• 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

September 11, 2006

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, September 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, and Brooks.

Mayor Rippons called for a moment of silence in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of September 11th. Oden Wheeler led in the Lord's Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the minutes of the August 28, 2006 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion was passed 4:0.

APPOINTMENTS

Proclamation - Alzheimer's Association - 2006 Memory Walk-Oden Wheeler read the proclamation. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to Freda Thomas and Jessica Dukes. Jessica Dukes said all money they raise will go toward research and respite care for individuals in this area. She asked everyone to join them on October 7th at Great Marsh Park.

Representative from the American Schooner Association to Request Permission to Use Long Wharf on Saturday, October 21st from 12 Noon until 8:00 pm; a Noise Variance; an Alcohol Variance for a Private Party; and a Blanket Permit for Vendors-Roger Worthington said their main objective is to promote the downtown and the harbor. They will possibly have 15 schooners attend this year and are hoping it will become an annual event. George Hyde said he thinks this can be done even with the work being done in the area. Mayor Rippons instructed Roger Worthington to speak to Mr. Lyons at Dorchester County Planning and Zoning concerning a liquor license. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to grant the requests. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0. Oden Wheeler asked them to present event insurance.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Vernon Spear's Request for Water and Sewer Hook-Up-Rob Collison said this request was presented to Council about a year ago. The property is on Magnolia Trail. He reviewed the Sanitary District agreement that was entered into about two years ago when the rates became unified. The records indicate that if there is a lot of record within an existing Sanitary District, then that lot could connect subject to the applicable impact fees. If someone has one lot and wants to subdivide it into five lots, it will not qualify. The agreement did provide for a condition that if the lots were adjacent to the City, they would have to be annexed. George Hyde said he thinks they are lots of record and would be served by the Sanitary District. He doesn't know if the City could prevent that hook-up. He thinks the question is about the water. They are not contiguous to the City as they stand now. Commissioner Knox said they had talked to Mr. Spear about annexation but he was not interested. He wanted City services but not to be annexed. Mayor Rippons asked Rob Collison to look into annexation before Council votes.

NEW BUSINESS

Open Bids for Furnishing and Delivering Two Single-Use Unkeyed Licenses ArcView 9.1 and One ArcGIS Spatial Analysist Single-Use Unkeyed License (Computer Software for GPS System)-Oden Wheeler reported that the City received two bids:

§ GIS Integrated Solutions, LLC (Baltimore) - $4,495

§ ESRI (California) - $5,232.53

Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to refer the bids to DPW for their review and recommendation. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0. George Hyde explained that this is mapping software.

Request from Dorchester Lodge #223 for Permission to Hold Their 89th Annual Organization Day Weekend from Thursday, October 26th through Sunday October 29th; Parade on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. Including a Noise Variance and Closing Pine Street Between Cross and Cedar Streets from 12:00 pm Until 6:00 pm; Request to Park on the West Side of Pine Street Saturday Night from 9:00 pm Until 2:00 am and Sunday at 4:00 pm for Memorial Worship Service-Mayor Cephas made a motion to approval all the requests. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0. Commissioner Brooks asked Mr. Wheeler for the signs that go on the sides of the City cars. She asked that he did not have them, that new ones be ordered. She also asked for a City vehicle for Council to use.

Request from God's Family Life Worship Center for a Noise Variance for a Youth Outreach to be Held Behind Sojourner-Douglass College on Friday, September 15th Between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Request from St. John's Holiness Church for a Noise Variance on Saturday, September 30th from 12:00 pm Until 6:00 pm and Permission to Block Camelia Street for a Block Party-Captain Hutton did not have any problems with this request. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. Commissioner Brooks asked for clarification as to how much of Camelia Street will be blocked. The residents will need to be notified of this inconvenience and they should be made aware that Council will be making a decision at the next meeting. No vote was taken.

Request from Business Owner Regarding Unpaid Personal Property Taxes-Mayor Rippons said that a memo from Ed Kinnamon indicates that personal property taxes are paid one year in arrear. The tax does not follow a fiscal year. The business owner may have closed the business, but the first year he is asking relief from would be a year that the business would have been in operation. Mayor Rippons said he understands that there was also an unpaid downtown loan. Mr. Boyle said that will be taken care of. Rob Collison said the personal property tax bill for 2001 covers business operations for 2000. Mr. Boyle said the bill he has is for July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002. He closed in October 2000. Rob Collison said that the bill says it is for business year 2000. The bill that went out in July 2002 is for business year 2001. It is based upon personal property filing. They don't know what to tax you until they know what you have in personal property. If he can provide verification that he closed in October 2000, then those next two years would be abated or withdrawn. Rob Collison said the City bills on a fiscal year for the prior calendar year. Commissioner Knox made a motion to withdraw any tax bills for personal property sent after 2001 when Mr. Boyle brings documentation to Mr. Kinnamon proving that the subject business closed in 2000. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Approve Request to Purchase Furniture for Public Safety Building-Oden Wheeler said that ASOP 24 says that if the City can piggyback off of a State, local, county, or municipal contract, they can forego the formal bidding process. He is working with a group on a Metro contract from Baltimore so they can get a substantial discount. It also includes installation. He has been working with the three departments who will be going into the building. This is strictly for office furniture. The cost is estimated to be $161,000. This covers approximately 99% of the Police Department, CEMS, and all of the corporate offices for RFC. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. Commissioner Knox asked if there will be any opportunity for any money to be spent locally. Oden Wheeler said he is working with a local business on some of the items for the building. As they proceed, there will be other things that have to be purchased. The motion passed 4:0.

Approve Budget Amendment for Department of Public Works-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Approve PO 766 - George, Miles & Buhr $36,220 - Engineering Services for Enhanced Nutrient Removal Study (DPW)-Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Approve PO 4106 - Morean's Fire Equipment - $2,639 for R.I.T. Bag and Accessories - Sole Source Provider - (RFC)-Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Approve PO 4057 - IBM - System and Computer Server - $17,990 (CPD)-Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Approve PO 4056 - IBM - Computer Accessories - $11,487 (CPD)-Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Approve PO 4055 - ISmart - Computer Licenses - $16,511.75 (CPD)-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Oden Wheeler said the Alzheimer's Association and Cambridge Main Street have both made requests for banners to be placed over Race Street. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to allow the banners to be hung. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Oden Wheeler said during the storm last week, a tree at Long Wharf was heavily damaged. A tree expert examined it and determined that the tree will have to be removed because it is rotten. It should be removed by the end of the week.

Commissioner Brooks said with the City of Cambridge growing as much as we are growing, she thinks we have been grateful to the County that they have done the emergency preparedness and have the emergency department. She feels that the City of Cambridge, especially City Hall, should have a few (maybe three) representatives working along with the County in any kind of disaster plan that we may have that may affect the City of Cambridge. She doesn't think we should rely solely on the County to take care of the County and the City. She would like Council to think about what role they can do to be a partner with the County. We are talking about doubling the population in the City. She thinks we need to be proactive and get a plan in place. Captain Hutton said we are part of the Emergency Management Board; however, in defense of the City, the County very rarely calls them even during hurricanes. They seem to forget we are here. He thinks the City should be proud of their emergency services and the department of public works because they do a good job on their own.

Commissioner Brooks asked for a report on the skateboard park. She hasn't heard anything in a couple of months. She would hate for 2008 to roll around and this to still be a topic of discussion. If this is something they are serious about, they need to have some regular meetings and get it off the ground. George Hyde said he and Dale Price met with Scott Eberspacher from Dorchester County Parks and Recreation last week. He had a list of sites and asked the City to put together a list of City properties. He will formulate what they came up with and then have a meeting with the City and the County to review it further.

Commissioner Brooks said she would also like to revisit the low-income housing. Council had asked for several bids on Leonard Lane. They haven't done anything with that. She would like Council to be prepared to talk about low-income housing and what they are going to do with the Leonard Lane property at the next meeting if that is the only piece of property that the City has that they can give for low-income housing. If there is something else available, she would like to know about it. They need to get some kind of project started. Three people submitted bids and have done a lot of work. They have been on hold and deserve some kind of feedback on what the City is planning to do.

Commissioner Brooks said after last week they have received several calls about the County tax that the citizens of Cambridge pay and the amount of service that they receive from the County. She was hoping Council could discuss this at a work session with the County Council and come to some kind of resolution to help the City residents.

Commissioner Brooks asked everyone to keep Commissioner Travers in their prayers. He had a slight accident and wasn't able to make it to tonight's meeting.

Commissioner Sydnor said at the last meeting, Council asked Rob Collison to review the procedure to increase permit fees. Rob Collison said this document will be ready for the next meeting.

Commissioner Sydnor said Council received a letter from the Housing Authority of Cambridge concerning their water charge. Commissioner Cephas said at the last meeting, Commissioner Brooks spoke about excessive water bills at Cattail Crossing. Commissioner Brooks said she has not heard anything from MUC. Mayor Rippons suggested they speak to Gary Newcomb. Some of the bill was for irrigation. Commissioner Brooks suggested that Mr. Newcomb or a representative be present at the next meeting. Commissioner Cephas said he will call Gary Newcomb and hopefully they can work it out in his office.

Commissioner Knox thanked DPW and the folks who are involved in paving our streets.

Portia Johnson-Ennels asked about the sidewalk in front of Joy Staniforth's building on Race Street. There are stones which are dangerous to walk on. She understands that it is the responsibility of the property owner to fix the sidewalk and it is time that the City gives them a repair notice. Gage Thomas said four tanks were taken out there. He had a signed contract on June 20th with Tri-County Masonry. The property owners from the building next to the college are going to re-do their sidewalks all at one time. The brick that was put down should have been put in concrete dust instead of sand. This will have to be redone. He sent the contractor a certified letter about two week ago and hasn't heard from him. He asked the City to give them a little more indulgence as they try to get it done before the winter. His goal is to get it done before Summer Send-Off but doesn't think that will happen.

Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if Commissioner Brooks had transportation ready for the Housing Task Force when they attend the conference in Baltimore on September 21st. Commissioner Brooks said Mr. Kinnamon said he will reimburse them for mileage. Jane Devlin said she will drive.

Gage Thomas said County Commissioner Ricky Travers was at a Main Street meeting and he said that the County is going to have a task force to address City and County taxes. The first meeting will be held before the November election.

Gage Thomas said as far as affordable housing on Leonard Lane, he understands that some of that land is non-tidal wetlands. He doesn't know if the City has done the delineation yet to see what, if anything, can be built on it. One gentleman had a project on Park Lane and Leonard Lane and requested a zoning change. The zoning change is an opportunity to reduce the cost of housing to make it affordable. One parcel is behind Cambridge Self-Storage and is about three acres. He has one zoning map that says it is R‑3 (multi-family) and another map shows it as R‑1. Everything around it is R-3, NC-2, NC-3, and NC-4. The owner wants to sell the property but it cannot be sold until he knows what it is zoned. There may be in-fill areas where the private sector can make affordable housing happen with proper planning and control. Commissioner Brooks said if it is an opportunity for home ownership, the Council needs to listen to whatever the owner wants to propose. With an R-3 zoning, you can sell the houses cheaper because you can get more townhouses in the property. Council is ready to listen to proposals for low-income housing. Commissioner Knox said if the surrounding properties are R‑3, then chances are that the property in question should be R-3 also. He suggested they determine how that property is zoned and then go from there.

Clare Clark, a small business owner, said she recently called the tax office about the Hyatt Regency and asked about the taxes they pay to the County and City. She was surprised to find out that they have a 25-year tax exemption. She wondered if Council was aware of that and wondered if the County and City had anything to do with that decision. She knows the Hyatt was pretty much given to County for economic development. She feels like the taxpayers are doing a lot more. She asked if the City can do anything about it. Mayor Rippons said in the late 1990s the City and County Councils had an arrangement with the State authorities. The land remains within the confines of the State. The City and County needed economic stimulus. At that time the County granted a 20-year full abatement. The City granted them a 25-year abatement with a 4-year phase-in. Rob Collison said in the end it didn't matter what we did, because it was done under the assumption that Hyatt or a private development company would own the property and they would be given the tax abatement. At that time, the City was not receiving any revenues from the hotel room tax. The decision was made that the City would do the abatements if the County (through the State), would increase the room tax to 5 percent and the City would get 80 percent of whatever the room tax is, provided it is not less than a 5-percent tax. This raises about a half million dollars a year. The City is also receiving an entertainment tax. Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) owns the improvements. As a State entity, we cannot tax MEDCO. Even if we did not give a tax abatement, they would be tax exempt. Gage Thomas said that the whole time the property was owned by the State, the City did not receive tax income so it is a continuation of the same. Rob Collison said MEDCO does not own the property where the houses are being built. That exemption terminates upon transfer and a substantial portion of the transfer was done in June of this year ($41.5 million). Starting next year, that revenue will come in on the homes. Mayor Rippons said during the peak months, you can get up to $75,000 a month from room taxes. The expectations are higher than what was expected.

Rev. Jackson asked if the sign could be put up across from his driveway saying "no parking from here to corner". In 2001 he requested the sign. This year the sign has been removed. He said that Mrs. Marge Sampson would like the sign to be put right at her driveway so that cars would not hinder her from exiting her driveway. The sign would be placed on Allen Street near the intersection of Allen and Washington Streets. Mayor Rippons asked Oden Wheeler to look into this.

Portia Johnson-Ennels asked what was on the agenda for the work session on September 18th. Commissioner Brooks said as far as she knows, they do not have anything. Nobody has called in with anything yet. Rob Collison said they talked about discussing the ordinances proposed by the Housing Task Force.

Commissioner Cephas asked Evelyn Townsend about the progress on the Harriet Tubman Museum roof. Evelyn Townsend it is covered on the outside. They are working on the inside now.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:10 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, September 11, 2006, insofar as I personally am aware.

Oden C. Wheeler, Jr., Administrative Coordinator