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  • 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 29, 2007

Cambridge Maryland SealMINUTES

Council Meeting

May 29, 2007

 

The City Council met in regular session on Tuesday, May 29, 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, 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 May 14, 200 7 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion was passed 4:0.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

Visions America Community Development Corporation as Subrecipient for Application for Community Development Block Grant for Affordable Housing-Sharon Wilson requested City-owned property in Dorchester County for affordable housing. She requested that the Council support her in applying for CDBG funding. The homes will cost between $125,000 and $135,000. They will be 1400 to 1600 sq.ft. on one-quarter acre lots. They are looking at a location on Leonard Lane. Mayor Rippons said the City would have to declare the lot as excess property. He said the Council is in receipt of correspondence from some department heads stating that there is contemplation that the City may have use for that land in the future. It may also be needed for an additional water tower or an additional fire station. Rob Collison said if Council feels that the Leonard Lane parcel is not excess property, they could give other in-kind support by the waiver of impact fees or other in-kind services from DPW or MUC. By doing that, they may free up grant funds which could be used to acquire other land for the development. Commissioner Sydnor asked if the support letter would be of any relevance without the property. Sharon Johnson said it would be because in the proposal she did put that land was pending depending on how the City awards property. Because she remembers at the last meeting hearing the Councilman saying something about money being donated, she put in the proposal $100,000 toward land that the City would donate. They would put that toward the donation of property for the City. Visions America would donate $100,000 to the City for the property in which they want to give as a gift for Visions. They included that in their proposal. They included $100,000 for the City of Cambridge for land acquisition.

Portia Johnson-Ennels asked the City not to send a letter of support for this block grant. If they look back in their records of several years ago, Ms. Wilson was here before for a block grant and there was a problem with it. The City of Cambridge has not applied for any block grants. For the new legislation for 2007, there was a bill passed that the City may not be aware of, that they could actually do a project themselves and get funded. She will give the information to Mr. Kinnamon. If the parties asking for letters of support don't already have the land themselves and it is on the assumption that the City may have something to give, until the City actually says they have land to give away or sell at a fair market value, then a letter of support should be sent at that time.

Ed Kinnamon asked to clarify something. There are statements being made about the City offering a letter of support. The City would not offer a letter of support. The City would be submitting the block grant application. Ms. Wilson, or whoever was requesting a block grant, would prepare the application and become the subrecipient. The City actually submits the application. Kathy Foster, the Grants Administrator, reviews the applications. So far, we have not seen the application for Visions America so it has not been reviewed to make sure everything is there. Sharon Wilson said she told Kathy Foster that Visions America would have the application to her later this evening. She just got back from a meeting on the western shore. She will have to give it to her tomorrow morning. Ed Kinnamon asked Ms. Wilson when the legal notice for tonight's public hearing was printed in the newspaper. He also asked for a copy of the notice or a certification of publication. Ms. Wilson said she understands it was in the newspaper today. They submitted the public hearing announcement to the Daily Banner on May 15th. She does not understand the delay. Ed Kinnamon said they have not seen it yet but they could have missed it. Rob Collison said the CDBG requirements state that it must be advertised in the newspaper from 5 to 10 days in advance. Sharon Wilson said that is why they could not understand why it was not in the Banner. Kathy Foster called her and told her she did not see the legal notice yet. Sharon Wilson said they took the notice down the very next day. Mayor Rippons asked if that would preclude consideration if it was not advertised in the newspaper. Rob Collison said that would be an issue with CDBG. They would have to contact the Daily Banner to see if it was published prior to today. Mayor Rippons said in situations like this, the application should be at City Hall at least a week ahead of time so Kathy could review it and forward it to Council. Visions America is the subrecipient but in all cases, the City would be the recipient of the grant and Council has not had any prior knowledge and they are being asked to vote. The proper thing would have been to have the application in Kathy's hands one or two weeks ago. Sharon Wilson said she could not have had it to Kathy two weeks ago because they didn't meet and Kathy told her she had to hold a public hearing and it had to be advertised in the Daily Banner. Mayor Rippons said Sharon Wilson appeared before Council on May 14th. It would take two to three days to write the grant and it could have been given to Kathy more than a week in advance. Sharon Wilson said she had to put the public hearing notice in the paper. Mayor Rippons said Sharon Wilson could still have submitted the other information to Kathy. Sharon Wilson said she had to get all the other information from Kathy. Kathy was telling her what to do and how to follow through. She had to contact Cindy Stone at CDBG and talk to her. Mayor Rippons asked if Visions America had ever submitted a block grant before. Sharon Wilson said they have submitted State grants before, but not block grants. This was a first. She even asked about the public hearing. She was told that as long as it was in the paper, she should send a copy of that. It depends on Council what they do with it. It was her understanding from the Council meeting on May 14th, because they were at Council in April 2005 about the very same things, submitted a proposal, waited for various things, got a list of properties from the City and reviewed it, so she has to wait for Council before she can do anything. Commissioner Knox asked when the next grant round would be. Sharon Wilson said it will be next year. Commissioner Knox said he is not prepared to vote for anything that he has not had time to study. Sharon Wilson told him that she has gone through all these things before but yet she has not done what she is supposed to do as far as being advertised in the newspaper and getting the information to City Hall in time for Council to review it. Sharon Wilson said when she has written grants before for the State she has never had to publicize it in the paper. She has written several grants for the State. This was new. It had to have the approval of the City Council. It was unbeknown to her. Commissioner Knox said he is going on advice of the City Attorney that the procedures have not been followed. He has not seen it in the paper. Rob Collison said they would have to see if it was published prior to today or if today was the only day. His recollection is that CDBG requires 5 to 10 days' advance notice.

Jane Devlin, West End Citizens' Association, said she submitted a letter to Council and would like it to be entered into the record. The Association addressed this in November 2005. They were talking about the exact same piece of property. Very little has been done that they had requested from the City other than the inventory of vacant lands. They would like Council to hold any decision because there has been discussion of another water tower. They know about the potential of a fire substation. Visions America would be a subrecipient but the City would be the recipient. She concurs with Commissioner Knox. She would hope that the City would have the timeframe to review. Even if Visions America has not done this type of grant before and it was due June 1st, there was still months before since they have been talking about this property since April 2005. She would like the City to hold any decision tonight.

Gage Thomas reminded Council that disposition of any City asset requires a certain procedure and that has not been followed since they were here two years ago. First you decide if it is excess property or not. Second you either put it up for bid or your put out an RFP. If you want to restrict it to affordable housing, then Ms. Wilson or anybody else who may be interested in providing that same type of use would have an opportunity to participate. Rob Collison said this process was discussed at the last meeting. The City will discuss excess property later tonight. If they decide the property is excess property, they would then do the RFPs and proceed. Once they determine if there is a project they wish to go with, they would have to advertise for a minimum of 20 days in advance of what the disposition would be.

Commissioner Sydnor said that will fall outside of the balance of time that Ms. Wilson wants to have this done. Rob Collison said it would as of a decision to dispose of this property but there are other options if they so choose. An example would be a waiver of the impact fee provided she gets a grant for affordable housing. They would not have to commit this particular piece of property. Mayor Rippons asked if that is precedence they wish to set for one project. Visions America comes in and requests this and Council grants them. What about everybody else? Rob Collison said previously when Council was discussing the implementation of the impact fees, that type of option was to be viewed on a case-by-case basis. His understanding was that they would look at the specifics to see the type of housing, the affordability, qualifications, etc.

Commissioner Cephas asked if Sharon Wilson has spoken to anybody in Planning and Zoning about the project. Sharon Wilson said she has not spoken to them since they came before Council in April 2005.

Sharon Wilson said Visions America Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization, did a survey in Cambridge and there were over 900 people that they talked to. They retrieved that survey. Next they went to the City to ask about City-owned property. Visions America is a novice is housing development; however, they are not a novice as to servicing programs that they have offered in Dorchester County. They heard the voices of the people of Cambridge-a majority of them were minorities. They were complaining about the cost of their homes. They are taking housing counseling seminars due to the rise in their homes and eviction notices, deteriorating houses, etc. Visions America did not go after this project to benefit Visions America. They went at it to help the community and hear the voices of the people that had a desire to do that. When they saw the CDBG grant and she even asked Kathy Foster if she thinks Visions America should apply or just let it go. Kathy told her she would hate to see her let it go because it would be another year before the grant round opens again. She doesn't want anyone in this room to think that Visions America is going for some self-satisfaction. They were doing it to benefit the community. If the City is not in agreement with the land or whatever, that is fine. They were doing it to accommodate people. They applied for the grant because it was an opportune investment for the people to give them an opportunity to be self-sufficient, self-sustaining, and empowered as homeowners. Because this evening there seems to be, and she knows there is a protocol for everything, she has to take responsibility and perhaps she did not get everything in so it could be read. She can't change that. However, with all the work that has been done for this grant, she does not have a problem. She does not have a problem when the people are coming down in June to meet with her to see what monies they can put in the City for housing. She does not have a problem with saying that until she gets land, just squash the project. As far as the grant is concerned, she does not have to submit it. She doesn't have a problem with that. Whatever the City wants to do is fine with her. Her Board was doing it to benefit citizens who have come to them seeking affordable housing.

Portia-Johnson said considering block grants come every year and the due date is normally May 30th, she suggested that if anyone wants to submit an application, that the City put a time limit of when they should have the proposal into City Hall so they would meet all the regulations instead of waiting for the last few weeks when you never know what may happen.

Mayor Rippons closed the public hearing and asked for Council's privilege. Nobody asked to speak.

Request by Cambridge Schoolhouse Association, LLC for a PUD (Planned Unit Development) Floating Zone for the Development Known As "Cambridge Schoolhouse", Located at the Corner of School and Mill Street-Rob Collison said notice of the public hearing was published in the Daily Banner on May 11 and 18, 2007. The land is Parcel 124 on Map 301 and consists of 1.86± acres. The current zoning is NC3 which is Neighborhood Conservation 3. The PUD zoning is requested to allow for construction of a 12-unit development called Cambridge Schoolhouse. The existing schoolhouse will be converted to four condominiums. Single-family homes will be built in the rear and on the side of School Street. Anne Roane, City Planner, said this project went before the Planning and Zoning Commission on May 1, 2007 and was given a favorable recommendation for the PUD floating zone. Once it gets through Council, it will then still continue through the site-plan review process with the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Ryan Showalter, Miles & Stockbridge, said the PUD provisions were adopted in 2003. Since that time, no project has come forward to Council for PUD approval. PUDs have been around in the zoning world for many years even though the concept is new to Cambridge. PUDs are intended to provide some design and regulatory flexibility to encourage more traditional or more creative approaches to land development to facility infill and also create new communities that are not infill but have unique aspects in site design, architecture, and other attributes that the Council is trying to encourage. This project has spent several years in coordination with City staff, Historic Preservation Commission, and Planning and Zoning Commission. This project sets a standard for new planned unit developments that they believe involves comprehensive resolution of a variety of concerns. It is an adaptive re-use of an existing historic structure as well as an in-fill project that is sensitive to the concerns of the neighboring residents. It has been before the Planning Commission 4 times. It's most recent consideration received a favorable recommendation. It has been presented to the Historic Preservation Commission 3 times and again was favorably approved. At the conclusion of the public hearing they are proposing to submit proposed or draft findings-of-fact for the Council's consideration that are based on both the public comments submitted tonight as well as the Council's comments or questions. Once the findings-of-fact are reviewed at a subsequent meeting, the next step is for Council to vote to approve the PUD. After that it goes back to the Planning Commission for normal review processes, site plan processes begin. While the PUD process inherently involves a consideration of rezoning, PUDs are slightly different because they establish presumptive standards for the applicant or the developer to consider but before they come to Council for consideration, they have to work through a very detailed design list and address concerns of the Planning Commission to obtain their favorable recommendation. What Council is seeing tonight is a concrete design that the Planning Commission has reviewed with greater detail than they would on many site-specific projects that only require subdivision approval. After Council's approval it goes back to the Planning Commission for finalization of the design elements.

Eric Wahl, a registered landscape architect, showed aerial photos of the site. It is situated along School Street and Mill Street in close proximity to the waterfront and the marina. The parcel is 1.8 acres. It serves as a transitional area from smaller homes located on Choptank Avenue over to the larger homes on Mill Street. The main portion of the school building will be adaptively reused and turned into four condominium units-two units on each floor. Existing vegetation on the site consists of overgrown foundation plants and some specimen trees that are along the property boundaries along Mill Street and School Street. They will be preserved to the fullest extent possible. Improvements to the school include architecturally compatible windows and other façade improvements that have been greatly discussed in detail with the Historic Commission. There are existing utility services on Mill Street and School Street. After a lot of discussions with the Planning Commission and the community, they have come to the current plan. It consists of single-family homes and the adapted reuse building of 4 units for a total of 12 units. They have incorporated tree-lined streets, internal sidewalk systems, and shallow setbacks which is consistent with the setbacks along Choptank Avenue and Willis Street. Pedestrian-scale lighting has also been proposed for the site. Another important feature is the community green or village green. They have a lot of open space and a pocket park at the end of the project. Amenities that are included are a community mailbox and benches. Another issue which is very important is use of room over garages. If you are on School Street and looking toward the project you will not see any garages. The focal point is the porches and community connectiveness. There is also parallel parking provided on that area. A lot of attention went into the architectural style. They want it to resemble the styles that already exist in the neighborhood. The elevations are pretty consistent with what we find in the area. The homes will be two-story homes consisting of 2,000 to 3,000 sq.ft. and include front porches. One of the features is the courtyard area. They are proposing improvements to the street and new sidewalks on Mill Street and School Street along the property line with handicapped ramps for access. In addition, the developer has agreed with the City Engineer to provide a 1½-inch overlay for School Street from Mill Street to Choptank Avenue. In order for this project to work, some flexibility in the design is required and afforded by the PUD ordinance for adapted units and urban infill projects. In this case they have several instances. One of the items is structures within the front yard setback. There is an existing 20-foot setback. The porches encroach on that. It is very consistent with the shallow setbacks on Choptank Avenue, Mill Street, and Willis Street. There is a 10-foot building separation between the homes which is consistent with other homes in the area. They are encroaching on the rear setback with the last building. The landscape buffer has a 20-foot requirement however they encroach on that especially with the alley but they wanted to provide a 24-foot access to the homes in the rear. In talking with the Fire Chief, it is very much desired. The buildings will be sprinkled. Rob Collison asked how far they are encroaching on the rear setback. Mr. Wahl said right now they have 8 feet distance between the property line and the side of the home and the requirement is 25 feet. Another issue is parking requirements. The City ordinance requires 2½ spaces per unit. However, in the PUD it requires 1 per bedroom. They exceed that for the condominium units. They would be required to have 7 spaces for the building and in the courtyard they have 9 spaces. Each of the single-family homes has a 2-car garage. They have 5 spaces for parallel parking. Overall, they have 7 extra spaces for visitors or overflow parking. All the infrastructure on the site, paved areas, pocket parks, and landscape will be maintained by the common HOA.

Commissioner Knox said he thinks they came a long way from the beginning. He likes the design of the homes and thinks they will fit very well within the character of the neighborhood. Two things still bother him. One is the fire truck being able to get down through there. He would really like to be able to see Tower 1 come down Mill Street and make a right hand turn. The second concern is the density. He thinks there is one house too many. Twenty or thirty feet between the houses would be better. It is a very positive beginning for that neighborhood. Mayor Rippons asked Chief Hurley for his contemplation of accessibility. Chief Hurley said they are continuing to work with Planning and Zoning. They have already reviewed it and laid their templates out. He isn't going to tell them it isn't tight but they can get their apparatus in there. All the radiuses they require have been met and all the setbacks and the ground stabilization is in place. Even their ladder truck can be backed in and set up. They review all the plans that come to Planning and Zoning of this magnitude. They have also told them that the units must be sprinkled. Anything that they have asked for has been taken care of. Rob Collison asked if there is reconstruction contemplated on the corner of Mill and School Streets to provide a turning radius. Mr. Wahl said the existing radius of the road is a very sharp radius. They have smoothed it out to make it conform to present City standard. It is a 25-foot radius. They even have 25-foot radiuses in the single-family homes and into the main courtyard area and into the alley way. The City Code requires 19 feet width for the alley. They increased that to 24 feet. They have included ground stabilization to make sure the truck can make the turn. Turf reinforcement has been included in the green area. At the request of Rescue Fire Company, they created areas off the corners and sides of the buildings and in the landscape area to help accommodate the fire trucks.

Commissioner Cephas said he visited the property and back in the alley it was tight. He asked what impact it would have on emergency vehicles. Chief Hurley said they definitely couldn't get a piece of apparatus in there. In that neighborhood they have that problem now. They also have a problem currently existing there that there are several other properties that have sheds and/or driveways coming besides their homes. In several cases, vehicles have caught on fire in the driveways with no clearance between the homes. Most of those homes were built right out to the pavement line or the porch is right on the pavement line. The pavement probably went in years after the homes were built. In keeping with the general area, he thinks they have provided ample space and sprinklers for fire protection. If we had a major fire there and probably not from these homes but from existing homes, they would probably have some issues. He thinks they are more than capable of handling the problem. Commissioner Knox asked Chief Hurley where the fire truck will go if it pulls in there and cannot get back out if the entrance is blocked. He said Chief Hurley just said that RFC has those problems in other areas of that neighborhood now. Why create any more? It goes back to the density issue. It has been a concern of the Planning Commission many times about the houses being so close together. Mr. Wahl said one of the differences between these homes and many of the others in the neighborhood is that they have access on both sides of each residential structure. The space between the houses will remain clear. He thinks they are providing very good access.

Anne Roane, City Planner, stated that when the Planning staff reviewed this project and working with the developer on this concept, they went out and physically measured existing setbacks between buildings and front yard setbacks throughout the community. These are consistent. Part of the reason for going through a PUD process or utilizing a PUD floating zone is that it does allow flexibility to occur to compatibility and a higher level of design. That means flexibility in setbacks.

Jerry Burroughs, Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, said they also worked with the project for many years. They felt the density was comparable. They worked with the Fire Chief. There were a lot of issues on this project. The developer has redesigned this project several times to meet the City's criteria, setbacks and zoning laws. The Planning Commission has favorably approved this. Commissioner Knox said he has been studying this more closely and at the same time he has been listening to his constituents. He is concerned about the density. It is a wonderful project. He commended the staff. He still feels there is one house too many in there.

William Kirk, Choptank Avenue, asked for a better view of the plans. Ken Usab further explained the layout.

Gordon Hill, Choptank Avenue, asked if a PUD is covered by NC3 zoning. Rob Collison said it is an overlay. It can go throughout the City. Mr. Hill said they are asking for considerations for changes in the zoning as far as the distance between houses. NC3 calls for 8-foot for each side yard making it 16 feet so there has to be changes in the zoning in order to accommodate these houses. It seems likes all the considerations that they are asking for are just something to tighten it up more and to cause more consideration as far fire protection, etc. When a house on Cedar Street caught on fire, it damaged the two beside it. Why get into that again? They could eliminate a problem and not have to worry about the fire engines getting in there or the other houses being damaged by a fire.

Jane Devlin, West End Citizens Association, said they still have strong concerns with the fire department on their approval. She has read their report. She would hope that the City Council, on a minimum, would show something to the community to show that the apparatus can fit down there. This is the first PUD in the City and she will acknowledge that the project has been going on for 4 to 5 years. They are getting closer. What concerns her is whether this is meeting the intent of a PUD. They have to be very careful about setting precedence within the City. This is a very small tract with no mixed use. The two main things that she picked up from the intent of a PUD is (1) to extend greater opportunities for traditional community living, working, housing, and recreation to all citizens and residents of the community; and (2) promote developments with a mix of residential dwelling types, a range of lot sizes, and mixed-use structures with offices and/or apartments above ground level, retail uses that surround a community green with related community facilities. We are not seeing that here. She understands that a PUD is expected to be flexible. How flexible must the City be on this specific project? She agrees that it is a very well done proposal but the one issue that is missing from the proposal is a narrative that is called for through a PUD. Basically what that narrative would compare is if this zoning stayed at NC3 or went to a PUD, what is the benefit to the community by becoming a PUD rather than NC3. A few examples of non-compliance of the PUD regulations are as follows: there is no curb-side parking near the internal open space; a community green of a minimum of 10,000 sq.ft.; public restrooms, public telephones, and police/fire boxes. By granting the PUD the development will go forward without these ideas. In Section 170 there is a discussion of public and semi-public uses and community facilities. There is no provision for a community-type room. In the proposal, they are talking about an element that seamlessly fits within the context of its surrounding neighborhood. That is in odds with what we are seeing here-specifically the house that is at the end of internal park. She asked if the intent of the PUD is to have best land use practices or is it to pretty much give variances to what that area should have. We have to quantify through this narrative that should have been supplied prior to P&Z approval why this PUD would benefit the community. In the Comprehensive Plan for in-fill projects it clearly states 2 acres or more. This is slightly less than 2 acres. If the NC3 held on this, she would like to see what the density would actually be. From all she has read in the Code, this is giving too much flexibility.

Hubert Wright, Mill Street, said he has a real problem with fire truck access. He knows the Chief is saying there is no problem. School Street is 17½ feet wide and their wall-to-wall turning radius is 50 feet. They would have to come into his yard 30+ feet in order to make a left hand turn to go into the road that goes into this project. Right now you cannot get a truck down School Street. All of his utilities are underground and he owns the telephone pole on the corner. That would prevent them from turning coming up Mill Street and if the Mihoks have a vehicle in front of their house, you cannot turn left and go down School Street. It is not possible. He thinks two houses should be removed. Ten feet apart is way too close. It was a mistake to put the houses really close together on Choptank Avenue and Willis Street. Those are 40-foot lots. We should not be duplicating a mistake that was made. At one time the City limits ended at Choptank Avenue. Once we went out to West End and Willis, they were trying to squeeze every dollar they could out of the land. That is what they are trying to do here. When this property was first looked at, the first hearing they had was February 21, 2001. At that time it was an R2 zoned property. They had to change the Code to covert the oldest part of the school to multi-family use but they had to allocate 20,000 sq.ft. of land to that use. Nothing could be built closer than 35 feet behind that building. The proposals that came in had townhouses all the way up to the corner of Mill and School and the Code requires you to have an isosceles triangle with nothing built. This made it through Planning and Zoning and it came before Council for another hearing. The developer is trying to squeeze every dollar he can out of this land. He will not be here after it is finished and we will have problems with people coming out on School Street and instead of going to West End and up to Church Street to get downtown, they will take a right and go up School Street. Mill Street is 26 feet wide. You have to cut that corner a lot to get the T1 down there. Once you are on School Street going in a northwest direction, you cannot make the turn. Chief Hurley said he reviewed the plans and they meet all of RFC's standards. Their truck has a 50-foot return radius. Because there were people who did not believe what they could do, they took it to Great Marsh and laid out a template and did the turns for Andrews Miller. He can get that truck into Park Lane off of High Street. That is the worst turn to ever make with that corner space. One tighter than that is if you go in off Pine Street and there is boxing overhanging into the side streets there. The deal is that the truck has to back into those locations. They come to the corner and turn around and back in. They can make the turn where Mr. Wright is talking about. The ground is stabilized at the corner. He is not an opponent or a dis-opponent of this project. He can only say that when something comes to the Fire Department's office for review, there is a fair and accurate review done of every project. There is an alley in the back of this location that is wider than the actual streets in the areas. That truck will go down every street in Cambridge bar none. He has heard before that it cannot go down Commerce Street. He said that if the Mayor and Council would like to see it go down a certain street, they can contact him and he can put it there and protect it. Barring a major catastrophe of an explosion or something, they won't have a fire problem here because the structures will be sprinkled. With the sprinklers in operation, it should never exceed the one room in the house. He is not speaking for or against the project. He can only say it meets or exceeds all of the criteria that they require of any development.

Gage Thomas said before the City had Tower 1, they put out a lot of fires with smaller equipment which can take care of most two-story problems. On the PUDs, he thinks Jane Devlin is looking at it through the eye of a needle. Before 1996, the City did not have PUD regulations. The PUD regulations were written in the big scheme of things. Deep Harbour is a PUD and the Hyatt is a PUD. This is a smaller scale. They don't want to tear Academy School down. They want to replicate the houses in the area the best they can. He hasn't seen the project and can't speak to the density.

Commissioner Knox said they should remember that this is the City's first PUD. We can set the bar and view this as an example. He challenged Chief Hurley because he doesn't think Tower 1 can make that turn and he agrees with Mr. Wright.

Ryan Showalter said Commissioner Knox suggested leaving the record open. The PUD provisions provide that the Council can approve, disapprove, modify or approve with revisions, the plans. They would request that if the Council leaves the record open, allow them to review their notes and perhaps work with the staff to try to address the concerns. Rob Collison suggested that a copy of the plan be made available to the public at City Hall while the record is open.

Commissioner Knox made a motion to allow the record to remain open to June 11th. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0. Rob Collison said if anyone wants to make additional comments or respond to anything they heard tonight, they should submit them in writing prior to June 11th.

Text Amendments to the City of Cambridge Zoning Ordinance Concerning: Additional Uses Permitted in the I-1 Zone, Supplemental Use Regulations, Basic Definitions and Accessory Uses-Rob Collison said notice of the public hearing was advertised in the Daily Banner on May 11th and 18th, 2007. The proposed amendments will amend Section 230 Subsection 3 which is Table 2 of uses permitted in certain nonresidential districts. They will be adding the following: banks and other financial institutions, office buildings, physicians, dentists, opticians, chiropractors, offices and clinics including medical labs, professional offices, and attorneys, architects, accountants, engineers, tax preparers, surveyors and other general professional services.

There are proposed amendments to supplemental use regulations in Section 264, Definitions and Interpretations of Part 1 Section 9, Article 11 Supplemental Use Regulation Section 259 would include office parks; and Section 228 with regard to accessory uses.

Anne Roane said the purpose of the text amendments is to address issues that have come up regarding the zoning ordinance and the allowable uses within our I‑1 and I‑2 zones which are primary employment center-type zone. The idea was to allow employee-oriented uses. They would be places you could go on a lunch break that would not compete with our commercial districts. When they were reviewing the zoning ordinance, it became very clear that in the I‑1 and I‑2 zones there was a gap for these employee-oriented land uses. The Planning Commission has had a workshop on this prior to going into the public hearing to work out the language to allow some of the uses in our I‑1 and I‑2 zones that would encourage more businesses to be located here.

Gage Thomas said at one time they were talking about a percentage or limitation of a parcel. Anne Roane said they will be allowed through a special exception so they can look at the surrounding land use. There is a provision in the special exception criteria that allows for a concentration of use within an area.

Rob Collison said a vote can be deferred to the next meeting. He will prepare a formal ordinance for the amendment.

Request By Vincent And Barbara Youmens to Rezone 3.39± Acres Located on the Corner of Greenwood and Cosby Avenue, Currently Zoned R-1, Rezone To R-3-Rob Collison said notice of the public hearing was advertised in the Daily Banner on May 11th and 18th, 2007. The land is currently zoned R-1 (single-family). It is located on Map 32 Parcel 2290. They are requesting that it be zoned R-3 (multi-family residential). It is presently a vacant lot. The standard for the rezoning is either change in the neighborhood since the last comprehensive rezoning or a mistake was made during the last comprehensive rezoning. Chad Malkus spoke representing Dave and Barbara Youmens. His clients also own the adjacent parcel which is Cambridge Self-Storage and a small shopping center that is about to undergo extensive renovations and a facelift. They feel like they have a very strong argument not only for a change in the neighborhood but also potentially a mistake during the comprehensive rezoning in 2003. At the time his clients purchased the property as well as a long period proceeding that, it was zoned R4. It was a designation for the most intense use of the property which would allow for the most units per square foot per acre on the property. During the rezoning in 2003, the property was designated as R1. The majority of the surrounding parcels are zoned R3 which allows for multi-family dwellings. Out of more than 50 City blocks within that particular tax map, there is only one other pocket of R1 which incorporate 3 small parcels within an R1 parcel. The parcel is surrounded by R3 as well as some of the neighborhood conservation zones. During the Planning and Zoning hearing where they received a favorable approval, the Commission all seemed to agree that there was a strong argument for the change. The surrounding neighborhood has changed substantially over the last 10 years. In a larger sense, if you look at some of the recent developments that have come onboard in the last few years, there are other opportunities and other places for a less dense use, more the R1 type developments in subdivisions that are really within a half mile to a mile of his clients' parcel. Because of all of that and in the interest of best use of space within the City, they talk about in-fill. The best use of this parcel would be to allow for a more-intense use of the property. The property is not under contract. There is no intention of the property owners to develop the property. There have been no offers. The reason they are requesting the change is that when a rezoning happens, for a lot of time it is not immediately apparent to the property owner so it is important to correct the problem as quickly as possible. Commissioner Sydnor said he is quite sure they are here for more than just correcting the error. There is something else possibly behind this. He had mentioned something about intense area. He assumes Mr. Showalter was talking about duplexes. Ryan Showalter said he would not stand before Council and tell them that there is not a contract of sale or plans for the property if there was something. It is not in his business to lie to anyone. Commissioner Sydnor said he is very concerned with this section of the street because he met with the managers at Bay Country, the City Attorney, and Chief of Police and during the summer you can anywhere from 100 to 200 kids out there are all hours of the night. He is very concerned by intensifying the population and having more youth on the street. He thinks they have been very fortunate that nothing serious has happened up to this point. They really have to look at what they are going to put there. Rob Collison said the R3 is for multi-family. The can put 20 units per acre. The R2 still allows for duplexes. Ryan Showalter said the parcel is 3 acres. Looking at the parcel and the current zoning designation, as indicated, would be largely out of keeping with the surrounding parcels if someone built single-family homes. He doesn't think it would alleviate any of the housing issues that are in the City. There are no plans as such for the property. It seems apparent that this is very much an anomaly within that entire area. They could be looking for rezoning for commercial or that sort of thing. They are still staying within the residential area. It seems that if anyone were to look at the property, this would not seem to be the best use of the property at this time keeping it zoned R1. Rob Collison said of the two arguments, he would probably advise Council to rely on the mistake. With regard to change in the neighborhood, he doesn't think there has been that much of a change since the rezoning in 2003. It was zoned R4 prior to 2003. The properties around it have not changed as far as their uses since then.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said Mr. Malkus said there was no development on the table for this piece of property. Living in that area, there is a problem with children being on those corners. Although there are no plans on the table now, if plans were put on the table, she asked if it would be for rental or home ownership. Mr. Showalter said to answer the question the best he can, anything that would be placed on the property would have to go through the normal channels, the normal hearings, etc. Any organization could speak in opposition to it. They are simply seeking the rezoning because of the mistake that has been made because they feel that anything that would potentially come in the next 5 or 10 years would not be the best use of the property if it remained R1. There are no offers or contracts. If they are looking at a problem of children congregating on a vacant lot, one of the best ways to do that is if the lots were in a private ownership and were to be converted to duplexes or multi-family units. Portia Johnson-Ennels said that complete area is all rental. Most of the time when people come in for changing something, they want to keep it in the same area of what it is. Ryan Showalter said he does understand what she is saying. He is not here arguing what should go in there. He is stating that the current designation of R1 does not seem to solve the problem of what Mrs. Ennels is raising and it does not seem to be the best use of that property. If someone were to purchase the property and look to put in duplexes or townhomes, there is nothing that he is saying here tonight that would indicate that somebody would immediately come in and put up multi-family rental units the next day.

Commissioner Cephas said if they want to zone it to R3, they are talking about 20 families per acre. On certain nights there are 150 to 200 people out there-even on a school day. They don't congregate on that piece of property; they congregate across the street where the units are. He would hate to see them box that corner in with 3-story buildings. Anne Roane said the applicant is here requesting a rezoning because of a change in the neighborhood or a mapping mistake. Any development that is proposed on the site has to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission. The applicant can't, at this point, ask for the approval of a land use. There are land uses that are allowed with this zoning. Both R1 and R3 are residential zones. One does not guarantee that you are going to get multi-family-it allows multi-family. Any of the land uses would have to go to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Heights and multi-family are not being proposed at this time. Commissioner Cephas said he understands exactly what she is saying. He knows what the uses are if it was R3. Rob Collison said he thinks the Commissioners' concern is the density of the existing neighborhood and some of the multi-family across the street and what putting multi-family on this site would do to the neighborhood. It appears that there was a mistake more than a change. Commissioner Sydnor said it is adjacent to a C1 zone.

Elaine Stafford, Greenwood Avenue, said she concurs with what the two Commissioners have said. Time will tell whether or not rezoning this was with the intent to built multi-family housing. They really feel the intent is for multiple dwellings. Rob Collison asked if Anne Roane contacted Pete Johnston on this issue to see why it went from R4 to R1. Anne Roane said she did not but she would be glad to do it. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to leave the hearing open until June 11th. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Constant Yield Tax Rate for FY 2008-Ed Kinnamon said the constant yield tax rate public hearing was advertised in the Daily Banner on May 18, 2007. As the advertisement stated, for the tax year beginning July 1, 2007, the estimated real property assessable base will increase by 7.3 percent. If the City maintains the current tax rate of 0.676 per $100 of assessment, it will result in $302,679 in new property tax revenue. In order to fully offset the assessments and not have new additional revenue, the City should reduce the tax rate to 0.63. The City is considering not reducing this real property rate to fully offset the assessments and has at this time proposed to continue the current tax rate of 0.676.

Gage Thomas asked if the budget has been approved yet. Ed Kinnamon said it has not. Gage Thomas asked how the tax rate relates to that budget if there is a significant deficit. Mayor Rippons said the contemplation as Mr. Kinnamon outlined is that it is the City's consideration at this point not to lower it. Final adjustments will come when they finalize the budget preparations. Gage Thomas said then it is possible that they may need to raise the tax rate in order to increase the revenue.

APPOINTMENTS

Deborah Johnson to Discuss Lead Paint Abatement Grant and to Discuss Affordable Housing-Deborah Johnson prepared narratives for the Council's review. The Corporation of Healthy Homes is the managing contractor for the Cambridge lead risk reduction program. They submitted a request for a change in the commission schedule. They have 18 units that have been approved for grants through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Of those 18 units, the commission rate is $1000 per unit. They met with Commissioner Brooks and spoke with Ed Kinnamon in regards to the matter. She was told it would have to come before Council to change the commission schedule from 50 percent for their organization to 80 percent where the City would maintain 20 percent. The City is eligible and has applied for its administration fee which is $3,800. She asked Council to review the documents. It gives a clear definition by line item of all of the services that have been provided for the program to date and greater detail of the next steps which is actually program monitoring. That will involve more manhours and more time to oversee the actual lead projects as they take shape. According to the target date, it should be about June 15th which the first project should actually get started. The bids are all in; the photographs are done; the underwriting has been completed; and the State is satisfied with the information they received. Grant agreements have been executed by the owners and are now in the hands of the State. Once they are done with their processing, they estimate approximately 15 days before the funds are released to the City of Cambridge to be dispersed. The City will be required to open or utilize an escrow account in order to pay the drawdowns that are required for the contractor who does the work.

Commissioner Cephas asked why Deborah Johnson was requesting the change. Deborah Johnson said the change is the requirement for monitoring. As it stands now, Cambridge may not have the capability in regards to manpower to oversee the actual lead risk reduction jobs. She made a recommendation to Ed Kinnamon and Commissioner Brooks that an employee or the inspector or the code enforcer from Public Works be utilized to go around and actually do the oversight for the lead abatement work. If that is not possible, then one of her team members will be able to come up and provide the monitoring. Because they are familiar with the program and they have worked with it from the beginning, they thought it is the best choice to continue utilizing them for the monitoring. That is an option for the City. If the City chooses the Corporation for Healthy Homes to monitor, then they want the increase. If the City chooses not to utilize them, then there is no need to increase their percentage. George Hyde said he is not sure what is involved in the inspections. He will need more information. Mayor Rippons asked this to be tabled until George Hyde has an opportunity to review the documents.

Deborah Johnson said she briefly wanted to discuss affordable housing. She has been presenting and meeting with the Board of the City of Cambridge for over a year now. As a community housing development organization, she feels it important to mention and emphasize that because their type of organization is designed to work with local level governments to promote decent and affordable housing. They are proposing that they develop a partnership with the City of Cambridge to devise an affordable housing strategy vs. people popping up because they hear land is available. The training that they have received through the Corporation for Healthy Homes and the relationship that they have with the State, and their experience in affordable housing development, provides them with the skills necessary to partner with the City to strategize an effective affordable housing strategy. In that she means targeting areas that are in need of affordable housing, determining best and highest use based on existing density, and addressing bid proposals for the use of land that is owned by the City. It would be an actual plan that would in a short term and a sustaining fashion, address the affordable housing issues. It is her request to consider a partnership. To date, the Corporation for Healthy Homes is in the process of building a subdivision in Delmar where they are building 10 single-family dwelling units. They are dealing with well and septic which is a little different than public water and sewer. It is a mixed-use community. Half of the development is set aside for the self-help program. Six of those homes are set aside for affordable being sold for $150,000. The other homes are being sold at market rates or slightly below at $207,000. They haven't broken ground yet but all of the units are sold. They have worked with local residents to get them approved for Rural Development mortgages and did a pilot program for home buyer education. It is her proposal to the City of Cambridge to consider sitting down and working with the Housing Task Force and developing an affordable housing strategy.

Brett Summers to Report on Exemption of Impacts Fees in Target Investment Zones in Other Maryland Cities-Brett Summers said he is a partner in an LLC that owns 450 Race Street and a few other buildings in downtown Cambridge. He is also a member of the Main Street Board. On March 26th he introduced the concept of exempting development in downtown Cambridge within the Target Investment Zone from the impact fees. He was asked by Council to provide some information on what some other cities in Maryland have faced. Liddy Garcia, Executive Director of Cambridge Main Street, said part of how they are going to succeed is to have property owners redevelop historic buildings downtown. Without that, they will not be able to bring in new businesses, restaurants, art galleries, etc. What Brett Summers and other property owners are doing is critical for being able to revitalize our downtown. She introduced Chris Ryer who works with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Most of his experience has been in Baltimore City.

Chris Ryer said he is with the Maryland Main Street program. He directed a community development corporation in southwest Baltimore. They had one of the first Main Street programs in Maryland. He has 15 years experience with the Baltimore City Department of Planning where he ended up being the Deputy Director of Planning. Their task is to provide technical assistance and information to the 18 Main Streets across Maryland. He asked the other 17 towns how they dealt with this issue. It was not a simple request. It would be very difficult to summarize the role of impact fees in all 18 jurisdictions. He did not receive a full response from all 18 towns. Everyone defined impact fees differently. A number said they had no impact fees. Some of them said they had water fees or sewer fees or a combination. Some had fees for new construction but not for rehab. Mayor Rippons asked Mr. Ryer to provide him with the data from the towns he talked to. He said he will talk about Frostburg, which in many ways compares economically to Cambridge; Easton; and Baltimore City. In Frostburg it is very simple. They are in a very transitional economy from natural resources to a local University of Maryland branch. Their Main Street is starting to come back. There is now one residential building in downtown Frostburg. They are working very closely with the University to stimulate new investment. Frostburg has no impact fees for rehab-only for new construction. This was a fairly common pattern across the State. In Easton there is a different situation because of the ownership of the utilities in Easton. The town does not have impact fees for rehab although it does for new construction. However there are water and sewer fees from the Easton Utilities. They are discussing something they are calling an EDU which is an economic development allocation which would allow the town to carve out a revitalization area that they wish to promote and that would be used to lower the water and sewer costs in that area. Baltimore City does not have impact fees. They were originally built up for 900,000 people and they only have 690,000 people today so there is no legal nexus for impact fees. Their strategy was to develop a series of property tax incentives. They had a very high property tax system in Baltimore. They developed a number of incentives. One was a vacant building tax credit which essentially froze the local property tax on a vacant building at the level that it was when it was vacant so the improvements were not taxed fully for 5 years. The first year there was a 100 percent tax credit; the second year there was an 80 percent tax credit, etc. They devised a similar parallel system for a home improvement tax credit program. If you made improvements to your home and it resulted in an increase in assessments, you did not pay a full value right away. They are trying to provide incentives for rehabilitating vacant properties and home improvements. Finally, they had one of the best Historic District property tax credits in the country with a 10 year property tax credit for rehabilitation of historic buildings under a certain amount ($2.5 million) which would receive a full tax credit and for properties over $2.5 million, it started to decline by a percentage from Year 5 to Year 10. At the State level, they do not care where you target, as long as you target. The State will be working hard to develop new tools for the towns to use to target revitalization efforts to the areas that the City thinks are important. He encouraged Cambridge to target to the Main Street areas. The State targets their various funding sources from the Department of Housing and Community Development to Maryland Main Streets. It is not a line item in the State budget. DHCD prioritizes grants to Main Street. Last week Main Streets were the only eligible applicants to an almost $2 million grant fund that they created out of the Neighborhood Business Works program.

Mayor Rippons said he doesn't see a whole lot of different with what Cambridge does. There are no impact fees for rehabilitation. If you rehabilitate and the line exists, there will be no impact fee. The impact fee comes when you oversize the line or you put additional service in. Chris Ryer said it sounds like the difference in terminology is in the use of "rehabilitation". In Baltimore they were often dealing with a building that had been vacant for many years. It would have an impact on water and sewer because the building had been vacant. Rob Collison said in Cambridge the issue is when a retail store has added six new residential units. Under the existing law there would be the equivalent of six impact fees. Maybe they could define that as a rehab and they would be exempt. Chris Ryer said that is what he is trying to say. The City has the decision that they can exempt for any type of rehab. The alternative would be to exempt on a per unit basis but only apply if the entire rehab required a larger line going into the structure. They had to increase the water capacity of what was there previously. They would have three options: keep it as it is in which you would pay for the larger size as well as per unit; pay only for the larger capacity that is being upgraded; or exempt it completely. Chris Ryer said the difference in terminology is that they are separating not new units from existing units but new construction from existing. By new construction he means a brand new building in a field. Rob Collison asked about additions to existing structures. Chris Ryer said they had a tool box that they worked very hard with. They had a new construction tax credit also. You will see new townhouses in certain sections of Baltimore. They had a 10-year declining property tax. They use it for infill lots were there were fires, demolitions, or conversion of industrial use to residential use. During his last year with Baltimore City, there were over $2 billion worth of construction in downtown Baltimore and Mayor O'Malley was able to distribute a $60 million annual surplus which was done primarily to education after school programs. It took a while. The credits are designed to last from 5 to 10 years.

Brett Summers said he looks at downtown Cambridge where we are today and where we need to be. We have a long way to go. St. Michaels and Easton are bustling on the weekends. In Cambridge nothing is open, nobody is on the street. It is embarrassing and frustrating that we can't make this City move forward faster. There are some people who are local developers and they have local ties to this community. That is the only reason they are here. We need to bring in other developers and removal all roadblocks to development for those developers to get this town going. Three downtown businesses just closed. It is not a thriving, vibrant downtown yet. The developers want the City go get behind them and recognize the importance of a vibrant core downtown to this whole community.

Tony Easter said he has a project in the 500 block of Race Street. Whether you rehabilitate or it is new construction or if you extend the service capacity of your project, usually that decision resolves around incurring more costs. You can't take some of these old buildings and comply with Historic Preservation requirements. You can't service a downtown that is growing with the same capacity that used to be in those buildings. In Cambridge, as the downtown area is moving and growing from the 100, 200, 300, 400 blocks of Race Street, they are being forced to expand that economic drive further down Race Street. It has to be that way. In the 500 and 600 blocks of Race Street, they are charged with keeping a high design level that has already occurred in the lower number blocks. The impact fees mean a lot. It could make the difference between actually taking on a project that is at that same level and making it grow or keeping the building small. They have to maintain growth. When they go out looking for investors, or regular banking or grants, the one thing they ask them is what the City wants. Sometimes they are not sure. They need a signal to all investors that the City puts its money where its mouth is and that they will waive a fee for a while or do something to say they are ready for prime time. As Race Street improves itself as it moves from block to block, you will notice that lifestyle improves on the side streets. You will find a drop in police reports, less apparent poverty, and a population that is all in favor of that Race Street growth. With impact fees that move the level of design and growth down Race Street, you will find that the entire economic sector of downtown will grow with it. Academy Street and Pine Street are not heavy commercial areas but lifestyle will grow with them as we create that economic engine as it proceeds down Race Street toward Washington Street. The impact fees are important to the developers when they have to slug it out, getting money, and putting projects together that are a little bigger than the original uses of the buildings. He asked the Commissioners to waive the impact fees for them.

Brett Summers said they are proposing a 5-year exemption of impact fees for development in the downtown Target Investment Zone. They are trying to remove dis-incentives to downtown development. Commissioner Sydnor asked if they were going to ask the same thing from Dorchester County. Brett Summers said they went before the County Council before the election and they were going to put the issue into a work session and they still intend to go before them and ask the same thing. Commissioner Cephas asked what would happen if the City considers modifying or waiving impact fees and the buildings still remain empty. Brett Summers said he is personally guaranteeing these mortgages. He has four buildings downtown. He is doing everything he can and working with Cambridge Main Street. It seems like the impact fees are in line with new developments. It just doesn't seem like it applies to a Target Investment Zone. Rob Collison asked if it would be about 10 properties that would fall within the area that would accommodate more than 5 to 6 residential units. Brett Summers said he has four properties and he doesn't think he will have impact fees for his High Street building because he is not changing the use. The same would apply to 433 Race Street and 501 Poplar Street. These buildings will be restored to their historic standards. In his case, the only building he is getting impact fees for $60,000 in total is 450 Race Street. He is not sure how many other buildings apply. Liddy Garcia said the only buildings that seem to apply would only be buildings that are changing the use. Change of use is good. The reality is that the building that Brett Summers is in right now would have stayed vacant, second and third floor, as opposed to being office and seven luxury apartments. We need people to live downtown. The stores no longer need storage on their upper floor and they will remain vacant. We can't even get taxes from them. Vacant buildings do nobody any good. The City won't get taxes from it. We will sit and lull as opposed to having a vibrant downtown. She doesn't think it is a lot of properties. Rob Collison said some towns actually impose a higher tax rate for vacant buildings.

Tony Easter said like Brett Summers, all his properties were purchased with his money. They were not investment packages. The people told him that his 520 Race Street building was Cheetah's Pub. They said they never want another place like that around. That is a change of use. Now there are roadblocks to try to change the use th