Discussion Concerning Temporary Signs

From Hap Cooper, President Roland Park Civic League

I would like to personally apologize if the recent Roland Park News conveyed to you the impression that we wish to interfere with your First Amendment right to free expression. We support and encourage respectful dialogue without exception. In fact, we ourselves planted a temporary sign welcoming people of all backgrounds to our community that still sits next to the permanent “Welcome to Roland Park” sign on University Parkway.

An attorney and resident of our community formally requested that the Civic League circulate the Baltimore zoning laws prohibiting long-term use of temporary signs. We failed to anticipate that doing so could be interpreted as opposition to the content of many of these signs. For that, again, we are truly sorry.

I spoke with Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis this morning and confirmed that signs containing political opinions may stay up indefinitely. So we would like to publicly encourage our community to continue to express themselves in ways that promote awareness and discussion–especially relating to tolerance and inclusivity.

Tomorrow night (12/6) at 7:00p, we will be conducting our regular monthly community meeting at the North Baltimore Mennonite Church at 4615 Roland Avenue. Feel free to attend to express your views.

DEC 2017 agenda

Excerpt Roland Park News

Pedestrian Safety on the Falls Road and Cold Spring Corridor

On November 7, RPCL representatives and two members of the Landscape Committee attended a meeting held at Poly to discuss concerns over traffic speed and pedestrian safety on the Falls Road and Cold Spring corridor. The meeting focused on improving pedestrian safety on Falls Road and DOT representatives gave a presentation on the planned installation of a new crosswalk linking the shops and bus stops on the east side of Falls Road to the school campuses on the west side. The new crosswalk, expected to be installed in summer 2018, will be surrounded by three 12-foot-wide medians.

Please visit rolandpark.org for future updates on this project and subscribe to the Roland Park list-serv.  To contact the Landscape Committee, email landscape@rolandpark.org.

Agenda for November 1, 2017 Meeting of Civic League Board

All are welcome to attend standing monthly meetings of the Roland Park Civic League Board, see our agenda for November 1st. Note the new temporary location for these meetings is North Baltimore Mennonite Church, 4615 Roland Avenue (at Oakdale) the first Wednesday of each month, 7-9PM. Contact a Plat Rep. for updates or to share concerns.

RPCL NOV 2017 agenda

Trees still available for Roland Park Residents – UPDATE

UPDATE 11/15/2017:

Additional trees looking for new homes, to be  planted on personal property. If you are a resident who pays full fees, you are eligible for a new tree.  Not only is the tree free but we’ll plant it for you. The remaining trees available for planting this fall are listed below.  Please see this file for full descriptions and photos.  All of these trees need a sunny location on personal property.

[2 quantity] Nuttall Oaks

[2 quantity] Chinquapin Oaks

[1 quantity] White Oak

[1 quantity] Sweet Birch

I am also taking requests for trees during the 2018 planting season.  Please contact Kate Culotta

For more details.  krculotta@msn.com or landscape@rolandpark.org

Previous post follows….

Thank You Roland Park residents for your generous turn-out for new trees in Roland Park.

Those of you who requested ornamental trees should have had trees delivered Saturday October 21, 2017  along with stakes and twine.  Tree Descriptions and planting instructions were emailed.  Please let Kate Culotta (krculotta@msn.com) know if you did not receive the email or unable to open the PDF.

Thank you to those who requested street shade trees.  Tree planting by K&C Groundworks was completed on Wednesday the 25th.  The new trees look great.

There are a couple more tree still available via our program for a new home.

Betula lenta [Sweet Birch or Cherry Birch]  

Two beautiful Sweet Birches are available.

Medium sized, long living shade tree.  Native to Maryland.    Bark is dark and shiny.  Mature trees may shed bark in horizontal strips.  Sweet Birch trees are source of flavoring for Birch Beer and can be tap for sap like a Sugar Maple.  Twigs give off a sweet wintergreen smell when up close or when crushed.  Leaves are oval and serrated along the edges.  Flowers in April-May with long yellow catkins that hang down before leaves appear in the spring.  Fall foliage is bright yellow.  Considered one of the better fall colors among Birches .  Best in well-drained  soil in sun to part shade.

 

 

Quercus alba  (White Oak)

I also have 2 White Oaks.  These are some of the largest trees in Roland Park when mature, but it will be many decades before they reach full size.  I’m looking for a sunny spot on personal property (not in the verge) with room to grow.

A lovely slow growing shade tree that can grow to very large size.  50’-80’ Tall x 50-80’ wide with a wide spreading rounded crown.  The White Oak is a great candidate for a shade tree, best planted within your property rather than in the verge..  It is drought, clay and poor soil tolerant, once established.  Yellow-green catkin flowers emerge shortly after leaves in the spring.  Acorns develop mid-summer (3/4”) and serve as important wild life food source.  Leaves are dark green 4-9” long with deeply rounded lobes.  Fall color is dark red to brown.  “Alba” refers to its light ash grey bark.  2 qty 15 Gal.

 

I also have one Chinquapin Oak Tree.  It is a lovely Oak with  small, sweet and edible acorns.  I have only one and it is currently a small sapling.  Best planted in a sunny spot on personal property.

Please contact Kate Culotta to reserve your tree.  krculotta@msn.com

Also, if you’re interested in a free fruit tree for your yard.  TreeBaltimore is offering a free fruit tree give away Saturday October 28 10 am – 2 pm at the Rawlings Conservatory at Druid Hill Park.

Roland Park Tree Program

Several years ago, Roland Park resident Al Copp started a program to increase and improve the aging tree canopy in Roland Park. Working with Baltimore City, the Roland Park Civic League and the Community Foundation, Al established a program to plant free trees in the neighborhood. Sadly, we lost Al Copp to illness earlier this year, but at his request the program continues. I am happy to announce that the Roland Park Landscape Committee, working with Baltimore City and the  Department of Forestry, has been able to secure additional trees to plant in Roland Park.

A selection of “street trees” as well as lovely ornamental trees has just arrived and are available, for FREE, to Roland Park residents who pay full fees. If you are not sure if this applies to you, please contact Beth Adams in the Roland Park office. If you haven’t paid full fees but are willing to do so starting with the current billing cycle, you can apply for a tree.

The “street trees” are a selection of hardy shade trees, mostly maples and oaks that stay within the spirit of the original Olmstead Plan. Selected because they are native to Maryland and tolerant of our soil and climate, these trees will add beauty and interest to our streetscape. These trees are for planting in the verge, the grassy area between the street and sidewalk. They could also be planted on your personal property but within sight of the street so that, as the tree matures, its canopy can be viewed from the street. The verge can be a tough place for a tree, with parking, pollution, trash and neglect. If you have a spot on your personal property near the street for the tree, it may live a longer, fuller life.

I was also able to secure a selection of ornamental trees for planting on personal property. These trees, mainly Redbuds and Pink Dogwoods, are smaller in size when mature and are better for adding beauty to your property rather than trying to survive as a street tree. These trees are also FREE to full dues paying residents.

To apply for a tree or receive additional information, please email Kate Culotta krculotta@msn.com. I will send you information with pictures and descriptions of available trees. Supplies are limited and will be filled in the order they are received. A member of the landscape committee will need to approve the planting site before your order is confirmed. Once approved, street trees will be planted by our landscape contractor K&C
Groundworks. Ornamental trees can be picked up or delivered and will come with planting instructions.

All new tree owners must agree to care for the new tree. All new trees must be deeply watered each week, whether by nature or by hand, for the first 2 years until they are established. Trees need to be kept mulched, weeded and trash free. If you live in deer browsing area, protect tender tree trunks and lower limbs from damage. Trunk wraps, temporary wire fencing and other items to protect landscape from wildlife are available from any home and garden retailer. Living among the trees is one of the best things about living in Roland Park. I hope to receive many inquiries and plant a lot of trees!

Inquiries:
Roland Park Landscape Committee: Kate Culotta krculotta@msn.com

Roland Park Office Manager:Beth Adams office@rolandpark.org (410) 464-2525

RPCL joined a Request for Judicial Review of the Overlook at Roland Park PUD

On July 21st, 2017 Hap Cooper and Chris McSherry met with Mayor Catherine Pugh to ask her to veto the PUD legislation that was passed by the City Council to allow the construction of the Overlook at Roland Park. The mayor was not willing to do that and she signed the legislation that same day. We were disappointed because we viewed her as our first and last avenue to change the course of this proposed development.

The neighbors who will be most affected by the construction of that apartment building have filed a lawsuit asking for judicial review of the process used by the City Department of Planning and the City Council in approving the PUD, and the RPCL joined the petition for judicial review, so the matter is not settled yet.

The legislation was proposed by freshman City Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer immediately after he was sworn in to the City Council. He had rushed the PUD legislation through the Planning Department and the City Council at such a record pace that the RPCL was not aware of the details of it until the eve of it passing the City Council.

Although PUDs are supposed to be used for the benefit of the community, this one wasn’t even reviewed by Roland Park or Mount Washington, two adjacent communities that will be significantly affected. We lobbied aggressively to delay the legislation so that we could weigh in on the proposed development, but no one in the City Council was willing to push that for us. The City Council has a tradition of “Councilmanic Courtesy”, whereby land use legislation in a particular council member’s district will not be questioned or resisted by other council member.

In light of the City Council’s tradition of deferring to the member in whose district the development stands, there was no actual review of this proposed PUD. We are hopeful that the Circuit Court will overturn the legislation because the Planning Department failed to notify the surrounding communities and failed to consider the impact on them and because the City Council failed to exercise the required “quasi-judicial review.”

Cycle Track Update – October 15, 2017

Roland Park Civic League representatives met with representatives of the Baltimore Department of Transportation on September 18 to discuss restoring curbside parking on Roland Avenue. We posted an update on the discussion on our website and on NextDoor.

There have been no further developments since the September 18 meeting with DOT, but we are working on scheduling another meeting for the week of October 23-27 to continue the conversation with the Director of the DOT, Michelle Pourciau.

Anne Stuzin and Chris McSherry reported on the meeting with Director Pourciau at the RPCL monthly meeting on October 4. The report was essentially the same as the update posted on the website.

DOT Report Released; Next Civic League Meeting

Attached is the DOT Roland Ave Study (Draft). This issue and others will be discussed at our next Civic League Board Meeting October 4, 2017, see Agenda; all are welcome to attend. Note the new temporary location for these meetings is North Baltimore Mennonite Church, 4615 Roland Avenue (at Oakdale) the first Wednesday of each month, 7-9PM. Contact a Plat Rep. for updates or to share concerns.

For additional background, see Cycle Track-Next Steps.

Cycle Track: Next Steps

by Hap Cooper

BOTTOM LINE: Representatives of the RPCL Board met with Michelle Pourciau, the new Director of the Department of Transportation (DDOT), and her staff to request restoration of curbside parking along Roland Avenue with a wider, safer bike lane.  Mrs. Pourciau was very receptive and suggested that our two teams stay in contact over the next several weeks as she digests all the relevant materials.  Michelle and her team committed to being ready to recommend next steps in 30 days—which we thought was reasonable given all the turnover in the department.

THE WHOLE STORY: In response to increasing pressure on the BCDOT from the RPCL, Sharon Middleton, convened a meeting on Monday, September 18th with the following participants:

Sharon Middleton (Council Representative, 6th District)
Robert Ginyard (from the Councilwoman’s office)
Michelle Pourciau (Director, Department of Transportation)
Veronica McBeth (Department of Transportation)
Graham Young (Department of Transportation)
Mary Kay Battafarano (RPCL, At Large Plat Rep)
Anne Stuzin (RPCL, 2nd Vice President)
Chris McSherry (RPCL, 1st Vice President)
Hap Cooper (RPCL, President)

The purpose of the meeting was for us to meet the new Director, provide some context, and request her help in restoring curbside parking along Roland Avenue immediately with a wider, safer bike lane.

Graham Young shared the DRAFT BCDOT traffic and intercept study beforehand and we brought copies of our resolution and research for the BCDOT team to take away. Mr. Young committed to having the final study ready for us to disseminate within the next week. Their study contained no surprises and the data essentially mirrored that of the study commissioned by our own committee.

The Director began the meeting by providing her background, which included transportation planning, engineering and community liaison work. She is the former Director of the Department of Transportation in Washington D.C.

Our group provided a detailed history of the Cycle Track discussion, implementation and results. We made it clear that although we welcomed the idea of a cycle track, the execution did not work and the goals were not achieved.  Roland Avenue is too narrow, cross streets are too frequent and debris is too prevalent for the track to function as it was envisioned.

Consequently, minor and major accidents have spiked and the community does not feel safe. Many cyclists will not ride in the narrow cycle track and getting out of a car into traffic can be terrifying—especially for seniors and parents with young children.  We impressed upon the Director that this is a highly charged and very emotional issue.

We also discussed the many anchor institutions along that stretch of Roland Avenue (churches, schools, clubs, restaurants, stores, the library, etc) and how each of them and their constituents have been negatively impacted by the cycle track—economically as well as from a safety perspective.

The former DDOT, William Johnson, and his staff repeatedly committed to Roland Park that the “cycle track is only paint” and if it doesn’t work, they would restore curbside parking. We reminded all the representatives at the meeting that we were holding the City to that commitment.

Director Pourciau listened intently, took notes and apologized that the Department had not been more responsive (she was not installed until a month after the RPCL Annual Meeting and cycle track vote). She recently visited Roland Avenue to see the street design first hand and confirmed that she understood our sense of urgency.

She told us that she has not seen our study and that the City’s study is not even final yet. She also mentioned that she has been barraged by multiple other priorities since taking office.  Consequently she asked if she and her staff could have 30 days to get their arms around all the information.  To her credit, she asked her staff members if 30 days would work for them and had each of them commit to that timeline.  She also encouraged us to communicate in the interim.

Councilwoman Middleton will reconvene the RPCL and BCDOT in mid-October to discuss a detailed action plan. We will continue to post updates on this site as progress continues.

(For background see Cycle Track Committee page)