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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

December 27, 2006

The City Council met in regular session on Wednesday, December 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 Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the December 11, 2006 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARING

Annexation of the Cambridge/Dorchester Regional Airport and Tech Park on Bucktown Road (Annexation Resolution A-2006-03)-Rob Collison said the annexation request was officially submitted by the Dorchester County Council. Notice of the pubic hearing was sent via certified mail to Steve Dodd, the Director of Dorchester County Planning and Zoning on November 27, 2006; Dorchester County Council on November 27, 2006; and to the Maryland Department of Planning on November 17, 2006. Notice of the public hearing was published in the Daily Banner on November 17, 24, December 1, 8, 2006. The City received correspondence dated December 21, 2006 from the Maryland Department of Planning. They reviewed the information from a State perspective and offered the following comments: Article 23A, as amended by House Bill 1141, specifies that the new zoning for the annexed land cannot be substantially different from the existing County zoning without the expressed consent of the County Council. Several properties (Parcels 12, 14, 90, 199, and 319) appear to be proposed for a zoning that is inconsistent with the existing County zoning and it seems a waiver will be required from the County for these properties. They also noted that several other properties (parcels 90, 199, 319, 390, 424, 425 and part of 11) do not lie within a Priority Funding Area. If the City desires to seek PFA certification, they will need to seek the certification in accordance with all of the requirements of the State. Three properties (Parcels 12, 90, and part of 11) are located outside of a Designated Growth Area for the Development District's Category on the County Land Use Plan. Two properties (Parcels 424 and 425) are not planned for water and sewer service in the County's 10-year water and sewer plan. They recommend that the City coordinate with the County to process a water and sewer plan amendment for these properties prior to services being provided to the site.

The Planning and Zoning Commission met to consider the annexation. They voted favorably to recommended adoption and passage of Annexation Resolution A-2006-03 as submitted.

The County has obtained the necessary consents of the property owners both from a valuation standpoint and the registered voters. The proposed zoning for Parcel 11 is I-1 (light industrial), Parcel 12 is I-1, Parcel 33 is R-1 (single family), Parcel 43 is R-1, Parcel 44 is I-2 (heavy industrial), Parcel 90 is I-1, Parcel 92 is I‑1, Parcel 199 is I-1, Parcel 319 is I-2, Parcel 390 is I-1, Parcel 424 is I-1, Parcel 425 is I-1, Parcel 189 is R-1, and Parcel 35 is R-1. The total acreage is 695.32 acres which includes and incorporates the airport, the proposed expansion of the airport, and also the proposed tech park that the County is developing.

Anne Roane said the City will apply for the Priority Funding Area designation. It is a standard procedure that is outlined by the State for annexations associated with municipalities. You cannot obtain PFA designation until you are annexed.

E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney, spoke on behalf of the Dorchester County Council and the citizens of Dorchester County who requested annexation. Of the 695 acres to be annexed, the County owns 467 acres or approximately 67%. The reason for annexation is to get the tech park up and running. The new industrial tech park is being developed on Bucktown Road. The also want to expand the airport. It is particularly important to look at what has happened to the City and County over the past years and the devastating loss of jobs this County has incurred. This effort will get some of these jobs back. They hope that the tech park will employ between 800 and 1200 people.

Bob Tenanty, Public Works Director for Dorchester County, presented the survey plat for the annexation. Approximately one year ago the City annexed just to the other side of South Avenue just south of Route 50 on Bucktown Road. Approximately three years ago the airport terminal building was constructed and required a connection to the City's sewage system. A temporary connection was made with a sewage grinder pump. Part of the City's requirements for connection was that the airport ultimately be annexed into the City. The tech park consists of 110 acres. It is located on Bucktown Road just past Cordtown Road. In order to have the City properties contiguous, they are also annexing seven parcels along Bucktown Road. One of the issues was to extend water and sewer out to the tech park property. The tech park is intended to be approximately fifteen 5-acre lots for industrial growth to be served with public water and sewer. The County and City did not have the financial resources to extend water and sewer from the Route 50 area to the tech park so they obtained a $1.7 million loan from the USDA. One of the requirements of getting that loan from USDA was that the property be owned by the owner or be within the jurisdiction of the owner of the water and sewer system. They are proposing that the tech park will have a sewage pump station. The initial intent of the pump station will be to serve the 15 lots of the tech park as well part of the airport. The sewage will flow by gravity to the pump station and then be pumped through an 8‑inch force main or pressure sewer along the shoulder of Bucktown Road, under Route 50 into the existing Jacktown pump station. Presently the water main for the City ends near the intersection of Route 16 and Route 50. They will extend that water main from Route 16, using the old roadway offset a couple 100 feet off of Route 50. The water main will run behind there over to Bucktown Road and then down Bucktown Road to the tech park. The City Engineer and the County Engineer are finalizing the request for proposals to get the design engineer on board to design the system. A lot of the particulars of what side of the road it will be on will be worked out in the design phase. Rob Collison asked if it will be designed so that other properties along Bucktown Road, not included in this annexation, would be able to tap in at a later date. Mr. Tenanty said it would. The waterline will be large enough to provide the fire flow. It will most likely have a booster pump in it. It will be able to serve the properties along Bucktown Road. The connections will be discussed with George Hyde and the City Council. A typical design takes into consideration future growth. There will be an 8‑inch force main or pressure sewer from the tech park all the way to the existing pump station. They provide a grinder pump that they allow single residences or small flows to connect directly into that pressure force main.

Brad Broadwell said the lack of developed acreage for business use represents one of the biggest economic issues facing Dorchester County. Dorchester County is currently not able to effectively recruit new companies due to the limited availability of developed land. The easiest way to compete for new companies is to provide attractive developed sites with amenities. This new business and technology park will be created through partnerships between the City of Cambridge, Dorchester County, Maryland's Economic Development Corporation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and though the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration.

City and County officials came together three years ago and determined that they would fund necessary infrastructure for this business and technology park. Monetary commitment from Maryland's Department of Business Development, which has committed to issue a loan for $1.75 million through its One Maryland program, enabled the County Council to purchase a 113 acre parcel for the park. Additional commitments from the USDA for a loan of approximately $1.7 million for infrastructure to the park, and a forthcoming loan from the Economic Development Administration for an additional $1.3 million for infrastructure development in the park have enabled us to obtain financing for a sizable amount of this project. The Maryland Economic Development Corporation is another public sector partner.

Currently the County has little to no available space to build structures in our two business parks located in Cambridge and Hurlock. Dorchester County has the competitive advantage of offering companies the availability of being in a Hub Zone and a Maryland Enterprise Zone.

The County's average income is $25,843-just 67% of Maryland's average. The County's unemployment rate for 2006 has fluctuated from 5.3% to 5.8%. County population for the last decade has been stagnant with an upturn over the last few years. Until the recent closings, Dorchester County employed approximately 27% of its labor force in manufacturing. This far exceeds Maryland's overall rate of 5%. For the last decade, Dorchester County residents have seen a progressive downsizing of manufacturing jobs from almost 1800 factory jobs lost starting in 2000 to the lost of nearly 800 jobs this year.

These County-wide employment trends will have pronounced effects on the long-run economic prosperity of Dorchester County if we do not alter our priorities. Good wage jobs will continue to be steadily replaced by lower paying service sector jobs if we do not plan accordingly.

The decline in high-wage industries like manufacturing is not necessarily an irreversible trend as some regions of the US are showing some growth in manufacturing. There are some well-paying opportunities in various service industries. Without the necessary developed land, we stand little chance of competing for these limited opportunities. Additionally, a new park will allow the City and County to nurture business growth from companies within the County.

Dorchester County needs to take proactive steps to attract new high-wage technology manufacturing, knowledge-based or service sector jobs that will employ Dorchester County residents for the next 40 years.

Although a feasibility study has not been done on the economic benefits of this park, Mr. Broadwell has found through some research that a similar park on 100 acres was built in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. They assumed a conservative building coverage at a ratio of 30% for the 100 acres in the park and such a park can produce over 1.3 sq.ft. of building space and in their park, up to 1500 jobs. Their park was expected to create approximately $70 million in land and new building values and $39 million in wages. When the business park is full in one year, it can yield a return on property values and payroll of over 10 times the original investment. Over the life of a typical business park, it can exceed 100 times the initial investment outlay.

Don Satterfield, Airport Commander, said in years past we have had a couple of opportunities to bring business to the airport. An aircraft manufacturer came to them and because they did not have the amenities to provide for them for this type of building that they wanted to build, we lost out. Annexation of the airport, water and sewer specifically, would give them the opportunity. Anything over 10,000 sq.ft. must be sprinkled. The added cost in things that are associated with those pumps that are involved in the use of a well is a deterrent for a business to come. There have been plenty of opportunities as we begin to expand and do other things as far as growth to the airport. It allows us to be competitive with others in the region and will provide jobs. He believes the potential is there to bring corporate business which brings corporate aircraft and revenue to the airport. In 2005, the airport provided a direct and indirect impact on the community of $3.6 million. That can only increase with corporate and business people being located on the property. An unidentified gentleman asked if the Federal Aviation Administration and the County engineers have done any studies on any possible noise problems as a matter of the extension of the runway. Mr. Satterfield said it is his understanding that the question came up at a previous meeting so he did a little research. During their 2003 environmental impact study, an integrated noise model program was conducted to forecast the future aircraft operations and they determined impacts of noise that would impact the results of the runway extension. FAA guidelines identify a residential property inside a 65 decibel noise contour is not compatible to level of noise exposure. Agricultural, commercial, and industrial use are generally compatible with aircraft noise at 65 decibels. He provided a drawing that shows decibel levels from the runway out and also as you have the departure and approach in-75 decibels being in and around the runway as it goes out to 65 decibels. That is the required destination that they must own or have ownership of to be in compliance with the noise ordinance. Currently the 65 decibel line is encompassed in what they already own. It does not extend beyond the airport property; therefore, there would be no requirement by the FAA for them to purchase additional property. As they are not extending the runway to the north, only to the south, those lines would extend to the south and would still remain on airport property. He believes there will be a slight impact on the property owners in the area. Smaller aircraft are quieter and take longer to depart. Larger aircraft are a little louder but take a shorter time to depart. One of the FAA/MAA studies that was completed shows that an aircraft departing or approaching the airport, the noise decibel level above 65 decibels lasts for about 17 seconds. The noise from a neighbor cutting his grass lasts longer than that and higher than 65 decibels.

Mr. Merryweather said the County Staff and Anne Roane have worked meticulously to be absolutely sure that there is no great disparity between the zoning districts as currently set up and as proposed. He does not know where the State got their information. Steve Dodd, Director of Planning, said he just read the letter from the State. Based on his cursory review, it was written based on erroneous information on the part of the Maryland Department of Planning both with respect to the County Comprehensive Plan and with respect to the current zoning of some of these properties. The second paragraph makes reference to five parcels (12, 44, 90, 199, and 319) and says it appears that these parcels, with respect to the County zoning, are not consistent with the proposed City zoning. He believes the letter was written based on the misunderstanding that the Maryland Department of Planning has as to what the current zoning of these properties are. He personally compared the existing County zoning of each property included in the annexation with the proposed City zoning for purposes of determining whether or not they were compatible. The zoning for Parcels 12, 44, and 90 is I-1 (light industrial) for the current and the proposed zoning. The current zoning for Parcel 199 is AC (agricultural/residential) and the proposed City zoning is R-1. He explained that the City does not have a comparable zoning to AC (agricultural conservation). It is a low-density, residential zoning. The most similar zoning in the City is R-1. Parcel 319 has a mixture of three different zones-I-1, I-2, and AC. The City intends to make that property I-1, I-2, R-1. He believes the County has gone on record as saying, with respect to the agricultural conservation zoning, that they would waive the requirement to wait five years on the zoning change. They do comply with Paragraph 2 of the letter with respect to the zoning.

Steve Dodd said the fourth paragraph in the State's letter states that Parcels 12, 90, and 11 are located outside of the designated growth area. That is absolutely false. The County specifically designated these three properties as development districts in the Comprehensive Plan when they amended their plan in 2002. Apparently they do not have a current copy of the plan. Mayor Rippons asked that he forward a letter answering these concerns of the State.

Commissioner Sydnor questioned Parcel 319. He said they said it was I-2 (heavy industrial) and R-1. Steve Dodd said it is split into three different zoning districts. It is the State railroad parcel. The railroad goes through three different zoning categories. It is one parcel that is linear and narrow. It reflects the adjoining parcels and goes to the centerline of the railroad tracks.

Mr. Merryweather said this is a very important piece of legislation for the County and the City.

Rob Collison said that because some sections of Bucktown Road are included within the annexation, all of Bucktown Road will remain a County-maintained road because most of it is in the County.

Mayor Rippons asked if anyone from the audience wished to speak for the annexation. Nobody asked to speak.

Rob Collison said the City received a letter this afternoon from the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. They urged the City to table further consideration of the Bucktown Road annexation proposal until after the completion of the City's comprehensive plan update and the completion of the Little Blackwater River Watershed Study. Their mission is to protect the Eastern Shore's rich landscapes through strategic land conservation and sound land use planning. Their vision is an Eastern Shore where towns are vibrant and well-defined; farms, forests, and fisheries are thriving; scenic history, natural and river landscapes are maintained. Focusing growth on towns and cities is consistent with Smart Growth and annexations, in general, are a legitimate mechanism for municipal growth. Appropriate and well-planned annexations help create vibrate urban communities and minimize the development of rural lands. Ill-advised and poorly-planned annexations can promote sprawl, cause the loss of farms and forests, impair urban revitalization and exceed the ability of local government to provide services. They have adopted a set of criteria for judging the appropriateness of annexations and other growth area proposals. They are based upon sound planning practices and standards. The Bucktown Road annexation proposal is not fully consistent with the criteria. Most notably, it is an unplanned annexation. The City's Comprehensive Plan does not designate the subject properties are part of an area for future municipal growth. The coming-up date of the City's Comprehensive Plan and the completion of the Water Shed Study of the Little Blackwater River offer the best opportunity for addressing all of the issues of City-wide significance. The plan update and the study also can enable the City to impose conditions in the annexation agreement in order to avoid or mitigate negative impacts of the annexed land uses. If the City acts now to approve the annexation, it will forego the opportunity to capitalize on a new Comprehensive Plan and Watershed Study. They urged the City to take a stand in favor of planned growth and environmental growth and table further consideration of the Bucktown Road annexation proposal.

Richard Ball, Bucktown Road, lives approximately 1 mile south of the annexation site. He stands opposed to the City swallowing up yet another tract of outlying open space for the purpose of sprawl development. This tract includes corn fields, soybean fields, woodlands, and non-tidal wetlands. The ditches on the west side drain into the Little Blackwater River and into the Transquaken River on the east side. The plan for technology industrial parks, airport runway extension, and/or workforce housing development will cover much of this open space with impervious surfaces. He doesn't look forward to a new traffic bottleneck on Bucktown Road as he travels to and from Route 50. He doesn't look forward to the much larger jet aircraft flowing low over the roof of his house each day in approach to the new airport runway extension. He doesn't think the Delmarva fox squirrels, which he regularly sees in the trees, will enjoy this project. He thinks there are vacant site presently within the existing City limits which could be rezoned for these purposes. To say that this type of industry that this development will attract will be complementary to our rural setting is a contradiction in terms. In his opinion, the annexation and development of this site, as proposed, will be a great insult to our environment and to the way of life to the residents on Bucktown, Cordtown, and Stone Boundary Roads.

Fred Pomoroy, representing Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth, said generally speaking, their group is opposed to sprawl development. They do see the need for the industrial park and think it is very worthwhile. His particular concern is the R-1 addendums which he heard no explanation for. It seems that this is a sprawl component to this annexation that has not been explained. He asked for further explanation of why if this is going to be an extension of the airport and a tech park, there needs to be residential zoning for the City pushed out into the countryside further. Rob Collison said he thinks the R-1 is limited to existing homes along South Road and up near Route 50. The exception is the Lapidus property. Mr. Pomoroy asked why this was a necessary piece of the annexation. Rob Collison said it was required to make the tech park contiguous. If they could hop over all the other properties and just take in the airport and the tech park to get the funding for the water and sewer, they wouldn't have to be here. State law requires that if they annex, it has to be contiguous to existing City limits. The Lapidus parcel is the closest parcel up to Route 50 to the existing City limits up near Oak Drive and Central Avenue. There are one or two other residential parcels near South Road that are coming in that are existing single-family parcels. The rest coming down from the Lapidus parcel is the light industrial Spicer's lumber mill. Another piece adjoining that is already industrial.

Diana Thompson spoke on behalf of her parents who have property on the west side of Cordtown Road which parallels this project-in particular, the airport and the potential for larger aircraft that will land there. They have been residents for 50+ years. Her parents have done some genealogy and have been a part of the Eastern Shore dating back to 1799. When you talk about the historical landscape on this part of our County, we need to give pause to what we are about to disturb. She is open to progress, a progressive thinker, and an educated woman. The part that doesn't seem to be reasoned is how they can have job development for people here when one out of four are functionally illiterate. Nobody talked about education in Dorchester. She asked how they would get 800 new jobs that are not for the people who reside here. One gentleman talked about the economic benefit but he had not done a feasibility study. She would propose that before a final decision be made on behalf of the citizens who are going to be so adversely affected that someone consider that the feasibility study be a requirement before a vote. The airport, as it exists today with the current extension, buttresses against a property that has a historical cemetery, a historical school, and a historical church. Once you disturb all that, you cannot get it back.

Catherine McCulley, Willey Road, said the annexation of 695 acres into the City may benefit both the City and County. She said Brad Brodwell stated that the tech park could create jobs for the next 40 years. The extension of the runway may provide incentives for more businesses to locate here. The tech park will be located on soils that are prior converted farm land meaning that the land was wetland before it became crop land. More than two thirds of the 133 acres are hydric soils and are comprised of Elkton silt loam and Othello silt loam. These soils drain very poorly especially when additional impervious surfaces are added. She spoke with Bob Tenanty regarding the possible drainage issues on the tech park and he informed her that the tech park will likely be used to manage stormwater from the 1000-ft extension of the airport runway. Any stormwater in this area, if not completely managed on site, will eventually drain into the Little Blackwater River. The hydrology of this river is complex. Drainage downstream is slow and poor and when south winds combine with high tide, water actually flows upstream. Relying on this fragile watershed to manage all of the additional impervious surfaces and concomitant stormwater runoff of the airport and tech park is ludicrous and short sighted. The Little Blackwater River is already, and continuing to be, inundated by acres of impervious surface of residential development added upstream in the recent years. The tech park and runway expansion may help our local economy. However, if stormwater from the tech park and runway expansion is not managed completely on site, it is likely to further impair the Little Blackwater River, the wildlife refuge, and the Chesapeake Bay. She is not saying they shouldn't build the tech park or runway expansion. New technologies have become available which can more effectively process stormwater. She strongly urged them to make this tech park and runway expansion a model for others to follow and use the most innovated technology available to process stormwater completely on site. She suggested they become the first green tech park in Maryland.

William Giese, Maple Dam Road, said he is not really here to take a stand on the annexation but he wanted to follow-up on the items that were just addressed. Many of the issues were addressed with the Blackwater Resort. Those issues are present on this site. He encouraged them to utilize the group that they have endorsed, the Little Blackwater Sites Advisory Group, to come up with the best sites and sound management for future development of this site. We need to expand on the study that the County funded on the Little Blackwater because it did not take into consideration the wind-driven effects of the system. It did not take into consideration the new projected sea level rises of 4.5 to 9 inches in the next 25 years which will make stormwater management and run-off control much more difficult. He agrees that perhaps the science is there but they need to take a hard look at future use. It is a great idea. The City needs some assistance and we need the jobs here but they should make decisions based on very sound science and sound management.

Brad Broadwell said he did not perform a feasibility study because this project has been on the table for three to four years now. It was his understanding that it had already been determined that it would create 800 jobs. In the literature that he read in the past when he took the job, a determination had been made to some degree about the economic effects. He compared the data that we had to the data that is out there right now on tech parks being studied right now. In response to green buildings, he made mention to an incubator at the University of Maryland Horn Point. They have an incubator being planned on the table right now. They are looking for financing but the incubator will be a green building. They would like to stimulate the interest in environmental sciences. Hopefully they can stimulate other people in that industry to do the same thing.

Rob Collision asked if the funding sources have an input or review of the stormwater management plans or the tech park development. Mr. Merryweather said it is left up to the City and County. The City and County have their own ordinances. They have committed to manage the 10-year storm both at the airport and the tech park which is more than the current requirement in the County. It is going to be developed by MEDCO, a governmental agency. They will fully comply and be overly aggressive to make sure that all the environmental issues are looked at. About eight years ago they hired several consultants who did a long complicated study to pick what they considered to be looking ahead 20 to 30 years, the best location for a new tech park. This was their first choice. Mayor Rippons asked the County to look at bringing it up a step. It would be a great marketing tool to say it is the first green tech park in Maryland. Bob Tenanty said they will keep it in mind. You would look at a green building when the site plan is submitted to the City for development of that lot in the industrial park. When MEDCO designs the roadway and does the stormwater management to the roadways and when their consultant for the airport looks at improving the stormwater management at the airport, they will stress an environmental flavor to it. Mr. Merryweather said the City's staff will review the plans with County staff. They will have a lot to do with the future of this particular piece of property.

Fred Pomoroy asked if there would be any prototype buildings built or if it will be just be lots. Brad Broadwell said they don't have any plans to building or spec buildings. They plan to create the infrastructure and work with the perspective clients and lease holders. It may be a manufacturing site. It might be a glass building that houses some type of service. It will be up to the standards set up by the City's Planning and Zoning and the County's Planning and Zoning to say they want a particular type of building in there.

Commissioner Cephas said he is definitely in favor of jobs. Ms. Thompson talked about disturbing the church, cemetery, and the historic school. That concerns him. Ms. Thompson said the west side of Cordtown Road is parallel to the runway. The zoning for the west side of Cordtown Road is I-1 and I-2 which is different than the zoning for the east side of Cordtown Road which is agricultural. The potential there is a significant short and long term that you will have additional business as the residents move out on that road. As the airport grows, it is likely that the businesses will not only be in the tech park but on the west side because it is already zoned for that. Commissioner Cephas asked how close the church and cemetery are to the park. Steve Dodd said he requested the airport consultant to put a 100‑foot tree and shrub barrier around the church to mitigate any noise. It will be part of the Phase 1 design plan for the runway extension. Commissioner Cephas asked if Cordtown Road will be closed. Brad Broadwell said it will not be closed. It will turn as it begins to come back toward Bucktown now and make a large sweeping turn and create an intersection with Stone Boundary Road.

Ms. Thompson said the runway buttresses her parents' property on the west side currently. With the larger jet, the 65 decibel will be right over their property. Don Satterfield said the runway is going to extend directly to the South. They will extend to 5400 feet. With that, they are going to allow what planes are coming in now to be legal because the insurance requirements for up to a G5 is that they must have 5000 feet of runway to get in even though the operational limitations would allow them to land on 4500, the requirements are 5000 more. They are not widening the runway. It will remain 75 feet. Therefore they are not going to be authorized to go to a C2 classification airport so they will not allow larger aircraft into the facility.

As nobody else asked to speak, Rob Collison said it is appropriate to close the public hearing and would be appropriate to proceed with a vote on the annexation resolution. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the annexation as presented. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0 with Commissioner Cephas abstaining. He said he is abstaining because he received information late today plus interesting points came on the floor as well so he is not prepared to vote on it tonight.

Rob Collison said the annexation resolution will not become effective for 45 days unless there is a proper petition for referendum pursuant to State law.

APPOINTMENTS

Mike Morgan To Discuss Lennar Homes-Rob Collison said he has seen some of Mr. Morgan's literature. He encouraged Mr. Morgan to stick to policy rather than making personal attacks against a certain company or builder. Mike Morgan said he is a real estate broker from Stuart, Florida and the broker/owner of Morgan Florida Real Estate. He is a non-practicing attorney. He was asked by Frank Gianiny to present some information that he has gathered nationwide regarding Lennar Homes and defective homes in general. Information that is applicable to some of the problems Council has been addressing at Long Boat Estates and maybe in some other communities. It is not any one specific builder. Rob Collison said the information must be founded on fact. Mike Morgan said as a real estate broker working with buyers he has run into a number of issues with builders. They built a website (www.Lennar-Homes.info) for information for consumers throughout the United States. The response from the public nationwide has been far beyond their expectations. Their focus has been on construction defects, homes built in violation of building codes and non-disclosure of material issues pertinent to somebody buying a home. In the past 30 days, their website received more than 30,000 page views from more than 4,000 unique visitors. Not a day goes by that they don't receive complaints about builders. All new homes should be built in accordance with applicable local, state, and national building codes. Factually, they are not. It is a national crisis that will cost homeowners billions of dollars and in some cases, their lives. All components of new homes should be installed in accordance with manufacturers' specifications. They are not. Builders have cut corners and manufacturers provide letters saying the corner-cutting is o.k. They do that so the don't loose the business when they order more product. When problems develop, builders should be required by law to address them promptly and competently. Laws in all states favor the builders. There are no comprehensive lemon laws yet. Builders have managed to push through contracts that restrict what rights the homeowners have once they do have problems. It has been painfully clear we need lemon laws for housing. He read a few sentences from the New Jersey 51-page investigative report. The report calls for reforms to create licensing and performance standards for builders, expand criminal statutes aimed at enforcing accountability for corruption of the construction inspection process and empower homebuyers by revamping the state's consumer fraud act and enacting a new lemon law.

Mike Morgan said for each of the items he discussed, most builders, local officials, and state officials fail. Unfortunately some of our elected officials can't resist the contributions that they are going to see from some of these builders. The complaints received are not basic cosmetic complaints. They are about construction defects in homes not built in accordance with applicable building codes. He spoke about a man who was electrocuted in a brand new home as he installed a clothes dryer. The home just received a certificate of occupancy. He gets calls every day about people complaining about the same problems. The homes were inspected by the company and by local officials and passed with flying colors. Defective homes are the devastating side effects of the housing boom the builders have enjoyed for the last few years. Local officials don't inspect homes anymore. There is not enough time. These are very serious problems with an easy solution. In Martin County, Florida, homes are being issued clean bills of health with minimal or no formal inspections. Certificates of occupancy are being issued based on builders' affidavits that everything is fine. In areas that claim to inspect homes, it is very often a 'drive-by' inspection. The answer to these problems is a very strict spot check system combined with devastating fines for builders who break the rules. He read an executive summary from a report done in North Carolina about shoddy construction and makes recommendations for homeowners and policy owners to protect home investments. Most local officials don't have enough time to competently inspect homes. In many areas, they allow builders to hire private inspectors to conduct inspections and submit the affidavits to the local officials or work side-by-side with inspectors. You can have the best building codes in the world, but if you don't enforce them, you have nothing. Local inspectors cannot inspect all the homes being built but that does not mean we let the builders build and deliver defective homes. We need national reform that includes mandatory order procedures and massive fines when the builders sneak through defective homes that do not meet the code. The solution is accountability. Mr. Morgan left copies of the report for the public to review. Rob Collison asked if he was suggesting a substantial penalty if there was a violation or if they did not correct it. Mr. Morgan said if an inspector is called out for an inspection and there is something wrong, they should be fined. The City is paying the inspectors. The builder knows if it is good or not. They know better than the inspector. If there are enough violations, the fines must increase. In response to a question by Mayor Rippons, Mr. Morgan said there are no prototype documents yet listing fines implemented. New Jersey is going to develop housing lemon laws. They will be the first to have it. North Carolina, California, Texas, and Florida will probably get in that group. Mayor Rippons asked him to forward any legislation that goes through so Rob Collison can review it. Rob Collison asked about the audit procedure. Mr. Morgan said when the housing boom got so out of control in Florida, builders said they could not wait for inspections because they would take three months. Legislature said the builders can hire their own inspectors and bring them affidavits that everything is o.k. They would then randomly select buildings that were already certified and inspect them to make sure they are accurate. The fines were not there to back them up so it did not matter. This was then taken away. Mayor Rippons thanked Mr. Morgan for the information and asked him to keep Cambridge updated of any new developments.

Frank Gianiny to Discuss Substandard Workmanship Code Violations--Deadly Defects-Mr. Gianiny presented the inspection report that Commissioner Brooks had ordered on his home in Long Boat Estates-a home built by Lennar. He also presented the certificate of occupancy. He had a copy of the inspection check list which is for the Code Inspectors. The rough HVAC was marked 'passed'; however, the master bedroom had no ductwork. You can not blame one single person at DPW because the person who gave the occupancy permit is not the person who signed it. The final HVAC also passed with the ductwork still missing. The most devastating thing is the certificate of occupancy. He asked how you could get to it without following the codes. Lennar was at their home 48 times. He read a letter he received from Miles & Stockbridge. Commissioners Sydnor and Brooks asked to go out to Lennar Homes to inspect them. He was invited as a guest. Joseph Antenelli, President of the Chesapeake Division for Lennar, agreed to this. They went out there and they found all the things he had told them about like the illegal hot water heaters and illegal furnaces. Commissioner Brooks received a phone call that the police were on the way. They were after him because he was trespassing. There were not any 'no trespassing' signs.

At this time Mr. Morgan and Mr. Gianiny played a video clip of a newscast that was spoken about earlier in the meeting. A homeowner was electrocuted as he hooked a dryer hose to a vent. His shoes were wet yet he never touched an outlet. In fact, the power to the laundry room had been shut off. The medical examiner noted the metal gut and vent tested positive for 110 voltage. The wires should have been bundled with a plastic strap or clip. Nobody has accepted responsibility for the deadly mistake. An inspector approved the wiring 14 days before the man was electrocuted. The final approval was issued 2 weeks after the man died.

Mr. Gianiny said fortunately nobody died at his house. Commissioner Brooks did a great service for his family. Every lawyer who has reviewed this on a contingency basis for his family going after Lennar and anyone else who is at fault, has made it very clear that by her getting the fire marshal report, it states very clearly that you either believe the fire marshal or the Department of Public Works. He goes with the fire marshal's report. Nothing was ever fixed in their home while they lived there until they moved. Lennar knew about the carbon monoxide problem. They were caught red handed after the homes received illegal occupancy permits. He said he keeps coming back because if they would do this-meaning if Lennar Homes and DPW would do this to a 90 year old man and a 74 year old woman who moved to Cambridge because they liked the diversity and the people-they sent a message to them by shutting them down. He brought some of the same questions to light with Beazer Homes at the Trenton Street project. He went out there with Rob Collison and the representatives from Beazer. They snow jobbed them. They got rid of the illegal islands in the kitchens real quick. The oven door lands about 10 inches away from the island which doesn't meet code.

It is his understanding that the old railroad went through the Beazer project. There were two fertilizer companies sitting there for a long time. He overheard the fire marshal say that he doesn't see how this happened because when they backed up the trains back then, they didn't know they were toxic. He heard the fire chief say how many thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals were spilled there from the railroad. He showed illustrations of other violations. He thinks they should prohibit concrete slabs in the City unless it has radiant heat.

Mr. Gianiny showed a document from MDE showing the railroad rights through the project. One document says they were supposed to clean 100 feet. The other document says they were supposed to clean 150 feet. The railroad ran right by the old Dorset Building. They cleaned about 8 feet. Beazer tried to shutdown a gentleman's business. He urged them to look at the court transcripts. There is a circuit court judge who did not grant Beazer's injunction against the man because of a chemical leak on his side. He said he would privately give Council toxicology reports on the property. There is a sewage pumping station that is next to bedroom windows in a condominium. The smell will knock you over. There is testimony that it backs up from time-to-time during heavy rains. He asked why Planning and Zoning would allow a condominium on top of a raw sewage pumping station. When he asked Beazer what the building was, they lied to him. He has heard that once you get to settlement, they want you to sign a piece of paper saying you will no long sue Beazer for anything toxic that might be in the ground .

Frank Gianiny to Discuss the Brokerage Sale of His Parents' Home in Long Boat Estates Via a City of Cambridge Commissioner-Mr. Gianiny asked what Council wanted him to do. Commissioner Brooks asked for the definition of 'broker'. Mr. Gianiny said it would be like political corruption. The definition is kind of vague but it would mean instrumenting the sale or assisted in a sale of a home or a piece of real property. Rob Collison said if it is going to be allegations against a specific individual or official, it should be discussed in closed executive session. Mr. Gianiny said the man has a family and some of this stuff should not be discussed in public. Commissioner Travers made a motion to move into executive session to discuss personnel. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Council met in executive session from 9:10 pm until 9:55 pm.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Formal First Reading on Charter Resolution CR-2006-01 to Provide for Special Elections-Rob Collison said at one meeting it was decided that if more than two candidates filed for a special election and if at the primary election one candidate received more than 60%, there would be no need for a general election. At the last meeting it was decided by a 3:2 vote to move the percentage from 60% to more than 50%. This would constitute the first reading of the Charter Resolution. The revised wording states that if there is a special election called and a candidate receives more than 50% of the votes cast, that person is the elected official. If there is not a candidate who receives more than 50% of the votes, there is then a run-off special election.

Commissioner Brooks clarified that a special election is no different than an election except that there is some kind of unfortunate circumstance that happened and someone is no longer sitting in a particular seat. It is termed 'special election' because it is happening at a time other than the normal four year time.

Discuss Disposition of City-Owned Property at 703/705 Wright Street and 608 Schoolhouse Lane-Mayor Rippons said Kathy Foster had a meeting with Cindy Stone from the Department of Housing and Community Development. Cindy Stone provided the City with options to assist in closing out the grant. He said it is his recommendation that the Council accept Option 1 where the City will demolish the two remaining houses. There is $4,500 remaining in the CDBG account. The City has to meet the national objective of eliminating blight. The second national objective will be cancelled. There is discussion now to allow at least one of the sites to be utilized by a private developer to erect and construct a home. If the City elects to go that way, they will have to obtain an appraisal of the property and then reimburse the State the current market value. This way, the process of the grant will not be elongated and financially it works out best. Rob Collison said the City will have to advertise the public notice for the disposition of property and the proposal is that the properties would be conveyed to that entity for the cost of the appraisal and the appraised value. Mayor Rippons said the City has to advertise for the demolition. Ed Kinnamon said both houses have to come down. Rob Collison said tonight's vote will not constitute the transfer. Mayor Rippons said it just allows DPW to move forward with Option 1 by ascertaining bids for the demolition of the two houses.

Commissioner Sydnor asked about a previous vote by Council concerning the house at 703/705 Wright Street. Rob Collison said the vote was to transfer the property for no consideration. After the vote, it was discovered that the property was part of a grant and the City had to contact the State for guidance.

Commissioner Knox asked if the homes would be rental homes. Mayor Rippons said if they choose any option other than Option 1, they will have to keep monitoring the homes and there are strict regulations. If you elect Option 1, once you demolish it and the State receives the money from the sale of the property, that will be the end.

Commissioner Travers made a motion to exercise Option 1 on the letter received from the Maryland Department of Housing and Development dated December 19, 2006. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Mayor Rippons asked George Hyde to move forward with the bids for demolition.

NEW BUSINESS

Approve Modifications to Job Classification for Director of the Department of Public Works-Mayor Rippons said the modifications to the job description were based on job classifications from several other jurisdictions. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the job description. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve Wall Plaque for Public Safety Building-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the wall plaque. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Request from Dorchester County Public Library for 20 Parking Permits to be Used January Through April Along Spring Street and High Street (Tax Preparation Assistance Program)-Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Request from the Planning & Zoning Commission for Sufficient Resources Necessary to Assure Strict Compliance of the City's Signage Regulations-Rob Collison said the Commission wanted to make the City Council aware that this should become a priority. He suggested referring this to the new Director of Public Works.

Request from Cambridge Christian Academy for a School Zone Speed Limit on Glasgow Street Across from Their Parking Lot (Zion United Methodist Church)-Commissioner Knox made a motion to refer the request to the Traffic and Safety Committee. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Knox said this is a very busy street and suggested having a zone similar to that near Sandy Hill. The motion passed unanimously.

Request from Dorchester County for Abatement of Real Property Taxes for a Parcel on Bucktown Road-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Request To Purchase Three New Pick-Up Trucks for DPW-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Request To Go To Bid for New Dump Truck for DPW-Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve Budget Amendment for DPW-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed

Approve Purchase Orders:

PO 835 - Mid-Atlantic Salt LLC for Road Salt - $5,845.62

PO 836 - Mid-Atlantic Salt LLC for Road Salt - $2,943.31

PO 838 - Andrew, Miller and Associates Inc. for Cambridge Marina Expansion Phase 2 - Design Engineering - $10,000

POs 4140 ($10,000), 4141 ($5,000), and 4142 ($5,000) - Stipends for Fire Chiefs

Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the purchase orders. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approve Financial Statement for November 2006-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the financial statement. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Rob Collison announced that the Planning and Zoning Commission is meeting on January 9th instead of January 2nd. Anne Roane said they are having a Work Session on January 4th.

Commissioner Knox thanked everyone for being patient with the long meeting wished everyone a happy new year.

Commissioner Sydnor asked about the controls for the traffic signals on the corner. George Hyde said it is on Tieder's lists of projects. They just haven't gotten to it yet. They have all the parts they need to do the work.

Commissioner Cephas wished everyone a happy new year.

Commissioner Brooks asked George Hyde about Cambridge Club Apartments. George Hyde said it is his understanding that as of today, they have satisfied the fire chief's issues and the City should be issuing certificates of occupancy tomorrow once they confirm this with Chief Hurley. Commissioner Brooks said this is almost one year after they expected people to move into the apartments. She knows that meeting standards and codes is the City's first priority. There are quite a few people that actually lost HUD certificates waiting on that particular project to go through. Some located elsewhere.

Commissioner Brooks wished everyone a happy new year.

Commissioner Travers wished everyone a happy new year.

Ed Kinnamon said some time back Council was asked to consider disposition of a property known as 619 Schoolhouse Lane. It is located on the corner of Schoolhouse Lane and Chesapeake Court. The lot was given to the City but apparently the City has not taken it into their name. A contiguous property owner would like to get the property from the City. This will be discussed further at the next meeting.

Ed Kinnamon said he received correspondence today and advised Council they will need an executive session before the next meeting about an appeal.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 10:20 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Wednesday, December 27, 2006, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer