Regular Meeting on June 13, 2013

Minutes of the Regular Meeting on June 13, 2013

Meeting began at 7:30 pm.  Councilmember Fazlul Kabir was present.

Presentations

Contract Police Program

Lt. Keleti, a contract officer working for the City, spoke to members about the operation of the City’s contract police program.  There are about 30 part-time officers in the program, who work about 300 hrs/wk.  Over 3000 citations have been issued this fiscal year; the fines paid go to the State, not the City.  This count does not include warnings.  The officers work the entire city, not in specific beats.  The decision as to where to focus is driven by citizen complaints; these should be directed to Bob Ryan of Public Services, however, not the officers themselves.  The number of officers deployed at a given time varies.  The UM Police has concurrent jurisdiction, meaning that while they can respond in an emergency if needed, calls for service are handled by the County police, whom we support with our tax dollars.  Suggestion: If you are planning to be out of town, let Bob Ryan know and the contract officers will check your house regularly.  Officers use their discretion whether to issue a warning or citation at traffic stops.

Elections

John Krouse asked if there were any additional nominations for any office; there were none.  Susan Keller, with assistance from Valerie Bleau and David Turley, distributed ballots, then collected and counted them.  The new officers are John Krouse (President), Christine Nagle (Vice President), Larry Bleau (Secretary), and Jackie Pearce-Garret (Treasurer).

Announcements and Reports

There will be a police walk and talk at 7pm at REI on Saturday.  Fazlul Kabir thanked the residents who came to the new North College Park Farmers Market; 500-700 came.  There will be a barbeque on Jun 29.  Council has met with State Highway Administration about extending sidewalks along US 1; there are two funds that can be used for this purpose.  The Animal Welfare Committee had an idea on how to raise funds to supply water for the animal shelter.  On Jun 29 Meal On Wheels will have a fundraising barbeque.  On Jun 20 there will be an organizational meeting for College Park Day.  On Jul 2 at 7pm Monument Village at College Park (formerly known as JPI west) will showcase its property plans.

Outgoing Treasurer Cheryl Molinatto’s final report as of Jun 6: expenses totaled $57.86 (stamps $46, printing $11.86); dues $25; current balance is $1,323.35.  Mark Shroder reported he collected $240 in dues that evening.

New Business

Al-Huda Property

There is a possibility that the Al-Huda School will relocate to Howard County.  In that context, members discussed possible uses of the property, which is zoned R-55 and is adjacent to Hollywood Neighborhood Park.  Suggestions included a senior center, a community center, and the new College Park Academy.  The only major objections raised were traffic demands and access.

Residential Poultry

Members discussed the idea of allowing hens to be kept on residential property.  Current City Code, and possibly County Zoning Code as well, does not allow farm animals on residential property.  Many spoke against as well as in favor of the idea.  Possible restrictions were brought forward: minimum distance between a coop and the nearest residence, licensing, registration.  Discussion ended without a motion, but one may be brought forward at a later meeting.

Recent Variance cases

Larry Bleau gave an overview of two recent applications for variances that came before the Advisory Planning Commission that he thought would be instructive to homeowners.  One case was to allow a deck at the rear of a house; the other was to enlarge the driveway in front of a house.  In both cases, the construction had already been completed but without a building permit; had they done so they would have learned of the restrictions and need for a variance.  The APC recommended denial of both requests.  In short, homeowners should always check with the City before changing the footprint of their home or adding anything to their property.

NCPCA booth at Farmers Market

Jackie Pearce-Garret volunteered to staff a booth that promotes the North College Park Citizens Association at the North College Park Farmers Market.  Those who wish to help her should contact her at jacq.garrett@gmail.com .

US 1 Sidewalks

Moved by Mark Shroder/Ann Riley: NCPCA supports continuous sidewalks along the east side of US 1.  Fazlul Kabir stated that SHA has two designs, sidewalks will be built in two phases, and the time frame is months rather than years.  Motion passed.

City Defined Benefit Retirement Plan

Fazlul Kabir described a recent staff proposal to change the City’s retirement plan, which is currently a Defined Contribution Plan (such as a 401(k)), to take part in the Maryland State Retirement System, which is a Defined Benefit Plan.  The motivation is to reduce City costs in the near term and provide better benefits to City employees, who currently do not save very much.  In the existing plan, the City makes the full 6.5% contribution and it costs the employees nothing.  During discussion it was brought out that the proposed plan would cost employees 7% of their pay (5.25% after tax), the City would have to contribute 6.47% to the plan, employees would vest in the plan only after 10 years working with the City, and the City would guarantee payment of their pension for the remainder of their life.  Questions were raised about the future cost of the plan, how much this would actually benefit employees, what tax burden homeowners would bear to support these pensions, the wisdom of switching to a type of plan being abandoned by most corporations, and exactly what problem the proposal is meant to solve.  Moved by Mark Shroder/Judy Hew: The City should continue its Defined Contribution Plan and definitely not switch to a Defined Benefit Plan.  Motion passed.

Varsity Tax Incentive

The Varsity housing development has applied for a tax incentive of $500,000 over 5 years from the City under an ordinance passed in 2012 that was designed to encourage new development along US 1.  Although the Varsity was constructed well before 2012, the wording of the ordinance allowed it to apply for the incentive.  Moved by Chris Nagle/Donna Weene: NCPCA opposes retroactive tax incentive for the Varsity.  Motion passed.

Minutes

Moved by Leslie Booth/Mary Cook: Approve the minutes of NCPCA May 9 meeting without change; motion passed.

Moved by Larry Bleau/David Turley: Adjourn the meeting.  The meeting adjourned at 9:38 pm.

Submitted by Larry Bleau, Secretary.

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