Berwyn District Civic Association

Thursday, March 17, 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, Bob Catlin, Doug Hunter, Amy Noggle, Jack Perry, Harry Pitt, and Kevin Young.

Agenda Item 2. Minutes from last meeting

  1. The minutes from the January and February meetings had been posted on the web site.  Mr. Perry motioned that the minutes be accepted, Mr. Catlin seconded; there was no one opposed.  The minutes were accepted into the official record.

Agenda Item 3. Presentation: College Park Motel development plans

  1. Joyanna Smith, from the law firm of Gibbs and Haller in Lanham and representing the Patel family, brought a presentation regarding the proposed redevelopment of the College Park Motel at 8419 Baltimore Avenue.  The site is currently zoned as Mixed Use Infill; the proposed project is a hotel, which is already permitted under the zoning.
    1. On January 20, a petition was filed to vacate the public alley behind the property.  Half of the property would go to the State, the other half to Exxon.  The developers want to improve circulation and access to Route 1.  Two entrances from Route 1 would be eliminated; one 22-foot entrance driveway would be built. 
    2. The attorneys met with the city on March 15.  The City has not yet taken a position on the proposal.  The developers will not be seeking variances, only the petition to vacate the alley.  Once the developers have a site plan, adjoining property owners will be notified.
    3. Development plan:

                                                               i.      Build an independent (not a chain hotel) upscale four-story property with 49 guestrooms.  Amenities include a 27” TV, DVD player, and double vanities in every guest room; an exercise room; and an extended continental breakfast for guests (no public restaurant.) 

                                                             ii.      Buildings currently on the property would be razed; the new building would be closer to Route 1 in conformance with the Route 1 sector plan.  Four-foot sidewalks would be built along Route 1; the developers would have to build to take into account the proposed State Highway Administration widening of Route 1, which would include the sidewalk area.

                                                            iii.      Parking would be at the rear of the property, with traffic leaving the property channeled to Pontiac Street.  28 spaces are planned, including two spaces for people with disabilities.  This number of spaces exceeds City parking requirements.  The developers do not plan for a shuttle to the metro station.

                                                            iv.      Use of the alley would allow for a new one-way road behind the property.  Traffic would be moved from north to south.  The plan is for this road to improve access to the site.  City staff says that there might be a traffic light on Pontiac Street.

    1. Current concerns:

                                                               i.      Utilities: these are currently sited in the alley; the utility companies will be contacted regarding utility relocation. There is a storm water drain that needs to be moved. 

                                                             ii.      University of Maryland parking lot: this lot is located behind the motel property; a new retaining wall will have to be built within the tree-save area.

    1. General public comments: there is concern that the tree buffer between the neighborhood and the property would be lost, but the developers plan to keep the tree-save area.
    2. BDCA position:  if the public has specific comments, bring them to one of the board members.  Questions include:

                                                               i.      Do we favor the developers’ plan to move traffic on Pontiac? 

                                                             ii.      Do we favor informing the City about concerns regarding abandonment of the alley?

                                                            iii.      Can traffic be directed to Quebec Street? 

                                                            iv.      Can traffic be directed so that cars do not travel north on 48th Street to leave the neighborhood?

Agenda Item 4.  Special topic: report on recent Neighborhood Walk

  1. Mark Seaton reported on the first Neighborhood Walk, which took place on Monday, March 14.  The group walked for one hour along the bike path, to Potomac, to Roanoke, to Ruatan, to Berwyn. 
    1. For this walk, the organizers wanted to note potholes and burned out streetlights; find out how much distance can be covered in one hour; and evaluate both the turnout and the attitude of participants.
    2. Future goals include conducting neighborhood walks for a period of time, writing letters to appropriate authorities regarding needed improvements; evaluating the response, and writing a report documenting changes. 
  2. Current plans are for 1-2 walks each month on different days and times (including a weekend walk).  Mr. Seaton hopes to conduct two walks in April, before and after the BDCA meeting.  Volunteers will be invited to participate through the newsletter and by e-mail.
  3. In addition, a suggestion was made to have a presentation on CERT (the Homeland Security program), and to see whether equipment and ideas can be shared between CERT and the Neighborhood Walk.

Agenda Item 5: Organize the Cleanup Berwyn Spring Event

 

  1. This year, the BDCA will sponsor a neighborhood cleanup.  Suggestions include: 
    1. Date: a Saturday morning in April, possibly the third Saturday; 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
    2. The BDCA will make a list of projects and cleanup areas, including trash pickup
    3. A flyer regarding the cleanup will be included in the newsletter, listing specifics such as meeting area and projects
    4. The BDCA will provide light refreshments
    5. Mr. Catlin volunteered to organize the event.  Further planning will be discussed at the board meeting in April.
  2. Mayor Brayman asked the group if the BDCA would be interested in having a walking town meeting in Berwyn.  This meeting would take place either the second or third Saturday in May.  The board needs to discuss this and make a decision.

Agenda Item 6: Treasurer Update

 

  1. Al Cutino, the BDCA treasurer, was not present; so no treasurer’s report was presented.

 

Agenda Item 7: Committee Updates

 

  1. Park Committee: Kris Moss took pictures of several playgrounds: Duvall Field, South College Park near the Metro Station, and McGruder Park in Hyattsville.  The parks have slides and climbing equipment which the neighborhood may want for our park.
    1. Suggestions for the current equipment include removing the “raccoon” and “duck” teeter-totters, and obtaining small-scale climbing equipment and small slides. 
    2. There was a suggestion to look at the new equipment at Cherry Hill Park, which is a M-NCPP park.
    3. Rose Holden, who lives on Potomac Street, works for the M-NCPP organization and will assist the BDCA with grant-writing for new equipment.

 

  1. Welcoming Committee: Their next meeting is April 7.  They are looking for new members.  The committee has received a $1,000 grant from the City.

 

  1. Neighborhood Preservation Coalition (NPC): Mr. Pitt reported some successes.
    1. Eichberg property: Mr. Eichberg was restricted to six tenants in his property. 
    2. Ridgeway property: The NPC was pleased that seventeen people showed up at the court date.

                                                               i.      Mr. Ridgeway was penalized for a number of violations; he has 30 days to correct these violations. 

                                                             ii.      The judge granted the City an abatement to make repairs if Mr. Ridgeway does not do so.  The city has a budget of $1,000 for this purpose; if the City has to use this money, a tax lien will be placed on the property.  Under the law, a property could eventually be auctioned to satisfy a tax lien.  The City can seize property under Eminent Domain only for development use.

                                                            iii.      The NPC needs to watch the follow-up to make sure that the repairs are done, or failure to do so is brought to the attention of the City.

 

Agenda Item 8: College Park Reports from our Council Representatives

 

  1. From Bob Catlin:
    1. The proposed University Courtyards development hopes to build more than 2,000 housing units on campus.  Demand is still high for housing near the university.
    2. The rent control proposal will be introduced to city council at the end of April; Mr. Catlin hopes the council will adopt rent control by the summer; and he expects it will stand up in court.  Housing will be exempt from rent control if the rent is less than 1% of the value of the property as shown in the property tax statement.

 

  1. From Jack Perry:
    1. There are plans for the office building across from Spelman House (which backs up to Osage Road) to be torn down.  A high rise for graduate students is planned.  Mr. Perry will share details as they become available.
    2. Mr. Perry credits the city staff, especially code enforcement, with doing a good job.  The involvement of the community and the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition makes a difference. 

Agenda Item 9: New Business and General Discussion

  1. Traffic and parking: The traffic letter to parents of Holy Redeemer students still needs to be sent.  Who can we contact to get curbs painted yellow in no-parking areas?
  2. Berwyn Day: Heather Iliff has volunteered to organize Berwyn Day 2005.
  3. BDCA website: submit entries for a domain name to Tim Triplett.
  4. Community members are encouraged to submit articles for publication in the Newsletter.  Contact Tim Triplett or Jacque O’Keefe if interested.

 

 

 

Meeting Attendees:

 

Tim Aldridge

Jerry Anzulovic

Steven Brayman, Mayor, College Park

Gordon Breighner

Bob Catlin

Margaret Himmelfarb

Harvey Himmelfarb

Doug Hunter

Maria Hutter

Heather Iliff

Debbie Mims

Kris Moss

Amy Noggle

Eric Olson

Jack Perry

Harry Pitt

Mark Seaton

Joyanna Smith

Tim Triplett

Brenton Waller

Larry Wenzel

Becky Widman

Kevin Young

 

 

Andrea Carpentieri, Recording Secretary, BDCA