IMAGE: NDC representatives Michael Giulioni, CEO Adrian Washington, COO Mr. Juan Powell and Director of Pre-Development Diarra McKinney making their March 16 city council meeting presentation. Photo by Bill Brown.
GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
“Everything is going fine!”
That’s what the Takoma Junction developer rep told the city council at their March 16 weekly meeting, anyway.
Michael Giulioni of Neighborhood Development Company said a lot more, so did the CEO Adrian Washington and Director Diarra KcKinney. Their lawyer popped up to make a comment at one point, too.
It was the first time the development has appeared on the city council’s public meeting agenda this year. There have been two closed meetings in February and March for legal negotiations while the city and NDC work out a “development agreement.” It’s taken a LONG time and legal fees have exceeded the $30,000 budget by another $30,000 with another $20,000 to work on a lease.
The mayor – we assume, since she’s the one in charge of the agenda – put an unusual note on the agenda asking residents interested in commenting on the development issue to wait until next meeting March 23 when there will be a special comment session for them.
Remarkably, everybody went along with it. There was not one comment on the issue. What’s wrong, Takoma Park? Suddenly, you’re not questioning authority? Are you feeling OK?
Even the contingent of TPSS Co-op supporters and employees were content to sit on the sidelines. Through the session, they were Sphynx-like, with occasional eye narrowing and skeptical looks. There was some checking of smart phones as well. We’ll find out what they were thinking next week, no doubt.
The council quizzes the NDC reps at the March 16 meeting. Photo by Bill Brown.
To save you time and boredom, here is a summary of what NDC had to say: Everything is hunky dory! We’ve done some studies, well not the actual studies, but we done some preliminary work on studies of traffic and the Co-op’s loading dock needs. Here’s a schedule. As you can see, we have a lot of meetings and permits and county approvals to get through, so we’ll be wrapping the project up in … May 30 2020! Ta da! But right now we have to write a letter of intent with the TPSS Co-op whom we acknowledge as the vital anchor store in need of special attention to their loading dock issues. That LOI is due March 31 (this was when the Co-op folks looked skeptical), but we figure we’ll have it in 30 days. Can the city council create a citizens advisory committee to help us work with the community? And, yeah, we’ve had some holdups, but you guys didn’t get back to us.
City council observer and Quaker wiseass Arthur Olson remarked via Twitter that the developers proposed month for community feedback was “optimistic.”
The council’s position can be summed up by council member Jarrett Smith’s statement “The community wants to know why dirt isn’t moving, why there’s no fence around that parcel.” Which is an unrealistic expectation at this point, especially coming from a community that habitually objects to anything anybody ever proposes and demands more public hearings. As will probably be demonstrated next week.
“Let us know,” said Smith, “how we can move this thing forward.”
“Don’t wait so long to contact us,” he said.
The council thought the citizens advisory committee was a ducky idea.
The competition for most popular council member continues. This week Fred Schultz blitzed Ward 3’s Rezzy Qureshi’s anecdote about his mom’s outsider view of Takoma Park, with the news that he and his wife are expecting … an Irish Setter puppy. The assembled crowd made a sappy “awwwww” sound as Qureshi bit a pencil in half and glowered.
Ward 4’s Terry Seamens came in third because nobody else could hear whatever he said to Mayor Kate Stewart that cracked her up.
The council put off (thank you, thank you!) a session on Airbnbs in the city. Airbnb is to bed and breakfasts what Uber is to taxi-cabs. People rent out a room in their homes – or a cot, or an entire house – without much government oversight and at much lower prices than hotel/motel/b&bs. Like Uber, Airbnb is hugely popular, especially with young people.
So, of course, the Easily Alarmed are shocked and demanding Something Be Done. County council member Hans Reimer is the one looking into this, which got the city interested in it. A couple of weeks ago the mayor said Reimer claimed there are as many as 70 Airbnbs in Takoma Park. However, the Airbnb site shows about 40 in Takoma Park, about 30 more in surrounding areas.
We suspect the biggest issue here is that the cash-strapped county is upset that airb&b folks are slipping under hotel permit and inspection fees and taxes.
Two weeks left!
Dear Readers, don’t miss out on the Neighborhood Energy Challenge. You have only two weeks. Win prizes for your neighborhood and city! The year-long competition has a $2,000 prize for the neighborhood that has the most participation and greatest energy use reductions. Take steps at home to save energy and get green home certified to help your neighborhood win. There are also prizes for multifamily buildings. Contact Sustainability Manager Gina Mathias at email@example.com or register online.
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