We had our first of two budget worksessions on Tuesday, and got through the finance and administration, public works and engineering sections of the budget. This upcoming Saturday, we’ll be talking about Youth, Family and Senior Services, Economic Development and Planning, and Public Services. Please let me know if you have any questions as our discussions move forward.
This Tuesday, we have a public hearing at 7:45 followed by what I predict will be a relatively short meeting. Here’s what’s on the agenda:
1. PUBLIC HEARING ON ORDINANCE AMENDING CITY HOUSING REGULATIONS TO PROHIBIT THE SPREAD OF BAMBOO ONTO ADJOINING PROPERTIES. This Ordinance would require that residents who decide to grow bamboo on their property maintain it and prevent it from spreading onto neighboring properties without their permission. This ordinance only 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. I brought this up after a couple residents complained about neighbors who were growing bamboo and not cutting it back, so that it would spread to a neighbor’s property and require that the neighbor cut it back. The City doesn’t currently have any tools to address this problem with the resident growing bamboo, but this would hopefully fix that.
2. PROCLAMATION FOR ARBOR DAY. The Council will issue a proclamation recognizing Arbor Day, which is on Saturday, April 23. For a number of years, College Park has received recognition as a Tree City USA due to the City’s efforts to preserve and maintain its woodlands.
3. ANNUAL REPORT BY COLLEGE PARK ARTS EXCHANGE. The College Park Arts Exchange is one of three organizations – including the Boys & Girls Club and Meals on Wheels – that receives a direct grant from the City. The City instituted a requirement last year that direct grantees make an annual report and submit a budget every year to the Council. The Arts Exchange submitted their annual report and will be coming to the Council meeting Tuesday night to answer questions. The Arts Exchange provides a variety of different activities and entertainment around the City of College Park, including after-school arts programs at the Youth and Family Services buildings, choirs and music for children and youth, and different diverse musical performances for adults. You can check out what they do and sign up for their mailing list at cpae.org.
4. CONSENT AGENDA – There are three items on the consent agenda:
1. APPROVAL OF USE OF DUVALL FIELD BY THE BOYS & GIRLS CLUB FOR BOYS LACROSSE HOME GAMES SUNDAYS IN APRIL AND MAY. The Boys & Girls Club got approval to use the baseball diamonds on weekends, but not the fields for the Sunday home Lacrosse games. This would grant them permission.
2. CHANGE IN EFFECTIVE DATE OF EXPANSION OF HOMEOWNERSHIP GRANT PROGRAM. At the last Council meeting, the Council approved an expansion of the City’s Homeownership Grant program to allow career firefighters and EMT’s to take advantage of it, as well as people who purchase foreclosed and vacant properties. The amendment was to become effective in July with the start of our new fiscal year, but the staff has proposed making it effective immediately.
3. AMENDMENT TO THE CHARGE TO THE REDISTRICTING COMMISSION TO ALLOW IT TO CONSIDER RESIDENTS OF STRUCTURES BUILT OR ANNEXED INTO THE CITY SINCE THE CENSUS. A few years ago, the City Council amended the Charter regarding redistricting to allow the redistricting commission to consider residents erroneously omitted from the Census and to consider residents of housing structures built or annexed into the City after the census count was completed. The City Code was not changed to reflect this amendment to the Charter, and the charge to the redistricting commission did not reflect this. This amendment will fix that oversight and formally make the redistricting commission’s charge consistent with the City Charter as amended.
5. ORDINANCE AMENDING CITY HOUSING REGULATIONS TO PROHIBIT ALLOWING THE SPREAD OF BAMBOO ONTO ADJOINING PROPERTIES. The Council will vote on the ordinance discussed above.
6. FY 2011 PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION GRANTS. The City put in its budget this year $10,000 for grants to local schools. These are meant to be divided between the two public schools that are in the boundaries of the City – Hollywood Elementary School and Paint Branch Elementary School (although in past years the City gave away $15,000, and divided the remaining $5,000 between other schools that serve College Park students and applied). Hollywood submitted a grant request for a collaborative planning for teachers program – this program would allow the school to hire substitute teachers to allow teachers to engage in collaborative planning. Paint Branch submitted a grant request to help support its annual trip for students to China. The City’s Education Advisory Commission unanimously recommended approving the grant requests.
7. FY 2011 FIRE DEPARTMENT CAPITAL EQUIPMENT GRANTS. The City’s fire department grants are non-competitive grants of $10,000 each to the three volunteer fire departments (VFD’s) that serve College Park as first responders – Branchville VFD, College Park VFD, and Berwyn Heights VFD. College Park VFD is requesting $10,000 to apply to debt service on the 2010 custom ambulance it purchased, with a $37,000 annual payment. It will raise funds through fundraisers and other grants to pay for the rest. The Branchville VFD requested $10,000 to help pay for a new ambulance to replace the 2002 Ford ambulance it has, which is no longer in good shape. The total cost is approximately $175,000, and the fire department will engage in fundraising and obtain other grants to pay for the rest. Berwyn Heights VFD has requested $10,000 to apply for the debt service on a 2010 ladder track, which the department purchased to service the high-rise apartment buildings along US 1. The annual debt service for this truck is $42,000, and the department is engaging in fundraising and applying for other grants to pay for the rest.
8. TRANSFER OF LIQUOR LICENSE FOR APPLEBEE’S FROM THE CORPORATE ENTITY TO THE FRANCHISEE. The owner of the Applebee’s franchise on Route 1 in downtown College Park has requested that the City support its request to transfer stewardship of the restaurant’s liquor license from the corporate entity to the franchisee. Although the City already has a property use agreement in place, which requires the restaurant to meet a 35%:65% alcohol to food sales ratio, we want to set up a new one for the new license holder. The franchisee is willing to agree to all the same terms, but has asked that we allow it to have happy hour deals at night and allow it to sell pitchers. I don’t have any particular concerns about this, since the restaurant has never had any noise violations or underage drinking violations.
9. LETTER TO PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY PLANNING BOARD RE: BOUNDARIES OF GREENBELT METRO AREA SECTOR PLAN AND SECTIONAL MAP AMENDMENT. As has been discussed a lot on this list already, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) is initiating a new Sector Plan for most of the City of Greenbelt and the commercial districts along Route 193, including the Greenbelt Metro Station developments. The planning areas have been changed from the 2001 plan to exclude all of North College Park and to include areas east of Kenilworth Avenue. The 18-month plan is set to begin in May 2011, with a draft plan to be released to the public in February 2012. On March 31, 2011, the City held a meeting with North College Park residents to discuss the proposed boundaries of the plan and the role that the City would play. Residents expressed a desire to be deeply involved with the development of the plan, but to avoid having any part of North College Park be within the boundaries of the plan, so that no change in zoning would happen in north College Park. Residents expressed a strong desire to ensure that the development in the Greenbelt Metro area would not have any negative impact on the residential neighborhoods in North College Park, and that the wooded areas and the creeks in the development would be preserved. The City staff worked with me and Councilmember Nagle to draft a letter to that effect to send to the Planning Board. The draft of the letter is below.
10. RESOLUTION TO ESTABLISH A NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH STEERING COMMITTEE. The City is currently in the process of appointing new leadership for the Neighborhood Watch program, in order to expand the program city-wide and enhance its presence in our neighborhoods. The Council appointed a subcommittee, including myself and Councilmembers Nagle, Afzali and Mitchell, in order to put this together. We decided to work to expand the Neighborhood Watch program city-wide by establishing a Neighborhood Watch steering committee, with three appointees to work with City staff and the police and to help develop and direct the program. We will be considering a resolution to do this, and considering appointments of three residents – Robert Boone, Aaron Bourne, and Zari Malsawma – to take over this work.
11. ORDINANCE REGARDING ELECTION PRACTICES. On Tuesday, the Council will be introducing an ordinance to address a couple concerns about election practices in preparation for the 2011 elections. In order to address concerns regarding ethical practices involving robocalls and display of City signs, the Council will be considering an ordinance that would: would do the following: 1) require that anyone who disseminates campaign material by e-mail or social media comply with the notice requirements or link to a website that gives the required information, 2) require that anyone who campaigns with pre-recorded phone calls state the identity of the individual or entity that initiated the call, including a telephone number or address of that individual or entity; and 3) require that political signs in the City right-of-way not be posted more than 45 days before the election, and be removed within 48 hours after the election is over. There will be a public hearing on this ordinance on Tuesday, May 10 at 7:45 pm.
12. APPOINTMENTS TO BOARDS AND COMMITTEES. The Council will consider the three appointments mentioned above for the Neighborhood Watch steering committee, and will also be considering reappointments of Mayor Fellows and former Mayor Steve Brayman to the College Park City-University Partnership as Class B (City) appointments, as well as changing the expiration date of Richard Wagner’s term to the CPCUP to January 2013.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about any of these items!
April 6, 2011
Mr. Samuel J. Parker Jr., AICP
Prince George’s County Planning Board
14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772
Re: Greenbelt Metro Area and MD193 Corridor Sector Plan and Sectional Map Amendment
Dear Mr. Parker:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed boundaries of the Greenbelt Metro Area and MD 193 Corridor Sector Plan. These boundaries have been changed from the boundaries of the 2001 Greenbelt Metro Area Sector Plan to exclude any portion of the City of College Park. For the past several weeks, there have been discussions among city residents, staff and the City Council about the implications of this change to the planning area boundary. The North College Park neighborhoods, in particular, are impacted by transit-oriented development at the Greenbelt Metro Station. North College Park residents were involved stakeholders in previous planning efforts and development proposals for this area. Many of the residents of these neighborhoods and the City of College Park would like to be active participants in the planning process regardless of where the plan boundaries are drawn. The City of College Park is not asking that the boundary be expanded to North College Park but is requesting an equal place at the table during the development and drafting of the new Sector Plan.
In general, the concepts and policies for North College Park and the Core Area contained in the 2001 sector plan are acceptable to the community. These include the following: retaining the existing low density residential character in North College Park; preserving the environmental envelope including the state-owned property as open space; minimizing stormwater-related problems due to new development; and utilizing a height transition zone to a maximum of 12 stories in the north core of Greenbelt Station. We would like to see these ideas maintained as key principles as the new Sector Plan is drafted.
A stated purpose of the proposed plan is to address connectivity issues and “complete” streets with a focus on the Greenbelt Road/MD193 corridor. A portion of this corridor lies within College Park and should be studied as part of the planning process as it serves as a gateway between College Park and Greenbelt. The city requests that the plan boundary be extended to include the MD 193 right-of-way between Rhode Island Avenue and the railway tracks and the Greenbelt Road right-of-way between the railway tracks and US Route 1. This area is in great need of enhanced streetscapes and improvements for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles and should be addressed as part of the planning context.
The City Council appreciates your consideration of this request and also asks that city staff be included in planning staff team meetings when issues relative to Greenbelt Station and corridor streetscapes are under discussion.