RP Meeting Notes: Revised M Square Plan OK'd; Savings at Town Hall
Council members also marked the passing of Riverdale Park resident Jim Reed.
The following is a summary of developments and discussion points from Monday's legislative meeting of the Riverdale Park Mayor and Town Council:
• Mayor Vernon Archer presented Christine Wilson with a proclamation honoring her work as an English teacher at Northwestern High School. Wilson "empowers children by providing a strong foundation in the core curriculum areas and provides a disciplined environment with kindness and patience," the proclamation states.
• Archer noted that the Prince George's County Planning Board had conditionally approved the Cafritz rezoning plan on Thursday. He said that while the date of the District Council's hearing—the next step in the process—had yet to be scheduled, the applicant's attorney had told him that the current target date was April 16.
• The town is accepting nominations for the Mixed-Used Town Center Review Committee and the newly-formed Ethics Board. Nominations can be submitted to the mayor at email@example.com.
• Archer said he is starting to work with town staff on the FY 2013 budget and encouraged residents to share any thoughts on the subject with him.
• Town staff is also beginning to solicit qualifications from architects to design a planned youth and community wing at Town Hall, Archer said.
• Peggy Higgins, the District 2 representative on the Prince George's County Board of Education, delivered a brief update on the school system that touched on the county's move to student-based budgeting.
• Town Administrator Sarah Imhulse said that she was able work with a Montgomery County consortium to bring down the town's electricity rate again. Starting July 31, the rate will go down from 7.6 cents per kWh down to 6.4 cents.
• The town's recent shift to conducting payroll in-house will save approximately $12,000 a year, Imhulse said.
• Police Chief David Morris noted that Lt. Andrew Powell has been chosen to attend the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command.
• The Riverdale Park Police Department recently received and equipped eight new police cruisers, Morris said, which reflect "the pride that we have in our town and our police department."
• Public Works Director Leonard Addison noted that trash collection will proceed as usual on Monday, Feb. 20 despite the Presidents Day holiday.
• The town's spring cleanup event will fall on Saturday, April 21 this year, Addison said. Those interested in volunteering can contact the department at 301-864-1803.
• Riverdale Fire Department President Steve Lamphier told the council that second floor renovations at the station will begin soon.
• Ward 1 Councilman Jonathan Ebbeler said that the town is continuing to have talks with property owner Douglas Development about getting tenants at the town center. "If the Cafritz property [rezoning] makes it through the District Council proceedings, it is highly likely that we'll get more attention and movement towards our town center," Ebbeler said.
• Ebbeler also said there has been a recent series of house break-ins around town. "If you see anything suspicious around houses, don't second guess it—just call the police," he advised.
• Ward 2 Councilman Alan Thompson noted the passing of Riverdale Park resident Jim Reed, who he called "a constant and focused volunteer in town. … He was also an extraordinarily pleasant person to talk to and to visit with." Ward 3 Councilman David Lingua added that Reed was a "special person and a favorite son of this town."
• Lingua also reported that a resident is considering circulating a petition for speed humps on Oglethorpe Street.
• By a 4-0 vote, the council approved Archer's nomination of former Ward 2 councilwoman Kate Sharp to the town's Ethics Board.
• By a 4-0 vote, the council approved a permit to replace a chain link fence at 6305 45th Pl. with a six-foot wooden fence.
• By a 4-0 vote, the council approve several minor wording changes to the town's new ethics ordinance, reflecting input from state authorities.
• By a 4-0 vote, the council recommended approval of a revised detailed site plan for the University of Maryland's M Square Research Park.
• Before the M Square vote, councilman Ebbeler raised several concerns about parking and trip caps around the development. Ebbeler noted if only the first phase of the plan were to proceed, the project would be left "significantly over" the county's parking standards. "Looking around this area, it seems that some of the issues in tems of successes and failures have come down to phasing," Ebbeler said. "We see the pretty pictures of what happens at the end, but we also have to be realistic about what we get in the near future."
• Thompson introduced a proposed charter amendment for future consideration that would clarify who can approve purchases, contracts, and expenditures for the town.
• Council members Christopher Henry (Ward 4) and Raymond Rivas (Ward 5) were unable to attend Monday's meeting.