Berwyn District Civic Association Meeting

January 18, 2018

 

Meeting came to order at 7:40 p.m.  Meeting held at Fealy Hall .  Board members in attendance:  Rose Greene Colby, Bob Catlin, Karyn Keating-Volke,  Jim Nealis.

 

A motion was made and seconded to proceed directly to the speakers.  Andrea Goodwin from the UMD Office of Student Conduct spoke first.  Her office advises students on how to be ‘good citizens’ on campus and in the surrounding community.  They have jurisdiction over student behavior, and have had over 400 students referred to them during fall, 2017, mainly for misconduct and inappropriate behavior.  Her office holds group meetings, sends e-mails, etc., to inform students about city rules and requirements, and visit ‘problem’ houses if needed.  Students can face consequences if there is a ‘preponderance’ of evidence against them.  Please visit www.studentconduct.umd.edu for more information.

 

Officer Nuñez from the Prince George’s Co. Police Dept. discussed a rash of breaking and entering problems in the College Park area recently, and stated a few arrests have been made, including two in the Old Town area, one at The Varsity building on Rt. 1.  Alarms and camera systems, doorbell cameras – all are good to have, and he offered to assist home owners in installing these devices. Keep doors and windows locked. Always keep a list of serial numbers for valuables such as lap tops, I-Pads, etc.   Never advertise you are on vacation on social media sites, and call 911 for anything suspicious.  City Councilman Monroe Dennis suggested attending the meetings at Jason’s Deli at 9 a.m. Wednesdays to discuss issues with city and police representatives.

 

Jeremy Jordan and Tom Tanner from Branchville VFD also spoke, and reminded everyone that a new law effective this month requires homes be equipped with new smoke detectors every ten years.  If your detector runs on battery power, you must have a ten-year battery in it – but detectors attached to electric service can still use the regular 9-volt battery.  Smoke detectors should be near ceiling height, carbon-monoxide detectors should be closer to the floor.  Firefighters at the BVFD will help you install detectors if you need assistance.  The FD lost a court battle over the proposed apartment building near the fire house, and the developer is demanding a long-standing monument/flag pole near University Blvd. be removed, even though that piece of land is not part of the planned development, but may become a storm water pond site.

 

College Park City Manager Scott Somers spoke about the city’s Strategic Plan for 2015-2020.  It is a vision about the city, and expresses city values and goals, and how to achieve them.  These include open/effective government, environmental sustainability, long-term planning, good infrastructure, quality development, etc.  Current issues include new medians on Rt. 1 and construction of a Lidl Grocery store where the Clarion Inn recently closed.  Some residents questioned a 1,000’ buffer along Rt. 1 allowing new high-rise buildings within the buffer.  Mayor Wojahn tried to assure residents such buildings would require new zoning, but concerns remain due to the ease with which developers seem to obtain waivers.  Mr. Tanner mentioned fire dept. concerns about large apartment buildings fronting Rt. 1 – the presence of electric and phone wires on poles prevent fire trucks from raising ladders to upper floors, and some of these buildings have no open space in the rear for fire truck access.  The fire at the Berwyn House Rd. building in May, 2017, had no rear access and firefighters were forced to run hoses from Osage St.  One person asked if Berwyn Rd. would be widened to accommodate traffic from Lidl, but the answer was no. Traffic on Rt. 1 is also backing up at the Car Wash near The Enclave.  Mr. Somers stated Prince George’s Co. controls land use in the city, but some questioned why the city doesn’t become more forceful in expressing concerns.  Somers also showed plans for the new city hall and adjoining university office building at the current city hall site.  More folks wondered about the extra parking problems this will generate.

 

Councilmember P.J. Brennan said a new coffee shop on Rt. 1 may open in February, and new colored lighting has been installed on the Rt. 1 Bridge over Paint Branch.  There will be a public hearing on new parking permit zones on the south end of Potomac Ave. and on part of Tecumseh St. near Rt. 1.  Harry Pitt mentioned snow plows have difficulty clearing that part of Potomac Ave.  Mayor Wojahn said the city is still looking at the issue of contract police vs. a new city police force.  A study of neighborhood cameras will be reviewed next Tuesday at the City Council meeting.  Another hearing will be held regarding a large development at the old Plato’s Diner site, and a tax waiver the builder has asked for.  One person asked about underground gas leaks – Washington Gas has a pipe replacement plan for old pipes.  Call Washington Gas or 911 if you smell gas on your street.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

 

Notes compiled by Jim Nealis