Town of Cheverly
April 9, 2009
Call to Order
Meeting called to order at 8:00 pm in the Cheverly Community Center.
In attendance: Mayor Mosley, Mr. Warrington, Chief Robshaw, and CMs Watson, Eldridge, Johnson, and Schachter.
Pledge of Allegiance
Approved as written.
Minutes – Town Meeting 3/12/09
Placed on the worksession agenda.
Town Administrator Report
Mr. Warrington announced the County Planning Board approved the Town’s request for planning assistance for designing the land located at the old palm reader’s house. Pepco and WSSC have disconnected their lines. The Town is still waiting for confirmation from Washington Gas on shutting off the lines. A small amount of asbestos abatement will be performed soon.
Mayor Mosley invited residents to present to their counsel members ideas for planning designs for this land.
CM Eldridge proposed that the Planning Board meet on a weekend and invite all residents to attend and present ideas.
Mr. Warrington stated that the Special Exception Hearing for the Junkyard on Marblewood is up for review on May 14. He proposed that the Town request a full hearing on that date.
Mayor Mosley stated the Town does, and will continue to oppose this. It is not necessary to add this item to the agenda.
Police Department Report
Chief Robshaw reported on the month of March. Crime is down 28%. Chief Robshaw attributes this to having a full staff (15 officers); the resident radio group; the work of the task force; and the residents reporting suspicious activity at a high rate. Chief Robshaw thanked the attendees of last month’s CPACT meeting. He encouraged residents to participate in the ride-a-long program, especially for the morning hours. A $219,000 TOPS Grant was applied for and is awaiting approval from the Dept of Justice. Please email the Chief with reports of traffic violations and suspicious persons.
CM Eldridge asked what the grant money would go towards. In addition, he asked if there are any more grants pending, specifically for the cost of replacing the radio system.
Chief Robshaw responded that the grant would go towards paying a police officer for 3 years, then the town would be responsible for paying 1 additional year. A $22,000 grant was received, and he is waiting for funds that would pay for weapons, and computer equipment. Regarding grants for the upgrade to the radio system, the Chief stated that the Police Association has been in the forefront of applying for grants for all police stations. The Chief has applied for 5 grants but has been turned down for each.
CM Eldridge is working on a non-motorized planning study, with the emphasis on Kilmer Avenue and Landover Road. CM Eldridge hopes that this information may be of assistance to the Town police.
Chief Robshaw stated that the Town has spent about $7,000 in time on pedestrian violations. There will be new audio and visual signals at that intersection soon.
CM Watson thanked the excellent work of the police regarding the missing person on Crest and the towing of vehicles in Town. Chief Robshaw inquired as to the status of speed cameras for our area. CM Watson replied that the Governor’s bill (Senate Bill 277) addressing speed cameras is going forward and will likely reach the legislature soon. The bill provides that cameras will be in school zones and highway work zones. There are certain hours the cameras will operate. The bill does not define school. The Town would be able to operate the camera and can keep most of the revenue so long as it goes towards public safety purposes.
Mayor Mosley stated that there are red light cameras in town and believes they have helped reduce car accidents. The Mayor commended Chief Robshaw for his report and his applying for the various grants that are helping the Town.
Mayor and Council Announcements
Mayor Mosley announced that on Monday May 4 the Town will hold its election for all CM seats. The polls are open from 7am-8pm.
CM Ford stated that he attended the evening out with Bladensburg High School. The meeting was to bring local elected officials together and support the school, and its projects. CM Ford will be leaving the Town Council, however, he will continue to support Bladensburg High School.
Mayor Mosley stated the worksession is on April 23. The topics for discussion will include the first draft of the budget; the economic marketing plan; bus stop benches on Cheverly Avenue; a personnel issue; and the two sets of town minutes.
CM Eldridge stated that with respect to the non-motorized transportation study, we have narrowed down the consultation to the Metropolitan Council of Governments.
CM Watson recommended two agenda items for May: 1) the technology overview of the Town; and 2) the longevity of political yard signs.
Mayor Mosley recommended that the recycling of the old palm reader’s house be added to the agenda.
No one present.
Cheverly Day Report
CM Watson announced that Cheverly Day is June 6. There will be no parade, dance, or book. The Cicada Crunch is tentative. CM Watson stated that there is interest for a basketball tournament in the gym, but there is not currently anyone to organize the event. There are plans for video games for the 8-18 age range. There will be a Beer Garden, and a moon bounce. There will be staff from the moon bounce company to supervise the activity. It is hoped that there will be a Peace Month event on the Friday night before Cheverly Day (in lieu of the dance). Finally, there will be fireworks.
Green Infrastructure Plan Steering Committee
CM Eldridge stated that the Committee had a guest speaker, Jennifer Conning of the University of Maryland. She discussed ways to finance some of the projects that the Committee is proposing (i.e. purchasing green space and trees, advertising improvements).
A resident inquired why the Town was not having a Cheverly Day Dance.
Mayor Mosley stated that the Town has not broken even from the 3 dances that were held. The first year the CMs budgeted $1500 that the Town was willing to lose. At times attendance was very low, and last year the Town lost approximately $1800. The Town believed it should take a break this year, and is willing to perhaps organize a dance next year.
Proclamation Declaring May as Peace Month in Cheverly
CM Schachter read the proclamation declaring May as Peace Month in Cheverly:
Whereas the Town of Cheverly is a safe non-violent, prosperous community and our residents are committed to preserve the peace and studying options for maintaining the peace; and
Whereas the town desires to become a model community with directing its resources to the culture of peace with providing the opportunity to children the option to resolve conflict through non-violent means; and
Whereas that without equality and justice in our community there can never be true peace; and
Whereas the Mayor and Town Council pledge to pursue through their ordinances, policies and actions of the council, and actions and conduct of the Town staff, to keep a peaceful quality of life for our town residents; and
Whereas the Mayor and Council recognize that people of all walks of life both as individuals and as members of town organizations, positively contributing to the peace and wellbeing of our community; and
Whereas the Mayor and Council resolve to work with volunteers and groups in Cheverly to develop non-partisan educational programs and support these ideals with practical application in our community including sponsoring a peace forum at the Town’s Community Center; and
Therefore, be it resolved that the Mayor and Town Council declare Cheverly as Peace Month in Cheverly.
CM Eldridge moved to adopt P-1-09 declaring May as Peace Month in Cheverly. CM Watson seconded. CM Watson introduced a friendly amendment changing “resolution of conflict” to “resolve conflict” in paragraph 2. Unanimously approved.
CM Watson moved to excuse CM Callahan. Seconded by CM Schacter. Unanimously approved.
Presentation- Prince George’s Feral Cat Friends
Mayor Mosley introduced the Feral Cat Organization present to discuss the feral cat problem in town.
Tim Safell , co-founder of Prince George’s Friends ASPCA, was present to discuss cat population controls. There is a monthly meeting on the second Sunday of each month at St. Matthew’s Church on 450 in Bowie. Feral cats begin as domestic pets which are sometimes unintentionally lost. The cats living outside tend to live in colonies and have offspring. They lose domestication and run from humans. Feral cats are a County wide issue. If we do nothing about the feral cats, the colony of cats tends to stabilize relative to the amount of food available. Some people feed these cats believing they are hungry, however, this may increase the cat population. A feeding ban is ineffective because people will continue to feed the cats believing it’s the
right thing to do. Some propose to move all the cats indoors. However, it is not practical to house over 143,000 cats indoors. Sanctuaries typically do not take feral cats or only 1 at a time. A very popular approach is called catch and kill. The cats are trapped and euthanized. The effect is short term, and it the prey population increases (i.e. rodents) because the predators (cats) are gone. In addition, it sets the example that it is okay to terminate those creatures that are superfluous and a nuisance. Also, it drives those individuals that feed feral cats to feel as though they must protect these cats and bring them into the home. This could be a bad situation because it takes time to socialize these cats. “The link” is a concept that has been introduced by the Humane Association which emphasizes that the way we treat animals relates to the way we treat people. Disrespect for animals will
extend to people. Finally, it costs about $135 to catch and kill a feral cat.
Another approach that has been around for a little while is “trap-neuter-return” (TNR). The cats are humanly trapped, vaccinated for rabies, neutered/spayed, ear-tipped for identification and returned to where they were trapped. This was started 10 years ago. Several gaps were found in this project. Now, the TNR program does the basics, plus training for volunteers, outreach and educating the community. Veterinarians are part of the team, follow-ups on the colony, and kittens are removed before they become feral. The TNR is less expensive than catch and kill. A neuter/spay is $60. A TNR program is effective if it has the administration of a non-profit organization, is sanction by the government, and reports on the project. One objection to the TNR is
rabies. However, the program provides vaccination. Another problem raised is bird predation. However, the TNR is the only program that shows that the feral cat population is reduced over time. Finally, the program saves money.
Another issue often raised is whether it is legal to feed the feral cats or if TNR is legal. It is important to focus on the definition and grammar provided in ours laws. For example, an animal is every non-human species both domestic and wild. Animals are only domestic or wild. It is a well understood principal that wild animals are considered to be the property of the state and are not to be held by individuals. Feral animals are considered wild according to the Prince George’s County code. There is no law in the code that says it is illegal to feed wild animals. However, the code provides that keeping and harboring a wild animal is unlawful.
Mr. Safell offered to provide more information on the availability of this alternative, and administer a TNR program for Cheverly.
Mayor Mosley stated that the only related policy is an open food policy. Otherwise, Cheverly does not have a policy.
CM Watson believes that the Town has attempted to be helpful to residents in providing traps to residents. Mr. Safell was asked if there has been an interest from volunteers here in Town.
Mr. Safell stated that surveys of typical neighborhoods with homeless animals show that 1 of every 10 households is feeding these animals. He believes there would be sufficient volunteers if the local government showed its support and there have been TNR teams here in Cheverly already.
CM Schachter agreed that trapping and killing the cats was inhumane. There is a Cheverly ordinance that makes it unlawful to put food outside.
CM Eldridge asked if a TNR program can be successful if there are individuals who may continue to feed them. Also, has the program been able to track an actual decline? Finally, there is a concern for feline leukemia.
Mr. Safell stated that the proper implementation of TNR will decrease the number of cats, and volunteers will attempt to educate the community. The program has in fact tracked a decline, with some of the colonies being followed for 7-8 years. With respect to feline leukemia, studies have shown that there is little difference in percentage of the disease among domestic and feral cats.
Vice Mayor Ford noted that he has seen a feral cat colony and it has been essentially the same cats for over 10 years.
CM Eldridge stated that some residents in ward 3 are in support of TNR programs and some are very concerned about feral cats. Also, what happens when a resident feeds the feral cat and then moves away, yet the cats keep returning to the same house?
Mr. Safell stated that the TNR program forms a neighborhood team. The neighborhood team will help residents relocate the cat to another resident who may feed feral cats. In a tight knit community it is likely to find assistance with other neighbors.
CM Schachter believes we can resolve the problems by passing/rescinding laws, and promote awareness among our neighbors.
Daphne Levitas of Euclid asked if it was an option for residents to call the County’s Animal Management to trap the feral animals, and also, what is the County’s policy on feral animals?
Mayor Mosley stated that residents can call the County to remove the feral cats. When the Town calls as a government agency, the County does not come to town and trap the animals unless the animal is already contained.
CM Watson stated that is why the Town makes traps available to residents so that the resident can trap the animal and call the County for removal.
Mr. Safell stated that feral cats that are obtained by the County are considered un-adoptable and euthanized immediately.
Mayor Mosley thanked Mr. Safell for his presentation and materials provided.
Introduction O-2-09 Amending the Parking Restrictions
Mayor Mosley stated that this is the third reading of O-2-09.
Mr. Colaresi stated that there is a State law prohibiting leaving running cars unattended in public rights of way. There have been some thefts of parked cars left running during the winter. Chief Robshaw has mentioned the public safety and theft issues, and the ability to have tickets for violations made payable to Cheverly if there are violations.
Mayor Mosley stated that Chief Robshaw has always stated that his concern was not for writing tickets but for public safety and the thefts related to unattended running cars. There will not be a vote tonight because there seems to be much interest in this issue, and it has not been fully vetted in the newsletter.
CM Eldridge stated that this issue has created a lot of awareness. He requested that the council look at the theft statistics from last year.
Mr. Colaresi stated that 90 days from the introduction of an ordinance, it must be passed, not passed, or reserved to a future certain date. He suggested that since we are beyond 90 days, a motion should be made to table the issue to a certain date, or not pass the ordinance.
- Vice Mayor Ford made a motion to move the issue to the May Town meeting. No CM seconded.
Introduction FY 10 Operating Budget and CIP
Mr. Warrington stated that an initial draft has been prepared. This will need to be adopted at the first June Town meeting. The CMs indicated that they did not want to raise taxes so the budget was prepared with that intent. FY 09 had an estimated positive of $265,000. The budget as proposed has an estimated negative of $211,000. The Town needs to comply with the 800 megahertz homeland security radio system, which is a cost of $130,000. Prince George’s County did not solicit funds from the Federal Government to cover its municipalities. The Town will need to replace 2 cars, there are leases for several other cars, and 2 cars will be retired. There is not a proposed increase in any fees. The current increase in real estate property taxes is the
increase in assessments due to the phase in portion of the homestead property tax. The constant yield tax rate is what we have to set the tax rate at to keep the taxes at a constant yield or amount collected last year. In order to meet this, we would have to drop our tax to the 43 cent level. The County is raising its “tipping” or dumping fees. However, Cheverly’s fees may be less than last years because of recycling efforts. There are 3 positions frozen in Town (including administrative and public works). Our fund balance is above the 90 day threshold. The Town looks good and the staff delivers good services.
CM Watson stated that Cheverly is doing well. CM Watson asked about Juan’s truck, the bridge, and the business plan for the Youth Coordinator.
Mayor Mosley stated that the bridge was in FY 10. The Youth Coordinator was still in this budget. Juan’s truck is purchased and reflected in FY 09. The FY 10 budget was given to the CMs tonight. There is a cost of living increase for town employees. The Mayor commended Mr. Warrington and the Town Treasurer for their efforts with the budget. The $130,000 for the radio upgrade should be covered by FY 09 carry over funds and what is budgeted for FY 10. The street on 64th Avenue is the worst street and is in need of redoing. The cost will be over $100,000.
CM Eldridge requested that at the worksession the Community Development Block Grants be discussed.
Mr. Warrington stated that these grants were for low to moderate incomes families. It is determined by census records. According to the census, we do not qualify. However, there is a section in old Ward 4, which qualifies because it falls within the Cedar Heights census. As a result there are a few areas for which we qualify. We have taken advantage of it in the past, i.e., Boyd Park improvements, and the bridge.
Town of Cheverly
Summary of Action
April 9, 2009
- CM Eldridge moved to adopt P-1-09 declaring May as Peace Month in Cheverly. CM Watson seconded. CM Watson introduced a friendly amendment changing “resolution of conflict” to “resolve conflict” in paragraph 2. Unanimously approved.
- CM Watson moved to excuse CM Callahan. Seconded by CM Schacter. Unanimously approved.
- Vice Mayor Ford made a motion to move the issue to the May Town meeting. No CM seconded.