• 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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City Council Minutes

May 14, 2007

Cambridge Maryland SealMINUTES

Council Meeting

May 14, 2007

 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, May 14, 2007 in Council Chambers. A quorum being present, Mayor Cleveland L. Rippons called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Knox, Sydnor, Cephas, Brooks, and Travers.

Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Travers led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the April 23, 2007 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

Veronica Owens, New Beginnings Youth and Family Services, to Request Permission to Submit Community Development Block Grant Application and Give Up-Date on Current Grant-The legal notice for this public hearing was printed in the Daily Banner on Thursday, May 10, 2007. Ed Kinnamon provided Council and the public with draft copies of several sections of the application.

Veronica Owens, New Beginnings Executive Director, said New Beginnings was grateful for the previous assistance from the City and that the last grant had been used for an after school program, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, karate and a summer camp. The organization also provided job referrals, and computer classes. She said they met their benchmark to assist over 300 families. It is their intent, in this next year, to assist more adults with technology skills.

Veronica Owens said they have pledged commitments in cash for their 2008/2009 program. New Beginnings Youth and Family Services is requesting a 2-year partnership for the next round of the CDBG grant application. This round they have a cash match of $92,438. They are requesting $92,000 from CDBG. Betsy Cooksy-Lewis originally requested that they go in for $75,000 per year over a 3‑year time period. They are requesting $92,438 and the following year they are requesting $75,000. They have $50,000 in pledges to date. At New Beginnings they feel that each day is a great start for a new beginning in your life. Their residents are not at risk but at promise of opportunity. They are asking that the City partner with them so they can provide them with the necessary tools towards those opportunities.

Robert Boyd, President of New Beginnings Tenant Organization, said since they have been under new management, you can walk down the street in a comfortable position whereas before, you could not. You no longer have to look over your shoulder or out the back of your car window to find out who is following you. These folks have done a tremendous job in the transitioning that they have undertaken. He hopes the City will partner with them.

Commissioner Sydnor asked about the local funds. Veronica Owens said the local funds consist of Homes for America ($5,400); Habitat America ($24,000); and their State funds are $63,038. The State funds are tax credit sales from private companies. Commissioner Sydnor asked if they are asking for a letter of support. Veronica Owens said they are asking for a letter of support and resolution for the next CDBG funding round for the next two years. Mayor Rippons asked about the deadline. Veronica Owens said the deadline is May 30th.

Nobody else asked to speak. Mayor Rippons closed the public hearing. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to give support to the application of New Beginnings Youth and Family Services by means of a letter of support and resolution. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Thomas Annexation and Rezoning Request-Rob Collison said this annexation was advertised in the Daily Banner on several occasions. The parcel of property contains a total of 78.2698 acres located on the southeast corner of Woods Road and Maryland Route 16. The notice of the public hearing was advertised in the Daily Banner on April 6, April 13, April 20, and April 27, 2007. The notice was also provided to the County Commissioners, the County Planning Office, and the State Office of Planning. The bulk of the property would be zoned HC which is Highway Commercial (76.37 acres). A 0.83-acre portion of the property is proposed to be zoned General Commercial. If you are on Maryland Route 16 and are going toward the State Hospital, it is on the right. Formerly there was a house on that piece of property. The Planning Commission made the recommendation at the request of the property owner because the site is such that it would not be conducive to multi-family. The property around it has already been developed. They felt it would be an ideal location for a convenience store or other commercial facility. It was originally zoned R-1. There is a portion of R-1 for the western portion of Woods Road and a portion which consists of 0.23 acres and a portion of R‑3 which consists of 0.84 acres. There are portions along Woods Road that would be consistent with the adjoining properties. The bulk of the property is on the eastern side of Woods Road on which the commercial development under the HC would be proposed. There is no abatement or waiver of impact fees in the proposed annexation agreement. The Planning Commission is in the process of, and is very close to adopting, certain design, architectural, and exterior landscaping requirements, that would apply to the Highway Commercial and possibly some General Commercial along Route 50 and Route 16. The developers have agreed to abide by those regulations and it will become part of the annexation agreement. As developments on the western side of Woods Road near the State Hospital have come into the development stage, there has been an ongoing debate as to what to do with the ditching and the drainage. It is dangerous open ditching. The thought is that from a safety standpoint the County is planning some upgrade to Woods Road and maybe that ditch will be closed in like some portions of Bayly Road. The developer has agreed to do whatever is required all along their property.

Rob Collison asked if anyone was present from the County Council, County Office of Planning, or the State Office of Planning to make comments or ask questions. Nobody asked to speak. Rob Collison announced that the Planning and Zoning Commission met on this matter and recommended favorable recommendation for annexation with the zoning designations as previously indicated and with the two or three conditions outlined.

Ryan Showalter, Miles & Stockbridge, spoke representing Petrie Ross Ventures, LLC, the applicant. He introduced Terry Richardson, Executive Vice President of Development and Construction with Petrie Ross; Andrew Petrie, Assistant Project Manager; Charles Evans, President of Evans Land; Craig Stevens, Associate with Dorsky, Hodgson, Parrish, Yue Architects; Wes Guckert, President of the Traffic Group; Len Bogorad and Michelle Loutoo of Robert Charles Lesser and Company; and Gage Thomas (property owner). The property is contiguous to existing City boundaries. Council introduced the annexation resolution and the proposed zoning ordinance during the March 12th meeting. The annexation that was petitioned as well as the zoning ordinance that was introduced, proposed R3 zoning for the Jones parcel. It is a 3/4-acre parcel on the west side of Woods Road. It was based on discussions with DPW staff who suggested R3 zoning because the parcel was surrounded on its north, west, and south sides by R3 properties. At the Planning Commission meeting, they informed the Commission that they received some communications from representatives from the Jones family and they were interested in maintaining a commercial zoning classification consistent with the existing County zoning which is currently zoned B2 (general commercial). The Planning Commission considered the property owners' input and also determined that based upon the size of the parcel and the fact that all of the adjacent properties have already been developed, its utility under R3 zoning was pretty insignificant. The Planning Commission recommended that the Jones parcel be zoned GC consistent with the existing County zoning rather than the R3 that was proposed. The advertisement that ran in the Daily Banner included both a reference to the ordinance that was introduced as well as the Planning Commission's recommendation. This property is designated by both the City and County comprehensive plans for annexation and for commercial development. The properties are already included in the County's comprehensive water and sewer plan and are designated for future water and sewer service. Once of the considerations that the Planning Commission also ultimately approved is a favorable recommendation to the County on a proposed water and sewer plan amendment. The Chairman of the Planning Commission signed the application form which is a requirement. The form was submitted to the County and earlier this month, the County Planning Commission unanimously favorably recommended that the County amend the water and sewer plan provided the property is annexed. The designation is S1W1 (immediately available for water and sewer).

Terry Richardson, Petrie Ross Ventures, said they have developed 2 million square feet to date in the mid-Atlantic region. They have another 6 million square feet in development in the mid-Atlantic. They take pride in working closely with the elected officials and the community leaders. One of the things they did in preparation for this process is to develop the concept for the project. The site plan shows approximately 350,000 square feet of retail and 13½ acres of office. They envision a home improvement anchor. They have interest from national anchors. They envision a grocery store and other retail on the site. In the rear of the property is a 13½ acre section that was set aside for office development. The exact tenant mix is being worked on. They have a significant national conference in one week in Las Vegas where an enormous amount of leasing gets done. They would love to have a story to tell to the national retailers that are talking to them about the Cambridge Market that the project has the support of the City Council for annexation. It would go a long way towards helping move those prospective deals forward. The purpose of the conceptual designs that they developed is to try to demonstrate the character and quality of the project that they would propose. They are not trying to suggest that this is the only architecture that would suit the project. They have worked with the City Planner on the fact that there is a set of design guidelines that are coming out that are currently in draft form. They tried to pull together some of the key elements of the design guidelines to demonstrate that they would be responsive to the needs of the community in terms of the architecture.

Terry Richardson spoke about the positive economic impact of the project. A full study was presented to Council in written form. Over a 30-year period, the net fiscal impact to the City would be about $16 million from a variety of sources-predominately real estate taxes. This equates to an annual cash flow in the early stages of the project of just under $400,000 and in the later years to about $750,000 per year. They undertake charitable giving in all the communities where they develop. In the very recent past they provided two annual scholarships to the Forestville Military Academy in Prince George's County. They contributed to the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville. This year they made a very large contribution to the Greenbelt Community Foundation. In Cambridge they have heard there is a specific need for financial support for a playground and active youth facility. This is the kind of thing they would be very proud to be involved in.

Commissioner Sydnor asked about the number of jobs that would be created. Terry Richardson said the final number of jobs will be dependent on the retailers that come to the market. As an example, the two national home improvement retailers generate about 300 jobs with an average hourly wage of in excess of $12 per hour. One of those two retailers they hope would comprise roughly 40 percent of the project as a whole. You could expect somewhere in the range of about 500 jobs across the board for the project.

Commissioner Brooks said they are requesting rezoning to include residential single-family and multi-family. She asked how many homes they are talking about and the price range. Rob Collison said they are requesting the zoning to make it consistent with a very small strip of property near the State hospital and the apartments. Ryan Showalter said they are not proposed any homes. Commissioner Cephas asked what timeframe they are looking at if the annexation is approved. Ryan Showalter said if they are approved for annexation, they have the entire permitting process to go through. Their desire is to break ground in the very early spring of 2008 and open within that year. Commissioner Brooks asked if any necessary upgrades to Route 16 were included in their plan. Ryan Showalter said the cost of those improvements are included to determine the total project cost. They have engaged a traffic engineer who has done extensive studies on Woods Road. They anticipate that both Woods Road and Route 16 along the frontage will need upgrades-the exact degree of which has not yet been determined. Often that is a subject of negotiation. In the case of Route 16 it would be with the State Highway Administration. They would work with the City on improvements to Woods Road. Road upgrades abutting their property are an investment that they are very prepared to make. The national retailers that they are trying to attract need robust infrastructure in order for them to do the business that they want to do.

Commissioner Sydnor asked if they have had any discussions with Dorchester County concerning Woods Road. Ryan Showalter said they have not had any discussions with the County concerning Woods Road to date. There are two things that are in play with the County. The first is the water and sewer plan amendment which he mentioned that will be scheduled for a public hearing before the County Council. The second is that because the uses permitted by the proposed City zoning (Highway Commercial) and the residential are substantially different than some of the uses permitted by the existing County zoning, County Council approval of the proposed City zoning is required. They submitted a complete package to the County Council that explains the City zoning that they requested and provides a comparison between the County and City zoning. The third issue they know they have to deal with is that Woods Road is currently a County road and they understand as part of annexation, those road improvements would need to be coordinated by both the County Roads Department and the City Department of Public Works.

Commissioner Sydnor asked if the City would end up with Woods Road if they annexed this parcel. Rob Collison said they would end up with the portion they are annexing. The developer will agree to upgrade Woods Road binding on their property and State Highway will control what the developer has to do with Route 16. He suggested a meeting of the City and County to resolve the issues of Woods Road prior to the effective date of the annexation. The developer will be responsible to improve both sides of the road including the entire road bed and any drainage ditching on their side. Terry Richardson said they understand based on a preliminary traffic analysis that Woods Road, along their frontage, will become a 4-lane road. Now it is a 1½-lane road. There will be through lanes in each direction and an excell/decell lane on both sides. A portion will fall within their property. They are committing to do the entire 4 lanes for the length of their property subject to working out the technical details between their team and the City staff.

Greg LeBlanc said a project of this size is going to affect more than the road right next to the property. He asked if the traffic engineer looked at intersections throughout the City to get to this site. Wes Guckert, The Traffic Group, said at this point they have not. They would expect that City staff would ask them to look at various roads if the land was annexed. It would be standard operating procedure for them. Commissioner Sydnor said in their joint meeting with the County, they said they were in the process of trying to obtain some funding for Woods Road. Maybe the two can work jointly to have a complete road instead of a partial road.

Ryan Showalter said as part of the rezoning under Section 369 of the Zoning Ordinance as well as Section 405 of the Article 66b of the Annotated Code of Maryland, the City Council is required to make certain findings of fact. The first is a finding as respect to population change. Where all of the developable land is proposed to be zoned commercial, there is no anticipated population change. The second deals with the adequacy and availability of public facilities. The annexation agreement obligates the property owners (petitioners) to complete all of the public facility improvements required by the development of their property. It must be compatible with existing and proposed development for the area. There is a large institutional facility near this property. The parcels on the west side of Woods Road are being developed with multi-family uses. The recommendation of the Planning Commission must be considered. It was unanimous in support. This is clearly recommended for annexation by the Comprehensive Plan. It will have a net positive fiscal impact on the City. The property is adjacent to a major state highway that will become even more significant as the City's bypass road is constructed. The proposed uses are consistent not only with the City Comprehensive Plan but the County zoning. They are requesting a vote to approve the annexation resolution and direction to Rob Collison to coordinate.

Ryan Showalter said they are requesting a vote to approve the annexation resolution and direction to Mr. Collison to coordinate finalization of the annexation agreement. They are also requesting a vote to amend the pending zoning ordinance to incorporate the zoning changes recommended by the Planning Commission as well as direction to Mr. Collison to memorialize findings of fact supporting the rezoning.

Sharon Wilson, Visions America Community Development Corporation, asked if there was going to be any outreach to the small businesses here that could also be offered jobs in this area. Terry Richardson said they have outreach programs for both minority businesses and small businesses. At their project in Prince George's County, they will set up a local person whose job it is to coordinate and find those resources who have services that meet project's needs. They will be happy to report the findings of that effort on an on-going basis to Council so they can see their commitment in words results in action. Sharon Wilson said she would appreciate that because as a liaison for the minority business enterprise, she helps to certify minority businesses here.

Liddy Garcia-Buñuel said she has a couple of concerns. There seems to be a lot of asphalt. She wondered if there was any concern about the environment. It seems that there should be very environmentally sensitive projects in these areas. As she has learned in her planning world, if you decrease the amount of asphalt, you have less run-off. With more plantings and things that are a little more environmentally sensitive, she hopes these issues will be addressed by the development.

Liddy Garcia-Buñuel said she understands this may be very good for the City. However she can't ignore Route 50 and all the empty boxes we have out there. To create more boxes is a concern. She is hoping there could be some kickbacks to somehow develop what is in place on Route 50. She suggested trying to figure out some way on behalf of the City that some monies can be available to potentially go into some of those empty boxes and redevelop them. People have been talking about a sports complex in the old K-Mart. There are things that can be done to address some of the empty boxes on Route 50.

Liddy Garcia-Buñuel said her last concern is a general concern that as we build out of the City, what it will mean for the downtown and its small businesses that are barely surviving. As we continue to sprawl into areas where you have big-box retail, you can look at the documentation all across America and see what big boxes have done to small retail. She cannot ignore it because it does effect small businesses all over Cambridge. This is not coming from Main Street and is not something that the Board has voted on, it is only coming from Liddy Garcia-Buñuel on William Street.

Terry Richardson said they are a strong supporter of the Chesapeake Bay. They share Ms. Garcia's concern about protecting the environment. They are quite a ways from the Chesapeake Bay and the Critical Area yet they would be more than happy to work with staff during the detailed design process for the project to pay attention to how they can minimize the parking lot areas and increase the landscape area. They are very happy to propose best management practices on a non-Critical Area site such as this as if they were in the Critical Area just because they feel it is the right thing to do and it is good PR for them to claim that they are environmentally sensitive.

The issue of the empty boxes on Route 50 is a little more difficult to address. It is hard to say exactly what went wrong out there. He started a business in Cambridge 12 years ago. He was a principle with Lane Engineering based in Easton and saw what he thought was great promise for the growth of Cambridge and brought Lane Engineering to Cambridge. It has always perplexed him having lived on the Shore for quite a while how those businesses could fail. His personal opinion is that people don't want to be on Route 50 on the weekend during the summer. The traffic congestion is an impediment to successful businesses on Route 50. There is no place on Route 50, and they looked for 1½ years, that could accommodate their project and the retailers they are talking to here. As it relates to downtown, there is no place in the downtown area that could accommodate the nature of the project that they are proposing. As far as the reinvestment and revitalization of both Route 50 and downtown, one of the benefits of a project like this is the fiscal impacts. There are resources available that are not tied up serving the project's needs that are new money now. It is up to the City Council to determine how those dollars are best spent. One of the places that those dollars could be spent is the revitalization effort.

Commissioner Brooks said Mr. Richardson said that a reason the Route 50 business may have failed was because of the Ocean City traffic. With all the retail that is planned on Route 16 including the bypass, we will have a lot of traffic utilizing the bypass, even on weekends, if you are going to take all the retail there. She asked if they thought people may not want to be there as well and then we would end up with more empty boxes. Terry Richardson said he thinks it is orders of magnitude. When you are on Route 50 in the summer, you have local traffic and all the reach-the-beach traffic. One of their team members, Charlie Evans, lives in Cambridge. The belief is that people tend to avoid Route 50 in the summer because of the traffic. They think their location is the best location in the market. It has good access, good proximity to downtown, great water and sewer infrastructure available, etc. Commissioner Brooks said there has always been a lot of talk and nothing has ever happened but if they could just create a little short bridge near Taylor's Island to connect southern Maryland, it would bring just as much traffic on Route 16 if that would ever come to light.

Commissioner Sydnor asked if they were familiar with the R/UDAT report. Mr. Richardson said he was not familiar with it. Commissioner Sydnor said if they would read the report, it may give them a better feel of the City of Cambridge. While we are in the process of updating our comprehensive plan, the R/UDAT is probably the closest thing we have to a comprehensive plan. It would give the developer a feel of the jest of what we would like to see for Cambridge. Maybe they could incorporate some of it in their plans. Mr. Richardson said they would love to get to know the report and work with staff on anything that they could possible do to work in concert with the study. Commissioner Sydnor said the owners of some of the box stores on Route 50 do not want to sell them. There is a reason they do not want to sell them but he won't go into that now. The City has looked at them; however, the owners have a vision for some of those stores.

Rob Collison said the advertisement for the public hearing was an advertisement for the annexation resolution as well as the ordinance that would amend the zoning.

Commissioner Brooks said the only question she would have at this time is giving a vote tonight and just receiving this material tonight. Rob Collison said it is at Council's discretion; they could defer the vote until May 29th. At that time he will have the final annexation agreement prepared. Commissioner Brooks said that would give Council time to read the report they were given tonight. She doesn't think an answer tonight is appropriate without giving them the opportunity to read the report.

Ryan Showalter said because of the significance of this industry trade show next week, in a minimum he asked if it would be appropriate to ask for a straw poll or a consensus vote so they have something they can share with the retailers as to the status of the annexation recognizing that Mr. Collison has to finalize the annexation agreement before Council has a binding vote.

Commissioner Knox made a motion that Council gives a favorable recommendation for this project. Rob Collison said they could have a favorable vote that is expressly subject to the final approval of the annexation agreement. In the meantime, if they are considering an additional requirement of the developer to put in the annexation agreement, they could do that. Commissioner Brooks said that is not what she is saying. She is saying they were given the report tonight and they are already going to make changes to it and they want Council to vote on changes that the developer hasn't made and the developer wants Council to give a vote on a packet of material that they have not even read. Commissioner Knox said they could make a favorable recommendation and not a formal vote with direction to proceed with the finalization of the annexation agreement. Mayor Rippons closed the public hearing.

Commissioner Knox made a motion to give a favorable recommendation for the annexation agreement pending the final drawing of the resolutions and any amendments that may come forward. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Mayor Rippons said there are three parts. The first is the annexation resolution, the second is the rezoning ordinance, and the third is the finding-of-fact. The motion is to make a favorable recommendation of those three issues pending Mr. Collison's research and final annexation agreement. Rob Collison asked that the motion also include the formal and final vote on those issues will be on May 29th so it will be clear in the record that this is not the final vote. Commissioner Cephas said he agrees with Commissioner Brooks because this was dropped on him tonight also. He doesn't think it is appropriate to make a favorable vote on something that is not final. Commissioner Knox said they are not formally approving anything. He is not going to rescind his motion. Commissioner Sydnor said this would not be binding. Rob Collison said it would be subject to a formal vote which could go either way on May 29th. Commissioner Brooks said she thinks it is misleading to find a favorable recommendation for something that they do not know whether they will favor this recommendation. She would prefer to do it the right way and read through the report and get Rob Collison's final draft. She wants to see it, read it, and know that this is how it is going to be and then give a knowledgeable answer and vote. Commissioner Sydnor asked if there was a time they can set before the next meeting that would be acceptable. Commissioner Brooks said she thinks May 29th would be perfect. The developer can tell them that it looks favorable. Ryan Showalter said they do not want to make Council uncomfortable. They believe the study that was distributed tonight is valuable and important. Council didn't have it in advance only because of his error. It is not a requirement of annexation but he understands why they want to consider it. They do not want to misrepresent anything to the people who they will be speaking to next week. He asked if it would be a fair statement to suggest to potential retailers or clients that based upon the public hearing, assuming everything is consistent with the presentations made tonight, that the Council may be inclined to support the annexation. He is not asking for a binding vote. Commissioner Cephas said he thinks the developer should tell them there were not adverse remarks coming from Council in reference to the project.

Terry Richardson said this is their once-a-year shot at some of these retailers. It is an annual conference. If in fact the City of Cambridge is inclined to send a message, the strongest possible favorable message would be very helpful. They develop all over the mid-Atlantic. Retailers have a short attention span. They have tried to develop some things in Talbot County in the past and due to opposition and delays, retailers looked elsewhere. They have a certain amount of dollars to invest each year and new markets they are looking to. They are not asking Council to make any kind of binding vote but if out of this meeting could come some kind of favorable message that with a straight face and a clear conscience he can relate to the national retailers, it would very much appreciate it.

Commissioner Brooks asked if there was any reason why they did not come before Council in a timelier manner so Council would have time to read the report in enough time to give them an answer. Terry Richardson apologized for the error in the economic package not being submitted sooner. It was not a requirement of annexation. They thought it was useful information. Commissioner Knox said he personally would not like to see the City of Cambridge miss this opportunity. His motion does not commit the City of Cambridge to anything in concrete. The citizens in our community have longed for such a project. He would hate to do anything to jeopardize the opportunity. He doesn't want them to give the impression that the City of Cambridge is closed. By this motion we are not committing ourselves. When the finals are drawn up, Council can change them any way they please. He would like to see Cambridge have this opportunity. When Council meets on May 29th, he is confident that Rob Collison will have all the finals drawn up and Council will certainly have ample time to review them before a final decision is made. He would like to leave his motion standing. He doesn't think if Council approves this, they are committing the City to anything that is going to be binding until they review the final drafts. Rob Collison said it would be a non-binding favorable recommendation subject to formal and final vote.

Commissioner Sydnor asked for a recess. Commissioner Knox removed his motion in order for Commissioner Sydnor to take a 5-minute recess. Commissioner Travers said he would hate to loose this. People who he has talked to think it is one of the greatest things that we have ever done in Cambridge. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to take a recess. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion to take a recess passed unanimously.

Commissioner Knox withdrew his previous motion. Commissioner Travers withdrew his second. Commissioner Knox made a motion to give a general letter of support and have the final vote on May 29th. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Rob Collison advised Council that after reviewing the comments made this evening or in the materials they received, if there is any other provision they would like to have included in the annexation agreement, they should let him know. This is only for annexation of the property; it is not for the specific project. That will come later with the site plans.

APPOINTMENTS

Proclamation for Relay for Life and Request for Noise Variance for Friday, May 18th (4:00 pm) until Saturday, May 19th (7:00 am) at Cambridge South-Dorchester High School-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to Gail Skinner. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the noise variance from Friday, May 18th at 4:00 pm until Saturday, May 19th at 7:00 am. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Gail Skinner, Chairperson for Relay for Life, thanked the Mayor and Council for their continued support. This is their 11th relay. They have had quite a bit of success-both in raising funds for the fight against cancer and even more importantly recognizing cancer survivors. She invited everyone to Relay for Life which starts at 6:00 pm.

Proclamation for Safe Boating Week-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation and Mayor Rippons signed it. Nobody was present to accept it.

Proclamation for Veterans Appreciation Day-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to the committee. Mayor Rippons said they would also like a noise variance. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve a noise variance for September 8th from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm at Sailwinds Park. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Everyone was invited to attend the program.

Liddy Garcia and Kyra Kristof to Request Resolution for Neighborhood Business Works Grant-Kyra Kristof, the Arts & Entertainment District Coordinator for Cambridge, spoke on behalf of Main Street. They have had a very interesting opportunity from the Neighborhood Business Works grant program which is offered through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. They offered a grant opportunity with a very short turnaround time-only two weeks. The grant opportunity is specifically for designated Maryland Main Street communities; therefore, Cambridge Main Street is the only non-profit organization in Dorchester County eligible to apply for these funds. The pot is up to $100,000 in grant dollars that can be used to match a capital improvements program. Cambridge Main Street would like to apply for these dollars in order to support the renovation and restoration of the rear portion of the building located at 450 Race Street in order to turn that portion of the building into an art gallery that would be operated by Cambridge Main Street. The façade of that building would open onto Muir Street and be part of the revitalization of that section that connects downtown to the waterfront. The grant is due at the end of this week. They are requesting Council's support in the form of a resolution of support. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the resolution of support. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Open Bids for Fire Boat-Ed Kinnamon said he learned that the bid documents had to be reviewed by the State before being sent out. They were just returned to Chief Hurley. The bids will be received and opened at a future Council meeting.

Sharon Wilson to Request Commitment Letter for Community Development Block Grant and Discuss City-Owned Property-Sharon Wilson said she has been before Council several times to discuss City-owned property. Ed Kinnamon provided her with a list of these properties. In reviewing the list and going from street to street, the information that she received was very limited as to what the City has that would be beneficial to the individuals of Cambridge as far as home ownership. She is requesting a letter of commitment and support from the City Council as it pertains to the Community Development Block Grant which is due on May 30th. She has spoken to Cindy Stone from the State office as it pertains to block grant. With the commitment letter it cannot just be showing their support. It has to be a lot more specific as to what the City of Cambridge is willing to do as far as participation. She indicated some of the information which is in-kind which would be the donation of land that has been going on since April 2005. Still nothing has been settled as to what the City is willing to do. She has also listed technical assistance from the City. They have graciously told her they are willing to help in any way she needs help as far as the block grant and information. The impact fees could be waived that would make housing more affordable for people who are living in the City. Many of the properties in Cambridge start at $200,000 which is not affordable for a lot of people who reside in this area. In April 2005 they submitted information to the City telling what they were looking at for the cost of their homes ($125,000 to $135,000). They have a team in place. They are housing counselors for HUD and have spoke to them to see how HUD can work with them as far as affordability of homes for low-income families. They are asking for this letter of commitment so Visions America is not stringing people along for a hope and vision of being a homeowner of affordable housing. They hold housing seminars once-a-month. They have list of people who want to be in their next program that starts in June. They are looking for the City's support in helping them with the land. The houses they are designing would be on one-quarter acre lots. That is a very limited size on the list of City-owned properties. There is only one piece of property that is still empty and that is the piece on Leonard Lane. She also knows that some of the gentlemen from Planning and Zoning had spoken at the last meeting she attended and said they would be finished doing what they were doing with that property in March. The Mayor had also said at that meeting that the property may contain wetlands and asked who would pay the $5,000 for the study. Those are things that will be worked out and are not a concern with the State people who she has been talking to about the housing project as well as HUD and the various other agencies that she has been in contact with. She is asking the Council to make a decision on whether or not they are willing to support the effort of Visions America in making some affordable housing available in Cambridge. She does not want close, tight quarters. She wants one-quarter acre lots. The team they brought aboard can make that possible to have affordable housing with people having nice square footage for their home. They want to apply for a Community Development Block Grant. The application is due May 30, 2007. The State will give them any technical assistance that they need. Rural Development and other agencies will also assist them. They are asking the Council for their commitment by way of the donation of the land. She asked what could be put in place as it pertains to a public hearing necessary for the Community Development Block Grant funds which Visions America has publicized before when they submitted their proposal. That was done in April 2005 and still nothing has been settled. They would like to build from 15 to 20 homes. They need to consider the people living in Cambridge who want to become homeowners and be able to keep their home. They are hoping to get a letter of commitment from the City in some form telling them what the City wants to see happen and what they are expecting from Visions America.

Rob Collison said the City would not be in the position to commit the land on Leonard Lane tonight. His recollection was that the list of City-owned properties was to be sent to the department heads for them to see what they considered as excess property. First the City has to determine if the land is excess property. If it is determined to be excess property, there has to be an advertisement as to what the proposed disposition is for what price on the excess property. What Council could do tonight is to make a commitment that if the grant is awarded, the City would waive the impact fees for low-income housing. Mayor Rippons said if they have no place to put it, it becomes a mute point. Rob Collison said they could use the grant money to acquire some land. Council is not legally in a position tonight to commit any property. Mayor Rippons said first Council has to ascertain from the department heads that they do not see any future use of the property.  Then Council would be able to deem it excess property. Rob Collison said the Council will have to advise the public that they are proposing to dispose of City property for 'x' number of dollars to a particular individual or company. That is what has to be advertised. Mayor Rippons asked who responded to the RFP last time. Rob Collison said they did the RFP but there was never an advertisement that said the City is proposing to convey or transfer this property to 'x' corporation for 'x' dollars. Commissioner Brooks said she believes there were three RFPs that came back and only one was submitted in full with everything that should have been submitted. Some things were submitted after the deadline. The City had a meeting as to whether or not they should accept anything else after the deadline. That is where the City stopped-whether they should re-advertise and do it all over again or go from what the City received. Commissioner Brooks asked Ed Kinnamon whether or not any land was ever given away or whether it was sold for a moderate price for the low-income projects from USDA. Ed Kinnamon said to his knowledge, nothing was ever given away. There was some money exchanged. Nothing was conveyed without cost.

Mayor Rippons asked if Council was privileged to accept the RFPs or do they need to re-bid for excess property. Rob Collison said he believes they got bogged down at that point with whether or not it was excess property. Mr. Pritchett, Director of DPW, had said there was a need for it. Rob Collison said his recommendation would be to set a time for public discussion and determine what property is excess property in the City. Once they determine what is excess property, they can prepare a blanket RFP for the various parcels and then from that review the proposals. Once they select one, they would advertise that the City is proposing to sell a particular piece of property for a specified dollar amount to an individual. Mayor Rippons said Mrs. Wilson has a deadline of May 30, 2007. Rob Collison said the only thing the City could do to assist her would be to commit the City to some other assistance. If she gets the grant, by that time the City may have determined the accessibility of the property and the proposed distribution of it. Commissioner Brooks said she would like to know the range of prices for the homes so they can stay within the perspective that we have in the past when they waived impact fees. She doesn't think it mattered what the income was, they just looked at the price of the house. Sharon Wilson said the homes would cost between $125,000 and $135,000. Commissioner Brooks said that is within the range. Rob Collison said the City could agree to waive the impact fees for a project that provides affordable housing within the City of Cambridge. Commissioner Sydnor said he thinks at one point they discussed waiving impact fees for affordable homes. He said Rob Collison was supposed to provide Council with a standard operating procedure. Sharon Wilson said Cindy Stone told her to get the information and asked if the public hearing was advertised in the Daily Banner. She told Cindy Stone that it was advertised in 2006. Commissioner Sydnor asked if they could obtain grant funds to purchase property. Sharon Wilson said they have infrastructure, housing opportunities, and various things this grant will accommodate funding for. Mayor Rippons said the City still has time at their next meeting to get Ms. Wilson a letter after she consults with Cindy Stone. Then she can contact Kathy Foster at City Hall to keep the Council informed before the next meeting. Rob Collison asked her to find out if the grant had to be site-specific. Commissioner Brooks said from the previous discussion that we have had, she thinks they should let Ms. Wilson know that if Council chose from the three, Council cannot say it would be Visions America. They would actually have to vote. They did not vote on anything at all because they were unsure whether or not they needed to re-advertise and have them resubmitted with a deadline so everyone has everything turned in at one time. She thinks that is where the City left off the last time. Sharon Wilson said she doesn't have a problem with resubmitting the documents. If they are going to move forward, they have the team to move forward. If not, they know what they have to do. They need to know the City's position as far as supporting affordable housing and see where they are actually willing to put something up. Commissioner Brooks said they have supported affordable housing in Cambridge and they will continue to support affordable housing. However they have to be very careful not to show prejudice against anybody that submitted an RFP. There were some problems with all but one of the RFPs that were previously submitted. That would just leave one to look at. To be fair to the other two because they appeared to be nice proposals, they had contemplated rebidding. That is when they found out the land on Leonard Lane would be used for dirt from the marina. She doesn't know if they have finished using that land at this particular time.

Ashyrra Dotson, Associated Black Charities, said they are partnering with Visions America with this housing project. She asked when the City would begin their process so they are not starting their processes over and over. This way they will know if they have to look at other options. Mayor Rippons said first the department heads have to look at the properties. After that they would have to hold a public hearing notifying the public of the City's intentions. Rob Collison said then they would have to make a determination that they do wish to sell the land and advertise that dollar amount and the names of the individuals who they are selling it to. They could transfer the property 21 days later. Commissioner Brooks asked if they would have a decision from the department heads in two weeks. Commissioner Sydnor said when they did this before, the department head wanted to put garbage trucks there. He asked why it goes to the department heads when Council makes the decision. Rob Collison said during the RFP comment session, it came to light that there may be a need for DPW and that the property on Leonard Lane is their only area for expansion. Commissioner Sydnor said there was a letter that they received from DPW prior to that stating that they wished to use that land for a garage but Council proceeded on without the consent as far as the RFPs are concerned. Rob Collison said the department heads make a recommendation but it is always Council's decision. Commissioner Brooks said if she can remember correctly, the only need foreseen at that particular time was going to be for the dirt from the marina. Once the dirt from the marina had been taken care of, the property would be available. After that, with the move to the public safety building and renovations, there was some discussion as to what they were going to do with all the buildings in Cambridge. When that came up, the department of public works fit into that discussion whether they were going to stay where they were or move to the police department building and Council is still in the air as to what they are going to do with all the departments at this particular time.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said she doesn't know what kind of relationship the City of Cambridge has with the Department of Housing and Community Development, but when Mr. Skinner came on board he came to the County and said they had to define affordable housing before any block grants are going to be considered. Without that definition, it is not going to work. As far as she knows, the City has not defined affordable housing. The County is working on their definition but they have not defined it yet. They are between workforce housing and affordable housing. Before any decision is to be made, she is asking the City to go back into its records and review why they made the decisions about Patamoke I and II because there was City involvement in things like that. If we are going after affordable housing for people to buy, we also need sufficient decent rental properties. Maybe some of the properties on the list can be used for the rentals. She asked that the City look at affordable rental and homeownership.

Commissioner Brooks said she knows that we have one affordable villa unit that is already up with 96 units and another 96 units that should be completed in 18 months. Portia Johnson-Ennels said there was a major eviction on May 1st.

Commissioner Brooks said she will continue to support affordable housing for the property on Leonard Lane but they have to go about it the right way so it is done right. The City does need a definition of affordable housing. Portia Johnson-Ennels said the definition it is not saying subsidized housing.

Commissioner Cephas said there were three people who submitted proposals last year. Sharon Wilson is the only person who has constantly come back to Council to inquire about it. He is not sure if there is a need to advertise all over again. They never went though with fruition on the other issue because the land was needed for some dirt at one point and the need is still there. The piles are still there. It would be one thing if the land was clear and Visions America and some of the organizations said they didn't want it anymore. Then he thinks they should advertise. The three people who made the requests should be considered to see if they are still interested. He thinks the Council should move forward and let the department heads do what they have to do. If there is not an immediate need for it, they should contact whomever. His colleague said the City is not in the business of giving away property and he does not disagree. He does not think the record will say we ever gave anything away. He does not want to set a precedence; he wants to be fair with everybody.

Wendell Foxwell said as he recalls, a year ago this property was mentioned and also the property on the corner of Park Lane and Leonard Lane. Most people said they wanted the property for DPW. It would be a hardship on the taxpayers if they had to move DPW to another place because they needed to expand. He thought the issue had been resolved. Commissioner Cephas said there were hearings on this issue. He distinctly remembers Mr. Pritchett saying he was looking at something 5 to 7 years down the road to possibly place a garage on that property. He thinks a lot of the discussion was what was most important-a garage or a home for the needy. He is asking if there is an immediate need for low- to moderate-income homes or is there an immediate need for a garage for some garbage trucks. As of May 1st, there are people who have been displaced from their homes and they do not have any place to live. It will only get worse. The problem is immediate now.

Rob Collison suggested that Mr. Kinnamon circulate the entire list of properties because he knows there is more than just the one piece. On May 29th they may be able to resolve some others. They may be able to look at them comprehensively. Commissioner Brooks said she is in favor of affordable housing and they have looked at Leonard Lane from Day 1. Commissioner Sydnor said they have discussed affordable homes but a component that seems to be lacking is that for an age community in which we have 55 or 60 and over. A lot of the places we have that were designed for that age group now also have a younger clientele and it is not very conducive to the older residents. That is something we should also look at. These people are the backbone of our community and we cannot simply throw them out. Commissioner Brooks said David Fang will have age-restricted low-income housing at Conifer Village starting at $350. Some may be as low as $275. That community is under construction now. Mayor Rippons said he will soon be proposing another 76 units.

Rob Collison suggested deciding what City-owned properties are excess properties on May 29th. If they determine the Leonard Lane property to be excess property, they will then need to determine if they want to look at the existing RFPs or open it up again.

Sharon Wilson said in regards to the grant application that is due on May 30th and the hearing will be on May 29th, she asked how fast the turnaround time will be in giving her organization something when they apply for the grant. Mayor Rippons said if it is voted on during the May 29th meeting, they will have it the next morning. Rob Collison said they will not be making the decision to convey that property. Mayor Rippons said after her discussion with Cindy Stone, Ms. Wilson will be able to tell Council if she can move forward with the application.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Award Bid for Turn Out Gear for RFC-Mayor Rippons said the request is to purchase a total of 27 sets at a total price of $42,597.90. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to award the bid to the sole supplier, Personal Protection Equipment Specialists. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Second Reading and Vote on Ordinances to Adopt the 2006 International Building Code and the 2006 International Property Maintenance Code-Rob Collison said these are updates to both codes. The State of Maryland will be requiring implementation by July 1, 2007. The Department of Public Works recommended that the City adopt the codes. They already have the software and are ready to start the staff training. Commissioner Knox made a motion to adopt the 2006 International Building Code and the 2006 International Property Maintenance Code with the amendments supplied by DPW. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS

Request from Hill's Point Gang Racing Association for Permission to Serve Alcohol and Allow Overnight Camping at Great Marsh on June 16th and 17th in Conjunction with Their Inboard Powerboat Exhibition-Mayor Rippons said he understands we do not allow alcohol at Great Marsh; however, it is allowed during the power boat event. Rob Collison said the only condition on that is that Mr. Wheeler will have to work with them on getting certain insurance coverage and waivers. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to grant the requests. Chief Malik said he hasn't had any problems with this group or the power boat group. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Request from Portside Seafood Restaurant for a Noise Variance for Their Summer Series of Sunday Dock Parties on June 3rd, July 1st, and September 2nd from 2:00 pm Until 7:00 pm-Chief Malik said Portside has done this for the past few years without problems. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve Resolution to Formally Adopt a Standard Operating Procedure to Provide for the Connection to City Water Services for Properties Located Outside Corporate Limits-Rob Collison said Council had a discussion previously about amending an MOU agreement on standardized rates between the City and the Sanitary District. They were not willing to include this in the agreement only because they have Sanitary Districts in Church Creek and some other ones that really do not even have the capacity to get City water. It is his recommendation that Council adopt a resolution that would codify this and to specifically state what would be put in that agreement. If you are a lot of record within an existing Sanitary District that has access to City central water and sewer, you will be permitted one connection for each lot of record as of July 1, 2005. If it is possible to be annexed, the City will require the annexation and then they can subdivide. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the resolution. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve Resolution and PILOT Agreement for Cambridge Commons Project-Rob Collison said this was formally approved at the last meeting. The Council granted a credit of $100 per unit for the 96 units. It would continue for as long as the units qualify for the income qualified for low-income service. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the resolution and PILOT agreement. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve Resolution for Creation of Impact Fee for Fire Boat-Rob Collison said Council may wish to defer this discussion in light of not having the figures.

First Reading of Ordinance Mandating the Installation of Interior Sprinkler Systems for All New Construction and Significant Renovations-Rob Collison said Council held discussions on this previously. The ordinance would require sprinkler systems in all new construction-both residential and commercial. It would also require them in any substantial renovations which are defined as the cost of which exceed 50% of the accessed value of the property. The sprinkler system would be required in the addition. Council discussed previously of the problems that would arise when you have infrastructure that existing that may not the size needed for the proper pressure for the sprinkler system. If there are existing lines, they are exempted from installing new ones. They would still be required to install a sprinkler system, but they would not be required to install the larger line. In talking to Chief Hurley, he said it would still be effective for those areas without the hardship on the property owner.

Commissioner Brooks said Council was talking about low-income and affordable housing tonight. If Council is mandating this in all new structures, they are going to put an extra hardship on low-income homeowners. People who may not be able to afford it are already asking them to waive the impact fee and then they would have another expense for a sprinkler system. She can see it in any multi-family residence but mandating it in homes where they may not be able to afford it and this one little thing may price someone out of being able to own a home. She asked if the considered the fact that once someone burns something in their kitchen and it sets the sprinkler system off, the damage that happens.

Faron Taylor, State Fire Marshal's Office, said the question of affordable housing has come up in many communities around the State that have mandated residential fire sprinkler systems. He just learned that Annapolis voted to adopt a residential sprinkler ordinance. Affordable housing is important but what they have found is that when they are talking about new construction, those homes that are most affordable to folks are either townhouses or multi-family homes. State law has required residential fire sprinklers in all newly-constructed multi-family houses since 1990 and townhouses since 1992. Typically even in the smaller type of homes, they are finding the average cost for installation is between 1 and 1½ percent the cost of the home. It is a very minimal impact on the cost of the home. The only thing that will set a fire sprinkler system off is heat. No amount of smoke is going to active a fire sprinkler system. What we see in Hollywood where you get the flooding condition is truly just Hollywood. Only the single sprinkler affected by the heat will activate which is typically from 135 to 160 degrees at the ceiling around the sprinkler head. Smoke will not set it off.

Commissioner Brooks said she can see installing them in multi-family homes, townhouses, and condominiums. For single-family homes that are detached from each other, the 1½ percent can pose a problem depending on how much the house costs. Faron Taylor said that is true. When he was doing a little bit of math when they were speaking about affordable housing earlier, for a $135,000 home you are talking about approximately $2,000. Commissioner Brooks said that would be in addition to $9,000 in impact fees between the City and County. Faron Taylor said he is just speaking to the fire protection value and the life safety value. One of the things they find besides young children and senior citizens being most vulnerable, there is also a socio-economic factor in fire fatalities around the State. Unfortunately they find many of those on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum. Certainly fires in a neighborhood can also help contribute to blight.

Rob Collison said tonight is the first reading. Comments can still be submitted. Commissioner Sydnor said the price of the system seems to be growing from when it was initially presented to Council. Depending on the system you are going to use to deliver the water, it is a considerably greater expense in order to have the pressure. At one point they said it would cost approximately $1,000 but now we are up to $2,000+. As Commissioner Brooks had mentioned, he asked what that is going to do to affordable homes. Council may waiver the impact fee, yet this is going to end up recouping it. He knows it is a safety feature that we would like everyone to have. Mayor Rippons asked Ed Kinnamon to make sure the newspapers are aware of the second reading on May 29th so the Council can get as much public input as they can. Where $3,000 may not affect some people, it is a tremendous deterrent for others.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said she can understand some of their reasoning. It took deaths of children and fighting with government in order to get the sprinkler system in public housing. It is a lot to think about-not only the cost-but the main thing is human life. The ordinance includes significant renovations. If you look at some of the renovations that we have had in Cambridge over the last 5 years, you will want a sprinkler at your house. Commissioner Brooks said she agrees 100 percent. You should not put dollar signs on someone's life. However, as the Mayor stated, we would like to give residents an opportunity to comment on the issue. She has been the victim of a fire where the house burnt completely down and she just barely escaped with her life. If they had a sprinkler system, she is sure that the ones who got out of that electrical fire alive would not have been in as much danger because of the type of fire it was. It burned completely to the ground before the fire department could respond. We should not put a dollar sign on life but at the same time we have to make sure that the people out here who have to buy the home can afford it and know exactly what they are going to be getting into.

Rob Collison asked Faron Taylor if he knew the savings on the cost of insurance for homes with sprinkler systems. Faron Taylor said insurance carriers all around the State average between an 8 to 13 percent discount off of your premium. Certainly it is not enough to offset the cost of system over time, but it certainly reduces what you have to pay. Another benefit is that it is a built-in system. It is there for the life of the home. A study in California found that over the life