• 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

January 23, 2006

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, January 23, 2006 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 Sydnor made a motion to approve the minutes of the January 9, 2006 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Cephas said on Page 1519 there is an error in the fifth line. The word "not" should be inserted between "did" and "ask". The motion to approve the minutes with the noted correction was passed unanimously. 

APPOINTMENTS

Clifton Gunderson LLP, CPA to Present FY05 City Audit-Keith Novak said their responsibility under generally accepted auditing standards is to provide reasonable assurance that the financial statements are materially stated fairly. It is not an absolute assurance. They perform their duties by doing tests of various accounts and various procedures within the city. They do not do a test of 100 percent of every transaction. They do their testing in areas that they feel have a greater risk of being mis-stated and materially mis-stated. There were no changes in accounting policies or their application. There were no significant accounting policies in areas that were either emerging or controversial or for which there is a lack of authoritative guidance or consensus. There are certain judgments and accounting estimates that management makes during the years. Among them are depreciable assets, depreciation rates, etc. They didn't find anything amiss with their judgment or their estimates. They had a number of audit adjustments primarily in the areas of unrecorded accounts payable and some accounts receivable that were mis-posted during the year. These were discussed with management and appropriate adjustments were made. They had no disagreements with management during the year. To their knowledge, management did not consult with any other accountants other than their firm on any accounting matters. They did not discuss any major issues with management prior to their retention. They didn't encounter any difficulties with performing the audit. Things went relatively smoothly.

Their opinion can be found on Pages 1 and 2 of the report. The opinion is the only thing in the financial statement that is truly his. Everything else is representation of management. Their audit was not only performed in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards, but also government auditing standards which is a different level promulgated by the Federal government. They had an unqualified opinion meaning that they felt that the statements were fairly stated in all material respects which has been their opinion every year that they have performed the audit. It is the highest opinion that you can get. The only real change in the financial statements from last year to this year, except the numbers, was a new footnote. It was required by the accounting standards board and has to do with cash and investments. In the past they were required to tell the custodial credit risk on cash and investments. That has been expanded to require not only custodial credit risk for which they found that there was no risk, that the city's cash and investments are held in such a manner that if the financial institutions were to have financial difficulty themselves, the city would be able to get their money out or get collateral for the money. Investment rate risk is the risk that you are loosing interest because you have investments held for a long period of time. Credit risk is the risk that you are involved in investments that are less than optimum grade quality. Those risks are being controlled by the fact that the city's investments are in the Maryland Local Government Investment Pool. They feel those risks are being handled properly. Commissioner Travers made a motion to accept the audit as presented. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Presentation by Main Street Representatives-Mike Walsh, Vice President, and Liddy Garcia, Executive Director, felt it was crucial to give Council an update on Main Street. Mike Walsh said over 25 façades have been rehabilitated in some manner. There has been an investment of about $121,000 in the Main Street District. About 25 buildings have been rehabilitated. ISG built a new wing. A new waterfront condominium was constructed at the base of Gay Street and new condominium townhomes are being built at Muir Street and on the Creek. A historic clock, kiosk, benches, and trashcans were installed. A farmers' market feasibility study was conducted. An old fountain was removed and replaced with brick. New historic street lighting and brick accent was added to two blocks. Eleven trees were planted by the Hyatt. Potted plants are added to the streetscape each spring to enhance the spring look. More than 35 businesses have opened since July 2003 while 10 businesses have closed for a net total of 25 businesses. There have been a total of 60 fulltime jobs, 23 part-time jobs, and 13 jobs have been lost for a total of 47 fulltime and 23 part-time jobs created. Well over 3000 volunteer hours have been invested. Cambridge Main Street has coordinated more than 30 events.  The owner of 513 Poplar Street is getting ready to invest a great of deal of money to open a restaurant. The owner of 450 Race Street is working on creating apartments upstairs and also a restaurant which will hopefully be open in August or September.

Main Street is made up of four committees-organization committee, promotion committee, design committee and economic restructuring committee. Each has a detailed work plan for the year outlining their goals.

Liddy Garcia spoke about the Regional Urban Design Assistance Team (RUDAT). The first issue will be opportunities for infill and redevelopment within the Main Street designated area. The second issue will be economic development. The third area is growth. It will look at traffic patterns through the downtown. They will prime the community to enter into active dialog with the team when they come to Cambridge.

Commissioner Sydnor asked about the total budget where they have a total revenue from the organization committee of $39,000. Liddy Garcia said that is the financial support from the local governments. They are hoping that both the City and County Councils will continue to sustain their level of support for Main Street. That is half of the fiscal year support. Commissioner Sydnor asked about the total revenue that was generated from the promotion committee. Liddy Garcia said it is $32,200. That was generated from the signature events. They will focus on three large signature events that can be promoted through sponsorships. Mike Walsh said under organization there are fundraisers, a membership drive, and sponsors. Commissioner Sydnor asked what percentage of the budget is used for the Pine Street area. Mike Walsh said he didn't think they had that breakdown. One thing they are doing is the Groove City Jazz and Blues Fest.  They are also working on the historic marker signs. He can get the figure for Council.

Commissioner Cephas asked about the ten businesses that closed. Liddy Garcia said some relocated-one relocated to Florida. Sometimes it just wasn't the right timing for the business. Family issues also came into play such as retirement. She wouldn't say it was because they weren't thriving businesses.  Commissioner Cephas asked if the employees were other than family members. Liddy Garcia said she spoke to the business owners and they were additional staff members.

Representative from Delmarva Community Services to Request Approval to Apply for a Planning Grant for Affordable Housing in Cambridge and a Community Development Block Grant for Housing Rehabilitation-Santo Grande said they have been doing some house rehabilitation for the county through CDBG. First they had to do a housing study. They already received one in Hurlock. The study looks at affordable housing and the units that need rehabilitation or to be demolished. They will also do an accounting of empty lots. This planning grant would be for $35,000. The second piece would be a housing rehab grant for about $300,000 from CDBG which would assist approximately 30± homes. Adam Xenides and Michele Nichols assist with grant preparation. Ms. Nichols interviews the clients who wish to have their houses rehabilitated. Under housing rehabilitation, the home must be homeowner occupied. It cannot be a rental property. He feels Delmarva Community Services has a fairly good working relationship with the city and they look forward to it continuing. They already have a list of names and families that meet the criteria for rehabilitation.

Adam Xenides said for the planning study the city must approve a resolution allowing them to run the grant funds through the city. They would also have to hold a public hearing. The grant application will be submitted in May.  For the housing rehabilitation, they would like to apply for $300,000. A resolution and public hearing would also be necessary for this application.

Michele Nichols, the Home Assistance Program Coordinator, provided some statistics of their current program. They have received approximately 71 inquires of which 26 are from Cambridge. Currently they have completed two projects; three are going to bid; one person withdrew her application because she is going to sell her home; three families were denied (one did not wish to obtain homeowners insurance; one was over income; one had structural concerns which were beyond repair). They have six families within the city that are on a waiting list at this time.

Commissioner Brooks asked if they had considered a location for the affordable housing part of the grant.  Santo Grande said this would come under the study and they would look at the older city limits before it was expanded. They would concentrate on empty lots that are available, and houses that need rehabilitation or demolition. The other part of the grant would be solely for rehabilitation of homeowner-occupied properties.

Commissioner Cephas asked where the two completed projects are located. Michele Nichols said they are within the city limits but she did not have the addresses with her.

Commissioner Sydnor asked if one grant was a pre-requisite to the other grant. Santo Grande said they could eventually dovetail and help with future planning. They could also lead to CDA funds for affordable housing.

Commissioner Cephas asked if the work is contracted out. Santo Grande said they have been using contractors. Everything goes out to bid but they do not receive many responses because a lot of people are busy in Dorchester County.

Portia Johnson-Ennels asked for their definition of affordable housing.  Santo Grande said their definition of affordable housing would be something that they feel that the area that the homes would be going up in would have similar prices. Each neighborhood has a different price. The market would determine the price. They would continue to work with CDA and have the housing study so they would have information from there. Right now their concern is housing rehab because that is what they are getting a lot of inquiries about.  Portia Johnson-Ennels said recently the organization had a public meeting at the library but it was at the wrong time of day. A lot of people did not participate because it was in the afternoon. She hopes that the public hearing for this grant is at a time that a lot of people can attend. Santo Grande said if the city wishes, they can have it during a Council meeting.

Commissioner Brooks asked if the affordable housing would be based on income criteria or could it change from neighborhood to neighborhood. Santo Grande said they would look at the income criteria of CDA.  Portia Johnson-Ennels said there is a thin line between affordable housing and subsidized housing. That is the issue going on now. She urged them to make sure it is quality affordable housing and coming under the zoning of the city. The zoning is a big obstacle.

Anne Roane said it is her understanding that the planning grant would actually define what affordable housing is based on Federal formulas that relate directly to the socio-economics of Cambridge. Adam Xenides said the study would accomplish mapping out some of the vacant lots and available buildings. It would also study the number of available homes in the city limits, their average sale price, median incomes for the people of Cambridge, and what they can afford based on their incomes. Anne Roane said if they receive the grant, the request for proposals would include information required by Council.

Jane Devlin, West End Citizens, asked if Delmarva Community Services would be doing the application and the city would be a strong partner as the process moves forward. Santo Grande is it will be done in open process in partnership with the city.  Jane Devlin asked what would happen if the homeowner decided to move. Michele Nichols said a lien in placed on the house for five years. The payment gradually reduces each year. Peg Wolff asked if repayment monies go back into the same program. Michele Nichols said she doesn't anticipate it happening because all the families take great pride in their homes; however, if it did happen, the funds would be reinvested in the program.

Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request to allow Delmarva Community Services to apply for the two grants. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Request for Extension of the Municipal Water System to Arbutus Terrace, Dogwood Drive Portion of Garden Estates Subdivision-Rob Collison said the lots are not currently contiguous to the boundaries of the city.  Presently annexation is not an option. They are lots of records from when the Sanitary District was established and they are within an established Sanitary District. Therefore, they qualify to receive services with the following conditions: (1) They would pay all application water and sewer impact fees; and (2) They would pay for all the infrastructure upgrades and expenses. Commissioner Knox said he has a problem with people who want city services but they don't want to pay city taxes. He will not support this. Mayor Rippons asked if any portion of the subdivision is contiguous to the city. Rob Collison said he believes a portion of it borders up against Longboat Estates. Mayor Rippons asked if Council could ask them to annex the entire area starting with the contiguous portion. Rob Collison said he would have to inquire the number of lots this particular owner owns. He does not know if he/she owns the balance of Garden Estates.  Rob Collison said it would be a decision that Council needed to make with the police department and public works concerning them going out to an area where they are skipping over some and going in and out. Rob Collison will investigate this further.

NEW BUSINESS

Approval to Move Forward with Grant Applications for Heritage Area Grants-Anne Roane said the deadline for this grant is February 17th. There are three opportunities. The first is a mini grant for a maximum of $3,000 with a 50 percent cash match. The second is a non-capital grant for a maximum of $50,000 with a 100 percent grant match from the city (75 percent being cash and 25 percent in-kind). The third would be a capital grant which would be a project that is ready to be built. The maximum available amount would be $100,000 with a $100,000 match from the city (75 percent being cash and 25 percent in-kind). She asked Council for ideas and made a few suggestions. Under the mini-grant, one idea would be to extend the banners to Pine Street. If they receive the grant, they would want input from the Pine Street Committee as to the design and placement of the banners. The second idea would be a grant to further the work on the Harriet Tubman Museum building. Another idea would be to hire an artist to design a mural for the vacant wall in Cannery Way. After the design is complete, they would be able to go for a capital grant to implement it.

For the non-capital grant, the cap would be $50,000 with a 100 percent match and would give us $100,000. The cash match would be $37,500 from the city. One idea would be to hire a consultant to create a master plan for a city park for the area from Long Wharf to the vacant lot that is past Long Wharf.

For the capital grant, an idea would be to ask for funding to continue with the streetscape improvements. They would like to extend the streetlights and the sidewalk improvements to the 500 block of Race Street.

The projects for the capital and non-capital grants have to be within Target Investment Zones. Anne Roane said if she is given permission to move ahead, she will prepare the applications and present them to Council prior to their next meeting. Commissioner Knox made a motion to support the applications. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.  Mayor Rippons asked that any citizens or Council members with questions or suggestions to contact Anne Roane.

Approval for Maryland Department of the Environment Grant for the Extension of Services in the Christ Rock Area-Anne Roane said after this item was placed on the agenda, she was informed that they cannot apply for a grant through the MDE to extend water and sewer to the Christ Rock community until they initiate annexation. They anticipate it being a fast-track process. They need approval from Council to move ahead with the application. If Council gives their approval and annexation is initiated, there will be another opportunity to look at the application. The Christ Rock community has failing wells and septic systems. They are in an environmentally constrained area as far fixing the situation. Commissioner Brooks asked if Anne Roane has the 25 percent support from that area. She said she thought they are close but she is not sure. Ryan Showalter from Miles and Stockbridge has been working closely with the community. He has been retained by someone who lives in the community to write up the annexation agreement.  Commissioner Brooks made a motion to move forward with the grant application process because you have to start somewhere. That is not saying that Council agrees with annexing Christ Rock. Anne Roane said she thinks the community understands that the State will not fund the project if they are not within a municipality. Commissioner Knox said he has made himself clear about how he feels about people living outside the city and wanting city services. He views this as a totally different circumstance. These people are already here. We have to lend our support to them as well. He doesn't have any problem with supporting this 100 percent. New developments and existing developments are different. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. Commissioner Cephas said he went to one meeting with some of the residents of Christ Rock. Everyone was not 100 percent in favor of annexation. He thought there was more than 25 percent. Rob Collison said there may not be a sufficient number of people willing to commit to annexation until they get the figures. They are waiting to see how much grant money is going to be available and how much money will be available in loans to be paid back. Before they give their unqualified consent, they want to know what it is going to cost them out-of-pocket. This figure is not available yet. Anne Roane said she thinks the annexation agreement being drawn up by Miles & Stockbridge is a conditional agreement based on the granting of the MDE. If the grant is denied or only partially funded, there is a condition in the annexation agreement that the community can back out of being annexed so they are not subject to the additional costs of being in the city without the benefits. The team working on the project is trying really hard to protect that community and make sure there are no loopholes or pitfalls. She thinks the community has come a tremendous way working together.  They are asking permission to move ahead. Commissioner Cephas said it bothers him a little bit because when he attended the meeting, he felt an overwhelming majority were in favor of annexation. When he hears that they may not have 25 percent, then his impression was totally wrong. He asked for comments from the residents. Mrs. Greene said his impression is correct but it is depending on the grant money. Anne Roane said this is based on surveys that have been sent out and received. Not everybody responds to surveys. The motion to move forward with the grant application was unanimously approved.

Approve Employment Application for CEMS-Chief Bill Watkins and Oden Wheeler prepared the application. Commissioner Brooks said she looked at the application and there are some areas that appear a little too vague. If this is the only application in the city that is like this, she would have problems such as the item referring to negative employment patterns. There is another item about significant adverse information and background investigation as determined by the appointing authority. It discusses the background process which may include but not be limited to credit checks, school records, and personal interview with neighbors, etc.

Oden Wheeler said basically this is the same application packet utilized by the police department for their sworn officers; however they took out things they cannot do such as polygraph testing. This packet is already being used in the city except for maybe one or two very minor changes. Commissioner Brooks asked if they had applications from other counties that hire EMS employees. She would like to see their. Oden Wheeler said he does not have them but he talked to the Human Resource Manager in Ocean City and the Human Resource Specialist in Salisbury/Wicomico County. He also talked to the Deputy Chief who the ALS department falls under in Salisbury. Commissioner Brooks said she would like to see a couple of applications from more than two other jurisdictions. She thinks they discussed some other things when they were discussing salaries and that they would like to get a look at more than one or two municipalities. She asked Mr. Wheeler to get samples of other EMS application packets. DPW and MUC do not have applications like this. She is not sure if RFC has an application packet like this. She is not sure that some of this might not be infringing on a person's personal life.

Commissioner Knox said he thinks they did a pretty good job on it. He knows that if he were in dire need of medical attention, he would like to be assured that the individuals who were helping him were on the up.

Commissioner Cephas asked Rob Collison if he reviewed the documents. Rob Collison said he doesn't see a problem with it legally. Whether it is asking for too much information is discretionary.  Commissioner Knox said when someone is administering aid to an individual that has no idea who you are but yet your life is in their hands, he thinks the citizens should be assured that the city has done everything they possibly can to find out as much about that individual before they place your life in their hands. Commissioner Brooks said she too feels the city should have dedicated people representing them but she also feels that everyone who applies for a job through EMS should be treated fairly. When you have vague questions, they can be interpreted as Mr. Collison stated, discretionary to what one believes, she believes they need to get some clarification. This is only being fair to every individual who wants to be in EMS in Cambridge. Commissioner Knox said he feels it is being fair not to just any individual in the city who wants to be in EMS, but fair to everyone who is qualified. Commissioner Sydnor said one page states the employee must be at least 18 years old. The application asks that if you are under 18 years, can you provide proof of eligibility to work. Oden Wheeler said the application is a standard form used city-wide. The packet of instructions states that if you are not over the age of 18, you would not be eligible to work for CEMS.  He tried to standardize as many parts of the personnel process as possible so they are equitable across the city. The application is used city-wide. The additional instructions only apply to CEMS. It would not apply to DPW, MUC or City Hall.

Margaret Wolff said she had worked for the federal government. Their applications have the same thing. They do a background check and speak to your neighbors and former employers. It is not unusual in her experience. Commissioner Cephas said he does not want to disagree because in her experience it may be true. However, he deals with employees on a regular basis. He has never seen a case where you talk to a neighbor as far as references are concerned.

Commissioner Brooks made a motion that we withhold making any decision on this application until we see some other applications from other municipalities to compare it with and ask questions prior to the meeting. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:1 with Commissioner Knox opposed.

Request to Go to Bid for Repair of Harriet Tubman Museum Roof (partial grant)-Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

DPW to Discuss Building Engineer for New Public Safety Building-David Pritchett said a job description needs to be created. The employee needs to be present while the building is being constructed. The engineer would start work during the next budget year; however he has funds in his budget from unfilled positions to fund the person if they were to start during this budget year. Commissioner Knox made a motion to allow David Pritchett to continue with creating the job description. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Discussion on Referendum on Charter Amendment Resolution CR-2005-01-Rob Collison said there are a sufficient number of signatures on the petition. Council has the choice to either have a special election or to wait until the next general election in 2008. If they choose to have a special election, he will have to draft a resolution which will contain the exact language as to how the question will be on the ballot. If the resolution is approved at the next meeting, then the election must be held between 40 and 60 days thereafter. If they elect to wait and place it on the ballot in 2008, the Charter Resolution would not become effective until after that election. Commissioner Brooks said the total budget for the special election will be $3,644.95, if they so elect. The portion where there was a petition drive to get signatures cost the city $1,693.95. Twenty percent of the registered voters needed to go to referendum were 1152. According to the document, the total number of voter signatures on the petitions was 1526. Invalid voter signatures removed from the petition for various reasons was 286. Therefore, there were 1240 valid signatures which indicates that there were 88 signatures above what was needed. At this time, even with the figures in front of them, based on comments from the community, concerns, and allegations from people in the community, she feels they should move forward with the referendum and address the concerns of the public. She said it was the Mayor's intention to let the public vote. He wanted to bring this vote before the people, and she agrees with him that it should be brought before the people. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to move forward with a referendum vote. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. Rob Collison said he will work with Claude Gootee on a date so he can provide it at the next meeting. Portia Johnson-Ennels said she was one of the persons who went through the signatures. The petitions that were put forth were 20 signatures to a page. Some were not. Some were photocopied to a shorter sheet of paper. She felt they should have been disqualified. Any signatures in green ink should have been disqualified whether they were legal voters or not. When you are get signatures on a petition, you are supposed to be able to certify that these people are registered voters which means you sign that petition. None of those things were done. It happened this time. If there is ever a petition done again in Cambridge, it will be done correctly. She wishes the people would understand that she doesn't give a hill of beans that it is Rippons sitting in that seat. That was not the item on the agenda. The agenda item was to remove some of the personnel powers from the office of the Mayor. To tell people that signing this petition is going to benefit the African-Americans of Cambridge was an out-and-out blatant lie. It is not benefiting them one way or another. To say a church could use it because it would give them certain powers to get things done wasn't true. All it was for the voting public to sign their name on a petition if they understood it. This was an issue of city government. In no time should a petition have been on the desks of MUC and it was there. You got away with it this time but the next time, you won't get away with it. It's time for Council to do some work and clean up the Charter. Commissioners Sydnor and Brooks said there will be some proper protocol for the next time this happens. The motion to allow Rob Collison to move forward with the special election passed 5:0.

Approve Budget Amendment for Department of Public Works-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve Financial Statement for December 2005-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the financial statement for December 2005. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve PO 3804 - American Fire Equipment, Inc. -- $398,766 - RFC - Haz Mat Tractor Trailer Unit-Commissioner Sydnor said he understands there were some other funds that were supposed to support this. Mayor Rippons said $125,000 is coming from Homeland Security through the county. Chief Jeff Hurley said initially when they proposed this year's budget, $345,000 was the anticipated cost on a West Virginia state contract. That was their last unit. They contracted with a company in North Carolina. The contract increase is due to an increase in the cost of materials. It was a joint effort with the county and was supposed to be split at close to 50/50 as possible. Mr. Williams, Public Safety Director for Dorchester County, put a cap on it through Homeland Security that they couldn't exceed $200,000 on any one given project. It would also depend on how much money they had left in their Homeland Security budget for the year when we went to bid. They have allocated, voted, and agreed to fund $125,000 which is all they had in the Homeland Security for the county this year left. That would leave the county's half of $74,383 yet to be funded. This information was forwarded to the Mayor's office so the city could ask the county this year to fund the additional $74,383. Included in RFC's budget this year is the additional $26,883 that would complete the city's half of the payment of this unit. It takes approximately eight to nine months to build it so it will be in the 2007 budget year. For the West Virginia contract, if they didn't get this allocated through the Homeland Security or get it finished by February 1st, they will be looking at between a 10 and 12 percent increase in the cost of the unit due to material increases which would be a $39,000 to $43,000 increase. Currently all the Haz Mat in Dorchester County is run by RFC with some return on the income billable through the county. They retain a portion of that funding for administration and the balance goes to the city to help pay for supplied. They have agreed that the unit will belong to the city, be housed at the city, and operated by RFC and the Haz Mat technicians. They have approximately 25 Haz Mat technicians at this time. Sixteen or seventeen are from RFC and the balance are from county fire departments. There will be no cost for manpower. There will be no cost for manpower. Hopefully the county will fund their additional $74,000 and will have an answer in time to get it in their budget for next year. Commissioner Sydnor asked if he was saying that the city is looking at $26,883. Chief Hurley said it is additional for their half provided the county will pick up their half. The county does not have funds invested. Homeland Security has the funds which are granted through the county as a pass-through agency. Because Homeland Security funds will be used, this unit may be called up to respond to emergencies in other areas. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Rob Collison said at the next regular meeting, there will be several public hearings. One will be the growth allocation for the Blackwater Project. Because of the time it may take, he asked if Council wanted to move it to another date. Due to a conflict with one of the Commissioner's schedule, the Council meeting scheduled for Monday, February 13th will be held on Tuesday, February 14th. Mayor Rippons suggested starting the meeting at 6:00 pm to begin the public hearing. Council agreed. If the Council Chambers building is available on Thursday, February 9th, Council will hold the public hearing on that date.

Commissioner Sydnor said there is zoning now called NCR‑1, NCR‑2, NCR-3, NCR-4, and NCR-5 which is different from the R-1 zoning that we have been accustomed to using. This NCR zoning will basically allow the developer to build any type of home they would like to build. In this particular zone, it is used to replace existing homes or homes that have been torn down. If the developer wants to reduce the footage, he can reduce it himself by 25 percent. David Pritchett said the code official has to come to him and through the Charter, he has the option of reducing it up to 25 percent. This general reduction does not have to go before Planning and Zoning. It is usually used on single lots. Rob Collison said if it were in R-1 zoning, it would go to the Board of Zoning Appeals for a variance if they wanted to vary from the written law. Commissioner Brooks said the last time this question came before Council, the property in question was zoned R‑1 and requesting to be R-3 and Council denied it. Commissioner Sydnor said these NCRs came about in 2002. They have that listed as NCR‑1. David Pritchett said the vacant lot that is behind that piece which is closer to Leonard Lane is R‑1 to his knowledge. Commissioner Sydnor said he thinks there is too much leeway allowed in the NC zones. He thinks it should go before Planning and Zoning or the Board of Appeals in order to get a reduction in the footage. David Pritchett said he has no problem with that. Rob Collison said he will prepare the paperwork.

Commissioner Cephas said he has been attending other city council meetings on the eastern shore since he has been in office. He found out that Chestertown and Salisbury video all of their meetings. He thinks it should be done here so the public can see what happens at the meetings so they don't have to rely on the paper. They have been criticized so many times for not reporting it accurately. He is going to meet with a representative from another city to see if we can get it in progress so the people can see what really happens.  Commissioner Sydnor asked if there are funds available from Comcast for that. Commissioner Brooks said yes. David Pritchett said to his knowledge, one of the cable companies will bring the service in. As far as the actual taping and camera, he doesn't think anybody has offered it. In the meeting they had with the Maryland State Public Works Officials, they were surprised that we didn't have cameras. Commissioner Brooks asked what we did with our cable franchise fee. Ed Kinnamon said it is part of the revenues. Commissioner Brooks asked what we did with them. Mayor Rippons said it goes into the general fund. Commissioner Brooks said those are funds we could utilize for this project.

Commissioner Brooks said she would like to make one change to the liaison assignments voted on during the last meeting. She will now replace Commissioner Cephas as the liaison for RFC. Commissioner Brooks made a motion that she becomes the liaison for RFC. Commissioner Sydnor seconded that motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Chief Hurley said as of Saturday, they put the city's new Pierce Lance 2005 pumper into service. He thanked Council for the apparatus and all the support.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said she was here two weeks ago about the building permits for the five houses that are being built on Greenwood Avenue. She has read over the permits and she still doesn't understand it. The area is zoned R‑3. The work that commenced on these houses was after the six months had gone by with a notification put under notes. She asked if there was a record anywhere. David Pritchett presented the original faxed copy confirming the date and time, their letter of request, and the acknowledgement of the properties they were requesting to delay. Portia Johnson-Ennels said all of a sudden this is being found when it couldn't be found. When it came up before, it couldn't be found. When the city went through their big rezoning, what they asked for in that neighborhood didn't happen because they are getting it with these five houses. Rig Holdings LLC is building the houses. Wherever they can stick a house, they are sticking it. She is asking the City Commissioners if something cannot be done to stop this type of matchbox building that is basically in the Second and Third Wards. If you knock off the Third Ward, it is actually the original Second Ward. Other people don't want the matchbox houses next door to them, nor do they want them where they live. She is asking Council for the same consideration that they give the other wards in building. When an issue like this happens after the fact, the facts should not be found because to her it is a little slimy. Something is not right with it. If the city spent as much money as they spent on getting it rezoned and they didn't listen to what the citizens of this town asked for, then you wasted your money. It means that it doesn't make any difference what the citizens ask for, they are never going to get it. If they can take the time to build up other neighborhoods and make them attractive, then they can do the same thing in the Second and Third Wards.

Commissioner Brooks asked if there is any way that Council can direct the Department of Public Work and Planning and Zoning to inform Council of any projects coming into the city before the construction starts. Commissioner Sydnor said he already talked to David Pritchett about it. He will have list of the applications for building permits at the next meeting. Commissioner Brooks said in the future, before any structure is started in the City of Cambridge, Council will be informed. Rob Collison said if DPW provides Council with the applications every two weeks, they should be able to see it before the permits are issued.

Commissioner Sydnor said he thinks they should look at authorizations for extensions because he wants them done in writing. It is part of the Planning Code. David Pritchett said as a brief explanation, the extension was in writing. Beth found it on Friday afternoon because there were five different folders and not just one project folder. It was only in one folder. Looking through the folders, it was missed. It has the original fax date and time. It was a 60‑day late start. No rules or laws have changed. Construction-wise, they are about the best built homes going up right now. As far as the construction specifications for Longwood Project, Bayly's Crossing, they are actually built better.  Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if they paid another fee to get the extension. David Pritchett said they don't require a fee unless something really changes and then they review. Portia Johnson-Ennels said if the time lapsed that they were supposed to start building, it seems to her that if one permit lapses, you have to get a new permit. She asked why they didn't have to buy another permit.  David Pritchett said it has never been an established policy. Portia Johnson-Ennels said she thinks DPW needs to send a bill to them for all five houses.  Commissioner Cephas asked when the request was made and when it was approved. David Pritchett said the request came in on August 18 and the permit did not expire. It was delayed until the issuance of the new permit. They did not require any re-review. 

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:55 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, January 23, 2006, insofar as I personally am aware.

 

Edwin C. Kinnamon

Clerk & Treasurer