3. Agenda Item 2. Special Guests, Discussion of Estate Buyers Shop on Greenbelt Road. A motion was made, seconded, and passed to suspend the regular order of business in order to devote time to discussion with special guests. Eric Olson, Prince George’s County Council Member for District 3, introduced himself. He has been representing us since 2006. He is very familiar with BDCA’s opposition to the attempt in 2006 to open a pawn shop located at the entrance to the Washington Post plant. Since that attempt, the building was vacant until recently – now there’s a sign up that it’s an estate buyer’s shop. Tom Madsen, Deputy Director of P.G. County’s Department of Environmental Resources and the person who will be looking into this issue, introduced himself. Sgt. Manley and Officer Thompson from the pawn unit were also in attendance. Eric Olson said that when he was elected, the first piece of legislation he introduced was to cap the number of pawn shops at the then-existing number. There are currently no pawn shop permits available. Prince George’s County already has more pawn shops than both D.C. and Montgomery County. Working with Major Daniel Dusseau and others in the pawn unit, millions of dollars’ worth of stolen goods have been recovered. Olson succeeded in passing a bill stating that anything that can be ingested can’t be sold in a pawn shop. Tom Madsen went to the Estate Buyer shop to check it out. The owner of the shop is the same person who wanted to open a pawn shop at the same site a few years ago and was denied a permit to do so. Madsen said that the City of College Park has its own enforcement unit. The owner of the shop did apply for a use and occupancy permit, which was approved by Park and Planning for selling certain goods. Madsen has questions about what’s going on in the shop. It can’t be operated as a secondhand dealer because it’s not licensed by the County to be that. Tom Madsen’s group doesn’t do undercover work, so they’ll use all resources the County has available and work with the City to make sure it’s not the equivalent of a pawn shop. The difference between a pawn shop and a secondhand dealer is that with a pawn shop, the client retains ownership of the good but pays a fee in order to get some money, whereas a secondhand dealer is someone who buys goods from individuals and then resells them. Among the goods Madsen saw in the shop were jewelry, musical instruments, and electronics. The owner owns 4 pawn shops elsewhere. There’s no firearm license for the address being discussed. The owner does have a federal firearm license, but it is believed that it’s only for the owner’s Riverdale store. Sellers are required to leave 2 kinds of identification with these stores – the police are often able to make arrests because of this. There are regulations in place that allow the police to look at the store’s records and make sure that recordkeeping requirements are being met.
When the owner of the store filed his initial request with the County for use and occupancy, he said he’d be selling retail furniture, but since then he’s said he’s not going to be selling that after all.
Regarding a question from the audience regarding “reciprocity,” Madsen said that there
is a database that includes information about stolen goods from lots of neighboring
jurisdictions. Madsen’s group has a list of the top 10 people who pawn goods in the
County. One man pawned $96,000 worth of goods in one year. If a pawn shop pays only
one-fourth of the value of a good, then this man pawned approximately $400,000 worth of
Some pawn shop owners incorrectly enter one digit in a good’s serial number in their
records so that the police will search the database for it with an incorrect number. For this
reason, the police search for an item by the kind of item it is rather than by serial numbers.
Raids on pawn shops were conducted last year but did not involve shops owned by the
man who owns the store on Greenbelt Road. The signs on the store will have to comply with signage ordinances already in place. A lot of pawn shops themselves are burglarized. Someone in the audience suggested that the City needs to condemn old, run-down
buildings that would appeal as sites at which to operate businesses like that. If you want to mark an item for identification purposes, the best way to do that is with an
engraving tool. Olson said he would do everything he can to make sure that the estate-buyer store
doesn’t turn into a pawn shop.
4. Agenda Item 3. Special Guests, Discussion of Redevelopment along Route 1 Corridor. Eric Olson reported that we are starting to move forward on revitalizing the area where Jerry’s and the old Alario’s building are. New housing with 900 student beds will be built there –the existing buildings are currently being demolished. More student housing will be put in where Koons Ford currently is. Some of the small, one-story buildings currently along Route 1 are going to be going away. The University has purchased the Washington Post site, so that will come off the tax rolls since the University won’t be paying taxes. Olson got Route 1 moved up on the County’s list of priorities to from #7 to #4.
5. Agenda Item 4. Special Guests, Discussion of Crime. Major Daniel Dusseau, new Police Commander of District 1 in Prince George’s County since April, introduced himself. (Major Davis was his predecessor.) There were 18,000 fewer crimes in the County in 2009 than in 2005. In District 1 last year, there was a decrease of 1,000. Additional resources were brought in, and the Police started taking advantage of available tactics more aggressively and started making more arrests. Dusseau said he’s very data-driven. He’ll pull resources from one area to another as soon as he sees an uptick in crime in the second area. College Park and Langley Park get most of the resources in District 1. In College Park, thefts from automobiles are one of the biggest problems. Burglaries remain a big problem, although more so in the area north of our neighborhood. Another big problem is related to the bars in College Park. Fights, sexual assaults, and dangerous behavior vis-à-vis traffic on Route 1 occur because of excessive alcohol consumption by the students. Regarding the latter issue, Major Dusseau suggested to the Cornerstone bar owners that they erect a fence to keep their clients from wandering into the street. Someone asked if we could put Major Dusseau on our Neighborhood Watch’s reflector, as we had done with Major Davis. Major Dusseau said yes. Someone said that students in the neighborhood often fail to lock their house doors, making themselves more vulnerable to crime. Major Dusseau responded that the police pass out hundreds of fliers with tips about how to avoid being a victim of crime, but that unfortunately it often takes a burglary for students to learn that they’re not invulnerable to crime.
The City’s 3 contract officers are required to report to Major Dusseau when their shift is
Marina Dullnig reported on the progress of the neighborhood directory. Her group is busy putting together a form for people to fill out. She is worried that people might not see the form in the newsletter and that we might need to put it in again, in the February issue. Sandy Tyler has put together a grant application to see if we can get some financing for the Directory from the City. The request was for $500. Advertising is also financing the Directory.
8. Agenda Item 7. Council Member Reports. Councilman Jack Perry reminded the audience that the U.S. Census is coming up. He reminded the audience to put “College Park” on their tax forms so that the City gets more money. He said that if people filled out their Homestead Tax Credit online, they’d get a receipt right away. Everyone eligible should apply for that. The University is under contract to buy the Washington Post site, where it will put its facilities that will have to be moved as a result of the East Campus development. The Washington Post tried to sell the printing presses that are housed in the building but there is no longer a market for those. The University was bidding against U-Haul for that property. Councilman Bob Catlin said that BDCA should keep track of what’s going to happen with the 18,000 square feet of land next to the trolley trail that’s not contiguous with the rest of the Washington Post property.
On February 1st, the University and the public school system signed an agreement regarding the University’s relation with Paint Branch Elementary School. Of the 34 grade schools in this area, Paint Branch came in 4th. Twenty of its sixth-graders are going to travel to China for 8 days. This progress is a result of the University’s bringing resources into the school.
9. Agenda Item 8. Miscellaneous. President Kevin Young reported that he has submitted an invoice to the Washington Post for the third time for the moonbounce at Berwyn Day this past year. A copy of the Treasurer’s Report was provided to the Recording Secretary. The previous balance was $1,933.09. There was one deposit of $135 and another Paypal deposit of $130.00 (that deposit has not shown up on the bank statement yet). $396.97 was paid to Minuteman Press for printing 3 months of the newsletter. Christmas party expenses were $140.97. A donation of $100.00 was made to Holy Redeemer. The balance as of January 20, 2010, was $1,430.15. The report is dated January 20, 2010.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:55 pm.
Meeting Attendees (from sign-in list):
Jerry Anzulovic Dan Blasberg Gene Baur Robert Catlin
Marina Dullnig Maj. Daniel Dusseau Doug Hunter Lia Imhoff Mark Imhoff Liesl Koch Capt. Dan Lipsey Sgt. Jerry Manley Eric Olson
Liesl Koch, Recording Secretary, BDCA.
Jack Perry Harry Pitt Amelia Jill Reese Det. Aubrey C. Thompson Forrest Tyler Sandy Tyler Cynthia Watson Eleazar Watson