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.

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