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Some City Committees May Go through a Few Changes

At tomorrow’s meeting, the Council will discuss recommendations by the Committee on Committees (CoC), in order to improvements to City Council Advisory Boards and Committees. The CoC was charged with reviewing the purpose and mission of each of the City’s boards and committees, identifying overlap and redundancy, and developing recommendations for improvements, including the disbandment of those boards and committees no longer needed or relevant. The COC has recommended making changes to the following committees:

The following improvements are recommended based on inputs from various stakeholders, including

members of the Committee on Committees:

  • Advisory Planning Commission (APC): Consider changes to include the utilization of the APC as the convener of community development meetings, as an anticipated requirement of the Zoning Rewrite.
  • Animal Welfare Committee (AWC): Update mission and
  • Cable TV Commission: Recommend disbandment.
  • College Park Seniors Committee: Increase total to 11 and remove councilmember position. This has occurred.
  • Committee for a Better Environment (CBE): Expand mission to include greater educational component. Code changes to Section 15.37 are recommended to remove the unnecessary prescriptive assignment of staff liaison.
  • Education Advisory Committee (EAC): Consider greater focus on identifying and recommending areas, such as legislation, funding, standards, the City Council may advocate for that improve educational opportunities and outcomes throughout Prince George’s County and the City College Park. Also, include function as an information clearinghouse. Amend some other duties and responsibilities of the EAC.
  • Recreation Board: Utilize Board to help oversee and coordinate other recreational activities and special events as needed.
  • Tree and Landscape (TLB): Recommend continued utilization of TLB for policy advisory purposes and commercial landscape review. Code changes to Section 179.5 are recommended to remove the overly prescriptive assignment of staff liaison and membership requirements.

The COC provides the following additional recommendations for discussion and consideration:

  • Advertise and recruit for expiring terms once per year
  • Establish 3-year terms for the appointed board and committee members, whereby the terms of one-third of the board or committee membership would expire on June 30 annually.
  • Staff liaisons and committee members review and update, if necessary, the board or committee’s Purpose/Description statement and, when applicable, develop annual work plans for Council’s review and approval
  • Consider updates to Rules and Procedures pertaining to Council-appointed Boards
  • Consider the establishment of an annual orientation and or City-wide field trip with committee members and invite community members interested in becoming more involved.
  • Consider the implementation of a “Code of Conduct” for Board members.

 

Group Asks to Reverse its Ban on Pit Bulls

In 1997, the Prince George’s County Council passed breed specific legislation banning dogs described or resembling a pit bull terrier, such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier or the American Pit Bull Terrier. Today, that antiquated ban is still in place. This legislation has not prevented the breeds–often friendly, loveable, family pets–from entering the County or the City of College Park. However, enforcing the ban is subjective to the individual evaluations of Prince George’s County Animal Services supervisors.

Experts like the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Animal Care and Control Association agree that no breed of dog is inherently dangerous and reject policies based solely on breed.

Backed with this information, local animal welfare organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Rescue Alliance have met with members of the Prince George’s County Council in hopes of removing the breed specific legislation from the revision of the Animal Control Ordinance which was presented to County Council on September 17, 2019. Currently, the breed specific language (Section 3-185.01) remains in the drafted revision.

City’s Animal Welfare Committee members is asking the repeal of the “pit bull ban” will reduce the stigma of the breed, increase the Prince George’s County live outcome and provide an outlet for happy, social dogs to be adopted to local families and households, including those in the City of College Park. City staff believe that enforcement of the breed specific legislation costs tax-payer money (often, with no true resolution) and often breaks up happy households with the removal of a family pet. We believe that an endorsement from the City of College Park, a municipality within Prince George’s County that provides concurrent Animal Control Services to City residents, will provide an insight that the County Council has not yet been presented with.

The Animal Control Ordinance has been referred to the Prince George’s County Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment Committee for discussion. The first review was held on September 26, 2019. A public hearing has not yet been scheduled.

At this week’s meeting, the City Council will discuss the proposed legislation and whether to support AWC’s proposal to lift the Pit Bull ban.

[City of College Park]

The Unruly Social Gathering Ordinance, Explained

Recently there’s been a lot of press and discussion about the Unruly Social Gathering Ordinance that was passed this week. To help clear up any confusion or incorrect information about the ordinance, here is an explanation of it with some FAQs.

[City of College Park]

Today – Traffic Alert

Today Friday, September 27, 2019 at 8:00 p.m., the University of Maryland will play Penn State at Maryland Stadium in College Park. This sold-out game is one of the most anticipated and talked about football matches this fall. The University of Maryland will not hold classes on campus after 12:00 p.m. and will provide administrative leave for staff to reduce traffic congestion from the thousands of fans coming to College Park.

To prepare for the game-related increase in traffic, please note the changes and recommendations below.

The 7300 block of Columbia Avenue will become a temporary No Parking Zone on September 27 from 6:00 a.m. until midnight. This is to allow Shuttle-UM service from the College Park Metro to the stadium (see map).

Traffic may be quite heavy at times, especially on Baltimore Avenue, University Boulevard, and Kenilworth Avenue near the University. Please plan accordingly and allow extra time to reach your destination. Consider staying in and watching the game from the comfort of your home!

Please follow all traffic advisories from the University of Maryland Police Department.

For any additional information or further advisories/notices leading up to the game, please follow the City’s Facebook and Twitter.

Game Day Text Alerts
If you would like to receive game day information text alerts regarding incidents, traffic problems, and other notifications about traffic pertaining to University of Maryland sporting events (including this and other football games), send a text message from your mobile device to 888777 with keyword: TerpsGameDay.

Walk and Talk with Police – October 10

Nuisance Law Passed with Some Changes

At last night’s meeting, the City Council held a Public Hearing on the Ordinance 19-O-13, “Nuisances”, an ordinance amending Chapter 141, Nuisances, that prohibits unruly social gatherings as a nuisance.

After a lengthy testimony from residents, students and property owners, the ordinance passed unanimously.

According to the draft ordinance, an unruly social gathering will constitute a party, event, or assemblage of four or more persons at a residence or other private property where:
A. Alcoholic beverages are being furnished to, consumed by, Or in possession of any underage person in violation of state law; or
B. Behavior or conduct is occurring that results in a substantial disturbance of the peace and quiet enjoyment of private or public property, which may include the following:
(1) Excessive noise is prohibited in chapter 138 of the code;
(2) Excessive traffic that is significantly above and beyond the normal amount of Pedestrian or vehicle traffic for the day, date, and time Of day for the neighborhood;
(3) Use of a controlled substance by any person at the Gathering;
(4) Obstruction of public streets or the presence of unruly Crowds that have spilled onto public streets;
(5) Public drunkenness or unlawful consumption of alcohol or alcoholic beverages;
(6) Assaults, batteries, fights, or other disturbances of the peace;
(7) Vandalism of public or private property;
(8) Public urination or defecation;
(9) Littering; or
(10) Other conduct which constitutes a threat to the public Safety, quiet enjoyment of residential or other private property, or the general welfare.

A violation is subject to a municipal infraction and fine, with a warning given on first offense to property owners. In addition, if there are three such violations in a 24-month period, the Public Services Director may schedule a hearing before the City’s Advisory Planning Commission for suspension or revocation of the City occupancy permit issued to a property. This is similar to the authority granted to the Director for Noise Code violations.

Four amendments were added to the draft the ordinance. The amendments were passed 5-3.
(1) The Mayor and Council will review this law in one year from the date of its adoption to determine that its operation is fair and effective, together with quarterly reviews with stakeholders.
(2) Unruly social gathering is defined as a party, event, or assemblage of eight (instead of four) or more persons at a residence or other private property
(3) A municipal infraction based only on excessive noise will not be issued under this section if one is issued under §138-6 of the city code for the same occurrence. Excessive noise will not be cited as part of a municipal infraction issued under this section unless An accurate sound-level meter reading for the same occurrence is not feasible or practicable.
(4) Third and subsequent violations Owner $500 (instead of $1,000) and suspension or revocation of the occupancy permit for the property effective at the end of the current leasing period.

The Council will discuss the implementation of this ordinance at next week’s meeting.

2019 City Election Candidate List

Yesterday, the City published the list of candidates for the upcoming 2019 Election to be held on November 5. Other than the District 1 seats, all other Council seats and the Mayoral seat will be contested.

The City plans to publish more detailed bio of all candidates in a few days. Please stay tuned!

Mayor
Lalzarliani H. Malsawma
Nikesha S. Pancho
Patrick L. Wojahn
District 1
Siddique M. Fazlul Kabir
Catherine Hope Kennedy
District 2
Patrick J. Brennan
Monroe S. Dennis
Oscar Gregory
District 3
Robert W. Day, Sr.
Mark Mullauer
John B. Rigg, III
District 4
Micheal O. Emmanuel
Maria Mackie
Denise C. Mitchell

City’s Tree Planting Programs

Did you know that the City offers two different tree-planting programs?
Tree Planting in the Right-of-Way: If you would like a tree planted in the right-of-way in front of your home, please contact Brenda Alexander to discuss options at 240-487-3595 or balexander@collegeparkmd.gov.
Tree Canopy Enhancement Program (TCEP) on Private Property: The City has a program to reimburse the cost (up to $150.00) of approved trees on private property. Click here for more information and application.
Also, City’s Public Works Department continues to receive calls about trees maintenance on private property. Please note that the property owner is responsible for any tree issues on their property.
[City of College Park]

Hollywood Residents Tom and Doris Davis to Receive 2019 Jack Perry Award

At this week’s meeting, the City Council will present this year’s Jack Perry Award to Hollywood residents Blaine “Tom” Davis and Doris Davis. Like Jack, they have served their community embodying the qualities Jack lived each and every day. Doris and Tom Davis moved to College Park 51 years ago and for 49 of those years, they have been involved in the neighborhood, civic and municipal affairs.

Doris remembers being an integral part of the committee to plan events in celebration of College Park’s 50th anniversary of incorporation in 1997. She helped to facilitate the events which were planned for each month, including the cleaning of the old Post Office, a Valentine’s Day dance and an egg hunt. A staunch supporter of our military veterans, Doris served as the chair and member of the Veterans Memorial Improvement Committee, later to become the Veterans Memorial Committee, for 15 years. Her meetings were always short and sweet. Under her supervision, each and every year, veterans from all military branches were remembered on Memorial Day and Veterans Day in a touching fashion. She has since given up her duties on the committee. In the 1990s, Doris was not only a member of the North College Park Citizens Association, but she also served as its treasurer. Only three years ago, Doris worked for a month at Spellman House temporarily replacing a staff member. A senior herself, she ensured the residents had their needs met in a timely fashion.

Tom, known as Blaine by some, served on the Economic Development Committee with Senator Jim Rosapepe prior to the inception of the College Park City University Partnership. The committee led the push for safer streets for pedestrians with the construction of the brick wall along Rt. 1 just north of Knox Rd. Tom, along with other committee members, pushed for sidewalks downtown and the now long gone mural which graced the south side of one of the downtown buildings. Being a veteran himself, it was natural for Tom to become a VMIC member. Over the last 15 years, he has participated in numerous Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies as an excellent emcee and speaker. He continues to work with Public Works to ensure the monument is in tip-top shape and the flags flying at the monument are in pristine condition. Tom spent 12 years as a member of the Cable Commission reviewing telecommunications service in general and applications and agreements for the use of the City’s rights‐of‐way by providers of telecommunications services.

Both the Davises take their civic duty very seriously and have worked on election campaigns as well as served as election observers over the years. They were also pioneers on the Field of First organization which was established to raise funds for the College Park Airport Museum. Tom and other Field of First members built the Bleriot plane which is still on display in the museum. While many residents are swept away by life, the Davises have always taken the time to serve their community, whether through their time giving back to veterans or improving the residents’ quality of life.

Thanks to Veterans Memorial Committee members Mary Cook and Seth Gomaljek for making the nominations and providing the bio .

Car Free Day – This Weekend

In the Washington, DC metropolitan area, Car Free Day 2019 will be celebrated:

Saturday, September 21 through
Monday, September 23, 2019.
Bike, Bus, Rideshare, Train, or Walk
One, Two, or all Three Days.
Take the pledge, even if you’re already car free.

Car Free Day is a worldwide event that encourages greener methods of travel; meaning ways to get around other than driving alone by car. Commuter Connections hosts Car Free Day in the Washington, DC region to bring awareness to the benefits of travel options such as transit, bicycling and walking; and also telework for people who can work from home. Carpooling and vanpooling count too, we call that “car-lite” since they are both lighter on the wallet and the environment than driving alone in a car.

Reduce your Carbon Footprint

Using more sustainable ways to get around helps reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion. The more people who travel using bicycles, buses, trains, carpools and vanpools, the fewer pollutants are released into the atmosphere.

Forum on Possible relocation to the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center

Please join Councilmember Dernoga and Federal Representatives on 10/1 for a meeting to discuss the possible relocation of the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing to the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. Please see the attached for details.

Council Discusses Security Camera Monitoring MOU with University of Maryland

At last night’s meeting, the City Council discussed the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Maryland.

The University of Maryland Department of Public Safety (UMDPS) live monitors eighteen (18) CCTV security cameras in Old Town and three (3) CCTV cameras on Baltimore Avenue between Lakeland and Berwyn House Roads for a total of 21 cameras.

UMDPS provided this service at no cost for three (3) years until the original MOU expired at the end of FY14.

The draft MOU retroactively sets the cost of live monitoring City cameras from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, at a cost of $6,899 per camera, and from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020, at a cost of $7,106 per camera.

The draft MOU provides an alternative such that UMDPS will provide record-only services for CCTV cameras at the annual unit prices: $13,482 for FY 20 and $13,881 for FY 21 If Council were to consider the alternative, the City would realize a savings of $135,345 beginning in fiscal year 20, which would allow the City to purchase approximately 6 cameras annually, including installation and maintenance by Hitachi, the City’s service provider for the City’s remaining cameras.

At the meeting, the COuncil requested the UMPD to provide data on existing cameras in relation to their effectiveness, such as crime incidents captured by these cameras that led to investigation or arrests. The COuncil is expected to discuss the data at a later time.

New Changes Coming to November 2019 Election

This year, a couple of changes have been made in order to make the elections more accessible to all College Park voters.

Forst, two new polling locations have been added in addition to the Davis Hall, 9217 51st Avenue location. The new locations are
1. Ritchie Coliseum, 7675 Baltimore Avenue – Parking enforcement will be relaxed on Election Day in the area immediately surrounding Ritchie.
2. Stamp Student Union, 3972 Campus Drive – Follow the parking attendant’s directions to park for free in the Stamp Union Garage while voting. Free parking is limited and will be monitored

Please note that 4500 Knox Road site will be unavailable due to the impending City HAll development.

Also, if you are not able to make it to the Polls on Election Day, you now have the option of Early Voting (in person, one day): This is in-person voting available on Sunday, October 27 from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the College Park Community Center, 5051 Pierce Avenue.

As usual, you can also vote by the following two options in certain circumstances:
• Absentee Vote (by mail, in advance): This is a vote-by-mail option available from early October through Election Day.
• Emergency Absentee Vote (in person, the week before Election Day): This option requires in-person application.

Check your calendar and make the voting plan that works best for you. The City Clerk’s office can provide more information about these voting options. The office can be reached at 240-487-3501

Council to Discuss SMART – to Reduce Trash and Encourage Recycling

At tomorrow’s meeting, the Council will discuss the SMART program (sometimes called Pay as You Throw [PAYT]), a program that City’s Committee of Better Environment (CBE recommended in order to reduce trash and increase recycling. CBE’s recommendation is available here on City’s website. The report describes a usage-based, revenue-neutral trash fee similar to metering for electricity, gas and water usage, for instance.  The proposed SMART program is similar to the one already in place in 10,000 communities across the nation and worldwide.

Typically, SMART communities produce 30 percent less trash than those like College Park, where trash costs are hidden in the property tax bill. CBE recommends residents use bags of different capacity based on the use of trash residents generate at their homes.

According to the recommendation, the City would require residents to buy specific brightly colored bags that carry its logo. The fee for the bag would include some of the cost of waste collection and disposal. A jurisdiction typically makes bags available in a variety of sizes from small 8-gallon kitchen bags to large 30-gallon bags, for example. Well-designed programs distribute bags through a variety of outlets where residents typically shop, which makes them easily accessible. The trash collector has to simply make sure that all bags are jurisdiction-specific bags and not pick up any that are not.

CBE recommends dropping the property tax by 2.5c per $100 of property value and reducing the annual landlord trash fee by $80. The drop in the City’s revenue of $325,000 would be compensated by a collection of bag fees and the decrease in the trash tipping fee due to the decrease in trash tonnage.

The workgroup also recommended a fee structure for all bulk-waste pickup at $10 per bulk pickup to would discourage abuse and decreasing the tax rate an additional $0.5 cents per $100 of assessed value to compensate for that additional charge. The workgroup also recommended that the city provide education to help people understand the benefits of the program and ways to reduce trash.

County to Study a Recreational Facility in North College Park

Recently we learned that the M-NCPPC has added a CIP budget item of $250,000 in its current budget (FY20) to do a feasibility study for the “North College Park Area Indoor Rec Facility” . Please see the screenshot of the budget item below.

Thanks to the advocacy of many north College Park residents, and in particular Councilman Tom Dernoga for making the request in this year’s budget. Interestingly, we were all told a few weeks before the budget was adopted that NCP community center item will not be adopted. We also didn’t find it in the draft budget.

City staff is going to talk to M-NCPPC staff in a few days to explore more about the study. We’re already several months into the FY budget cycle, so let’s hope that the money is carried over in the next year’s (FY21) budget. Please note that the M-NCPPC allocated $50,000 back in FY2013 to do a feasibility study but they didn’t do any study at that time.

College Park City Council has been asking the M-NCPPC to build a community center in north College Park for a couple of years now, but they have been pretty much ignoring them. M-NCPPC did add the feasibility study to build a community center in north College Park back in 2013 , but they did not do a study. Eventually, this item disappeared in the subsequent budgets. Prior to that, back in 2011, the M-NCPPC added a budget item to “design and construct” a community center in North College Park, unfortunately, it wasn’t funded and the item was taken out as well in the subsequent M-NCPPC budgets. As part of the Formula 2040 plan, M-NCPPC is planning to build big regional centers. They are proposing to build two big community centers in our area – Prince George’s Plaza Community Center and Fairland Sports and Aquatic Center This means smaller local community centers like the one they proposed in north College Park earlier may not happen in future.

Speaking of the FY21 budget, the M-NCPPC is going to hold a public forum next week at its Kenilworth Ave office to gather the public’s ideas/requests about the fiscal year 2021 budget. Here is the flyer where you can find more about the public forum here: https://www.kabircares.org/m-ncppc-budget-forum/. Please join the forum and speak in support of the north College Park Community Center there. We should be thanking the M-NCPPC for putting this in the current FY20 budget and ask them to continue funding it as it’s anticipated the study will not be completed in this fiscal year. The City Council will also discuss its own wish list and send a formal letter at the Oct 3rd worksession.