Minutes of January 2021 Regular Meeting

North College Park Community Association
January 14, 2021 – Regular Meeting by Zoom

Attending: President Mary Cook, Vice President Carol Macknis, Secretary Ellen Caswell, Treasurer Jordan Schakner; Mayor Patrick Wojahn, Councilmembers Fazlul Kabir, Kate Kennedy, Maria Mackie, and Denise Mitchell; Lisa Ealley, Judy Blumenthal, John Krouse, Arelis Perez, John Bartoli, Patricia, Jamie Lark, Eugene Jones, Abdullah Hijazi, Jeremy Seitz-Brown, and Matt Hobbs.

Meeting called to order at 7:33 pm.

Officers’ Reports:

President Mary Cook: (1) The Hollywood PTA food drive was successful; contributions went to the Community Food Bank. (2) The Hollywood Streetscape and Hollywood Sidewalk Requests for Proposal have gone out.

Vice President Carol Macknis: (1) She has added the Hollywood Elementary School and PTA links, and the Al-Huda School link, to the Useful Links tab on the NCPCA website. (2) A membership renewal has arrived, another is possibly coming. Paypal access is the goal for the next month or so. In chat, Councilmember Kennedy suggested multiyear memberships as an option.

Treasurer Jordan Schakner (via email): We have $1,277.22 in the account. A new member’s dues is not yet deposited, and reimbursement of $38.20 is due to President Cook for toner and printing costs for flyers.

Minutes of December 10, 2020 Meeting: Motion to accept, seconded. Passed.

Proposed Hotel at the BP station: Abdullah Hijazi, representing the developer, presented architectural drawings and a site plan. Attendees discussed the plans and implications of the project for the neighborhood.

The site is the BP station on Route 1 across from the intersection with Cherry Hill Road. The plans are very preliminary. It may become a Clarion Inn.

The architect plans to take advantage of the sloped lot to provide semi-underground parking. The hotel is stepped back to add a buffer between the hotel and the residential area. The main entrance area includes a front desk, lobby, food area, and offices. A conference/multipurpose room is on the floor above. There’s an exercise room, kitchen, and areas for staff. The preliminary room count is 75 rooms and parking count is around 35 spots, which is within code. The developers hope approvals will be under the existing sector plan, which is a known quantity. The hotel backs up to residences on 47th place.

Areas of discussion included: (1) Traffic. Hijazi pointed out the many alternative transportation options available. People who want to be near the University of Maryland to visit children and attend games and events will likely have more cars than typical hotels. The hotel will use the existing entrance and exit, with the flow of traffic right in, right out. Turning south is not allowed, so an additional complication is added to an already complicated intersection, and may include people going through the neighborhood. (2) There is concern about the height, changing sun, light pollution, and privacy. The architect/engineer hope to mitigate this with a driveway aisle, no balconies, and possibly partially with the stepback of the upper stories. (3) The base of the hotel is lower in elevation than the homes behind it, so stormwater will not affect the neighbors. (4) The property line barrier (fence, wall) is not yet decided. (5) Most stormwater management will be underground, in addition to a vertical microbioretention structure. (6) HVAC noise pollution is not yet decided but the units may be housed on roof or in the garage. (7) The proposed design, which doesn’t blend in with the nearby Hampton Inn and Marriott, is still preliminary. (8) There are no plans for long-term leasing to students. (9) Prostitution should not be an issue. This is a lobbied hotel with security cameras/audio, intended to be higher end, and will not rent out rooms by the hour. (10) The developers plan to file for preacceptance review with Park and Planning within the next 2-3 months. Building should take six months to a year and a half. There is concern that staging will be hard on the small site. (11) NCPCA very strongly urged that the clients themselves attend future meetings.

Beltway Expansion update: Vice President Macknis said this is not going away. Many comments on the draft environmental impact statement have not been fully addressed. MDOT has put out an RFQ for someone to oversee the project (https://495-270-p3.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/20201223_RFP-Fact-Sheet.pdf); contract award is expected sometime in February. The Sierra Club is planning lawsuits. MDOT is moving at full speed. Two bills that passed in the State House died in the State Senate. Senator Rosapepe is taking the lead in trying get the bills into the Senate session.

The Mayor and Council FY2021 Budget wish list: District 1 and 4 councilmembers discussed items on the last year’s list. In the February meeting, we can make suggestions for the upcoming budget wish list.

Announcements:

Councilmember Mackie: (1) There will be a food drive at the College Park Methodist Church, one bag of food per car, Saturday, January 16. (2) Because of MLK Day and the inauguration, trash pickup dates are shifted.

Councilmember Kabir: There is an MLK day of service planned at the College Park Food Bank.

Mayor Wojahn: (1) Vaccine distribution is now in Phase 1b, for ages 75 and up, and for teachers and childcare professionals. If you qualify, you should go to https://www.marylandvax.org/. On Monday, January 25, we will move into Phase 1c, which includes people over 65 and a number of essential workers. Information is available at http://health.mypgc.us/COVIDVaccine. (2) PGCPS Boundary initiative: Prince George’s County is doing a review of public school boundaries; a lot of schools have overcrowding. Information is available at https://www.pgcps.org/boundary.

Vice President Macknis: The Maglev DEIS is to be released Jan 22. There are 45 days for public comment, with a petition to change it to 180 days. The Maryland Coalition for Responsible Transit has a website where people can ask for more time. Councilmember Mitchell was on a call with County Council members Dannielle Glaros and Jolene Ivey concerning this. She highly recommends we discuss this next month. Many experts are adamantly against it for environmental reasons.

Meeting adjourned at 9:13 pm