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  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
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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
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City Council Minutes

November 27, 2006

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, November 27, 2006 in 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 Cephas made a motion to approve the minutes of the November 13, 2006 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

APPOINTMENTS

Sailwinds Management Board-Shirley Tarbox presented a written financial statement and a list of the potential new board members to the City Council.

Deborah Johnson to Give Update on Lead Paint Removal Program-Deborah Johnson spoke representing the Corporation for Healthy Homes and Economic Development. She presented an interim report on the status of the Cambridge Lead Program. The report listed landlords who have gone through risk assessment. They have had a difficult time locating a qualified risk assessor because there are a limited number of risk assessors on the Eastern Shore. They found Connor Environmental in Baltimore. As far as she can project, they are still scheduled to meet their deadline for deliverables by treating 20 homes based on the number of units they have already assessed. They published the notice for contractors for people interested in bidding for lead abatement work. It is on the internet on their website as well as an ad that has been run in the Daily Banner. Mayor Rippons thanked Ms. Johnson for her report. Commissioner Knox asked if all the homes have been identified. Ms. Johnson said in the conclusion section of her interim report, the largest property owners are still not responding. Some owners have begun their process as of the last two weeks. Any landlord who would like to contact her can call 1-866-543-9611. She had copies of the RFP for anyone who wanted one.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

None

NEW BUSINESS

Request from Wal-Mart to Use Four Storage Trailers Behind Their Store and Four Storage Containers on Their Patio for 30 Days-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Re-establish Pay Grades for General Maintenance Worker 1 and General Maintenance Worker 2-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Introduction and First Reading of Charter Resolution CR-2006-01 to Provide for Special Elections-Rob Collison said this is a follow-up from a previous discussion. Council appointed a Special Elections Ad-Hoc Committee that met several times. Their goal was to shorten the time period by which a vacancy would occur and a replacement for an elected official would be completed as well as trying to address the costs and set forth the precise process to be followed. As it currently stands there are no criteria for special elections. This charter resolution would create a new Section 3-13A entitled "Special Election" to the City Charter. Tonight is the first of two readings. If the resolution is approved, there is a period of time by which it would not become effective in the event that a sufficient number of registered voters petition to take it to referendum. The Committee recommended that a period of 15 days be given from when the Council decides to have a special election for the candidates to file their statement of candidacy. There would be a primary election thirty days from that date. If there are more than two candidates, anyone receiving more than 50 percent of the votes would become the elected official and there would be no general election. Council suggested that the percentage should be changed to 60 percent.

Not addressed in the charter resolution is the current standard that states that a special election will only be held if the vacancy occurs with more than four months outside of a regularly-scheduled election. As it stands, this statement would still hold.

Portia Johnson-Ennels said she was a member of the Committee. A group of citizens was asked to come up with a plan. When they brought it to Council, they were under the assumption that it was the purpose they were selected for. Instead, Council decided they didn't like what the Committee chose and put it their way. That was not the purpose of the Committee. She thinks they should go back to the original 50 percent. Otherwise, Council is saying that they did it to put on paper that they asked for citizen input but they are going to do what they want anyway. Commissioner Cephas said the only change was the percentage. Everything else was kept the same. Portia Johnson-Ennels said they kept the original part in there also that they can make the decision which the Committee asked they removed that also.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Rob Collison announced that there have been some advertisements regarding annexations. At the Council's December 11th meeting, they will hold a public hearing on the proposed annexation for the Christ Rock area. At Council's meeting on Wednesday, December 27th, they will hold a public hearing on the annexation of the Bucktown Road/Airport area.

Rob Collison announced that Council met in closed executive session on a personnel matter at 6:00 pm this evening. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to move into executive session regarding personnel immediately following the regular Council meeting. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Sydnor asked Oden Wheeler if he advertised for the two new positions yet. Oden Wheeler said they will be posted for in-house advertisement tomorrow morning. They will run for five days in-house and then they will be advertised in the newspaper. Commissioner Sydnor asked if he determined the type of selection committee that will be used for the interviews. Oden Wheeler said that will be something that Council should decided because one of the positions is a department head level position. He can provide Council will an outline of what they have done in the past and then Council can choose their selection method.

Commissioner Cephas said at the last meeting Council discussed Christmas lights for Pine Street. He asked for an update. He rode down Race Street and he noticed that what he has been accustomed to seeing as far as lights, he did not see many of them. It was on the further end. If they aren't going to use the lights, then he strongly recommended they be used on Pine Street. Some of the merchants on Pine Street have Christmas lights on their establishments. Other merchants plan to do the same thing. They need some help from the City. Mayor Rippons said the new decorations are an initiative of Main Street. The City does not own the Christmas lights that were up there before. They are owned and maintained by the Jaycees. He and Mr. Kinnamon contacted a member of the Jaycees to see if they would allow the City to utilize them on Pine Street. The gentleman told them that there are lighting configurations that have to be done. He suggested someone meet him at Webster's store to work it out. They contacted Carlton Stanley and asked him to form a group to work on the lights. Mr. Stanley said he had a gentleman to do it. That is where the project stands. Ed Kinnamon said the street light poles have to be pre-wired and have brackets installed to hang the Christmas lights. The Jaycees have done that throughout the City over the years. Delmarva Power has to be involved also. Mr. Webster of the Jaycees said the City is welcome to use the lights. It is late to get all this work done for this season.

Commissioner Brooks said the Housing Task Force met on Tuesday and they are finalizing tasks that they have worked on in 2006. They are asking Council to give them any recommendations or suggestions on any task they would like the Housing Task Force to work on for 2007.

Commissioner Travers said he understands David Pritchett was to return to work today. He thanked Odie Wheeler for an outstanding job that he has done at the Department of Public Works for the last 14 weeks.

Oden Wheeler reminded Council that they have one vacancy on the Housing Board of Review. Mayor Rippons asked Council for suggestions. Commissioner Knox said Wendell Foxwell has asked that his name be considered for any vacancies on City Committees.

Rev. Yvonne Penn, Pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church (712 Bradley Avenue), thanked Council for meeting with members of her church last Wednesday. As they were asked to do, they have a cost estimate for the parking facility. Mayor Rippons said the associated costs that the contractor came up with is $5867. Rev. Penn said a Commissioner suggested that they come up with a three-way cost; the contractor would take on a portion, and the church would consider a portion, and the City will be presented with a portion. Commissioner Sydnor said they were looking at various options. Rev. Penn said they are not asking for a defrayment of cost because they feel that they did everything that they were supposed to do. Their architect checked with the fire chief and they have it logged where they did it. Mayor Rippons asked for a copy of the letter. Rev. Penn said she hopes the City is not looking at a third. They are hoping the City does what the City needs to do. Mayor Rippons said in 2004, the requirements were codified in the City. They must build in compliance with the Code. Rev. Penn said they were hit with this a couple days before their scheduled opening. Their builder did what they were supposed to do. She understands Codes. She served on the Planning and Zoning Committee for Wicomico County for over 12 years. She feels the City has a certain responsibility to make sure that everything that needs to be done is done more than three days before a building is scheduled to be occupied. The fire marshal needed to be there and share with them what needed to be done. That is the church's argument. Commissioner Cephas said if their architect contacted the fire chief at the time and got the go-ahead to do it, and Rev. Penn can bring Council something from the architect indicating that he did do it, then it is something Council should really consider. Mayor Rippons said there has to be a sign-off of the chief at that time. With document on the table, then Council will certainly consider it and address the issue of the cost overrun. Rev. Penn said when they left on Wednesday, they did not leave with the idea or the understanding that everything rests on a letter from the architect. Nobody told her she needed a letter. She volunteered to call the architect so she doesn't think it should come into play now. Commissioner Brooks said it wasn't her understanding that the chief signs off on something, but that he would come and give the contractor the go-ahead and that Planning and Zoning would sign off on the permit once everything was done. They have a checklist, but nothing to sign-off. Rev. Penn said Planning and Zoning should hold those records. Mayor Rippons asked Oden Wheeler to check on this and address the issue with the fire chief at that time to see if he has notes or any recollection of talking to the architect. Oden Wheeler said he checked with Mr. Watkins and he does not recall anything to do with St. Luke's Church but he qualifies the fact that he may just not remember. He also spoke to Anne Roane to see if there is a sign-off that we get from the various departments regarding their comments or lack of comments and the way it was working at the time was that she sent them out saying that she needed a reply by a certain date. If they didn't have a reply, then it was considered that they had no comment. He told her that they need to initiate a procedure where they need to sign off whether they have comments or not. Commissioner Brooks asked if there was a letter from Ms. Roane transmitting it to the fire chief. Oden Wheeler did not know. Mayor Rippons asked him to check the file. Rev. Penn said they received a letter of approval from Planning and Zoning and when they get such a letter, she thought it included that they have covered every basis and they made contact with all the necessary agents and departments that needed to be involved. Rob Collison with regard to the specific issue, the layout can stay the same and it could have been that the fire department had no problem provided the parking space and sidewalk did not exceed 20 feet. Whether that was clearly delineated on what the fire chief reviewed, if he did review it, needs to be determined. Someone could have looked at the layout and say it was fine, and what fell through the cracks was the distance. In the back, if the parking space length itself and the sidewalk did not collectively exceed 25 feet, that layout would have been approved and nothing would have to be done. It is 28 feet-that is why they will not approve it. It is too far from the building. He could have assumed it was going to be 25 feet because if the Code said it had to be 25 feet, then he thinks that is a legal issue with the architect. You can have building permits issues if the house is going to be built to Code. A lot of times at the end, the Use and Occupancy Permit is not issued because the builder or the architect did not build to code even thought the permit was issued. Mayor Rippons suggested looking at the plan that was submitted by the architect to see if the proper dimensions are indicated on it. Rob Collison said it could very well have been that it was shown up there but they would have to look at the key and the measurement. Commissioner Sydnor said someone had to approve these plans. Mayor Rippons said if the architect presented a document which is nebulous or does not have that, then Planning and/or the fire chief could have surmised that when they drafted it, it was in compliance. If the document clearly shows that it was 28 feet and the City looked at it and it was our error, then St. Luke's has a justifiable position that Council needs to look at. Rev. Penn said she spent hours with the current fire chief. They reviewed a document and said it should have been caught. He said the City should have caught this. It should not have slipped by the City. He said this is the problem we are having now and it is because the City is not doing their part and when it gets to him, it is too late. Commissioner Knox said they are doing it now. Rev. Penn said it is totally unfair and she doesn't think the City should even question it and say it could be the architect's or the builder's fault. After talking with the fire chief and he shared with her some of the issues and the struggles that he has gone through, she doesn't think there is a question that St. Luke's was in the right. Mayor Rippons asked for Council's consideration at this time. Commissioner Sydnor said he thinks they should do something at this particular point. They have the problem out there. There was a lack of communication on someone's part and it was not the church. There was a breakdown at some particular point. He said the City should step up to the plate and rectify this situation at this time. Commissioner Cephas asked if he wanted to wait for the information that they requested. Commissioner Sydnor asked if it would make a difference. Mayor Rippons said with the proposal that was submitted, the Department of Public Works may be able to do some of the work. After the report is submitted, if Council perceives that Council should step up, then Council should see if Public Works can do some of the work. Commissioner Knox asked if Rev. Penn would be willing to give them to the next Council meeting. Commissioner Cephas asked if the City could do some of the work if it is found that the City was negligent. Rob Collison said to review what we are talking about, it is not removing any asphalt-it is removing a 4-foot strip of ground in the front of the front parking lot and stabilizing it with some thicker topsoil and some crusher run stone and then putting sod above it so it would support the fire vehicles. Rev. Penn said the reason they want their builder to do it is because the architect will come in afterwards and examine to make sure that it is done correctly. She asked if the City would pay the architectural fee to make sure it is done correctly. Mayor Rippons said St. Luke's consideration is that they cannot get a full occupancy permit on their building until the fire chief signs off. If DPW does the work and the fire chief looks at it and says it is in full compliance and will sign off, why would they need to have an architect come back? Rev. Penn said they will consider it. Commissioner Knox said he thought they talked about having a memorandum of understanding between the church and the fire company to allow a grace period so they can continue on. If they could extend the grace period until the next Council meeting when they can get the information, then they can take the next step to resolve the issue. Rev. Penn said just like the City is asking them for a paper trail, she would like to see a paper trail. Commissioner Sydnor said whatever is done, the Council wants to do it to St. Luke's expectations. Mayor Rippons said the current status is a temporary occupancy permit. He asked Rob Collison if it needs to be extended. Oden Wheeler said the 30 days expired today and they have issued a permanent occupancy permit with two stipulations-one is to rectify this issue and there is also an ADA issue that they have been working on with the church. Rev. Penn said folks have said that they have given a lot of money to St. Luke's and she wishes they would give them some because they haven't received any at all from the City.

Rev. Penn said she would like to take a closer look at the economic development director job with the City and the others that are available. She would like to post them in the church. Rev. Penn said she has a personnel matter that she would like to discuss with Council during their executive session. She thanked Council for having them here tonight.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 7:50 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, November 27, 2006, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer