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

July 6, 2015

Planning & Zoning Commission


July 6, 2015

The Planning and Zoning Commission for the City of Cambridge met on Tuesday, July 7, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 305 Gay Street, Cambridge, Maryland.

Commissioners in Attendance: Marshall Rickert, Vice-Chair; Mary Losty, Hubert Trego, Chan’Tay Nelson and Jerry Burroughs

Others in attendance included: Patricia Escher, City Planner; LaSara Kinser, City Planner Assistant; Frank Cooke, City Council Liaison and Robert Collison, City Attorney

Mr. Rickert started the meeting with greetings and a moment of silence.  Introduction of our new City Planner, Patricia Escher and reintroduce LaSara Kinser and she is the Assistant City Planner and doing wonderful.

Agenda Project

Minutes from the P&Z meeting of May 5, 2015.  Motion to approve minutes by Mr. Burroughs and seconded by Mr. Rickert.  Minutes approved and carried.

Minutes from P&Z meeting of June 2, 2015.  Motion to approve minutes by Mr. Trego and seconded by Ms. Nelson.  Minutes approved and carried.

Case#7 FY 2014-15, 406 Boundary Ave.  Home Day Care Public Hearing

This is a continuation of an earlier hearing on this subject.  The minutes of May 5, 2015 reflect the presentation on this project and the Planning Commission’s discussion.  A motion at that meeting was to approve the application on the condition that a  fence be erected within six months of the opening of the daycare.  Tonight, these minutes will serve to reintroduce all previous testimony.  Mr. Rickert asked for persons wishing to speak and so we can add to the record.

Staff commented that the property was posted on or about May 18th.  On May 25th, Mr. Reagan came to the DPW office to voice some of his concerns regarding the zoning of the property and his ability to take adequate measures since he has a dog.  Since the last meeting, the applicant (Ms. Quails) has also submitted a drawing of the potential fence that she would like to put up.  Mr. Reagan was not satisfied with the information that he received from the staff and requested a public hearing.

Mr. Rickert addressed Ms. Quails and said that she did not need to come up and testify; but for the record, he asked if she planning on getting the fence before she starts the business or is she planning to do it within six months?  Ms. Quails responded that she is trying to get it before she opens the business.  She is looking for a contractor now.

Mr. Rickert asked Mr. Mike Reagan to speak; he lives at 404 Boundary Avenue.  He has two issues with the applicant.  First, he thinks that the application is incomplete.   Secondly, he does not believe a daycare is allowed in our neighborhood conservation zone.  He stated that under section home daycare 4.2.3. i. within the NC districts, the proposed use shall also meet the conditions set forth in 4.2.3(B)1., which references NC District Corner Store / Commercial Use. Mr. Reagan indicated that the lot is not at an intersection of two public streets; it is in the center of a block.  He felt that this is to protect the neighborhood from random development, since this is an older neighborhood, with the homes were built in the 1930’s or 40’s and smaller lot sizes.

Mr. Burroughs stated that the paragraph that Mr. Reagan quoted was concerning neighborhood stores in the middle of a block.  He continued that the paragraph was written for, a commercial store and at that time the Planning Commission was thinking of Hyser’s being on a corner, not with property like a daycare.

Mr. Reagan continues with his concerns with the submitted the application.  The application indicates whether or not a site plan was submitted and the application has the “no” box checked.   He believes there should be a buffer and it should be equal to the building setbacks.  These are narrow lots in the Boundary Avenue area. His lot is only 45 feet wide as is Ms. Quails.  If we were a new building lot in the Neighborhood Conservation District, the lot would need to be 60 feet.  Due to the fact that the buffer zone was not addressed, he feels the application needs to be thrown out.

Mr. Rickert stated that Mr. Reagan raised the issue of the UDC language and we would like for the City Attorney, Mr. Collison to address it.

Mr. Collison stated that Mr. Reagan was correct in regards to the sections in the UDC, this Commission will recall that in the original draft and sub-drafts of the new UDC, the consultant was proposing that we have a very broad and liberal permitted commercial uses within the NC Districts and that was met with some opposition.  So in the end the compromise was to adopt the language in this section 4.2.3 b, where commercial uses would be limited to those at intersections, such as Hyser’s and others where you could show that it historically had been a commercial use.  You have predictability that someone buying in the middle of Race or Robbins streets in the residential area could not have a commercial pop-up where there never was one.  So the consultant amended the language, for the location of the certain commercial uses in the NC Districts and it appears the reference of sub section (i) in the home daycare section that references that commercial use that it was overlooked,.

Mr. Rickert and Mr. Collison stated that it was written for the commercial use of corner lot stores.  When they did the redraft, they neglected to take out the cross reference.  This requires a text amendment.  So the application cannot be approved under the current.  This is the code that was approved while the City Council met in December, without going through a formal text edit process.  This code does not permit any type of variance or any other solution or recourse that could address it in the commercial use and it expressly states at intersections of two streets.

Mr. Rickert commented that Mr. Reagan raised the issue of the buffer.  Ms. Kinser stated she was under the impression that a fence would be sufficient and that would be the recommendation of the Planning Commission.  There is nothing in the UDC that says that a daycare the fencing needs to meet the building setbacks.

Ms. Quails responded that the first time she heard that Mr. Reagan was in disagreement with the daycare, she went to speak to him.  He was concerned with a few things, such as capacity which is set by the State and he thought that her son was included in the capacity.  She stated that her son is of age and that he was not included in the capacity set by the State, an assertion with which Mr. Regan was in disagreed.  He was concerned about his dog and the potential for children to stick their fingers through the fence.  She is going to get a fence; she has lived here for two years and has never heard the dog bark.  She has walked the neighborhood of Boundary Avenue and introduced herself to everyone and let neighbors know what she was trying to do.  No one was against the daycare, some asked a few questions.  She thought that everyone was in agreement and that this daycare was allowed in this area.  She stated that Mr. Reagan commented that his dog was vicious, but he walks his dog through the neighborhood with no muzzle and she has pictures to verify that.  Her son has even petted the dog and she has never had a problem with Mr. Reagan’s dog.  So she does not know why he raised that comment about the dog.  Mr. Rickert commented that the dog is not a matter of this Zoning decision; we cannot make a decision based on the neighbor.

Ms. Losty asked about the drawing and is it Ms. Quails’ intent to put a fence around the entire yard.  Ms. Quails responded yes it was and to connect to the neighbors’ fences.  Mr. Collison stated that the code indicated that the recreational area should be sufficiently buffered from adjacent residential areas, but is rather vague.  He suggested that Ms. Quail should look into having her homeowner’s insurance carrier evaluate her potential liability, such that if a new owner moved into an adjacent lot with a more vicious dog and if you are using the adjacent property owner’s fence, the dog could potential hurt the children.


Mr. Rickert stated that the minutes from the last hearing indicate that the Commission expressed a desire to have her own fence, so if a neighbor wants to make a change, as is their right and then it would not jeopardize her daycare.  It is not mandatory, but this Planning Commission did express that it should be in this case.  Mr. Collison stated that based on the comments at the past meeting and the Commission’s desire to have a standalone fence, there is proposed text amendment that will be coming to the City Council later this month, to require a free standing fence.

Mr. Burroughs agreed with Mr. Collison that we, as the Planning Commission, did discuss the fencing and that Ms. Quails should have her own fence not affixed to a neighbor’s fence. He continues that you can never predict what the neighbors will do and the potential damage that could be incurred by the kids to the neighbors’ fence.  His thought at the time was to have her get her own fence and if she needed to, put slats into the fence.  Ms. Quails stated that the fence company stated about doing the slats also.

Mr. Cook stated that the UDC right now stated that it is not a permitted use at that location, which would require a text amendment to the City Council soon.

Mr. Ricker stated that we are on record that we did approve this daycare, prior to this testimony received tonight and prior to the advice we received about the drafting error in the text.

What is the pleasure of this Planning Commission?  Ms. Losty responded that we have no option because it is not a permitted use as we do not have the text amendment, so will we need to table this until we have the text amendment?  Mr. Collison recommends that we have the text amendment and have another hearing with an amended application submitted.  Mr. Rickert commented that we should table this case until we get the UDC language corrected and then at that point we will go through the process with the new language.  What is the timing for that?  Mr. Collison stated that if you schedule a special session, we could have the public hearing at the next meeting in August, then, it could go to the City Council.  Mr. Rickert stated that if this moves forward, this could be in mid-August to set before the City Council.  We have an advertising requirement for the next meeting. The City Council meeting will be on Aug. 24th and our next meeting for Planning Commission is then on Sept. 1st.


So we will table this until the Sept. 1st meeting and then have a vote on the proposal, Mr. Rickert would like to close all testimony this evening, if that is appropriate.  Mr. Collison responded that the amended application may, if you wish, have the testimony with it.  With the amended application the applicant does not have to repay the filing fees.

Mr. Reagan stated that once the text amendment is correct, he still has objection to the zoning of the daycare.  He wants to testify again in September.

Case#8 FY 2014-15, Arby located at 2731 Dorchester Square.  Mr. Chris Walter stated about the site plan for the landscaping.

Ms. Kinser stated that at the May 5th meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission, they spoke of the change of the paint color and adding an accent band around the building and also landscaping of the property.  The landscape plan is here tonight and the paint color was denied by Arby’s corporate office.   After the review of the landscaping plan the staff recommends to approve the landscaping plan with the condition that the applicant provides a more detailed plant list to include botanical or Latin names of the plants.

Mr. Rickert asked is this to approve the landscaping plan or the whole application?  Ms. Kinser stated that this is for the landscaping plan only, not the color of the building.

Mr. Walter stated that the landscaping plan meets with all the requirements and he spoke to the State Highway and they do not want any trees in the front, on their right of way, so we may have to push them back a bit.  Bushes are okay, but not the trees.  The owner of this Arby’s will fix the curbing along the front.

Mr. Rickert stated that there were three things involved with this project.  One was the request that the Arby’s consider the appearance of the building and landscaping plan and then the sign approval to be pending to a later date.  Ms. Kinser responded that the signs will not be changed.  Mr. Rickert continued that the landscaping can be discussed tonight.  Ms. Losty wanted to make sure that this is only for the landscaping plan and then the applicant will have to come back for the approval on the appearance of the building.

Mr. Collison had sent some UDC sections and brought to Mr. Walter’s attention (by phone conversation) that this Commission was looking for some unique character on the highway, awnings like on Walgreens, Walmart and Burger King.  Mr. Walter only sent the information about the colors, which was his understanding, was the issue.  The Commission reference about the red in color.

Mr. Rickert recalls that the modification of the façade of the building as well, in the original application, that is doing more than just painting the building.  Mr. Walter stated that we are changing the front a little.  Mr. Rickert stated that this Planning Commission is looking for, in the past, is to soften the franchise look of the store and we want them to look a little different in Cambridge then in all the others in the country.  Mr. Collison pointed out the awnings, some different colors; some architectural features that may make it look a little different and landscape improvements.  We stipulated landscaping around the property, colors to be on the building need to be more subdued, all four sides of the building photographed as is today and then again of all sides depicted visually, how the building sits on the site and where the signage will be located.  We want a façade specification, we want design features and we want to look at awnings and that sort of thing.  We can act on the landscaping tonight, but there are still some more items that we need to act on according to the minutes.

Mr. Walter responded that he received a letter from Ms. Kinser about landscaping and colors and those were the only issues for tableting the application last time.  The letter did not say anything about what was just read.  He is only going on what information he received.  You comment that you do not want stores to look like other stores, Burger King is just like the one in Salisbury identical, and McDonalds is the same as it is in West Ocean City identical.  So you are allowing them, but you are asking Arby’s to change.  Mr. Rickert commented that we as the Planning Commission have done this consistently with the McDonalds, Burger King, Walgreens, Walmart and Popeye’s and they came back with an alternative design for us to look at, and that is what we are asking of you to do.  Ms. Losty stated that we can give you a copy of the notes and this was a big point of the discussion during that last meeting.  Mr. Rickert stated that we can act on the landscaping tonight and ask that you go back to Arby’s Corporate and indicate what we would like to see and what they are willing to do to comply with our standards.  Mr. Walter wants a copy of the standards and a copy of the minutes as well.

Mr. Rickert stated that it has been recommended by staff and that it complies with the UDC and there are some modifications per the State Highway standards, which we understand.  We want to have this move forward tonight.

Mr. Burroughs asked that we need to have information about the ground mounted signs.  Mr. Walter stated that none of the signage will be changed.

Ms. Losty, referencing the landscape plan, asked which landscaping is there now and what will be new?  Mr. Walter stated that some will be replaced, there will some new bushes and trees, new landscape bed and new concrete curb in the front, removing the timbers there.  Ms. Losty asked about the planting beds.  Mr. Walter stated that the four (4) 100 feet sections would repeat the plants for the 400 feet.  Ms. Losty asked about the dumpster?  Mr. Walter stated about putting shrubs around it.  She continued to ask questions about the rest of the landscaping.  Ms. Escher stated that she spoke to the landscape architect about getting another plan with more details about the types of plants.

Mr. Trego asked about the Crepe Myrtle - why that type of tree as they are so messy and unless there is an ongoing trimming, they get unsightly.

Mr. Rickert asked that the detailed landscaping plan be to the next meeting for more discussion.  Get it back to us ASAP and we can move this forward with the information Mr. Walter gets back from Arby’s Corporation.

Mr. Trego asked about the treatment of the front façade of the building.

Ms. Kinser commented that the building elevation plans are in the packets for this case tonight.

Mr. Rickert stated that this case will be discussed at the next meeting.

Case#10 FY 2014-15, Text Amendments.  Mr. Sandy McAllister

Mr. Collison stated that this is a continuation of the public hearing from the last meeting about the text amendments to submit to the City Council.  The only change from the last meeting is that the use is now proposed as a special exception in the General Commerical (GC) district and the proposed text amendment would reflect that. Originally, the proposal was for a text amendment that would reflect ropes and adventure courses as a permitted use in the General Commercial (GC) district. The applicant also provided a proposed definition for ropes and adventure courses.

Mr. Rickert stated that Mr. Collison’s review that the language change complies with what we have asked for at the last hearing.  Mr. Collison stated that it would be more appropriate to have it as a Special Exception; as it is a unique use.  The only issue and he mention it to Mr. McAllister, whether or not there should be a minimum acreage since it is a recreational use; otherwise it would be addressed through Special Exception process itself.  If a parcel is too small for the intended use, then there could be issues arise through the Special Exception process.

Mr. Rickert responded that he has been doing this a long time and you might want to cut out miniature golf or other activities like that, because you don’t want to be too specific in the ordinance itself.  As you pointed out the Special Exception process that presents an opportunity for that finding.

Mr. Cook commented is this one of the text amendments coming up for the next Council meetings.  Mr. Collison stated yes it is.

Mr. Burroughs asked Mr. Collison about the corner lot of Wood Road and Route#16, the zoning on the property is split, and is zoned half resource conservation and half commercial.  Mr. Rickert stated that we are not listening to any applications tonight.  Mr. McAllister commented that at the last hearing, as a result of a site specific location maybe sensitive to traffic, location and resource etc. that is the principle reason to make it a Special Exception.  He continued, that depending on wherever this use is located that a Special Exception would apply and the Commission would have the full opportunity to consider things like how does it impact on the neighboring environments, the intersection traffic and more.  Part of the site plan approval process is to make sure those concerns are addressed to your satisfactions.  Mr. Burroughs understands all of that, but this is a concern about the zoning.  Mr. Collison stated that this type of outdoor recreation facility as well as a variety of others, is permitted as a outdoor recreational facility under the resource conservation and open space zoning, so if a particular parcel is split zoning, it still needs to go to the Special Exception process for the GC, but if it was not, it could be granted without the Special Exception process.

Mr. Burroughs continued that regarding this specific parcel, at one point in time, due to  the number of fatalities on that corner, the State Highway has proposed to have that corner as a roundabout, are you aware of that?

Ms. Losty stated that the suggestion to take it from permitted use to Special Exception would offer an ample opportunity, site by site to visit all of those issues.

Mr. Cook responded that it would be helpful to the City Council that when you are presenting text amendments, to give us some rational why this Commission is doing it the change.  Mr. Collison stated that Planning Department will give a staff report to the City Council as well.


Mr. Rickert stated that the vote tonight is where or not to recommend to the City Council that they act favorably on this proposed text amendment as presented.  A motion was made by Ms. Losty and seconded by Mr. Trego.  All in favor and carried.


Re-Zoning application Map amendment:  1506 Glasgow Street, Map 30, and Parcel 5 from residential to commercial.  The property owner was made aware that the zoning of the parcel was incorrect, through the application for a zoning certificate for a commercial use at the property.  Ms. Kinser researched the zoning and found that the property was intended to be zoned General Commercial. There was an error when the property was annexed from the County into the City in February of 2004; the intended zoning was not communicated on the Zoning Maps. She is asking for the Planning & Zoning Commission to make a recommendation to the City Council to amend the Zoning Map to reflect the zoning of this property to General Commercial.


Mr. Trego stated that it was an error.


Mr. Rickert commented that this is on the agenda to the City Council.  A motion to recommend an approval to the City Council for the re-zoning application made by Mr. Burroughs and seconded by Ms. Losty.  All in favor and carried.


Discussion on this Commissions agenda items as a whole.


Mr. Collison stated of the four items to be brought to the City Council meeting.

Mr. Rickert asked for a motion to close the meeting.  A motion to close by Ms. Burroughs and seconded by Ms. Nelson.  All approved and carried.

Respectfully submitted,

Ms. Michal Dixon, Secretary