Regular Meeting of October 19, 2014

Minutes of Regular Meeting on October 19, 2014

Meeting began at 7:32 pm.  Councilmembers Fazlul Kabir and Patrick Wojahn were present.

Presentations

School Board Candidates

Lupi Grady and Peggy Higgins, candidates for School Board, spoke about their platforms.

Environmental Finance Center

Joanne Throwe, director of the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland (http://www.efc.umd.edu/), spoke to members about the mission of her organization: stormwater management.  The organization covers the central Atlantic region, and has selected College Park as the model for Prince Georges County.  After a short presentation she distributed survey cards, asked for members’ feedback, and said she would like to return at a later date for a more detailed presentation.

Term Limit Referendum

President Chris Nagle distributed a flyer that gave arguments against Question J, which would extend term limits for County Council members from 2 terms to 3 terms (12 years).

SHA on Greenbelt Metro Interchange

State Highway Administration representatives presented a preliminary plan to upgrade the Greenbelt Metro beltway interchange into a full interchange and to widen selected parts of the beltway.  The study area goes from US 1 to Kenilworth Ave.  The driving forces behind the project are transit oriented development, improve access to Greenbelt Metro, and improve safety.  In the 2005 plan the new ramps merged on the east side of the property.  Since then traffic has increased and site plans have changed.  The current plan will widen the inner loop by 12ft between US 1 and BW Pkwy., widen the outer loop by 12ft from US 1 to MD 201 (Kenilworth Ave.), widen the bridge over Rhode Island Ave., relocate the new ramps to the west side of the property, and reconstruct the existing flyover ramp.  The widening would be required independent of any particular development in order to relieve congestion, and SHA will plan as if the entire Greenbelt Metro property was developed to avoid having to do another study in a few years.  The study will be 30% complete by the end of 2014, a survey will be done in late 2015, and, if construction funds are available, the plan will be put out to bid in early 2017, with a projected completion date of spring 2020.  The speaker stated the project will require National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review but was unclear on what level of assessment the project would receive. A categorical exclusion was granted for the interchange improvements in 2005.  Whether the beltway widening would require additional right-of-way has not yet been determined.

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

Greenbelt Metro FBI Project Update

Garth Beall, of Renard Development Co., updated members on the latest development plan.  Plan A, the original FBI plus mixed use proposal, was for 2.1Msqft FBI Headquarters, 800 residences, 750K sqft office, less than 100K sqft retail, and a 300 room hotel with a 20K sqft conference facility and 7,500 parking spaces, exclusive of WMATA parking.  There was a new 2-lane inbound beltway ramp from the outer loop to join the existing road along the CSX tracks, which would be widened to three lanes.  Both outbound beltway accesses were on the east side.  This plan could accommodate the FBI complex, but GSA rejected it because they wanted more room for the FBI complex.

Plan B is based on the site plan configuration that GSA accepted (note: GSA was not told of the mixed-use component, nor do they need to approve it).  The major change was the outbound beltway accesses and the main north-south road, Greenbelt Metro Pkwy., was moved to the west side.  Due to this, the mixed-use portion of the project was reduced by approximately 400Ksqft., retail drops to ~70K sqft, and parking spaces drops to 6,250; the FBI, residences, and hotel are unchanged.  Other features of Plan B (still a work in progress): The entrance road, after passing the Metro plaza, would slope down to ground level to meet Greenbelt Station Pkwy. just north of the new Metro parking garage.  The garage would likely have solar panels on its roof.  Mr. Beall promised the buildings would not be more than 8 stories, even though the sector plan has no upper limit on the building height.  The buildings along the CSX tracks would have two front faces (the plaza and the neighborhood), so there would not be a blank “back” wall.  To minimize noise they will use softer materials, and use balconies and plazas to break up reflected noise.  The north end of the main road would be the start of the two outbound beltway ramps.  While Narragansett Run restoration is not required, Mr. Beall described it as the right thing to do.  Wetlands created by the stream restoration would filter the water before it is discharged downstream.

During the presentation, a motion by Larry Bleau and Jackie Pearce-Garrett to extend the meeting beyond 9:30 passed.

Announcements and Reports

Moved by Betty/Jackie Pearce-Garrett: Approve the minutes of NCPCA September 11 meeting without change; motion passed.

Treasurer Jackie Pearce-Garrett reported a current balance of $1,295.14; she received $10 in dues and spent $93.33 on the flyers since the last meeting.  There were no other officer reports.

New Business – none

Moved by Larry Bleau/Jackie Pearce-Garrett to adjourn the meeting; motion passed and meeting adjourned at 9:50pm.

Submitted by Larry Bleau, Secretary.

Regular Meeting on September 11, 2014

Minutes of Regular Meeting on September 11, 2014

Meeting began at 7:31 pm. Councilmembers Fazlul Kabir and Denise Mitchell were present.

Presentations

Bus Route Changes

Douglas Stallworth of WMATA presented proposed changes to routes 83 and 86, which run through northern College Park. These are both long routes that terminate at Rhode Island Ave. They are unreliable and often are subject to delays. The proposal is to split each route, terminating them at the College Park Metro. The northern routes (renamed 83N and 86N) would have their same starting location and end at the Metro station; the southern routes (renamed 83S and 86S) would start there and proceed to Rhode Island Sta. The schedules would be timed to allow transfers between the route segments. There will be an open house at City Hall on 9/29 at 6pm. The WMATA Board will vote in November, and the changes will take effect in March 2015.

Community Partners Program

Susan Hubbard of the County Dept. of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement spoke to members about her department’s activities, and distributed brochures that describe property standards. Last month (August) there were over 3000 vacant homes in the county, and over 10,000 foreclosed homes. Her office contacts community members to help with the assessment of the condition of the properties. If one thinks a property is vacant, one should write down the address and report it to her at sdhubbard@co.pg.md.us . A vacant home not only is not occupied, but it may have squatters. The department issues two notices to the owner, has a 10 day wait period, then cleans the lot boards up the windows, and cuts the grass, and finally, if there is still no response, demolishes the house and files a lien. If the courts are needed the time frame for this process can be from 3 months to 3 years. The Clean Lots program can take 10 months to get a contractor to clean the lot. The county does not do this within a municipality, but works with the municipality to inform them of problems. Utility companies are not allowed to inform the County when utility service is terminated. Data on the properties is available to Community Partners; others will need to file a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request. If a mortgage company walks away from the property, the County can take possession and do a tax sale.

CSX Request for Easement

There was supposed to be a presentation, but representatives did not attend. There will be an update next month.

Greenbelt Metro Development

NCPCA president Chris Nagel reported that she had sent two letters to State Highway Administration requesting that NCPCA be made a party to the process and discussions about the development. After not receiving a response to either letter, she contacted Sen. Rosapepe, after which SHA finally responded, only to say that NCPCA must file a FOIA request in order to obtain this information. The City has not been included in discussions, either. On 9/23, 5:30-8:30, there will be a scoping session at the Greenbelt Library on relocating the FBI to Greenbelt. There will be four sessions at different locations.

Fazlul Kabir stated he spoke with the developer, who will be at a City worksession, and was shown several areal perspectives, or renderings, of how the developed Metro station would look with the FBI building there. He showed these to members. They showed a mixed-use development, with up to 8 story buildings, residential, and a hotel. A process defined by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) will be followed when reaching a decision on which site will be selected, which should happen in fall 2015, with an award being made in spring 2016. This process will produce an Environmental Impact Statement, which hopefully will include impacts of the full interchange. One other concern raised was that the developer is asking for use of 29 acres of land that was preserved by the State for use as a security zone.

At 8:32 the meeting took a short recess; snacks and beverages were served. The meeting resumed at 8:45.

Police

Cpl. Errol Lobin, the community relations officer for area B7, which covers northern College Park, spoke to members about several matters. The police have a “knock and talk” initiative, in which they try to shut down late, noisy parties and underage drinking. The recent breaking and enterings have been through unlocked doors to cars and homes; one resident came home to find people rummaging through his belongings. He cautioned residents to keep their homes and vehicles secured. Upon request the police will do a free security survey of a home.

The Police non-emergency number is 301-352-1200, Cpl. Lobin’s numbers are 240-695-7472 and 301-699-2632, and his email is ealobin@co.pg.md.us .

Reports and Announcements

  • Treasurer – Jackie Pearce-Garrett reported a current balance of $1,378.47; she received $110 in dues and spent $30 in bank fees since the last meeting. She has successfully completed the transfer of NCPCA’s funds from Capital One to the State Employees Credit Union of Maryland; the latter does not charge bank fees.
  • President – Chris Nagel reported she received a letter regarding the South Core development of the Greenbelt Metro. Chris also reviewed the committees she’d like to see active: Variance (we need 3 members), Police Services (where do we want to go with these), Greenbelt Development Money (where does it get spent), Social Events/Hospitality, and Welcome.
  • There were no other officer reports.
  • Fazlul Kabir made several announcements: ● US 1 will get continuous ADA compliant 5′ sidewalks, SHA has $450k, and has found $200k additional funds to build the retaining wall; ● to demolish the house at the top of Edgewood Rd. will require $32k, the City has $14k, will split the cost with the property owner and will soon sign an MOU; ● the groundbreaking for Gateway Park is expected to be in late 2014 depending on funds availability; and ● the Rhode Island Ave. streetscape design effort will begin in late fall.
  • Future Agenda Items – Chris announced future agenda items on our schedule:
    • October will have SHA, Greenbelt Metro Development, Univ. of Md. Environmental Finance Center, stormwater drainage, City Hall relocation, the introduction of School Board members, and information on upcoming ballot referendum items
    • November will have the police, Neighborhood Watch, a UM representative to speak about parking and other impacts of UM entering the “Big 10”
    • December will have a visit by the newly elected County representative and a party
    • January will have a discussion of or report on the City budget, recycling, Animal Control, Animal Welfare, the charter school, 2015 tax update, and a strategic plan update
  • Art Events – Jackie announced that at The Clarice there will be a series of art events call Next Now Festival Sep 11-14.

New Business

  • Flyers – Moved by John Krouse/Jackie Pearce-Garrett: Print and distribute flyers listing the agenda items for future meetings, to cost no more than $100. Motion passed.

Moved by Larry Bleau/John Krouse: Adjourn the meeting. Motion passed, and we adjourned at 9:28 pm.

Submitted by Larry Bleau, Secretary.