelt Metro Sector Plan with amendments; it will now go to the District Council.  The public record is now closed, though one can send thoughts to the county Councilmembers.  The three options the District Council has are pass, amend, or reject; they do not have the option to send it back to the Planning Board.  Members clarified their concerns: Narragansett Run is not to be touched; the internal road should have an eastern alignment, away from the neighborhood; protected State property should be left alone; the maximum building height of 20 stories is too much; there should be a buffer between the building and the neighborhood; there should be a change in the beltway interchange, which as planned would have adverse impact on the neighborhood; architectural detail needs to be added to the structures to limit noise and light pollution to the neighborhood; any pedestrian overpass is to be south of the Board of Education property; and the garage is enormous at 3000 spaces.

At this time the meeting took a short recess; snacks and beverages were served.

City Budget Ideas

The new assessments for most properties are down, which means City tax revenue from this source will decrease.  Following is a list of ideas put forward by members: better street lighting, increased pedestrian and bicycle safety, find a way to prevent passing on the shoulder of Rhode Island Ave., a crosswalk at the Lackwanna St. and Rhode Island Ave. intersection, more tree planting, improve the grass in the tot lots and parks, more code enforcement, new streetscape design for Rhode Island Ave. and Edgewood Rd., a police substation at the four corners area, a recycling center for downtown businesses, sidewalks and street lights on US 1, and a northern College Park Community Center.

Announcements and Reports

Treasurer Cheryl Molinatto reported a current balance of $1,423.61; since the last meeting we spent $5.83 for printing and received $15 in dues.  There were no other officer reports.

Moved by Anne Riley/David Turley: Adopt the minutes of NCPCA December 13 meeting without change; motion passed.

Fazlul Kabir reported that former NCPCA officer Peter Lakeland passed away in November.

There were no committee reports or other officer reports.

New Business

Moved by Cheryl Mulinatto/Leslie: Support the City using the RRFB crossing device.  Motion passed unanimously.

Moved by Jackie Pearce-Ganett/Jerry Garrett: Authorize president John Krouse, with input from other Board members, to write two letters: one to the City and County expressing members’ concerns about the Greenbelt Metro Sector Plan, especially height, architectural detail, lighting, and drainage; and one State representatives, opposing spending money on any funding of beltway interchange ramps to the development.  Motion passed.

The meeting adjourned at 10:00pm.

Submitted by Larry Bleau, Secretary.

Regular Meeting on December 13, 2012

Minutes of Regular Meeting on December 13, 2012

Meeting began at 7:33 pm.  Councilmembers Patrick Wojahn and Fazlul Kabir were present.  Maryland Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk also attended, and Prince George’s County Councilmember Mary Lehman arrived later.

Presentations

Legislative Update – MD State Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk gave members an update on what legislative matters were going to be considered in the next term: an extension of the time College Park has to use the funds for City Hall renovation; an increase in the gas tax; offshore wind; and modify an existing law to not require security at hotel entertainment events, such as wedding receptions.  There was a lot of discussion about transportation matters, and Del. Pena-Melnyk answered many questions before she departed for another meeting.  Joseline’s email is jpenamelnyk@msn.com and her phone is 301-213-3604.

College Park Farmers Market Committee – Peggy Kane gave an update on the Committee’s work.  The City has decided to put out a Request For Quote on how to run the farmers market.  The City does not want to manage the market itself; some other options are to hire or contract with a Market Master or outsource the operation entirely.  The goal is to sell locally grown produce, rather than selling produce bought from wholesalers.  The definition of “local” will be deferred until the City consults with someone more experienced in this area.

Minutes, Reports and Announcements

At this time the meeting took a short recess; snacks and beverages were served.  The meeting resumed at 8:41.

Moved by Marcie Booth/David Turley: Approve the minutes of NCPCA November 8 meeting without change; motion passed.

Treasurer Cheryl Molinatto reported a current balance of $1,414.44; the only expenditure since the last meeting was $25.31 for copying.  There were no other officer reports.

Announcements: City Council voted to replace the wooden guardrail along Narragansett Pkwy. with another one also made of wood at a cost of $144,000; City Council voted to purchase license plate readers (LPRs) for use at St. Andrew’s Pl. and at the intersection of Rhode Island Ave. and Edgewood to assist police in closing criminal cases (note: only license plate numbers would be stored, they would be separate from the police network, police would have to request information from the City each time, and information would be kept only one month); most of the crime in the neighborhood is theft of items from autos, so owners should remove valuables from their vehicles; there is a clothing drop box at Pizza Roma for the winter clothing drive; police have a lead in the recent carjacking on Lackawanna St.; the College Park Academy, a charter school that plans to open in fall 2013, will have to open at another location, since the old Friends School will not be ready by then (it will start with grades 6 and 7 and add a grade each year; there will be an informational session on 12/18 and again in January); and the College Park Community Foundation has formed its Board of Directors.

There were no committee reports.

New Business

Prince George’s County Councilmember Mary Lehman spoke to members about several topics.  The first was the Greenbelt Metro Sector Plan, which she said the Planning Board has adopted with few changes, and will transmit to the District Council (County Council acting on planning matters) in January, at which point they can accept, reject, or amend the plan.  She is sure the plan will not be adopted as is, and there is a fair chance it will be rejected.  There will be many issues and ideas taken up by County Council in 2013, such as updating the recycling law to require leaf recycling in paper bags; storm water rebates for use of rain barrels or pervious driveway materials; changing how commissioners are appointed to the Planning Board; a mandatory pre-appeal process giving developers 90 days to contact and meet with stakeholders; revisiting CB-79 and CB-80 (which would limit public input on development); an Adequate Public Facilities test for municipalities; reintroduce a reusable bag tax.  There will likely be many 5-4 split votes.  There was also a lot of discussion about the costs and complexities of public school transportation.  Lastly, Mary said the request for a North College Park Community Center has been given to M-NCPPC, who will include it as part of a countywide Functional Master Plan that will look at all facilities, their use, where the needs are, what should be closed, opened, or consolidated.  Mary’s email is malehman@co.pg.md.us .

The meeting was extended (Leslie Booth/Fazlul Kabir) to allow Mary to finish her discussion.

Marcie Booth asked for volunteers for the College Park Animal Welfare Committee.

Moved by Larry Bleau/Mark Shroder: Adjourn the meeting.  The meeting adjourned at 9:57 pm.

Submitted by Larry Bleau, Secretary.