Berwyn District Civic
Thursday, January 20,
Agenda Item 1. Roll call for officers
- The meeting was called to order by Tim Triplett at
8:00 PM. Also present were
officers and board members Jerry Anzulovic, Andrea Carpentieri, Al Cutino,
and Kevin Young.
Agenda Item 2. Minutes from last
- The minutes from the meeting on November 18, 2004
were posted on the web site. There
were no amendments. Mr. Triplett
motioned that the minutes be accepted, Mr. Young seconded; there was no
one opposed. The minutes were
accepted into the official record.
Agenda Item 3. Presentation:
Starview Plaza development plans
- Michelle LaRocca brought a presentation regarding
the proposed Starview Plaza on Route 1.
Her presentation was not a site plan, but a proposal for the
subdivision only; she will be back to the BDCA in the future.
- Route 1 sector plan: Maryland National Capitol
Park and Planning (MNCPP) and the City have planned for the redevelopment
of the Route 1 corridor; the sector plan was approved several years
ago. The plan calls for buildings
close to the street, occupied by mixed-use development, with shared
- The site: The property covers the sites of the old
Starlight Inn, Terrapin Taco House, and the old gray house which was
adjacent to the Starlight. The
City and Star Hotels have agreed to develop the property jointly. The property covers more than 5000
square feet, and needs to be re-subdivided.
- There was a hearing this morning to consolidate
the parcels into one, and to approve the preliminary plan. This was approved with the caveat that
the stream needs to be stabilized and contained. A detailed site plan for the
development will be filed once the City and Star Hotels agree on it. This
plan will contain architectural drawings, materials to be used in
construction, landscaping, and detailed engineering. This will require at least a
year. MNCPP was very positive
about the initial proposal, and the City voted to support the plan with
revisions. The developers have
two years to come up with a plan and get a plat recorded with the
county. If the plan is filed by
late spring, approvals may be obtained by the fall; development might
begin in Spring of 2006.
- Stream history: in the 1950’s when environmental
regulations were not the same as today, excess dirt was dumped in the
stream bed. This fill is now
falling into the Paint Branch stream and causing the stream to change its
course. The Army Corps of Engineers
(COE) did a study of how to stabilize the stream banks; structural engineers
are to work with the COE to complete the work. State, local, and soil conservation authorities have to
meet to look at the studies; Michelle needs to encourage them to get
together for this meeting so that work can progress.
- The proposed building will be nine stories, with
retail and office space on the first floor. Upper floors will be housing tied to the University, and
maybe a hotel or extended-stay hotel (for people visiting the area for a
length of time longer than a hotel stay but shorter than the time needed
for renting an apartment.) There
will be parking under the building, and around the sides of the building
for the retail establishments.
The current plan shows two driveways to Route 1 (currently, there
are six for these properties) and a proposal for a median strip, which
will force people to make planned turns.
This will serve the traffic, but also consolidate entrances,
reduce the number of driveways, and encourage use of back roads.
- From the road, the developers are hoping to place
a green strip, a sidewalk, and another green strip before any
parking. The idea is to develop
for pedestrian orientation. There
may be some parking in front, but it is preferred that the front view is
not just a parking lot.
- Update from Jack Perry regarding development in the
- In February, the City will host a meeting of
property owners, urging them to work with the COE, Department of
Environmental Resources, and the MNCPP so that this project is not held
- Traffic on Route 1 is a big concern for the city;
developers are working with the University to not allow students to get
parking permits. The
Transportation Alternatives Committee is looking for alternatives to
traffic on Route 1, such as a shuttle bus in a constant loop. Some developers include a shuttle from
their facility to metro and other primary destinations. It is hoped that the condominiums
proposed for other Route sites will appeal to residents other than
students, so that there will not be so many cars.
- Proposed projects include 500 apartment units near
IKEA; development of the property next to the Lasicks site; apartments at
Cherokee street; additions to Berwyn House; and of course, University
View. All of these new
developments are supposed to be pedestrian friendly.
- General discussion of pedestrian-friendly
- Can a traffic light be put at Paint Branch Parkway
where the new bike path meets the road?
Mr. Anzulovic commented that the City tried to get an island in
the middle of the road, but the county would not approve it. Traffic engineers don’t like traffic
lights controlled by pedestrians.
There is one such light on Route 1 by the fraternity houses, but
that is because that land belongs to the University, not the county.
Options: Could a pedestrian bridge be installed? As a precedent, the bridge at Prince
George’s Plaza is not well used; people still dart across the road.
Can the trail be extended along the north side of Paint Branch
Parkway to the traffic light at the Fire Training Institute?
Can the BDCA submit suggestions for traffic changes for this
- Mr. Triplett moved that the Civic Association
write a letter to Jack Johnson and the County Quality of Life Committee
regarding the pedestrian problems at Paint Branch Parkway. This motion passed.
Agenda Item 4. Special topic: suggestions for improving
Berwyn Community Park
- Mr. Triplett opened the discussion by reminding us
that the park is a county park.
The BDCA needs to be mindful that if we request changes, all the
equipment that is there now might be removed, including the very popular
tall slide and roller slide. Mr.
Triplett opened the floor to suggestions:
- Mr. Anzulovic commented that our park is unique in
that the equipment falls apart when it wears out; it is not
vandalized. Our park is also
unusual in that we have a pagoda, tennis court, and basketball all in one
park. He suggests that we ask the
MNCPP for equipment we would like to see in the park. If we ask for specific, reasonable
equipment, we could very well get it.
The city is responsible for putting in the equipment, and the MNCPP
we want equipment for very young kids (up to age 2?)
we come up with a source of funding, or obtain grants?
we provide dog waste bags? More
- After a fairly detailed general discussion, the
BDCA Park Committee was formed to look at this issue. Becky Widman, Mark and Tracy Seaton,
and Kris Moss will get together and come up with some suggestions and
plans. Ms. Widman will chair the
subcommittee; her contact information will be in the next Berwyn
News. Suggestions can be sent to
- Once suggestions are finalized, letters will be
sent to MNCPP on BDCA stationery, one issue per letter, with multiple
letters to be sent.
- Bob Baca commented that the old trees in the park
present a safety concern, as some of the trees are old, with holes in the
trunks, and branches can fall. In the past, the BDCA has gotten the
forester to come to the park to evaluate and prune the trees as
necessary, and plant new trees.
Agenda Item 5: Treasurer update
Cutino presented the following update:
$160 in dues, $395 in advertisements, $250 in donations
$126 for the holiday party
$1022.71, minus the outstanding bill for the newsletter.
Agenda Item 6: Committee updates
Neighborhood Preservation Coalition (NPC) update was presented by Mr.
Young. While the NPC began as an
offshoot of the BDCA, there was a lot of interest from outside Berwyn; the
group formed under the NPC.
Acknowledgement of the articles of incorporation have been
received; the upcoming meeting is scheduled for Saturday, January 29, 2005
at 8:00 AM.
- Ridgeway property: the court date has been set for
Wednesday, March 9, 2005 at 1:15 PM in Courtroom 3 in the Hyattsville
Courthouse. The County Department
of Environmental Resources and the Fire Marshall will attend in support
of the City. The NPC is
encouraged by this chance to improve the property lawfully.
- Old Town College Park Historic District: the
hearing scheduled for January 19 was postposed due to the weather. Mr. Young does not know the
- Mr. Kane’s lawsuit (regarding the
unconstitutionality of inspections for rental property) was dismissed in
court. This is a great
accomplishment, and was reported on the front page of the Gazette today.
- Eichberg property: A hearing date has been set for February 17,
2005, at 9:00 AM in Upper Marlboro. Mr. Eichberg wants his property on 49th Avenue
approved for a nonconforming use; to be a 2 family dwelling in single
family zone with no off-street parking.
Approval could set dangerous precedent for our community. Since there was a lot of input from
the community, a hearing was granted; but the outcome can be decided at
the discretion of the MNCPP’s planning director.
The BDCA will form a position on this use. This position will be discussed privately at
a BDCA board meeting, and a letter written.
Committee update was presented by Larry Wenzel. The committee is deciding on an information packet, estimating
how many are needed, and how often to provide it. The committee will submit a grant to
the City next week.
Committee: The bylaws are posted on the neighborhood bulletin board and
web site; citizens are invited to read them and comment. It is hoped that the bylaws will pass
next month. Bring any suggestions
or changes to the February meeting.
Agenda Item 7: Civic Association Updates
- Neighborhood directory: 65 households have returned
the directory survey. To be
included, submit your information in the form on the BDCA website, or let
us know that your household prefers not to be included.
- Activities: the BDCA Potluck dinner will be held
March 5, 2005 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM
at Holy Redeemer. Details will
follow in the next newsletter.
- Neighborhood watch e-mail list: this e-mail list
has generated interest in neighborhood cleanups and patrols. This may be discussed further at the
February meeting. Janeen Miller,
the Neighborhood Watch chair, would love to see more people get
- Berwyn yard sale:
The yard sale was successful two years ago; the BDCA may hold it
every other year, alternating with a spring cleanup day. 2005 would be a spring cleanup year;
the next yard sale would be held in 2006 unless there is sufficient
interest from the community to hold one in 2005.
- Berwyn Web site: on the web site you can provide
your e-mail address to obtain the newsletter electronically. There will be sign-ups for the NPC
e-mail, BDCA e-mail, information about meetings, and the latest copy of
- Graffiti defeati brigade: With the warmer weather
coming, this group will return to action.
Mr. Anzulovic has been the contact person for this in the
past. Neighbors are asked to
photograph the graffiti and forward it to Ms. Miller, who sends it to the
police department. County police
are interested in reviewing graffiti to look for potential gang
Agenda Item 8: College Park reports
from our council representatives
city manager search still on; it has been started anew. The City hopes to have a new manager
by the end of the spring.
location is being sought for the relocation of City Hall. Sites under consideration include the
Branchville Fire Department site, a lot behind the Cornerstone Grill, and
the old school site. The City will meet regarding this issue on January
The lot next to Burger King is owned by Mr. Vogel, who wants to build a
200 unit condominium. There is
interest in having a hotel and conference center built near Jerry’s Pizza
and the old Alario site.
Perry reminds us that public hearings are advertised in the Gazette, on
the City web site, and televised on the cable channel.
units: Rentals are now listed on the City web site. Residents can look up the owner of a
property and notify the city that that a house appears to be a rental and
needs an inspection. Providing
rental owner information on the web site is legal; the application is a
matter of public record.
City is ready to budget for next fiscal year. Citizens who have suggestions for the budget should let
Jack know; he can look at funding and suggest inclusion in budget. There will be a public hearing on
establishing a municipal police force in February. There is no agenda yet, but interested
citizens are encouraged to attend.
A police force may raise taxes by $300 per household as it is
estimated to cost $3.5 million to fund it. The last time this issue was brought up in 1993 it was
defeated 10 – 1.
Agenda Item 9: New Business
- Traffic calming: a traffic subcommittee may be
formed in early Spring to write letters to businesses and Holy Redeemer
regarding speeding, and to make recommendations to the City regarding
traffic calming on streets going out to Greenbelt Road.
- The BDCA is interested in purchasing a domain
name. Obvious names, such as
bdca.org and Berwyn.org are already taken. The cost is relative to the name chosen. The BDCA is considering a contest to
name the web site.
Meeting Attendees: (Note: several other people attended but
did not sign in: Total Attendance 19)
Andrea Carpentieri, Recording Secretary, BDCA