New Multi-family Housing Coming at the Corner of Hartwick and Route 1

The proposed development ( the Terrapin House), at the northeast corner of Route 1 and Hartwick Road is a mixed-use retail/multifamily building with 160-175 units and 10,000-15,000 square feet of retail.

The Applicant, 12300 Carrol Investors, LLC. and Terrapin Main Street, LLC. has submitted a Conceptual Site Plan (CSP) request to rezone lots 9 and 10 on Yale Avenue in the Old Town neighborhood from R-55 to MUI, DDOZ.

The Applicant plans a future redevelopment to include Parcel A and Lots 9-12. The Planning Board hearing date is scheduled for March 25, 2021, and a future District Council hearing will be scheduled to approve the zoning request.

The Council will consider supporting the concept plan.

Council Supports Special Exception Request by the Children Guild’s Preschool

At last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the Council supported Special Exception (SE) request by the Children’s Guild, Inc to allow the replacement of a 50-child daycare center with a 120-child pre-school within the existing College Park United Methodist Church at 9601 Rhode Island Avenue (northeast quadrant of the intersection of Rhode Island Avenue and Hollywood Road).

The property is zoned R-55 which allows private schools on property less than 5 acres as a Special Exception. The Planning Board hearing date is scheduled for March 4, 2021.

The traffic and parking issues were two major concerns we heard from the surrounding residents and the members of the NCPCA (who supported the project). As much as we support this wonderful new amenity in the neighborhood, we are also sensitive to the concerns our neighbors have about its potential negative impact.

Our staff and attorneys have worked with the Children Guilds and the Church administration to address these concerns in the best way possible. Regarding the traffic issue, the school said they will consider implementing a staggered drop-off and pick-up plan of the children attending the school, to reduce the volume of traffic during any given time. Here are 2 conditions regarding the traffic and parking in the Declaration of Covenants between the City, the School, and the Church.

CONDITION 3: Prior to issuance of the use and occupancy permit for the pre-school with 120 students, Children’s Guild shall prepare a traffic access plan (“Plan”) that is acceptable to the City for the dropping off and picking up of students. As part of the Plan, Children’s Guild shall provide that all drop off and pick up of students will take place by means of a one-way loop, to be reflected on the Special Exception Site Plan, from 50th Avenue, through the southernmost parking lot. In the event that the Plan is changed, the Applicant will notify the City. Upon request, the Applicant will provide a copy of the Plan to the City. In the event a complaint is received by the City about the operation of the Plan, the Applicant and City agree to meet and confer with respect to an appropriate solution.

CONDITION 4. Prior to issuance of the use and occupancy permit for the pre-school for 120 students, Children’s Guild shall prepare a parking plan (“Parking Plan”) acceptable to the City that accommodates parking on-site for the school and other permissible activities, if any, that may take place during the hours that the school is open. The Parking Plan will include designated spaces for school faculty, staff and visitors, while also accommodating spaces for permissible activities that take place in other parts of the church buildings during school hours. In the event that the Parking Plan is changed, Children’s Guild will notify the City. Upon request, Children’s Guild will provide a copy of the Parking Plan to the City. In the event a complaint is received by the City about the operation of the Parking Plan, Children’s Guild, the Church and the City agree to meet and confer with respect to an appropriate solution.

Extending Council Term May be on this November Ballot Again

At next week’s worksession, the Council will discuss placing this issue of extending Council term from 2 to 4 years on the 2021 ballot and developing a voter education plan.

In early 2018 Mayor and Council adopted priorities that included consideration of a Charter amendment creating four-year staggered terms, transitioning four district seats to four at-large seats, and mid-term redistricting. Subsequently, Council decided to move forward only with the exploration of four-year staggered terms.

In November 2018 Council created a Charter Review Commission to evaluate the pros and cons of lengthening the term for the office of Mayor and Councilmembers to four years; to solicit resident input and conduct other research as deemed appropriate by the Commission, and prepare an information report that discusses the benefits and concerns associated with changing the length of the elected terms. The final report of the Charter Review Commission was submitted to the Mayor and Council on May 31, 2019, and is posted on the City’s website.

In July 2019 the Mayor and Council discussed the report and decided to place advisory questions on the ballot for the November 5, 2019 election. In August 2019 the Mayor and Council approved the advisory ballot questions with respect to whether voters support 1) two- or four-year terms for Mayor and Council and 2) staggered or concurrent terms for Council in the case of four-year terms. 1,027 voters supported 2 Year Term whereas 935 voters supported 4 Year Term. I personally felt that keeping the Council term to the current 2 years was the right thing to do.

[City of College Park]

Metro Proposing to Close College Park Station, Cut Bus Services

College Park – UMD Metro Station

Recently Metro has released its FY 2022 budget, which you can find here on Metro’s website.

According to the proposed budget, Metro is proposing to close the College Park – UMD station. Additionally, it’s planning to eliminate bus route 86, which serves College Park and the Route 1 corridor, and modifying bus route 83 to terminate at Greenbelt Metro station.

Other proposed changes to the Metrorail system are 30-minute service frequencies between trains, currently 12 minutes, and a decrease in parking fees from $5.20 to $4.95 in Prince George’s County.

Metro will be hosting a Public Hearing on the proposed changes on March 8, 2021, at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., March 9, 2021, at 6 p.m., and March 10, 2021, at 6 p.m.

Also, please take this survey on Metro’s budget proposal here.

The City Council will discuss the WMATA budget at our next week’s Council meeting.

County Schools May Start In-Person Classes in April

Hollywood Elementary School

Last week, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Monica Goldson announced plans to reopen Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) for in-person hybrid teaching and learning starting in April while giving families the opportunity to continue distance learning through the end of the school year.

Dr. Goldson emphasized the importance of striking a balance between safety, academics and well-being amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who prefer to take online classes may look into the programs offered by online colleges for military.

“While we have made substantial investments to implement a virtual learning experience for all of our students, we know that nothing can truly replace the experience of interacting with their educators and classmates in a classroom. At the same time, our highest priority from the very beginning of this pandemic and to this day continues to be the safety of our students and staff,” said Dr. Goldson. “In April, we will implement a hybrid learning schedule, where students can split their time between in-person and remote learning, and that families may opt into. We believe this plan prioritizes health, safety, equity and excellence.”

Family Survey

PGCPS will distribute a survey through schools today to all families so they can select to either continue virtual learning for the remainder of the school year or begin hybrid instruction two days a week in April until the end of the school year. Families will have until Sunday, February 28 to complete the survey. The hybrid learning model will include staggered scheduling with students divided into two groups for in-person instruction on back to back days with appropriate social distancing in classrooms and throughout the school building. The remaining three days will be spent in distance learning sessions each week.

Return to Teaching and Learning

Next month, the school system will welcome all educators back into classrooms ahead of students and return central office staff to their assigned work locations. On Thursday, April 8, Phase 1 instruction will begin with a two-day hybrid learning schedule for all special education students in kindergarten through 12th grade and for students in prekindergarten through sixth grade and 12th grade. On Thursday, April 15, Phase 2 instruction will begin for all remaining seventh- through 11th-graders.

Athletics / Key Spring Dates

For students involved in athletic activities, coaches may begin in-person afterschool conditioning and outdoor workouts on Wednesday, March 10. Spring sports season practice will begin Tuesday, April 6. In addition, Spring Break will proceed as scheduled from Monday, March 29 through Monday, April 5. Please note the last day of school for students will be Tuesday, June 15; for teachers, the last day will be Wednesday, June 16.

Academic and Safety Enhancements

Over the last several months, PGCPS has made record investments to help improve distance learning and implement hybrid educational models, focusing on professional development for educators around virtual teaching and learning, and used federal funding to help purchase cutting-edge technology to assist these efforts.

Vaccination clinics will continue in collaboration with the Prince George’s County Health Department and Kaiser Permanente. The Maryland COVID Testing Program will allow PGCPS to offer rapid and diagnostic testing for both symptomatic and asymptomatic students and staff. PGCPS currently conducts contact tracing for staff and will adopt similar protocols for students upon their return. Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be available to all staff and students when in-person learning resumes. Air filters in all schools and office buildings were upgraded to the CDC-recommended Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 13 with appropriate air quality testing conducted in all schools.

The school system’s current cleaning protocols require the PGCPS Environmental Team to respond with thorough cleaning and disinfecting of any facilities or areas within 24 hours of a known case of COVID-19.

“As a school system, we have shown restraint in not rushing to reopen,” said Dr. Goldson, “and we will continue to adhere to metrics for safe school reopening based on COVID-19 indicators.”

[ Source: PGCPS]

City Looking for Members to Serve on Lakeland Restorative Justice Committee

On June 9, 2020, the Mayor and Council passed Resolution 20-R-16 Renouncing Systemic Racism and Declaring Support for Black Lives. The Resolution called for a restorative justice process to address the harms caused to the Lakeland community, particularly during the urban renewal process.
The Resolution stated that the City “acknowledge[s] and apologize[s] for our City’s past history of oppression, particularly with regards to the Lakeland community, and actively seek[s] opportunities for accountability and truth-telling about past injustice, and aggressively seek opportunities for
restorative justice.”
To this end, the Mayor and Council plan to establish a Restorative Justice Commission. As a first step toward this goal, the City is establishing a Steering Committee to help guide the process.
The Steering Committee will be asked to:
•  Draft a proposed purpose, scope of work, and goals for the Restorative Justice Commission.
•  Recommend the composition of the Restorative Justice Commission.
•  Draft a proposed framework and timeline for the Restorative Justice Commission.
•  Identify resources and facilitators that the City Council could consider to help ensure this process will be successful.
The Steering Committee will be asked to complete its work within a short period of time, and its work will be done upon the presentation of its recommendations to the City Council.
Are you interested in serving on the Steering Committee?  Members will be drawn from the Lakeland community (including former Lakeland residents) and the community at large. We are particularly interested in identifying people who have experience with restorative justice processes. For more information, please contact citymanager@collegeparkmd.gov or call 240-487-3501.
If you are interested in serving on the Steering Committee, please complete the application at www.collegeparkmd.gov/boardapp and submit it to Janeen S. Miller, City Clerk, at jsmiller@collegeparkmd.govApplications are due by March 1, 2021.
[City of College Park]

UMD Issues COVID-19 Lockdown Order

University of Maryland

Last Saturday, the University of Maryland announced that it is implementing urgent interventions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on its campus.

The UMD president Darryll J. Pines made the following announcements:

  • All students living in residence halls and on-campus fraternity and sorority houses must sequester-in-place, effective at 12:00 noon (Saturday, February 20, 2021).
  • All students living off-campus in the greater College Park area are strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible and limit your activities.
  • All in-person instruction for undergraduate and graduate courses will transition to online instruction beginning on Monday, February 22.
  • Approved laboratory research activities, already operating at 50% capacity and with strict masking and distancing precautions, may continue as scheduled.

These measures will be in effect for at least one week, through Saturday, February 27.

Earlier this week, we notified you of a rise in COVID-19 cases in our community and took measures to mitigate viral spread. Since then, we have experienced a further increase in such cases. Following this increase, these actions were recommended by university health officials and the Campus Infectious Disease Management Executive Committee.

Under the sequester-in-place directive, all students living in residence halls are instructed to remain in your residence halls and in your rooms as much as possible.  The requirement for all campus citizens to test twice-monthly remains in effect; Stamp Student Union will remain open only for COVID testing and grab-and-go food.  RecWell facilities will be closed. Students may go outside to get fresh air only in the area immediately surrounding their residence hall and to pick-up food from dining halls.

Only those student employees working in Resident Life, Residential Facilities, Dining Services and Testing in Stamp are permitted to report to work – as these are essential operations to keep campus open, all while wearing a properly-fitted mask and maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance from others.

Wicomico Hall has been opened to add isolation capacity for positive cases, and additional space will open as needed.

Remain Vigilant 4 Maryland
We have reached a critical point in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and we all have a responsibility to to keep our community and our neighbors safe. It is imperative that every campus citizen follow our 4 Maryland protocols and these new interventions.

Failure to abide by these safety protocols will have significant consequences for every member of our community. Students not following these measures will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct and will face serious consequences, which can include suspension and expulsion. We all have a responsibility to keep our community safe. If you witness behavior that could put our community at risk, please notify the University by submitting concerns to the ethics, compliance and integrity website.

We need your help to reverse the uptick in positive cases. Whether you live on or off campus, practice the 4 Maryland Protocols. Avoid gatherings on and off campus. Remain in your room as much as possible. We’re sure you’ll find this helpful to achieving a healthier air inside your home. These preventive measures represent our best defense against the virus and our best strategy to protect our friends and colleagues from further spread.

Lastly, we remind you to follow our COVID-19 safety rules at all times. Even if you have recently tested negative, your test is only capturing one moment in time. You may still become infected and spread the virus to others after you leave the testing site, or you may already be infected and it may be too early in the process for the test to detect the infection. Do not let down your guard.

We recognize the distressing impact that COVID-19 is having on the mental health of our community. If you need assistance, the Counseling Center can provide support. In the coming days, we will continue to use data to inform our decisions and evaluation of the status of these new measures. Please remain vigilant!

Remembering the Victims of COVID-19

Yesterday, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 500,000 — a milestone that underscores the grave threat the virus still poses nationwide even as more Americans get vaccinated.

Tomorrow, the Mayor and Council will make a proclamation to recognize the first Monday in March is “COVID-19 Memorial Day,” in remembrance of those who have lost their lives and in honor of those who are forever marked By COVID and continue to suffer from the impact of this virus.

Also, in case you haven’t had a chance to register with COVID vaccination, please do so at your earliest. You can find a list of sites close to College Park on the State’s website https://www.marylandvax.org/ .

I’ve also put together a list of vaccine provider sites here on my blog. If you or a neighbor needs help with signing up, please reach out to me, and I will help you as best we can. College Park is also providing free rides to seniors who need them to access their vaccine appointments. Please call the Senior Services program at 301-345-8100.

City to Make a few Changes to it’s Election Laws

Every vote counts!

The Council held two Worksession discussions (February 2 and February 16) with the Board of Election Supervisors and have discussed changes to the election date and other matters related to the November election. Specifically, the Council is interested in holding the election on Sunday, November 7,
and in having applications for absentee ballots mailed to all registered voters.

At the next week’s meeting, the Council will consider the following amendments to the City Charter:

1. C3-5: Council expressed interest in holding the City election on a Sunday to provide residents with a more convenient day to vote in the hope that it will increase voter participation. Residents also have the option to vote by mail (absentee ballot) to eliminate the need to go to the poll at all. To provide flexibility in changing the date of the election, this amendment will allow the Mayor and Council to set the election date by March 31 in an election year. If a date is not designated by March 31, the “first Tuesday following the first Monday in November” will be the default date.

2. C3-6 B (3)(a): The proposed change to this section applies specifically to a candidate’s date of withdrawal in a Special Election. Currently, a candidate in a Special Election has until noon on the 11th calendar day before the election to withdraw their candidacy. The recommendation is to change this date to 4 days after the applications for candidacy are due.

3. C4-5 C: This proposed amendment is related to the date that petitions ad other candidates’ qualifying paperwork is due. This date is tied to the date that petitions and other qualifying paperwork is due.

4. C4-5 E: This proposed amendment is to move the deadline for candidate petitions and other qualifying paperwork from 46 days before the election to 53 days before the election, which adds one week between the date the paperwork is due and the date of the election. The second change in “E” relates to the specific circumstance where the deadline for candidate paperwork is extended “in the event that no qualified candidate files for office” by the due date. The proposal here is to shorten up this extension from 10 days to 7 days.

5. C4-5 F: This proposed amendment applies to the last day of withdrawal in a regular election. The proposal is instead to tie the withdrawal date to the date that candidacy paperwork is due.

6. C4-6: This proposed amendment will allow the date of a runoff election to be set by Mayor and Council that is no more than 45 days from the date that the election results were certified.

City Council to Weigh In on Two State Bills Opposing Maglev Project

At next week’s Council meeting, the College Park City Council will consider two State bills about the SCMaglev project.

The Baltimore-Washington Superconducting Magnetic Levitation (SCMAGLEV) Project is a proposed Maglev train system between Baltimore City and the District of Columbia, with an intermediate stop at the Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. In 2016, MDOT was awarded $27.8 million in federal funding to conduct the required Environmental Impact Statement. The EIS was published last month and January 2022. The environmental impact of the proposed maglev route is of concern to many people, as is the likely cost of the project. Additional information about the project can be found here on the Baltimore-Washington SCMAGLEV Project website: https://bwmaglev.info/project-documents/deis

The State bill SB 188 / HB 63 would prohibit the State (and instrumentalities of the State) from using any appropriation, with some exceptions, for a magnetic levitation (maglev) transportation system in the State. Maryland has been interested in evaluating a maglev system since 2001. The General Assembly has restricted funding at various times during this period.

The Council will also consider supporting Letter of Support HB 704 Emergency Bill- Maryland Stop the Maglev Act of 2021.

The City Council plans to discuss the project at a future work session and will consider taking its position on the project.

NextLOOK ft. Lineage Percussion: Shadows of Lakeland

TODAY: February 19, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.

Lineage Percussion is joining forces with renowned composer Carlos Simon to present the world premiere of Shadows of Lakeland.  Experience the voices of Lakeland as Lineage Percussion explores their vibrant history and resolve in times of uncertainty. Click here for more information.

Council Discusses Some Changes to this Year’s City Election

At this week’s meeting, Council members discussed this year’s City election with the City’s members of the Board of Election Supervisors.

The Board met with the Mayor and Council at the Worksession on February 2 to discuss and seek direction on the method of this year’s City election in November. Staff told us that Davis Hall is too small for COVID’s social distancing rule and thus holding an election this year. The new City Hall will be also not ready by the election time. Consequently, it was suggested that City should have this year’s election only at the College Park Community Center.

At the February 2 meeting, the Mayor and Council favored an option in which applications for absentee ballots would be mailed to all registered voters. Staff has provided an estimated cost of around $100K to hold the election under this option.

At the last meeting, the Council also favored changing the date of the election from Tuesday to Sunday for purposes of voter convenience. Such a change would require an amendment to the City Charter.

Trash Collection Day Moved to Friday

This afternoon, City issued the following notice:


Due to the forecasted winter weather and for the safety of our workers, Thursday’s trash and recycling collection (Cherry Hill; Autoville North; Sunnyside; area north of MD 193 and east of Rhode Island Ave) has been delayed to Friday. With between four to six inches of snow predicted, City crews will be deployed to plow and clear City streets at the onset of winter weather tomorrow morning.

Please help our snowplows clear your neighborhood street by parking cars in driveways or on one side of the street. For more information about the City’s snow plan or to track where the City snow plows are, please visit www.collegeparkmd.gov/snow.

Children’s Guild Preschool Asking Special Exception

The Children’s Guild, Inc. at the College Park United Methodist Church has submitted a Special Exception (SE) request to allow the replacement of a 50-child daycare center with a 120-child pre-school within the existing College Park United Methodist Church at 9601 Rhode Island Avenue (northeast quadrant of the intersection of Rhode Island Avenue and Hollywood Road).

You can read more about the preschool here on my blog. The property is zoned R-55 which allows private schools on property less than 5 acres as a Special Exception.

Special Exception cases are heard before the Planning Board and the Zoning Hearing Examiner (ZHE). The District Council has up to 30 days to appeal a decision of the ZHE. The Planning Board hearing date is scheduled for March 4, 2021. Staff recommends approving the special exception.

Tempo Student Housing Developer is Asking to Revisit Revitalization Tax Credit that the City Granted in Error

Back in 2019, Gilbane Development applied to the City for a Revitalization Tax Credit for the Northgate undergraduate student housing project. City staff erroneously processed the application and on January 14th, 2020 the Mayor and Council unanimously approved a resolution to provide the tax credit.

The revitalization tax credit was estimated at $571,020 in projected tax savings over a five-year period, based on the standard 75%, 60%, 45%, 30%, and 15% credit for the first through fifth years.

In June 2020, staff realized that the project was not eligible for the tax credit due to amendments in 2015 that made multi-family housing intended to house undergraduate students ineligible for the City Revitalization Tax Credit.

The City informed a representative of Gilbane that the project was ineligible for the tax credit and therefore the Council approval was in error and of no effect. Gilbane has requested the City make this project eligible for the tax credit.

In order for the project to become eligible for the Revitalization Tax Credit, the Council must amend the program by an ordinance. This requires an introduction, public hearing, and vote to adopt. The Council will discuss this option at tomorrow’s meeting.

[UPDATE (3/10/2021): The City Council voted to approve the waiver. Council members Kabir, Mitchell, and Mackie voted in opposition]