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Welcome to my blog, which features frequent updates on local Takoma Park issues, including City Council meeting agendas, plus occasional commentary on national news and politics.

March 8, 2017 City Council Meeting Agenda

Dear Neighbors:

The following is a link to the March 8, 2017 City Council Meeting Agenda: https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-wednesday-march-8-2017/.  This week’s meeting includes an important discussion on concepts for potential future development along the New Hampshire Avenue Corridor. In addition, there will be a preliminary vote on the proposed Police Department Mutual Aid Agreement between Takoma Park and the City of Laurel, MD, and we’ll be voting on two appointments to the City Noise Control Board, as well as a series of resolutions expressing the Council’s position on various bills that are pending in the State Legislature in Annapolis. We’ll also have an initial discussion of a subdivision application for a property located at the intersection of Ethan Allen and Jackson Avenues.

Update from Last Week’s Meeting.  The Council had a lengthy discussion last week about a proposal from the City’s Safe Roadways Committee to permit bicycle riding on sidewalks in Takoma Park. We didn’t reach anything close to a consensus on the topic, with some Councilmembers supporting the idea, and others opposing it or floating potential compromises. Based on everything I heard, I’m still not supportive of the idea (mainly because of concern about pedestrian safety), with the exception of younger children (and perhaps their parents accompanying them), or conceivably in narrowly defined areas where there is a very particular bicycle safety issue (though at this point I don’t know how that approach could actually be made to work in practice). In any case, we decided to have a second work session, at which we’ll have a further exchange of views on this set of issues. It’s not clear yet when that discussion will take place.

Action on the resolution urging Takoma Park landlords to rent apartments to refugees was also put off for a couple of weeks, so we can explore possible modifications to the resolution. It’s an important principle, so I hope we’ll be able to bring it back soon in a form that will help encourage assistance to refugees in a more meaningful way.

Laurel Mutual Aid Agreement.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170308-1.pdf. This will be the first vote on the Mutual Aid Agreement. As noted previously, while I have no objection to this agreement (which may be helpful in the future in cases where Takoma Park and Laurel can benefit from collaboration in emergency response or investigative situations), I continue to place a higher importance on finalizing such an agreement with Washington, DC, considering the elevated levels of certain types of crime in the areas of Takoma Park closer to the DC border. It appears that we won’t be able to complete that agreement until after a new Police Chief is installed in Washington, and I’m hopeful that will happen before long.

Noise Control Board.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170308-2A.pdf. As part of the Council’s work last year to strengthen the City’s Noise Ordinance, we also revitalized the Noise Control Board, a resident committee that was set up to help resolve noise related disputes in the community. I’m pleased that two additional residents have stepped forward to serve on the Board, and I’ll be voting in favor of their appointments.

State Legislation Resolutions.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170308-2B-J.pdf. The City previously took informal votes on supporting or opposing a number of pending State bills. We’ll be voting this week on resolutions embodying the positions we took on the bills (in some cases in favor, in other cases against). I support all of the resolutions. Two that stand out are the resolution in favor of the TRUST Act, legislation that would prevent law enforcement officials from inquiring about the immigration status of Marylanders or cooperating with Federal immigration officers; and a resolution backing a bill – sponsored by our new District 20 Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins – that calls for better notification by the State Highway Administration in advance of SHA road work in communities. I testified in favor of the first one before the State Assembly’s Judiciary Committee this past week in Annapolis, and I’m a strong proponent of the second bill – especially given all the challenges we have had with inadequate outreach by SHA. The Council is recommending an amendment that would require the SHA notification to apply not only to residents, but to municipalities, too, which I think is a good idea.

Subdivision Application.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170308-3.pdf. This is an initial discussion, with no votes scheduled at the Council meeting.

New Hampshire Avenue Redevelopment.  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/council-20170308-4.pdf.  City staff will brief the Council on planning activities related to the New Hampshire Avenue Corridor, including recommendations in the Takoma Langley Crossroads Sector Plan, the New Hampshire Avenue Corridor Concept Plan, and the State of Maryland analysis of the New Hampshire Avenue Corridor Economic Development Potential. This discussion will be an important step in our broader efforts to consider development on New Hampshire Avenue. With or without the Purple Line, it’s an area that has significant development potential that can have a positive impact on civic life and municipal finances. But as with development ideas elsewhere in the City, we have to make sure that we do all we can to maintain the fundamental character of Takoma Park. Among other things, that means keeping the City affordable for renters and low and moderate income homeowners; preserving open space; improving walkability and bicycle options; and expanding recreation opportunities and community building initiatives. Working for these goals will be a top priority or me.

Please feel free to be in touch with any questions or comments about these agenda items or any other local matters.

Peter Kovar

Takoma Park City Council
Ward One





March 15, 2017 City Council Meeting Agenda

Election Synchronization