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  • 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

April 11, 2006

The City Council met in regular session on Tuesday, April 11, 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.

Oden Wheeler led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Travers led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the amended minutes of the March 13, 2006 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the minutes of the March 27, 2006 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously


Jim Newcomb said he owns a private inspection company. He was asked by the City Commissioners to look at some properties at Long Boat Estates. He showed some photographs of some of the issues. Some are structural and some are just cosmetic and comfort type. One photo illustrated the ductwork in the closet in one of the properties. It is the same situation in several of the homes. In some the ductwork is hidden; in this one it is exposed. It is subject to being damaged by people putting items into the closet. Another photo shows an upstairs bedroom with a rather abrupt irregularity in the floor. It is probably from an underlying truss. The house was in sheetrock so he wasn't able to visibly see the floor structure but there is a very obvious hump in the floor where possibly two trusses didn't align. It would be noticeable under carpet. The next photo showed a ridge cap on the home. The more ventilation there is in an attic, the better off it is to reduce the potential for moisture build up and mold. They have aluminum ridge vents on the houses. The particular one they chose to use is actually the very best one they could have bought. On some of the houses the ridge vents have inflows in them to keep birds, bats, and bees out. On some of the houses the inflows are missing. It appears the roofing contractor simply smashed the end down with his foot to try to close it off. It's just a little bit of sloppy substandard work. The next photo showed a roof exposure with a valley. There are all different kinds of ways to weave shingles in a valley. Some people weave them; some people lap them; some people cut a valley and put a flashing down the middle. In this particular case in this unoccupied home, you have two valleys running together. When you have valleys running together and you lap the shingles, if you have a major roof with a lot of expanse and a smaller dormer or something where they meet, the water from the major roof has to lap over the small roof so it sheds the water off. If the major roof meets the minor roof in the fashion shown in the photograph, the water can very likely go down the roof exposure and run through the lap and cause a leak in the home. Several homes have this situation. Obviously the roofing contractor wasn't paying attention to what he was doing. The next photo shows the trim on a dormer. The front corner trim on the dormer has two faces of exposed wood behind the trim that is susceptible to insect damage-particularly carpenter bees. The next photo shows a roof flashing and the sewer vent flashing on the roof. It has a "giant caulk repair". On a properly installed flashing you should never have to see any caulk. Most times you should never need caulk. They did a real nice job coming around the two sides and the bottom of the flashing with caulk also. A flashing should never be sealed at the bottom. The caulk repair at the top has a hole in it where water can get in the top and then it can't get out the bottom so you will have an undisclosed leak in the roof structure. Commissioner Brooks asked Mr. Newcomb to briefly go over the issues that the public did not hear when he was speaking to Council. Mr. Newcomb said there are some amateurish structural issues in the crawl space. Two houses have crawl spaces. All the other ones have been built on concrete slabs so they don't have the issues of the crawl space. They are using engineered floor joists and engineered lumber and they are not properly assembling them in the crawl space. It needs to be corrected. They have crushed blocks. Mr. Gianiny said he understands what Mr. Newcomb is saying-it is not structurally sound. Mr. Newcomb reported that this house has not had its final inspection yet. The issues that he sees can all be fixed. If it hasn't had a final inspection, there is not much that he can comment on. He is not a code inspector. A factory built floor joist is not designed to carry vertical loads like a framing lumber floor joist is. To compensate for that, around the perimeter you have a very thick strong heavy real joist. In the center of the house where there is load bearing, you have to have 2x4 blocks, or whatever the manufacturer specifies, up the sides of the floor joists because the floor joists cannot support weight. It is important that they be 1/16 inch taller than the height of the floor joist. Octavene Saunders asked if any of the houses with problems have been inspected by the City inspectors and passed. Mr. Newcomb said not the final inspections. He is just talking about the one house (200 South Regulator). In another photo he has his finger stuck in the gap on top of the crush block because it is too short. The manufacturer is very specific about how you nail and fasten. The ones he illustrated are not done properly; however, they can be taken out and fastened properly. Down the center of the crawl space there is a massive steel H‑beam. The floor joists were manufactured by a warehouse. He called in an expert who concurred with all his findings. The next photo showed a piece of engineered sill joist (2x4) but it is flake-board crusted in a 2x4. It is actually holding up one end of the structural I-beam. It is not an appropriate use for that piece of material. The same thing is also true of the other end of that same steel beam. In the center of the crawl space there is a concrete block pier and the steel H-beam is not sitting on the pier. It is held up by 2x6 framing lumber. Octavene Saunders asked if any other houses with deficiencies have been inspected previous to Mr. Newcomb inspecting them. Commissioner Brooks said she believes that they have certain inspections at certain levels. The final inspection is an overall inspection of everything but there are sign-offs that you do as you actually move on to the next level. The house should have been inspected at some level. Octavene Saunders said at different stages, some of these things probably would have been caught by Public Works before they all compounded. David Pritchett said the houses that have been built so far and occupied are not relevant to this type of construction. There were built on a slab. They do not have crawl spaces. Mr. Newcomb said there are some irregularities on the masonry work on the front porches. They are cosmetic-not structural. The one and only window in the master bathroom only opens about 6 inches and it jams tight. It doesn't give any egress for a fire emergency. This will have to be corrected. There is an open wall cavity above the medicine cabinet. The garage is on the opposite side of the wall. The wind was blowing the day he was there and there was a draft of cold air coming in through the wall. He looked down and couldn't see any insulation.

An unidentified gentleman asked the purpose of the periodic inspections if these things are not caught. David Pritchett said they are looking at two or three failed items on an inspection sheet which has about 100 items on it. He doesn't know how many things were caught and found or just how well it had been built and these are the only things that are outstanding. All inspections encounter certain problems. The developer has to have them repaired before the final inspection. The gentleman said he thinks it would be more economically feasible to correct the problems before they get to the point of installing insulation, drywall, painting, and finish work. David Pritchett said by the Code, they cannot hold anyone responsible for the repair until a certain time. They have the right to continue working on the house until it receives a CO. As far as the opening in the drywall, he doesn't know if the builder when back or if changes were made by the homeowner. Many changes occur throughout the construction of a home. These are construction production model homes. They are done in large quantity. It is not like a stick-built custom home where you have an architect draw it just for you. They go at a very fast pace. Inspections occur and items are found and listed and they have the time until the CO to repair them unless they find something that is dangerous in which case they address it immediately. An unidentified gentleman said he knows of cases in which DPW has actually stopped work on various construction sites. The inspectors are there so much it tends to be a nuisance some times.

Mr. Newcomb said today he inspected an occupied home. There may be a lot of smaller issues that he sees during the course of home inspection. Typically an inspection takes about 3 hours. There are some little issues (insignificant; cosmetic) that show up. Most of the things he saw today were punch list items. There are also a number that are not. He provided a summary list which categorized them in order of importance for the most part. The laundry sink had never been fastened to the wall and the supply lines weren't connected. The drain was connected but the joints were not glued together. There was no water source to the sink so the water trap under the sink was open to the sewer. There was a sewer odor in the room. The second item was the leak in the front door threshold. In a driving rain it leaks and water comes out in the grout seams in the floor. Most door manufacturers are specific in how they want their pre-hung door units installed. Typically they will say they want a flashing pan or "entire tube of caulking" under the threshold so it won't leak. There was no seal whatsoever. There was evidence of a draft through the open first floor ceiling joist cavities. The ceiling may not be insulated. This could be one of the key energy issues on some of these properties. The trusses are massive; they seem to be well engineered but there are large cavities through the first floor ceilings/second floor floors. They have to be insulated or be sealed at every joist bay. He saw a place in the eves where the insulation was blown up from the cavity and there was a hole. This should be fairly easy to fix. It is certainly not a structural issue but it certainly is an energy issue. They have flexible plastic-coated stainless gas lines going through the attic. He isn't sure how closely or how often they are supposed to be solidly affixed or supported but they basically are not. In the first floor bath, the heat register has extremely little air flow. Clearly there is something wrong. One of the things that he noticed in the corner lot on model home was in the attic air handler (HVAC) unit. The filter bay door was missing because they were filtering it through the wall registers in the house. They had filters at the return registers. The air handler had an open filter bay and had sucked in the blown insulation and the heat exchange coils inside were 90% blocked. There was no access to see the coils in the one he was in today. Some of the ductwork has kinks in it. He wonders whether there is a problem with the air handler. Maybe the coils are blocked with construction debris and the unit can't breathe. It could be a very simple thing. It is clearly evident in the model home but there isn't anybody living there. With the air flow in these systems, that is the first thing he would want to check on each of them. In the adjacent bedroom, there is a low register which is supposed to be a supply. It is actually connected to the return so instead of putting heat into the bedroom, it is pulling air out. On the occupied house, the roof valleys also have reverse lapped seams. Some are more important than others. In the furnace closet, the furnace flue pipe is not properly secured at the furnace. It has broken loose at the chimney. In that area he got a slightly elevated carbon monoxide reading with the door closed and the heat and water heater running. Commissioner Brooks asked if the reading was 30% or 50%. Mr. Newcomb said it was 50% but it was very, very low to start with. His meter was indicating 4 ambient and it was indicating 8 in the closet. Until it gets up into the 50s or 60s, it doesn't really become a concern. It was some type of a slightly elevated level in that closet. Those were the bigger items. The kitchen wall cabinets are not properly fastened to the wall. They were stuck on with drywall screws. This is not adequate. Cabinet manufacturers supply the proper screws with the cabinets when they are delivered to the jobsite. This home also has problems with the ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen. Some of them sound like they are hollow underneath. A number of them are cracked and some of the grout seams are cracked. He was told they have been replaced several times. This is not a structural thing-it is cosmetic. In the master bedroom, the southeast window binds and jams were installed similar to the ones in the master bathroom. It goes up about one-half way. You can force it up. In the attic he observed flexible HVAC ducts pinched, kinked, and restricted. The water heater flue stack above the roof appears susceptible. The flue pipe from the water heater comes through the roof and then it has a gooseneck only about 45-deg and it is pointing right down the valley of the roof. When wind hits the house, it will go up the roof and into the stack. That will be simple to fix. The rear addition ridge cap is missing the end plugs. The front double window is missing the metal rain cap like the other windows have. The front dormer corner trim has raw wood at the back side. The electric tail ground rod is protruding away from the house a little bit. It might be a safety issue. The water heater overflow pan is poorly supported and is subject to damage. It is a sloppy installation. The overflow pan under the air handler for condensate has a loose safety switch. Somebody can stumble on it. It needs to be relocated or protected. Commissioner Brooks said the address that Mr. Newcomb just spoke about is 105 Markley Court (Lot 26). Commissioner Sydnor asked how Mr. Newcomb would characterize the material that is used on those homes. Mr. Newcomb said he didn't see any indication of shoddy material at all. In fact, the engineered floor joists were made of excellent products. He didn't see any problems with the materials other than the mis-use of materials. Commissioner Sydnor asked if he would classify the mis-use as minor. Mr. Newcomb said not the crawl-space issues. Commissioner Brooks said that Mr. Newcomb stated that codes change from City to State. There is also a national registry of codes. Mr. Newcomb said there are accepted building standards in the country. Most predominantly we have IRC, BOCA, and different municipalities and counties enforce some or fewer parts of those. Commissioner Brooks asked if he referred to any particular code. Mr. Newcomb said he is not a code inspector. Commissioner Cephas asked about the pressed wood plated to 2x4s. Mr. Newcomb said that is an engineered sill material. They are trying to get the most use out of the lumber that we have. It is actually more stable than plywood. It is not a bad product. It is a good product when used in the proper fashion. Octavene Saunders asked who actually does the final inspection for the City on these houses for them to be occupied. Commissioner Brooks said our new housing development inspectors actually do the inspection. However, it is David Pritchett's ultimate responsibility because he signs the occupancy permit. Octavene Saunders asked if Mr. Pritchett actually goes to the house. David Pritchett said he does not. Octavene Saunders asked Mr. Newcomb on a scale of one to ten how he rated the workmanship that he has seen in the inspected houses so far. Mr. Newcomb said five. It is typical. Many people he has talked to don't think they need a home inspector when they are purchasing a new home. Unfortunately, things get overlooked. Nobody is perfect. He may have missed things himself. David Pritchett said before the meeting began, Mr. Newcomb spoke about HVAC inspections and how different places do them. The City of Cambridge has chosen to do them. They have to be done perfectly. Mr. Newcomb said he was shocked. He went to Long Boat Estates a couple of days ago and saw a City truck there. He went into 202 South Regulator and the two gentlemen with "code enforcement" on their shirts were doing an HVAC inspection. He complimented them. Nowhere in anyplace that he has gone has he ever seen any code enforcement that does any kind of an HVAC inspection. Typically, most do plumbing, electric, and framing. In a lot of areas, that is all the code enforcement that they do. He has always felt that you should do HVAC inspection too. David Pritchett said a lot of the problems found were HVAC related. They should have caught them. They are in a new phase with that. It is something they recently began doing. Commissioner Brooks said they are in the process of trying to hire a mechanical engineer to go out and do the HVAC inspections. Mr. Newcomb said we just don't build houses the way we used to and these people aren't doing it, as far as he can see, any differently than anybody else. This is what we see. Nobody's perfect; things get overlooked. There are problems out there. They can be corrected and they need to be corrected. The construction isn't any better or any worse than anybody else's. Commissioner Sydnor said once they were using the BOCA Code. He asked if they ever changed over to the International Code. David Pritchett said it was an automatic changeover by State mandate unless the City chooses to opt to adopt a different type of code.

Weldon Andrews, a resident of Locust Street, said Mr. Newcomb makes it appear that these problems could happen with any home that is being built. He asked if Mr. Newcomb would attempt to blame the person in charge of DPW for the problems that are there being that he is saying that these are normal problems that have to be dealt with any time anybody is having a home built. Mr. Newcomb said he doesn't think it is fair to blame any one person. He doesn't know anything about the code enforcement in Dorchester County. Everywhere else he goes, those guys are overloaded past their eyeballs and they are understaffed. They can't be perfect.

Octavene Saunders said she thinks it is unfair to get Mr. Newcomb in the middle of determining who is to be blamed. That question was a loaded question. It doesn't matter what happened or didn't happen. If the issue had been brought up time and time again, it shouldn't have gotten to the point where we had to pay tax dollars to hire Mr. Newcomb to come in because the issue of one house has been brought up for weeks. The issues that Mr. Newcomb named were brought up time and time again at this podium. They could have been addressed before now.

Portia Johnson-Ennels asked Council what the next step they will be taking so that this issue won't get over-blown with all the new construction in Cambridge. Mayor Rippons said referring to the development of Long Boat, Mr. Newcomb has not completed his full report. There will be continued inspections. After he finishes the first phase, the City will ascertain if they wish to go into more depth out there. As it relates to all other development, they are actively pursuing employment of qualified staff members. Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if they would be doing the same thing for new construction of rental houses. David Pritchett said if it is a complete re-build of a home, it undergoes the exact same code. If it is a renovation and it falls under less than 100 percent of the accessed value of the property, then it falls under a different set of codes that are less stringent. Commissioner Brooks said when anybody comes to Council and says they have a complaint about a new development, rental or whatever, they are actively pursuing it and trying to find out what the issues are. Even though Mr. Newcomb is only partially finished with his investigation, she would like to see the City, in addition to hiring qualified people, have mandatory continuing education by qualified instructors to teach the things that need to be looked at that would prevent lots of mistakes that when you add them up, comes out to be huge problems in the City like we are having now. One particular home has brought to light a lot of problems within the City. We need our inspectors trained and we need qualified inspectors and we need to make sure that if there are certain job requirements prior to be hired, that they have those job requirements.

Frank Gianiny to Discuss a Citizen's Concern and Long Boat-Mr. Gianiny said he is going to discuss a program and the meeting that the Mayor and the City Council attended at Reverend Stanton's Church. He asked Commissioner Brooks if the Mayor apologized to her. She said no. Mr. Gianiny said Mayor Rippons was very disrespectful to Commissioner Brooks at DPW. Facts, codes, and blueprints were presented to the Mayor and he refused to look at them. He asked Mayor Rippons if he has ever read the Constitution. He gave Mayor Rippons and Commissioner Travers a copy and read from Section 13 which discussed abolishing slavery. He then addressed David Pritchett; however, because other people were speaking, the words were inaudible on the tape. Mayor Rippons asked him to relegate his discussion to the topic and asked Rob Collison's advice. Rob Collison said the Code says the comments should be directed to city business and to the City Council. Mr. Gianiny said his opinion is that we would not have the problems we are having if Mr. Pritchett could read the blueprints. He said Commissioner Travers discussed several things about his past but he knows about Commissioner Travers' past. He then read from the Constitution saying that when the government becomes destructive, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute a new government. He said we need to address the people here who are at risk. He has a projected list showing that Cambridge has 6,953 homes slated for building permits. If we were to implement a program for at risk people of 1 percent of building cost, it comes to about $20 million. He implemented a program on the big island of Hawaii where they took 1 percent of this just like Cambridge did with his house. They could take 1 percent and start a program to help the less fortunate. Most of the people buying these homes are not from the Eastern Shore. The money could be divided with 40 percent for inside the home, 40 percent for outside the home, and the remaining for 20 percent for summer youth job programs. It has been done before and is not hard to implement. He said Portia Johnson-Ennels has been speaking about lead paint issues. He has 500 gallons of paint donated free. It only took a 20-minute phone call to get the donation. It is very easy to help the less fortunate. If they instituted the program he was speaking about, they would keep the $20 million in town. He spoke to numerous executives and as of today, these corporations are willing to match up to $220,000 dollar-for-dollar provided that the money goes to the less fortunate. He asked Commissioner Brooks how to get it started. Commissioner Brooks said she would like him to present everything to Council and give them an opportunity to evaluate it. Rob Collison said it sounds like Mr. Gianiny is asking for an excise tax. The City could consider implementing it through the budget process at a public work session. Commissioner Brooks asked that Ed Kinnamon contact Mr. Gianiny to schedule a time for further discussion. Mayor Rippons asked Portia Johnson-Ennels to speak to Mr. Gianiny about the 500 gallons of paint.

Tony Thomas said it seems like Mr. Gianiny is very well educated. He asked Mr. Gianiny whether he investigated the builder before he purchased the home and asked if he had a house warranty. He doesn't see what this has to do with the City Council and wasting the town's time. With the accusations he is making, he is driving the town 15 years back. David Pritchett has been here 12 years and we have never had these problems. Mr. Gianiny said he did not wish to respond.

Rev. Wallace said since this has been opened up to dialog, he wanted to ask Tony Thomas a question. A few years ago when he and a few other people were a part of the Main Street application program, Tony Thomas and a few others sent a petition to the State of Maryland so the program would not go forward. Mr. Thomas became very angry at a meeting because the black people were attempting to incorporate a segment of the black community into Main Street.

Representatives from Main Street Committee to Request Street Closures and Noise Variances for the Following Events:

  • Groove City Jazz and Blues Festival - May 13, 2006 - 1:00 pm Until 10:00 pm
  • Main Street Mile - June 10, 2006 - 4:30 pm Until 7:30 pm
  • Taste of Cambridge - July 8, 2006 - 3:00 pm Until 10:00 pm
  • Summer Send-Off - September 23, 2006 - 4:00 pm Until 10:00 pm

Liddy Garcia and Josh Miely requested the noise variances and street closures as outlined in their letter. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the requests. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if they had a rain date for the Blues Festival. Liddy Garcia said the festival will go on rain or shine. They will have tents over the stage and the power generator. The motion passed unanimously.

Gage Thomas, Jazz and Blues Festival, to Ask City to Request Use of State Highway Administration's High Powered Lighting System for Use on May 13th-Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Sydnor asked if there was any liability against the City if something goes wrong. Liddy Garcia said she would check into it. She said they have event insurance which would cover it. The motion passed unanimously.

Sharon Wilson, Visions America, to Request Use of Great Marsh Park for a Cessation & Prevention Program Event from June 19th through June 24th Including an Amusement Park and a Variance from the Noise Ordinance from 4:00 pm Until 11:00 pm-David Pritchett said the only date they cannot accommodate is Saturday, June 24th. It was previously booked for the Classic Boat Show. Sharon Wilson said she wanted to amend the date. She was looking at May 22nd through May 27th. David Pritchett said he will check on the new dates. Oden Wheeler reported that the City received an e-mail from Shirley and Del Kailianu who live near the park and are opposed to the noise variance until 11:00 pm for five nights at Great Marsh Park. They suggested 9:00 pm should be the absolute latest for anything but the 4th of July. Sharon Wilson said they are trying to have a tobacco abstinence week and are trying to involve the whole county. Carnivals usually end at 11:00 pm because they don't open until 6:00 pm. They could cut it off at 10:00 pm. Sherwood Amusements requested those hours because of the distance they are coming and what they are bringing. Commissioner Cephas said this is not the only carnival that comes into the City. There is a carnival at Sailwinds that stays open until 11:00 pm and there are residential people almost on top of that carnival and that is o.k. At Great Marsh the residents are further from the park. He feels they should allow them to have it until 11:00 pm so they are consistent with carnivals throughout the City. Sharon Wilson said she does not want to cause a lot of riff if it is not necessary. She is trying to reach young people all over the county. They picked Great Marsh because it is away from people. She would like the noise variance from 6:00 pm until 11:00 pm. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request for May 22nd to May 27th from 6:00 pm until 11:00 pm provided there is no conflict with the park schedule. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. Sherry Krewson said she lives on Hambrooks Boulevard. It is a totally residential neighborhood. She thinks 11:00 pm is late. She thinks they need to consider the location. Octavene Saunders said last year her neighbors when to a carnival at a location down Academy Street near the water and it was a residential area. She appreciates the motion. She doesn't think it will be that much noise. When they have the boat races, they have noise all hours of the night. She sees this as something that is going to benefit the health of our community.  Mrs. Wilson is a Christian lady who will try to keep everything as low key as possible. Mrs. Wilson said there will not be amplified music-just carnival noise. Most of it will be on the grassy area. Commissioner Knox asked who will be responsible for the clean-up. Mrs. Wilson said they will do it along with the amusement provider. Octavene Saunders asked who cleans up after the boat races. David Pritchett said the boat race committee does it all. He has even written letters complimenting them on how clean they leave it. Octavene Saunders asked about the Triathlon. David Pritchett said they are getting better. At first they had problems and DPW billed the Triathlon Committee for the clean-up services DPW did. The motion passed unanimously.

Jane Devlin to Give Update on RUDAT-RUDAT is an acronym for Regional Urban Design Assistance Team. RUDAT is a public service initiative of the American Institute of Architects. More than 130 towns have held RUDATs. It is a grassroots process in which all the diverse segments of the community come together to communicate with each other and plan for their future in powerful new ways. They do it with the help of a volunteer team of top architects and community planners. The Cambridge RUDAT is being organized by a steering committee of local residents. The team will consist of professionals within specialized fields that will address various issues of concern. The expected issues are economic development, main street revitalization, community/developer coordinator working with developers for the benefit of the community, urban design, public space and waterfront specialist, land use regulation specialist, incentives expert, housing affordability, natural resources, municipal/government structures, answers to where and when. The RUDAT will focus on downtown (Pine, Race, and Poplar Streets). The Cambridge RUDAT will convene on May 18th. The team will tour the City and meet with political, business, community, and governmental leaders. On May 20th, citizens will contribute their insights in a town-hall style meeting at Governor's Hall from 9:00 am until noon. All of this input will inform recommendations and plans developed by the RUDAT volunteer team. On Monday, May 22nd the team will present those recommendations to the community in a public forum at Governor's Hall. Small cities throughout the country are being besieged with development and growth issues. We have the opportunity to broaden our capabilities through this program. The estimated cost of the RUDAT is $40,000. It is strictly for incidentals. Initial funding is through a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $25,000. The committee is working to hold costs to a minimum by arranging for in-kind services where possible. The citizens should view this as an opportunity to create a vision for the future. The City Council is scheduled for a Council meeting on Monday, May 22nd. That is the night the team will be doing their complete presentation from the weekend's project. They will be leaving on May 23rd. She requested that Council give some thought to rescheduling the Council meeting. The public forum will be from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm. Commissioner Cephas said he has no problem with changing the Council meeting to May 23rd. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to change the City Council meeting from Monday, May 22nd to Tuesday, May 23rd. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Octavene Saunders to Discuss Charter Amendments: Dismissal of Pubic Officials; Ethics Code; Personnel Tie Votes-Octavene Saunders said she spoke to Rob Collison about her requests. She has a problem with the City having an even number of votes for anything that would represent the governing of the City. The Charter does not provide for reasonable arbitration from an outside person or attorney when there is a tie vote other than going to court. Going to court is the next step based on the Charter. She is not trying to take anybody's job. She is concerned because when you have a tie vote on something and you still have people that are disgruntled, or an employee who is disgruntled, you have some of the problems that we are having now. She is not accusing anyone of saying anything. For good government, we need something in the Charter that would address a tie vote. Commissioner Cephas is a licensed conflict resolution person. She is not saying that he should be the person. Rob Collison said right now the only issue that could end in a tie vote is a personnel issue. This is up for Charter Referendum election on April 18th. If the Charter Amendment prevails, you will no longer have that tie situation. If it does not, it is something Council may wish to look into. Octavene Saunders said she will be back if she does not hear that they are taking in under consideration. They are not only dealing with people's livelihood but they are dealing with a restlessness that can come about in the City. No one person brought it about; it has been brewing for a long time.

Octavene Saunders said she compared ethics in the Charters of the State of Maryland, Howard County, and Cambridge. She was a Commissioner when the ethics code was revamped. It has been almost 12 years. In reviewing the codes, she found that it needs to be revamped and reviewed again. For example, they explain that the Commission should provide a public relations program. In Cambridge's ethics code, it says that the ethics committee at least once a year should be doing a public relations program. They never did it. She also thinks there is a member of the ethics committee who is about to be appointed to another committee. They cannot do that according to the code. The number that Cambridge has is different than other cities have in the two that she looked at. The other counties give a general information page. We don't do that. Howard County has a good one. She fought for this when she was in office. She has been fighting for it ever since and nobody wants to listen. In Cambridge's ethics code, your financial disclosure has never been changed. When you run for office and developers and people with special interest groups put money into your campaign, you don't have to report who gave you money. All you have to report is whether your family has been doing business with these business people who gave you money. She thinks we need to be a little careful. In these last two elections, there was all kinds of discomfort about developers financing candidates. That is why developers are getting a foothold in Cambridge right now. The ethics code needs to be redone, retightened up and they need to disclose campaign donations. The County and State both do it. The code does not explain what an unreasonable invasion of privacy is when a public official has an ethics charge levied against them whether it is true or not. It needs to look more professional than what has been done.

Octavene Saunders said she would never recommend the removal of an elected official right now. There is a code in the charter that talks about the removal of an elected official. At one time an elected official was removed for cause. However, she doesn't think the City Council should have the power to remove an elected official. She thinks it should be by special election of the voters. The voters put the elected official in; the officials serve the voters; and the voters should be the one to make that judgment. In the Charter it says negligent of duty, incompetence, or any other misconduct. She asked for a clarification of other misconduct. She would like the Council and attorney to revisit the Charter on removal of an elected official. She would like to see it taken out of the hands of the Commissioners. Right now, three Commissioners could remove an elected official with a reason. She would like the citizens to have that power. There should also be a public hearing. There is a need to have this part of the Charter updated and tightened up. She asked for a motion concerning these three items she talked about tonight. Commissioner Cephas said everything that she addressed has merit. He thinks it needs attention-some more than others. He thinks the ethics code needs to be revamped. As far as dismissal of public officials, he thinks there should be a public hearing if there is a major violation. He thinks the ethics committee should be involved. He sees a tie vote happening often, especially when someone is absent because they are sick. He doesn't see how they could get around that. He has a problem with arbitration. He has been in many arbitration cases and it depends on how you roll the dice. There has to be a better way. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to revisit these issues, revise them, and come back with a conclusion. Everything Mrs. Saunders said has merit. Commissioner Brooks said if you have a Commissioner who happens to be absent and you have four people and a tie vote, the Mayor, in the event of a tie, is allowed to vote. When it comes to department heads and personnel issues, if it is split three/three, there is no mechanism to change that vote which means that the tie vote lies on the table until there is another vote. If it happens to be split again, then it is still on the table. The tie vote issue only pertains to head of personnel issues because that is the only case where the Mayor actually has a vote vs. breaking a tie. It needs to be looked into. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Octavene Saunders, Pine Street Committee, to Request Renewal of Lease-The Pine Street Committee paid for a 10-year lease in advance. For some reason, Council makes them come back every year to ask to have the lease renewed in April. She is requesting that Council give them two years this time. They still have five years paid in advance. They worked hard to put that building there. They didn't encumber the City. At one time the Council was going to give them a 10-year lease. They have a lease that restricts them to a lot of things. Commissioner Cephas said he doesn't see why they don't have a 5-year lease. There may be something in the lease that can be revocable. Octavene Saunders said if you read the contract, you will see that it can very easily be revoked. Commissioner Cephas said a 5-year lease is in order. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to accept the lease for 5 years. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. Rob Collison said he thinks the lease renewal coincided with the annual reporting to see that they were complying with the grant agreement. If Council gives a 5-year lease and they are not in compliance, you can send a notice that they are in violation of a provision of the lease. Octavene Saunders said the grant agreement is no longer an issue now. The final report has been made to DHCD where the money came from and to the bond bill with Shaffer. They are no longer giving Kathy Foster a report. They are no longer under restrictions of the State grant agreement other than they cannot actively have certain types of political things because of the Hatch Act. Last month the NAACP requested that Mr. Collison come to the Empowerment Center to give a report on the referendum coming up. Their contract with the City is so tight she had to get the Mayor to give her a letter of permission so that they wouldn't get kicked out of the building. She was uncomfortable. She doesn't know what the City considers improper. She suggested that the Commissioners read the contract. They are no longer under the stress of giving any report for the bond bill money or for the DHCD money. They only have to give the City a report once a year. They have a written contract, not a lease. Within the contract it identifies what they can and cannot do. Rob Collison said he will provide a copy to Council for the next meeting including an addendum pertaining to the motion made tonight.

Portia Johnson-Ennels as if the Council and the Pine Street Committee could review the contract. With what they went through to get that building without anything from the City of Cambridge, it was the citizens of Cambridge who worked together to get it. The building was for the use of all people. Commissioner Brooks asked that the motion be amended to include a review of the contract. Rob Collison said he will have the entire agreement in Council's packet including a proposed addendum on the motion tonight. The motion passed unanimously. Octavene Saunders requested a letter stating the 5-year agreement.

Brian Roche to Propose a Multi-Use Trail From the Head of the Cambridge Creek into Dorchester County (along the existing railway)-Brian Roche said a group of 25 people have come up with an idea that they think would benefit the whole community. It would contribute to the tax base, attract tourists, and generally enrich the lives of everyone here. The idea is the Choptank Heritage Trail. Their vision statement is to create a multi-purpose trail in Dorchester County utilizing corridors along existing railways and greenways. The railway is in a state of flux right now but the benefit of it is that it is actually a designated greenway according to the Department of Natural Resources. Their idea is to tie the Hyatt Regency into the downtown to generate foot traffic. The State of Maryland has already developed a partial trail in front of the Hyatt. Their idea is to bring people down Crusader Road with markings on the road and go around Radiance Drive under the bridge and into Sailwinds Park. Another phase would be to expand the designations into the town. Phase 2 would be from Sailwinds Park, Hayward Street, across the Creek Bridge, up around the Court House to High Street, Poplar Street, Race Street and tie into Cedar Street. This is a projection-it is not official and is open for discussion where the designations should be. It would then go back toward the head of Cambridge Creek where the Beazer Development is. The railway actually runs to the head of the Cambridge Creek already. It is an abandoned corridor. It would be easy to build adjacent to the railway. There are thousands of these throughout the United States. The trail would continue from the head of the Cambridge Creek, across Washington Street, through the industrial park, and ends at Route 16 behind Wal-Mart. The railway goes to East New Market and Hurlock. Alternately they would like to tie into some similar efforts like a tourist train from Hurlock to Preston.

The community benefit would be enhanced recreation and resources. The idea is to tie parks, heritage areas, and downtowns together, all with something other than vehicle travel. It would help attract people back to Cambridge. There have not been any safety issues, even with an active rail corridor. They are not asking for any money. There is Federal and State money available. The DNR has already decided that this is a potential greenway and an asset to Maryland. Brian Roche gave examples of trails in other areas and the benefits the local towns realized. They would like to be included in the City's updated comprehensive plan. There next step as a group is to pursue funding. They want to fund this through existing grants that are provided by the Federal government. The State has a Greenways program. They must secure the right-of-way for the trail because if you don't have this staying as a community asset, you have no trail.

Representative of the Shelter Group Requesting Letter of Support for An Affordable Housing Project-Jeff Paxson said over the last 25 years, they have over 40 successful properties inside Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. They were the first company to get funded through Maryland's Low-Income Tax Credit Program. The project he would like to present is located off of Bayly Road. The site is a 21-acre wooded site on the southeast side of Bayly Road. It is close to Delmarva Community Services. It backs to the little league park and it is walking distance to the elementary school and the middle school. He should pictures of Shelter Projects that they have done. They are mixes of affordable and market rate. There is really no difference between a market rate community and an affordable community when Shelter does the project. The buildings will be three-story buildings. The estimated income range for this new community is anywhere from $10,800 to $30,750 per year. Rents for a two bedroom unit will be from $360 to $525.  Rents for a three bedroom unit will be from $475 to $575.

Brian Burnette said this is an 80-unit project comprised of four three-story buildings. They will also have a community building. The buildings are stick-frame construction. They will have vinyl siding and vinyl windows. There will be 50 two-bedroom units and 30 three-bedroom units-all with two bathrooms. The units come fully-equipped with Energy Star appliances. All of the ground floor units are either accessible or adaptable. The community building will hold the management office, the maintenance office, a community room, meeting rooms, a tenant activity and media room with computers, and an exercise room. The facilities are well-lit and well-landscaped.

Jeff Paxson said the quality in the community will rival the next market rate communities being developed throughout the City. The rents will be rents that the citizens of Cambridge can afford. They are asking for a support letter from the City Council. They are applying for tax credits with the State of Maryland on May 1st. In order for this to be possible, they need the support of the Council. In addition to the letter of support, they are asking for a financial contribution in the form of a PILOT. The PILOT gives a credit to the property of $100 per unit per year for a period of 10 years. This is consistent with what the City has done for the last two affordable housing projects that have come forward. They are asking the City to support them in the way the other two projects were supported. Commissioner Cephas asked if there were any other fees tied to the rent. Jeff Paxson said they don't include the tenants' utilities. There are no fees tied to the rents. When the State sets the income limits and the rent limits for a tax credit property, you need to take the maximum rent that they suggest for you and factor in utilities. They are estimating $100 for a three-bedroom unit and $80 a month for a two-bedroom unit for utilities. That is what they are subtracting from the maximum rent that they could charge.

Judd Apple said there is no room to walk on Bayly Road because there are no sidewalks on it. He asked if there could be easy access to the schools so they can ride bicycle. Jeff Paxson said their entrance is slated to come out on Bayly Road. They have a 150-ft wide area to work with there. He said they will have to work with the City on this. They are open to doing improvements to better the community. It is very challenging to make affordable housing budgets work. They have to own and manage the projects for 40 years.

Rob Collison said in their letter they are also asking for an exemption from the road usage impact fee. Commissioner Cephas said he is definitely in favor of affordable homes but there is another person he knows who is interested in doing something of that nature. He thinks he would have a problem giving them a letter of support without hearing about the other project in detail. He has spoken to the person by phone. Jeff Paxson said they have a 21-acre site and they are estimating that they will only disturb 5 acres. It will be a beautiful setting for housing in a wooded setting. He doesn't see how the projects would hurt each other. None of their neighbors will even see them.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said Mr. Paxson said their estimated income range is $10,800 to $37,000. The Cambridge Club Apartments' income is $16,520 to $41,000. Mr. Paxson said Cambridge Club is targeting 60 percent of medium income. Portia Johnson-Ennels said they actually broke it down to 40-, 50-, and 60-percent income. Mr. Paxton said his organization is targeted 30-, 40-, and 50-percent income. They are still working with their market analysis on the proper mix. There is a chance there could be some 60-percent units. Portia Johnson-Ennels asked how they came up with the rents. Mr. Paxson said the rents are set by the State of Maryland. They take the person's income and multiply it by 30 percent then they divide by 12. Portia Johnson-Ennels said the State has also allowed that the property that comes under that income-based rent can also have a straight rent amount. Mr. Paxson said they set the rent when the resident comes in and signs the lease based upon the type of unit they would qualify for. After they receive the award for the credits, their construction should start in 9 to 12 months. The construction should take approximately 10 months with units coming on line within the first 5 months. Portia Johnson-Ennels said it sounds good but it is not enough for what we need right now.

Mayor Rippons asked Rob Collison to gather some background information on the other projects so Council can make their decision at the next meeting.

Representative from Dorchester County Public Library to Receive Proclamation for Poetry Week in Cambridge-Oden Wheeler read the proclamation. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to a representative of the Dorchester County Public Library.

Proclamation for Administrative Professionals Week-Nobody was present to accept the proclamation.


Council to Appoint Tug Boat Committee-Commissioner Knox made a motion to accept the people who expressed an interest in being on the committee. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Sydnor asked if anyone on the list was on the Ethics Committee. Mayor Rippons said Jane Devlin is on the Ethics Committee. Jane Devlin said she will remove herself from the list. The motion passed unanimously. The members are Herm Kramer, Jo Chapman, David Singelstad, Mike Thielke, Guy Beckley, and Ben Parks.


Request from Alzheimer's Association to Hold Memory Walk on Saturday, October 7th at 9:00 am Starting and Ending at Great Marsh Park-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Request from Dorchester County Public Library for a Noise Variance for May 13th from 3:00 pm Until 6:00 pm for Their Cinco de Mayo Fair-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Request from MTS Broadcasting and Cambridge Motorsports for a Noise Variance for the Bike Show and Poker Run at Sailwinds Park on Saturday, June 3rd from 11:00 am Until 9:00 pm-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Re-Consider Awarding the Bid for the Harriet Tubman Museum Roof Repairs-Commissioner Knox made a motion to award the bid to Cole Roofing in the amount of $15,724. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Rob Collison asked for something in writing from the corporation that was originally awarded the bid. The motion passed unanimously.

Request from Little League to Hold Parade on Saturday, April 15th Starting at Long Wharf at 8:30 am and Ending at the Little League Park-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve PO 665 - Criswell Chevrolet -- $17,503 - 2006 Chevrolet 1/2-ton Truck for DPW-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve PO 671 to Mike Davidson Excavating $30,000 for Cedar Street Outfall Dredging-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve PO 674 to Telewire Inc. $4,525.75 Installation of 8 Additional Phones in DPW-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

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

Approve Financial Statement for February 2006-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.


Oden Wheeler announced that there would be a budget work session on Monday, April 17th at 6:00 pm in City Council Chambers. The purpose is to hold a public session for the upcoming budget requests as presented by the various departments. He read the scheduled times for the various groups. Commissioner Brooks asked if there was any discussion for an alternate date. Oden Wheeler said the date was probably chosen because that is the designated work session date. Commissioner Brooks said she is not going to be able to make this work session. She would love to see it moved to another date. Council decided on Wednesday, April 19th. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to hold a budget work session on Wednesday, April 19th starting at 6:00 pm instead of April 17th. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. (note from typist: This meeting was later rescheduled for April 26, 2006.)

Commissioner Brooks asked if Council had to make a motion to request a proclamation. Rob Collison said resolutions require a vote; proclamations do not. Commissioner Brooks said that Octavene Saunders' Pastor has left and he has asked for a proclamation for April 21st. She said they will need a proclamation for Reverend Dickerson for April 21st for 11 years of Pastoral Service for the Greater Mount Olive Full Gospel Baptist Church. She will get back to Oden Wheeler with the details for the proclamation.

Commissioner Brooks said on April 15th they will have the voting machines on display at the Empowerment Center from 1:00 pm until 3:00 pm. She asked Mr. Gootee to extend that time. She thinks it is important that everybody has an opportunity to get out and take a look at the machines because there are problems. She tried it four times. Two times it registered for just the opposite of what she wanted to vote for. It has something to do with how close they have put this together on the ballot. If you don't hit it a certain way, it will give the vote to what you don't want to vote for. She thinks it is important that everyone comes out and has an opportunity to look at this. She will try to have Mr. Gootee to have the machines set up at a different location or extend the hours at the Empowerment Center to start a couple hours earlier and maybe go to 4:00 pm. Octavene Saunders said Mr. Gootee was very concerned about the spacing of the "for" and "against". If there is an advance problem with this, probably you will contest the outcome because it is not going to suit everybody. If would behoove the City that if this thing has a problem, and the technical person at the County building said they are too close together, it should be taken care of before the day of the election. Commissioner Cephas asked Commissioner Sydnor to try to resolve these problems. She said he has tried repeatedly to work on it.

Commissioner Cephas said on 630 Race Street the City did some work to the curb and then there was a hole in the street and they patched it up. The next day it snowed and there was a big hole in the street. He doesn't think the guys let the mortar set long enough when they repaired the sidewalk. When they took the wood off, the cars chipped it right off again. One lady had a flat tire as a result of it because it cut her tire. David Pritchett said he will take care of it.

Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to go into executive session to obtain legal advice. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Sydnor said it is his understanding that they are doing some work at late hours at Long Boat up until 10:00 pm seven days a week. He asked if there was a stipulation they could put on this. David Pritchett said the current policy is 7:00 am until 10:00 pm. Council granted them an earlier start time last year. He has been riding out there on the weekends. He hasn't seen them working on Sundays although they were doing it for a while. Rob Collison said the Code specifies 10:00 pm. They would need an amendment to the Section 8-21. He will prepare an ordinance to present at the next meeting. It would take two meetings to approve the ordinance. Commissioner Sydnor suggested 7:00 am until 8:00 pm except with Council's prior approval which would allow for emergencies.

James Elliott said he started a taxi cab service last year. He received a note from Mr. Kinnamon this year saying he cannot renew his taxi cab license because he had a felony in 1987. Rob Collison said his is planning to have a recommendation to the Council to rectify it at the next Council meeting. It will require an amendment of another Code section. He will get Chief Malik's recommendation on this issue.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said we have had several companies that are closing. There will be quite a bit of unemployment in the County. As far as she can see, there are no new businesses coming in. Along with this there will be an increase in crime. She is asking what role the City is taking in working with the County to bring in new jobs. Commissioner Cephas said he is a member of the Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board. The people who will be displaced will have an opportunity to be re-trained for free as they have done in other areas. Some people have gone to college to get their associate degree. They have found jobs at other locations. The record of people who have found and kept their new jobs is better than 50 percent. The same will be afforded here. Mayor Rippons said he is continuing to work with the Economic Development Director from Dorchester County. He is working with Mid Shore Regional Council. He has contacted our Federal representatives about the $50 million Federal contract at Cenveo. As Burton takes over, they are releasing this contract to another entity. He is checking into the feasibility of maintaining it in Cambridge.

Octavene Saunders said we used to have a summer youth employment program. It gave a lot of children from different walks of life employment with the City. The previous Council decided not to have it. There are things that need to be done around the City that youth can help to do in different wards. She is asking Council to look into putting something in the budget to give some of the youth work to be done in the City. Commissioner Cephas said he is familiar with the summer youth program. Some of those students became gainfully employed with the City by working with this program. He thinks it is a wonderful idea to rejuvenate this program. David Pritchett said they still operate this program at DPW. It is a smaller amount of students but they have to be 17 years old. If they are younger than 17, they are not even allowed to work off the curb. They can't use a weed-eater. They can't push a lawnmower. The government has intervened and made it so strict for safety. They must have full-time people supervising the youth which takes them off their job. The difficulty is the safety aspect. Octavene Saunders said she talked to some 17 year olds that are looking for summer work and she remembers under the other Chief, they even had one or two interns that did office work at the Police Department. She knows for a fact that for years Mr. Kinnamon's daughters worked in City Hall during the summer. When Fred Thomas was office manager at Public Works, he had both of his children working during the summer. There are 17 year olds who need this work. She believes that if it was advertised in a timely fashion, you would get them. There are other things they can do at Public Works since they are saying things are bogged down there. Commissioner Brooks asked when the dates that these positions are advertised and how many positions they have. David Pritchett said right now he has three in for this year being that it will be inside work. He will advertise around the end of April or the first of May. They usually get an adequate amount of students who stop in on their own and apply. Commissioner Brooks said they can tell students who are interested to stop in on their own. David Pritchett said they should request an application for seasonal employment. Octavene Saunders said she would like the Commissioners to check the other departments to see if they can use a summer intern.

Mike Demers encouraged Council to think about what Ms. Saunders was saying about the Charter. There are obviously problems with it and with checks and balances. There has been the same set-up since the 1930s at least. Maybe it is time to think of change and redistrict or have at-large Commissioner bids or have six or seven Commissioners. It will give more opportunities to the City. He thinks the Ethics Committee needs to be stronger. The Charter needs a lot of work.

Commissioner Brooks made a motion to move into Executive Session to discuss Personnel after the meeting. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 10:41 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Tuesday, April 11, 2006, insofar as I personally am aware.

Oden C. Wheeler, Administrative Coordinator