• 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

August 27, 2007

Cambridge Maryland SealMINUTES

Council Meeting

August 27, 2007


The City Council met in regular session on Monday, August 27, 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 Knox made a motion to approve the minutes of the August 14, 2007 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.


Rezoning of 3 Parcels at the South Side of Washington Street and East of Goodwill Ave. - Map 303, Parcels 3952, 3953 & 5670 - Current Zoning is I-1 (Light Industrial) - Proposed Zoning is GC (General Commercial)-Anne Roane, City Planner, said Article 66b of the Annotated Code of Maryland states that the case has to meet certain criteria-either a mistake in mapping or a change in neighborhood. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to give a recommendation of mistake in mapping. They looked at the zoning for the surrounding property and made their determination based on that. They also reviewed the trends in that particular neighborhood. Commissioner Sydnor asked what is allowed in the General Commercial zone that would not be allowed in the Light Industrial. Anne Roane said the Light Industrial zones are more for manufacturing. The General Commercial zone allows retail businesses, restaurants, and service-type uses. The carwash and carry-out would not have been allowed in General Commercial. The Light Industrial and Heavy Industrial zones are to encourage larger employment based uses. She said if the zoning is approved, the actual maps will take effect in 25 days.

Commissioner Brooks asked if there was any particular reason why the Commissioners did not have an alternate Counsel present to advise them in the absence of Rob Collison. Mayor Rippons said if there are any legal questions, Council could table the issue until Mr. Collison returns. Commissioner Brooks said with making rezoning decisions and issues like that, Rob Collison usually gives Council a lot of information. She has not had an opportunity to confer with Mr. Collison on any of the 6 public hearings being held tonight. Commissioner Knox agreed. He suggested that the public hearings be held tonight and the votes taken at the next meeting. This first issue was basically an oversight. If you look at the map, the Light Industrial area was probably at one time a spin-off of the Phillips conglomerate that was all through that area. When the new zoning came along, it was an oversight. Anne Roane said Mr. Collison was at the Planning Commission meeting so they did get legal counsel. These issues surface when they are doing research in their office on a particular property. This case happened to be where 3 maps came together. Commissioner Brooks suggested having the public hearings tonight and then if Council has any legal questions, then they can confer with Mr. Collison when he comes back.

Rezoning of 10 Parcels on the East Side of Race Street Between Muir St. & Cemetery Ave. - Map 303, Parcels 4769, 4768, 4767, 4765, 4764, 4763, 4762, 4761, 4760 and 4759 - Current Zoning is NC-4 - Proposed Zoning is GC (General Commercial)-Anne Roane said these properties are on Race Street and are surrounded by General Commercial. The buildings are storefronts. The signed maps indicate NC-4. The Planning Commission believes that this was an oversight because the properties always functioned as commercial properties. The parcels behind these parcels are residential, but these properties are not residential. Commissioner Brooks asked if they were talking about the parcels over Mike Maloney's office. Anne Roane said that is a parcel that has apartments but the rest of the block does not have them. That would not have been reason for it to be zoned NC-4. Commissioner Brooks said there is residential all the way down above most of the storefronts. Anne Roane said that is typical up and down Race Street. The prevailing zone is General Commercial and it was the equivalent to General Commercial prior to 2002. They believe it was a drafting error. Commissioner Sydnor said residential would be allowed in a General Commercial zone.

Rezoning of 4 Parcels on the South Side of Muir Street - Map 303, Parcels 4774, 4773, 4772 and 4771 - Current Zoning is NC-4 - Proposed Zoning is GC (General Commercial)-Anne Roane said this is the corner property down to Academy Street. It includes the service station that has been converted into an ice cream parlor. This item was given a favorable recommendation by the Planning Commission. The reason for the request for rezoning is change in the neighborhood. Commissioner Brooks said the change in the neighborhood, when it was a NC-4, you still have more residential than business in the parcels that were listed. Anne Roane said they believe with the service station and the revitalization of Main Street, we will see more commercial along Muir Street. Commissioner Brooks asked if they are talking about getting rid of the homes on Muir Street. Anne Roane said they are not talking about getting rid of anything. The requests were made by the property owners. Commissioner Brooks said between this item and the one they just discussed, there is more residential than General Commercial. Anne Roane said it is for this request, but she would like to look at the square footage before she answers it on the second request.

Map Amendments: Expansion of the Current PWCD (Planned Waterfront Community District) Boundaries to Include Properties in an Area That Extends from the Existing Boundary Along the West Side of Cambridge Creek to Academy Street, Then South to Cedar Street and North to Muir Street-Jane Devlin passed out a statement which is a copy of what they put into the record with the Planning and Zoning Commission. Jo Chapman said she is speaking for herself but some points will be consensus by the Cambridge Citizens for Planned Growth. She recommended not expanding the PWCD in this zone. They have not seen planning that has turned out in the interest of the City in this area. They have not seen any mixed use that has come around in the PWCD. She said Commissioner Knox made a good summary of this issue a few years ago. He said the PWCD was intended for planned multiple uses, imaginative developments, and he went through the trouble of going through the maps and showed that every property shaded in pink is residential in character and has no commercial or other uses associated with it. The majority of the areas around the PWCD have become residential because that is what is profitable or they thought would be profitable. If we expand this PWCD zoning concept into another area, we will see more of the same. There is no reason to think that mixed use would be promoted as the PWCD zoning regulations stand. She submitted a comment from Brett Summers. He felt that the expansion of the PWCD will deter the immediate improvement of the proposed areas. Speculators will buy and assemble the smaller houses with plans for demolition, and build larger structures meeting the 50-ft height limit of the PWCD. Speculators will become slumlords, renting the properties with little capital improvements to the properties, etc. He is a developer and that is his opinion.

Jo Chapman said her personal interest is that Cambridge maintains its maritime character and uses in the waterfront. Oxford is changing their zoning because they want zoning that will help maritime firms thrive. They have reduced the number of residential units allowed in that area. This has happened in most maritime areas that she knows of. They will restrict areas along the waterfront to maritime and commercial only-not residential. Annapolis has done this. As it stands, the PWCD does not promote maritime uses, commercial uses, and the proposal now is to not have restrictions for uses. You can build anything. As we have seen along the Creek, that ends up to be residential. If Council decides to expand this zone and use the uses that can be used, which includes residential, she would recommend at least that in doing so, Council has a requirement for public notice. They have a legal action now because they did not receive public notice regarding the Point project. There is no specific requirement in the regulation right now for public notice and they were all surprised to find out that the Planning Commission had gone ahead and decided this was a great project without talking to any neighbors, notifying any neighbors, posting on the outside building, putting it in the newspaper, etc. They proceeded without public notice. She recommended that they modify the PWCD regulations to include public notice. It is common courtesy and is also considered due process in legal terms. They are fighting for that. If Council is going to do this, she would recommend that since they are reviewing the PWCD regulations, that they correct regulations that are right now not clear in the legal interpretation of who is to approve the project. Right now as it stands, Planning and Zoning recommends only. They do not approve a project. In other projects, the Council approves projects. They review what is recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission. In this case, it was cut out and not filled in who is supposed to do the final approval. She personally feels the City Council has taken into account the community concerns and the future of the City with more strength. Planning and Zoning seems only to be comfortable making sure that they fit the numbers of setbacks and numbers of density. They do not seem to be willing to interpret the intention of the PWCD regulation. The criteria includes that it be in harmony with the area, to be of superior design, and to include the community in deciding what is going to be in an area. There are some legal corrections that need to be made to the Planning and Zoning Code and she believes that our community needs to think harder about how this is going to come out. There is a comprehensive planning process coming out that could look at these in detail. The RUDAT basically said what she is saying about promoting waterfront activities and including the public. She encouraged Council not to expand the area. She summarized her recommendations as (1) Do not expand the PWCD at this time pending review during the comprehensive plan process. (2) Restrict uses within the PWCD to commercial, mixed and/or maritime uses only. No further residential only uses to be allowed. (3) Require public notice of development plans at the beginning of the process (before first Planning and Zoning meeting). (4) Amend Planning and Zoning regulation to clarify who will decide on final approval of project.

Proposed Text Amendments: The Designated/Permitted Land Uses Will Also Be Removed From All of the PWCD District. All PWCD Land Uses Will Be Permitted on Any Parcel Throughout the District-Anne Roane said Jo Chapman mentioned this item during the prior public hearing. When the PWCD map was adopted in 1984, they assigned allowable land uses within that area. She believes the thought of the Planning Commission was since these projects have to get approval by the Planning Commission, that having these land uses could be too restrictive. She will give Council the testimony given by the Planning Commission before the next meeting. The motion and vote was to not designate specific land uses within the zone and let the Planning Commission make those decisions as the projects are presented. There is no notification required as Ms. Chapman spoke about. Their notification process, as outlined in the ordinance, is to post it in the newspaper. They do not have anything that requires us to notify the surrounding property owners. They do have that requirement when it comes to a rezoning but not for a subdivision review. If that is something the Council wants the Planning Office to do, they would be glad to accommodate it.

Charles McFadden, Belvedere Avenue, said he was at the meeting when the vote was taken. The focus was on the expansion of the area and not on this issue right here. When this issue was brought up, it was very fast. After the meeting, there were several people who did not understand what the vote actually was, including some of the members on the Commission. There was a lot of confusion around this issue whether this was actually accepted or not accepted. He thinks the Council needs to get better clarification from the Committee about what they actually did. There was a lot of confusion. Anne Roane agreed that there was confusion but she does not believe the Planning Commission was confused.

Commissioner Brooks asked Anne Roane to provide Council in writing some ideas of what will be permitted on these parcels if this were to go through. Anne Roane said she will provide a description of the way it is now and what the difference would be.

Commissioner Knox asked where the City was with the new comprehensive plan. Anne Roane said they are fine-tuning the contract and they hope to have it signed by the end of this week. Rob Collison had some minor concerns. Commissioner Knox said his concern about the PWCD is about what is taking place on the Creek. He thinks Council should wait until our comprehensive plan is done before we extend the boundaries. With the land uses, we need to put some teeth into this where we know that we will get some commercial use out of the Creek plus keep open space. There has been a tremendous amount of work, effort, time, and talent in downtown. When we develop our Creek and our open space, we will have a spill-off of commercial traffic and it is going to come across the bridge and fill our downtown area which will enhance the business climate and expand our downtown as well. He would much rather wait until our comprehensive plan is complete. We need to make sure we have the teeth to get some commercial development along there and at the same time, maintain our open space. There is not a whole lot of open space down there.

Jane Devlin said she hopes at the next meeting there is a map showing the PWCD area and the lots that we are discussing as far as expansion as well as the ones that exist. She also was in attendance at the Planning and Zoning meeting. She was confused and did not have clarification until the next day. She spoke with Commissioner Knox and he was confused that evening as well. A Planning and Zoning Commissioner was also confused. He was not aware of what he voted on. She submitted a letter to Council describing why they think this is a terrible direction. The area around the Creek that is left is all that we have to do correctly. Because of past decisions of different groups, we have a lot of problems and a lot of eyesores. It would be fantastic to wait for the new comprehensive plan. West End would be very supportive of that in all natures. If they wish to move forward, they must apply land use designations. We cannot leave it subjective. This will probably be the last of the 3 legs that we have to do with the PWCD. West End Citizens Association has always hoped that we would be more conservative at this step and we are not. That is extremely dangerous.

 Marge Hull, West End Citizens Association, said she goes over the Creek bridge at least 4 times every day. She heard Commissioner Knox talk about the eyesores. That is true. Up until now, she thinks our view from the Creek and the buildings that are there is developer-driven. It is not City-driven. She would suggest and hope that the City will really give the comprehensive plan and this type of request some very serious consideration because if we keep developing based on what the developers want, we will have nothing left of the Creek to use by the community. She thinks Council needs to be very careful on this issue.

Kim Gscheidle concurred with her neighbors. She thinks this would be very foolhardy to remove any of the exceptions and protections that we have for this valuable property. She whole-heartedly supports Commissioner Knox's summary and his request to wait for the comprehensive plan.

Jo Chapman said the one thing she would say is that if we do not make any changes now, we still have residential being one of the choices along the Creek. Council may consider taking residential off of the choices. Until the comprehensive plan is done, which could be in 5 years, they can still decide to build more residential along the Creek.

Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment - This is a request to Amend Section 230(3), Table 1 - Uses Permitted in Residential Districts to Permit by Special Exception in the NC (Neighborhood Conservation) Districts, as a "Commercial, Office & Service Use the following: "Café and Corner Stores"-Anne Roane said the Neighborhood Conservation zones were created and adopted during the 2003 comprehensive rezoning. Those zones were applied to existing neighborhoods. The text amendment is to allow cafés and coffee shops which are not currently permitted. They would be allowed as a special exception which means they would be looked at on a case-by-case basis and would not be permitted as a matter of right. They would go before the Planning Commission and the Board of Appeals.


Traffic and Safety Committee-Commissioner Brooks reported that the Traffic and Safety Committee met on August 13th. The meeting was attended by Commissioner Brooks, Chief Malik, Steve Johnson, Dwight Cromwell, and Sharon Guzman. The decision was to revamp the Cornish Park Committee. There were originally 5 members on the committee. One is deceased and one is no longer available to attend. They put one new member on the Committee and would like to give them an opportunity to meet and come back to give the Traffic and Safety Committee some ideas as to what they would like to see happen at Cornish Park. They made some recommendation but they agreed that they would wait until after the Committee has met before the Traffic and Safety Committee makes recommendations to Council.


David Fang, MHA Financial Group, to Request Local Contribution for Their Proposed Development-Dave Fang said he has been working on affordable housing in Cambridge for several years now. The senior citizen project on Hudson Road is under development and will hopefully have its grand opening in early November. The actual developer of the building has heard that the proposed townhouse builder for the front portion of the site has decided that due to market conditions, it did not make sense for them to proceed and asked if they could bring their expertise in affordable housing to the townhouse component of the site. Instead of it being for-sale housing, it would be affordable rental townhomes. They are looking at doing 3- and 4-bedroom units. The 4-bedroom units would be handicapped accessible. The site work has been completed on the first phase which goes from Hudson Road, down Foxtail Drive, to the cul-de-sac at the back. Right now there are 56 lots that are approved. All infrastructure, water, sewer, and conduits for electric and gas are in. The lots are at grade. The folks from Conifer Reality would like to apply to the State for funding in their next funding round which is September 18th to take the proposed 3-story garage townhouses and make them into rental units. The proposed rental rates would be approximately $675 to $775 for the 3-bedroom garage units and approximately $725 to $825 for the 4‑bedroom units. That is significantly below what a comparable homebuyer would have had to pay to live in the exact same unit. The ideal situation would be to try to do the whole 56 units in the first phase. They are seeking a letter of support from the City for 56 units with a local contribution for up to 56 units. They will not have the number locked down until the middle part of next week. On the senior citizen project, the local contribution the Commissioners granted was reducing the amount of the road impact fee for the proposed new bypass road from a cap of $3500 per unit down to $1000 per unit. They request that the same consideration be done for the rental townhouses. The other local contribution was on-going assistance for 10 years. It was a small reduction in real estate taxes of $100 per unit per year. The State has changed their requirements. In order for an application to receive maximum points in that area, they changed the requirement to $200. They request that consideration on the family project. They anticipate that the target market would be folks whose incomes are in the upper $20,000 to around $40,000 to $42,000. It was truly geared at working families, single parents, new firemen, new teachers, etc. Workforce housing is what it is.

Mayor Rippons said the letter states that Conifer is exploring the possibility of converting these units to affordable for-sale townhouses after the initial 15 year rental compliance period. They want all the advantages during the early years and then they want to be able to sell them at that rate. They have the contemplation that somebody is paying $700 or $800 for a rental. Someone could have an $800 mortgage payment and be able to go into a home that they are buying. We are to assume that because Conifer wants this, their traffic impact fee is reduced by $2500 but the poor gentleman who is trying to buy a home will have to pay the $3500 traffic impact fee. Conifer will be able to reduce their price because they did not have the cost over the years. That is hard to digest. The people in the 3- and 4-bedroom houses will be using the roads to get to work.

Mr. Fang said the 15-year issue has been kicked around when they were writing the letter. That has since been taken off the table and there will be a 41-year restriction on it being a rental project only under the income and rental guidelines. The possible conversion to for-sale in 15 years is off the table. Mayor Rippons said if they are going to use 40 years, and are asking for a $2500 reduction, that is $60 a year or $5 a month. A gentleman who wants to own his home would have $3500 more on his mortgage and it is going to cost him more than $5 a month. He believes that to be adverse. They will have the same traffic impact as the gentleman who is trying to own his home but they do not want to pay the cost.

Commissioner Brooks said the City has other developers that have come to the City who are working with the State on grants, etc. The State requires some kind of requirements and it was something like $100 per year so they can get the points in order to get the grant money so that the rents can be affordable. She understands exactly where he is coming from. She asked if he applied for the grant yet. David Fang said the application is due September 18th. Commissioner Brooks said once they get the application in, then they will tell him what to do, and he should come back to Council for a letter of support. The letter of support does not mean the City is giving anything it means the City is giving them support to bring affordable rental units to the City of Cambridge. The Commission is a fair Commission and they will give him every consideration that they have given to all the other affordable rental units that have stood before them.

David Fang said part of the application process for a local contribution is a threshold item. If there is not an indication of a local contribution, the application is not reviewed. That is why they are asking for it before the application is submitted rather than after it is approved. It will never get to an approval stage if a local contribution is not part of the application package. He can refer them to CDA. Commissioner Brooks said they are familiar with it because others have come before them. They have two other developments. They had to do the same thing for Cambridge Club and the project that is going between Bayly Road and Race Street. It is the same type of scenario. She asked that he revamp the letter and tell Council exactly what they are looking for from Cambridge and exactly what they intend to do because the letter asks for the 15-year rental compliance. If they are requesting something from this Commission as the others have done, the letter should state what the State of Maryland requires and what they need. She said they will give them the same consideration they have given everybody else.

Commissioner Cephas asked about the handicapped accessible townhouses. David Fang said they will check with Anne Roane but they are required to have 10% of the units handicapped accessible. The way to meet that in a townhouse unit would be to lose the garage and make the first floor have a bedroom/ bathroom/kitchen/dining area. The third level could be additional bedrooms and the middle level would be family space. The units would be held back from being rented to non-handicapped renters until such time that 80% of all the other units are rented. If a potential tenant in need of a handicapped unit has not applied for the unit by that point, then it becomes available to a non-handicapped tenant. Commissioner Brooks asked if 2/3 of the house is unavailable or non-accessible, such as the second and third floor, how would the State of Maryland look at that? David Fang said their response from the State was that as long as the first level allows family space, a bathroom, and a kitchen, it would be something they could sign off on.

Anne Roane said she has not heard of this project yet, but there are off-street parking requirements that they would have to look at. David Fang said he would have to go back to the Planning Commission for those units.

Commissioner Brooks said the Council has enough time for Mr. Fang to submit something before the next meeting. David Fang said other than taking the 15-year potential conversion to homeownership off, it is pretty specific as to what is being requested.

Commissioner Knox said he thinks it is a good project and attainable first-time homeownership is important to our area as well as decent rental units. He commended Mr. Fang and all his associates for the interest that they have shown. He doesn't have any problem with giving a letter of support. He knows the Mayor is concerned with the $200 which is being doubled from what it was before. Commissioner Knox made a motion to give a letter of support and to honor the $200 per unit. Commissioner Brooks asked if he was honoring the $3500 per unit road construction as well. Commissioner Knox said he believes the first stage is the letter of support. David Fang said in the past, the City has prepared resolutions. Commissioner Knox suggested that Council give them a letter of support and then at the next Council meeting, they will have Rob Collison review the request so there is no misunderstanding. Commissioner Knox made a motion to provide a letter of support and then have the final vote at the next meeting. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion for a letter of support. David Fang asked if the letter of support will include the reduction on the traffic fee. Mayor Rippons said there are three issues. The first issue is a letter of support. The second issue would be an in-kind contribution that would be a $200 in-lieu of taxes. The third issue would be the reduction of the traffic impact fee. The motion stated a letter of support. He asked Commissioner Knox if he wished to amend his motion to include a $200 payment in lieu of taxes for each unit in the project. Council agreed. The motion passed unanimously. Commissioner Brooks said Council needs to consult with Rob Collison about the $3500 road construction assessment fee to see what has been done in the past. This will be discussed at the next Council meeting.

Representative from West End Citizens Association to Request Letter of Support for the Maryland Heritage Area Mini-Grant-Marge Hull said the State of Maryland says that tourism is the state's third largest industry. When you are dealing with any kind of activities which are cultural or historic, particularly in tourism, you are expanded your economic engine. WECA provides bus tours and walking tours. The walking tour has brought in 258 people. The bus tours have brought in 453 people for a total of 711 individuals. They are asking for support to expand their historical knowledge and refine their narrations which they do to share what Cambridge is all about and what its past has been. Commissioner Sydnor asked how much money WECA is requesting in their grant. Jane Devlin said it is a 50/50 match. The project will be $2,000. They have $1,000 in hand and they are looking for $1,000. All they are looking for from the City of Cambridge is a letter of support. Marge Hull said this past weekend she worked with Hirshel Johnson who is the head of the Friends of the Stanley Institute and Nicky Henry who has written two books on Pine Street. A black family came to Cambridge this past weekend for a family reunion. Most of them now live in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Renee Pinder was interested in trying to share with their family what their own heritage is. WECA took them to Stanley Institute on Thursday. On Saturday they took a tour of Pine Street. Nicky Henry gave a beautiful history pointing out where buildings were, what a building is now, what was residential, what was commercial and cultural things that no longer exist on Pine Street. Following that they went to the Elks on Pine Street and saw a slide show on the history of the buildings that they saw during the day. She thinks they had an absolute ball and she did too. They would like to expand their ability to bring those organizations into bus tours that they are running. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to provide the letter of support. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Mary Calloway and Penny Tilghman to Discuss the Community Legacy Program and Receive Public Input for the Next Round of Grants-Mayor Rippons introduced Penny Tilghman and Mary Calloway who now work with economic development, tourism, and grants. Penny Tilghman is a native of the Eastern Shore. She recently completed a Master of Science in Local Economic Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science in Great Britain and served as a Special Assistant to the Minister for Economic Affairs and Trade at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington D.C. Mary Calloway is a native of Cambridge. Since 1999, she worked with the Dorchester County Tourism Department and managed their marketing efforts. As her responsibilities grew, she took a lead role in assisting the efforts of the Director. During her tenure, she has established many contacts on the State and Federal levels, media, Maryland Office of Tourism Development and partnered with the local tourism industry.

Penny Tilghman said she and Mary would like to express a deep appreciate to the Council for allowing them time to acclimate to their new positions. Since the start of the department on July 2nd, they have met with 24 organizations and will continue to develop strong relationships with business and community organizations to come up with a cohesive plan to promote and create more jobs in Cambridge as well as sustain the businesses that already exist. They actually have some prospects of new jobs coming to Cambridge offering competitive wages within the course of a year. Their organization will have a three-tier structure. Their primary focus will be on large to medium enterprises, building relationships with existing employers that employ over 100 employees, being able to maintain close ties with these firms and finding out what kind of resources that will keep them routed in our economy in addition to expanding. The second tier will focus on small firms. The third tier will focus on tourism and community development. They have a new intern in their department. A young woman from Sojourner Douglass College will be joining them soon and assisting them with various responsibilities in the department. The major project they are working on is the creation of an Economic Development Commission. The commission will devise effective locally-based strategies for job growth and sustainability. On this commission will be business, education, and civic representatives in addition to a member from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

Mary Calloway said they are very pleased to be members of the City team. On the economic development focus, they have come to strong decisions and have a good guidance for that. Since the inception of the department, they have applied for 2 grants and have another 3 grants pending. Community Legacy is a grant program from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to provide funding to communities for revitalization efforts. They are asking Council and the public for ideas for projects that may be suitable for this. They would be happy to hear what projects the community has in mind. In the past the City has had success with this program. They have used funds for the downtown streetscape, gateway signage, Harriet Tubman building, and a building rehabilitation loan. The deadline for ideas is Friday, September 7, 2007. The grant application is due in early October. They are asking that anyone who submits a project include details and a contact name and phone number.

Mary Calloway said the Richardson Maritime Museum expressed their intention to apply for Community Legacy funds. They have a huge project where they dismantled a building and brought it to their site. That is part of the project that they would like to see funded through this program.

Mary Calloway said they felt it is very important to determine what the strategies are for marketing tourism. Cambridge is a wonderful place to live. All of their campaign ideas are really going to focus on both aspects-to attract new businesses and attract people to come to our community. They are designing a logo for the City showing our industrial as well as the tourism aspects. They also want to develop an ad campaign with two separate ads with a bit of a component for each. They also would like to design a website which they are looking for funding for. The website would detail the wonderful aspects of tourism and the wonderful opportunities for economic development.

Commissioner Knox commended Penny Tilghman and Mary Calloway. In a short period of time they have formed a team and hit the ground running.

Tony Easter, Chairman of the Heritage Board, said these two ladies are going to bring an enormous change to our community in a number of ways. It is so important to work with commercial development because what tourism reflects is the things that have remained here and what the people who come here can see. There is an element of our society that reminds of things that never developed. In the waterman community, in the African-American community, we go and look at things that never really developed. We have to be reminded about the unfulfilled promises of this society that have never been made. This is important to the extent that commercial development will help communities and elements of our community across the board to develop things that are lasting. He asked that this new department be supported. The Heritage Board is looking forward to working with them.


Second Reading and Vote on Ordinance for Comprehensive Revisions to Chapter 4 of the City Code Entitled "Buildings and Housing"-Commissioner Brooks said Rob Collison went through this extremely quick when he presented it. He put it in writing again this time. The last page talks about storage containers. It says that no storage containers shall remain on any property for a period exceeding 15 days unless said property is properly zoned and licensed to store these containers. She asked what would happen if someone is making renovations within their home and it is going to take 30 days to complete it.

John Wayne Ruark said their department is very flexible on all of the housing codes that they enforce. They would have to look at the storage containers on a case-by-case basis depending upon the situation for which they are there. They have several instances where pods have been sitting on property for 3 or 4 months. Commissioner Sydnor said they may wish to table the vote on this until Rob Collison is in attendance.

Commissioner Brooks said the document supplied by Rob Collison does not show what the document used to read. Normally when there is a change, there is a strikeout indicating where the change has taken place. They do not have that in the document telling them what this read prior to receiving this comprehensive revision. John Ruark said these amendments are changes to Chapter 4 and are changes to the BOCA code which was our building code. The BOCA code no longer exists. We are now in the ICC 2006 code and these are amendments to the ICC code to meet our recommendations. Commissioner Brooks said prior to the amendments, Rob Collison would have shown them what it read before the changes. That is what they do not have. John Ruark said primarily the phrasing of each of those amendments is nearly identical except it refers to BOCA 1996 where now it will refer to ICC 2006. There is very little change in the wording. Commissioner Sydnor said basically what has happened is that they have inserted or deleted from the International Building Code those areas that pertain particularly to Cambridge. Commissioner Knox asked about the abandoned vehicles. The entire section was deleted. John Ruark said the abandoned vehicle was a City code. It was not in BOCA 1996 and in the ICC 2006, it does apply. Commissioner Brooks said in the BOCA code you were allowed to have a licensed in-town yard with more than 50 motor vehicles stored. She asked if they would be grandfathered in. John Ruark said they would not be grandfathered in. Commissioner Brooks said that is why they need legal counsel present.


Discussion on Increase of Impact Fees by $750-Rob Collision supplied Council with a letter and included the supporting rationale from Municipal Financial Service Group relating to the consideration of how they were enacted. Commissioner Brooks said that based on what we know about our budget and our finances, we need to add the impact fees; however, she is not clear on our financial status which is the reason they requested the audit. She is not sure they should increase impact fees at this particular time until after they get more feedback from the audit as to what direction they really need to go. She thinks when they were talking earlier about the $3500 for the poor person who is working trying to building a house, and the City adds another $750 to their impact fees, we could be adding enough money to actually price someone out. We really need to wait on this until the audit is complete. It will not be too late.

Dan Beall said homeownership provides intangible values, notably a strong invested interest in neighbors and a sense of community as well as a tangible economic benefit. There is a site study that was done for the Federal Reserve that estimates that every $1000 gain realized from home sale increases spending by as much as $150. That money goes directly back into this economy when you sell a house. For every $1000 in Maryland that you increase in impact fee, you are taking away countless thousands of people that can afford to buy a house. Council needs to study alternative financing because impact fees are only as good as the economy. When the economy is good, housing will sell and you will get more impact fees. That money can be diverted into other things other than what they were meant to be for. If you have things such as tax-incentive financing and bonding, that money is there all the time. No matter who the City Council is and who happens to be in there, they cannot change that amount of money that comes in. Impact fees are a very poor idea. They have been since the beginning and now they are feeling the crunch because of it. It is now time for Council to look at alternative financing for the coffers.

Commissioner Brooks said an impact fee is exactly what it states. Whenever you build a new home, it impacts upon the City of Cambridge and it has a ripple effect. There will be more pressure on the Police Department and more work for the Department of Public Works. Without some type of increase along the way or some type of fee, the City of Cambridge will run short. The last thing that the Commissioners want to do is increase anybody's property tax. Dan Beall said if they would look into alternative financing, such as TIFs, you will see that it will do exactly what they are looking for on a more consistent basis. It will depend on how the economy is going. That money will come in consistently. In 20 or 30 years, you can count on TIF money coming in. You cannot count on impact fees. It is long term, more consistent, and you do not have to worry. He knows what impact fees are for. Commissioner Brooks invited Mr. Beall to speak to Council during a work session. Commissioner Sydnor said the study allows them $9500 for the impact fee. The City currently charges $4500.

Sharon Johnson spoke about some information given out by MRIS which is the multiple-listing service that is used primarily throughout Maryland. There was information that was broken down by zip code. For the second quarter of 2007, the percentage change in homes sales was -33.80%. She urged Council to consider what additional impact fees have on our housing market which is in a slump. Home sales have already fallen by $1.5 million since 2005. Rents have been increasing by 4.5% in the second quarter of 2007-the highest increase in 5 years. This is because homes are becoming less and less affordable. Locally home sales are forecasted to fall 13% in 2007 and then make a modest rise of 3% in 2008. Home prices will be flat in 2007 and increase 1% to 2% in 2008. When you talk about affordability, the buyers are being squeezed from both ends. Mortgage interest rates are rising, home sales are not falling as fast, so they become less and less affordable for the buyer. If we increase impact fees, we are going to slow down home sales.

Commissioner Sydnor said Mr. Collison is working on an audit to help relieve some of the impact fees on affordable homes. Cambridge is close to reaching the peak of the number of constructions that are going to happen here. Although we have all these units on the market, developers are still building more units. Our purpose for the impact fee was to help with our water system, our sewer system, public safety improvements, road and streets, and recreation facilities. A certain portion has been allotted to each area. Homebuyers have an impact on these particular categories. Ms. Johnson said the City needs to consider how high our taxation rates are. Our housing is not affordable. If you look at the Cattail Crossing project where the townhouses are selling for roughly $200,000, the taxes that need to be escrowed into someone's payment for property taxes alone are in excess of $300 a month. When you add on the HOA fees, an affordable house is no longer affordable. Mayor Rippons said Ms. Johnson's argument should not rest with the City Council. He can substantiate every dollar that anyone is paying within the City. He does not believe that the County can do that. While her point is well taken, it should not be relegated as a discussion at the City level. Ms. Johnson said she is not going to argue about the City vs. the County. With some of the projects, if someone gave you one, you cannot afford to own it. She can rent it in today's market for $1000 to $1200 based on the number of units that are available. By the time she is done paying her taxes, condo fees, insurance, and factoring in maintenance fees, she cannot cover the payments. Her point is that we have an already over-burdened housing market between impact fees and taxation.

Jerry Boyle said he has been before Council before to talk about property taxes. When Commissioner Brooks spoke about asking for an audit, the subject of impact fees came up because the City may be short. We have to do something about our level of property taxes (City and County). He knows the Mayor can justify anything that comes in but in the long term, more and more new houses will be built, sold, and we will be asking people to pay taxes. That is more new money coming in. Referencing the new townhouses that Ms. Johnson just spoke about, the taxes on an $875,000 unit are $16,000 a year so the $1200 a month rent would not cover the taxes. That is more expensive than an $800,000 home in New York City. It is more expensive with our tax rates to live in Cambridge than it is to live in New York City which is supposedly one of the most expensive cities in the country. He asked how to justify this to a first-time homebuyer. There is no such thing as affordable house. The last 4 weeks have completely undermined the ability of a huge portion of our community to ever be able to buy a house. One development that was built for family homeownership is turning into more of a rental community than anything. The reason that is happening is because we are getting investor buyers buying them. The houses will sell eventually. The investors can write off the taxes. They then turn around and rent them because the people who are living in them can afford the rents that they are being asked which are exorbitant but they cannot afford to buy them. His appeal to Council is that they are on the tip of the iceberg at looking at an issue which is a long-term problem. It will not be resolved this year or next year. Surely there is enough information out there that we have to put together a working committee to look at all the options to see what we can do about cutting taxes. If not, we will have a stagnant economy in Cambridge. 

Committee Appointments

Historic Preservation Commission-Commissioner Sydnor recommended that Council reappoint Gary Young. Commissioner Brooks recommended that Council reappoint Adrian Harrison. Commissioner Knox said on behalf of Commissioner Travers, he would like to appoint Gordon Hill as his representative. Commissioner Knox recommended Ms. Kathleen Powers Manicke as an alternate. She sat on a prior Historical Commission in Indiana. She has an extensive background and a very impressive resume. Mr. Hill has attended every meeting and has been a watchdog in the Historic District and brought a lot to the table. He feels like Mr. Hill will make a fine replacement for Mr. Adams who did a wonderful job. Commissioner Brooks said everyone has not had an opportunity to read Ms. Kathleen's resume. It was passed to them tonight when the meeting started and they have not had an opportunity to read it. Commissioner Knox made a motion to reappoint Adrian Harrison and Gary Young, and to appoint Gordon Hill to fill the seat of George Adams and to appoint Kathleen Manicke as an alternate to the Historic Preservation Commission. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed.

Ethics Commission-Mayor Rippons said one position is vacant and another member needs to be reappointed. Commissioner Brooks said she spoke to Gregory Meekins and he would like to be reappointed. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to reappoint Gregory Meekins. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Mayor Rippons said the Board of Zoning Appeals, Housing Authority, Housing Board of Review, and the Municipal Utilities Commission are all appointments of the Mayor. He has not been able to contact all the members. He will have his reappointments and appointments for the next meeting. Commissioner Sydnor said he suggested names to Mayor Rippons for the Board of Zoning Appeals and one for the Municipal Utilities Commission. Mayor Rippons encouraged the other Commissioners to submit names also.

Portia Johnson-Ennels asked why Commissioner Knox appointed someone to the Housing Board of Review during the last meeting if the Mayor is supposed to make the appointments. Commissioner Sydnor said quite often a Commissioner will recommend a person to the Mayor. Usually by protocol he accepts if the person is from their ward. Commissioner Knox said Mayor Rippons had knowledge of this prior to the vote.

Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if there is a time limit that these people can serve. Mayor Rippons said he does not believe there is any term limit. Portia Johnson-Ennels said in recent months she has attended some of the meetings. She watched the committee members and they were not representing the City at all. It seems to her that after a period of time, they are not really putting the interest of the City first. Commissioner Knox said if there is any member serving on any committee, then their first most authority and obligation is to serve the board they are on and serve the City of Cambridge. If they do not represent the City Council and the City of Cambridge to their fullest obligation, then it should be brought to Council's attention so Council can act accordingly. Mayor Rippons said Ms. Johnson-Ennels is not alone in her consideration of some of the board members. Other members of the community have also commented on this.

Commissioner Brooks said there was another letter from someone who wished to be an alternate on the Historic Preservation Commission. Commissioner Knox said he read the letter from Mr. Vickers. He said Mr. Hill knows the Historic Preservation District. This gentleman can be firm but understands the guidelines and he thinks Mr. Hill will be an asset to the Commission. The alternate who he recommended served on the Evansville, Indiana Historic Preservation Commission and the list goes on. He based his recommendation on the resume that was presented.

Consideration of Property Tax Reduction for Second Bucktown Road Annexation-Ed Kinnamon said the property owners in the first Bucktown Road annexation that took in Route 50 and went down Bucktown Road to South Road were granted a 60% reduction in real estate taxes. Someone asked him if Council was going to grant this to the second group of property owners who were annexed on Bucktown Road. Mayor Rippons said they have the same level of service at this point. Commissioner Knox made a motion that until they are receiving all the services that they are entitled to, they should be entitled to the same tax break as the rest of the residents on the road. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. Mayor Rippons said they would receive a 60% reduction in property taxes. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve PO 4467 - Ford Credit Municipal Finance - 5 Patrol Vehicle Lease Agreement for CPD - 2nd Year Payment - $37,206.02-Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.


Commissioner Sydnor said he has been contacted by several people who live on High Street Extended between Washington Street and Bradley Avenue. The City paved one side of the road because there was water standing in the road and they had to level it. He is requesting that they pave the other side because there is water on the other side of the road. In speaking with Steve Johnson, there is some capital work that needs to be done. In this particular case, he feels they should go back and have the other side of the road paved. It would satisfy the residents as far as water standing in the road. We have funds from our impacts fees to cover roads and streets. Mayor Rippons said it cannot be used for that. Commissioner Sydnor said the City will be able to find the funds to cover the cost. He has been given an amount of approximately $40,000 for milling and the other portion of it.

Steve Johnson said $40,000 is a pretty good estimate. It will not correct the drainage issue. The drainage repairs are much more substantial and will require culverts and things of that nature. The paving work did not cause any drainage impact on the western side of High Street Extended. He was told that annually DPW participates in an assessment of the streets to be paved and makes recommendations as to the streets that should be paved and then Council decides which streets will be paved. It was decided that one half of High Street would be paved for roughly 2000 feet between Washington Street and Bradley Avenue. A reason was that on the eastern side there was a large depression that collected water. By paving and correcting the sub-base, you eliminate the puddle. That was a fairly simple paving operation. High Street Extended is sensitive in that you must mill before paving because it cannot be raised anymore due to the drainage issues. The eastern side was milled and paved. The ground was reduced for drainage considerations. On the eastern side of the road you have a natural swale. Paving on that road evidently followed original contours. To correct any type of drainage issue would require extensive culvert work. It would be a very expensive proposition. Commissioner Sydnor said that would be a capital project that we are not currently looking at. It would be a bandage until that time. Mayor Rippons asked if the $40,000 would do any good. Steve Johnson said the eastern side of High Street is alligator cracking like many of the roads in Cambridge. There are probably roads in Cambridge that actually have more structural defects. Any road benefits from being paved but it will not eliminate drainage issues. Mayor Rippons said with the problems that exist where they need to put in culvert, if they pave now and DPW considers in 2 years that this road has reached a priority and needs to be done, and the road is already paved, would it be an adverse consideration at that time. Steve Johnson said you would have to cut through the paving to fix the problems. Mayor Rippons said then the reality is to fix it the way it should be fixed, if they pave at this time, it may prove futuristically not to be in the City's best interest. Steve Johnson said if you were to pave it now and in a year or two from now DPW were to do the proper drainage repairs, we would essentially destroy anything paved now. Commissioner Sydnor said that would be on both sides of the road. Steve Johnson said from what he saw, a severe drainage issue exists on the western side of the road which is the side that has not been paved. Commissioner Sydnor asked how many other streets were only paved on one side. Steve Johnson said he does not know the answer to that. Commissioner Knox said the way he understands it is that the street has to be torn up, the drainage mechanism has to be removed and lowered in order to level the street. Commissioner Sydnor said that may be done in 2 to 5 years. Commissioner Knox asked if there are any grant funds available for a project like this. Steve Johnson said it would probably cost $200,000 to do it right. Commissioner Knox suggested they start looking for grants to do it right the first time without spending $40,000 and then destroying that to fix it correctly. Steve Johnson said that is certainly what they can do. Commissioner Sydnor said they have gone past it the first time because they have already done the other half of it. He has not seen any other street in Cambridge where half of the road has been paved. He has seen where sections of the road have been paved. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to pave the other side of the road. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. Commissioner Brooks asked how much money the City has set aside for road repair. Ed Kinnamon said he believes it is $300,000. Commissioner Brooks said if they have $300,000 set aside, when they completed Bayly Road, they utilized most of what was set aside for road repair. It is still not completed to this day. It looks like they should be able to come up with the money. Even if it is $100,000, they already have some money set aside in our current budget for road repair. Steve Johnson said they also have a list of roads approved by Council that are to be paved with that money. He asked if Council would like to look at the list again and take something out. Mayor Rippons said the Bayly Road work was done with a grant. He suggested that Penny Tilghman and Mary Calloway search for funds to finish Bayly Road and obtain money for High Street. Mayor Rippons said the motion is to approve paving of the eastern side of High Street from Washington Street to Bradley Avenue in an amount that is approximately $40,000. The motion passed 4:1 with Commissioner Knox opposed.

Commissioner Cephas said recently in the City there have been a number of evictions taking place. People set the items outside and they sit there for 2 to 3 weeks. He asked who is responsible for cleaning up the trash and debris that is left on the street. Mayor Rippons said it is the responsibility of the landlord. John Ruark said the landlord and/or property owner is responsible and as soon as DPW finds out there has been an eviction, they send them a notice. Mayor Rippons said the City is not to pick up any eviction trash.

Commissioner Brooks said she met with the Housing Task Force and they discussed several items. They adopted a mission statement for the City of Cambridge. In that discussion they talked about several pieces of property that in some people's opinion makes the City look run down. However, they talked about Pine Street tonight. There were two pieces of property on Pine Street that have condemnation notices. A long time ago, Pine Street was happy and thriving and filled with lots of business. There also came a period of time when there was pain, sadness, and grief. Unfortunately the pain, sadness, and grief seems to play a role in front of everything over top of the happy, good times that a lot of people had on Pine Street. Somewhere along the line we need to bridge the gap between Main Street and the cultural Main Street that is Pine Street. We need to build on the future. She feels they should be able to talk with the Economic Development Directors so they can obtain grant funds to make one of those homes a museum that will hold lots of history for all cultures. What happened in the 60s affected everybody in Cambridge. Memories are there to be talked about. If we could have a museum in one of those structures somewhere where everybody can contribute a piece of history to help tell the story of where we were, where we have gone, and where we are at now, she thinks it would be real beneficial. She also feels there is another home on Pine Street in that area. We have nowhere for our children to go and we are looking for a teen center and looking for volunteers to come in and talk with children. Other cities have a crisis hotline or just a shelter that a teen can go to vs. going to somebody on the street that might be selling drugs or doing something that is not appropriate. Those two houses she will be presenting to the City, talking to the economic developers to see if they can find any kind of assistance that they can provide in finding grant money to do what the Housing Task Force would like to do. Hopefully some of the great minds sitting in the audience may remember the 60s and can help pull this project together. She will be asking for volunteers to get together from throughout Cambridge to help bring some good memories back to that particular area and not what we hear on a Saturday night.

Commissioner Brooks said Mr. Kinnamon met with Commissioner Sydnor, who is Co-Chairman of the Finance Committee and her as Vice President to discuss the audit. Out of what they discussed, Mr. Kinnamon informed them that he understood exactly what they were looking for and he was going to go back and talk with the current auditors to see if there was a possibility that it could be included in their audit.  We need a true audit, which we have not had in the City of Cambridge at all. She thinks Mr. Kinnamon said the City is paying $20,000. A true audit includes a lot of things. This auditor stated that he has only provided exactly what he was asked for. They are not getting the answers that they were looking for because he was never asked to do that. Mr. Kinnamon also made the suggestion that there was a possibility that we may be able to pay this current auditor for services rendered and move on to another auditor who would be able to provide the City with what we are looking for. She knows that there was a newspaper article that stated exactly what we are looking for. They were looking for an auditor that would be a catalyst for improving the City government. Auditors should report their findings to the City Council. The auditor's report and performance should be evaluated by the Finance Committee. The auditors should make reasonable recommendations in areas that they can see that need to be improved. The auditor will look for compliance of all City programs according to policy and charter. The auditor evaluates the City to make sure that the City is operating economically, efficiently, and effectively which will bring us back to the topics that we have: "Are our property taxes too high?" and "Do we need to add an extra impact fee on top of what we already added?". They will also check to see if we are enforcing collection and reporting efforts. They will be looking for accounting; safeguarding assets from loss, damage, and inappropriate use; complying with applicable laws and regulations; establishing policies, plans and procedures; managing and maintaining the accounting and statistical data as stated by charter and policy; implementing controls and promoting their effectiveness at a reasonable cost; accomplishing goals and objectives as set forth by the Charter and the Commissioners. The auditors are hired by the City Commissioners and the Finance Committee. The questions in addition to those that they are looking for are "Is the City acting in accordance with policy and the City charter?"; "With what we are doing, what are the risk benefits?"; "What can we do to improve our economic status?"; "Do our current auditors conduct the audit in accordance with government audit standards?"; "Has the City Council and public been provided with objective, timely, and accurate information about City program performance?"; and "What recommendations for improvement has been provided?". As elected City Commissioners, they seek to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity of our City government. They intend to provide a true and loyal service to their fellow residents within the City of Cambridge. They feel that by doing a true audit, they will do just that.

Commissioner Travers asked John Ruark to check on the house on Maryland Avenue next to the chiropractor. John Ruark said it is already being looked into. Commissioner Travers said he would like to see it demolished.

Ed Kinnamon said further to what Commissioner Brooks was talking about, she is reading from a memorandum that he prepared for Council. He spoke with them last week and also talked with our auditor. Our auditor said what we really are looking for based on information Commissioner Brooks provided is called a performance review. It is different that the audit that our auditor or any other governmental accounting firm would do to fulfill the requirements of the state law. This is a separate review that could be very costly pending how much you need and how much you want. Our auditor is only auditing what is required by the state. He does not do a true performance review. There are firms that do it and he is familiar with a few of them. Commissioner Brooks referenced some names but he has not received the list yet. He is going to be looking for the names and will provide them to our auditor for suggestions. Costs could be $60,000 to $100,000. Commissioner Brooks said that is an estimate. Ed Kinnamon said it is not an audit. It could be construed as an audit but it is called a performance review. There is a definite difference. Commissioner Brooks said it is, in fact, an audit as stated by other munici