I hope you all enjoyed your weekend! Dave and I went to Pittsburgh, so unfortunately I missed the Martin Luther King celebration on Saturday, but I hope some of you were able to make it!
We’re back to our regular 8 pm worksession time tomorrow night, although we still have a pretty full agenda. Here’s what we’ll be discussing:
1. PROPOSED CONSENT AGENDA – we have two items up tomorrow night which shouldn’t need any discussion: 1) Approval of a policy for rental of city holidays on Sundays and holidays. The City has established rental policies allowing residents to rent the Parish House and Davis Hall on weekdays and Saturdays, for a certain cost, and for some organizations to rent them for free. Unfortunately, on Sundays and holidays, there are not always people available to open up the buildings and ensure that renters take proper care of the property and that there are no security concerns. Therefore, staff has proposed that the Council set a policy that the Old Parish House will only be available on Sundays and holidays when the caretaker of the Parish House is available to open the building, and that Davis Hall will not be available for rentals on Sundays and holidays. 2) Change of responsible person for the liquor license for the University of Maryland University Center. The Inn and Conference Center at UMUC is currently under the stewardship of Jean Bielefeldt, the University’s Associate Vice-President of Human Resources, to Mary Harmon, Assistant Provost of Administration and Finance.
2. REVIEW OF DETAILED SITE PLAN FOR DOMAIN COLLEGE PARK, ANNEXATION AGREEMENT FOR PROPERTY, AND AMENDMENT TO DECLARATION OF COVENANTS AND AGREEMENT REGARDING LAND USE. The Council has discussed this proposed development, a proposed market-rate rental housing and retail development on the corner of Mowatt Lane and Campus Drive, for the past couple of weeks. The Council worked out an agreement with the developer to reduce the amount of money the developer would put toward a bike-share station on the property, and will now be requiring a $31,000 investment into a 4-bike, 7-dock bike-share station, which the developer has agreed to. The staff has now, however, asked that the Council review a set of proposed amendments to the Declaration of Covenants, a set of terms that the developer has agreed to in order to receive the City’s support for the project. These amendments would require that the developer take certain steps to help ensure that the project is designed for professional and graduate-student housing instead of undergraduate student housing, such as ensuring that the units are mostly one-bedroom, ensuring that the developer rents the apartments out as whole apartments instead of renting out beds, and enforcing an occupancy limit of no more than two adults per bedroom. The amendments also ensure that the public has access to one of the recreational facilities that the developer will be providing, and ensure that, if the developer sells the property to a non-taxable entity (such as the University itself), the developer must ensure that the new owner makes a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) to the City in perpetuity. I believe the developer is agreeable to these conditions, and I feel that the conditions make sense to help ensure that the development is, as promised, a high-quality development marketed to young professionals and graduate students.
3. REVIEW OF DETAILED SITE PLAN FOR THE CHINESE BIBLE CHURCH. The Chinese Bible Church, located off Autoville Drive about 500 feet south of Chery Hill Drive, just northwest of the Mazza development, has long had an expansion in the works. This expansion would not increase the size of the sanctuary or increase the number of people in attendance at the church, but it would allow the Church to increase its classroom, office space, and parking spaces. The expansion has a long and complicated history. The City Council has already reviewed the proposed detailed site plan for the project, but the County erroneously told the Church that it could withdraw its detailed site plan because it wasn’t part of the Route 1 sector plan, so it withdrew the DSP. Unfortunately, the Church did have to submit a DSP, because it was part of a sector plan at the time when it initially submitted the DSP – so the County now has to review the DSP. The Church has been working closely with Autoville and Cherry Hill residents in developing a quality addition, addressing environmental concerns, and taking care of the needs of neighboring residents. Therefore, the City only has a few minor concerns about the project, mostly relating to enclosing a new dumpster at the church, adding new plantings to buffer the parking lot, and making minor changes to the architecture. Hopefully we can reach an agreement with the Church so that the Church can move forward without any difficulty.
4. REVIEW OF PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO 10-O-09, DEFINITION OF PROHIBITED VEHICLES. I sent an e-mail about this earlier this evening – this relates to the City’s prohibitions on parking commercial vehicles overnight on residential streets. The code currently prohibits the following vehicles from being parked overnight on City streets:
–any vehicle exceeding 21 feet in length or six feet in width that is used for commercial purposes;
–any vehicle exceeding a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight specification of 8,500 pounds;
–vehicles containing advertising other than a firm name or similar designation less than 4 inches high;
–vehicles exceeding 300 cubic feet of load space; and
–any stake platform trucks, dump trucks, crane or tow trucks, or vehicles with dual rear wheels.
We’re now considering how to tweak these rules, given that some residents have received citation notices for vehicles that they need to drive back and forth to work every day and that they have used for years without citation. The current proposal on the table is to keep all the restrictions mentioned above, but to lift the restriction on commercial lettering. Please let me know if you have any input or questions on this.
5. ANNUAL LIQUOR LICENSE RENEWALS. Every year, the City reviews the activity of all liquor license holders in the City to see if they’ve maintained compliance with the liquor laws (that is, not gotten cited for violations of the underage drinking laws, the noise ordinances, etc.) to determine if we should challenge renewal of the license. In the past, the City Council has objected to renewal of some liquor licenses, such as the Terrapin Station due to its violation of underage drinking laws, and College Perk due to its refusal to allow inspection of the property by code inspectors. This year, there seems to be little reason to challenge any of the liquor license holders – the biggest problem was the Thirsty Turtle, which is now closed. None of the liquor license holders have ongoing code violations – some faced minor code citations, but they were corrected. Only Alario’s has an ongoing problem regarding a violation of the requirement that the liquor license holder reside in the County – and the Board of Licensing Commissioners is currently investigating this issue. Another problem is that V.F.W. Post 5627 does not have its required Health Department Permit – I do have some questions about this and whether the V.F.W. Post has worked to come into compliance. Otherwise, I see no reason to challenge any of the current liquor licenses.
6. FY 2012 BUDGET GUIDANCE. We have received preliminary numbers for the FY 2012 budget and a proposed budget calendar. We are still awaiting the assessment summary for some of the City’s reassessed properties, but some of the money lost through decreased assessments will be made up by the new residential properties coming online (such as the Varsity and Starview Plaza properties). We will also be getting some money from the Ledo Restaurant Lease. All together, staff currently predicts additional revenue of about $350,000. The City Manager has proposed limiting increased expenditures to 1% of their current amount. There will be no Cost of Living Adjustment for employees in FY 2012, but we will have to start paying off the debt for the new parking garage.
City Council wish lists and other budget requests will need to be in by February 11. Due to the minimal increased expenditure, I will limit my wish list requests this year. One thing I would like the staff to look into, though, is a possible grants manager for the City. I believe that this is a position that could pay for itself and help us take advantage of grant opportunities to improve our stormwater management as a City or, like the cities of Bowie and University Park are doing, to offer residents low-cost ways to make their homes more energy-efficient. I would like the staff to see if there is money available in our budget for such a position.
The City Manager’s draft budget will be available online and distributed to Mayor and Council on Thursday, March 31, and there will be two budget worksessions on Saturday, April 9 and Saturday, April 16, both at 7:30 am. The budget ordinance will be introduced on Tuesday, April 26, and the public hearing will be held Tuesday, May 10, for the budget to be adopted on Tuesday, May 24. Please let me know if you have any questions.
7. APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS TO THE REDISTRICTING COMMISSION. Once the final numbers are available from the Census Bureau, the City will be redistricting Councilmember districts for the 2011 municipal election. A redistricting commission will be developing three redistricting proposals for the Council to consider. Councilmember Nagle and I have asked, respectively, north College Park residents Tim Miller and John Krouse to participate in this commission. Thank you to Tim and John for their service!
8. APPOINTMENTS TO BOARDS AND COMMITTEES. There are vacancies available for District 1 residents on the following boards and committees – the Airport Authority, the Animal Control Board, the Animal Welfare Committee, the Cable Television Commission, the Committee for a Better Environment, the Education Advisory Committee, and the Veterans Memorial Improvement Committee. Please let me know if you’re interested or if you have any questions about any of these.
Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.