Minutes of October 7, 2002
Town of Riverdale Park
Mayor and Council Legislative Session
Minutes of October 7, 2002
Call To Order
Present were Councilmember's Feldberg, Hart, Tiberio, C. Davis, and Almirez. Also present were Police Chief Evans, Town Administrator Mr. Prangley, and Director of Public Works Mr. Houser.
CM W. Davis was absent due to an illness.
Pledge Of Allegiance And Moment of Silence
Approval Of Agenda
CM C. Davis made the motion to approve agenda with an addition. Motion was seconded by Tiberio. Motion passed unanimously.
Town Administrator and Treasurer's Report
Mr. Prangley read aloud the treasurer's report. The motion to approve the report, subject to audit, was made by CM Tiberio and was seconded by CM C. Davis.
Mr. Prangley reported that the community legacy grant proposal filed with the state for second phase for upgrades to improve aesthetics for patronage of Town Center buildings will be discussed later in the meeting. There has been a policy change towards the Community Development Block Grant (PY29 project). A report will be provided later on projects and updates around Town.
Mayor Herman thanked the Town staff, CM C Davis and W. Davis, and ministries in Town for the September 11th commemorative service. He also thanked Tracy Toscano, Susan Hines, JD DiMatteo, and the Riverdale Recreation Board for their efforts and the success of Riverdale Park Day. Fencing is up around the eight vacant Town Center buildings because work has begun. Town working with Douglas Development to get County permits. Full shell completion is expected by the end of the year with businesses in by spring. An artist rendering with a detailed design and floor plan was passed around to show what it will look like.
The Mayor expressed concerns everyone shares about the sniper noting that the Chief and his officers are listening for suspicious events or behavior. Town departments are maintaining an active presence. He asked people to be mindful of children, and of where other family members are.
Fire Department Report
Police Department and Code Enforcement Report
The Chief read aloud the police report and noted there was a major increase in stolen vehicles in the area, but not yet in Riverdale Park. Hyattsville, Bladensburg, and Mt. Ranier formed a task force with the MD State Police. Citizens are asked to lock their vehicles and report suspicious behavior. Unconsciouble acts the by sniper were made. Our police force has increased patrols and everyone is in uniform. They're providing security at Riverdale Elementary and at St. Bernards. All municipality police, the sheriffs' office, and the park police are covering the schools because county police are stretched in their efforts to catch the sniper. He assured residents that the sniper will be caught.
There was no code enforcement report because the officer went in for emergency dental treatment and wasn't able to provide a report.
Public Works Department Report
Mr. Houser reported that Madison Hills sidewalks have been successfully completed. A few of the raffled bicycles from Riverdale Park Day still haven't been picked up. Messages have been left at the homes of the winners and the bikes can be picked up during normal business hours.
Residents have been asking about tree trimming and removal; once trees are planted and established on the right of way they're considered a state tree so Public Works has to follow state laws regarding the trimming or cutting down of those trees. Permission has to be obtained from the state in order to remove them.
The Mayor held up a young lady's bag that was left at Riverdale Park Day and announced that it is being held at the Town office for pick up.
Committee and Ward Reports
CM Feldberg believed Riverdale Park Day was a success and thanked the Recreation Board for their work on the event. Three trees were raffled off and information about the public/private tree planting promotion was passed out. The program allows the purchase of trees at a minimal cost of $20 to residents for planning in their front yards. The trees normally cost $80 - $100. Residents are responsible for planting the trees purchased. Interested residents should call the town office.
CM Hart said the legislative committee didn't have anything to report at this time. He echoed sentiments that Riverdale Park Day was a big success and of looking forward to next year. A Ward 2 social was held in his home the night before where people gathered to talk and eat. He announced that the event will be held each month in his home and all Ward 2 residents are welcome. CM Hart reminded everyone to be sure to stop at stop signs and reported that many cars just blow through the four way stop where he lives even when children are nearby or are trying to cross the road.
CM Tiberio announced that redistricting matters would be discussed later in the evening including potential legislative act dates for adoption at the beginning of next month. CM Tiberio and Mr. Prangley will meet with the auditors on a preliminary scale regarding the final report, which will be released soon. He thanked everyone for the success of Riverdale Park Day, especially the residents who attended, and the Recreation Board for their work. He thanked the Chief for placing the speed machined/traffic calming device on Taylor Rd, it's been helpful.
CM C. Davis reported that street repairs in Ward 4 continue. 47th Ave is like a disaster area with some of the temporary patch asphalt setting about a foot above the rest of the street making it treacherous. W. Riverdale Park residents are concerned about The Bus bus service that is traveling through their neighborhoods with empty buses. Mr. Prangley confirmed that the route has been published in the Town Crier but there's a deviation from the published route - it's traveling northbound on 43rd instead of following northbound on 44th, and many of the buses are traveling empty. CM C. Davis believes the W. Riverdale Park route will soon be dropped.
Residents are encouraged to continue to call and report suspicious behaviors or persons to the police department.
The 24-hour trial period for the gas station will end on October 31st. No complaints have been filed from either residents or the surrounding businesses. CM C. Davis said a decision will be made in November about whether to allow the business to permanently remain open on a 24 hour basis so anyone with any input or comments should contact her in October. Affected neighborhoods will receive a letter once the decision is made.
CM C. Davis thanked those who worked on Riverdale Park Day. Residents from Ward 4 who are interested in serving should contact her because there are still openings on the Recreation Board - residents from one ward can fill open slots in another as well.
She urged residents to watch out for young Trick or Treater's this Halloween. A condominium proposal was submitted for Natoli Place, which will be discussed at the next MUTC meeting on October 16th. An Economic Development meeting will follow on October 28th.
The Town was recently surprised to receive plans and county permits from Sun Trust Bank who will be vacating their spot on the corner Route 1 and Queensbury for their own branch where the ATM used to be. The Town has little negotiating power at this point but they met with us and have agreed to some faÁade and lighting changes (adding windows, upgrading brick). The Town Center work is finally underway, residents are encouraged to stop by to see the work. The Historic House Tour will be December 8th from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the area north of EW Hwy and east of the RR tracks and will include seven houses in town. Volunteers are needed for the event. Interested residents should call 301-277-6615.
CM Almirez thanked everyone for making Riverdale Park Day a success. He thanked Chief Evans for work slowing traffic, and issuing tickets in Ward 5. Residents are still concerned about cars speeding through the ward late at night and after midnight. Residents are very concerned about the sniper. He encouraged people not to panic. CM Almirez delivered his report in Spanish as well.
CM W. Davis was out sick.
Susan McElrath, 4901 Ravenswood Rd, as one of the residents who collected signatures for the petition for the referendum, Ms. McElrath read a statement in response to recent comments by town officials in the Gazette regarding sale of the parcel of land at the intersection of Route 1 and EW Hwy. Felt it was important to set the record straight and articulate the concerns of those who signed the petition. Acknowledged that they didn't get enough signatures for a referendum but to call the outpouring of concern “symbolic” was a slap in the face. Believed councilmembers should consider this a wake-up call, ask why people are so upset, and what they can do to remedy the situation. Acknowledged accuracy that petition signature number is insignificant if compared to the entire population of the town, but if compared to number of registered voters, or number of people who actually vote in town- wide elections (appx 1,000), then the number of signatures on the petition is truly significant. In the past, less than 400 votes have decided mayoral races. Surprised at how many people shared similar concerns when presented with the petition regarding the town's direction, and a lack of trust in the current leadership. Many believed the council is not listening to residents concerns, had already made up it's mind on issues, or was just going through the motions with public comment. Regarding a lack of resident involvement in the process, Ms. McElrath said yes, Eckerd changed several elements of the building's design in response to council and resident input, but all the fancy changes will not make a big box store anything but a big box store. Believes the main wish of the residents at the February meeting was for a two story, mixed use building, and said it's inaccurate to say that the developer, or Eckerd accommodated those wishes, or that the council lobbied hard for this vision. All you need to do is see the Eckerd across from the Arlington Cinema and Draft House to know that Riverdale Park isn't getting anything special.
Miles Spicer, 4609 Riverdale Rd, said he'd been against selling the pocket park from the start but the council blows off every reason he comes up with for keeping it. Asked if anyone had recently appraised the parcel of land. The Mayor said no, but there was little reason to believe that it had gone up in value more than 10,000% since they purchased it - it's still on the tax rolls for $200. Mr. Spicer said they shouldn't judge the value of a property by the tax roll noting that there is about a $20k - $30k difference between the tax rolls and other property values. The Mayor said if it's a 2 to 1 ratio, the property is worth about $400. Mr. Spicer reminded him that the property doesn't belong to the Mayor, it belongs to the residents and if the council is going to sell the property, they should at least explore the matter. If we could get $40,000 instead of $30,000, the extra money could go towards helping purchase needed trucks for them. He said to not explore the absolute maximum is to not do right by the people who elected them.
Susan Hines, 4510 Oliver St, echoed Mr. Spicer's sentiments and said if, as we've so often heard, the town needs revenue, it makes sense to sell the land they invested in at a profit rather than to pass it on to Eckerd Drug basically for free. Believed the underground tank problem under the old Peelers Dry Cleaner has been blown out of proportion, they may or may not be regulated under state law, but the owner of Peelers has the responsibility of dealing with them. Ms. Hines has contacted the state department of the environment. They said watch to see that anything that goes on there is carried out in a careful manner.
She noted that in collecting petition signatures she only came across one person who declined to sign. When asked by those she spoke with about what she'd like to see, Ms. Hines explained that she's like to see what they'd all agreed to in the Town Vision (mixed use development), and wondered what had happened to that, why it couldn't be carried out in this project?. Others she spoke to wondered about that as well. She said the other thing people didn't understand, “a red herring issue”, was of how Eckerd has had an option on that property for the last four years. She said CM C. Davis and Mayor Herman knew that the Riverdale Park Redevelopment Corp did look into purchasing Peelers but were rebuffed because Eckerd already had an option on the property.
Ms. Hines read aloud her resignation statement of the Riverdale Park Preservation Association where she served as Secretary of the Association. She told of her pleasure at serving on the committee but of her inability to continue to serve under CM C. Davis who, as Chairperson of the Preservation Association, supported the Eckerd project but never discussed the matter or plans with members of the Association.
Gerard Kiernan, 5309 Riverdale Rd, referred to the Mayors earlier comments on the town center. He recalled that the Mayor said they would be settling with Jemal in June (delays had followed problems with the deed), but he'd also said that building permits would be pulled simultaneous with the settlement, but that it sounded like they hadn't been pulled yet at either county or town level. The Mayor said they've applied for the permits. Mr. Kiernan said it sounded like they were ready to go at the end of June, but we're now six weeks past settlement, and the deed hasn't been transferred yet. He asked if the covenant waved any of the town's building permit process regarding the 60-day demolition requirement. The Mayor said that would be discussed later in the evening.
Vernon Archer, 4510 Oliver Street, said his comments were particularly directed at the Mayor, CM Tiberio, and CM C. Davis, since he believed the three of them had cooperated to make themselves the focus of power on the council, but comments were directed at all. Mr. Archer said the reasons they've given for moving forward with the Eckerd project are not believed by anyone except those who have completely blinded themselves to following those who spoke. Every single pertinent issue has been evaded, and residents have been told that no one has come forward with another plan, but they know that no one can come forward with another plan as long as Eckerd, with their big box and their big parking lot, has an option on the property. Who would invest the hundreds of hours on a proposal while Eckerd has the option?
Mr. Archer said the council maintains that only deep pockets can deal with such issues as clean up of the cleaner tanks (from Peelers Dry Cleaner), and removal and disposal, but the council is very well aware that it's not environmentally regulated. They know PG County is filled with businesses operating next door to, or on top of, former dry cleaners. Residents are also told that we have to have more tax money, but this is a less tax producing plan - building's produce tax money, but Eckerd is building a small building in the middle of a large parking lot. Considering all the deception aimed at the residents, he wasn't surprised that there were questions and comments about the representatives taking bribes, why is the town was being sold out? Mr. Archer pointed out that no money was being paid to anyone. He believes they are evading the issue and those who are watching know the bribery has worked the other way around if there is any bribery at all. He believes that is the issue that needs to be addressed. The Mayor reminded Mr. Archer that there was a three minute limit.
Mr. Archer said they need to address the issue that the town has been sold out and that the three of them are positioning themselves to move into county polities. He said it's a well known fact that to get ahead in PG County you have to play ball with the developers. Mr. Archer charged the three to address the matter. He said the charter has provided citizens with recourse against malfeasance - the wrongful performance of legal acts. The charter also provides residents with the means to protect themselves against non-feasance - the failure to perform acts that should be performed, such as all three of their admissions that we have to have this tax money while they're refusing to get a gain out of the sale of the pocket park. Property in this area has gone up 20% a year. At the very least we should get that. He urged the council to reconsider their positions before the situation spins completely out of hand.
Dorothy Comer, a Takoma Park resident, introduced Car Free Mobility, an organization that will effectively deploy vehicles to reduce traffic. It's an organized shared group ridership service connecting people who need the service to professional drivers. It's not an individual service, but riders will be grouped together to make it more economical. Citizens are asked to go to their website at Carfree.biz to understand why this type of cooperative can effectively provide the mobility people need, without being dependent on automobiles.
Tracy Toscano, 4609 Oliver Street, thanked everyone who participated in, and attended Riverdale Part Day. She said she had a great time, put a lot of work into it, and had a fabulous staff. She thanked everyone who helped in small or large ways. Attendance was up, vendors were happy with sales, and everyone enjoyed the event. Anyone interested in helping next year should contact her. She thanked the police department, and the public works department, for all of their help in making the event a success.
RA Construction Corp plans for 4605 Madison Street improvements.
The Mayor noted that there no permits have been applied for yet and there were concerns about what they were doing there. Chuck Martin, said he would speak on behalf of Mr. Alvaringa who did not speak English well but who was a friend and business associate, as well as a certified minority contractor in MD. Mr. Martin said Mr. Alvaringa purchased a vacant property, applied for a certificate of occupancy, and the county inspected it. Part of it was falling down and he was told he had to demolish and reconstruct it to get his COA, but he failed to read the small print regarding contacting the Town.
CM Tiberio said he had no problem with tearing down the decrepit building - a falling down shed, but when told to stop work, Mr. Alvaring continued to repave the whole property. He was told to stop, concrete trucks and all. The did allow the concrete truck to be emptied first, but later the town found 4,000 square feet of brand new concrete, way above what was allowed. The permit said there would be a commercial interior walk through, said nothing of constructing the shed or a new building, but spoke of general interior work. He believed that was far from what they were seeing. When asked, Mr. Martin explained that the property would store bobcats, trucks, and allow for repair of equipment, similar to the property across the street. CM Tiberio said a letter came in a few months ago requesting that the five ton truck limit on Lafayette be removed, but the town said no because it's a residential street and nothing more than five tons had been used for years except for delivery. A new $100,000 street had just been put in there and the town won't have concrete trucks coming in and out. Mr. Alvaringa was given advice to be careful what he did there months ago. CM Tiberio reviewed nearby businesses but noted they didn't use concrete/heavy equipment trucks.
Mr. Martin said there was a communication gap when the stop work came in. Mr. Alvaringa believed he was to finish his pour so there wouldn't be cold joints in the concrete, and that's normally what you do when you pour so you have a good finished product. Mr. Alvaringa does light form work (curb, gutter, and sidewalks) and he goes to the sites where they do the work. Mr. Martin assured them that Mr. Alvaringa won't be bringing concrete trucks in and out of the area. They will have light body trucks (flatbeds) loaded with equipment and crews to do the work off site. He'll be storing and repairing trucks on his property and storing the forms, he's not a ready mix company. CM Tiberio said whoever wrote the earlier letter requested that the five ton truck signs be removed from Lafayette and confirmed that the trucks won't be coming down there. Mr. Martin said the concrete trucks were a one-time delivery to prepare and finish the property, same as at a residence. Mr. Alvaringa's work does not involve mixing and dispatching concrete, he's just an installer or builder.
CM Tiberio referred to the county building permit. Mr. Martin referred to the site plan showing the old shed that was to be ripped out and rebuilt. The county mandated that Mr. Alvaringa correct that before he could use the property. CM Tiberio and Mr. Martin discussed wording on the permit and plans which is what the Town based their approval and permit on. The Mayor asked if the complete work was consistent with the site plan. Mr. Martin, the Mayor, and CM Tiberio, further reviewed and discussed the plans and the work to be done. Mr. Martin apologized for the problems created by not going through the town.
CM Tiberio said a permit for destruction of the previous building, and building of the new building needed to be obtained. He understood the building was already built, but voiced concerns about a lack of information for future use of the property. Mr. Alvaringa didn't believe there was a problem since the businesses around him do the same type of work. Mr. Prangley said the M&C could issue a waiver of application process under the commercial process for demolition. CM Tiberio said they don't have a written request to approve the waiver of demolition section of the ordinance.
CM Tiberio made the motion to approve the demolition, the 60 day requirement required in the law, and that a permit be issued for that. CM Feldberg seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
CM Tiberio made a motion that they approve the issuing of a permit for construction of the new building, subject to the fees consistent with the plans. CM Feldberg seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
The Mayor said if Mr. Martin would be speaking on Mr. Alvaringa's behalf, that they realize that stop orders are to be adhered to immediately. There may be language barriers but there are law enforcement personnel and others who can help communicate, including CM Almirez, who has assisted with this. The Mayor said if an individual has the where with all to obtain a permit, they should have the where with all to understand what's in the permit as well. Mr. Martin apologized and said he believed they'll be happy in the end and Mr. Alvaringa will be an asset to the town.
Douglas Development Corp
Paul Milstein, VP of Douglas Development Corp said he's very excited about the work they're beginning. The permit process has begun including two meetings with PG County, a complete code review meeting as well as a follow up meeting today to expedite the permit as quickly as possible. The county is very supportive of what is being done on Town Center. The State Historic Approvals took a little longer. Douglas Development does a lot of historic restoration in this area and in the district, but getting the design complete and acceptable to the state and town council are the most important part and takes the longest. Building it is actually the easiest part. The state has signed off and they're doing a true restoration of the facades. The bay windows that are being removed are not the original bay windows so people shouldn't be alarmed - all the proper documentation is available for anyone who wants to see it. All that took an extra month and a half so they're trying to catch up now.
Everything regarding the state's demolition permit is processing and they're waiting for utility clearances. Once in, the demolition permits will be issued. Until then they're stabilizing and cleaning the site. A lot of garbage has to be removed. Select demolition will follow and he explained there was some gray area regarding degrees of demolition.
Mr. Milstein explained that he was coming before the council to request a waver on the 60 day notice if it is required so they don't need to wait another 60 days after everything comes through. They want the structures under roof prior to winter. Douglas Development believes in building quality projects first, then courting the proper tenants into that site, and they've been very successful in that approach. They're patient in their leasing, they've started, and want to do it in a timely manner and do a really good job. They will wait if the council wants them to though. They do all the work themselves, and have their own crews to do all historic restorations in house. They just finished the International Spy Museum which was built with James D. Davis because of the size of that job, but they normally only use their own carpenters, etc, who are well versed in doing historic restorations. Currently they're working to get it under roof by winter to get a warm lit box, it'll take about four months after winter to complete the interior. The corner building was done in stages, and was not constructed well so they're working to take a lot of that apart, fix the structural instabilities, and move to tenant work after winter. They're requesting the waiver to keep going. They expect to have county and demolition permits by the end of the week, assuming the utilities get their letters out. Architecture's are reviewed and in good shape. Currently waiting on electrical, mechanical and structural engineers to finish their drawings (by weeks end) before going to the county for full building permit, then to the Town for their permits.
CM C. Davis said the report was consistent with what they expected, and the timeline is tight. The Mayor asked, and Mr. Millstone confirmed that the full shell completion should be done by the day before Christmas, admitting it was a lot of work to do in a very short time.
CM C. Davis made the motion to wave the demolition time. CM Tiberio seconded the motion. The Mayor said it may be an unnecessary motion because of the partial, not the complete demolition, but it was out of an abundance of caution and must be done consistent with design plans previously approved. CM C. Davis explained the demolition involved back balconies, slab, and some of the inappropriate building materials (corner building, cupola, store fronts revised by past developers). He confirmed they would follow plans and not deviate from the plan unless directed by the State Historic Society. The motion passed unanimously.
CM C. Davis made the motion to approve the September 3, 2002 Regular Legislative Meeting minutes. CM Almirez seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
CM C. Davis made the motion to approve the August 5, 2002 Regular Legislative Meeting minutes. CM Almirez seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
CM Tiberio made the motion to approve the September 30, 2002 Special Legislative Session. CM C. Davis seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
The Mayor explained that the Deputy Town Administrator counted the total number of signatures on the referendum petition, and counted 394 signatures (without noting whether or not they were registered voters). The number of registered of voters at the time the ordinance for sale of the property passed was 2,363 registered voters. The 20% figure would require 473 actual signatures. The petition was only 16% of the required number.
CM Tiberio made the motion to reject the petition presented to the town to bring Resolution 2002-OR-3 to referendum, having failed to have the signatures required by the law. CM C. Davis seconded the motion.
The Mayor replied to public comments made earlier in the meeting. Whether or not the petition is successful, he said representatives do look at the petition. He said the opportunity to rehash, rebuff, insult, or personally attack members of the council for the positions they've taken is inappropriate. He recalled that there were no less than half a dozen public meetings over the last two years where the Eckerd matter was discussed, with an election in between. He said they not only have an obligation to the 394 who signed the petition, but also to the 6,000 plus other residents who pay taxes and who have asked the administration to look at the viable opportunities that exist for redevelopment in the area.
The Mayor took issue with Mr. Archer's comment that he “knew full well that people would not be able to make offers pending options that were exersized, or being expressed, with regard to a property”, but that negotiations or offers are not uncommon. All he would have had to do was offer more money, or be more financially capable of doing this. That corporation had liquid assets of less than $50,000, where the acquisition of that property alone would have been more than $250,000 alone forgetting the redevelopment costs. The Mayor said he took great umbrage at comments about another group that was ready, willing, and able to do redevelopment on that project, because there was not. He also took umbrage that the amount of money the property is currently bringing in, compared to an over $4M valuation that will happen after the project is completed, which will raise revenue to the town for over $60,000. One and a half police officers can be put on the street for that cost, and the council can do more to provide public safety.
The Mayor said the town has an opportunity to present a fiscally sound way to look at business. Municipalities are considering turning in their charters because they understand that their cost to provide service delivery exceeds their ability to raise revenue without taxing their people to death. The Mayor and others ran on a platform that they would do the best they could to make sound judgements that are fiscally responsible to the town. During many public hearings, others spoke in favor of Eckerd doing something sound and viable. It wasn't an easy decision but they negotiated substantive changes that are visually appealing, and will receive over $300,000 of public infrastructure from outside of the town. He said they are also addressing the sale of a parcel of land tonight, but the decision to build an Eckerd was made months ago. He said none of them received any money for votes they took. The Mayor said he was deeply insulted at Mr. Archer's comment where he thinks the Mayor is selling out the town because of other political plans. He said some were surprised he didn't run for the House of Delegates choosing instead to focus his energies on the town. The Mayor said he took great and considerable offense at those comments. He and his colleagues did not do this for some perception of personal gain, but for what was best for the community. That's what they were elected to do and they should be applauded for their efforts, not personally attacked or insulted because Mr. Archer disagreed with one of their opinions.
CM Tiberio responded to comments regarding the purchase of the property, and that they should have made money reselling it to Potomac Development. CM Tiberio said he was the only one who opposed purchasing it for $30,000. The parcel was only worth $500 and he'd wondered why not just pay $5,000 when the amount was arbitrary, but it was decided on by a previous administration. It's been suggested that he is seeking higher office but he doesn't know where this is coming from . He reviewed his past experience in town, and said if he wanted to run for higher officer somewhere else he could. He said he'd never accepted bribes, didn't like the association that bribes were involved, and took exception to the statement.
CM Feldberg said she didn't take any offense to any of the comments made during public comments. There are active citizens in the community and they have the right to express their opinions on the things the council does and we should all accept that. She said at least they come out here and show an interest instead of sitting at home watching television.
Alan Thompson, 4711 Sheridan Street, explained this was the first time he'd participated in a petition drive and had learned a lot from it. Said getting people to answer their doors and sign was hard work. Said it increased his respect for CM Tiberio who had brought many petitions to referendum in his time. He learned a lot about voters opinions about Eckerd, and the council in general. He said each signature has a story behind it. Said about 10% of the people who answered the door didn't want to sign - didn't care about any of it and didn't want to sign anything. Only about half of those, 5% (1 in20) of those he encountered supported the Eckerd project. Mr. Thompson believed Potomac Development should pay attention to that but doesn't think they're particularly interested in the Town's residents, but believes they see business coming in off of EW Hwy.
The overwhelming majority of the people they'd spoken with were happy and enthusiastic about signing. Some volunteered to take the petition to others, some brought out other family members to sign or flagged down neighbors to sign. Reasons for opposing the development varied - there are enough drug stores, traffic at that intersection is already overwhelming, among other reasons. Talking points were available but he didn't need them because people had their own reasons to sign it. Mr. Thompson said his councilperson (CM Feldberg) thought a majority of her constituents didn't want the development, but she felt obliged by prior votes of the rest of the council to vote for the transfer of the property. Based on his conversations, he thought her sense of their ward was correct.
He believed there was something that should deeply concern representatives - a sizable number of those who signed weren't as concerned with the topic of the petition as that they felt that the council wasn't listening to them. Many felt the council had failed them and wanted to send a strong signal of their overall dissatisfaction with the town government.
Dr. Thompson acknowledged that there weren't enough signatures to take it to referendum. As a council they can or must ignore that, but they should not ignore the broad message behind the signatures.
Gerard Kiernan, 5309 Riverdale Rd, corrected the Mayor's earlier comment that Eckerd's $450,000 development would bring in $60,000 in tax revenue when it will really only bring in about $18,900.
Six Foot Fence at 5402 Riverdale Rd
As requested by CM W. Davis, CM Tiberio made the motion to approve the six foot fence at 5402 Riverdale Rd in his absence. CM C. Davis seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Bid Opening for Improvements on 43rd Avenue
The Mayor announced that the town had received two bids, and after four years, WSSC has indicated a desire to work there, saying they'd like to do the work but it's not necessary. The work won't be done before next fall. CM C. Davis said she'd like to meet with her Hyattsville counterparts, Mr. Prangley and his Hyattsville counterpart, and WSSC, before moving forward. She said they've been trying for years to get improvements completed. The work has decimated the ward and they drag their feet on repairing it again. The street has approved speed humps and there is a cost involved in that as well. The Mayor said there is a tight time frame until November but the council would be meeting October 17th and the matter could be deferred until then and still do the project in the fall. CM C. Davis and CM Tiberio agreed that the issue should be taken off the agenda. Mr. Prangley agreed to set up a meeting.
Street Light at 49th Avenue, Pole #894127237
CM Feldberg made the motion to approve a street light at Somerset Rd at 49th Ave: Pole #894127327. CM Hart seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Prangley was asked to notify PEPCO of the approval and that they'll be paying for the arm to get the light installed.
CM Tiberio reviewed the redistricting information that was published in the Town Crier following several public meetings and explained that they were down to two plans. Small changes may be made still but the purpose this evening was to see if there were any further public comments on either of the two plans. He reiterated that the plans are still subject to variance at this time.
At the October 21st worksession, an initial council consensus adoption of one of the plans will occur. Following that, legislation will be prepared for redistricting in accordance with the law.
Alan Thompson, 4711 Sheridan St, commended the plans. His one concern was for the Ward 6 plan pointing out that the ward 4 numbers were more than 10% off the average. The range of acceptable numbers is plus or minus 5%. He believed the ward 2 number was just a hair low but knew the difficulty in balancing the numbers. The Mayor said the 5% variance rule is the one the supreme court has clearly said, if within 5%, it's prima facia valid. Anything outside of that is potentially subject to challenge. A similar problem occurred in 1990 with lines drawn. Mr. Thompson believed Mr. Kiernan presented a plan that had better numbers and asked if it were not accepted because neighborhoods were crossed. CM Tiberio said it was a good plan, and the numbers were better, but it didn't meet the area of commonality they were trying to get away from regarding neighborhood concepts. One line stretched from Madison Hills to the railroad tracks. Mr. Thompson said he'd read about the legal maze associated with racial numbers and asked if they planned to do it. CM Tiberio said they hadn't, but they tried to guarantee representation - two or three minority representation were easily possible. CM Tiberio said he could accept minor technical information until the middle of the month. A broad based discussion/public hearing will be held on October 21, 2002.
CM Feldberg deferred discussion of the handicapped parking space at 4711 Rittenhouse because she had not spoken with the homeowner yet.
Curb Cut at 4903 Somerset Rd
CM Hart made the motion to approve a curb cut at 4903 Somerset Rd and have the town pay for demolition to create a curb cut and apron. The mayor suggested that it be done. Mr. Houser believed that the drawing indicated a double apron but the work has not been bid out yet. CM Tiberio seconded the motion. He added that it was only a 9 foot driveway but the length to the street was 19 feet (standard is 12 - 13 feet). The Mayor said it's a single width apron and doesn't need to come out of the infrastructure trust because we have work earmarked under Phase II, and WSSC Phase I or II on Somerset Rd. Mr. Houser said it's a minimal amount.
CM Feldberg voiced concern that there is no regular procedure as to whether these curb cuts are paid for by the town or not. In many cases citizens have paid for their own curb cuts while the town has paid for others. She said she believed they should have reasons why they approve or disapprove the payment. The Mayor said historically they approved the cost in an area where rehabilitative work was being done, but there was no hard and fast policy. He suggested they could establish policy or answer questions about it. CM C. Davis said there is precedence for doing that and recently did one in Ward 6.
Mary Donaldson, 4906 Sheridan St asked for clarification regarding location of the house.
The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Houser was asked to indicate the location to the contractor.
New Police Cruisers
Mr. Prangley said they're trying to take advantage of the market and get an even lower rate than was quoted earlier but the proposal is not to exceed $55,000. Mr. Prangley said they would piggy-back this during the settlement of the public works machines (leaf machines and the medium duty truck).
CM C. Davis made the motion to finance the purchase of two police cruisers through AB & Emeral LaSalle (name?) for an amount not to exceed $55,000, at 4.9%. for a four year term. CM Tiberio seconded the motion
CM C. Davis asked about the old the cars are that are being replaced. The chief said they're retiring one. One of the new vehicles will go to an unmarked officer and the older car will go to the code enforcement officer. The motion passed unanimously.
NCU Certification for 6201 Natoli Place
The Mayor explained that the property owner at this location has alleged continuous use to operate an eight unit apartment for an extended period of time. He explained that they've conformed a use that is not otherwise permitted, it was at one time, but is no longer permitted in this zone. They're asking for action by October 14th, as to whether the town would take any action on this, and to recommend approval or not. CM Feldberg recommended approval since it's conforming to its original use and pointed out that zoning changed after the house was built.
CM Feldberg made the motion to recommend approval for NCU certification for 6201 Natoli Place. CM Tiberio seconded the motion. CM Feldberg expressed her hope that the property owners would keep the building up to code. The Mayor said it was one of the properties that is subject to the possibility of condominium rehabilitation.
The motion passed unanimously.
Trick or Treating Hours in Riverdale Park
CM Almirez made the motion to set Halloween trick or treat hours from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. CM C. Davis seconded the motion. Discussion followed about notifying residents of the hours, and that the Recreation Board was not holding an event this year. Notification will go out in the Town Crier. CM Tiberio said it's been 6:00 - 8:00 pm the last few years. After 8:00 pm it seemed that truck and car loads were coming in from surrounding areas. CM Tiberio said he'd like to amend the motion to 8:00 pm instead of 9:00 pm. CM Almirez said he wanted to leave it at 9:00 pm because it gives parents and kids time to get home, eat, change clothes, and still have time to go out. CM Feldberg agreed pointing out that many parents don't get home until 7:00 pm. The amendment died for lack of a second. The motion passed 4 - 0 - 1 CM Tiberio abstained.
The mayor said each of them received a draft letter of street and sidewalk improvements to waive competitive bidding requests, and appropriate up to $10k for sidewalk improvement plans, at the last worksession.
CM Tiberio said he'd provide a list of changes. CM Hart said the curbs at 4900 Ravenswood Rd are deteriorating at the joints, and the sidewalks need to be patched. He told of tripping in the dark. The Mayor said curb line section replacements are expensive. Mr. Houser said he thought it was to approve the spending of $4,800 to fix approximately 100 sections, and will identify the worst sections first, but there are more. Talked to NZI, who does this type of work and was quoted $3 per square foot for removal and replacement. The Mayor said NZI does single section removal and replacement for the county. The original request was to authorize an amount not to exceed $10k. The original estimate for identified sections was approximately $10k and there is $9,879 available in special projects 2.0. Amounts over that would come from the infrastructure trust fund.
CM Tiberio raised question about tree roots causing problems pointing out that we repair them only to have growing trees cause repeated problems.
Mr. Houser said they identified sections of 2 -3 inches or more. Many would only need a small repair job and they could just use a bonding cement and taper it so as not to catch your toe.
CM Feldberg voiced opposition to cutting major tree roots to create a flat sidewalk and suggested they use asphalt patches. Acknowledged that it doesn't look as good but you preserve the trees and you have mature trees. Many of the sites are affected by the trees - look at each individually. The Mayor said if you cut at a root you have to consult with state forestry to have the authorization to do so. Discussed procedures used when tree roots are involved. CM C. Davis told of a tree root that was cut to put a curb in but now the tree is leaning. CM Hart said the tree is damaged and will end up falling.
The Mayor suggested that they not make appropriations tonight but discuss it at the next meeting. They could appropriate a certain amount and make changes in consultation with the council.
CM Feldberg made the motion to spend not more than $10k on sidewalk and curb repairs, waive the competitive bidding requirement, and award it to NZI. CM Hart seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
CM C. Davis made the motion to approve two year Executive Contracts to Department Heads and the Town Administrator after completion of the first year of service. CM Tiberio seconded the motion. CM C. Davis reviewed two past meetings and explained why they were executive sessions. They were closed to the public because the actual policy of offering contracts on personnel. This covers the Police Chief, Town Administrator and Director of Public Works. The Mayor explained they were not taking votes on individual contracts within terms and conditions, but to have service contracts for the three positions to maintain top flight executives.
Gerard Kiernan, 5309 Riverdale Rd, pointed out that there has been a contract for the Chief of Police since 1990. He asked, if by setting a two year standard for two year contracts, were they tripping over the charter by obligating a future council for contract expenditure passed. Are they impacting them, how will they deal with the fact that department heads serve at the pleasure of the Mayor after obligating some amount of money under the contract. The Mayor said from an executive standpoint, it's not a policy they want to take o, but to have top flight executive material working for the town there was concern for addressing their constancy. He acknowldeged that if termination occurs, with or without cause, it does set up the possibility of a lawsuit.
CM Tiberio said nothing is different, they just established a policy, where these three positions are subject to an employment contract. The Mayor said his position is, employee contracts need to be ratified by the council, and doesn't believe he has sole said authority to execute a contract with someone, so the change would be in how that's administered.
The motion passed unanimously.
Prince Georges County CDBG Policy Change
Mr. Prangley informed the Mayor and Council of a modification on county CDBG program that they'd only learned of today. This is all occuring prior to a new incoming administration that will be sworn in this December regarding future CDBG awards. Mr. Prangley recalled that action was taken at the September meeting to endorse a project for the upcoming program year 29 CDBG. Award usually occurs in the fall, with public hearings, council worksessions, and actual funding decisions in June of each fiscal year. This new county policy change shies away from the past 28 years priority on infrastructure. An alternative would be to substitute economic development projects instead of street improvement projects. The deadline is next Tuesday. He knows for a fact that they'll reject any street improvement projects.
CM Tiberio said he wants to see a letter from that department explaining the new policy and explain by what authority they make the new policy. Pointed out it has never been advertised or presented by anyone in county council. The Mayor reminded everyone that they have to approve a project before next week - 6200 block of 47th Ave. Mayor said they may want to adopt a fall back proposal if verification is received addressing the problem of individuals making policy for an incoming admininistration.
CM C. Davis has Economic Development plan B, but has questions first - how much money is available - same as before? Mr. Prangley answered, $7m entitlement, and automatically by poll in place. The county automatically gets 20% automatically for administration costs - many have objected to this policy and municipalities have debated it. Out town is low compared to that. The hope is that the new administration may focus on the administrative cost problem. CM C. Davis said on average, they've received $125,000. Mr. Prangley said at a minimum. CM C Davis had a copy of what they should promote under this policy and read aloud from it commenting on how they evaluate these. Said the way this is written it looks like they want the money on Route 1 and Mr. Prangley agreed noting Route 1, Port Towns, and sister cities. CM C. Davis confirmed that they're to redo CDBG projects for Route 1 as redevelopment projects. Mr. Prangley said you don't have to go for redevelopment but can go in for housing projects. CM C. Davis asked if this precludes Town Center but it did not. Further discussion followed.
CM Tiberio said he is still concerned about seeing the change in writing, and wants to see the county representatives who made the decision tell us about it. Mr. Prangley admitted it was very odd that the county would make this policy change now. CM Tiberio said he wants to see CM Henderschott answer. Mr. Prangley reiterated that they just heard of the new policy today. CM Tiberio said he doesn't accept what they've done. CM Feldberg suggested they go ahead with their proposal and taylor it. CM C. Davis suggested they do matching funds with the Sarbanes Grant - Calvert House is interested in that. We have 27 year track record and don't want to lose the money. The Mayor said they could submit something saying they're aware of the policy change, they don't agree, etc, but want to advance. Explain if they're abandoning infrastructure, here's Plan B. It would be a real tragedy to lose $50,000 or $60,000. CM Feldberg said she was not comfortable picking something out of a hat. Whatever we pick will be at the pleasure of certain individuals rather than what we decide as a council. CM C. Davis asked about Route 1 corridor items. Mr. Prangley said they're shying away from all infrastructure. Suggested we go with what was approved last month but have back up plan because of next Tuesdays deadline. CM C. Davis asked about the response of Mr. Prangley's colleagues. He said there are a lot of upset people, but there's not much time to do anything. The Mayor asked what the council wanted to do and reiterated his suggestion of a back up plan. CM Tiberio and Mr. Prangley discussed how they've recently received less they requested. CM Tiberio said he's concerned for the 47th Avenue project noting it's a dangerous road. If we can't afford to do it ourselves (cost is over $100k), Mr. Prangley could call it economic development because it's a gateway to the town - language used is the key. CM C. Davis reviewed the wording they indicated in the county's notification.
CM Tiberio restated that the county has to provide the policy change in writing. The Mayor said he'll speak to Mr. Henderschott, and Mr. Prangley agreed that CM Henderschott should answer to this.
Gerard Kiernan, 5309 Riverdale Rd, understood from last month they were going to do 47th Ave from where Lafayette ends at the bottom of hill to the entrance of the Children's Center property. The area is a major commercial property route (Miranda/NARS/now another name), and asked how many people are employed in those businesses? Asked if Children's Center is zone commercial or not. Asked about improvements for emergency vehicles to the backside of our industrial area on Lafayette Pl that fronts on Edmonston. Thinks we can justify this project from an economic development viewpoint but will have to get statistics on how many employees are back there, vehicles that travel to and from the area, and of business incomes. Thinks we can justify existing projects because it's not a traditional residential street. Mr. Prangley said instead of infrastructure, they'll tag it as economic development.
The council agreed to reframe it as economic development instead of infrastructure.
Recess until 10:30 pm
48th Avenue Pocket Park
Mr. Houser said there were a number of liability issues regarding the pocket park and to go any further an in depth study would be required. The Town engineer didn't think it was an appropriate park and said bad sections of sidewalks would have to be removed. Mr. Houser and CM Feldberg said it wasn't even in the plan, and noted the project ends at Ravenswood. The Mayor said they don't need to discuss it at this time. If they receive some type of a report, they can consider whether they want to tack it on to the project. Mr. Houser said he'd try to get something from the engineer by the next meeting.
CM Feldberg proposed making traffic on Natoli Place one-way going north to Rittenhouse to make it safer. Mr. Houser explained the current situation pointing out if they put the stop sign on the other side it would negate two to three parking spaces and thought it would be a short stretch through. There was no traffic study recommendation.
CM Feldberg made the motion to make Natoli Place one way northbound. The motion was seconded by CM Tiberio. He said this came up about 20 years ago - same discussion and details.
The Mayor said he was uncomfortable creating a one-way street without any public comment and urged the council to table the matter until further discussion occurred. CM C. Davis agreed and wanted to talk to others involved.
CM Hart suggested that it would be helpful to have a map of the town during discussions such as these because the locations of their discussions aren't always clear.
Alan Thompson, 4711 Sheridan St, said he uses the road going southbound almost every day. Said he's almost been killed going southbound on that road. People going along Queensbury don't think they have a stop sign, while people coming up from Riverdale Rd act like everyone is going to make a right onto Queensbury Rd, so going up Natoli Pl seems the only thing to do. He noted that the 1927 Town Center Vision plan advocated closing the other branch of Lafayette that goes to that intersection to direct traffic that way.
David Hiles, 4804 Sheridan, agreed with Dr. Thompson's remarks. Believes the real issue is the huge amount of traffic going both north and southbound on Lafayette since the Airco through came in impacting this part of town. Mr. Hiles said he'd like to see that addressed. People drive very fast along there and almost saw a very serious accident near there. Acknowledged that the speed machine helped. He'd like to see it remain a two way street.
CM Feldberg tabled discussion of Natoli Place traffic patterns until the worksession. CM C. Davis seconded the motion that is a non-debatable motion.
The Mayor said he'd arrange for a map for future discussions.
Mr. Houser and CM Tiberio discussed which signs were to be removed along Taylor.
Meeting adjourned at 10:47pm
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