Berwyn District Civic Association

Thursday, November 20, 2014

1. Agenda Item 1. Holiday Party. President Kevin Young announced that the annual Christmas

Holiday Party would take place on Saturday, December 13th, from 1pm to 3pm in Fealy Hall.

2. Agenda Item 2. Minutes from Three Previous Meetings. A motion to accept the minutes from the June 2014, September 2014, and October 2014 BDCA meetings was made, seconded, and passed with a show of hands.

3. Agenda Item 3. Officers Present. In addition to President Kevin Young, other BDCA officers present included 1st Vice President Harry Pitt, Recording Secretary Liesl Koch, Treasurer Lori Young, and Board of Directors Dan Blasberg and Bob Catlin.

4. Agenda Item 4. Treasurer’s Report. BDCA Treasurer Lori Young reported that BDCA’s balance as of November 19, 2014, is $2,636.26. This reflects deposits over the past month of $270.00 (memberships and donations), an annual Internet fee of $52.38), and a bank fee of $15.00.

5. Agenda Item 5. Safety Over the Holidays. Officer Black stated that the police want to be proactive in deterring crime over the holiday season. They will pass out flyers with tips of how to keep safe and will increase patrol in the neighborhood. We should let him know of any rowdy parties or loud noises that are disturbing.

6. Agenda Item 6. Branchville Road Project. Terry Schum, Director of the Planning and Community Economic Development Department for the City of College Park, reported on the Branchville Road Project, which the City just learned of recently. This project was first discussed 28 years ago. The project is a proposed apartment building in the triangle formed by 193, Branchville Road, and Rhode Island Avenue. It has been zoned for apartments since the late 1970s. The current zoning allows a 110‐foot tall building in that location. The developer, who’s located in Boston, got all approvals necessary to build the project back in the late 1980s. The developer had to file a site plan, which at the time was approved by the County with the support of the City (with some conditions). Now, the City doesn’t have the ultimate authority to approve it – the City can only weigh in. Park and Planning has ultimate approval. It isn’t Section 8 housing; it’s housing that’s meant to be affordable for people earning 60 percent or less of the median income. There will be an onsite 24‐hour resident manager. There was lots of opposition to the project back in the 1980s, when a 10‐story building was proposed. It was lowered to 7 stories in the plan. So the project

approved back then was different from what they’re proposing now. The developer has applied for a low income tax credit. The City found out about the current plans because it got a letter from the County about it. The attorney for the developer wrote a letter saying that they’d like to meet with the neighborhood. In order to get a building permit, the developer will have to get a new site plan approved, which requires a public hearing. They won’t be able to build it according to their current proposals without getting variances from the County. It’s an L‐shaped building. They would need four variances. They’re proposing 117 parking spaces, for example, but 144 would be required.
The law requires that no more than 50 percent of the property be covered with the building and parking, but their current plans don’t meet that requirement. The building as currently planned doesn’t meet two setback requirements.
The developer has the right to build, but doesn’t have a right to get the variances approved. It
is the County’s decision to make, not the City’s. We would have to make a really good argument to the County for why the variances shouldn’t be allowed. Variances granted in the 1980s are no longer valid.
The City Council did not respond with a letter of support before the deadline. The developer might file without a letter of support from the City Council, just to “get in line.” The Civic Association should make sure it’s registered as a party of record. That can be done on the Park & Planning website. We can register to be notified about all projects within a mile, or just for this particular one.
The County rarely approves a site plan without conditions, especially if a city or neighborhood has raised objections and individual residents attend the hearing.
The County has not comprehensively rezoned the area for a long time, so even if the allowed height doesn’t “fit” in the current landscape, it’s allowed by zoning. You can petition the County to rezone your property, but not your neighbor’s.
How much money will be charged renters is a good question to ask the developer. It would be a good idea to meet constantly with the developer.

7. Agenda Item 7. Stormwater in College Park. Eric Reed and Sean Williamson with the

Environmental Finance Center at UMD presented a summary of the work they do with communities
in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware to help them with environmental issues. Half of
their work deals with stormwater. They are currently working under a grant with the Maryland
Department of Natural Resources on a project on how stormwater is managed in College Park and how to facilitate communication between the City and County. As part of the process they’re
visiting communities to get feedback. Costs of stormwater can be damage from flooding and lower water quality. But there can be benefits too. The County will be making a lot of investment in this area in the new couple of years.
Mr. Reed and Mr. Williamson distributed a survey for participants to take and distributed a factsheet, which has their contact information.

8. Agenda Item 8. New Business. There was no new business.

9. Agenda Item 9. Unfinished Business. There was no unfinished business.

10. Agenda Item 10. College Park Community Foundation Gala. The College Park Community Foundation is holding its 2014 Winter Gala on Saturday, December 13th, at 7pm, at the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. The gala is to celebrate the 2014 grant recipients. Tickets are $45 but College Park residents are entitled to a $5 discount.

11. Agenda Item 11. City Hall Location. President Young led a discussion about the City’s relocation of City Hall. The City has narrowed down the site choice to two locations – the current location on Knox Road or the old Friends School on Calvert Road – and the City Council is scheduled to vote on that next week. Our community had been enthusiastic about a possible relocation to Branchville, but that is no longer being considered by the City. A motion was made to ask the City to delay the vote until after it has solicited input from all the City’s civic associations. The motion was seconded and passed with a show of hands.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:50pm.

Meeting attendees (from sign‐up sheet):

Julie Beavers Cpl. J. Black Dan Blasberg Sue Blasberg Robert Catlin Mary Cook
Richard Douglas Andrew Fellows Michele Garnes Daria Giraldo
Luis F. Giraldo Harvey Himmelfarb Marge Himmelfarb Liesl Koch
Richard Leizear Ronald Leizear Sr. Fritz Leopold Victoria MacDonald
Thomas E. McGonigle
D. MItchell
Harry Pitt Chad Stern Timothy Triplett Sandra Tyler Felix Yin
Kevin Young
Lori Young
Liesl Koch, Recording Secretary, BDCA.