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Month: April 2011 Page 1 of 3

Neighborhood Walk and Talk, This Thursday

Neighborhood Walk

The neighborhood walk that was cancelled last month has a new date. May 5, 2011, Thursday, 6:00pm.

Officer Jaron J. Black, PGCPD Community Liaison for North College Park will be there to answer your questions about police coverage in Northern College Park and recent crime incidents.

Meet at the Greenbelt Metro Station Lackawanna Street Entrance.

I took a similar walk last summer. During the walk, we distributed public safety related pamphlets to the neighbors, placed them on the windshields of the vehicles parked on the streets. We talked to a few neighbors and told them about the recent spike in crime incidents, including a much publicized assault incident .

Maryland Day, 2011 Tomorrow

Join thousands of area residents and students at the 13th annual Maryland Day tomorrow. a family-friendly event with 400 interactive exhibits and workshops. Discover all that Maryland has to offer!

There will be live science experiments, an insect petting zoo and fresh ice cream from the campus dairy just to name a few of the many many different activities. Maryland Day starts tomorrow morning at ten.

For more information, please check event’s website:

Zoning Ordinances Get Mixed Reviews

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The recently introduced zoning ordinances that would give the City of College Park more authorities over zoning related matters received mixed reviews in a public hearing last Tuesday night. Please see the video above.

According to the City, those additional powers will include “review of alternative compliance from landscaping requirements, certification, revocation, and revision of nonconforming uses, and minor changes to approved special exceptions.”

Under Pressure, City Cuts Off Speed Camera Program

Speed Camera near Duvall Field

Speed Camera near Duvall Field

Soon after installing speed cameras in various parts of the City, residents started to complain about the confusion they faced surrounding the operating hours.

Except the one on Rhode Island Avenue, near Duvall Field, all cameras have been operating round the clock; non-stop.

The one near the Duvall Field, is located near the Berwyn Christian School. The law requires that all cameras must operate near the “School Zone”. It was unclear, however, why the City decided to operate the rest of the cameras round the clock, even though they also operate near the one or more school areas.

The different timing of the operations caused confusion among some residents. Some residents were even concerned about the idea of having the speed cameras altogether. They think cameras are means of collecting revenues, and not a mean for ensuring public safety, as the City officials want them to believe.

Earlier this month, the City has decided to change the operating hours of all cameras and make them consistent. All cameras will now operate from 6am to 8pm, Monday to Friday. They will not operate during weekends.

PGPOA Claims Responsibility of Referendum Petition

Prince George's Property Owners' Association

For the past several days, the City officials and residents were wondering who was behind a controversial referendum petition. Now, it has finally found its source.

Yes, PGPOA (Prince George’s Property Owner’s Association) is responsible for initiating the petition drive to get the two proposals on the City ballot” – said PGPOA member William Chicca in an email to me.

Many of the members of PGPOA are residents of the city and are very concerned about the direction the city government is going in trying to impede and even suppress rental of single family homes” – Mr. Chicca said in explaining the reason why PGPOA initiated the petition drive.

It appears that PGPOA has hired Petition Partners, an Arizona company, to circulate two charter amendment petitions in the City. The City has denied any affiliations with Petition Partners in any way.

These petitions seek to impose two amendments to the City Charter. If Petition Partners obtains the signatures of 20% of the qualified voters of the City on the petitions, and the amendments are otherwise lawful, then the City will be required to place both questions on a ballot for a vote in the council election.

The petition drive has left City officials understandably concerned – so  much so that it has recently warned residents on City’s website with the consequences of the petition if it gathers enough signatures.

According to the notice, the City warns its residents by saying that the passage of the petitioners’ demand will eradicate rent control ordinances and requirement that the landlords pay a trash collection fee. It also says the petition would prevent residents from claiming the Homestead Property Tax for owner occupants with a principal residence in the City and prohibit the City from licensing and making annual safety inspections for rental properties.

But Mr. Chicca disagrees with these allegations.

The petition is to uniformly apply the rent control program to ALL rental units in the City, other than those actually owned by the State of Maryland at the University. ” – said Mr. Chicca.

The basic issue is equity and fairness.  If rent control is good for the single family homes and the small apartments – why isn’t it equally good for the high rise rentals?  Why should the high rise rental buildings receive an unfair advantage in setting rents when compared to single family homes?” Mr. Chicca added.

Pointing to the City’s position on the petition, Mr. Chicca said: “As usual, the City is blowing smoke to distort and confuse the issue and saying the sky will fall if the initiative passes.  They certainly do not want political backlash and opposition from the owners of the high rise units, and don’t want to appear unfriendly to new high rise development, which rent control will do.”

The second amendment in the petition would cap the amount of money that can be raised by City taxes to the amount collected as taxes in fiscal year 2011, forever.

This is about the tax cap – similar to the County tax cap.  Government has an insatiable appetites for money and experience dictates that it will raise taxes as high and as often as they can.  The initiative is intended to put city government on a monetary diet – controlling how high they can raise taxes. ” – said Mr. Chicca.

Earlier, some City Council members expressed their frustrations with the group or person initiating the petition.

This (petition) is basically being run by a group of cowards who don’t want to reveal who they are,” said District 4 Council Member Marcus Afzali in an interview with the College Park Patch.

We know those behind the petitions will not come out in public and have the courage to claim responsibility for their actions and explain their intent in supporting these petitions.” – Afzali added further with a prediction.

Volunteers Mark Earth Day by Fixing North College Park Rain Garden

Dozens of volunteers gathered at the Duvall Field at 10am  yesterday  to mark this year’s Earth Day. Their mission? –  fix up a rain garden at the north east corner of the field and plant trees there. County council member (Dist  1) Mary Lehman, College Park’s Mayor Andrew Fellows and Dist 1 council member Chris Nagle took part in the event.

North College Park’s Sex Offenders List

Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services provide a list of registered sex offenders in the state. The purpose of providing such a list, as its website says, is only for informational use and is subject to restrictions on use by the various publishing states, including prohibition against using such data for retribution against any individual. You can know more about the use of the list and the other related questions here on the Frequently asked Questions section.

The list below shows the sex offenders living in north College Park area.

Police Puzzled over UMD Student’s Death

University of Maryland Police is still unsure about what caused the death of the 21 year old student Adewunmi Omisore Adepegba.

Adepegba was found unresponsive and not breathing on Field House Drive near Lot Z at about 9:45 p.m Tuesday night. He was pronounced dead at an area hospital shortly thereafter.

University Police and Prince George’s County Fire Department officials responded to the area and found Adepegba unresponsive, not breathing and without a pulse Tuesday night.

It’s rare, although not unheard of, but certainly it’s rare,” said UMD police chief David Mitchell. “We have such a young population, and you never expect that to happen. But unfortunately, it did.”

 The cause of death has yet to be determined, and officials are waiting for results from the medical examiner’s office. Bystanders performed CPR on Adepegba until paramedics took over, Brady said. He was pronounced dead at Washington Adventist Hospital at about 9:45 p.m.

In a statement, the UMD public safety department said “Our deepest sympathy is with the family of Mr. Adepegba during this time. We appreciate the community’s assistance and quick response in this sad and unfortunate occurrence.”

City to Spend More on Contract Police, Public Saftey Staff

Prince George’s Police

The Council had its second and final work session on budget recently and made a few changes to the proposed FY 2012 draft budget.

The most significant of largest of which was a substantial increase for additional City contract police, which we are using the speed camera revenue to pay for.

Most of these items will come from revenue the City  was able to reallocate due to the additional public safety funding from the speed cameras.

Funds that the City would have otherwise spend on contract police this year will go into undesignated reserves, and then be available to spend next year.

The changes fall within the guidelines laid out in the FY2012 draft budget:

An increase of 0.72 FTE in Contract Police Officers (in Public Services, Speed Enforcement, program 2025) to certify speed enforcement camera citations

The  changes related to the public safety program in the FY2012 draft budget includes:

  • An additional $150,000 for part-time contract police coverage.
  • About $35,000 for the hiring of a part-time public safety coordinator, to assist the Neighborhood Watch coordinators and act as a liaison with the police.

The City of College Park does not have a police service. The city residents pay nearly $1 million to hire 6 contract police officers (3 pat time and 3 full time) from the county and the best way to find these recruits is through a staffing agency that can find lots of candidates. They are doing this because the police service from the county’s regular police PGPD is not enough.

NCP Residents Ask City to Remove Acquisition of #1 Liquor from Budget

#1 Liquor at Route 1

Steve Groh and Terry Schum presented the proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to the North College Park Citizens Association on Thursday night on behalf of the City Manager.

The NCPCA voted unanimously to ask the Council to remove the acquisition of #1 Liquor at 8200 Baltimore Avenue from the CIP.  “Members did not feel that this commercial
property would well serve the City’s open space needs.”
– wrote NCPCA president Mark Shroder in an email to the Mayor and the Council.

True the store is an eyesore, but that should not be a good reason to spend money” – said Larry Bleau, who brought the motion in the meeting.

Back in late 2009, the City council voted to try to buy the property or to try to get it condemned if its owner refuses to sell. The City plans to build a small park at the location.

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