Berwyn District Civic Association (BDCA) Meeting

Thursday, October 21, 2004

8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Fealy Hall

 

This BDCA meeting was the second since the summer break in meetings. The meeting proceeded as follows:

 

  1. Roll call for officers. Officers present included:  Tim Triplett, Kevin Young, Jerry Anzulovic, Andrea Carpentieri, Amy Kappel, Harry Pitt and Douglas Hunter. Sixteen (16) total community members attended.
  2. Vote on minutes from previous meeting.
    1. A motion was made to approve the minutes from September; all were in favor, and the motion passed.
    2. Tim announced that all meeting minutes are on-line on the new Berwyn website.
    3. A question was posed:  Are the minutes/newsletters available in Spanish?

1.      Tim answered that neither is available in Spanish at present; however, he will look into the need for this.

  1. Presentations and Discussion.
    1. Revised Community Development Block Grant (R-CDBG) project for west of Rhode Island Avenue…presented by Steve Halpern and Claire Sale from the City of CP.

1.      A physical description of the revised streetscape concept was presented with accompanying visual plans. Specifics include:

a.       Sidewalks with brick perimeter

b.      Pedestrian lighting – six (6) ‘decorative’ lampposts on each side of Berwyn Road for a total of twelve (12).

c.       Two (2) raised crosswalks: one (1) by the hiker/biker trail, and one (1) by the intersection of 49th Place and Berwyn Road.

2.      The BDCA was given two options that were open for discussion. These two options were:

a.       To retain the current parking situation in front of Holy Redeemer on Berwyn Road, meaning that the public would still be allowed to park there, OR

b.      To eliminate the current parking spots, thus creating room for a larger planting area.

3.      A discussion about the project logistics and parking options ensued.

a.       Question posed to Mr. Halpren: Would it be possible to add on to the proposed sidewalk to connect it to the current sidewalk on Berwyn Road? (meaning that 3 families on Berwyn Road, including the Wilsons and Aldridges have no sidewalk). Answer: He wants our recommendations and will look into it.

b.      Question:  Who will maintain these new planting areas? Answer:  The City of CP.

c.       Question:  What will be done about the current dropped curb in front of Fealy Hall that is there to allow large vehicles to pull up? Answer:  He didn’t know that was there, and he will find out for us.

d.      Question:  Would it be possible to get speed humps made of something other than asphalt?  Answer:  Yes, the city can make them with concrete and a brick perimeter as an example.

e.       Comment:  It might be better for our community to keep the current parking situation in front of Holy Redeemer.

(1). Parked cars are a speed deterrent.

(2). If we hope to bring business back to the streetscape area, we will need public parking.

(3). Many people who attend functions at Holy Redeemer and at Fealy Hall will continue to need this space.

4.  A 3-part motion was made to: keep the current parking situation, pursue the

     incorporation of attractive speed humps, and to pursue the extension of the

     sidewalks. There were no objections; the motion passed.

            B.  How does the College Park Noise Ordinance Board work? Presented by Harry Pitt.

1.  Harry, who has served as the chairman for the past ten (10) years, presented an

        overview of the rules and fines for breaking those rules.

a.  The current fine for violating the noise ordinance is $500 for the first

     offense and up to $1000 for the second offense.

b.  It is unlawful, unless it is for property maintenance, to create any noise

     audible from your property line that is louder than 65 db (from 7:00

     a.m. to 8:00 p.m.) and louder than 55 db for the rest of the day.

2.  Harry explained the procedure for contacting our noise officer and described

     his role.

a.       The noise officer works on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 6:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m. His cell phone number is (301) 275-2466.

b. The noise officer is more than willing to come out and try to get a noise

     reading.

c. If he gets a reading that violates the above-mentioned criteria, then a

    fine will be assessed on the spot.

d. If for whatever he cannot assess a fine OR if one is not able to get a

 hold of him, all it takes is writing a letter to the City of CP.

3.  Harry also explained the procedure for writing a complaint letter about a noisy        residence.

a. Write a letter to the City of CP within 15 days of the infraction about which you are complaining.

b. All you need is two (2) people to write letters. These two people can be spouses/partners.

c. A hearing will be held; if you have written a letter, you will be asked to be present to share your complaint in person.

(1). Be sure only to attest to the events of that night pertaining only to the noise (i.e. refrain from listing everything that might bother you about that residence).

                       

(2). The more people you may be able to rally in support of your complaint, the better. Consider asking neighbors who may have also heard the same level of noise to come with you.

4.  Other information surrounding this issue was discussed:

a. If an automatic fine is assessed at the time of the incident, then no hearing is needed.

b. Question:  Is the landlord notified if a fine is assessed, in which case there wouldn’t be a hearing? Consensus/Answer:  Yes, the landlord will be notified either way.

4.  Treasurer’s Report. Al was not present to give the report. However, Tim highlighted the fact that there most likely is very little new activity to report since the last report on Berwyn Day proceedings.

 

5.  Neighborhood Task Force Preservation (NTFP) Update. Kevin and Harry discussed the most recent workings of the NTFP. To summarize:

            A.  The NTPF will very soon be named the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition (NPC)

                        1.  This will be an all-district coalition, as many neighborhood civic associations

                             have become interested in the mission to preserve our neighborhoods.

a. Greenbelt, Berwyn Heights, and University Park, for example, are all

 in support.

2.  The next meeting of the NPC will be on Saturday, October 30th from 8 a.m. to

    10 a.m. at Holy Redeemer (Adult Education Room).

            b. The main purpose of this meeting will be to adopt the new by-laws.

B. The Upper Marlboro zoning hearing has been postponed until January. The

    background pertaining to this hearing is as follows:

1.      Prince George’s County has proposed designating the Old Town area of  College Park as a historic area.

2.       However, the Prince George’s County Property Owners Association (PGPOA) is challenging this proposal, citing it as unfair to some of the present owners (namely the absentee landlords).

a.       There are numerous additions that would not meet the specs of a historic house.

b.      This would mean a long review process to approve additions, which in most cases are added at present to allow for more rental bedrooms/rooms.

c.       Long-time residents in the neighborhood want this historic designation, as it appears that some of the cheaply constructed houses are devaluing their property.

3.      Support letter for this hearing are needed from BDCA and the NPC.

a.       Harry and Kevin will provide us with the adequate information at the November meeting so that we can prepare letters.

b.      Keep in mind that our mission is to also help students; too many of them are currently living in homes that would not pass various inspection points.

 

  1. Committee Updates/Updates on By-laws and Neighborhood Directory.
    1. The by-laws have been revised

1.      Sandy has been working on these recently.

2.      The by-law committee will meet on November 4th.

    1. The directory is in progress.

1.      The most recent copy of the Berwyn News contained a form for all neighbors to complete.

2.      Please complete the form and return it to one of the committee members (listed on the bottom of the form) as soon as possible!

    1. Question:  Can we have permit parking in our neighborhood? Answer (from J. Perry): Yes, but we would have to have a petition.

1.      We need to keep in mind that permit parking would not necessarily mean that our parking issues would be resolved.

2.      The Old Town area has permit parking.

    1. The Berwyn website is up and running.

1.      It still needs to be linked to the state site.

2.      The Berwyn News will be available on the website from here on out.

3.      If you want something on the website, notify Tim Triplett.

4.      If you want something published in the newspaper, please don’t send it to Jacquie if it’s in Word Perfect format! Send it to Tim so that he can convert it first.

    1. The Roberts family construction issue.

1.      The Roberts family has proposed construction of two (2) houses on Tecumseh that would need variances.

2.      Jerry advised us not to oppose these variances with the hope that one day these may eventually be family dwellings.

3.      A motion was made not to oppose these variances. The motion was passed.

    1. Berwyn House project has been put on hold.

1.      Michelle LaRocca is the zoning attorney for this project.

2.      The project was in the works until the architect notified her that variances needed to be approved before the project could actually begin.

3.      This project has in essence had to start over.

  1. Councilmen Updates. 
    1. Bob Catlin’s updates were reported first.

1.      The three parcels of land behind the Pizza Hut/bowling alley on route one are in the process of being the proposed new site of condos.

2.      In an effort to support the NPC, the City of CP has hired a consultant to conduct a survey regarding the quality of living and rent control in College Park.

3.      There will be a hearing on Tuesday, 10/26 at 7:00 p.m. on the Homestead Tax Credit. This is a city tax hearing.

a.       The general goal is to create a tax differential between owner-occupied properties and investor properties.

b.      Bob’s position was that rentals are essentially a detriment to the economics of the city.

    1. Jack Perry presented his updates second.

1.      The search for a new city manager continues.

2.      The new Deputy Director of Public Works is Brenda Alexander.

3.      Paper bags will soon be distributed to help take care of leaves, etc. ??

4.      The city staff recently met with the PG County Council to discuss tax rates.

5.      October 20th marked the last meeting of the Route 1 Task Force.

a.       The master plan for an improved highway is somewhere in the works, but presently there is no money to assist with any Route 1 improvements.

6.      Going back to the earlier conversation in the evening regarding the Berwyn Road streetscape concept, Jack recommended that we send a letter to the city outlining our preferences.

a.  This would create the paper trail that we may need to refer to later.