Berwyn District Civic Association Meeting

December 17, 2020


Meeting came to order at 7:35 p.m.  Meeting was held via ZOOM on the internet. BDCA Board Members in attendance: Jim Nealis, Bob Catlin, Chad Stern, Tim Triplett, Karyn Keating, Mary Najmi, Emily and Kyle Shohfi. Other attendees included: Liesl Koch, Emily Friend, Joseph Theis, Sandy Tyler, Terry Schum (city employee), Llatetra Brown Esters (city council), Mayor Patrick Wojahn.


Introductions of attendees were made.  Karyn asked to pass the minutes of the Nov. meeting, Tim motioned we pass, Jim seconded.  The Nov. meeting minutes were accepted.  Chad delivered the Treasurer’s report – our bank account is still frozen due to the PayPal fraud.  The balance was $2,971.13 on Nov. 30th.  Chad has set up a new bank account, and the Paypal mess should be straightened out shortly – he needs Tim’s signature on two cards to complete the new account set-up.  Tim will call Minuteman Press to clear up confusion over payments.  Currently payments can be made at  Tim moved to accept the treasurer’s report, Jim seconded, it was approved.


Old business:  Karyn reminded folks about the Holiday decorating contest, and she will contact the Board to set up contest judging.  We would like to have a “welcoming committee” for new residents, and a ‘social guru’ to post our activities on social media.  Tim moved that we create a Social Committee, with Mary Najmi as Chair – the motion passed.


New business:  Mayor Wojahn spoke, saying the city is looking for a new city manager, while Bill Gardner serves as an interim manager.  The city is also running a decorating contest – see the city facebook page for info.  Submit pictures by 12/20, residents can vote on-line.  Food drives are ongoing – all help is welcome.  He wished everyone Happy Holidays.  Karyn mentioned Christy Dollymore is still collecting food on Fridays.  Llatetra said socks are being collected for homeless persons, please donate at Dist. 1 Police Station at 5000 Rhode Island Ave. in Hyattsville.  Karyn suggested purchasing socks via Amazon and have them delivered to the station.  Wojahn said ‘Green Drop’ will collect gently used shoes – see their web site.  Mary reminded us a ‘virtual game night’ is scheduled for Jan. 23rd.  Tim mentioned some locals were worried when they saw “Berwyn Loves Russell” signs we placed last month, thinking something happened to him.  Emily pointed out the Dec. newsletter explained it was a salute to Russell.  Bob said the new College Park newspaper will feature Russell in January. Chad asked if money from the CARES fund can help local restaurants like the Bagel Place and Cornerstone – the mayor said the city had already helped them, but maybe new money will be approved by Congress soon. Chad wondered if businesses could get a property tax break, but the mayor reminded him the city is also struggling.  Tim noted businesses nationwide are hurting worse than ones in the DC area. Karyn urged locals to support our businesses with carry-out orders.


Terry Schum from the city planning office spoke – zoning re-write is on hold for now.  Two years ago, PG Co. started rezoning, writing new laws, new definitions, etc. Some old zones are being rezoned but remember that property owners can always ask for changes for their own property.  Some commercial and mixed-use areas getting new zoning, but technical problems are popping up.  Some smaller commercial areas (such as Berwyn) may be allowed a restaurant, but not a bookstore?  So they may relax certain restrictions.  A new area – a CGO (Commercial General Office) zone would be more flexible.  Chad asked if current zoning has hurt Berwyn’s commercial area, Terry said yes, but the changes will help our area.  Chad asked about industrial zones near the RR tracks, but Terry said industrial zones are not changing much.  Liesl asked if industrial areas can have a sandwich shop?  Terry said current zoning makes that difficult, but flexibility is coming to ease that situation.  Terry said current rules do not allow a place like former Fishnet to have residential units on the second floor, but new zoning would allow that.  Liesl also wondered about the new development at Cherokee St./Rt. 1 – why were all the trees cleared away.  Terry said that land was for apartments, but they are on hold for now – the builder has even inquired about switching from apartments to more townhomes or duplexes.  The Rt. 1 ‘Sector Plan’ calls for more walk-able areas of the city, so they wanted apartments, etc., near Rt. 1.  Chad asked about the Chik-Fil_A planned for Rt. 1 at Branchville Rd. – Terry said that is no longer in the works, and there are no other plans for that spot.  Bob asked about the old Master Plan for College Park/Berwyn Hts./Greenbelt/Langley Park area – has it been updated?  Terry said no, mainly because so many smaller plans such as Rt. 1 Sector, College Park/Greenbelt Metro Transit plans, etc., took priority.  Now our Master Plan is one of the oldest in the County. But we may need updates due to the industrial zoning near the RR in North College Park.  Also, the MNCPPC has a ‘Purple Line’ Sector Plan for the University Blvd./Mowatt Lane area.  Terry suggested perhaps our city should compile its own ‘Master Plan.’


Karyn will send updates on the upcoming Town Hall meeting, as well as vaccine updates as they become available.  She will also work on the new BDCA meeting signs.


Meeting was ended (not officially adjourned) at 8:47 p.m.


Notes compiled by Jim Nealis