Berwyn District Civic Association

Thursday, January 18, 2007

 

 

1.         Agenda Item 1. Roll Call for Officers.  The meeting was called to order by BDCA President Tim Triplett at 8pm.  Also present were officers and board members Jerry Anzulovich, Liesl Koch, Al Cutino, Harry Pitt, and Bob Baca.

 

2.         Agenda Item 2.  Minutes from Last Meeting.  Minutes from the November 2006 meeting were accepted into the permanent record.

 

3.         Agenda Item 3.  Presentation on Hotel to Replace the College Park Motel.  Ed Gibbs, an attorney with offices in Lanham, gave a presentation on the hotel to replace the College Park Motel.  Mr. Betel, owner of the current motel and proposed hotel (the “Garden Hotel”), was also present.

 

§         Mr. Gibbs had been to a BDCA Board meeting one and one-half years ago.

§         The proposed hotel meets zoning requirements and the Route 1 sector plan.

§         Mr. Betel made a presentation to the mayor and the City Council last night.

§         Development district standards require that the development be as close to Route 1 as possible.

§         The building will sit parallel to Route 1, per the recommendation of the City’s staff.

§         The main access to the hotel will be on the northern side.  A canopy will mark the main entrance to the building on that side.

§         The parking lot will be in the back of the lot.

§         The proposed hotel will be 4-stories tall, with 50 rooms and a small sitting area.  In the current College Park Motel there are 21 rooms.  In addition to the main entrance under the canopy, there will be an entrance along the Route 1 side.  A sidewalk will “match up” with the Route 1 doorway.  There will be a door in the back side of the hotel as well.  Mr. Gibbs showed the blueprint for the hotel site and an artistic rendering of the building itself.

§         The owner has been encouraged to allow for access to the site from Pontiac Street as well.  Signage at the parking lot’s egress onto Pontiac Street will forbid left turns onto Pontiac Street.  Bollards will be sunk into the pavement at the Pontiac Street egress to discourage left turns as well.

§         The exterior of the hotel will be 100 percent brick with stucco architectural enhancements.

§         The City suggested a flat roof—rather than the originally proposed hip roof—with a cornice for architectural detail.

§         The hotel’s signage will be located on the south, west, and north sides of the building only, between the upper floor windows.  It will not be neon.

§         The owner is in agreement with all of the recommendations in the report by the City staff.  He’s going back to the City on the 23rd and hopes to get their blessing.

§         A hearing in front of the Planning Board is scheduled for February 15th.

§         Regarding parking, Development District standards, which encourage pedestrian use, require that businesses have no more than the minimum standard use number of parking spaces.  In this case, the minimum standard is 25 spaces.  If this number is reduced by 10 percent, as is suggested, the number of lots would be 23.  The owner is proposing an exception to allow for 28 spaces (this number would include 2 handicap spaces).  There was quite a bit of discussion regarding parking for hotel guests, the two main concerns being that there would not be enough hotel parking to meet demand and that therefore some people would park on Pontiac, and that hotel guests would cut through the neighborhood.  The site is 1.2 miles from Metro, at which many of its guests would presumably first arrive in College Park; doubt was expressed that many of the guests would want to take public transportation to get to the hotel.  The owner stated that a shuttle service isn’t planned but would be considered.  Someone made the suggestion that the owner enter into an agreement with the Best Western Motel to use their extra parking spaces when necessary.  The owner and City agree that access to Pontiac Street is important.

§         Someone expressed concern that if the hotel got a tour group using a tour bus there wouldn’t be enough space for the bus to park.  The owner pointed out that the parking spaces required for the number of guests on the bus would likely displace the number of spaces required for parking of the bus.

§         The hotel would have approximately 10 employees but the majority of them would be present only in the mornings.

§         It is expected that most patrons will stay only one or two nights but there may be some who stay for a week or more.

§         The hotel’s dumpster would probably be located along the Pontiac Street side.  If the City decides the location of the dumpster has to be moved, the owner is willing to do that.

§         The Garden Hotel is not part of a chain.

§         The sector plan requires that the building cover 70 percent of the Route 1 frontage.

§         The owner expressed hope that BDCA would support his proposal to seek an exemption to the maximum number of parking spaces allowed, increasing the number to 28.

§         Someone suggested turning 48th Avenue into a one-way street to discourage hotel guests from traveling through the neighborhood.  It was suggested that BDCA take up this issue at a later meeting.

§         A motion was passed to not stand in opposition to the hotel but to express the neighborhood’s concerns with the Pontiac Street access and with there possibly not being enough parking spaces.  We would support not having vehicular access to and from Pontiac Street because of concerns about traffic impacting the neighborhood.

 

 

4.         Agenda Item 5.  Treasurer Update.  BDCA Treasurer Al Cutino made his report.  The Association is financially very healthy.  We have 50 members paid up.  We have $1,214 in receipts (thanks to ad revenue and donations by Harry Pitt and Kevin Young).  Printing of the December 2006 newsletter cost $191, the January 2007 newsletter $151.  The savings between the two months was attributed to the smaller type font now being used.  The current balance of BDCA’s account is $1,983.92.  The Treasurer suggested that we make a donation to Holy Redeemer in appreciation of their allowing us use of Fealy Hall.  A motion was passed to accept the Treasurer’s report.

 

 

5.         Agenda Item 6.  Committee Updates.

 

§         There was an article in the Gazette newspaper about McMansions.  Someone stated that the neighborhood should be concerned about the possible increase of McMansions in the neighborhood, citing the house currently under construction on 48th Avenue.

§         Eric Olson sent out an e-mail about an upcoming transportation hearing on January 31st at 7pm.  It would be a good opportunity to express any concerns we may have about the bike path.

§         Someone asked if anyone knew the current status of the proposed pawn shop on the northern side of the neighborhood (along Greenbelt Road).  Someone responded that Eric Olson is trying to reduce the number of pawn shops in the County.

§         Jerry Anzulovic stated that the Welcoming Committee does not currently have a chair.

 

 

6.         Agenda Item 6.  Civic Association Updates.

 

§         President Tim Triplett would like to reschedule the annual potluck from March to May, suggesting that it would be nice to have the potluck in the park when we’ll have the new playground equipment.  We could try to reserve the Four Seasons room in Holy Redeemer in the event of rain.  Someone cautioned that Holy Redeemer normally has a number of its own events scheduled in May.

§         Tim Triplett proposed trying to get the City staff member who maintains the City’s website to give a presentation at the February meeting on how the City envisages the future development of College Park.

§         A used bookstore that also offers bookbinding services has opened next to the Berwyn Cafe.

 

 

7.         Agenda Item 7.  College Park Reports from Our Council Representatives. 

 

§         Councilman Bob Catlin announced that the consultants doing the policy study for the City are currently talking to people in the City government, including Council members, and want to meet with the presidents of City civic associations next.

§         The City is moving ahead with getting information about proposed condos and the City Hall site.

§         The developers of the proposed condo site behind Pizza Hut and the bowling alley originally wanted a 16-story building ; the proposed number of stories is now eight.  The City is saying that that is still too tall, saying that the development should have a maximum of 50 units.  The FAA restricts development on Route 1 to 12 stories because of the nearby College Park Airport ; the University View building therefore violates this code.

§         The old Dinette Gallery north on Route 1, along with the adjacent property, has sold for $900,000.

§         Councilman Jack Perry has submitted a wish list of what he would like to be included in the City’s budget for next year.  He suggests individuals contact the City Manager if there’s anything we would like to see included in the budget.

§         The City Recreation Board is looking for a member from our District to replace a retiring member.  At a recent meeting the Board discussed the dog kennel located behind Potomac Avenue at the far end of the industrial complex.

§         Jack Perry proposed that BDCA formally recognize Russell for his voluntary litter pick-up in the neighborhood.  It was decided that the BDCA Board would discuss how to do this at their March meeting.

§         Jack Perry obtained a brochure in the City Clerk’s office on identity theft that he recommends highly, suggesting that BDCA distribute it a future issue of the newsletter.

 

 

8.         Agenda Item 6.  New Business.

 

§         The Mayor, who was in attendance, discussed his recent column in the Berwyn News about the City’s noise ordinance.  He stated that there was a candidate for the student government at the University of Maryland whose platform was cooperation with the College Park neighborhoods.  He stated that the student body is “a heck of a lot easier to get along with than the [University’s] Administration.”

§         Forrest Tyler commented on recent policy activity in the neighborhood in response to traffic violations.

 

 

The meeting was adjourned at 10pm.

 

 

 

Meeting Attendees:

 


Jerry Anzulovic

Bob Catlin

Al Cutino

Sara Imhulse

Robert Nurrteo

Jack Perry

Harry Pitt

Timothy Triplett

Forrest Tyler

Sandy Tyler

Larry Wenzel

Kevin Young

Steve Brayman


 

Liesl Koch, Recording Secretary, BDCA