Thanks to those of you who were able to come to the town hall meeting about the FY 2012 Action Plan and budget on Saturday. Because the budget wasn’t released yet, we’re looking at doing another town hall meeting to discuss the budget on Saturday, April 30. More to follow on that.
We have a brief Council meeting tomorrow night. We’re starting the night at 7:30 with a PUBLIC HEARING ON 11-O-02 – AN ORDINANCE TO PROHIBIT THE LOCATION OR USE OF FURNITURE ON A ROOF. First up, we have a public hearing on the proposed ordinance to prohibit placing furniture on the roof of a house, except on an approved porch or deck. This has been a significant problem in Old Town and other student-heavy areas in the City, and creates a safety hazard. The fines would be $200 for the first offense, and $400 thereafter. Please let me know if you have testimony you would like to submit for the written record and aren’t able to come tomorrow night.
The following items are on the agenda for the official meeting:
1. INTRODUCTION OF PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY POLICE DISTRICT 1 COMMAND STAFF. As I’ve noted in past e-mails, there are new leaders in District 1 of the Prince George’s County Police Department, including new District 1 commander Hector Velez. Many of you were able to meet Major Velez at the NCPCA meeting a couple weeks ago. I’m optimistic about his capabilities and hope that he and his leadership team will be able to improve relations with the community and help prevent problems like the crime wave that we had last month.
2. APPRECIATION TO CITY COUNCIL FROM PARKDALE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. A group of Parkdale High School students will come tomorrow night to express their appreciation to the Council. I believe this is for a grant the Council recently gave to support security cameras around the school. The cameras are intended to prevent truancy and crime immediately around the school.
3. ADOPTION OF ORDINANCE 11-O-02, TO PROHIBIT THE LOCATION OR USE OF FURNITURE ON A ROOF. The Council will consider and vote on the ordinance that will be discussed during the public hearing tomorrow night.
4. APPROVAL OF FINAL DESIGN FOR SUNNYSIDE SKATE PARK AND AUTHORIZATION FOR THE CITY MANAGER TO NEGOTIATE AMENDMENTS TO AGREEMENT WITH MNCPPC. After an interesting discussion with the design committee members and with members of the skating community last week about some features of the design of the Skate Spot in Sunnyside Park, I believe the City is ready to move ahead. The conversation last week centered around the size of the bowl in the park. Some older and more experienced skaters were asking the City to install a deeper bowl, which it seemed that they thought would provide a better feature for more experienced skaters. The design committee, for the most part, supported a shallower bowl (four feet), which they felt would attract more beginning skaters and would be more safe for the community and easier to maintain. I support the committee’s recommendations – the park is meant to be for the neighborhood, and I think that having a more advanced skate park would attract more people from outside the City. Because the park is fairly small, there isn’t much parking, and the park will be unstaffed, there isn’t much capacity to accommodate a lot of people there. In fact, most of the skaters who came last week to support the deeper bowl do not live in the community. I believe we will be able to approve the design tomorrow and move forward.
5. RESOLUTION TO AMEND THE HOMEOWNERSHIP GRANT PROGRAM (“NEW NEIGHBORS PROGRAM”) TO AUTHORIZE CAREER FIREFIGHTERS AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIANS WHO WORK IN PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY TO QUALIFY FOR THE GRANT, AND TO EXPAND THE PROPERTIES TO WHICH THE GRANT APPLIES TO SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENCES AND CONDOMINIUM UNITS THAT ARE IN FORECLOSURE OR SHORT SALE STATUS. The New Neighbors program provides $5,000 grants for people who purchase homes that were previously rented for at least two years. Grants are also available for city employees and police officers who move to College Park. Only one grant was awarded in FY 2010, and no grants have been awarded so far in FY 2011. The Council will be considering expanding eligibility to people who purchase foreclosed homes or homes purchased by banks through short sales. Also, based on a suggestion from a resident last week, I suggested that we expand eligibility to potential homeowners who work as full-time EMT’s or career firefighters. The purpose of this was to attract more public safety professionals (in addition to police officers) who will live and work within College Park. I believe this will expand use of this program and help us to reduce the number of vacant houses in the City.
6. LETTER TO THE BOARD OF LICENSE COMMISSIONERS REGARDING THE REVOCATION/FORFEITURE OF THE LIQUOR LICENSE FOR THE THIRSTY TURTLE. Alan Wanuck, owner of the Thirsty Turtle, decided not to appeal the revocation of his liquor license and to turn in the liquor license to County authorities. Because the Board of Licensing Commissioners decided to revoke his license and he did not appeal the decision, the outcome stands on his record as a forfeiture. Mr. Wanuck, apparently realizing the long-term consequences of having this on his record, has requested that the BOLC amend this to indicate that he relinquished the license – presumably so that he could open another establishment down the road. Although I sympathize with Mr. Wanuck’s concerns, as the record stands before us, there was every reason to revoke his license – considerable evidence suggested that Mr. Wanuck was blatantly allowing underage drinkers into the Thirsty Turtle. When the City Council was first considering its position on this matter, we invited Mr. Wanuck to defend himself, and he decided not to show up. Given that we already have taken a position supporting revocation of the license, I don’t think that we should now stand silent as he attempts to change the record on this matter, as he is requesting. If Mr. Wanuck was capable of once opening a bar that created safety concerns for our community, I believe he could easily do it again. The Council will be considering sending a letter to the BOLC opposing Mr. Wanuck’s application to change the outcome of his liquor license battles from a revocation to a forfeiture, and I intend to support the letter.
7. INTRODUCTION OF ORDINANCE 11-O-04 TO PROHIBIT THE SPREAD OF BAMBOO ONTO ADJOINING PROPERTIES. This Ordinance, which would prohibit residents from allowing bamboo to spread onto neighboring properties without their permission, is up for introduction tomorrow night. As I said last week, this ordinance only really requires people to be good neighbors to each other and be mindful when planting bamboo – it would only be enforced if a neighbor complains about it, and a resident can easily address the problem by putting in barriers to prevent their bamboo from spreading into neighboring yards. If a resident doesn’t address the problem, the City can step in and give the person a citation and a fine unless they put in a barrier. This will be up for a public hearing on April 12, 2011, at 7:45 pm.
8. APPOINTMENTS TO BOARDS AND COMMITTEES. Thanks to Winston Hazard, who’s up for reappointment tomorrow night on the Veterans Memorial Improvement Committee.
As always, thanks for reading, and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about any item we’ll be discussing!