Berwyn District Civic Association

Thursday, April 24, 2008

1. Agenda Item 1. Introductions. Jerry Anzulovic, President of the BDCA, called the meeting to order.

2. Agenda Item 2. Presentation and Question and Answer Session with the Developers of Starview Plaza. Ed Novak with the development company was present, as were John Grant and Gordon Anderson, both of Grant Architects, who designed the building. The building, which will sit on the currently empty lot located on Route 1 between the car wish and Jiffy Lube (a 2+-acre site, backing to the Paint Branch), will be 5 stories and will house about 144 units of student housing. In addition to the 5 floors will be about 10,000 square feet of retail, comprising the ground floor. There will be parking underneath the building. A detailed site plan was submitted to Park and Planning in early May. The developer will meet with the City Council next week as a courtesy. If Park and Planning approves the plans, which they might before August, construction will start in September or October. The land there is not stable, so there will be a lot of excavation. It will be a “green” building – i.e., employing “green” technology. For example, it will use recycled material in its construction and will conserve energy consumption. It was once projected to be 9 stories, but since the City wants buildings close to the street, they’re going smaller so there isn’t a “canyon” effect along Route 1 of tall buildings on both sides. The building will slope almost 2 stories from front to back, so the parking will be below grade. There will be 375 parking spaces – 3 spaces for every 4 students in the building. Management will also provide “zip” cars and bike rental, along with secured bike parking. The site is about 0.5 miles north of the north gate to campus. There will be a road going all the way around the site – this road will allow fire engines, etc., to have full access to all sides. In front of the retail on the ground floor, there will be a broad plaza for dining. There will be 85 parking spaces for retail at this level – this number is part of the 375 total mentioned earlier. The entry to the student housing will be a 5-story atrium. Security will be provided. Almost half the units will be heated and cooled “for free” as a result of the green technology. A water-based heat pump system will be used, and heat from the building will be used to reheat the water. This will have a dramatic effect on operations costs. Above the atrium will be a green roof that will capture rainwater to be used to irrigate the plants in the atrium and outside the building. They’ll be using recycled material that looks like slate but is made of old tires, as well as “glengarry” bricks that are made within 500 miles from here. The front will be all masonry and glass. The units will be 4 bedroom/4 bath, and 4 bedroom/2 bath units. The 5-story atrium will also serve as a “clubhouse” of sorts for the students residing there. There will be study areas scattered throughout. There will be 2 laundry rooms on each floor. The current plan is to have one flat rate for utilities instead of individual meters in each apartment. The atrium will be 50 feet wide, with glass at either end. There will be trees and other plants inside. The building will be fully accessible to the handicapped. The owner is looking to hire a professional management company that specializes in student housing, such as Capstone. This is the type of project recommended by the City’s sector plan. Several people in attendance asked about the parking situation and expressed worry that, as is true for University View, some of the residents will park their cars in Old Berwyn and in Lakeland. The tenants will be charged for parking. The developer will be contributing money toward a bridge that will cross Paint Branch behind the building and to the Army Corps of Engineers which is redoing the entire Paint Branch stream. The mayor, who was in attendance, said that parking is on the City’s mind and said that the University is stepping up more – they’re supplying their lots as overflow. All construction traffic will enter the property via Route 1. In the developer’s past projects, they have made sure to not block traffic during rush hours.
3. Agenda Item 3. BDCA Officer Reports. Jerry Anzulovic reported that on April 24th at 7pm at the library on Adelphi Road in Hyattsville would be a presentation on the Lakeland Community Heritage Project. The Mayor asked to speak. He said that the City is doubling its budget, which means a “small” tax increase. He discussed the increased police force. The police will answer to P.G. County, but when they are working for us hourly, they will go where the City asks them to. North College Park makes the highest number of calls to the police. Even though crime may seem high in College Park, it’s low compared to elsewhere in P.G. County. We’re still getting significant attention from Major Davis. The City Council spent only 6 ½ hours going over the proposed budget and approving it. They didn’t change the original proposed budget by more than $15,000. The City has stepped up code enforcement, which some citizens are discovering is a “double-edged sword,” as they are getting “caught” doing things they didn’t realize were against code. There’s a proposal to open up the sector plan to neighboring communities. The Mayor would like to annex “South Farm.” The Shuttle may open up to non-students. Regarding University View – they have a plan to use the old bank property to give them additional space for parking. One Berwyner asked if maybe we’re using too many police resources going after people who run stop signs and other traffic violations instead of going after the real criminals. Some disagreed with this statement, saying that enforcing traffic rules is important too. The Mayor and the City Council are still interested in placing more cameras in College Park. You can do it in such a way to create “choke points,” where there are cameras strategically placed so that virtually every car that’s passing through College Park is caught on a camera somewhere or other.
4. Agenda Item 5. Council Member Reports. Jack Perry said that a new house is being built on 48th. We fought the subdivision of lots on Pontiac, but we’re going to have another house there. Jack would like to see a letter from BDCA to certain landlords, asking the landlord if he or she would like to have their own house in their neighborhood (given the poor upkeep of some of these houses). We need a volunteer to take charge of Berwyn Day this year. Berwyn Day will take place on the first Saturday after Labor Day. We will soon be able to pay BDCA dues online, using PayPal. The Board, at their recent meeting, looked at their fixed expenses and there is some talk of raising the dues. The community garden idea fell about due to objections raised by residents on Patuxent Avenue. Bob Catlin reported that a pedestrian crossing at the end of the bike trail at Paint Branch Parkway is currently being worked on. The City Council is looking at construction financing for the parking garage. One bank offered a loan at 2.5 percent.
5. Chief of Branchville Fire and Rescue. The chief said that calls for service have gone through the roof – 4,000 calls per year. He feels that over time his firehouse has become disconnected from the community and wants to change that. He lives on 48th Avenue. They do two door-to-door fundraising efforts per year in the neighborhood.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 pm.

Meeting Attendees:

Jerry Anzulovic Charles Bailey Margot Bauman Steve Brayman

Bob Catlin

Monroe Dennis

Jack Perry

Harry Pitt

Forrest Tyler

Sandy Tyler

(plus others who did not sign in)

Liesl Koch, Recording Secretary, BDCA.