Berwyn District Civic Association

Thursday, September 16, 2004


The meeting was called to order by Tim Triplett at 8:05 PM.  Also present officers and board members Jerry Anzulovich, Andrea Carpentieri, Al Cutino, Doug Hunter, Harry Pitt, Kevin Young, and Sandy Tyler.


I.                     Presentation from the Berwyn House Project

1.       Michelle Oraco, John Wallenstrom, and David Dranville presented details for the revision and expansion of Berwyn House Apartments.  Ms. Oraco is the attorney for the project; Mr. Wallenstrom and Mr. Dranville are from the architecture firm.  A site plan for the additions and renovations has been filed with Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPP;) the project will be presented before the City Council in October, and to the Planning Board at the end of October. 

2.       Current building:

                                                             a.      Berwyn House is a 40 year old property; mostly student housing for the last two decades

                                                             b.      currently 72 units

                                                             c.      except for one unit, all current tenants are students.

                                                             d.      rent 500-600 per bedroom.  Might be higher post-renovation.

3.       Site Plans:

                                                             a.      developers are not asking for any variances / departures from the building code

                                                             b.      the current building will be renovated; new buildings to go up on current parking lot and swimming pool areas

                                                             c.      the city park on east side will remain

i.         the fence between the property and the city park on the eastern edge of the property will be kept; the current management of the property tries to keep this fence clear of vegetation

ii.       Might be some spillover lighting protection into the park; this helps keep down “nefarious activity”

                                                             d.      architecture will be the same for both the freestanding building and garage surround:

i.         all buildings will have the same facing;

ii.       there will be units on the north side of the west building (facing the Berwyn neighborhood)

4.       Planned building:

                                                             a.      improvements to the property include:

i.         fire sprinklers will be installed

ii.       west building will have an elevator

iii.      better frontage: parking moved, landscaping improved

iv.      more green space

v.        pool in front of property

vi.      clubhouse

                                                             b.      new building will have four stories (the existing building has six)

                                                             c.      there will be 132 units when renovated; population approximately 380

                                                             d.      1, 2, and 3 bedroom units, including some loft units, to bring student housing to “the next level”

i.         units will be furnished

ii.       property will have trash compactor

iii.      property will have bike lockers

                                                             e.      Noise problems: decks on existing building; noise affects the neighborhood. 

i.         No balconies will be put on the new building, but they will remain on the old building. 

5.       Parking:

                                                             a.      will meet city code for parking spaces per number of units.

                                                             b.      parking garage will be located on the west side of property (closest to Route 1); housing units will surround the garage;

i.         visually, all buildings will look like apartments: no “parking garage” appearance

                                                             c.      developers didn’t know the exact number of parking spaces, but estimated to be one parking space per room

                                                             d.      parking fee will be included with rent; hope to not allow these students to park on campus

i.         there will be a bridge over the stream on the west side of Route 1 for pedestrian access to campus

                                                             e.      Will be gated for secured areas and garage

6.       Construction time:

                                                             a.      Want to avoid taking old building out of service, but might have to for one academic year. 

                                                             b.      Do renovations at the same time as the new construction. 

                                                             c.      developers will have all permits by 2006;

i.         build garage first

ii.       should be ready for leasing in one year (academic year beginning September 2007)

7.       Marketing and Management Plans:

                                                             a.      Privately owned; will have to be a student to rent.  Marketed on campus in cooperation with the university. 

                                                             b.      Cosigners needed

                                                             c.      Management by First Worthing (a big housing owner);

                                                             d.      developers say there will be active management

i.         Will not be 24-hour on site management; meeting attendees pointed out that 10 PM – 6 AM will be the problem time; also pool needs to be secured as people will try to swim at all hours

II.                   Bill and Andy Roberts: Development of empty lots on Tecumseh Street

1.       they own 2 lots on Tecumseh, never developed; want to put up two houses, fit in architecturally with the neighborhood

2.       Filing detailed site plan with M-NCPP; sites in the DDOZ overlay district; affected by the Route 1 sector plan

3.       Housing specifics:

                                                             a.      Lots are 5000 and 6000 square feet

                                                             b.      2300 square foot houses, basement, two stories, front porches, optional garage in back of lot; single driveway with turnaround deck

                                                             c.      4 BR each house on second floor; bedrooms approximately 12x12 to 12x14

                                                             d.      Might make a master bathroom

4.       the Roberts’ will construct, market, and sell

                                                             a.      they plan to preserve the mature trees on the site

                                                             b.      provide off-street parking

5.       Will not affect the unimproved alley

III.                  Report from treasurer: Al Cutino

1.       The Civic Association made money on Berwyn Day; Mr. Cutino distributed a financial statement for the picnic; net gain of $659.66

2.       $50 donation to be sent to Holy Redeemer Church thanking them for their support (deduction already included in report)

3.       Expenses $223 for the newsletter

4.       Balance of $763.23; this is very good

5.       Mr. Perry moved to accept the treasurer’s report; Dr. Tyler seconded; the report was accepted

IV.                Update on Neighborhood Preservation Task force: Harry Pitt

1.       Prince George’s Property Owners’ Association (PGPOA) lobbying the city

                                                             a.      they had a private meeting with Mayor Brayman;

                                                             b.      next meeting of PGPOA September 22; Senator Gianetti will attend

2.       Last Wednesday there was a roundtable meeting of civic association presidents; university kids want to side with residents

3.       Stephanie Stullich: working on forming umbrella group

4.       Bob Baca: working on letter to the Gazette

5.       Next meeting Saturday, September 25 at Holy Redeemer; reporter from the Gazette may attend

6.       Comments from attendees:

                                                             a.      Renters as potential allies

                                                             b.      U-MD has some responsibility for situation: not building housing

                                                             c.      Do landlords lobby the university to not build housing?

                                                             d.      What pressure is the state legislature providing to the U-MD?

V.                  President’s update: Tim Triplett

1.       Berwyn Day report:

                                                             a.      Review Berwyn Day checklist at next Board Meeting;

                                                             b.      Washington Post may provide grants in the future;

                                                             c.      Suggestion box: someone wrote that litter fines for College Park be brought up to the level of the county fines.

                                                             d.      Thank you letters will be sent to those who gave donations at Berwyn Day.

2.       Upcoming activities:

                                                             a.      Bonfire will be held October 23; more details will be forthcoming after the next Board Meeting

                                                             b.      Web site will soon be live; including tips on searching for housing; will give the neighborhood a positive spin; will be linked to City website in October; Tim looking for volunteers who can add an artistic spin to the web site

                                                             c.      Directory of citizens underway; there will be an advertisement in the Berwyn News to fill out form in October

                                                             d.      Bring any and all suggestions for new activities to Mr. Triplett

3.       Volunteers needed:

                                                             a.      to attend upcoming city meetings:

i.         September 22 to discuss downtown parking garage;

ii.       September 29 to discuss Public Safety Master Plan; Mr. Anzulovic will attend both and report back to the BDCA

                                                             b.      to do annual inspection of the outer perimeter of the Post property; this will be done later this autumn 

                                                             c.      to participate in Graffiti Defeati (painting over graffiti in the neighborhood) as necessary

                                                             d.      Amy Kappel interested in putting together a committee to welcome new residents

4.       Neighborhood watch: needs new block captains; Janeen Miller will e-mail information

VI.                City Council members’ reports

1.       Jack Perry:

                                                             a.      Brought information packet sent to each new homeowner and landlord

                                                             b.      There has been a giant increase in the rat population in College Park.  Emerging legislation regarding rat bait placed by dumpsters; motion tabled; city charter to be revamped regarding rodents, Northern Virginia statutes to be used as an example;

                                                             c.      the city is making progress in the City Manager hiring process; will interview the top five candidates the week of September 20. 

                                                             d.      west side of Berwyn-Lakeland bike path reviewed by city forester Dr. John Lee Cox.  

i.         Invasive plants; want to make this more presentable;

ii.       will need volunteers to help pull plants; schedule community “weed-out”;

iii.      replace with azaleas etc to improve looks.

                                                             e.      Route 1 plan has finally reached agreement by the City and State; agreement has also been reached on Branch Avenue plans.

2.       Robert Catlin:

                                                             a.      Mr. Vogel and condominium project by Taco Bell: plans have been pulled, financers concerned about the scale of the project

                                                             b.      Want to eventually put up two buildings; concerned that the space may not work

                                                             c.      Bike path to Lake Artemesia: area under the railroad tracks has been built up to help prevent flooding

                                                             d.      Homestead Tax Credit Act – can more tax be charged for rentals; or a tax differential otherwise obtained so thet rental properties pay more in tax fees than owner-occupied.  State law caps increase at 10% per year.

                                                             e.      Rent control ideas: concerns with lawsuits;

i.         candidates are being interviewed to provide a housing study regarding rent caps; these individuals will also serve as expert witnesses as needed.

ii.       It is hoped that the study will be completed by February.



Andrea Carpentieri, Recording Secretary, BDCA