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Council Adopts New Charter – With One Amendment Clarifying Voting Requirement

At last night’s meeting, the City Council decided to adopt a new City Charter with one small amendment that clarifies voting requirements in case of future Charter amendments. Instead of a supermajority (6 out of 8 votes), the Council will now need a simple majority to amend future Charter changes. The Council made the supermajority change last year, however, it was brought to the City by MML (Maryland Municipal League) that the voting requirement was in conflict with the State law.

The original motion (18-CR-01) was to make other changes to the Charter, most significantly one being the inclusion of the term “legislative body”, which includes the Mayor and Council. Several residents expressed concerns about these changes. The amendment was adopted with 6-2 votes. Councilmembers Kennedy and Rigg opposed the measure.

The Council plans to discuss changes related to the legislative body at a future worksession.

Tonight’s Proposed Charter Amendment – Summary of Voting Requirements

The City has recently published the summary of voting requirements if the proposed Charter amendments pass tonight.  Under the proposed Charter amendments, the following votes are required to take various actions.

  1. The general rule is that, unless specifically provided otherwise by law, the Mayor votes only in the case of a tie
  2. The general rule is that, unless specifically provided otherwise by law, all actions of the City Council require a majority vote of the Mayor and Council members attending the
    meeting.
  3. The vote of five Councilmembers is required to alter an assessment under Section C11-4 of the Charter. Because the vote of five Councilmembers is required, the Mayor would not vote in this case, as a tie vote would at most involve four Councilmembers.
  4. A two-thirds vote of all the individuals elected to the legislative body (6) is required to spend money for a purpose different from the purpose for which the money was appropriated, spend money not appropriated at the time of the annual levy or transfer funds between major budget items. This wording reflects a State law requirement. Because a vote of six members of the legislative body must approve, the Mayor would not vote in this case.
  5. A majority vote of all of the individuals elected to the legislative body (5) must vote to adopt an amendment to the Charter. This wording reflects a State law requirement. In this case, if the full Council was in attendance, and there was a tie vote with all Councilmembers voting, the Mayor could vote to break the tie.
  6. Section C6-3 requires a supermajority vote of all Councilpersons present, defined as one (1) more than a simple majority of Councilpersons present, to be able to go into closed session. The Mayor would not vote in this case.
  7. Section C8-2 requires that an emergency ordinance may be adopted only with the affirmative vote of at least six members of the Council. Because a vote of six members of the Council must approve, the Mayor would not vote in this case.
  8. A majority vote of the Mayor and the Council is required to appoint a City Manager, who shall serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and City Council. The City Manager may be removed by a resolution approved by a vote of six members of the Mayor and Council. The Mayor is authorized to vote in both instances.
  9. A favorable vote of a majority of the total elected membership of the Council shall be necessary for adoption of the City budget. As a result, the Mayor would not vote in this instance because there is no possibility of a tie.
  10. Section C10-5 requires a vote of six members of the Council for the authorization of supplemental and emergency appropriations, reduction of appropriations, or transfer of appropriations from one department, fund or major organizational unit to another in the budgetary process. The Mayor would not vote in this case.

[Source: City of College Park]

Rhode Island Avenue Protected Bike Lanes Project Materials

Recently, the City published the slides and other materials presented at last Wednesday’s community meeting at Davis Hall on the Rhode Island Avenue Protected Bike Lanes project. Here are the links.

Public Meeting Slides – Feb, 2018 

Conceptual Plan – Feb, 2018

Typical Sections – Feb, 2018

Buffer Materials Exhibit – Feb, 2018

The project’s goal is to (1) examine opportunities to improve safety and access on Rhode Island Avenue Frontage roads (2) Provide a continuous, safe and usable cycling route for all ages and abilities and (3) Connect College Park North and the Hollywood Commercial District with: Downtown College Park, Riverdale Park, Hyattsville and Metro/MARC

The consultant is expected to complete the 30% design work by May. After that, the community will be consulted to get further input.

 

 

City Supports Bill Banning Statewide Polystyrene Food Service Products

Recently, the College Park City Council voted in support of MD Senate Bill 651, a bill to prohibit certain uses of expanded polystyrene food service product in 2019.

The City letter states that expanded polystyrene is used in wide range of packaging. The polystyrene products do not break down and can be found in landfills, waterways, and roadsides.

Prince George’s County and Montgomery County have already banned certain uses of this product in food establishments, and the Council strongly supports State legislation for a similar ban. Carryout food from restaurants in these counties generally must be placed in products that are recyclable or compostable.

The Bill SB 551 should reduce polystyrene litter and reduce the negative impact of polystyrene on wildlife.

In a 2014 report, MDE noted that, in Maryland, only Caroline, Howard and Washington counties, as well as the city of Baltimore, accept EPS for recycling. Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have restrictions on EPS items.

Starting in 2016, Washington, D.C. banned EPS products in restaurants and businesses.

Free Tax Help for Residents

[The following message came from Congressman Steny Hoyer]

The deadline to file your taxes is rapidly approaching. This year, Tax Day is Tuesday, April 17. If you haven’t filed yet, or need assistance filing, below are some helpful resources to help you save time and money.
The IRS’ “Free File” program allows taxpayers earning less than $66,000 to file online for free, and offers free fillable forms for all taxpayers.

Check the status of your refund be visiting the IRS’ “Where’s My Refund?” website. Be sure to have your Social Security number, filing status, and exact refund amount available to locate your refund. Updates are made daily, and available 24 hours after e-filing.

Free, in-person counseling is available to qualifying taxpayers: the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is available to anyone earning less than $54,000 a year and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) service is available for people aged 60 and above. Click here to find a VITA or TCE site near you.

IRS assistance is available by visiting IRS.gov 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Telephone assistance is available Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. by calling toll-free 1-800-829-1040.

For assistance filing Maryland state taxes, contact the Comptroller of Maryland’s Office by calling 1-800-638-2937 Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. You can also send an email to taxhelp@comp.state.md.us. Free, in-person assistance is available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the following locations in the

Greenbelt
6401 Golden Triangle Drive, Suite 100
Greenbelt, Maryland

Upper Marlboro
Prince George’s County Courthouse
14735 Main Street, Room 083B
Upper Marlboro, Maryland

Waldorf
1036 Saint Nicholas Drive, Suite 202
Waldorf, Maryland

Council Seeks to Clarify City’s Naturalized Landscape Practices


Recently City Tree and Landscaping Board (TLB) has suggested a set of revision to City’s existing nuisance or property maintenance ordinances. The suggested changes are mainly focused on the naturalized, native or managed Landscapes.

  • TLB’s main recommended considerations included:
    Limiting overhang or flop-over of the naturalized planting onto neighboring property or right-of-way – no encroachment allowed
  • Establishing setbacks from property lines for the naturalized planting. Setbacks could be variable on different sides of the property (front, side or rear). The setback area would need to be maintained at an identified lower height
  • Naturalized plantings might only be allowed in rear or side yard; not permitted in front yard; (d) A maximum plantable area for the naturalized landscape of the plantable area on the lot(not occupied by buildings, structures or other improvements) of the property
  • Possible requirement for a minimum number of, or at least an annual cut-down (trimming/mowing) that includes a time period and a maximum height; and
  • Naturalized plantings are absent of identified noxious weeds, as identified in a published state or governmental publication. The TLB is also recommending the following secondary considerations: (a) Naturalized planting locations could be marked with a sign
  • Removal of prior vegetation might be required from the naturalized plant area and planted by human or mechanical means using seeds or transplants;
  • Height limit of naturalized plants
  • Granting an exemption if the garden is designated as a habitat garden or bay friendly planting, especially if planted with native plants.

According to staff, TLB’s suggested ordinance standards/requirements should allow for ease of understanding and enforcement by Code Enforcement Officers. I, do however, agree that we have to be careful that they do not cause more restrictive overreached to residents.

At this week’s Council meeting, the City Council reviewed TLB’s recommendations and discuss possible amendments to the City Code. Staff and TLB plan to work on possible ordinances and come back to the Council in future.

City Supports “Do Not Block the Box’ Bill, Again

At this week’s Council meeting, the Council approved a resolution supporting Maryland State House Bill HB672 “Do Not Block the Box” bill. This bill is coming for the second time in MD State House. It passed in House last year but didn’t go past the Senate committee for a vote on the floor. According to Del. Carr, this year, the companion Senate Bill will come for the hearing in April.  Here is the full text of the letter we sent. If you are concerned about preventing this gridlock, you may wish to contact Delegate Barbara Frush (District 21), Barbara.Frush@house.state.md.us, immediately. She is a member of the E&T Committee, which will be hearing the bill today.

————-

Delegate Kumar Barve, Chair

Environment and Transportation Committee

Room 251
House Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21401Annapolis, MD 21401

Re:  HB 672  Vehicle Laws – Intersections – Prohibited Acts

Dear Chair Barve and Committee Members:

During our City Council meeting on February 20, 2018, the City Council voted to support HB 672.  This “don’t block the box” legislation supports safe driving habits and practices that reduce congestion at signalized intersections.  We believe it will help strengthen a driving culture that keeps intersections clear and increases safety on our major roads.  We appreciate the work your committee has done on this bill and other transportation bills to increase safety.

On behalf of the City Council and our residents, I respectfully request your continued support for this legislation.

Sincerely,

Patrick L. Wojahn

Mayor

Cc:       Delegate Barbara Frush, 21st District

Delegate Ben Barnes, 21st District

 

North College Park Crime Map: February 12-19, 2018

Please see below last week’s crime map and let me know if you’ve any questions. Thanks.

Duvall Field Gets a New Bulletin Board

A new bulletin board was mounted on the north side of Duvall concession stand. The old board had been taken out for sometime when Duvall Field concession building project started.

According to staff, mounting the board was a bit of a challenge due to the irregular surface of the split-face block wall so staff had to devise a method for the unit could be securely affixed. Thanks to our staff for installing the new board.

Please let me know if you’ve a flyer or an announcement to add to the bulletin board.

In addition to this board, you can also post flyers to the bulletin board at the end of Lackawanna Street near the Metro station.

PAL Martial Arts Registration is Open

The Prince George’s County Police Athletic League has partnered with Cabrera Jiu-Jitsu to provide self-defense classes for the county’s youth. The PAL Martial Arts program is designed to teach self-defense to boys and girls, ages 9 through 17. The program includes a mentoring aspect, which focuses on the core values of respect, discipline, staying healthy and safe, and living by a code. Special emphasis is placed on avoiding unsafe situations and de-escalation of scenarios that have the potential to turn violent while giving students the skills necessary to defend themselves and to reach safety if a confrontation is unavoidable.

This is a great way for boys and girls to gain self-confidence by learning an important and useful skill. They will also benefit from instruction and mentoring by Cesar Cabrera, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under the Renzo Gracie lineage. His training and breadth of experiences extend over 30 years, and he truly believes that making the decision to pursue the journey of martial arts changed his life for the better and wants to help others find this positive experience as well. He is joined in instruction by Corporal Cauthern of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
Students will be divided into groups according to age and skill level.

Fridays, March 2nd to May 18th
from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM

at Police Headquarters Gym
7600 Barlowe Road
Palmer Park, MD 20745

$55

Please contact POFC Laura Perret at lkperret@co.pg.md.us for any questions regarding the program.

City Announces UMD Youth Summer Camp 2018 Scholarship

Want to go to an arts, science, reading or sports camp this summer?

Grade and high school youth who reside in the City are eligible to apply for a City scholarship to a 2018 University of Maryland youth summer camp!

Get up to $400 per student to attend a UMD youth summer camp, like Lego Robotics, Engineering, Music, Gymnastics, Basketball, Arts, Reading, Quidditch and so much more!

The deadline to apply is March 14, 2018.

Click here for the application. This application also has a non-comprehensive list of available summer camps at the University of Maryland, along with instructions as to how to find more camp offerings. This is not an application for a summer camp, only an application for the scholarship.

Contact the City’s Department of Youth, Family and Senior Services at 240-487-3550 or lmoore@collegeparkmd.gov for more information.

[Source: City of College Park]

Helen Barnes 1942-2018

Helen Scroggins Barnes, the longtime resident of Calvert Hill neighborhood passed away on February 14, 2018 after a valiant six-month fight with lung cancer. She was intelligent, caring, encouraging and an advocate for the elderly all during her nursing career. She leaves a big hole in the hearts of many in her family and in the community.

Helen has been a passionate community advocate. I have had the opportunity working with her as part of City’s Aging-in-Place task force, where she served as the Chairperson. Later, the City formed the Seniors Committee based on the recommendations of the task force.

A celebration of her life will take place at a later date when the family has made their plans, St. Andrew’s Church in College Park has informed.

North College Park Crime Map: February 4-11, 2018

AddressType
9700 Blk 53RD AveTheft from auto
9000 Blk Baltimore AveStolen Veh
I-495 HWY SB / BALTIMORE AVETheft from auto
4800 Blk Delaware STTheft from auto

City Seeks Residents Input about Bike Lanes on Rhode Island Avenue

On February 21, at 7pm, at Davis Hall, the City will be hosting a community meeting seeking residents input about bike lanes on Rhode Island Avenue. The meeting will  explore options for improving bike lanes along rhode Island Avenue between MD 193 and Muskogee street. Please see the flyer below for details.

The City was awarded a Transportation Land Use Connections (TLC) technical assistance grant from the Council of Governments (COG) Transportation Planning Board in the fall. COG selects the contractor for the project and administers their contract. The firm of Rummel, Kepper & Kahl, LLP is working with the Citu on the project, which is now underway. The upcoming community meeting is the kick-off of the project which is looking at opportunities for providing protected bike lanes along Rhode Island Avenue. Options will be explored and 30% design plans prepared.

Davis Hall to Get A/V equipment

Back in May last year, Council Worksession, Council discussed three service levels for recording meetings or other events at Davis Hall. The estimated cost of the different options ranged from $24,000 to $36,000.

Council agreed that the audio/visual capacity at Davis Hall should include the capability to record, broadcast, and stream events at Davis Hall. The proposed layout would allow for an audience of approximately 45 people. The maximum capacity of the Davis Hall multipurpose room is 88 people (without tables). Based on the Council discussion,

City IT staff requested and received updated price proposals that would provide for the AV equipment and installation required to record, broadcast, and live-stream meetings at Davis Hall. The proposals included a new projector and screen, two cameras, wired and wireless microphones, and a secure cabinet.

At tomorrow’s meeting, the Council will approving a contract with KIPP Visual Systems in the amount of $37,091.71. Because the item is more than $30,000, a super-majority vote is required to approve this item.