• City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
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P&Z Minutes

January 6, 2015

The Planning and Zoning Commission for the City of Cambridge met on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 305 Gay Street, Cambridge, Maryland.

Commissioners in Attendance: Jerry Burroughs, Chairman; Hubert Trego, Chan'Tay Nelson, Gene Lauer, William Craig, Vice-Chair and Marshall Rickert

Others in attendance included: Anne Roane, City Planner; Robert S. Collison, City Attorney; Commissioner Frank Cooke, City Council Liaison; Mr. James Harwood of 314 Mill St.

Mr. Burroughs started the meeting with greetings and the approval of the last set of minutes. These were minutes of Nov. 15, 2014 with corrections to the spelling of Ms. Chan'Tay Nelson's name. Motion to approve the minutes was by Mr. Lauer and second by Mr. Trego. Motion carried.

Mr. Rickert needed to clarify what we approved was the first three Phases and there was a Phase Four, which was going to be submitted at a later date. It is recounted in here correctly that he questioned on the record, that the standards for Phase Four would be consistent with the rest of it, because he was coming in under the old ordinances and then if you look at the motion, it says to approve the General Development Plan for Phase One, Two, Three and Four. I believe that is to be One, Two and Three. Ms. Roane will have the secretary re-listen to the motion and correct it.

Mr. Hubert seconded the motion with corrections. All approved.

*DPW Secretary has re-listened to the minutes of Nov. 15, 2014 and the motion was for the project as a whole, so that includes all Phases One, Two, Three and Four.

Mr. Burroughs stated that the agenda tonight is with BZA# 03 FY13/14, 314 Mill Street; The Albanus Phillips Inn. They are requesting an extension for the Special Exception from one year to five years and to increase the room capacity from four to five or six.

Ms. Roane read the first part of the Special Exception information. The applicant is requesting a five year extension under the Special Exception for his Bed & Breakfast that had been granted for one year on December 24, 2013. The Board of Zoning Appeals granted the initial Special Exception to limit the use of only four rooms and for the period of one year. While there are more than four rooms for guests to choose from, the applicant has submitted records that substantiate that only four rooms have ever been occupied at any given time. Those records are available and are in your files. The applicant is also requesting that the available rooms be extended to five or six, which is on the application that is also in your file. The Bed & Breakfast is licensed with the City and has been paying Maryland Sales Taxes and Dorchester County Lodging Taxes. Also concerns were raised regarding the number of rooms as they related to the bathroom arrangements and also the parking. The City has not received any complaints regarding this land use. We did receive a concern from a neighbor that came in today, about the zoning ordinance. As you know the City has Zoning Ordinance (May 12, 2003), Article V, Section 63 which defines the Special Exception-Permission by the Board of Appeals to establish a specific use that would not be appropriate generally or without restriction throughout a zoning district but which if controlled as to number, area, location, or relation to the neighborhood, would comply. Section 63: A Special Exception will be presented to the Planning Commission for recommendation prior to be submitted to the Board of Zoning Appeals for a public hearing and review. It will go before the Board of Zoning Appeals on January 27th and the surrounding property owners will be notified by mail, property will be posted and there will be an advertisement in the newspaper per requirement of this Code.

Mr. Collison commented that this Code is from the 2003 and is the same in the new Code Book.

Ms. Roane continued that the Special Exception language is based on the States Code. Mr. Harwood is here to answer any questions and she did include the last portion of the minutes of BZA hearing that happened in 2013. Mr. Harwood did not start operation until July 2014. He has his license and all the records of his guests to prove that not more than four bedrooms were used at any given time per the conditions of the Special Exception.

She did get an email this afternoon and will read it into the record. This is from Joe Perez whom lives at 316 Mill St. "It come to attention that James Harwood at 314 Mill Street, Cambridge is attempting to continue his B&B business as well as expand it. My name is Joe Perez and I live and owe 316 Mill Street. When Jim was first approved the agreement was with a one year trial and reevaluated and discuss for future approval. Unfortunately, I am out of town on business and cannot attend your/his hearing tonight and was a bit disturbed that I was not formally notified about this hearing. The issues concerning parking and expanding commercial activities our forefront concerns. I have reasonable cause that I believe on two occasions where Jim has exceeded his occupancy limits and I cannot prove this, however due to our close proximity. I have reasonable cause for this claim. The parking agreement with the nearby church has never been utilized, either by the overwhelming majority of Jim customers parking on Mill Street, expansion of this B&B business will result in more commercial business staffing and further congestion on the street with parking on one side only. As before, Laura (wife) and I would like to work with Jim and the City of Cambridge for a solution. We evaluated the current agreement and compliance to start, expansion is not a natural progression at this point the issue will back with compliance with City and health regulations. Please consider email as an addition to the discussion." Ms. Roane did reply to him and explained he would be notified as part of the Board of Zoning Appeals process and said that she was sorry, and the agenda is in the paper. We did post it on the webpage and was posted in the future.

Mr. James Harwood, 314 Mill Street, addressed this Commission about a number of conversations with his neighbors and there was no questions raised to him of problems.

Issues that he is addressing are:
 The frontage of the street in front of the B&B is 105 feet, which is enough for four or five cars.
 Excess cars to be placed them at Zion UM Church.
 There are four spaces in the rear of the B&B, but one space is for him.
 Three bedrooms on the third floor and sharing one bathroom.
 It has been advertised that the bathroom must be shared.
 He currently has 4 and ½ bathrooms (one is for his personally) for the 4 allowed bedrooms he can rent out.
 On the second floor there are four bedrooms but you can put two bedrooms to a suite.
 He does hope in the future to put in another bathroom with in one year.
 With the Ironman competition coming up in 2015, guests are requesting all of his rooms for their club members so they can be together. They are coming from off the continental U.S. and they are all related and have no difficulty sharing a bathroom. Contestants for the races like to bring their family members and they want to be together. He cannot accommodate them, because he is only allowed to rent four rooms. It should be up to the guests and not determined by the Council.

Mr. Collison wanted to direct the Commission members to the criteria regarding this B&B.

Mr. Craig asked if we are directing this as a recommendation to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
Mr. Collison responded yes, and there are two issues with this Special Exception. The duration and the expansion of the number of rooms he can use.

Mr. Rickert asked Ms. Roane if Mr. Harwood has complied with the City's Ordinances Regulations and stipulations that were set forth in this Special Exception. Ms. Roane commented yes he has. He continued with people can write whatever they want to the letters, but he recalls issues regarding the parking. We asked if Mr. Hyde had reviewed and did he approve the parking plan last year? Ms. Roane said yes he did. He understands this plan was approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals? Ms. Roane said yes it was. Is there a Health Department requirement for additional bathrooms? Ms. Roane said not to her knowledge, she has not heard of that.

Mr. Collison spoke that any motion, the Commission makes can have strict compliance to the Health Department regulations, so that it is in the record as a concern.

Mr. Rickert asked Mr. Harwood if we were to recommend additional rooms with the stipulation that an additional bathroom be installed before the additional rooms were available, would that work for him? Mr. Harwood stated no. To implement the requirement, this would automatically take the B&B out of business for six months. Mr. Rickert stated that in his comments that you had planned to do that in the future, how far in the future do you plan to do that. Mr. Harwood spoke that he hoped that at the end of the year. Each one of his bathrooms is valued at $50,000 to $75,000.

Mr. Lauer asked if the request is for five or six rooms to be used. Mr. Harwood would prefer six, however he wanted to leave some flexibility so the possibility that if you only let me have five works than later you will let me have six in the future. Mr. Lauer asked if the informal agreement with Zion UM Church still in effect. Mr. Harwood comments that yes it is still in effect, but not so much informal, it is in writing allowing four parking spaces there. Mr. Lauer asked if the four parking spaces at the Zion UM Church, they can be used by yourself or guest if necessary. Mr. Harwood comments yes.

Mr. Collison wanted to inquire how are the guests notified of the parking when the check in. Do you give them a sketch of where the church parking is located, so they know that it is available? Mr. Harwood commented that the only one time that he has had to use the church or even mention it, was when the cars are in the front of the B&B and he has space in the rear of the B&B, a guest invited some relatives to come over to visit and those persons parked at the church.

Ms. Roane spoke that in looking through the records of the B&B, there were few occasions since July that all four rooms were occupied at one time.

Mr. Burroughs asked the Commission members that the five year extension for this Special Exception, he is not comfortable with giving it. Reasons being there are several issues that came up that he would like more information on, there are issues that have come to this Board that Ms. Roane and he had talked about and Mr. Harwood just eluded to it. Ms. Roane explained that Mr. Burroughs and herself spoke about the area to address in our first set of amendments is how to address the B&B's, which have popped up all over the place, before the Ironman event. Mr. Collison spoke that it was an internet thing about rentals. Ms. Roane continued that we chose not to address it before the Ironman, because the City wanted to be as accommodating as we could be. That is something that we need to talk about and it is not just an issue here, but all over the place. That is related to this topic.

Mr. Rickert said that she has stated on the record that she has reviewed Mr. Harwood's compliance and he has complied with the City stipulations and conditions that the Board of Zoning Appeals set with the parking plan that the City has approved and so he is following the regulations that are in place. Ms. Roane commented that yes that was correct.

Mr. Burroughs spoke that he is not complying with the five year extension, because the Board of Zoning Appeals denied it the first time and we did also denied it. Mr. Rickert stated at the motion of the Board of Zoning Appeals was to approve four bedrooms with a one year limitation and to come back at that time to make sure that the pressure on the surrounding community has not been too bad. That motion was passed by a majority of the Board of Zoning Appeals. He senses that what our review should be, as whether or not to let Mr. Harwood has complied with the stipulations and these other issues. Ms. Roane spoke that the applicant has a right to request an additional five years and this Commission can put a one year cap on it, which is not unusually for a Special Exception. Mr. Rickert thought that we sent it to the Board of Zoning Appeals without a recommendation. Ms. Roane was wrong and the Board of Zoning Appeals set the terms. Mr. Rickert stated that what we are doing tonight is a compliance review of the stipulations and conditions that they set. Ms. Roane stated that the condition was that he had up until one year to operate and the Special Exception would have to be reviewed.

Mr. Collison asked do we keep the one year or up to five years and to review at that time. Mr. Harwood can come back and ask for more at that time.

Mr. Rickert made a motion that we recommend to the Board of Zoning Appeals, a two year extension for five rooms consistent with the approved parking plan, which was previously done and consistent with all rules and regulations with the Health Department. Mr. Hubert questioned about the extra bathroom are we looking at two years from now it should be in. Mr. Collison stated at the Code does not require a specific number of bathrooms per room. Mr. Rickert stated that the motion is still open and is as he suggested. Motion seconded by Mr. Craig. Motion not passed.
Mr. Hubert No Mr. Craig yes
Ms. Nelson No Mr. Rickert yes
Mr. Lauer No

Mr. Lauer made a motion to extend for three years with all compliance with Health Department regulations and the approved parking plan and for six rooms. Motion seconded by Mr. Craig. All approved this vote with six yes.

End of open session and started closing session with the Commission members and Mr. Collison.

Mr. Collison spoke to this Commission about legal advice (close session) and opinions of the court case for the Spicer's sign. We did prevail and we had our hearing in October 2014, basically the decision on the Board of Zoning Appeals was affirmed and they found that the statute was not vague with regards to its meaning of removing the sign and the support structures. The significance of this, the owners had 30 days from the court decision. Now Ms. Roane has the task of, if the owners of Spicer's do not comply. Mr. Rickert asked that if the City has to demolish the sign at the City's cost could we put a lean on the property. Mr. Collison responded that yes it could, by issuing a notice to comply, and then a court order seeking an abatement infraction, they will have to provide to the owner that, if by a certain time the City would take action itself, if they still do not remove it, the City can do it. City will issue a bill to the owner and give them a period of time to pay and if they do not pay then we go to the courts to have them pay. Mr. Rickert asked who would be responsible for that aspect. The Public Works property maintenance department will remove it. Ms. Roane stated that a letter for the abatement to be sent on Friday, January 9, 2015 to get the balls rolling.

Mr. Collison continued that the UDC was approved on December 8, 2014 at a public hearing. When we look back there is a provision in the Code that advance notice in the papers should be 20 days and we missed by a day or two. Another notice was run about the public hearing on the UDC.

As you well know the City was in negotiations in the fall of 2014 with a proposed developer for the Sailwind's Property and through that negation process, the UDC was drafted that the Waterfront Overlay District was within the jurisdiction of the Planning & Zoning Commission. In a variety of documents between the City, State and developer match development agreement, the developer had to present a concept plan that would be coming to the Planning Commission and not approval with the City Council. The problem that he identified was that there was an exclusive negotiation privilege period by which the City could only negotiate with that particular developer and no one else, through Dec. 31, 2014.

That time period was coming up and we were trying to achieve that MDA completion and so he made the decision to make some amendments to the UDC from two perspectives. First there were some requirements between the State transfer agreements, which are public record, the guiding principles for the development and some other documentation that the development covenant that came to us from the State with the transfer of the property of August 15, 2014. In addition to the City Zoning Codes and compliance with the Comprehensive Plan, you have to make sure that the development compliance with the transfer agreement, the guiding principles, 2020 Vision Plan and some other criteria. The criteria are outside of your jurisdiction. You are only charged with enforcing the Zoning Code and compliance with the Comprehensive Plan. So he made the decision to purpose an amendment to the UDC that gave you the authority under the Waterfront Overlay District, he had the Planning Commission under the Mixed Overlay District to be able to approve and consider in compliance with declaration of covenants, development covenants and anything imposed by governmental entities in the State of Maryland, City of Cambridge or Dorchester County anything related to the development of the use of the property, imposed by the City of Cambridge, Dorchester County or the State, by either written agreement, regulation or contract that being known to the Planning Commission.

Ongoing, negotiations with the developer had certain deadlines to meet with the presentation of their preliminary concept plan. Under the UDC Overlay District, a development plan will be presented to you (Planning Commission), you are the only body that approves modifies. Under the PWCD (the old one), it would go back to City Council at one point, that is not in the new UDC. It was discussed and proposed, but we decided it will be the Planning Commission. They kept extending the deadline for us to even see what this preliminary concept plan was. Three of your members, Rickert, Losty and Lauer, where selected to review their preliminary concept plan in October of 2014, but it was only a brief period of time for this Commission members to look at it. The proposed developer had refused to leave copies, it was a major issue. In a letter by Mr. Collison, dated Jan. 5, 2015, as to why he felt there was a strong need to add this language, which he asked Ms. Roane and Mr. Jakubiak, because he felt that there was a false sense of acquiescence for some type of approval or security to the developer that he presented was going to be fine, because they were strictly looking at the density, height and set-back of the UDC and that was only one component. What was missing, and Mr. Rickert brought an example, there were certain views and access which throughout the UDC as well as the 2020 Vision Plan, is critical in this Mixed Overlay District. It was not taken in consideration at all to do that. The language that was proposed on page 1 section 4.3.1 & 4.3.4, which basically says, to minimize impacts to the historic views from the site, they shall undertake and present this study of view analysis, and that is something that is done in other communities, and that it is a consideration for the design of it. Some of the questions that were asked that evening, Mr. Hansen asked wanted to know if it was interpreted to mean, that you have got to keep the views as they are now, then nothing would be built. If you are standing back to Byrn Street, and you say this building now blocks my view, which is not the intent. The intent basically is to assure the public access, public spaces that will maintain those views for the public that we historically have. Part of the development covenants requires public access all along the waterfront, through a promenade river walk. There are going to be other public areas, which should be required by this Commission in the development plan, but it is something that should be analyzed professionally and that was the intent of it. The intent would be that when you turn in from Hayward Street and approaching this project, there should be a structure at the entrance, that you lose that historic view, through the Sailwind's Governors Hall structure over to the Light House.

Ms. Roane spoke that what it is going to tell the Planning Commission and give the public a since of confidence, is that whomever the developer is, they would take into that the important views into and out of any property. This is not something that we pull out of the air, if you participated on the work of the 2020 Vision or any of the public hearings when we were talking about these kinds of things related to any development along the waterfront and these views are very important. Views are important and when you live in a water front community, particularly they're more important. We want to make sure that when a development proposal comes in, within this designated Waterfront Overlay District, that it is demonstrated that there has been an analysis of these views. There are places to look for, there are areas, in our Comprehensive Plan, there are views that are significant that are identified with this property, she can tell you that they were not addressed in the concept plan that we saw. We would want them to be, that was just one document and one view. It is not uncommon in other jurisdictions. There was a document created in 1998 by the National Trust to help jurisdictions identify significant landscapes with criteria on how to end views and how to evaluate those professionals will use. This is not a new concept, but we felt that when we created this Overlay District, that we created a whole series of the purpose of this District. It gives us another analysis to help this Commission to determine whether or not a development is as good as it can be. She spoke that on the concept plan, there was a road that was created to connect Franklin & Hayward Streets and it created an interior urban block and when the road terminated at Hayward at a block of buildings, if that had been proposed then she thinks that a recommendation that view looked directly across the creek at Long Wharf and the Nathan. That was a view that was identified in our Comprehensive Plan that was one that needed to be protected and enhanced.

Mr. Rickert asked are we being challenged and criticized. Mr. Collison and Ms. Roane stated that they were heavily, because of the timing. They were running out of time. Look at Section 3.3.1.c you have the authority to request other studies that you thought that would be required.

Mr. Collison has highlighted some other areas and explains all this. He would like to propose some other guidelines.

Mr. Trego asked Mr. Collison about the date of 31st for the developers, did they comply with that? Mr. Collison comment that that was a period called the exclusive negotiating period that has expired.

Mr. Craig asked if these items that were just discussed located in the UDC that was approved by the City Council. Mr. Collison and Ms. Roane stated yes unanimously. Mr. Craig asked that if you bring it back to us (Planning Commission) then if we have anything to say, it would be an amendment to the existing UDC. Mr. Collison is suggesting that we just approve policy guidelines that clarify without amending the language. If we feel that the language amendment will be required, we are going to do a little more research. We need policy guidelines to supplement it with our interpretation and application of it as follows. We do not want it to be interpreted by someone else.

Mr. Rickert spoke that his experience and Mr. Lauer may be the same, when he was in Garrett County in Planning & Zoning; an ordinance establishes a standard that we are saying the maximum of or the minimum for any developer.

Mr. Collison commented that there will be no action tonight, but if anyone have any questions about this, please contact him.

Mr. Burroughs stated that Mr. Lauer, Mr. Craig and himself spoke together after the Council meeting when the new UDC was passed and what we saw of what was presented, he thought it was a very good idea and it gave us a lot more power and thanked Mr. Collison, Ms. Roane and Mr. Jakubiak on behave of the Commission. Mr. Collison commented that the only changes that were made were these items and the Meadow Ave. Market on the map amendment. Mr. Burroughs addressed everyone that the motion was made by Commissioner Sydnor and approved by everyone in the Council meeting. UDC is closed finally.

Ms. Roane spoke to the Commission that she has turned over the new UDC to a professional copy editor, Ms. Janette Jones, and she is working on it right now. Until Ms. Jones finishes with it, the Code that has the multi-colors on the City's website will be left up. The maps are being changed and will be put on the website soon. Mr. Shores is in the process of breaking up the overall zoning map and the form base zoning map per the tax map and they will be put on the website soon. Everyone will be getting a hard copy of the UDC once everything is done.

Mr. Trego hoped that this process with Governor's Hall and the other issues, we are not Annapolis, we won't be Annapolis and we do not have their finances. We need to be practical. We need good planning.

Solar Panel Discussion

Ms. Roane spoke to the Commission about the issue on Solar Fields and there was no language about it in the new UDC. We have been approached by someone whom wants install a Solar Field. Some subdivisions could have solar fields, depending on where they are located. We have looked at what the County has been allowing. What we are going to need is to move forward to adopt some language for us to allow this type of development. Mr. Burroughs was very helpful to provide what the County has recently adopted and it is in tonight's packets. The Egypt Road project has had this thought in mind to use solar.

Mr. Craig spoke that we do need to address this issue and there is a lot more to solar energy. Farming fields are being covered in them, we need to think of hard surfaces and not open land. There is a lot to think about, we should consider solar energy for some residential areas. Fire safety standards with panels on the roof of buildings and there must be access for fire fighters on roofs. Ms. Roane just wanted to introduce the discussion to this group.

Mr. Collison stated that we have not looked at other cities yet to see how they handle this.

Mr. Trego asked about the Historic Preservation Commission being involved in the residential areas? Ms. Roane stated they are dealing with their Design Guidelines and it is in there.

Mr. Lauer asked if someone came in right now and wanted to do a solar project is it not addressed at all in the Zoning Ordinance. Ms. Roane answered no.

Mr. Burroughs spoke that Dorchester County is addressing this issue now with about five proposed Solar Fields and only one on Bucktown Road. The Board of Education is County and they do not need to come to us on this item.

Mr. Rickert asked in Maryland law, is it written that you cannot deny a solar panel for a resident if a homeowner wants it. Like, if a condo owner wants a satellite dish then the condo association cannot deny them. Is there any correspondence on solar panels with the energy issue, his brother lives in the historic district of Washington DC and put in solar panel? He had to site them like you would a dish panel, so you cannot see it.

Ms. Nelson spoke that she has seen solar panels at some homes at Blackwater Landing.

Mr. Craig spoke that there is a solar panel on a home on Belvedere Ave and the home was approved by our HPC.

More discussion on solar panels and the screening of them. If the lot is over a certain size then it must also go through the State, besides just this Commission.

Mr. Burroughs asked for a motion to close the meeting. A motion to close by Mr. Craig and seconded by Mr. Lauer. All Approved.

Respectfully submitted,
Ms. Michal Dixon DPW Secretary 1

________________________________ _______________________
Jerry Burroughs, Chairman Date Approved