• 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

September 24, 2007

Cambridge Maryland SealMINUTES

Council Meeting

September 24, 2007

 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, September 24, 2007 in Council Chambers. A quorum being present, Mayor Cleveland L. Rippons called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Knox, Sydnor, Cephas, and Brooks.

Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the minutes of the September 10, 2007 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Mary Calloway introduced a new program and a partnership with Sojourner Douglass College. Patrice Thompson is working as an intern with the City of Cambridge. The college students will have the opportunity to work with any of the city's departments. Patrice Thompson said it is an honor to be able to have this opportunity to gain first-hand experience. She thanked the Council and said she is committed to the growth and expansion in Cambridge.

Mary Calloway said she and Penny Tilghman introduced a city logo a few weeks ago. She presented the logo and said she hopes to have it in electronic format. They are working on a website with a domain of www.choosecambridge.com.

PUBLIC HEARING

Proposed Disposition of Property Unimproved Lot on 620 Wells Street (Map 302 Parcel 2656)-Rob Collison said the purpose of the hearing is to obtain comments from the public and various city departments to determine if there is any present or potential future need by the Commissioners for this property. The property consists of approximately 3829 sq.ft. of land. It is located at the end of Wells Street on the Phillips Street end. There has been a request by Rev. Anthony Dickerson to acquire the property. If the city determines it is excess land and is no long needed for a public purpose, the church intends to make an offer to the city for the acquisition of the parcel. Neither the Commissioners nor the department heads had any comments. Nobody from the public asked to speak. Rob Collison read the e-mail from Rev. Dickerson stating that his church is interested in purchasing this property. They are currently in the process of acquiring other property on Wells Street to improve the condition of the neighborhood. They will be willing to make an offer. Commissioner Cephas asked if Rev. Dickerson said what he was going to do with the property. Rob Collison said the e-mail only stated that it was part of their neighborhood improvement project. Finding of excess property does not award the property to this entity. That would be done at a later date. Gage Thomas asked if the land would be put up for public offer or bid in a normal disposition of property. Rob Collison said this just determines that it is excess property. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to end the public hearing. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion was passed 4:0.

APPOINTMENTS

None

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Award Bid for EMS Turnout Gear and Medical Equipment-Mayor Rippons said that Bill Watkins made a recommendation to award the bid for the turnout gear to Singer Associates Fire Equipment and the medical equipment to Stryker EMS. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the recommendation. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0. Mayor Rippons said both purchases amounted to $34,797 and are based on a 5% match ($1,740) from the City of Cambridge. This is coming from the Fire Support Grant.

Second Reading and Discussion on Ordinance for Comprehensive Revisions to Chapter 4 of the City Code Entitled "Buildings and Housing"-Rob Collison said he has been reviewing this with Steve Johnson. It is their recommendation that the matter be tabled so they can refine certain issues. Council received a letter from Steven and Julie Merrick with regard to the temporary storage boxes. There appears to be a need for longer than 45 days from their average users of temporary storage units. He and Steve Johnson will work with Mr. Merrick on this ordinance.

Larry Mills said he is a silent partner in A Box, a portable storage container business. He thinks one of the main complaints was about a box located on Roslyn Avenue. He showed pictures of the boxes. These boxes are for specific purposes. They are for people who want to sand their floors, clean out their garage, renovate their kitchen, etc. He wished good luck to someone who would try to get a contractor to do something in 15, 30, or 45 days. A woman had a box on Rosemont Avenue for 60 days. Commissioner Sydnor said he did not have any problems with that particular box. Larry Mills said he knew the city was discussing dumpsters and construction trailers. Their boxes will not be placed on the street at any time. He offered to pay a $1000 fine if the city ever finds one of his boxes on the street. It will always be on private property. He asked the city to call him if they have any complaints and he will get the box. To their knowledge, there is no jurisdiction nationwide that has control over their time limits. It is a portable device. He asked if they were going to block portable trailers, construction sites, buses, etc. The only law they found is that you cannot have it on public property. It is no fun giving somebody 15 days to sand their floors. He would like to work with the Director of DPW on this issue.

Larry Mills said Bay Country Church just purchased the old Maces Lane School. They have just signed a one-year lease for the church to have an A Box behind the building. There is a Pop Warner football team using an A Box. Other community programs are using them also. A woman on Allen Street wants one to store her things in. That is the kind of client they are getting. They are serving Talbot, Caroline, Queen Anne, and Dorchester Counties. This is the only problem as far as jurisdictions they are encountering.

Charles McFadden said he thinks there are 3 issues. There is a safety issue, a health issue, and an esthetic issue. On the safety issue with these big containers parked on the street, getting around them is a hazard. They should not be there for 60 days, 90 days, or a year. As to the health stuff, he has seen toilets through in the top of these things. It is not something that somebody wants to look at from their front window. You have to consider the esthetics. People will use these boxes instead of getting a building permit. There are a lot of temporary storage facilities throughout the city. You do not have to impose upon your neighbors.

Larry Mills said they do not have dumpsters. Mr. McFadden said the city talked about dumpsters and storage boxes. The dumpster with the toilet in it was on Travers Street for 90 days. He thinks the city needs to consider that stuff. He understands the city wants to help people doing construction. If you are doing construction, you need to schedule it so you do not have to impose on everyone else. If people are using these boxes instead of sheds, he thinks there needs to be a city ordinance to deal with it. People will be putting them in places that they cannot put a shed because of the restrictions. It could be for a period longer than a year. He thinks they need to consider restrictions on these boxes in the city.

Rob Collison said there are two separate issues. There was a separate provision for the dumpsters or refuse containers which would be very limited on a public thoroughfare. It would be allowed for no more than 3 days. The issue of storage containers is a separate issue and that is something they may need to look at. They will need to look at the placement on the various properties and if they are granted an extended period of time, they should be placed similarly as if they were a storage shed so they are not in people's front yards in which a storage shed would not normally be located. Those are the types of issues they will be addressing more thoroughly.

Rob Collison said the other issue they discussed at the last meeting was the grandfathering provision for licensed impound yards.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said she does not think they used the word 'impound' at the last meeting. Rob Collision said it would be the language in the code. If the code states 'licensed impound yard' then it will be 'licensed impound yard'. Portia Johnson-Ennels said the city does not have a licensed impound facility. Rob Collison said the language will be put in the code so if someone demonstrates that they are one, they will be grandfathered. Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if they would be licensed through the state since we do not have them. Steve Johnson said he does not know where impound yards are licensed but he will look it up.

Second Reading and Vote on Ordinance for Amendment to Dog Control Regulations-Rob Collison said the county is the enforcer of the dog control ordinance within the city. They have adopted the code that the city is considering. In further discussions with Ms. Embrey, he is suggesting that the ordinance be amended in two ways. The city had a waiver of license fees for seeing eye dogs and other assistance dogs like the ones that assist with law enforcement. They feel it would be good to continue the waiver of those fees. He is also suggesting that the city keep their present prohibition of kennels within the city. The exception to that would be benevolent societies devoted to the care and hospitable treatment of lost or injured animals and also licensed veterinary clinics and animal hospitals or licensed commercial establishments for the treatment of animals. If the ordinance is adopted, it would become effective 30 days from today and at the next Council meeting, he will present a resolution which would adopt the same type fine schedule as a civil penalty for the violations. Because the county is enforcing this with the assistance of the Humane Society but primarily through their Department of Public Safety, it would make sense to have it uniform. With all but the exception of one violation, the County has imposed a $100 first offense fine with a subsequence offence of $500. The one violation was $50 and $100. They are also suggesting livability standards for minimum animal care standards that the city would be able to give property owners if the animal control officer was finding an owner was not taking proper care of the animals. They would be given a warning with a pamphlet of recommended care provisions. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to adopt the ordinance as amended. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

NEW BUSINESS

Request from Dorchester Lodge #223 for Permission to Hold Their 90th Annual Organization Day Weekend from Thursday, October 25th through Saturday October 27th; Parade on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. Including a Noise Variance and Closing the Parade Route from Mace's Lane Middle School to Their Lodge at 618 Pine Street During the Parade and Pine Street from 12:00 pm Until 6:00 pm; Request to Park on the West Side of Pine Street Saturday Night from 9:00 pm Until 2:00 am on Sunday-Chief Malik and Steve Johnson agreed with the requests. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the requests. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. Commissioner Sydnor asked if these were the times they usually closed Maces Lane. Chief Malik said it was so they would have time for the units to arrive and line up. The motion passed 4:0.

Request from Zion Baptist Church to Block Off Pine Street from Elm Street to Cedar Street for Their Annual Unity Day Picnic on Saturday, October 6th from 12 Noon Until 5:00 pm-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the requests. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Report on Number of Proposals Received for MUC Building (312-314 High Street)-Ed Kinnamon said the city received 3 proposals. The bids were from:

- Grason Winterbottom III - $156,000

- Choptank Real Estate - The highest bid received plus $10,000 premium bid

- Choptank Real Estate - $276,000

Rob Collison recommended that Council refer the bids to Ed Kinnamon's office for review. Gage Thomas said the offers listed as Choptank Real Estate were from him personally. Mayor Rippons said Steve Johnson should review the bids with Mr. Kinnamon. Commissioner Brooks said she is on the committee for city property so she would like to attend the meeting also. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to refer the bids from Mr. Kinnamon for review and assessment back to Council. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Order for Demolition of Buildings at 819 Maces Lane and 619 High Street-Steve Johnson said these properties have gone trough the standard procedures. They have now gotten to the point without response from the property owners where DPW must request an order for demolition from Council. Rob Collison said according to the ASOP, the Council would authorize DPW to move forward with the demolitions. Commissioner Sydnor asked that this be tabled until the next meeting in light of some other information that they discussed during the executive session.

Approve Resolution for Community Legacy Grant Application-Mary Calloway said 2 organizations requested that the city submit Community Legacy grant applications on their behalf. There are 6 grant projects pending for Council's approval. They are as follows:

Way Finding Signage System-It is a goal to have improved signage for people coming into the community that are not aware of where downtown is, or where they can park, or how to find the historic district or attractions within the community. This will be a capitol project in the amount of $30,000.

Municipal Parking Lot Redesign Behind Chesapeake College-This project was submitted in prior years. It was tweaked so they feel confident it will go through. The total for the project is $55,000.

Richardson Maritime Museum-They would like to apply for $150,000 to reconstruct the barn on their property to be used to house/restore wooden vessels.

Long Wharf Fountain Restoration-This capitol project would cost $250,000 to totally restore the fountain. It has been approached several different ways.

Visions America Community Development Corporation-They would like to apply for $500,000 for a community center. The building would be located on their property.

Demolition Assistance on Condemned Properties-The cost of this project would be $60,000. Due to some of the aspects of a demolition, this figure may be adjusted to $100,000. With the number of properties that are currently on the slate for demolition, and if the property owner does not demolish the property, the city will have to do it.

Commissioner Sydnor asked if the city budged money for the Long Wharf fountain. Steve Johnson said in 2007, the Council budgeted approximately $60,000. That was to tear down what was there and replace it with something newer or different. There was a feeling it could be done for $60,000. They learned it is eligible for historical designation and it should be restored which is a much more expensive process. The upper range of what it may cost is $250,000.

Mayor Rippons asked how many projects would have the city as the lead agency. Mary Calloway said the city would be the lead for 4 projects. There is no grant match. Mayor Rippons asked if the city had to prioritize the projects. Mary Calloway said the resolution is what they need when they submit the application.

Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the resolutions as written with the resolution for the condemned properties to be raised to $100,000. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Set Hours for Trick-or-Treat for Halloween (Wednesday, October 31)-Mayor Rippons said the usual procedure would be for children under 12 between the hours of 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve this date and time. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Request by DPW to Purchase Two Vehicles Through State Procurement Contract-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Purchase Orders:

- PO 4468 - Ford Motor Credit - Lease-Purchase Under State Contract for 3 Vehicles for CPD - $21,332.64

- PO 4475 - Graves Uniforms - CPD - $3,112.33

- PO 4479 - Cross Match Technologies, Inc. - CPD - $44,120 - Fingerprint Scanner and Associated Equipment and Training (Byrne Justice Assistance Grant - Sole Source)

- PO 4350 - Stryker EMS - $10,937 - EMS Equipment (Fire Grant Funds)

- PO 4552 - Singer Associates Fire Equipment - $23,860 - Turnout Gear for CEMS (Fire Grant Funds)

Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the purchase orders. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Approve Financial Statement for July 2007-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the financial statement for July 2007. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Approve Modification to Employee Manual for Health Insurance Coverage for Individuals Who Qualify for Disability Retirement-Mayor Rippons said he would like to table this item until he receives further clarification.

Representation on the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area Management Board-Mayor Rippons said Commissioner Cephas originally represented the city on this Board; however he has a schedule conflict. Commissioner Cephas made a motion that Penny Tilghman represent the city on this Board. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Rob Collison reported that Council met in executive session at 6:30 pm to obtain legal advice.

Commissioner Knox thanked the Department of Public Works, the Police Department, and Cambridge Emergency Medical Services for their work at Dorchester Showcase on Sunday. He said it was wonderful to see everyone uptown having a wonderful time. He thanked everyone who devoted all their time to make it work and all the support from the city to make it all happen.

Commissioner Cephas thanked Steve Johnson for his cooperation in helping to make Christmas on Pine Street a reality. Last week they met and looked at lights, poles, and a number of things. They are moving forward to have Pine Street included in Main Street as it was proposed to be with Christmas decorations.

Commissioner Brooks said the Housing Safety Committee met last Tuesday and they are requesting that Rob Collison be present at their next meeting on October 18th. They have some legal questions that they feel will be better answered by him.

Commissioner Brooks said she spoke with Mr. Johnson. She received a call from a resident on Henry Street who was unable to contact Commissioner Travers and she stated that there was an accident there where someone ran into a pole and knocked some cable wires down. According to the citizen's recollection, there used to be a sign in the 400 block of Henry Street that stated "no trucks allowed". The sign is no longer there and the truck went through. The cable company may have put the wires too low, but these two residents on Henry Street would like the sign put back in its' proper place, if in fact, there was a sign there. Steve Johnson recommended that the Traffic and Safety Committee review this request. There are numerous locations in the city that may want similar signs but then you get into an enforcement issue. Chief Malik said the streets are designed in the code so they can research it. Commissioner Brooks said if it is already there, then the sign should go up. If it is not in the code, the residents are making a request that one be installed. Commissioner Knox said there is a sign at the end of Henry Street at Dorchester Avenue.

Ed Kinnamon reminded everyone that due to the Columbus Day holiday, the next Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 9th.

Commissioner Brooks said last year when the Council was invited to the Elks Parade, they were unable to find the appropriate signs for the cars that stated Commissioners or City of Cambridge. She asked if they need a motion to order more signs. Ed Kinnamon said he thinks he has 1 or 2 signs in his office that were returned to him. If not, he will order more.

James Chaney asked Council to suspend the current ordinance for the fire sprinkler system. In anticipation of having to deal with this ordinance, he has been doing a lot of research. It has come to his attention that it will cost anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000 per house in order to put a sprinkler system in. That does not seem to be cost effective. In addition to that, the problems they are having with sprinkler systems are enormous. There have been over 45 million sprinklers recalled in the past years. The most recent was June 12th. On that recall, they have recalled 300,000 units. In addition, because of the cost of these sprinklers, you can kiss housing goodbye. Rents will be raised between $100 and $200 per month per house. He thinks they need to go back and do a lot more research before this thing goes too far. The insurance savings are nowhere near what they claim they are going to be. It is a fact that because of the water damage, it costs a lot more to repair the houses than what it does if there is just fire damage. When they install these systems, they need to tap into the city's main line and bring a 1½-inch pipe off the main line to the house. He asked who would pay for the tap fee and what the construction and plumber costs would be. At this point there are a lot of things that have not been looked at. He supplied Council with a package of information. There are cities all across America that are actually rescinding their laws on sprinkler systems because they are finding that they are not working.

Commissioner Brooks said a gentleman flagged her down on Tuesday who is building a house in Cambridge. The cost for him to put the sprinkler in his house is going to be $15,000. The cost depends on the size of your home. She does not know what size home the gentleman was building. She believes he was going to contact Commissioner Cephas because he is living in his ward. Mr. Chaney said they are look at $3 to $5 per square foot. If you base that on an average price for a 1200 sq.ft. house, you are looking at $5,000 which does not include having a 1½‑inch line brought to the house from the main line. Rob Collison said the estimate they were given by the fire marshal was $1.25 to $1.50 per sq.ft. Mr. Chaney said they are not telling you half of what is going on with these devices. In addition, you also have to maintain these every so often. He believes it is once a year. Everybody wants affordable housing but this will not give you affordable housing. It will hurt a lot of people. Mayor Rippons asked Mr. Chaney to meet with Steve Johnson because he is formulating a staff report on that issue. Rob Collison said when he talked to the chief previously when they were formulating the ordinance, his thought was to minimize the cost and address the issue, by restricting it to kitchens and utility rooms. He thinks it would be a substantial savings. You would still need the line coming into the house but if you have such a limited area covered, maybe you could use smaller lines. Jim Chaney said one of the problems he is finding is that on the recalls, they are sending out retrofits and the retrofits are not fitting the system. One town in Pennsylvania actually went to court to get rid of it because it was so costly.

Larry Mills said he is a general certified real estate appraiser. Mr. Chaney said it all. What it amounts to is that the numbers are such that he has people who have built new homes. Some buyers like to come in and buy houses for $15,000 to $20,000 (total shells). If you go through that and it costs you $10,000, your $625 rent now has become $715. If Governor O'Malley gets 5% to 6%, and then he now wants to apply sales tax to rentals, the $700 that the landlord charges is surely not going to pay the rent. The $700 rent is now $740. Hopefully, Council can do something.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said she spoke to Council 2 weeks ago about the 700 block of Cornish Drive. She asked if the Traffic and Safety Committee reviewed it yet. Commissioner Brooks said they did not make a decision. Portia Johnson-Ennels asked when it would happen because the problem is getting worse. It is not getting any better. Steve Johnson said they will meet before the next Council meeting. Commissioner Brooks said they will meet at the location so Mrs. Johnson-Ennels can be present to show them what she is referring to.

Gwendolyn Camper said she drove a taxi in Cambridge for 16 years. She has been a resident of Cambridge all her life. She agreed with Portia Johnson-Ennels on the situation on Cornish Drive. An ambulance would not be able to get down it.

Mike (last name inaudible) said he wanted to reiterate what Mr. Chaney and Mr. Mills were saying about the sprinkler systems. He originally came to Cambridge to build 17 houses. The average rents are around $825. It sometimes takes a month or two to find somebody who can afford that. They have had good luck with the rents in the $600 to $700 range. They found you can buy old shells and put in all new plumbing, electric, insulation, drywall, etc. and still be able to rent them in the $600 range. The sprinklers could freeze if a house is vacant in the winter.

Carol Embrey thanked the Commissioners for their support of amending the animal welfare ordinance. She looks forward to their support for the resolution of the fines and fees and also with establishing the minimum animal care standards.

Wendell Foxwell said last week Talbot County passed a law that all new buildings would have a sprinkler system. Rob Collison said they basically adopted the same ordinance that Cambridge did. He thinks it is a State push to have all the municipalities and counties to adopt it. What they have not yet adopted in Easton was the applicability to existing structures. That is where they have not decided how far they want to go with regard to the entire house or just the addition. They are considering requiring sprinklers just in the utility, mechanical, and kitchen areas if those rooms are added on.

Gwendolyn Camper suggested rent control in Dorchester County and Cambridge. There is lead and asbestos in rental houses. She struggles to live in Cambridge. She suggested giving people funds to build up their buildings rather than tearing them down because there are historic buildings in Cambridge.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:25 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, September 24, 2007, insofar as I personally am aware.

                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                    Edwin C. Kinnamon

                                                                                    Clerk & Treasurer