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.


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.