• 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

February 14, 2006

The City Council met in regular session on Tuesday, February 14, 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 Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the January 23, 2006 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. 


An Application by Rommel Enterprises, LLC To Amend the Zoning Maps for Parcel No. 5696, Tax Map No. 305, South Side U.S. Route 50, from I-1 "Light Industrial" as Defined and Regulated by Section 117 to HC, "Highway Commercial"-Rob Collison said the property is located between the Ace Hardware building and Hardees. A certificate of publication indicates that the public hearing was published in the Daily Banner on January 31 and February 6, 2006. Anne Roane, City Planner, said the applicant is proposing a 3900 ft2 free-standing restaurant on the site which is zoned I-1. Restaurants are not permitted is the I-1 zones in the current zoning ordinance. Therefore, they are requesting to re-zone the property to HC (Highway Commercial). Restaurants were permitted in the I-1 zone in the previous zoning ordinance. On December 6, 2005, the Planning and Zoning Commission made a favorable recommendation to approve the rezoning from I-1 to HC. On December 29, 2005, the Board of Appeals voted unanimously to recommend the rezoning. Planning and Zoning staff concurs with the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Appeals that this was a mistake in the existing zoning classification per Section 4.05 "Findings for Reclassification Change or Mistake; Refiling Limitations; Administrative: Adaptive Reuse of Article 66B of the Annotated Code of Maryland. The property did not receive a rezoning in the last comprehensive zoning process. All the properties along Route 50 were, for the most part, zoned C-1. That zoning was reclassified to HC. In the old zoning ordinance, C-1 allowed for certain retail and restaurant uses. That did not carryover into the new zoning ordinance.  The property is, for the most part, surrounded by HC zoning.

K. King Burnett, an attorney from Salisbury, introduced Mike Cottingham, CEO of Rommel Enterprises, and Martha Mariner, the head of the food division. Mr. Burnett said this would be Rommel's fourth Denny's restaurant. They own different companies in different locations in Maryland. There has been tentative site plan approval for this project. Mike Cottingham presented drawings showing what the building would look like. Anne Roane said it received site plan approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission. It has adequate parking for both Ace Hardware and the proposed Denny's restaurant. State Highway has approved use of the existing access off of Route 50. Rob Collison said the entire parcel is being rezoned including Ace Hardware. Anne Roane said there are sufficient public facilities in place (infrastructure, police, fire, water, sewer, etc.) The agencies have reviewed copies of the plan. There are no outstanding issues.

Martha Mariner said the site was denied three times by Denny's saying that the population of Cambridge really wouldn't support a family dining national brand. They presented the package another time and it was approved. When she brought the plans to Planning and Zoning to start the site plan approval, they realized that "light industrial" had been redefined not to include hardware and restaurants. In fact, their hardware store that was operating was now a non-confirming use. It is their intention to have the hardware store rezoned into a use that would be appropriate by the code and would allow such an operation to exist. The mistake happened when they took that definition out of light industrial. If you look at the zoning map, they are surrounded by highway commercial and are Route 50 front face. Mike Cottingham said the 4000 ft2 restaurant would have a capacity of 150 seats.

Octavene Saunders asked how many jobs and what kind of job would be available. Martha Mariner said there would be approximately 100 employees. Denny's has been recognized as one of the top diversity companies in the country. It is a family restaurant so there will primarily be server, cook, host, busboy, and dishwasher positions. They will try to hire Dorchester County people first. It does them no good to hire people who have to drive a long distance to work. She is much better hiring from the community and then educating the current community to be future workers.  Commissioner Brooks asked about wages. Martha Mariner said Maryland just passed a state law raising the minimum wage to $6.15 which increased the server tip credit amount. An employer in Maryland used to have to pay a server $2.38 and then the server would make tips that would prove, in fact, that they had made that minimum wage. Now the tip credit is $3.38 moving into the $6.15 range. They start at a variety of different rates. If it is your first job, you will probably be offered the minimum wage. For experienced workers, the cooks in Salisbury make up to $15.00 per hour. In the Baltimore area, they make up to $14.00 per hour. They have owned and operated Denny's restaurants for 20 years and have several employees who have stayed with them for 18 years. On a Saturday morning, an average server makes about $120. An average dinner shift server would make at a minimum $50 a shift.  Those are the statistics. Breakfast servers make as much as their managers do. For a 150‑seat restaurant, they will run 13 serves to begin with, four hosts, three dish washers, two busers, and initially there be four line cooks and then get down to three line cooks. The restaurant will be open 24 hours a day. Commissioner Cephas asked about pay scale shift differentials. Martha Mariner said sometimes there have been concessions made to up a rate if a late-night server doesn't make minimum wage. In general, the restaurants do better from midnight to 6:00 am than they do from 4:00 pm through 8:00 pm. For the hosts, they would receive minimum wage if they do not have any experience. A good host is usually identified in the first three weeks. Good hosts can make from $7.00 to $8.50. In the future you will see that host position paying up to $11.00 per hour. Because they do not use alcohol, they can use cooks who are between the ages of 15 and 18. Maryland laws prohibit anyone under 18 from operating a dishwasher, fryer, or grill. You will usually not see a minimum wage starting salary in the back of the house. Usually that will be a higher rate. Typically the rate in Salisbury is $6.50. Experienced cooks can come in at a fair rate and they will watch their work habits and quickly increase them up to their ability. Full health benefits are provided for their managers. They offer health benefits to the employees through several programs. They put together a comprehensive plan for employees to pick from. It is no more than any other plan that would be offered to any employee of a company their size. The package is re-evaluated every single year. They offer paid vacation. At an employee's one-year anniversary, they will get a check; they don't have to take vacation.  It helps them retain quality employees.  Because they are open 24 hours, they allow employees to make up shifts they may miss if they are sick.

Larry Bernstein said there are already a number of locally-owned restaurants along Route 50. He asked how they determined that there was a need for another one. Martha Mariner said the traffic flow counts in Cambridge are tremendous. The average daily traffic counts are 38,000 average daily cars in front of Ace Hardware. They also looked at the sales that are occurring in the Easton Denny's.

Octavene Saunders asked about positions for disabled people. Martha Mariner said they work with many disability coaches and counselors. They are completely open to disabilities and diversity.

Commissioner Sydnor asked about the exits from the parking lot. Martha Mariner said they have two entrances and exits from Route 50. State Highway saw no traffic flow problems. They are putting a sign on Woods Road to show that there is an exit there. They own the drive out to Woods Road. Rob Collison said Planning and Zoning discussed a concern about traffic cutting through the Ace Hardware parking lot to get to Washington Street. They will be working with the applicant to see if there is something they can do with that section of Washington Street to minimize this condition.

Commissioner Cephas said Denny's has a history of not being so kind to some of their patrons. They have been smacked with a number of lawsuits. He asked what they have done to rectify that problem. Martha Mariner said that was in Denny's past. You can look at the bonding that happened with Coretta Scott King and Denny's. Ray Good has been hired as the diversity director of Denny's Corporation. Coretta Scott King said that Denny's was a completely changed company.  They don't have any activity or claims of discrimination in their units. They would not accept that kind of behavior. There were cases in Annapolis and California where private owners (franchises) of Denny's allowed their restaurants to be operated in an unacceptable manner. Unfortunately, it affected everybody else that owned and operated Denny's restaurants. Rommel Holdings has owned and operated two of their restaurants for 20 years and one for 12 years and has not had any issues with discrimination. 

Commissioner Brooks made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Rob Collison said Council has the discretion to make a decision this evening. If they vote to approve the rezoning, he will draft findings-of-fact that could be signed at the next meeting. They need to base it just on the zoning issues if they feel there was a mistake at the last zoning. The motion should state that they approve the rezoning based on a mistake in the last comprehensive rezoning. Commissioner Cephas asked for clarification on the possible mistake. Rob Collison said the mistake was that it should have been rezoned HC and it was not. In the I-1 zoning that was there before, the list of permitted uses allows retail and restaurants. They did not change the map as far as this property being an I-1. In the permitted uses in the I-1 district, they took out restaurants and retail. They ended up with a non-conforming use where the Ace Hardware store is and the inability to locate a retail or restaurant on Route 50. They should have either left those permitted classifications in the I-1 zoning or rezoned this parcel HC.

Commissioner Brooks said she sometimes has a problem with making a decision the same night that everything is presented to Council. They have not been privy to anything prior to tonight. While it sounds good and she would want to go ahead and make the motion to change this, she would like a little more time to digest everything that has been said and figure out what questions she may still have and then be prepared to make a vote at the next meeting. Commissioner Knox said it is a common mistake. It has gone through Planning and Zoning and they have made the recommendation to approve the rezoning. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the rezoning based on the fact that there was a mistake in the zoning. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Cephas said out of respect to Commissioner Brooks, he thinks more time should be granted. The motion was defeated 2:3 with Commissioners Brooks, Cephas, and Sydnor opposed.  Rob Collison said he will put this on the agenda for February 27, 2006.


Open Bids for Phase IV - Combined Sewer Separation Project-Mayor Rippons said the bids will be opened on February 16th at 2:00 pm in Council Chambers.

Presentation by Pine Street Committee and a Program Request-Octavene Saunders gave a report on their activities from July 2005 through December 2005. The community organizations holding meetings in the Empowerment Center totaled 30 in this time period. They have year round programs. They are asking for a community and family empowerment project. The purpose is to empower participants to acknowledge their strengths to achieve positive family and community development successes through community networking with individual educational and technical skills development, develop community volunteer skills and increase entrepreneur potentials. It will be an in-depth networking for resources and they will be utilizing the existing community resources for helping to provide gap services to non-traditional customers. There will be no duplicating of services and/or activities. Multicultural family and community activities will be coordinated with any state and/or local organization that will participate with them. They will have summer youth empowerment programs, Young Men of Excellence, multicultural enrichment, young ladies crafts and beginning self-help cosmetology programs, and educational with upward mobility.  Last year the Council contributed some money. This year they are asking their programs to be funded again. These programs do not just run in the summer. They run in phases. Commissioner Cephas asked when the winter programs will begin. Octavene Saunders said they have already started the Young Men of Excellence. They are in the process of planning the summer programs. The program will be increased to four days a week this year. Lunch will be given to them for three days and people in the community have volunteered to donate prepared lunches for the fourth day. Commissioner Sydnor asked if they could foresee any programs for work skills for adults. Octavene Saunders said she has discussed this with William Jackson. If they were to do anything with the service industry, they have several people who have the resources to teach the class.  Mr. Jarman said he worked with the sixth, seventh and eighth grade boys meeting once a week for six weeks. He worked with about 30 students during the summer. The whole idea is to help them appreciate the history of Cambridge and Dorchester County and point out some of the individuals who were successful from this area. Commissioner Brooks said she had an opportunity to see the programs and she thinks they did an outstanding job with the young men and women of all ages. She wishes them more success in the future. They are very interested in seeing a job-readiness program for adults 18 years and older in addition to what they are doing now. Octavene Saunders said she will do everything she can to cooperate with this request. Commissioner Cephas said during the last budget period, they allotted a certain amount of money for projects such as this one. Three different groups received funds. Council asked the Pine Street Committee to come back when it was time to continue their programs. He does not have a problem with funding the program again because it was a success. Commissioner Sydnor said he whole-heartedly agrees with the program but they also have to look at the strengths of the city budget when they do this to make sure it will fit in with the confines of the budget. He has no problem stating that they would like to fund the program. Octavene Saunders reminded Council that last year they allocated $50,000 for these types of programs. Commissioner Sydnor said they will do it again this year but they don't know what amount it will be because they haven't completed the budget. Octavene Saunders said she is the first to ask and she is asking for $10,000. She is hoping to receive a commitment to the best of their ability that the Pine Street Committee's program will be funded. Commissioner Cephas said he is not in favor of giving them $10,000. He is not in favor of going above what they gave last year because there were other groups who came before Council and got the same amount.  Ben Parks said they have programs where they go to the children about the environment and how they make a living. He will be glad to offer them the program at no cost.

Deborah Johnson to Discuss the Lead Risk Reduction Program-Deborah Johnson, Corporation for Healthy Homes and Economic Development, discussed the State of Maryland Federal Lead Risk Reduction Program. She handed out information about the baseline program as well as a sub-recipient agreement as was promised after her last meeting with Council. She provided a sub-recipient agreement that tells the target amount of homes that can possibly be treated. Jim McAteer, who manages the Federal Lead Risk Reduction Program for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, helped her come up with a number that they thought was feasible. This program is funded through HUD and administered by the State which can be implemented through a partnership between the City and the State. The grant year has one year left. If the City decides to embark and become a part of this agreement, they have essentially one year from the date of an agreement signed until March 31st to reach the programs goals of treating 20 housing units. The benefit in setting a targeted amount of units to be treated for lead risk reduction is that it will give a demonstrated practice to HUD and to the State for future grant opportunities. It will also go toward the goal of reducing lead hazards and making housing safe and healthier for residents who live here. The sub-recipient agreement uses the standard language that is used by the State. Time is of the essence. She provided a base line plan with a personnel breakdown, how the program is designed to work and how it will benefit the city.

The Corporation for Health Homes and Economic Development (CHHED) is proposing to function as a sub-recipient with the city in a collaborative partnership. CHHED will make themselves available in Cambridge to basically help implement, monitor, establish, and manage the lead risk reduction program. Currently they function as a collaborative partner for the same type of program in Salisbury. Compensation for them will come by way of approved applications per address that have applied. If you have five units on Washington Street and all five landlords have applied for the program, they will receive compensation after that application has been approved at the State level.  There are no dollars that are expected to come out of the city's budget. Because Cambridge is a participating jurisdiction with Community Development Block Grant funds, they would seek to apply to a block grant in conjunction with the city to help offset operational costs as well as to make additional dollars available for structural problems that may be found in each unit. Dollars can be set aside from CDBG to help match the money available through the Federal Lead Risk Reduction Program.

CHHED is not looking at charging the city anything. They will use their own equipment and resources. A breakdown is provided in the document to show what they estimate the city's expenses or needs will be in order to facilitate managing the program. If approved, the program will be monitored and reports will be generated every month. It is typically a two-year program. The first year is the base year and the second year is a subsequent period. Quarterly reports are generated. Because there is one year left under this Federal grant, they will be producing reports on a monthly basis and meeting with the person who the Council designates to oversee the city. CHHED will schedule the appropriate meetings with the Health Department to evaluate and monitor blood lead levels of children who live in the target area of the city that will be treated from the homes they are selecting. They will also participate in report processing and generating funds as well as educational outreach. CHHED will continue to market once this program is approved. The ultimate party for the Federal Lead Risk Reduction Program will be Cambridge. CHHED will function as subcontractors.

The program is designed by HUD to work with local landlords who need to become in compliance. MDE made it a law that if anyone owns rental property built before 1950, they must register that property with the State in an effort to prevent children from becoming lead-poisoned. When landlords receive the notices, panic can ensue. Their organization will not only help to manage it, but help those landlords register their property. Generally, landlords are required to pay a maximum of 20 percent into the cost of lead risk reduction. The work can range anywhere from $1,000 to $25,000 depending on the condition of the structure and how systemic the lead-based paint hazards actually are. The landlord would come to an office location here, CHHED will in-take the information from the landlord, register the property if it is not registered, process the application, and prepare them for funding to be submitted to the State. The application would then go to the city representative for final approval. The application then goes to the state. Once approved, the funds are made available for that work to be done. When the funds are available, a bid process takes place where qualified contractors bid and write a scope based on the work that needs to be done. Once the work is completed, the property has to be cleared by a clearance technician certified by EPA to clear the property designating it to be safe for the time the clearance takes place. The difficulty is getting landlords to comply and putting the pieces together. That is why they have proposed to go into partnership with the city in order to implement this program.

David Pritchett said the deadline for full compliance is coming up in a few weeks in order for the city to register them as rental properties. This is great. He asked if the properties are vacant through the city condemning them. Deborah Johnson said before the program was made available to the city in the event that the agreement is accepted, there weren't many dollar resources for landlords, therefore, they wanted to close them down because it wasn't economically feasible to invest the money to remove the lead. CHHED's relationship with MDE and the State is in such a way that if this is an approved issue, she is certain that a grace period could be extended in order to help the landlords become compliant. Unfortunately, some landlords are non-compliant and not concerned about meeting the regulations of the law.

Commissioner Brooks said the city is facing a crisis because of the lead and the law. There are many individuals who face being evicted with nowhere to go. A lot of them do not have children in their homes. Some of the landlords may not even be able to afford the 20 percent of the cost. Deborah Johnson said they are familiar with the case that is going on with the 23 or 25 families. When they learned about it, they began to go through their resources to see what they could do to help the families. They even contacted legal aid on their behalf. This program may not do a lot to help those particular families. It is more of a legal matter for them at this stage in order to seek the remedies that they need. According to her information from the State and Federal governments, the only way that any other mechanism can be put into place to fund rehab lead work is if the individuals are in a position to purchase the properties. The program is a grant and a loan program. Depending on the landlord's income level, they will either qualify for a grant or a low- or moderately-low interest rate loan. She has been working with lead for quite a while on the Eastern Shore. MDE began notifying landlords last year. Most of the landlords probably ignored the letters. Now the time has come for full compliance and it is a rush to make it happen. In order to implement this program, she needs the Mayor and Commissioners to review the baseline plan and approve it or amend it. There must be an agreement signed between the State of Maryland and Cambridge. After that, an agreement needs to be signed with CHHED as a sub-recipient so they can help manage and get the program started. Rural Development is willing to help the 23 to 25 families spoken about earlier to get mortgages if they can buy the properties.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said it is not worth it for the people to buy these properties. One was built in 1950. All the others were built from 1920 to 1950. The landlords have let the properties deteriorate. The people are paying a very low amount of money for rent. There is not any rental property available until about mid-March. Deborah Johnson said the value is the earth; it is not the structure. The houses are not worth more than $15,000, if that. Most are not salvageable. If the tenant has the opportunity to purchase that piece of land, there are modular homes, stick-buildings, 502 loans from Rural Development, CDA, etc. There are a multitude of choices available. Portia Johnson-Ennels said there is an issue with zoning. Knocking down these houses would not bring the new houses into compliance. Commissioner Sydnor said he thinks that is the purpose of the NCR zoning. It would allow some conformity back to that particular area. It would not be restricted to R-1 or R-2. It allows for smaller homes to come back on smaller properties. Commissioner Brooks said she spoke to some of the residents. One lady said the house may not look like much, but it is her home. She lived there a long time. Deborah Johnson said most of the residents have lived there for many years. Their whole lives are there. In her opinion, it is in the city's best interest to remediate blight conditions from occurring. Charlotte Hughes said some of the houses are worth saving and they can be saved.

Deborah Johnson said within their organization, they have some very skilled people who are interested in coming on board. Some are local residents. They would like to form a team. David Pritchett asked her to forward any additional information she had to him. They are facing a deadline with hundreds of home and they don't know what to so with them. Deborah Johnson said there is a year left on this thing. It is best to show HUD that Cambridge can deal with its lead problem. Once we have numbers and there is proof that a program has worked, at least another grant application can be submitted on behalf of the city to go beyond the 20 units earmarked in this proposal. Commissioner Brooks suggested putting Deborah Johnson on the agenda for the next meeting so Council can make a decision.

Kelly Wroten, Open Bible Church, to Request $5,000 from Local Youth Groups in the Spirit of Prevention and Program Utilization-Kelly Wroten said he is representing Steve Bloodsworth, Frances Bloodsworth, and the Board of Directors at Open Bible. The school and church have been in operation for over 30 years and have never asked the city for a dime. Their program has touched the lives of hundreds of kids. The program has grown and they don't have the money to do some of the things they would like to do. There are about 65 youth involved in their five-day-a-week summer program. Every week there is an educational trip or outing. They have an old bus that constantly needs repairs. The money could be used to supplement the program. They just started athletic programs which come with expenses. They have asked for donations to pay the Wesleyan Church on Race and Washington Street to use their building. It is $50 per use. Their programs are open to everyone. It is a tremendous organization and he is asking for some help. He is willing to provide quarterly accounting of any utilization of the funds. Commissioner Cephas asked when they wanted the funds to start. Kelly Wroten said as soon as possible. He is hoping to get it during the current budget year if there are monies available. The need is current.  Commissioner Sydnor asked if the funds that were set aside last year are used up. Commissioner Cephas said they are not used up. Ed Kinnamon said there is still $22,000 in the account that they have appropriated. Commissioner Cephas said this organization never came before the city before and he thinks it is only fair that Council grants the request. Commissioner Cephas made a motion that they grant Open Bible their $5,000 request. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. Commissioner Brooks said for the public's clarification, Mr. Wroten was not among the first group that came before the city and requested $5,000 to $6,000 in this funding year. Based on that, she concurs with them that Council should grant him $5,000 at this time being that this is the first time for this particular program year and the funding is available. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Wroten thanked Council.

Commissioner Cephas said Mrs. Saunders has made a request and she was one of the recipients of the first program. They are getting ready to deplete that. He would not like to see those funds go depleted in this budget year. Mrs. Saunders may want to come back to Council in the very near future. Octavene Saunders said she was under the impression that there wasn't any money and that is why her request wasn't granted.

Ben Parks, Dorchester County Seafood Harvesters Association, to Request Use of Long Wharf for the 5th Annual Boat Docking Contest on September 10th from 10:00 am Until 7:00 pm and a Noise Variance-Mayor Rippons said this is an on-going event. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Ben Parks thanked Mayor Rippons for his participation last year.

Carol Lacy, Museums & Attractions Coalition, to Request Use of Long Wharf on Saturday, May 13th for Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Day and a Noise Variance-Bill Jarmon was present to answer any questions. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the requests. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Representatives from Habitat for Humanity of Dorchester County, to Request Exemption from Payment of Impact Fees and Other Taxes and Acquiring City In-Fill Lots-Jackie Noller, Chairperson of the committee, introduced William McDonnell, David Singelstad, and David Kreek. Susan Devlin, Executive Director of the Habitat for Humanity for Talbot County, was also present. They are requesting that Council amend the City Code to make exempt from payment of impacts fees, non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, who exclusively deal in building affordable housing. Their mission is to eliminate sub-standard housing in Dorchester County and provide a hand up, not a hand out, to working families in need through the construction and sale of simple, decent and affordable homes. People earning below the median income of $34,000 a year annually are finding it difficult to afford marketplace rents and are being priced out of home ownership. In August 2005, they became a branch of Habitat for Humanity of Talbot County. The reason they are connected as a branch and not freestanding, is the organization brand, Habitat for Humanity, is not granting affiliate status currently to new affiliates around the country. There are 1700 affiliates. Legally, all funds they raise in Dorchester County is for use only in Dorchester County.

They have four very stringent qualifying eligibility criteria for families to become family partners. It is income based. It has an ability to repay that mortgage facet that requires an extensive look at their current debt and their ability to service the debit as well as the new mortgage. It looks at the substandard housing situation they are current facing. There is a commitment by the family partner of 400 hours of sweat equity to help build a house. They have selected a first family. That family already has 23 hours since the first of this month toward the goal of 400. There are closing costs they bring to the table to have the interest-fee mortgage for the cost of the home. This is a zero-profit organization. They build at cost and write the mortgage at the cost of the building. Their labor is fairly free because it is performed mostly by volunteers. They are getting in-kind gifts from local contractors and suppliers to help them get their first house going. They want to talk about the affordability issue. There are developmental excise taxes at the county level of $3750. To build a new house in the city on a lot that never had a house on it before, the amount is $4500. Almost $8000 in upfront fees to build an affordable home in this no-profit program is extremely expensive. The optimum average number of homes a year that a successful Habitat affiliate builds is three to four which is the Talbot County success rate. They intend to be there over the next two to three years.

David Singelstad is working with Habitat looking for various sites and looking at the issues on how these fees would impact the building of homes. Any break the city can give Habitat is going to mean a lot. It is money that can then be put to the next house. While they can't ask for any money, they would love to get some land with or without an existing structure. This could be an incentive for other non-profits and builders of workforce housing.

Commissioner Sydnor said when Grady Wilson came before Council, they talked about abating the impact fees. Mayor Rippons said if a house is being built and it can be substantiated that a house once existed on the site, then impact fees are waived.  Jackie Noller said there was not a house on the lot that they are going to build on. Commissioner Brooks asked Rob Collison if they could vote to eliminate the impact fees. Rob Collison said what they are requesting is that there be an across-the-board exemption for any 501(c)3 organization whose primary purpose is the construction or providing affordable housing. They can then expand that type of exemption for projects which will provide affordable housing. They may not want to do a complete exemption on either but on others there could be a sliding scale giving priorities to projects that have more valuable aspects to them. Commissioner Brooks said right now what is in front of them is Habitat for Humanity. Rob Collison said they have to be careful. They have to draft a policy that is non-discriminatory. They can't draft it for a specific entity. They can treat everyone the same within that same class that is a 501(c)3 for affordable housing. He is not endorsing a complete exemption; he is saying that is how they would have to draft it. His recommendation is to make it restrictive making sure it is a 501(c)3. One difficult problem may be determining which organizations have a primary purpose of providing affordable housing. Council may wish to have a sliding scale reviewing the requests on a case-by-case basis but having a general policy for non-501(c)3s if they are providing certain benefits to the community that Council thinks warrant a reduction in the amount of the impact fee.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said she is a little skeptical about giving sort of a blanket to 501(c)3s because, if you take the issue with these people that about to become homeless, if they buy their property, they will still have to pay the impact fees. Rob Collison said the impact fees only apply for new construction when there has never been an existing house on the lot. The basis for the impact fee is to make a newcomer into the community who has never been contributing toward the taxes or the cost to carry the infrastructure, to contribute toward that. If someone buys an existing house, there is no impact fee or if they are going to construct a house where one had been demolished two years ago, there is no impact fee. The county still has their excise tax but there is no city impact fee.

At the recommendation of Rob Collison, Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to defer the collection of the impact fees for this one house on a lot to be purchased by Habitat until a later date. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Jackie Noller thanked Council. She said they were at the County Commissioners' meeting earlier this evening, and they were given an exemption there also.

Commissioner Brooks asked if anyone else other than the family can commit hours. Jackie Noller they are looking for volunteers and will continue to give updates in the Daily Banner. Starting mid-April they will be looking for volunteers every weekend.

Representative from New Beginnings Youth & Family Services to Apply for a DHCD Community Services Grant in Partnership with the City-David Lewis, President of New Beginnings, said his organization appeared before Council about seven years ago for a resolution to allow them to pursue tax credits for Bay Country Apartments. With the cooperation of the city and the DHCD, they have been able to spend about $12,000,000 in completely revitalizing and renovating the apartments. They built a community center there which was actually built on city-owned land. They have spent over $500,000 in the four years they have been operating just on operations alone.  Mr. Lewis said he is also Chairman of the Management Company and would be happy to talk to some of the folks who may be displaced. They also manage the Parkside Apartments which are currently being renovated utilizing the tax credit program. Their programs, while expensive, are a great success. They directly end at providing self-sufficiency for their residents and giving them the life skills that they need to move on into the workforce. They need to raise funds to continue operating New Beginnings and to keep it active and vibrant from funding sources other than funding sources that they have utilized in the past. They have never had any money from the City of Cambridge. They would like Council to pass a resolution this evening that would endorse their application for CDBG funds. There are grant funds available, which is a Federal program administered through the State, strictly for operations of these kinds of service organizations. They are normally granted on a three-year basis that can be applied to these services. The bulk of the funds would be utilized for their Workforce Development Program, their People of Courage Program, and it will be a major underpinning of the funding and the financing that they need. An endorsement or resolution providing endorsement of their application will not cost the city anything. Mayor Rippons asked to see the application. Mr. Lewis said they just came out with the application. Mayor Rippons said it would be more appropriate if Council had the application rather than give a blanket endorsement.  He doesn't think anybody is adverse.

Rachel Polk said when they contacted DHCD about the block grant, they were told that their first step would be to come before Council to get a resolution of support to apply the grant. What they are going after is the community services grant under CDBG for the services that Dave just mentioned. They offer workforce development training and continuing education for the people at Bay Country Apartments, Parkside Village Apartments, and the residents along Greenwood Avenue. They welcome anyone who comes to their doors. Through a collaborative effort with Chesapeake College, the Maryland Extension Department in Dorchester County, the Dorchester County Health Department and the Board of Education, they have been able to offer workforce development courses that actually teach folk how to apply for a job. Once they finish that, they teach them how to talk during an interview and how to dress.  They have been successful. The other piece is continuing education. Because the residents at Bay Country are largely income-based, many of them have not completed their basic education. They offer the GED program. They also have a partnership with Chesapeake College for those who want to go further. They are asking for the city's support so they can continue this type of service. They want to increase the number of people that they help.  The other piece under the community services grant is their work with youth. They have an academic after school program. They check the kids' homework. They are able to work on-line on academic activities in math, language, and science. When they come to the door, they know there is a difference. Every child is greeted and they expect a greeting back. They also have an academic summer camp. They would like a letter of support from the Council for them to apply for the Community Services Grant under the Block Grant.  Mr. Lewis said they weren't there for money; however, they are always looking for money. It takes money to run the programs.

Commissioner Brooks said the work they have done and the work they are doing speaks for itself. She has no problem endorsing a letter of support for that grant. Commissioner Sydnor said he whole-heartedly endorses the letter.

Chad Green acknowledged the Council, Mayor Rippons, and Chief Malik because everyone has been at New Beginnings. She thanked them all for their support.

Mr. Lewis said the applications are about four inches thick. They take a tremendous amount of time and effort. They have participated in the CDBG process on a number of occasions-always for affordable housing projects (Cecil County and Calvert County). There is competition generally within the local jurisdiction. They didn't want to put the application together and then have Council say they had someone else to go into this round. As long as they can get a resolution that when they come back with the application, it is something they can support.

Octavene Saunders said she has a lot of experience in CDBG, etc. This is the process they normally go through. All the letter really has to say is that the resolution is in support of the program benefiting the citizens of the City of Cambridge. They can even put in there that they won't have any financial attachment based on that program or they could put in-kind. They are not cementing themselves into the project. They have to know that the city is in support of the project as it has been described to Council.

Mr. Lewis said he believes they will be asking for about $75,000 a year for the next three years. They will be guided by the State and the folks who run the program to make sure they put their application in at the right level and it is something they can afford and support.

Commissioner Brooks made a motion that Council write a letter of support for this program and their application. The motion passed unanimously.


Request from Wal-Mart for Permission to Arrange Their Garden Center Corral on the Parking Lot from February 2006 Thru July 2006-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. David Pritchett said in the past they had a problem with them over-utilizing the area that they were allocated. The new management has been excellent and has worked within the constraints of what has been permitted. The Board of Zoning Appeals granted them a parking variance. The Department of Public Works does not have any issue with this request. The motion passed unanimously.

Request from First Baptist Church to Request Use of Large Grassy Knoll at Long Wharf for the Sunday Nights in August (8/6, 8/13, 8/20, 8/27) from 5:00 pm Through 8:30 pm for Outdoor Gospel Concerts and Noise Variances for Those Dates-Mayor Rippons said this is an on-going event. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Request from Eastern Shore Hospital Center to Hold Their Fourth Annual H.O.P.E. Run/Walk on Saturday, May 6, 2006 and to Hang Banner on Race Street-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the requests. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Discussion and Adoption of Resolution Authorizing the Referendum Election for Charter Resolution CR-2005-01-Rob Collison submitted a proposed resolution for Council to review. By electing to have a special election, it must be held within 40 to 60 days of the adoption of a resolution. If Council has any recommended changes or questions about the wording, it will have to be re-drafted and adopted at the next meeting. If they adopt the proposed resolution, then Tuesday, April 4th is available at Sailwinds for the special referendum election. If they elect to postpone this and approve it on February 27th, then the date will be pushed back to April 18th.  The referendum question is whether the voters desire to approve or reject Charter Resolution CR-2005-01. This charter resolution would eliminate the personnel duties set forth in Section 3-21 Subsection (e) from the duties of the office of the mayor. The body of the subsection will be spelled out. It will be on the ballot screen.  By voting in favor of Charter Resolution CR-2005-01, the personnel duties set forth in Subsection 3-21(e) would be removed from the official duties of the mayor. By voting against Charter Resolution CR-2005-01, the personnel duties set forth in Subsection 3-21(e) would remain as some of the official duties of the mayor. Commissioner Sydnor asked if it could be extended to show that the duties would go to the department heads. Rob Collison says he sees Commissioner Sydnor's point on clarifying who would pick up the duties. Commissioner Sydnor said many people think it is going the City Council which is not the case. Rob Collison said it wouldn't be in the charter that the department heads would be doing that but it would be the policy. Rob Collison said he will investigate this and finalize it on February 27th. The election would be on April 18, 2006. Commissioner Brooks said because the charter says one thing and the employee handbook says something else, the book should be corrected. The application has already been corrected.

Approve PO 3864 - Mid-Atlantic Ammo - $3,748 (CPD)-Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve PO 3868 - Computer Information Systems - $9,000 (CPD) License Renewal and Maintenance for CPD Computer- Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. Commissioner Sydnor asked if this license will cover the additional computers when CPD moves to the new public safety building. Chief Malik said it will. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve PO 3876 - Decatur Electronics - $28,800 - (CPD) - Gemini Plus On-Board Video Cameras-Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.


David Pritchett asked for Council's intent on the permit review. Rob Collison clarified that Council has no control over the permits. They just wanted to see what was coming down the pike. He believes they just want the list in their books. David Pritchett said he will provide Council more information at the next meeting. On the list he provided to Council, the first two are part of general development plans that Council voted on initially. They reviewed it and it went through Planning and Zoning and Board of Appeals. Council did the final vote to approve. Everything will be built in compliance with what was approved. On the other three permits, there is a minor variance on only one parameter and that is the street frontage. In order for them to build and in-fill these lots where houses did exist, they had to reduce it by three feet. Commissioner Brooks asked if the homes on Park Lane are for rent or purchase. David Pritchett said to the best of his knowledge they will be rental homes. Some might be for sale but he has to clarify it. The land area is exceeded that is required. The side, front, and rear setbacks are met without any variance. The front street is 36.7 feet; 40 feet is required by the Code. Being a lot of record, it is allowed to be reduced well below that. The full summary with all the information will be coming monthly now instead of quarterly or annually.

Ed Kinnamon said at the last meeting, Anne Roane brought up a request to apply for Maryland Heritage grants. She said she would update Council at a later time. The grant applications are due this week. She wanted to make one correction. One of the applications was for a master plan design for the city park at Long Wharf. Now she wants to pursue a master plan study for the parking lot behind Chesapeake College. She felt it is a higher priority given the revitalization of the designated Main Street area. Commissioner Brooks asked David Pritchett if there was any reason why she could not stay to present the information so Council could ask her questions if they had them.  David Pritchett said he was not informed of what Mr. Kinnamon just announced. He was in a meeting where they dealt with a couple of people who wanted to renovate some downtown businesses.  He doesn't know when this was initiated but she reports to George Hyde. The issue of parking was when they really began to realize that they had to focus on a comprehensive plan. She asked David Pritchett to have Ms. Roane attend the meetings when she had something to present to the city so she could answer questions. Ed Kinnamon asked if it was still o.k. for her to pursue it. Council agreed.

Ed Kinnamon asked if Council was still going to hold a work session on February 21st. Commissioner Brooks asked if he received any requests for topics to be discussed. He did not. Council earlier stated it would be from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm. Commissioner Brooks said they really can't vote on anything at the work session. It is just to give the public an opportunity to voice their opinion. Octavene Saunders said on February 21st, there is going to be an important community activity that the NAACP is going to hold starting at 7:00 pm. Commissioner Brooks said she thinks they owe it to the public to advertise the work session. She doesn't think everyone has made their decision yet. Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if they were going to cancel another one. Commissioner Brooks said they were just trying to find a time when all Commissioners can be present if they so desire.

Commissioner Cephas acknowledged the President of the NAACP Dorchester County Branch, Mr. James Pinkett. He enjoyed the function they held at the Elks Home.

Rob Collison said in light of Council's decision last Thursday to keep the record open on the public hearing on the growth allocation, the public hearing for the Planning and Zoning Commission scheduled for February 15th has been postponed until Council makes their decision.

Octavene Saunders said she is confused. She asked if her request tonight for Pine Street would be considered in the new budget coming up. Commissioner Sydnor said he assumed that is what she was asking for. Octavene Saunders said she will wait to hear from them when they adopt the new budget. Mayor Rippons said they will get an invitation to be heard. If they wish to be heard, they can come to a hearing. Octavene Saunders said if she gets an invitation to be heard, she is coming back.

Commissioner Brooks said her understanding is that Ms. Saunders has made her request for the upcoming budget. She has no problem making sure the request is well heard. She thinks Commissioner Cephas acknowledged that. Commissioner Cephas said part of that is correct concerning the upcoming budget. He remembers that when they came before Council last budget time, they indicated that they had an on-going program. Council had indicated to them then to come back when their program is about to start. He understands that their program is starting in the winter. Octavene Saunders said it is on-going and she understands that the request will be heard for the up-coming budget. Commissioner Cephas said that isn't his understanding. He was expecting them to come back this winter to talk about the program going on now. Octavene Saunders said the math part is about to start which will be the third component in that funding cycle Council gave them. She has no problem waiting for the new budget cycle; she doesn't want to, but she can't change their minds. Commissioner Sydnor said he assumed that she was requesting funds for the upcoming budget. Octavene Saunders said it was to continue the program. She is requesting funds at this time if she can get some to keep on going. Commissioner Brooks asked what amount she was asking for. Octavene Saunders said Commissioner Cephas said not to ask for the amount she needed. Commissioner Cephas said he is not in favor of giving $10,000 like they requested. Council have them $6,200 the last time. He is not opposed to doing what they did. Mayor Rippons said they can work it out afterwards. Octavene Saunders said she needs to find out officially what is going on. Afterwards they can't make a vote in private about tax money. She needs to have it worked out now. Commissioner Brooks said Mr. Kinnamon stated that they had $22,000 left. Ed Kinnamon said they gave $5,000 of that away earlier. Commissioner Brooks asked what the budget looked like. Sometimes funds left over in one account are needed to make up a deficit somewhere else. Ed Kinnamon said they have a $225,000 shortfall involving the issue with MEDCO. That needs to be considered. He hasn't looked over the entire budget. He is concerned about the shortfall facing them. He doesn't know if anything will be resolved at their meeting next week. Octavene Saunders asked why that wasn't a concern when the gentleman asked for $5,000. Commissioner Knox said this was his first request. Commissioner Brooks asked how much in addition to the $6,200 they were given the first time they will need for this third part of this budget year. Octavene Saunders said they will need at least $4,000.  Commissioner Cephas said he is looking at $3,800 which would bring the total to $10,000. If she is saying that won't do it, then he guesses they won't have anything. Octavene Saunders said she can use volunteers which she usually does to make their program happened. If Council says to wait until the new budget year comes in, she will do that.  She doesn't want to cause a problem but wants to keep the program going and keep a good relationship. Commissioner Brooks said she has no problem voting on the $3,800 that Commissioner Cephas just stated. She would, however, like to hear from Annapolis and the resolution they may have with the $225,000 shortfall that they have all been made aware of. She is not saying they will not grant it this particular program year, she is just saying to give them one week to go to Annapolis and find out where they stand with the $225,000 shortfall. 

Portia Johnson-Ennels said there are two draft pieces for the nuisance ordinance and special elections. She asked if they are ready to be reviewed. Rob Collison said they will be ready next week.

James Pinkett, President of the NAACP Dorchester County, announced on February 21st at the Empowerment Center, they have asked Rob Collison to give information only on the CR-2005-01. Rob Collison said it will depend on whether Council holds a work session and if it goes beyond 7:00 pm. Commissioner Brooks said they don't have any responses. Rob Collison said he has been asked to attend that meeting to speak on the legal aspects. He asked to be excused at 7:00 pm and he would address any legal issues prior to that. If there is no objection from Council, he would leave the work session and go to the Empowerment Center. Commissioner Brooks said she will leave to go to the other meeting also.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 9:42 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Tuesday, February 14, 2006, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon

Clerk & Treasurer