Berwyn District Civic Association

Thursday, January 20, 2005

 

Agenda Item 1.  Roll call for officers

  1. The meeting was called to order by Tim Triplett at 8:00 PM.  Also present were officers and board members Jerry Anzulovic, Andrea Carpentieri, Al Cutino, and Kevin Young.

Agenda Item 2. Minutes from last meeting

  1. The minutes from the meeting on November 18, 2004 were posted on the web site.  There were no amendments.  Mr. Triplett motioned that the minutes be accepted, Mr. Young seconded; there was no one opposed.  The minutes were accepted into the official record.

Agenda Item 3. Presentation: Starview Plaza development plans

  1. Michelle LaRocca brought a presentation regarding the proposed Starview Plaza on Route 1.  Her presentation was not a site plan, but a proposal for the subdivision only; she will be back to the BDCA in the future. 
    1. Route 1 sector plan: Maryland National Capitol Park and Planning (MNCPP) and the City have planned for the redevelopment of the Route 1 corridor; the sector plan was approved several years ago.  The plan calls for buildings close to the street, occupied by mixed-use development, with shared parking.
    2. The site: The property covers the sites of the old Starlight Inn, Terrapin Taco House, and the old gray house which was adjacent to the Starlight.  The City and Star Hotels have agreed to develop the property jointly.  The property covers more than 5000 square feet, and needs to be re-subdivided.
    3. There was a hearing this morning to consolidate the parcels into one, and to approve the preliminary plan.  This was approved with the caveat that the stream needs to be stabilized and contained.  A detailed site plan for the development will be filed once the City and Star Hotels agree on it. This plan will contain architectural drawings, materials to be used in construction, landscaping, and detailed engineering.  This will require at least a year.  MNCPP was very positive about the initial proposal, and the City voted to support the plan with revisions.  The developers have two years to come up with a plan and get a plat recorded with the county.  If the plan is filed by late spring, approvals may be obtained by the fall; development might begin in Spring of 2006.
    4. Stream history: in the 1950’s when environmental regulations were not the same as today, excess dirt was dumped in the stream bed.  This fill is now falling into the Paint Branch stream and causing the stream to change its course.  The Army Corps of Engineers (COE) did a study of how to stabilize the stream banks; structural engineers are to work with the COE to complete the work.  State, local, and soil conservation authorities have to meet to look at the studies; Michelle needs to encourage them to get together for this meeting so that work can progress.
    5. The proposed building will be nine stories, with retail and office space on the first floor.  Upper floors will be housing tied to the University, and maybe a hotel or extended-stay hotel (for people visiting the area for a length of time longer than a hotel stay but shorter than the time needed for renting an apartment.)  There will be parking under the building, and around the sides of the building for the retail establishments.  The current plan shows two driveways to Route 1 (currently, there are six for these properties) and a proposal for a median strip, which will force people to make planned turns.  This will serve the traffic, but also consolidate entrances, reduce the number of driveways, and encourage use of back roads.
    6. From the road, the developers are hoping to place a green strip, a sidewalk, and another green strip before any parking.  The idea is to develop for pedestrian orientation.  There may be some parking in front, but it is preferred that the front view is not just a parking lot.
  2. Update from Jack Perry regarding development in the City:
    1. In February, the City will host a meeting of property owners, urging them to work with the COE, Department of Environmental Resources, and the MNCPP so that this project is not held up. 
    2. Traffic on Route 1 is a big concern for the city; developers are working with the University to not allow students to get parking permits.  The Transportation Alternatives Committee is looking for alternatives to traffic on Route 1, such as a shuttle bus in a constant loop.  Some developers include a shuttle from their facility to metro and other primary destinations.  It is hoped that the condominiums proposed for other Route sites will appeal to residents other than students, so that there will not be so many cars. 
    3. Proposed projects include 500 apartment units near IKEA; development of the property next to the Lasicks site; apartments at Cherokee street; additions to Berwyn House; and of course, University View.  All of these new developments are supposed to be pedestrian friendly. 
  3. General discussion of pedestrian-friendly development:
    1. Can a traffic light be put at Paint Branch Parkway where the new bike path meets the road?  Mr. Anzulovic commented that the City tried to get an island in the middle of the road, but the county would not approve it.  Traffic engineers don’t like traffic lights controlled by pedestrians.  There is one such light on Route 1 by the fraternity houses, but that is because that land belongs to the University, not the county. 

                                                               i.      Options: Could a pedestrian bridge be installed?  As a precedent, the bridge at Prince George’s Plaza is not well used; people still dart across the road. 

                                                             ii.      Can the trail be extended along the north side of Paint Branch Parkway to the traffic light at the Fire Training Institute?

                                                            iii.      Can the BDCA submit suggestions for traffic changes for this location?

    1. Mr. Triplett moved that the Civic Association write a letter to Jack Johnson and the County Quality of Life Committee regarding the pedestrian problems at Paint Branch Parkway.  This motion passed.

Agenda Item 4.  Special topic: suggestions for improving Berwyn Community Park

  1. Mr. Triplett opened the discussion by reminding us that the park is a county park.  The BDCA needs to be mindful that if we request changes, all the equipment that is there now might be removed, including the very popular tall slide and roller slide.  Mr. Triplett opened the floor to suggestions:
  2. Mr. Anzulovic commented that our park is unique in that the equipment falls apart when it wears out; it is not vandalized.  Our park is also unusual in that we have a pagoda, tennis court, and basketball all in one park.  He suggests that we ask the MNCPP for equipment we would like to see in the park.  If we ask for specific, reasonable equipment, we could very well get it.  The city is responsible for putting in the equipment, and the MNCPP maintains it.
  3. Suggestions:
    1. do we want equipment for very young kids (up to age 2?)
    2. can we come up with a source of funding, or obtain grants?
    3. Can we provide dog waste bags?  More trash cans?
  4. After a fairly detailed general discussion, the BDCA Park Committee was formed to look at this issue.  Becky Widman, Mark and Tracy Seaton, and Kris Moss will get together and come up with some suggestions and plans.  Ms. Widman will chair the subcommittee; her contact information will be in the next Berwyn News.  Suggestions can be sent to her.
    1. Once suggestions are finalized, letters will be sent to MNCPP on BDCA stationery, one issue per letter, with multiple letters to be sent. 
    2. Bob Baca commented that the old trees in the park present a safety concern, as some of the trees are old, with holes in the trunks, and branches can fall. In the past, the BDCA has gotten the forester to come to the park to evaluate and prune the trees as necessary, and plant new trees. 

Agenda Item 5: Treasurer update

 

  1. Mr. Cutino presented the following update: 
    1. Receipts: $160 in dues, $395 in advertisements, $250 in donations
    2. Expenses: $126 for the holiday party
    3. Balance: $1022.71, minus the outstanding bill for the newsletter.

Agenda Item 6: Committee updates

 

  1. The Neighborhood Preservation Coalition (NPC) update was presented by Mr. Young.   While the NPC began as an offshoot of the BDCA, there was a lot of interest from outside Berwyn; the group formed under the NPC.  Acknowledgement of the articles of incorporation have been received; the upcoming meeting is scheduled for Saturday, January 29, 2005 at 8:00 AM. 
    1. Ridgeway property: the court date has been set for Wednesday, March 9, 2005 at 1:15 PM in Courtroom 3 in the Hyattsville Courthouse.  The County Department of Environmental Resources and the Fire Marshall will attend in support of the City.  The NPC is encouraged by this chance to improve the property lawfully. 
    2. Old Town College Park Historic District: the hearing scheduled for January 19 was postposed due to the weather.  Mr. Young does not know the rescheduled date.
    3. Mr. Kane’s lawsuit (regarding the unconstitutionality of inspections for rental property) was dismissed in court.  This is a great accomplishment, and was reported on the front page of the Gazette today.
    4. Eichberg property: A hearing date has been set for February 17, 2005, at 9:00 AM in Upper Marlboro.  Mr. Eichberg wants his property on 49th Avenue approved for a nonconforming use; to be a 2 family dwelling in single family zone with no off-street parking.  Approval could set dangerous precedent for our community.  Since there was a lot of input from the community, a hearing was granted; but the outcome can be decided at the discretion of the MNCPP’s planning director. 

                                                               i.      The BDCA will form a position on this use.  This position will be discussed privately at a BDCA board meeting, and a letter written. 

 

  1. Welcoming Committee update was presented by Larry Wenzel.  The committee is deciding on an information packet, estimating how many are needed, and how often to provide it.  The committee will submit a grant to the City next week.

 

  1. Bylaws Committee: The bylaws are posted on the neighborhood bulletin board and web site; citizens are invited to read them and comment.  It is hoped that the bylaws will pass next month.  Bring any suggestions or changes to the February meeting.

 

Agenda Item 7: Civic Association Updates

  1. Neighborhood directory: 65 households have returned the directory survey.  To be included, submit your information in the form on the BDCA website, or let us know that your household prefers not to be included.
  2. Activities: the BDCA Potluck dinner will be held March 5, 2005  from 6:00 – 8:00 PM at Holy Redeemer.  Details will follow in the next newsletter.
  3. Neighborhood watch e-mail list: this e-mail list has generated interest in neighborhood cleanups and patrols.  This may be discussed further at the February meeting.  Janeen Miller, the Neighborhood Watch chair, would love to see more people get involved. 
  4. Berwyn yard sale:  The yard sale was successful two years ago; the BDCA may hold it every other year, alternating with a spring cleanup day.  2005 would be a spring cleanup year; the next yard sale would be held in 2006 unless there is sufficient interest from the community to hold one in 2005. 
  5. Berwyn Web site: on the web site you can provide your e-mail address to obtain the newsletter electronically.  There will be sign-ups for the NPC e-mail, BDCA e-mail, information about meetings, and the latest copy of the newsletter.
  6. Graffiti defeati brigade: With the warmer weather coming, this group will return to action.  Mr. Anzulovic has been the contact person for this in the past.  Neighbors are asked to photograph the graffiti and forward it to Ms. Miller, who sends it to the police department.  County police are interested in reviewing graffiti to look for potential gang signs. 

Agenda Item 8: College Park reports from our council representatives

 

  1. From Bob Catlin:
    1. The city manager search still on; it has been started anew.  The City hopes to have a new manager by the end of the spring.
    2. A location is being sought for the relocation of City Hall.  Sites under consideration include the Branchville Fire Department site, a lot behind the Cornerstone Grill, and the old school site. The City will meet regarding this issue on January 26.
    3. Development: The lot next to Burger King is owned by Mr. Vogel, who wants to build a 200 unit condominium.  There is interest in having a hotel and conference center built near Jerry’s Pizza and the old Alario site.

 

  1. From Jack Perry:
    1. Mr. Perry reminds us that public hearings are advertised in the Gazette, on the City web site, and televised on the cable channel.
    2. Rental units: Rentals are now listed on the City web site.  Residents can look up the owner of a property and notify the city that that a house appears to be a rental and needs an inspection.  Providing rental owner information on the web site is legal; the application is a matter of public record.
    3. The City is ready to budget for next fiscal year.  Citizens who have suggestions for the budget should let Jack know; he can look at funding and suggest inclusion in budget.  There will be a public hearing on establishing a municipal police force in February.  There is no agenda yet, but interested citizens are encouraged to attend.  A police force may raise taxes by $300 per household as it is estimated to cost $3.5 million to fund it.  The last time this issue was brought up in 1993 it was defeated 10 – 1. 

Agenda Item 9: New Business

  1. Traffic calming: a traffic subcommittee may be formed in early Spring to write letters to businesses and Holy Redeemer regarding speeding, and to make recommendations to the City regarding traffic calming on streets going out to Greenbelt Road.
  2. The BDCA is interested in purchasing a domain name.  Obvious names, such as bdca.org and Berwyn.org are already taken.  The cost is relative to the name chosen.  The BDCA is considering a contest to name the web site.

 

 

Meeting Attendees: (Note: several other people attended but did not sign in: Total Attendance 19)

 

Jerry Anzulovic

Bob Baca

Stacy Baca

G. Breighur

Bob Catlin

Al Cutino

Kimberly McLaren

Kris Moss

Jack Perry

Mark Seaton

Tim Triplett

Larry Wenzel

Becky Widman

Kevin Young

 

Andrea Carpentieri, Recording Secretary, BDCA