Planning 101 – Learn ABC’s of Land Use, Planning & Development Process

County zoning notice (Flickr)

Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 29, County Council woman (Dist 1) Mary Lehman will be hosting an informational session on County’s planning, land use and development process.

Time: 7-9 PM
Place: Laurel Beltsville Senior Center 7120 Contee Rd, Laurel, MD

Join planners from the Planning Department of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission for a valuable session on the basics of land use, planning and the development process in Prince George’s County. Zoning, general & master plans and important laws that affect the local planning process will be briefly described.

Learn how to have your concerns heard and how to track and review projects in your neighborhood. Learn why it is important for you, your neighbors, your homeowner’s association or civic association to consider land use proposals before a case is filed.

The meeting will highlight a a few projects that are pending in District 1. They include:
Shopping center U.S. at Route 1 & St. Mary’s St.
Churches on Ammendale Rd. & Brooklyn Bridge Rd.
75-room hotel on U.S. Route 1 near Hollywood Rd.

There will be a second meeting on Wednesday, March 7, 7-9 PM at Beltsville Academy, 4300 Wicomico Avenue, Beltsville, MD

City Gets Thousands to Improve Sidewalks in Mid and Down Town

Sidewalks south of Lakeland Rd from Rt 1 to RhodeIsland avenue will be improved

Recently the City received $90,000 as part of Community Development Block Grant (CBDG), which is is a federal program administered through Prince George’s County for the revitalization and improvement of low- and moderate-income areas around the County.

In tonight’s meeting, the City Council will ratify the filing of an application to the Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development for reconstruction of curb, gutter and sidewfalks on selected streets in the Old Town, Lakeland and Berwyn neighborhoods.

The recaptured CDBG funding was made available by Prince George’s County for eligible projects. The deadline for applications was February 10,2012.

Over fifty-one percent of the residents of the neighborhoods proposed for sidewalk reconstruction fall within federal income guidelines for low and moderate income. The City’s proposed project therefore meets the National Objective of benefiting Low and Moderate Income Individuals. Unfortunately, the north College Park is not eligible to get this fund because of relatively higher per capita income of residents living here compared to those living in the south.

You can find more about the bill here.

The sidewalks targeted for reconstruction were recommended in a Purple Line Corridor Access Study prepared for the Prince George’s County Planning Department and confirmed in the field by the City Engineer.

The specific requests are replacement of existing 4-foot sidewalks with 5-foot sidewalks on the south side of Knox Road from Yale Avenue to Princeton Avenue ($18,180), replacement of existing 4-foot sidewalks with 5-foot sidewalks on the south side of Lakeland Road from U.S. 1 to Rhode Island Avenue ($30,600), replacement of existing 4-foot sidewalks with 5-foot sidewalks on the south side of Berwyn Road from U.S. 1 to 49th Ave. ($22,700), and reconstruction of the existing 6-foot sidewalk on the north side of Knox Road from Yale Avenue to Princeton Ave.($18,060).

Last week, Councilmember Catlin expressed concern about expanding the sidewalks on Berwyn Road, and asked that this be limited to the block immediately off of US 1 and said that he didn’t feel that pedestrians typically walk on the south side of Lakeland Road.  However, at this point, staff indicated that our best option is to ratify what was already submitted and to make changes later to reflect Mr. Catlin’s concerns.

Council Set to Oppose Speed Camera Calibration Bill

Speed camera at Paint branch Pkwy

Recently, the MD House is considering a bill requiring that a speed monitoring system calibration check be performed by an independent calibration laboratory that is unaffiliated with the manufacturer of the speed monitoring system.

The House Bill 1044 also authorizes a person named in a citation based on a recorded image produced by a speed monitoring system to use the recorded image in defense of the violation charged.

Additionally, it prohibits a contractor’s fee from being contingent on the number of citations issued or paid if the contractor administers or processes the citations.

In tomorrow’s meeting, the City Council will vote on a draft letter opposing the bill.

The letter says the bill would create an unnecessary burden for the City in our administration of the speed camera public safety program and is otherwise detrimental to a very effective public safety program.

It says, the HB 1044 requires the local jurisdiction to retain all recorded images taken by speed cameras regardless of whether or not a recorded image led to the issuance of a citation. The City keeps records through its speed camera system contractor for every speed camera citation issued. The records remain confidential, which allows the City to ensure privacy for individuals receiving citations. Recorded images are not disclosable under § 1 0-616( o) of the State Government Article, and so are not on file for inspection by the public.

The draft letter argues that this law requires that the City retain records not included on its permanent retention schedule, but does not prescribe how long the images must be kept. While the intent ofHB 1044 seeks to ensure the public access to speed camera information, it instead raises serious privacy concerns and adds unnecessary work and expense.

The requirement that speed monitoring equipment be certified by the IACP is an unreasonable standard. The IACP is an organization with no legal authority to set standards for the government, the draft document says.

Please let me know what you think about the bill.

North College Park Police Blotter

Date of
Incident
Incident
Type

Location
02/14/2012 B & E, RESIDENTIAL 9300 block 48TH PL
02/14/2012 THEFT 4800 block EDGEWOOD RD
02/15/2012 ASSAULT 4900 block EDGEWOOD RD
02/16/2012 THEFT FROM AUTO 9700 block 47TH PL
02/16/2012 THEFT FROM AUTO 4900 block HOLLYWOOD RD
02/17/2012 AUTO, STOLEN 9300 block CHERRY HILL RD
02/20/2012 THEFT FROM AUTO 9100 block BRIDGEWATER ST

Contract Police Reports

10-Feb

Contract officers responded
to the report of a breaking and entering at 9600 block Baltimore Ave. Officers arrived on the scene and
determined no crime occurred.

10-Feb

Contract officer handled a 3
car motor vehicle accident in the 9100 block of Baltimore Ave. Icy conditions existed

10-Feb

Contract officer handled a 2
car motor vehicle accident at Baltimore Ave at the Capitol Beltway. Information was exchanged

12-Feb

Contract officer handled a
two car motor vehicle accident in the parking lot of the Home Depot Store
located at 4700 block Cherry Hill
Road.

13-Feb

Contract officer was flagged
down by the complainant in the 5300 block of Lackawanna Street in reference to a
male that was following her as she walked to the Metro Center. The male was located and a field
interview was conducted. The male
was SOW.

14-Feb

Contract officer responded to
a report of a breaking and entering in progress at 9300 block 48th
Place. The victim advised that while
sleeping in her bedroom, she was awoken by an unknown B/M.  The male had
broken into the home through a basement window and had surprised the victim when
he entered her bedroom.  The victim confronted the suspect and the male
fled out of the home on foot.  He was then seen leaving the area in a green
Ford Windstar with unknown tags.  The area was checked for the suspect with
negative results.

15-Feb

Contract officer responded to
a report of a stabbing at 4900 block Edgewood Road. Officers located the crime scene at
4900 block Edgewood Road.
Investigation revealed a verbal altercation between the victim and suspect
turned physical. The Suspect stabbed
the victim in the abdomen with a buck knife before fleeing the scene in a white
Dodge or Plymouth. The victim and two witnesses advised the Suspect’s
information. The Victim was transported to PGH for possible life-threatening
injuries. Investigation handled by
the District 1 Investigation Section.

15-Feb

Contract officer issued a
criminal citation for urinating in public in the 4800 block of College Ave.

16-Feb

Contract officers conducted a
traffic assignment at Edmonston Road at Knoxville Drive. 3 warning citations were issued for
failure to stop at a stop sign.

16-Feb

Contract officer conducted a
traffic assignment (Stop Sign Enforcement) at MD Rt. 193 at Rhode Island Ave. 5 citations were issued

Residents Troubled by Electric Utility Solicitor


Door to door solicitation

Since yesterday evening, a number of residents have reported encountering a door-to-door solicitor in our district.

It started with an email from one of our neighbor:

I just encountered a suspicious solicitor claiming to be a public utility representative on my block (9700 block of 51st Place). He was a going door to door, not identifying himself or his organization, and asking to see heating and gas bills (both highly suspicious). No vehicle seen. I reported this to county non-emergency police. The gentlemen was wearing a purple shirt and cellphone earpiece.

Another resident then told us a little more troubling story:
Same guy. I didn’t open my door, but I checked his bulletin board and light blue jacket for a logo and didn’t see one. I said, no thanks, I’m on the phone, and he started kicking my door in! I called the police. Then he came back and threw a lot of eggs at my door. Five minutes later, more eggs. When the police arrived about ten minutes later, they said they think it’s the same guy (*if* it’s the fake survey guy) doing this to a bunch of houses. There are lots of police cars trying to find him at this point.

This morning, I asked staff and the Police to find more about the identity of this solicitor. The code enforcement officer said they have not issued any permits to a solicitor doing utility business recently. The Police also said they patrolled last evening but could not find anyone with that description.

Later today, another neighbor identified the company that these individuals are from a company called PALMco Energy MD, LLC (www.PalmcoEnergy.com) They stated their company had obtained a City solicitation permit.

City staff however found that the company does not have a City solicitors permit. “If they did, each individual solicitor would be issued a copy in their name to carry and present to residents.” – staff noted.

City Code enforcement later issued this following notice to this solicitor:

We have received reports that representatives of your agency have been performing door-to-door solicitations in the corporate limits of the City of College Park, Maryland. Please be advised that this practice requires a Permit as stated in Chapter 129-9-B. Solicitors for profit. (1) For the purposes of this chapter, the term “solicitor for profit” shall mean all persons soliciting for any reason within the City who do not come under the application or exclusion set forth in Subsection A hereinabove. (2) Display of license. Every person so soliciting shall carry upon his/her person at all times the license so issued and shall produce the same to any person who may at any time request to see it. C. No solicitor shall operate within the City of College Park between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.[ http://ecode360.com/CO0032]

Please have your local representatives cease operations immediately and visit this office to obtain the required documents.

We hope the issue is resolved soon and this kind of troubling solicitation is stopped. In the mean time, if you see any solicitor/vendor knoking your door, please ask him to show a City issued permit. If he cannot, please call police immediately.

Community Library Opens its Doors

After many months and a lot of work the College Park Community Library opened it doors last Wednesday morning.  Congratulations to North College Park residents Joe Smith, Jackie Kelly, David Miles and other volunteers who made this project a success.

Please try to stop by the library if you get a chance. Here is their hours of operations:

Monday: closed
Tues., Wed., & Thurs: 10 am t 1 pm and 6 to 9 pm
Friday: closed
Saturday (first and third of the month) 10 am to 1 pm

Also stay tuned to the library website: www.ncpinformant.com for the most up-to-date schedule.

“I can not tell you how proud Joe and I are with how well the library came together.  Elaine and I shared story time this morning and were pleased to have 4 children and 3 mom’s present for out first story time.” – wrote Jackie Kelly after the library opened on Wednesday. She also sent me a bunch of pictures that I uploaded.

Developers Present City Hall Expansion Plan

Developers from Profitt and Associates came to City Council’s  work session last Tuesday to present their preliminary concept plan.

I’ve uploaded the concept renderings they showed us at the meeting.

Developers said the designs may go through some changes based on Council comments, most notably to change the LEEDS standard from LEEDS Silver to LEEDS Gold and make the building architecture in line with the residential characteristics of Old Town College Park.

He also said, like all other developments, the designs will go through a DSP (Detailed Site Plan) phase through County’s Planning Board.

Paking Pay by Phone System May Come to College Park

Mobile Park Now!

Currently, the new City pay to park system does not provide a pay by phone service. City staff has researched the possibility of providing pay-by-phone service as part of the new pay by space/pay station system.

There are multiple vendors who can provide this service. Staff has researched the available services (including the one used by UM). Factors considered included compatibility with our system, and cost, both to the City and to our customers.

A vendor, ParkNOW/MobileNOW made a presentation to demonstrate their product to the Council for consideration. Their system is compatible with the hardware and software currently in use by the City. They have partnered with our pay station vendor Metric Parking.

This system would also allow pay-by-phone for single space, mechanical meters as we still have in some areas. This service is offered at no cost to the City. Cost to customers will vary from $0.35 per transaction for occasional users, or $1.50-$2.50 per month for a regular user subscription. This vendor will present their product at the work session on Tuesday, 21 Feb. 12.

Staff recommends approving the product to be presented, and authorize to proceed to implement a pay by phone service..

Council to Discuss Concept Plan to Expand City Hall

College Park City Hall

At tonight’s council worksession, the Mayor and the Council will discuss a preliminary concept plan to expand City Hall.

Last May, the City Council, with a bond bill provided to the City by the State government, voted to contract with Proffitt and Associates Architects to design an expansion of City Hall.

This expansion has long been necessary, as City staff are currently scattered among a number of buildings and there is no office space for the staff to expand into, and the City has had to rent space for storage. The architect has been working with City staff and conducting a detailed inspection of the building to develop preliminary concepts.

The current plan is to expand the existing 16,670 square foot building to a building with 25,460 programmed square feet and 2,900 square feet for future expansion and storage.

The architect is making the following recommendations:
1) Renovate about 9,000 feet of the existing building for reuse, including the staircases, bathrooms, and elevator. Remodel the basement and first floor and leave the Council chambers largely intact, but replace the windows and the air conditioning to allow for greater efficiency;
2) Build a three-story addition with a green roof for a new lobby, office space and meeting rooms;
3) and Obtain a minimum of LEED silver designation.

The total expected cost of this work would be $5-6 million. The City has another $400,000 in bond funding from the State that it would be able to use for part of this, which must be encumbered by June 2013.

Pepco Plans to Use Smart Meters in College Park

Pepco's new smart meter

Representatives from Pepco will be at tomorrow’s council work session to talk about their new smart meters.

According to Pepco, these new smart meters will allow Pepco to provide customers detailed energy information that will help them better understand their electric use and help meet energy reduction goals.

Smart meters are equipped with technology that allows two-way communications between homes or business and Pepco. The meter records daily energy use, and in the future Pepco will have access to the data to monitor energy use.

Energy information from smart meter will help make decisions about energy use and help target ways to save. Residents also can learn through Pepco’s online energy-audit tool My Account about ways to lower energy bills.

To learn more about Pepco’s meter exchange plan, please check here.

In last June, Pepco started  installing these meters, throughout its Maryland service area. The meter exchange program is the first step in the utility’s long-term investment to build a smart power grid that will help customers better manage their energy use and costs and improve customer service and reliability.

Crews will continue with the installation process through December 2012 until all of Pepco’s Maryland customers receive a new meter. Prior to installation, customers will receive a letter and fact sheet from Pepco which, among other things, introduces them to the contractor, Scope Services Inc., who will perform the meter installation.

In August 2010, the Maryland Public Service Commission authorized Pepco to proceed with this modernization effort, which is consistent with federal initiatives to improve energy efficiency, while reducing carbon emissions. Pepco has received $68.85 million in federal stimulus grants to help fund Pepco’s smart meter program in Maryland.

Bag It: Is Your Life too Plastic?

City’s Committee for a better environment (CBE) and the Sierra Club are inviting you to Film Screening of Bag It! on Saturday, February 25, beginning at 1 pm at College Park City Hall, Council Chambers, 2nd floor

This 78-minute award-winning film (sometimes funny, sometimes very sobering) chronicles “everyman” Jeb Berrier, who embarks on a global tour to unravel the complexities of our plastic world and, closer to home, pledges to stop using plastic bags at the grocery store. The film examines our society’s use and abuse of plastic and the harm it causes our environment—and our health.

A post-film discussion will include Prince George’s County Council member Mary Lehman (District 1) or her policy analyst, Matt Dernoga, who will summarize what’s happening with the local “bag bills.” Julie Lawson, organizer with the Trash Free Maryland Alliance (www.trashfreemaryland.org) will contribute as well.

The film is free to watch, however registration is requested: Email janiso@erols.com or leave a message at 240-888-6972

Celebrate Rich History of City’s African American Community, Today

Black history month

Celebrate the rich history of the African American community of Lakeland. A screening of the documentary film Folks Made the School, produced in collaboration with the Lakeland Community Heritage Project and University of Maryland’s Dr. Mary Sies and her students, will be shown, followed by a panel discussion.

The grand opening and dedication of the permanent exhibit, “A View from the Lakes: A History of the African American Community of Lakeland” completes the evening. This exhibit focuses on some of the things that influenced the community’s development, and the strong, religious, educational and cultural ties that evolved and sustained the community for more than 100 years.

Hosted by:
Lakeland Community Heritage Project
Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County

Lakeland Gala Event

Saturday, February 18
6:00-9:00 pm

College Park Community Center
5051 Pierce Avenue, College Park 20740

Tickets are free, please call 301-441-2647. Proper attire is “dress to impress.”
FREE (ticket is required)
All ages http://www.pgparks.com/page40615.aspx

Neighborhood Social in North College Park

Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch Steering Committee will be having a neighborhood social in North College Park.

Thursday, February 23, 2012
7:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Davis Hall (Public Works Building)
9217 – 51st Avenue, College Park, MD

Refreshments will be provided, and you’re welcome to bring your favorite dessert to share!
(They said they already have home-made organic apple pie, cranberry pumpkin pie, and Amish Friendship Bread promised!)

Mark your calendars, and RSVP to
Zari Malsawma, Chair 240-475-2435 or LHMalsawma@comcast.net
Robert Boone, Co-Chair 301-523-4652 or arboona@gmail.com

Man Stabbed in Hollywood near 7-11 Store

Police at crime scene

A man was stabbed at around 8:15 last night, a man was stabbed Wednesday night at the 7-11 store on Edgewood road.

Police were called to the 4900 block of Edgewood Road about 8:15 p.m., and found the wounded man at the store, said Cpl. Larry Johnson, a spokesman. The victim, who was not identified, was taken to a hospital in serious condition, but officials said the wounds did not appear to be life threatening.

Investigators think the victim knew his assailant, but it was not immediately clear what prompted the confrontation, the Washington Post reports.

Also, it’s still too early to say that the incident is related to 7-11 store itself. According to our Public Safety staff, there is a strong possibility that it could be a random crime between suspect and victim. Victim may have gone to 7-11 to call police.

Also, when I went there last night after the incident happened, I saw a couple of houses on Edgewood Road cordoned off using orange tapes.

We’ll keep you posted as the Police complete their investigation. Thanks for your patience.

UPDATE: Officer called me and confirmed that it’s an isolated incident. The victim and suspect knew each other before the incident happened last night. An arrest warrant has also been issued against the suspect.

City’s First Community Library to Open in North College Park Next Week

Thanks to the hard work of a few residents like Joe Smith and Jackie Kelly, things at the library are looking good!

I’m particularly excited to see the library finally opening ts doors, because I was also a big supporter of having a community library in our part of the City.

In case you have not hard, the community library is completely run by volunteers and is not associated with the Prince George’s County library systems. Currently the library will be operating from the basement of the Church of Nazarene until a more permanent place is found. The Church of the Nazarene is located at 9704 Rhode Island Ave.

On Monday evening, I made a trip to the library and saw both Joe and Jackie working to make the library ready for its grand opening on February 22 at 10am. Last time I visited the library was in early December. Last night, the small room at the Church basement finally started to look like a real library!

Joe told me they are looking for more volunteers! If you know of anyone interested please have them call Jackie Kellie: 301.474.8044 or send an e-mail at bokays100@juno.com. To find more, please check library’s home page at: http://www.ncpinformant.com/

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