• 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

November 19, 2007

Cambridge Maryland SealMINUTES

Council Meeting

November 19, 2007

 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, November 19, 2007 in Council Chambers. A quorum being present, Mayor Cleveland L. Rippons called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Knox, Sydnor, Cephas, Brooks, and Travers.

Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Travers led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the October 22, 2007 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. Commissioner Brooks said she has asked Mr. Kinnamon to make some changes to the October 29, 2007 meeting minutes on the first and second paragraphs on Page 1944. It is a little misleading the way it is stated so she asked him to quote her verbatim instead of summarizing it. He sums it up that we asked for an audit on an audit and that is not what they asked for. There were some other questions she went over with him in the back that is not exactly the way it was stated. Commissioner Sydnor said in the second paragraph on Page 1954 in reference to the number of days in which we are going to go back and look at the performance audit, it seems it was stated as if it is going to be 60 days from that meeting. Mr. Cephas had said it would be within 60 days.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment - Request to Amend Article XI, Section 267. "Professional Offices in the NC District"-Rob Collison said this is a proposed text amendment with regard permitted uses with certain NC districts. It would amend Section 267 of the zoning code. It would provide for a new subsection for NC3 and NC4 districts. One district covers around the hospital and Dorchester Avenue. It would permit the development or conversion of properties to offices within those districts; however, the language would provide that the exterior of those structures would remain residential in character and they would have to be architecturally compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods. It would only be one office building per lot of record. The change compared to the subsections that are remaining for NC1 and NC2 is that there is no maximum square footage requirement or limitation. In the other districts it will remain at no more than 1200 feet of office space. The other change is that in the NC1 and NC2, and presently in NC3 and NC4, you can have no more than one office every 500 feet. With this text amendment, there are no limitations with regard to that. This arose with regard to 2 properties in the NC3 district by the hospital. There was one on Byrn Street which is known as Rose Hill Manor and also a property in the 300 block of Dorchester Avenue that they are looking to convert to office space. The Byrn Street property has been office space for a number of years. The problem with that is that it is presently non-conforming. If it were to be destroyed by natural disaster or fire, it would not be able to be reconstructed in the same fashion. This would create a new subsection for the NC3 and NC4 districts. The amendment went to the Planning and Zoning Commission twice. This was the end result of that recommendation.

The Council received a letter from the West End Citizens Association dated November 15, 2007. They stated it is generally not good policy to accommodate the special interests of a few at the expense of many. It could bring forward unintended consequences within the respective neighborhoods. The quality of life and possibly the property values of these neighbors could be reduced. They request the City Council's support of the strengthening of our commercial areas through proper placement of commercial venues and support the preservation of Neighborhood Conservation Districts by retaining stronger controls of professional offices within NC3 and NC4 districts.

Commissioner Sydnor asked Rob Collison on clarification of some of the points made in the letter. Rob Collison said with regard to the size of an office, presently in all the NC districts, it is 1200 sq.ft. on the first floor and then they can permit up to 2000 sq. ft. of the entire building for office space. That limitation will be removed from the NC3 and NC4. With regard to number, under the proposal there can be one office building per lot of record. You may have multiple offices with the building. Presently you cannot have more than one within 500 feet of another residential conversion to an office in all the NC districts.

Anne Roane said this would be permitted through a special exception. It would still require a public hearing process. On a case-by-case basis, it would be presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission for recommendation and then on to the Board of Appeals for a public hearing for the granting the special exception. It is not permitted as a matter of right. Each case will be dealt with independently. The Planning Commission felt that having this permitted as a special exception would guard against some of these very valid concerns that have been raised by the West End Citizens Association. The Commission felt it would not be detrimental.

Commissioner Sydnor said Rob Collison mentioned 2 pieces of property that this would involved. Rob Collison said the first piece is Rose Hill Manor on Byrn Street. Commissioner Sydnor asked if Council had address this before at which point they said that it could remain as a medical office facility and be grandfathered in because the concerns from the citizens were that if they sold the property and we changed it to commercial, then we really would not have any control as to what will go there. Rob Collison said the application originally came in to rezone that parcel completely from NC to GC. The neighbors were all concerned because once you rezone it General Commercial, you have no limitations or controls. Therefore, anything permitted in GC could go there from a land use standpoint. That is when they took a second look at it. Rather than re-zone the property they could keep the zoning the same (NC3) but make it more flexible for some conversions of residential structures to offices, particularly around the hospital and these corridor areas that we see are increasing near the hospital and Dorchester Avenue. That is when the application was changed from a rezoning of the parcel to a text amendment changing what can be done by special exception within the NC3 and NC4.

Commissioner Brooks said there was also some concern by the residents concerning parking. In the notes given to Council, it says that the Board may reduce the off-street parking requirement to a minimum of 2 spaces. Anne Roane said that is not a change-it is what currently exists. It would have to meet the parking regulations and the word "may" would be another situation where they would look at it on a case-by-case basis. It is not a proposed change to the ordinance. Parking is always a concern.

Commissioner Cephas said the letter from West End Citizens Association made reference to unintended consequences within the respective neighborhoods. He asked Jane Devlin to elaborate on it. Jane Devlin said that came out of the discussion at the Planning and Zoning meeting. The intent of Neighborhood Conservation is to retain the mixed use but they are more of a residential than a commercial aspect compared to Highway Commercial and General Commercial. By removing some of the restrictions, the main one remaining is the 500-foot separation between offices. You could wind up with an area that is currently residential with a few smattering of offices. You could wind up with quite a few offices. In that case you have people who may have bought property in the community a number of years ago expecting it to be primarily residential and suddenly see the shift in the offices.

Anne Roane said the Neighborhood Conservation Zones were created in the 2003 zoning ordinance adoption to address existing neighborhoods. They did not exist prior to 2003. They were given different delineations based on an average of the square footage of the lots that were within those districts. It is to help assure compatibility for redevelopment. A lot of the west end is zoned NC3. There is quite a bit of NC2 down Washington Street and NC4 is on Washington Street also. There is NC4 north of Washington Street.

Commissioner Cephas said he understands the purpose of the change is in case there is a fire or something, then you can restore it. Anne Roane said it would allow the non-conforming use to rebuild and remain there.

Commissioner Sydnor, referring to Rose Hill, said Council made the exception that within that footprint, along with 10 percent, if it was demolished by fire, they could rebuild as long as it remained a medical facility. Anne Roane said she thinks that they can, but she does not recall the discussion. That came up through the rezoning which never actually made it.

Ryan Showalter, representing Shariff Properties, LLC, said Anne Roane's recollection is correct. They initially applied for a rezoning to General Commercial. That rezoning request before the Planning Commission was met with objections from the local community because of concerns that if it was rezoned General Commercial, that particular property could be redeveloped as a gas station or any other of a wide variety of commercial uses permitted by right under the General Commercial district. It is the Planning Commission's desire to find a way to address the recognized need and trend that you see on Byrn Street and Dorchester Avenue but also to address the concerns of the community. There was some discussion of different alternatives that might permit an expansion with a 10 percent cap or other things. None of the discussion points were actually adopted. At the end of the evening, the formal proposal was that instead of pursuing some of those alternatives or the rezoning, they requested that Anne Roane and Rob Collison look at this type of a text amendment. The text amendment that is before Council tonight is a result of those discussions. It was the only thing that was formally acted on by the Planning Commission. They unanimously recommended this after a series of discussions. The point that is most important to understand, while the WECA comments and concerns are certainly important to note, the unanticipated consequences are unlikely to occur. What you are doing is only changing the professional office limitation in the NC3 district. It does not go from Neighborhood Conservation to any commercial use without limits on size. This is only professional offices that are permitted. They are currently permitted with certain limitations and now in the NC3 and NC4, they would be permitted with slightly fewer limitations but still subject to the project-specific review by the Board of Appeals. The Board of Appeals' review under both the City law and under State law is that the Board has to look at the specific proposed use, at the specific proposed location and the Board makes a decision whether the use in that location would have an impact that is greater or above and beyond the impacts of a professional office in NC3 in general. The analysis is not whether a professional office that has a couple of cars per days causes any impact. That is presumed by the determination that those uses are permitted by special exception in the first place but whether the specific use that is proposed at that specific lot, wherever it is, has an impact above and beyond a professional office in general. The types of factors that the Board would appropriately consider are (1) How many other uses are there in the proximity (Is this the first, or are there 6 others where this would compound the impacts of offices?) (2) How much on-street and/or off-street parking is proposed? (Is it a use that needs 3 or 4 cars and has 2 off-street and 2 on-street spaces or is it a use that requires 40 cars and has no off-street parking?) (3) What is the nature of the use? (Is it 9 to 5 like most professional offices or is it somebody who will be open from 7 to midnight?) (4) What improvements are proposed to the building? Is it going to be a professional use that is housed in a residential-looking building or are there improvements that will dramatically change the appearance of the structure? The Board of Appeals could either approve it or deny it based upon that determination. It is important to note that this not a carte blanche for offices in the NC3 or NC4 district.

Rob Collison said as a special exception, the Planning Commission recommends it but the Board of Appeals can also impose reasonable conditions on that. They could attach conditions if they approve the special exception.

Commissioner Knox said his concern is that they are opening up Pandora's box. There are several professional offices within the hospital zone. We know if any of those were to have some sort of a fire, they would be non-compliant as well. Rob Collison said some of the properties could fall within that area. They know of one that is outside of the hospital/medical district. Commissioner Knox asked why it could not be limited to the districts that are adjacent to the hospital zone instead of having the risk of it spreading out through the City. He has confidence in all the Boards but he does not want to let this get out of control. Anne Roane said by it being a special exception, it would not get out of control. It would have to come before the Planning and Zoning Commission. The staff would review it, do a site visit, go through the criteria for a special exception, prepare a staff report to the Planning Commission and they would consider all of these things before making a recommendation to the Board of Appeals who would then again review it and hear public testimony. It would be a public hearing which would be advertised and the property would be posted. They notify all the surrounding property owners. The Planning Commission voted unanimously after a lot of discussion. Rob Collison said they had reservations because it is not the perfect scenario. He doesn't think they know of any property owners within the NC4 that are having this problem. At this time they could limit it to NC3 and deal with NC4 at a later date. It appears that the biggest problem is the Dorchester Avenue/hospital/Maryland Avenue area. It seems to be lending itself more to offices. You see them on just about any corner and they are maximizing the 500 feet the best they can. That is in the NC3. Unfortunately it spills over into other areas in the west end. There are 2 public hearings for a special exception. The surrounding property owners are notified of those public hearings by direct mailing. The property is also posted.

Commissioner Sydnor said when they were looking at the Rose Hill property and considering it for a medical facility, they are changing it from a medical/ professional to a professional in general. Rob Collison said it would be for professional offices. It could be an accounting firm or a law office. Ryan Showalter said they could do that today. It is not currently limited to medical uses. Rob Collison said it cannot be combined with the former gas station or become a convenience store, restaurant, or other retail uses that the neighborhood is very concerned about.

Commissioner Cephas asked if the building caught fire now, could it be rebuilt as a medical office. Ryan Showalter said it could but it would be subject to the limitations. You could only have one office in that building instead of the three that exist now. Commissioner Brooks said they could still come back before Planning and Zoning and ask for a special exception. Rob Collison said they could if the proposed text amendment is approved but not under the current zoning. That is the owner's concern. As it stands now, they could not. The proposal would be to do it under a special exception to rebuild it the way it is because it far exceeds the square footage area.

Commissioner Cephas asked if there is anybody in the area who is opposed to the rezoning. Rob Collison said when it was truly a rezoning, there was probably 30 people when it was proposed to be rezoned to commercial. When they presented this compromise, it was unanimous and they did not come back and object. They said if it this way, they can live with it because they know it is going to be limited to professional offices and they know there will be a public hearing. Ryan Showalter said when they had the public hearing, nobody spoke. He does not know if there was anybody from the neighborhood present. Commissioner Brooks asked if they were sent notices for tonight's public hearing. Anne Roane said they were not sent notices because this is not a site-specific request. Had it been a special exception for the property that raised the issue, they would have been sent notices. The special exception would not have come before the City Council. It would have gone to the Board of Appeals. Commissioner Brooks said knowing that they had many objections before, she suggested that it would have been wise to send them a letter personally inviting them to the hearing tonight. Anne Roane said they do not typically do that for a text amendment. They would have had to send letters to everyone who lives in the NC3 and NC4 zones. Rob Collison said it was advertised in the Daily Banner twice. They were in agreement with this proposal as we presented it. They said they would remove all their objections if that happens. Anne Roane said the request for rezoning was withdrawn and they proceeded with the text amendment. That is when they went back to the Planning Commission staff with this proposal.

Ryan Showalter said technically the first night the Planning Commission voted to recommend denial of their rezoning to General Commercial. They withdrew the proposed rezoning application when the Planning Commission unanimously recommended the text amendment. Rob Collison said he anticipates following our comprehensive plan update, the area around Maryland Avenue, the hospital, and Dorchester Avenue to be rezoned to a district in itself because of the uniqueness of it and the traffic pattern.

Rob Collison said Council could proceed with a decision tonight or defer it to next week. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the text amendment. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. Commissioner Sydnor said this will allow more than one professional building in the block that Rose Hill is on within 500 feet of each other. Rob Collison said that is correct. The motion passed 3:2 with Commissioners Brooks and Sydnor opposed.

Request By Vincent And Barbara Youmens to Rezone 3.39± Acres Located on the Corner of Greenwood and Cosby Avenues, Currently Zoned R1, Rezone To C1-Chad Malkus of Hodes, Pessin, and Katz, spoke representing Mr. and Mrs. Youmens. In 2003 during the comprehensive rezoning, the property was zoned R1. It had originally been zoned R4 which is a designation that we no longer have. At that time it allowed for the highest possible density on the property. During the rezoning, it was rezoned R1 which would only allow for single-family dwelling units. The majority of the surrounding parcels are zoned R3 or C1. In a review of more than 50 city blocks in that area, this is only one of two R1 designations. It represents an island or a pocket. His clients originally sought rezoning to R3. They went before the Planning and Zoning Commission and it was unanimously approved for R3 designation. However, based upon some input from local citizens and some members of Council, there was some concern about rezoning it as R3 so his clients took that under advisement. They considered a C1 designation. They went before the Planning and Zoning Commission and again it was unanimously approved for rezoning-this time for C1. When looking at this property, everyone sited it as both a change in the neighborhood and that there had also more than likely been a mistake during the comprehensive rezoning when considering this property and R1 was not the proper designation. They unanimously approved the rezoning to C1. There are adequate public facilities in the area and the roads in the neighborhood are more than capable of permitting C1 designation. His client owns the adjacent parcel which is also designated C1. It is primarily commercial. He has recently made some significant improvements to his commercial shopping mall area and storage units. He believes it would be consistent with the future plans for the area.

Rob Collison said this hearing is for a requested rezoning to C1 which is Neighborhood Commercial. The Planning Commission met on this matter and has recommended approval to C1. Nobody asked to speak.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.  Rob Collison said he will have a finding-of-facts for Council for the first meeting in December.

APPOINTMENTS

Chris Jakubiak - Comprehensive Plan Introduction-Anne Roane introduced Chris Jakubiak. His team was awarded the contract for the Comprehensive Plan which is required by the State. Chris Jakubiak said work is underway on the comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan is a long-range document. One way that he would like to describe it is by having people complete a sentence. The sentence is "It is the policy of Cambridge that (fill in the blank)." He asked them to think of it with respect to development, planning, social, economical developments, environmental protection, etc. When you complete that sentence across the spectrum of issues, whether they be zoning, annexation, waterfront development, economic development, downtown revitalization, or housing, you have a comprehensive plan. There are a lot of people with concerns and groups have their interests that they want to advance. That is what the process is about. It will be a forum for people to come together and advance their own interests and see where those interests connect and overlap. That overlapping of interests is what represents the Comprehensive Plan. The comprehensive plan is required by State law. The Planning Commission will act as a steering committee on the planning process. They will encourage the Planning Commission to create ad-hoc special committees made up of local experts. He imagines he will be working on it for about 1 year. The Planning Commission will probably be having 2 meetings a month to move this process through. They want to work with neighborhood groups and local churches. They are open to suggestions about how to reach out to everybody to make this an inclusive process. They made a good start of things with the RUDAT report. This will be brought into the form of the Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan is important for State funding. All annexations have to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. Starting in October 2009, a city or town cannot annex property and apply a zoning category to that annexed property unless that annexation is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. If the plan does not show the area as eligible for annexation in the future, you may not be able to annex it. You certainly cannot identify it as a Priority Funding Area which is a new level of criteria that the State has established that makes it eligible for funding and other requirements. About 18 months ago they completed Crisfield's Comprehensive Plan. Rather than having a plan that had separate chapters on land use development, housing, economic development, and environment, they integrated the whole document under 4 major themes. New development should try to repair the mistakes of the past. One of the most important things is a series of actions and implementation steps. He challenges the Planning Department to say after 6 years how many of the actions they have completed. State law requires that you go through this process every 6 years. He has an architect, a landscape architect, a traffic engineer, the regional GIS cooperative in Salisbury, a cultural heritage specialist, and an environmental scientist working on the team.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

Traffic and Safety Report-Commissioner Brooks reported on 3 items.

Request for Diagonal Parking on Court Lane-Because the street is not wide enough for diagonal parking, the committee recommends against approval of this request.

Reserved Parking Spots for State Vehicles in the City Parking Lot Behind District Court-The Committee was unable to approve this request because the parking is so limited as it is now. To reserve spaces for certain vehicles would not be making good use of the spaces.

Directional Signs for Richardson Maritime Museum on High Street-Because drivers may be unaware of the one-way directions of Locust and Glasgow Streets, which provide the entrance and exit to the museum parking lot, and because the additional of directional arrows or signs would improve traffic safety, the Committee recommends approval of this request.

Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the request for directional signs near the Richardson Maritime Museum on High Street. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Update on Rental Registration and Fines-Rob Collison said this came up a month ago. Some property owners and/or landlords were requesting exemption from the rental registration and the lead paint certification. If the tenants did not provide the landlord access, they were exempted. He contacted MDE and found that MDE is the only entity that can provide an exemption. His recommendation is that the City will proceed with the violations unless they present to us an MDE-issued exemption. Mr. Johnson had sent Council a memo requesting Council cap the fines for failure to register at $1,000 and not to increase it no matter how many days they are not registered. Steve Johnson added that this would be for just this year. He is under the impression that we have unique circumstances this year through transition. He recommended that just for 2007, we cap the fines for failure to register at $1,000. If we do not do that, there are many property owners that are going to owe the City a lot more than that. Rob Collison said no formal action is required by Council unless they have an objection to it. Steve Johnson will direct his Code Enforcers to cap it at $1,000.

Update on Bids for the MUC Building-Rob Collison said the City had previously received 4 bids. He provided copies to Council along with documentation from the State Department of Assessment and Taxation from as many properties as he could recall selling with that area within the last several years. The conditions of the properties would vary. Commissioner Brooks asked for the dimensions of the property. Rob Collison said the land area is 7250 sq.ft. The document says the enclosed area is 4073 sq.ft. but that probably covers the storage buildings in the back. Gary Newcomb said he believes the office is a little less than 3500 sq.ft. Rob Collison said there are 5 or 6 parking spaces. Commissioner Knox made a motion to move forward with the sale to the highest bidder and enter into a contract for the $286,000. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Cephas said he is looking at the square footage of the properties that sold all around that area and looking at what they sold for. He thinks the property could be worth more than that. He thinks the highest bid was a little low. He likes Mr. Thomas' proposal. Gage Thomas said the building is 2600 sq.ft. He is the only person who measured every inch of the interior of the building. Commissioner Sydnor asked if the enclosed part is 2600 sq.ft. Gage Thomas said the heated living space is generally what they measure and it comes to 2588 sq.ft. Gary Newcomb said he guesses Mr. Thomas took off all hall spaces, etc. Gage Thomas said if it was heated, he included it. There are garages in the back. The building has 12-inch exterior walls. Commissioner Cephas said then the information they have from the Tax Assessment Office is inaccurate. Rob Collison said their total for enclosed area probably includes all the out buildings. Gage Thomas said when comparing this property to the others that were sold, they have not made adjustments for time of sale. Commissioner Brooks said the land area is 7250 sq.ft. If you look at 527 Poplar Street, the land area was 7450 sq.ft. and it went for $435,000. Rob Collison said that building is huge-it is 10,100 sq.ft. It was in relatively good shape. The motion passed unanimously. Commissioner Sydnor said before this is transferred to Mr. Thomas, he hopes there are some stipulations on the City moving out of that building and giving us time to move into fire department. Rob Collison said that information was in the RFP. It specified that it would not be immediate possession. He will draft a contract and present it to Council for their review. He asked if Council knew when MUC may be relocating to the police department. Mayor Rippons said he is not sure and asked Mr. Collison to prepare the document with the date to be left blank for the present time.

NEW BUSINESS

Request from Columbia Triathlon Association to Use Great Marsh Park for the Eagleman Ironman Triathlon from Wednesday, June 4th Through Monday, June 9th (Race on June 8th) Time Allows for Set-Up and Clean-Up and Request from Columbia Triathlon Association to Use Great Marsh Park for the ChesapeakeMan Ultra-Distance Triathlon from Thursday, September 25th Through Saturday, September 27th (Race on September 27th)-Mayor Rippons asked Jerry Boyle if he checked to make sure these dates are available. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the requests if the dates are available. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if there have been any changes in the number of people who can use Great Marsh Park or the types of events that can be held there. Steve Johnson said no changes have been made. Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if changes are going to be made because of the issue that was raised. There was an event with a number of people using Great Marsh and the police were called a few times. Chief Malik said he is sure it was not the number of people, it was probably the noise volume. Portia Johnson-Ennels said they had a noise variance. Chief Malik said he is familiar with the situation and they did not have a noise variance. They had approval to use the park and said it was a noise variance. He believes Mr. Johnson has contacted the people and let them know about the situation and it will not happen again. He doesn't think the officer read the document thoroughly. The noise variance was not granted and they had speakers down there. He thinks Council has to be aware of noise variances with certain groups. He certainly does not think the Triathlon or the boat races are problems. Personally he thinks the restrictions on noise variances for parties have to be looked at very closely.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said when you have people who use Great Marsh that do not live in Cambridge but are having events here, they should be given some type of legal list that tells them everything that they need to do so the things that happened will not happen again. It looks bad on the City that people are coming from out of the area and using this and they did not know that there are certain things required. Commissioner Knox said that is something he has discussed with Mr. Johnson. He thinks that Mr. Johnson is going to come up with rules of operation concerning Great Marsh.

Commissioner Brooks amended her motion to include noise variances for both events. Commissioner Travers seconded the amended motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Request from CEMS to Apply for a 50/50 Matching Fund Grant from the State of Maryland to Upgrade a Cardiac Monitor with a Newer One (City's Portion $10,300)-Commissioner Sydnor asked if this amount is in the budget. Ed Kinnamon said it is in the budget. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

First Reading of Ordinance to Amend City Code by Changing the Water Meter Rates for Usage Over 300,000 Gallons per Month, Eliminating the Industrial Rate Category, and Replacing It With a New Manufacturing Rate Category-Rob Collison said in the section that is changing, presently anything over 2,700,000 gallons per month had a $0.60 rate. Now that rate is going to be $1.04 for any usage over 300,000 gallons per month. The industrial rate is very restrictive as far as what it would apply to. MUC requested that the City create a manufacturing rate and it would apply to any manufacturing business which is defined as businesses which manufacture goods and products, including, but not limited to the production and processing of food and food processing. Those rates are $1.47 for the first 13,000 gallons; $1.40 for the next 17,000 gallons; $1.27 for the next 70,000 gallons; $1.20 for the next 200,000 gallons; $1.04 for the next 2,700,000 gallons; and $0.60 for the anything over 3,000,000 gallons. This was discussed with the Municipal Utilities Commission.

Gary Newcomb said the water rates are set so the more you use, the cheaper it gets per 1000 gallons. In the 1960s when this was established, it was basically to give the large volume users (canning operations, etc.) a break on the water charges. They have had customers (Chun King) using over 30 million gallons of water a month. Since that time, the City has seen a big change in usage. Right now, with this change, they will have a basic rate that anyone using more than 300,000 gallons in a month would pay $1.04 per thousand. They wouldn't have the over 3 million per month where it would go down to $0.60 a thousand. To protect the companies such as Mushroom Canning Company, a large volume user, which use in the vicinity of 4 to 8 million gallons a month, they would fall under the manufacturing rate. They would still get the break for using over 3 million gallons per month. If someone comes into the Icelandic plant with a comparable type business, they also would fall under the manufacturing rate. MUC really did not think that an irrigation account should get this tremendous break on water charges. Presently we have 3 customers that may use over 3 million gallons of water a month. One is Mushroom Canning Company and this would have absolutely no effect on them at all. Another account would be the Hyatt irrigation account which is a seasonal account. In the last few years, they have used quite a bit of water during 6 months of the year. They really only use large volumes during 4 months. This past July, MUC billed 81 million gallons of water. Of that 81 million, 24 million went to the Hyatt which represents 30% of the water that they pumped. The revenue from those accounts amounted to only 15% of the revenue for the month. The irrigation account itself used 18 million gallons of water during July. All gallons over 3 million, they got at $0.60 per thousand. When they draw water, they may draw 1.5 million per day. He doesn't feel we are doing good business by providing that water to them for that application at that reduced rate. Changing this rate would basically increase revenue for the MUC, based on this year's usage of about $27,000 and it would also increase the revenue to the sewer, on the sewer service side, of about $20,000. It would not have any effect on any other business in the City.

Commissioner Knox said it is a lot of water and asked what type of shape we are in with our water supply with the drought that the entire Eastern Seaboard has experienced this year. Gary Newcomb said of the 81 million that we billed, taking into account our unaccounted-for water, fire, etc. we pumped around 90 million. We can comfortably pump 100 million per month. In the 1970s and 1980s, we were always over 100 million per month. With the reduction of Chun King and the high volume users, most months we will be in the 50s (53 to 58 million). We are still operating at a good comfortable level; however, the irrigation account is close to 20% of our capacity that we have to allow that they can use. During the summer we are basically meeting the needs of this irrigation account. We had one station that we normally would not have run, but we needed to run to meet the needs. Our power cost at that one station was about $7400. Their bill was around $12,000.

Commissioner Knox said he has been approached by people who irrigate their yards on a regular basis and they have asked if there is a different rate they can get when they are irrigating vs. their normal water consumption. Rob Collison said they cannot get a reduction in their water rate, but they can get a reduction in their sewer rate if they install a separate line and separate meter and can provide that the flow is not going into the sewer. Gary Newcomb said they are having more of these customers all the time. The homeowner would have to pay the expenses of the line and the meter which would cost approximately $750. Rob Collison said they would also have a minimum bill each month.

Discuss Payments for City Board/Committee/Commission Members-Steve Johnson provided Council with a memo outlining his concerns. Due to prior action, there is money in the budget that is used to pay Board members for attending meetings. He asked Council for guidance for what meetings should be paid for and what Committees should receive payment. Commissioner Sydnor said he thinks that if they have a public meeting, then they should be paid for that. We have to consider that the Planning and Zoning Commission will be working with the Comprehensive Plan which will require many meetings. Although it is for the good of the public, it is not necessarily a public meeting. If they utilize the funds in the budget for meetings such as that, we will deplete the budget very quickly. He thinks there should be some criteria that it must be a public meeting that they are attending for their particular committee. Steve Johnson asked if Commissioner Sydnor was referring to regularly-scheduled evening meetings. Commissioner Sydnor said that is what he was referring to. Some committees need to meet twice a month as it was with Planning and Zoning during a lot of the development. Rob Collison said he will draft guidelines. Commissioner Brooks asked why they are paying one member of the Historic Preservation Commission. Ed Kinnamon said only one member requested payment. The other members said they did not want payment. Commissioner Brooks asked when they voted on it. She said she does not recall ever voting on one member. Mayor Rippons said he believes the vote was on the Commission but when it went back to the Commission, the rest of them said they are volunteering and do not wish to be paid. Commissioner Brooks said she does not recall voting on payment for Historic Preservation Commission. She knows the Planning and Zoning Commission was brought before Council. Commissioner Cephas said someone has approached him from the Housing Board of Review and they are not being paid. Steve Johnson said he is asking which committees the Council would like to have paid. Currently Planning and Zoning, Board of Appeals, and Historic Preservation Commission are authorized to be paid. Commissioner Cephas said there is going to be a lot of work coming before the Housing Board of Review very soon. There may be some long hours involved here. He thinks they should be compensated as well. There are 7 members on that Board. Commissioner Brooks suggested that they could pay per month rather than per meeting. Rob Collison said he will meet with Steve Johnson and prepare a document for Council's review.

Request to go to Bid for Sign-Cutting System (DPW)-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Discuss Items to be Put in Time Capsule for the Public Safety Building-Steve Johnson showed Council a box to give them an estimate on the size of the time capsule. Commissioner Brooks said she thinks they should include photographs of all of the Commissioners prior to this one when they first started planning the building. Commissioner Knox suggested the City seal; a record of our population; and the City mass (square miles). Someone from the audience suggested an aerial photo and a City flag. Mayor Rippons suggested that everyone send in their considerations. Commissioner Knox asked the press to make the public aware of this.

Approve List of Legal Holidays for 2008-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the holiday list. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Discuss City Council Meeting Dates for 2008-Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the meeting schedule. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Rob Collison said he had to schedule some public hearings in December and asked if Council was meeting on December 23rd. Chief Malik said the meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 26th. Rob Collison said if nothing has to be heard on December 26th, Council may wish to keep it at a minimum.

Discuss Funding Source for ADA Ramp for Police Substation (Commissioner Knox)-Commissioner Knox said through numerous discussions with Chief Malik and Steve Johnson they have been able to find a source of funding through Delmarva Community Services. Santo Grande has agreed to supply the necessary funds to build the ramp. He will meet on November 28th with Chief Malik, Santo Grande, Tom Keating, and Steve Johnson so they can finalize everything and get the ramp built.

Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if the funding was coming from Delmarva Community Services or Delmarva Community Services Community Action Agency. Commissioner Knox said he cannot tell them right now. Portia Johnson-Ennels said she thinks that needs to be answered. Commissioner Knox said he will find that out when they have their meeting. He does not have all the details. Portia Johnson-Ennels said she has a problem with Santo Grande donating something from Delmarva Community Services. He has houses that his clients live in that are exempt from the rental registration yet those people pay to live there. She would rather it have been an anonymous donation from someone other than Mr. Grande. It would have been different if he was personally giving the money. She asked if Commissioner Knox was taking to the meeting the right to refuse his offer. Commissioner Knox said he would.

Approve Financial Statement for September 2007-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Commissioner Knox said he would like to discuss the signage throughout the City. The ones that stick in his craw are the alcoholic beverage signs. It seems like on various buildings, you can't see the windows because of the alcohol signs. In his opinion it is sending the wrong message to our community. It seems like we are almost promoting the use of alcohol. You can hardly see the building on the corner of Maryland and Dorchester Avenues because of the alcohol advertisements. The BP station on the corner of Route 50 and Maryland Avenue has beer signs on the columns that are holding up the gas pump roof. People know where to go to buy beer or wine. Just about every convenience store in Cambridge sells beer. Rob Collison said we have had a sign ordinance for a couple of years. It gets back to the issue of DPW having the resources to have someone to dedicate someone for enforcement of it. All those things are prohibited.

Commissioner Knox wished everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Commissioner Sydnor said there is a vacancy on the Housing Board of Review because the person from the Second Ward is now employed by DPW as a Code Enforcement Officer.  Therefore he can no longer be on the committee. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to replace that person with Enez Stafford Grubb. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Brooks said that Commissioner Knox had requested her to give a report when she came back from the National League of Cities convention on what had taken place and what they had learned while they were in New Orleans. Her colleague asked her if she enjoyed herself. She told him that she would not use the word enjoy. She said it was one of the greatest experiences that she has ever experienced. It was overwhelming. The conference focused on a first-hand look at disaster recovery while a city is trying to rebuild. The workshops were a little different in nature. They were in a classroom for 1 to 1½ hours and then the rest of the time they went out into the city. Prior to Katrina, they had 188,344 homes. Once the storm hit, 134,000+ were damaged. Of that 134,000+, 105,000+ were severely damaged or inoperable and were unable to be used any more. They talked about the unemployment rate. In the city they still have 3000 employees that are not back to work because the city went completely broke with no tax revenue when they had to completely close the city down. They talked about the 1600 deaths from drowning, and nearly another 1000 from starvation, heart attacks, and other causes related to the storm. During the storm, the water had been at least 26 feet deep in some of the areas they visited. They visited other areas that used to be communities and now instead of houses, all you see is cement foundations. She saw a lot of homeless people living under a bridge. When they went by City Hall, you could not begin to imagine the number of people that are now living on the front steps. The police department shared some of the new things they are doing to reduce crime. The main purpose of the workshop was to teach all the city leaders that New Orleans is not on an island alone. A disaster can strike at any time-even in Cambridge. If a hurricane was to come up the Chesapeake Bay, the same thing could happen to us. It was not anything that the local officials did, but it was the response that they did not get from the Federal government. They thanked all the organizations who sent food to them. The entire fleet of their police department was under water. Over 100 square miles of the city was flooded during this particular time. The police started rescuing people immediately vs. waiting for the Federal government to come. They brought them to the highest point which was a highway. They had to break into grocery stores to feed the people who had not eaten in days. The National League of Cities is banding together to go to the Federal government to take situations like New Orleans and to work together so that if it ever happens again to another city, hopefully there will be some guidelines put into place where we can get help a lot sooner. A disaster can happen. It is the recovery period and the help that you get immediately following that can also help to reduce the number of deaths. Commissioner Sydnor said in referring to these disasters, we have all heard about FEMA and the great things they are supposed to do. FEMA is under a Stafford Act. With this Act, as happened to New Orleans, they will reimburse them for the cost of materials to rebuild their infrastructure. The problem here was that New Orleans had to come up with the money first and then FEMA would reimburse them. All of their tax base was under water. Through the National League of Cities, there is a delegation that will go before congress to change that particular act. It is very important for us, because we were the delegation there from Maryland. Hurlock had 3 or 4 representatives. Seaford had up to 6 representatives. This could very well happen to us. He asked what we would do if we had a flood and had to come up with the money first to restore the infrastructure and we do not have any tax base coming in. That is one of the categories that is going to be presented to congress. They range from housing to education to humanities. It was a very worthwhile convention to attend. Every state was represented. Commissioner Brooks said over 3,500 municipalities had leaders at the conference. One of the main issues is that the levees are still the same. The Federal government did not go back into New Orleans and repair those levees beyond what they were. Commissioner Sydnor said they did rebuild them to withstand a 5½-foot flood. Someone made a mistake by putting in a positive number instead of a negative number, so the levees would only hold 1/2 of a foot of water. Commissioner Brooks said they were built to sustain a Category 3 hurricane. This hurricane was a Category 4 or 5. We still have people in Dorchester County who had flooded houses during the tropical storm and FEMA still has not reimbursed them. Some of them had to file for bankruptcy. The information and the collaboration that we have with all of the other cities banding together is going to be very beneficial for us as a small city so we are not on an island alone if it ever happens to us.

Commissioner Knox asked if Commissioner Brooks has reimbursed the City for her travel yet. Commissioner Brooks said she had. Commissioner Knox said that Commissioner Sydnor made it public before he left that he had reimbursed the City. Commissioner Knox said he would like to see a record of the expenses.

Gage Thomas thanked the Mayor and Council for allowing him to move forward with the MUC building.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 9:00 p.m.  I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, November 19, 2007, insofar as I personally am aware.

                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                    Edwin C. Kinnamon

                                                                                    Clerk & Treasurer