October 2013 General Meeting

Monthly Meeting Minutes
October 28, 2013
Lovely Lane Church

Officers’ Reports

PRESENT: 32 people were in attendance at the meeting.

CALL TO ORDER: Jeanne Knight called the meeting to order at 7:04pm.

John Henderson presented a motion to accept the minutes. Bob Brent seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

SECRETARY’S REPORT: Philip LaCombe confirmed that the minutes from the last meeting are posted on our website at http://oldgoucher.org.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Peter Duvall stated that the current available balance is $7,665. We spent $2,554 on plants and equipment on the greening grant. Peter is submitting the 2012 Maryland Personal Property filing. Phil inquired about the name on the articles of incorporation and Peter stated he has changed it to his name and address.

Old and Ongoing Business

25th Street Station

Bruce Willen reported on the latest regarding the 25th Street Station development. Last Thursday, representatives from WV Urban Development and Walmart presented revisions to their design. He reported that several hecklers disrupted the meeting in support of Walmart. Bruce said that the developer has not addressed the community’s core concerns of pedestrian accessibility and neighborhood integration.

Phil informed the group that the development has received a waiver from the current state stormwater regulations. They do not want to change the site plan because they have already received approval of their stormwater plan, just before the deadline to work with the former stormwater regulations.

Bruce announced that the next Urban Development and Architectural Review Panel (UDARP) hearing is Thursday, October 31 at the Benton Building, located at 417 E Fayette Street, 8th floor. The Panel has expressed many of the same concerns we have, but their input is only advisory to the Planning Commission.

John Schneider asked if the developer is still considered to the WV Urban Development. Bruce said that the developer plans to subdivide the property and sell the Walmart lot to Walmart. He expressed concern about Walmart signing the community agreement, and Jeanne noted that Walmart will not pay the Charles Village Community Benefits District surcharge.

Kara MH asked if Walmart was prevented from making our suggested changes in order to keep it a minor amendment. Bruce stated that the Planning Department would be able to approve our suggested changes as a minor amendment.

Joe James expressed concern that the process has been rigged to ensure approval. Kelly suggested that current and future improved interest could drive an improved design. Kathy pointed out that given the changes that are being considered a minor amendment now, the Maryland Avenue façade could be easily made far worse.

Carl Stokes stated that he is willing to take the position of the consensus of the community. One association has declared they want it to be a major amendment, two have declared they want it to be a minor amendment. OGCA has not formally declared its position. Jeanne added that the Charles Village Land Use Committee has also not declared its position.

John Schneider inquired about the political situation. Carl Stokes stated that the members who wanted a better design out-voted.

Phil LaCombe raised concerns about the loss in city tax dollars caused by the significant downsizing of the project, and the poor precedent that would be set by classifying the proposed change as a minor amendment. He suggested that Councilman Stokes would make a great champion on the issue.

Jason Pyeron and Mateusz Rozanski expressed concerns about Walmart not paying the Charles Village Community Benefits District surcharge, given the impacts of the traffic to the large retail center.  Jason asked about the timeline and Carl Stokes answered that the earliest it could go to the Planning Commission was November 14, though it will very likely be later.

Ning Li reiterated the negative impacts of the development and related them to the poor state of the neighborhood currently.

Bill Henry, City Councilman for District 4, suggested that the financial impacts of the change in design and ownership (city taxes and the CVCBD) should be brought up before the Planning Commission at the subdivision hearing.

Old Goucher Master Plan

Phil informed the group that the volunteer planners and architects working on the project have broken into working groups to develop an outline of the sections to be included in the plan. All of the groups have met in the last week. Bruce stressed the importance of the master plan in guiding future development.

Clinics and Social Services

Kelly Cross tied the issues of the Walmart and clinics together, both having a regional draw and corresponding negative impacts on inhibiting the potential of the neighborhood. State Delegate Mary Washington expressed her excitement to represent Old Goucher when the legislative districts are redrawn. She will be bringing the issue of our aging commercial corridors to the state level. Kelly expressed concern over the expansion of IBR on Maryland Avenue, which will be subsidized by the State. Staff of IBR clarified that the bond was for the expansion of research at the site.

Jeanne announced the Saturation of Service Agencies kickoff meeting at the Baltimore Lab School. Jeanne Knight introduced Aly Thompson of the Central Baltimore Partnership, who will be working on the issue with us. Aly encouraged neighbors to come because much of the meeting will be open discussion. Carl Stokes will co-chair the task force with the Central Baltimore Partnership.

Charles Village Land Use Committee

Peter Duvall reported that 2020-2024 North Calvert Street, in the middle of the North Calvert Green project, went to the committee. Ibrahim Sheik owns the building and asked for zoning variances to increase the number of units. He will restore the façades with historic tax credits. OGCA supported the appeal due to the difficulty of the project.

Peter also reported on 2029 St. Paul Street, where an appeal was requested for additional units. He stated that Charles North supports the appeal because they do not want the ground floor to remain commercial space. John Schneider asked whether demolition, which has started, was allowed at this point. Jeanne expressed concern about the high number of units in the building. Ning asked how we might improve tenant screening.

Maryland Geological Survey Building & St. Paul Street Lot

Jeanne Knight informed the group that George Ort, the new director of the Department of Natural Resources facility on St. Paul Street, wrote to OGCA about changes he would like to see in front of the historic building. Kelly elaborated on the intentions to restore the campus lawns, greens and gardens of the historic Goucher Campus. He said that state officials have expressed interest in placing the lot at St. Paul Street and 24th Street on the priority list for preservation. Delegate Washington stated that perhaps restored pervious space could mitigate impervious space.

Calvert Street Park

Jean Yahudah expressed her objections to a proposed dog park at Calvert Street Park, citing the needs of neighbors and especially children to use the park. She wants to improve the appearance of the park through volunteer work. She stressed the need for a democratic process to decide the uses of the park. John Henderson concurred with Jean’s remarks regarding democratic process. Jean suggested that dog owners would have their pets run throughout the entire park because a dog park would be too small.

Isobel Modica informed the group that there is more human waste in the park than dog waste. Prostitutes use the park at night. She said that changes are needed in the park, but a dog park is needed given the number of dogs in the neighborhood. Mateusz said that there is the potential to serve all of the community’s needs for outdoor space in the future.

Cathleen O’Neal, who has worked with many of the neighborhood kids, stressed the importance of including Barclay in the process. Phil reiterated, stressing the importance of working with Greater Greenmount Community Association on the issue.

Election Committee

Bob Brent made a call for people interested in serving on the OGCA Steering Committee. John Henderson nominated Terrence Dixon for Treasurer. Currently, nominations include:

  • President: Kelly Cross
  • Vice President: Jeanne Knight
  • Treasurer: Peter Duvall, Terrence Dixon, Ning Li
  • Secretary: none
  • CVCBD Representative: Jason Pyeron and John Henderson
  • 29th Street Community Center Representative: Theresa Murphy

Charles Village Community Benefits District

Jason Pyeron stated that the CVCBD will be seeking input on the mix of services offered in the next year. Input on programs and services will be collected from the community in November.

Jeanne brought up the issue of human defecation around the neighborhood. Jason confirmed that the CVCBD workers have noticed an increase in human waste recently and attribute it to the prostitution.

Announcements

Announcements from the Floor

Sheila Rees encouraged neighbors to join the Midnight Walks.

Councilman Henry announced that he would like to discuss late-night retail establishments at the next meeting.

Saturation of Service Agencies Kickoff Meeting

Tuesday, October 29 at 7pm – Baltimore Lab School

Old Goucher Community Association Next Meeting

Monday, November 18 at 7pm – Lovely Lane Church

  • Annual Meeting
  • Membership renewals
  • Election of officers

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 8:55pm.