• 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

March 13, 2006

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, March 13, 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 February 27, 2006 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARING

Community Development Block Grant -- Affordable Housing Study by Delmarva Community Services as a Sub-Recipient to the City of Cambridge-The public hearing was advertised in the Daily Banner on Monday, March 6, 2006. Santo Grande and Adam Xenides appeared on behalf of Delmarva Community Services. Adam Xenides said they would like to apply for a planning grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to perform an affordable housing study. After a meeting with the representatives from DHCD, they revised some of the criteria that Delmarva Community Services would need to address in the application. After the meeting they reviewed what the surrounding counties have accomplished in terms of a study like this, particularly Wicomico County. Phase 1 of the study will be a survey of the existing housing structure in Cambridge. The next phase would be to identify substandard units as evidenced by the condition of the roof, siding, and ground area and then to identify locations of sub-standard housing. Phase 2 would be to interview the residents of the sub-standard housing where they would be able to identify the number of rooms, condition of the walls and ceilings, existence of indoor plumbing, full bath, hot water, existence of a septic system or public sewer, electricity, main source of heat and auxiliary heat, conditions of windows and doors, etc. They are requesting $25,000 from DHCD with a cash match of $5,000 from the City of Cambridge. Delmarva Community Services will provide $2,000 in cash and in-kind services. Santo Grande said he feels it is the right step to take. They are looking forward to working with the City and hopefully after this, they will be coming back to put in an application for housing rehabilitation. Nobody from Council had any questions.

Portia Johnson-Ennels asked about Part E, Benefits to Low and Moderate Income People, in the draft application. They checked, housing, single-family, and owner-occupied. She asked what this would do for people who rent their homes. Adam Xenides said the sub-standard housing would include rental properties. Portia Johnson-Ennels said they need to check the block on the application.

Octavene Saunders asked if they will be rehabbing rental properties when they finish the study and whether there would be income criteria for the people occupying the properties. Santo Grande said the second stage would be to apply for a housing rehab grant in the spring. They will be requesting about $300,000. That will be for owner-occupied homes. To date, they have received over 30 inquires from people in the City who fit the income criteria to be eligible for the grant money from CDBG. After that, they hope to be able to work with the City and County to help with rental properties.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said she understands that the emphasis will be on owner-occupied homes. There are people in rental properties that are the most in-need of housing now. It seems like they are being put back further than they are. Santo Grande said they are not trying to put anybody behind or forward. Portia Johnson-Ennels addressed the Council and told them that she feels their focus today should be the people who are now living in rental property who are about to become homeless. This is a good project but at the moment, our immediate need is for renters. Santo Grande said right now they are working with the County Council and they have been actively seeking people who need their houses rehabilitated including owner occupied, low income, moderate income, single women head of household, and minorities. As they searched the County, they found many people in the City meeting the same criteria as the people in the County. His is not going to negate what Portia is saying. Right now there is a body of people in Cambridge who have a very deep need to have their homes rehabilitated. Later they hope to be able to work on some other issues that are coming forward. Commissioner Cephas asked if they have done any surveys or studies of how many families are in need of these services. Adam Xenides said they have had 79 inquires to date since they starting the housing rehabilitation program. Of those, 43 percent are in Cambridge. The study will overlap with the rental houses. The CDBG program only addresses owner-occupied homes. There are other programs for rental homes.

Nobody else asked to speak. Commissioner Knox made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Knox made a motion to allow Delmarva Community Services to submit a Community Development Block Grant application for a housing study. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. City of Cambridge Resolution No. 06-002 will reflect this decision.

Mayor Rippons said because of the number of people present, Council would revamp the agenda.

Discussion and Decision on Application for Growth Allocation for Blackwater Resort Communities Project-Rob Collison announced that Council held a public hearing at the American Legion on February 9, 2006. The period for written comments was extended Friday, February 24, 2006 at 4:00 pm. Tonight Council is scheduled to vote to either award or not to award the growth allocation. The County has awarded to the City 313 acres of growth allocation for this particular project with certain conditions and restrictions. Whatever Council does this evening, the developer and applicant would have to comply with those conditions. Council could impose additional conditions and restrictions if they wish. The Planning and Zoning Commission has made certain recommendations to Council as well. It is simply a vote on awarding the growth allocation for 313.12 acres to the applicant from RCA to IDA. It is being converted to an intensely developed area. He provided the Council with a draft of the findings of fact. They may add to it or amend it if they wish.

Commissioner Knox said it has been quite a lengthy process.  He thanked the public for their letters and e-mails. He sat up late reading each one of them.  He tried to compile a list of the percentages that were for it and against it. He commended everyone for their concerns.  One of his concerns with the findings is that he would like added is that the City would be the ones that would hire the firm to perform the water quality monitoring at the expense of the developer.  It would be a six month period for 15 years. The Planning Commission and the County have done an excellent job in developing the findings of fact. He agrees with them 100 percent. He would also like the monitoring be the responsibility of the City to hire the individual, company or companies that would do the monitoring at the expense of the developer for the entire period.  He would also like added to the findings of fact that if this land were to be sold to anyone else, all the findings of fact would go along with the land forever. The City Commission did an outstanding job.  He thinks our community will find them very satisfactory. 

Rob Collison said the County's conditions on hiring the consultant said they can require that they can hire a profession firm or consultant. If they elect to do it, then the developer is responsible to reimburse those expenses up to $15,000. He suggested that if the County elects to do that, they would then supply a copy of their findings and analysis to the City. If the County elects not to do it, then the City could have the consultant with the developer reimbursing them up to $15,000. Commissioner Knox said that would be fine with him.

Commissioner Sydnor said he did not have anything to add to the finding of facts.

Commissioner Cephas thanked everyone who took the time to submit e-mails, letters, telephone calls and for attended the public hearing. Their concerns are not going on deaf ears in spite of what some people may think that the decisions have already been made. His mind is not made up until this evening. He has an open mind about this whole process. There are some things that he would like to see that he doesn't see. He is concerned about that.  He would like to see a completed traffic study done before they move forward with this project. He would like to see a completed economic development study done before we move forward with this project. Several people have told him that they don't know how he is going to vote on this project but if he does, at least give the public the courtesy to know why he feels the way he does.  Assuming everything else was balanced, there was a turning point that helped him make his decision. He received an e-mail and a letter.  He doesn't know who the person is who wrote them.  They made the comment that he Commissioners seem to tell people that this development is being done for the future of the young people so they can come back and have a place to go to live and stay. This 9-year old man said he will be able to buy a home in 15 years but he doesn't think he will be able to buy one in Cambridge. If they want to do something for the young people, he suggested they do something that will make them come back to Cambridge and put him in a home he can afford. Don't continue to drive the prices up. His mom told him he was wasting his time by sending the e-mail. His name is Joe.  Commissioner Cephas said he has heard Jo loud and clear.  His mind has not been made up until today. He is prepared to vote. He would also like to see a completed environmental impact study go with the other two items he listed.

Commissioner Brooks said she does not have anything to add to the findings of fact.

Commissioner Travers said he does not have anything to add to the findings of fact. He would like to clear up what the Daily Banner had in it today. As he was quoted, nobody has contacted him.  That is not true. He told the man who called him that in the Fifth Ward, he did not have over six people that contacted him in person to complain about this project.

Rob Collison said traffic impact is one of the criteria that they are looking at with regard to the growth allocation. The environmental impact is a condition of the county's environmental analysis. Commissioner Cephas said he wanted to see the completed study. He also wanted to see the economic impact to the City.

Mayor Rippons asked if any Commissioners wanted to add anything else outside of the findings of fact.

Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to grant the growth allocation to the Blackwater Project with the restrictions that have been set forth by the County and also the restrictions that the City will set forth during the planning phase. He also wanted Commissioner Knox's consideration about the City being given the same privilege as the County. All the conditions and restrictions would run with the property and be applicable to the applicant and its successors and assigns. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion.

Commissioner Sydnor thanked everyone who submitted e-mails and letters. He has gone through each of them and looked at the situation of those that involve fill-ins and tried to dissimilate what the real facts are behind this particular issue. As an environmentalist, his father worked on the water for over 60 years. That was the reason he was able to send his sons and daughters to college. That is why he is here today.

He looked at this in terms of several issues:

Issue 1--Protection of the Choptank River.  Water quality in the Choptank River is considered to be declining.  There was a concern that Blackwater Resort Project will adversely affect water quality in the Choptank River.  The site stormwater runoff does not drain toward the Choptank River.  The City of Cambridge has sufficient unused existing sewage capacity for adding over 15,000 new homes.  The City Treatment Plant has BNR (Biological Nutrient Removal) treatment process in use and is designing the third phase of upgrade to the plant for ENR (Enhanced Nutrient Removal).  It is one of the most technologically advanced plants on the whole eastern shore. The discharge from this plant is better than the minimum requirements specified in the City discharge permit for the plant.  Excess capacity came from food processing facilities that are no longer here.  No other plant in Dorchester County has the capacity or infrastructure in place that Cambridge had.  Most of the nutrients coming into the Choptank are from existing farms-not the treatment plant.

Issue 2-Nutrient Runoff from Blackwater Resort will adversely affect Blackwater Refuge.  Gold courses use large amounts of fertilizer and chemicals.  Nutrients and runoff from approximately 3000 homes will adversely impact the Little Blackwater River and Refuge.  State Law mandates 10 percent nutrient reduction (as measured by phosphorus reduction) for development and redevelopment in the Critical Area IDA (Intensely Developed Area) zones.  The design will be completed using the Critical Area Commission Guidelines.  The compliance will be verified by the Critical Area circuit rider for the City.  Preliminary 10% computations were submitted to the City of Cambridge, Dorchester County and the Critical Area Commission Staff in Annapolis for review of the Growth Allocation Request.   Ten percent nutrient reduction is not required if the waterfront were to be subdivided in 20 area lots under RCA (Resource Conservation Area classification) or the LDA (limited Development Area classification).  The developer is preparing an integrated nutrient and past management plan for the site. The developer will be required to document compliance through the baseline and monitoring program that was made a condition of the county growth allocation approval.

Issue 3-Baseline Study Needs to be Completed First.  The site is less than 1 percent of the Refuge Watershed and approximately 5 percent of the Little Blackwater Watershed.  Significant portions of Cambridge and other agricultural/developed area drain to the Little Blackwater River.  The developer and homeowners association can only be required to control their own property.  The Developer will have to develop a six month baseline for runoff prior to initiating construction and document the improvements over a 15-year monitoring period for what is leaving the property (Conditions of County growth allocation).  The Refuge is filling over 2000 acres of open water with dredge spoil from the Baltimore Ship Channels.  This project will also affect the water quality and the hydraulics of the water (Corps of Engineers Environmental Assessment).

Issue 4-Stormwater Ponds.  The engineer will need to design the ponds to satisfy State law and the City of Cambridge code.  Many acres of large ponds will be required as indicated in the preliminary stormwater management computation submitted to the City and County Planning Staff.  The final stormwater management design/engineering will have multiple levels of review to include the City Engineer, Critical Area Circuit Rider, and Dorchester County Soil Conservation District.  It is also likely that MDE will review the design as part of the Wetland Permit Process or as a technical advisor to the Critical Area Commission Circuit Rider.  These entities are very experienced in reviewing design for ponds and stormwater management.  The detail baseline studies and annual monitoring will document that the stormwater management is working in order for the developer to comply with the County condition for growth allocation.

Issue 5-Good Use of Growth Allocation.  The growth allocation will be used mainly for a public school site, public golf course, parks and buffer/stream enhancement.  This is the least intense use of growth allocation compared to other use permitted in the IDA (Limited Development Area) zone.  Examples include ports/commercial facilities, and high residential use, etc.

Commissioner Brooks thanked everyone for their time. This process has lasted over three years-most of which was before this Council was sitting here. They/she have taken everything in consideration that she has read. Tonight they are voting on the growth allocation-not the final master plan. She, too, is concerned with the economic development and with the amount of houses we have coming here vs. jobs that we have to support anyone wanting to buy homes that live right here in Cambridge. The letters they received were almost half and half.  Half were for the project and the other half against the project.  The concerns were extremely valid on both sides.  Everything that they have read has been taken into consideration and will continue to be taken into consideration.

Commissioner Cephas said Commissioner Sydnor read five issues and proceeded to answer those issues.  Some of the things he heard at the public hearing contradict some of the things that Commissioner Sydnor just read. There were pros and cons.  He has only heard the pros to these five issues.  He asked Commissioner Sydnor where he got his information.  Commissioner Sydnor said he got some of his information from the public hearing that we had. He also spoke with the researchers at Horns Point.  He is very grateful for their input.  Although they were not biased one way or the other, he just had to draw his own conclusion from it.  All of the data is either from public information (public hearings) that we had in the records. 

Commissioner Cephas asked where Commissioner Sydnor got the information that the site stormwater does not drain into the Choptank.  Commissioner Sydnor said it does not drain into the Choptank.  Many areas of Cambridge currently drain to the Little Blackwater.  In the Choptank the sewage and wastewater will go to the sewage plant but that is the only thing that will go to the sewage plant.  Cambridge has currently implemented Phase 4 of their storm separation at this present time.  Part of it is on the agenda tonight.  None of that stormwater drainage is going to go to the Choptank River through our sewer system.

Rob Collison said tonight Council will be granting or not granting the growth allocation. Anyone who is adversely affected by the decision will have a period of 30 days to appeal the decision as an administrative appeal to the circuit court. Assuming the growth allocation is approved and the project moves forward, because of the conditions imposed by the County that no residential construction be included within the critical area, the applicant and the developer are now required to go back to the design master development plan phase and submit a revision to that. There will be comments at the Planning and Zoning Commission. Once that design phase is completed, it will then go to the final master development plan phase. There will be another public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission and then there will be a final public hearing before the City Council on the final master development plan. Commissioner Cephas said a new growth allocation plan should be presented because the County revised it. Rob Collison said the County imposed the condition that there be no residential construction improvements within the critical area. Commissioner Cephas asked if it should come back for an additional public hearing. Rob Collison said the County did not reduce their growth allocation amount. They still awarded the 313.12 acres. They did impose the additional condition that in the re-design process, if it is re-designed and the developer doesn't need 312 acres and only needs 275 acres, for example, that difference would then go back in the County's reserve.

Commissioner Brooks said this may have taken a long time, but she thinks this is the right process to bring anything into the City of Cambridge and into this County. She hopes that in the future, every development that wants to come into Cambridge is put through the same process. She sees 7000+ homes coming into the City of Cambridge. Only one development was brought before the public like this and brought before the City Commissioners. In the future, she hopes this is the process that is taken with everybody.  The motion passed 4:1 with Commissioner Cephas opposed.

APPOINTMENTS

Deborah Johnson -- Discussion and Decision on Lead Risk Reduction Program and Proclamation-Deborah Johnson, Corporation for Healthy Homes, made a presentation to Council on February 14, 2006. Commissioner Brooks asked how many houses this grant will service. Deborah Johnson said the target is 20 homes because of the time span but there is no limitation. If they are able to exceed 20 homes, that would be a good thing. The time span is one year. Based on demonstration of this program of this base year, Cambridge may be eligible for a full HUD grant or to become a stronger partner with the State of Maryland. Commissioner Brooks asked about the distribution of funds. Deborah Johnson said there is a per-address amount that will be set aside. The maximum is $25,000 per address. This will have no effect on the administration dollars that would be awarded by DHCD for the City. Rob Collison said that while the City is the administrator, they will be subcontracting, pursuant to a subcontract agreement, where they will finalize the specific details assigning certain administrative duties to Ms. Johnson's company. Commissioner Cephas said in light of all the lead paint problems we have been having in the City lately, he would strongly encourage Council to move forward as fast as we can on this issue. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to move forward with the application. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Ed Kinnamon read a proclamation proclaiming March 13 to 19 to be Healthy Homes Week in Cambridge. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to Deborah Johnson.

Michael Thielke, Atlantic Maritime School, to Request Approval for Use of Town Dock-They are asking permission to dock an 80-ft tug so they can operate a workforce training program. It teaches entry level deck hand and engineer skills for the commercial maritime industry. This is a non-profit activity. They have made arrangements to coordinate with Chesapeake College to utilize their classroom space. At the end of the one-month program, students would be ready for entry level employment in the commercial maritime industry. Commissioner Sydnor said in talking to David Pritchett, it is his understanding that there is sufficient room to dock the tug boat but they have questions on the barge. Mike Thielke said in all likelihood, the best prospect is mooring the barge out in the water somewhere where it is not in conflict with any boat traffic. Guy Beckley said the barge is about 110 feet and draws about 6 feet of water. It is about 24-feet wide. This piece of equipment would require a significant amount of space. Their proposal would be to put a mooring out in the river and tie the barge to the mooring. Commissioner Knox said he thinks this is a great opportunity for the community. He asked if there would be a possibility of the Sailwinds dock being available. David Pritchett said that is something to look into for the barge aspect. For several technical reasons they ruled it out as a first or second choice for the tug; however, the barge itself could go there. Mayor Rippons said there are some construction matters at Sailwinds. Research vessels tie off Sailwinds and this would be a problem with a barge there. Commissioner Knox asked if there would be a possibility of giving tours of the vessel. Guy Beckley said they might be able to do it at certain times. They would make the barge available for events like the races, fireworks, etc. They want the school to be a member of the community. The tug boat is very well maintained. It would add to the dockside attraction next to the Nathan. Rob Collison said considering the location of where this is being proposed as public access, he suggested a public hearing to get some citizen input. David Pritchett said the tug would be located inside the key where there is no fishing. It would not impede at all with access of the free-fishing rule. They cannot use a T-head in the marina is because the tug cannot get into the marina. It drafts almost 11-feet of water which makes it impossible.

Susan Antonelli, Snappers, To Request Noise Variances For Friday, May 5th from 5:00 pm Until 10:00 pm and Sundays from Memorial Day Through the End of September from 5:00 pm Until 10:00 pm-Susan Antonelli said they are continuing to have great summers. They are going into their 13th season with their deck parties. Mayor Rippons asked if anyone present had any comments. Commissioner Cephas said a year ago a gentleman who lived across the water from the restaurant raised some issues about the noise. He said 10:00 pm was too long of a period but he said he would go along with it. Marshall Rickert said he lives at Cambridge Landing. Two years ago when the tiki bar was constructed, there were some real issues with excessive noise and late operations. Last year the requested permit was the same as he is hearing tonight. It was the difference of night and day. He did not object to it last year and neither did their association. Snappers was a good neighbor. He said this year he hopes, in that same spirit, that with the same variance they requested last year, that they move forward. Nobody else asked to speak.  Rob Collison said with any noise variance that is granted for more than one occasion and the Police Department consistently has complaints, the applicant can be brought before Council to reconsider the variance. Mr. Kinnamon notified the condo association that had concerns last year. Commissioner Knox made a motion to grant the noise variance. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Arlinda Cornish-Barnes, The Cambridge-South Dorchester Gospel Choir and Youth Ministries, to Request Financial Assistance for Their Praisefest on April 27-30, 2006-The Cambridge-South Dorchester Gospel Choir normally travels to Atlanta, Georgia to participate in Praisefest activities. Constance Cook, the facilitator, wanted to bring the Praisefest to Cambridge. The weekend would consist of activities, workshops, and services where young people can participate and also help strengthen the overall participation of the 8 and 25 age group in our local churches. She was advised that the City of Cambridge has money to aid non-profit organizations in these types of community endeavors. They are looking at roughly $4,482.00 to help facilitate what they need. At this point they have over 185 youth and young adults already registered for the services. The calls keep coming in. They are appealing to the City of Cambridge for help for some community funds. Mayor Rippons asked how much they are requesting from the City. Arlinda Cornish-Barnes said they put out requests for funding from other sources, but they haven't received any responses or financial help at this time. Commissioner Sydnor asked about the fee for the guest speakers. Arlinda Cornish-Barnes said they will have a pastor who is coming from Westover, Maryland to close them out for the services. Commissioner Sydnor asked Rob Collison about his thoughts on this. Rob Collison said this event is coming very soon. His recommendation, because they have had several of these requests coming in, is for the City to develop a policy for these organizations to be considered only during the budget process. It may create a hardship after the budget process is over. They should make the policy very public. Commissioner Cephas said there are funds still available in the particular area that they allotted money from. Arlinda Cornish-Barnes said they are no longer affiliated with the high school. It started as an after-school program. The alumni studies were not allowed to participate. She didn't have enough to keep the program going. They could not use the school without the insurance. Commissioner Knox asked if they had plans for current fundraisers to help raise any of the funds. Arlinda Cornish-Barnes said from the last fundraiser they had, they have enough in the budget to cover the musicians. She is still waiting on a prospect for the prize money. This is a time-sensitive issue. Commissioner Brooks asked for a figure on what Ms. Cornish-Barnes would like the Council to approve tonight. Arlinda Cornish-Barnes asked if the Council could take care of the food and the price of the clinicians ($1,950). She said they are charging a $15 registration fee per student but 85 percent of that goes toward the t-shirt cost. They also have a lot of students who want to participate but they don't have the funds. They also have a lot of families with multiple children. There goal is to give the community a chance to participate. Commissioner Brooks thanked them for their efforts in trying to do something for the youth. As a City Commissioner, one of the issues she ran on was that she would support youth activities and to try to bring more things here for young people. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to grant Ms. Barnes one-half of her requested budget which would be $2,241. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Commissioner Brooks suggested that Ms. Barnes challenge some of the City Commissioners to make a monetary donation.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Vote on 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" to HC, "Highway Commercial"-Commissioner Brooks thanked Rommel Holdings Enterprise for meeting with her along with our City Engineer and Chief Malik. They discussed traffic and safety concerns. After their discussion, she thinks they have come to a decision that the traffic and safety concerns that they presented will be looked at and taken care of. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to move forward with approving the rezoning of this area from industrial to commercial. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. Commissioner Knox said he thought all the traffic issues and all those things were discussed in the Planning Commission. If there were any more questions on the traffic issues, he would have appreciated discussion between the Commissioners. Decisions are made in Council Chambers-not outside the room. If it continues, he will request an investigation from Annapolis. Traffic studies and all these other items are discussed with the Planning Commission and then they are brought to Council. There is no need to have executive sessions when the complete Council is not available. He thinks these things should be discussed in executive session with the full Council or in an open session. Commissioner Brooks said it is their duty as City Commissioners to meet with everyone involved until they have a full understanding. If Commissioner Knox would like to be included in any meetings that she decides to have with anybody, she asked him to give her a call after the meeting and she will invite him in the future. At the present, only two Commissioners can meet. She contacted Commissioner Travers who told her that he would contact Commissioner Knox. Commissioner Knox said he doesn't have a current phone number for Commissioner Brooks. Rob Collison asked if the motion would also include adoption of the findings of fact. Commissioner Brooks agreed to this. Commissioner Cephas agreed to the amended motion. The motion passed unanimously. Rob Collison said this will become effective 10 days from today. Any party who is grieved by the decision has 30 days to appeal it.

Octavene Saunders said any time she wants to reach any Commissioner she has called Kathy Foster to get their phone number. It is her understanding that if an organization or your constituency or any city official wants to sit down and discuss an issue, that you have the right to do that. If she needed to meet with a department head when she was a Commissioner, she did not need the other Commissioners. She would report back to the whole Council about what she did but she didn't need anybody's permission to tell her who she could meet with. She was not making decisions; she was finding facts.

Vote on Perpetual Easement for WECA for 301 Gay Street-Jane Devlin said this is a follow-up to their last meeting. She submitted all the documents to Rob Collison. Rob Collison said the documents are basically the same as last year. If Council elects to move forward, he has no objection to finalizing them. The City is not giving up their interest in the parcel, they are only allowing them to use it for something other than a library. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to allow Rob Collison to move forward with the process. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. Jane Devlin clarified that at this time they are not entering into the perpetual easement; it is just their willingness to sign the perpetual easement if WECA is granted the monies. The motion passed unanimously.

Discuss Award of Phase IV of Sewer Separation Project-In a memo to Council, George Hyde made a recommendation to award the project to David A. Bramble, Inc. in the amount of $1,385,425. Commissioner Knox made a motion to move forward with the award of the sewer separation project. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Commissioner Sydnor said the award is contingent on securing some additional funds.

Award Bid for Roof Replacement for Harriet Tubman Museum and Education Center-Mayor Rippons said the bids were reviewed by the Department of Public Works. Commissioner Sydnor asked why David Pritchett was not recommending awarding the bid to Cole Roofing Company, the low bidder. David Pritchett said in the proposals that there submitted, Delaware Siding Company itemized everything. They included the replacement of the gutters, etc. That was not a requirement of the original bid. Since Delaware Siding was within $554 of the low bid, it was a much better offer and a much better job to be performed. That is why he suggested going with the next lowest bid. Cole Roofing did not submit some of the information that the others did. A couple of contractors put in items that were not necessarily required by the bid. He thought it was a safer bet to go with the ones who itemized exactly what they were going to do. The roof has leaked for so long, it needs to be properly abated. That was his recommendation. He said he could personally contact Cole to check on it. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion that they accept the bid from Delaware Siding Company, Inc. in the amount of $16,218.75. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS

Request to Purchase a New 2006 Pick-Up (DPW)-Mayor Rippons said these are budgeted funds. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Cephas asked if DPW could deal with the company who gave them some very good deals last year. David Pritchett said they are dealing with the same company. Rob Collison said the reason they are not following the bid process is because they are following the State contract. The cost will be $17,503 and it will be purchased from Criswell Chevrolet. The motion passed unanimously.

Discuss Long Wharf Fountain Renovations-David Pritchett said the fountain has been down for a long time. Ten years ago, he and Dale Price designed and built the controller and the mechanisms that operate it. The rest of the fountain is completely worn out. It has to be completely renovated. He wanted to know the public's view on whether they want it to look exactly as it is now and operate. It would be somewhat problematic to install new equipment today. They would have to retrofit things to make it work because it is 50+ years old. He has a design book that has fountains that are almost identical in shape and style as this one. For nostalgic reasons, they can maintain the exterior appearance. Rob Collison suggested starting with the Historic Preservation Commission. 

Update to ASOP 2 (Travel Policy)-Mayor Rippons said Ed Kinnamon provided Council with information concerning the mileage reimbursement. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the update. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Ed Kinnamon said the way the policy was written some years ago, it specifically states the mileage rate. The current amount acceptable by the Internal Revenue Service for mileage is $0.445 per mile. Our policy currently indicates $0.36 which is the rate established some time ago. His recommendation is to stay current with the IRS regulations. The motion passed unanimously.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Commissioner Knox said he met with the Appropriations Committee in Annapolis with County Commissioner Ricky Travers and members of the YMCA Board of Directors. Their proposal was received very well. They thanked the City for their support. Commissioner Brooks said Council did not vote that he would represent the City. She doesn't know how many other people knew he was going. She doesn't have any problem with it but she is following up on his comment earlier. Commissioner Knox said at the last Council meeting, Commissioner Brooks said one member of Council would attend the meeting as a show of support. He contacted Frank Narr and asked if any Commissioner had contacted him about supporting the "Y". Mr. Narr said no. Since the YMCA is located in his ward, he thought it would be appropriate for him to attend.

Commissioner Knox thanked Chief Malik for providing the Color Guard at the Choptank Electric function at Sailwinds. They did an excellent job.

David Pritchett said the Chesapeake Bay Foundation volunteered to go along the fishing pier and shoreline on March 25th, weather permitting, and do a clean-up.

Frank Gianiny, Markely Court (Longboat Estates), said he has been working with David Pritchett about a problem. His home received an occupancy permit when, in fact, it should not have. They have the wrong size furnace, the wrong size air conditioner, and more importantly, they have a gas-fired furnace and hot water heater in a closet. By law it required to have fresh intake air-both high and low. The room has zero intake which sets their carbon monoxide detectors off. He asked that the project be shut-down. Lennar is the construction company. He said Mr. Pritchett advised him not to come forward tonight. He contacted Channel 47 as a last resort. He said Mr. Pritchett has been to the house numerous times. He has it in writing that the inspectors have made huge mistakes. Mr. Gianiny asked the Commissioners to look into this and shut the project down immediately. He has tried to work with the developer and Lennar. They refused. Today, Mayor Rippons came out to the home. Mr. Gianiny said he also contacted OSHA because of numerous violations taking place. They tried to get their money back. Seven days prior to settlement, the entire first floor of the home flooded. All the hardwood floors, ceramic tile, base kitchen cabinets, and carpeting had to be replaced. The home was built on a concrete slab.  They were shown a model home is Bridgeville, Delaware with baseboard hot water heat.  Their house has gas heat.  There is not any ductwork in the master bedroom, master bathroom, or guest bedrooms.  The contractor (Lennar) has been at their house 47 times and the heating contractor has been there 9 times. They say there is nothing they are going to do. Mr. Pritchett told him not to come before Council because of a race issue. 

David Pritchett said he heard about this problem for the first time last week.  He wrote a letter that he promised Mr. Gianiny he would write.  Lennar called him the day they received the letter. They came out and visited with the vice president the next day.  He scheduled a meeting for Wednesday of this week which is their first chance because their trailer is packed up including the plans that are signed and sealed.  Mr. Gianiny has told him all along that he is as pleased as he can be with us.  We have done a great job.  Right now we are down to one vent that is not blowing air.  He told Mr. Gianiny that he handles very different aspects of this city.  They handle from new, upper-class upper-priced properties to houses where people shouldn't even be living.  He said it is a racial issue along a lot of lines that people are living non-standard.  He did not want to bring it before Council because he doesn't know what Council can act on and do until they have the meeting with the people on Wednesday to work out the problems.  They have 27 hours on this one house last week.  He has answered every call. 

Commissioner Sydnor asked how they were able to move forward through the inspection process with all of these violations.  David Pritchett said there are not all of these violations.  There is that and a duct.  At this point in time, that is all he has been able to confirm.  He said he would have to speak to the mechanical inspector to say if the vents are in the proper locations.  He knows one return duct is missing near the main air-handler unit. Mr. Gianiny said there are multiple violations on record. There are major code violations.  His own inspector said this house is not right.  There are huge water problems.  When it rains, the water backs up to their patio. They were not made aware that they are in a flood zone.  Carbon Monoxide is backing up into their home.  This is a huge major violation.  He said Mr. Knox told him that Council has the ability to shut down this project.  Channel 47 has been through the entire Long Boat Estate.  They also know the race issue.  He said he held nothing back.  He asked the Commissioners to come out to his home and to take emergency measures to shut down this project. 

Mayor Rippons said on Wednesday at 1:30 pm they are meeting with representatives from Lennar.  Rob Collison suggested that two members of the Council should meet him tomorrow with David Pritchett and his inspectors who are involved with this and then meet at the 1:30 pm meeting with Lennar or thereafter. 

Commissioner Sydnor asked how many homes have been built in this development.  David Pritchett said approximately 40 homes.  Mr. Gianiny said 21 homes have been built and 162 homes are planned.  He went five weeks without a phone system to his home.  He had five driveways installed.  Because the builder will not call Miss Utility, they have been evacuated because they hit a gas line in front of his house.  Their main electric line has been ripped out twice.  The concrete company said the driveway has been torn up so many times that they hit the sewer line when they put they installed the phone line. 

Commissioner Brooks said she wanted to make a motion that they order the Department of Public Works to immediately go out and inspect the other 21 homes and bring their findings back to Council.  She is hearing from Mr. Gianiny about all these violations but she is hearing from Mr. Pritchett that he is not aware of any which means there is a breakdown somewhere.  She doesn't know how having these houses inspected now will answer the issue. 

Mr. Gianiny said he has walked through this property with Mr. Pritchett's employees. They have gone through numerous violations.  He said Brent West, Mechanical Inspector for the City, pointed out to Mr. Pritchett that on the new homes that have the crawl space built the right way, they weren't putting ducts in.  Mr. Pritchett then instructed them to put two ducts into each of these two new homes.  He said Edward Phillips, Code Enforcement Officer, and another young lady came out for a site inspection.  There are gaps in the public sidewalks that violate the code.  There are sewer pipes that are too high. 

Rob Collison said this is becoming a personnel issue more than the code issues.  It should be dealt with in an executive session.  At a minimum, they need to meet on the housing issues tomorrow.  Commissioner Brooks said at minimum not only do they need to meet, but they need to have this gentleman present at all the meetings concerning his home and there needs to be a resolution.  She knows the Commissioners will work together to bring a resolution to him extremely soon.  Rob Collison asked Mr. Gianiny if anyone at settlement or since then has brought to his attention the new home warranty that he has.  Mr. Gianiny said they did not.  Rob Collison said that no matter what the developer tells him, everybody who buys a new home has a one-year new home warranty on structural defects.  He will provide Mr. Gianiny with information on it.   Commissioner Knox and Commissioner Brooks said they could meet on Tuesday on the violation issues.  Rob Collison said if they wish to meet on the personnel issues, they could meet with the entire Council in an closed executive session.   David Pritchett asked them to meet in executive session.  They don't know how this is not right.  Commissioner Travers said he would like to go out to the house.  Commissioner Brooks said she would like to be at the meeting, however, Commissioner Sydnor is liaison for DPW and Commissioner Cephas is the president of the Council.  Commissioner Sydnor said he has a meeting tomorrow with Mr. Kinnamon concerning the budget.   Commissioner Brooks said she can do it.   The meeting was set for 9:00 am in Council Chambers.  Mr. Gianiny said Mr. Pritchett cannot find the plans for his house for weeks now.  He had to go elsewhere to get them.  The Department of Public Works is moving some stuff and cannot find the original plans for his house. 

Commissioner Travers made a motion to move into executive session after the meeting to discuss personnel.  Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said February 24th is passed which means all the lead abatement should have been done for rental properties built before 1950.  It has not been done in Cambridge.  There are a lot of people who will be homeless because they don't have structures to move into.  When Katrina hit Louisiana, this City found houses for people who didn't know whether or not they were coming here.  We have not done the same thing for these people who have grown up in Cambridge.  She is asking the Council to find a way to help these people because they will be on the streets in less than a month. There is a lot of new construction coming into Cambridge but it is all for home ownership.  They don't have anything for rental.  She talked to the landlords that she knows who have done the lead reduction.  Their places are rented already.  These are working people and they will not be able to pay the amounts being asked by landlords today.  The lowest rent for one of the houses was $120 a month; the highest was $300.  Landlords are now asking $825 and up.  We are talking about more than 150 families.  David Pritchett said this deadline means they have to evict hundreds of people.  Portia Johnson-Ennels said she is going to the County tomorrow because it is their responsibility too. 

Octavene Saunders said she doesn't want to disagree with Mrs. Ennels but there comes a time when families have to help families.  Government cannot do it all.  She has been aware of the situation.  Most of these people have families.  They may have to put their furniture in storage and sleep on a sofa at a family member's house.  It should not be left at the government's doorstep to solve all our problems.  Housing is everybody's problem.  She has empathy.  She knows some of the people involved.  The government cannot solve all our personal problems.  She doesn't disagree with what Mrs. Ennels is saying, but she believes self-sufficiency comes first.  Trying to look out for your own family comes first. 

Commissioner Knox asked where the property owners have been.  It is their responsibility.  When he was a renter in Cambridge and had a problem, he called the landlord.  It is their responsibility to look out for their tenants.  It is time for the property owners to make these corrections.  The city should not be in the rental business.  The city shouldn't be responsible for these corrections.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said in 1995, testing was done on children in Maryland.  Dorchester County and Baltimore City had the highest lead levels.  In 1996, it was established that lead reduction was supposed to be done on houses built before 1950.  The information didn't come to most tenants.  It went to the land owners.  In the end, the ones who get hurt are the renters.  MDE said the problem should be corrected by February 24, 2006.  In Cambridge it didn't happen.   We don't have a housing department to help the everyday person with rentals. 

Jermaine Anderson has a challenge for the Board and the citizens.  A gentleman who spoke earlier chose Dorchester County because he liked Dorchester County.  He chose the Board to stop the bickering because it plays the card.  Leave the card alone.  He chose to stay in Dorchester County because he likes the change that he sees.  He asked Council to humble themselves and work together for the citizens.  He asked the citizens to work with the Council.   Commissioner Brooks thanked Mr. Anderson for his comments.  They are welcome.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 9:20 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, March 13, 2006, insofar as I personally am aware.

 

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer