• 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

December 12, 2005
 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, December 12, 2005 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 November 28, 2005 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. 

PUBLIC HEARING

Proposed Disposition of City-Owned Property-6.2 Acres, More or Less on the East Side of Leonard Lane Tax Map 302 Parcel 2343 (continuation)-Rob Collison said the only issue to be discussed is whether or not this land is excess property and no longer needed for public purpose by the city. Ed Kinnamon received two pieces of communication since the last public hearing. A statement from Melvin G. Hickman says he is opposed to doing anything with the property. He suggested keeping it for DPW expansion or use. The other, from Albanus Phillips, says it seems like the best use for the property is for housing.

David Pritchett said it will take approximately two months to delineate what portion of the property would be developable. He does not know what the cost would be. Portia Johnson-Ennels asked how the city acquired the land, the dollar value of it as of this time, and the value of dollars returned back to the city for taxes if the land is used for housing vs. using it as a public property for DPW. Mayor Rippons said the acreage was yielded to the city by the owners of the apartment complex in exchange for a dead end street.  He said there has not been a formal appraisal done on the property.  The cost would be a legislative consideration that the city would come up with when all proposals are reviewed.  The city cannot determine the number of homes and the taxes they would generate until the property is delineated.

Commissioner Cephas said he heard comments from citizens at the last meeting, both pro and con. He still has an open mind. He spoke with a couple of people who were not at the public hearing. A few people changed their mind after the hearing. He asked if there was another decent area to put homes. He does not want to create havoc for DPW. If there is a need for the building there, then put the building there. If there is not an immediate need for a DPW building and there is an immediate need for low- to moderate-income homes, then lets put that there.  He knows Commissioner Sydnor is actively looking for a location for homes. They shouldn't make a hasty decision to put something on that piece of property.

Jane Devlin, West End Citizens Association, said she appreciates what Commissioner Cephas has said tonight. They know the need is on both sides. There is a strong need for housing but she thinks in a few years there will be a strong need for DPW. She would like to see the delineation of the land so we can see how much of the land is buildable. She also suggested doing an inventory of open properties in the city that are buildable for low- to moderate-income housing and workforce housing. She thinks they are two separate entities that the city needs to address. The best use of the land is what they are actually after.

Commissioner Cephas said he doesn't want everyone to look only at city-owned property as a solution to the problem. They have to look a little further so it can be a win-win for both parties.

David Pritchett said both entities have some needs. Housing has been a longer-existing problem than DPW. They acquired the land prior to needing it. All of a sudden it was a blessing coming true because of everything taking place. They are already parking vehicles on the property. Without the delineation, even they don't know the extent of the use. With the last wet spell that we went through, the engineer feels that possibly the wetland is even more than we estimated. It could be less. Wetland delineation is a very intangible thing. It can be challenged or mitigated. If housing is built, they will most likely have to build two complete roads in order to access the structures. It would cost $63,000 per home before you even think of constructing the home. That is a problematic situation.  Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to defer this until a later date. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Mayor Rippons said a developer will be coming in a 60 to 90 day period providing several dozen affordable housing units. They are also negotiating with a developer who will provide in the scope of 150 to 300 additional affordable housing units. Commissioner Brooks said the city is also looking at other pieces of property for DPW at the same time.

APPOINTMENTS

Presentation by Blackwater Wildlife Refuge-Rebecca Packett, Assistant Manager at Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, and Dixie Birch, Supervisor of Wildlife Management, gave a presentation on the Chesapeake Bay marsh restoration. The projects are ongoing at Blackwater Wildlife Refuge. In 2005 Maryland restored over 6800 acres of wetlands, created over 200 acres, and enhanced close to 44,000 acres. The Chesapeake Bay Program, as a whole, was given a D- as its grade in terms of its efforts in improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay. This was a result of the poor water quality. Future efforts are targeted toward wetland restoration in areas such as Blackwater which have high potential for habitat benefits and water quality. Recent legislation also places a strong emphasis on wetland restoration. At Blackwater, they are taking numerous steps to try to battle wetland loss. They are currently working with the Maryland Port Administration and the US Army Corps of Engineers to bring in clean dredge material that will be pumped into containment sights and planted with native wetland vegetation. They are also partnering with Maryland DNR Fisheries, Fish and Wildlife Services, and UMES to assess fisheries and water quality resources before, during, and after their wetland restorations. Their goal is to restore the entire Blackwater River Watershed which in total would be 20,000 acres.

There are several projects in various stages of proposal or construction within the watershed. The Little Blackwater River is about 9.5 miles long. It drains approximately 23,000 acres including part of the City of Cambridge and currently the watershed is primarily composed of agriculture and wetlands. Their concerns are based on the impacts of development that have been shown in previous areas where development has occurred within a watershed. The impacts include a decrease in water quality and an increase in sedimentation. This can have serious effects on the aquatic life there. It can reduce the abundance and the diversity of the species that are able to persist there. Development is also associated with an increase in sedimentation and an increase in stormwater run-off. This can affect, not just the ability of the species to survive, but their ability to restore the eco system and the health of the bay.

They have several recommendations about measures that can be taken to try to circumvent these issues before they have significantly negative impacts. The first is to establish a baseline inventory of the natural resources on the Little Blackwater River. It should be followed with an annual monitoring program that looks at water quality, stormwater management, and fisheries resources. Deficiencies may be identified in stormwater management, water quality, or in fisheries resources. These deficiencies need to be mitigated and corrected.

Mayor Rippons said the baseline should have been established many years ago so he could more adequately assess the adverse conditions and establish who must take responsibility for them. The Senior Biologist at Blackwater said they have to start with where they are at now. They are doing research with US Geological Survey to answer some of the questions. The can take pores and look at the geologic history of the area so they can make some statements about subsidence. They want to take samples before, during, and after the wetland restoration occurs and before, during, and after development occurs.

Commissioner Knox suggested that this could be a result of global warming, shifting wind currents, and natural erosion-not just development. The nutria are also destroying thousands of acres.

Kenneth Usab asked about the loss of 8000 acres of marsh between 1939 and 2005 when actually there has been a decrease in many respects in the population of Cambridge. Dixie Birch said the causes of marsh loss are multiple and varied. They are not suggesting that development is going to vastly impact the wetland loss. The wetland loss will continue because of sea level rise, erosion, and subsidence. That is why they are working to bring down 200 cubic yards of fill to try to restore 20,000 acres of wetlands within the entire watershed. They are not suggesting that the population of Cambridge has an impact on wetland loss. They are concerned about stormwater management because they are already seeing flooding in many of the areas around the refuge and in the city. When you take what is now agriculture and wooded areas and change that to impervious surfaces with roads, driveways, rooftops, etc. on the scale that is being proposed in Cambridge, there is going to be a major impact.  It is their understanding that the population estimate for Cambridge will double.  Mayor Rippons said ascertaining that what the State has mandated is not enough, the city has moved past that to a 10‑year stormwater plan.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Recommendation to Award Bid for Contract 06-02 Cedar Street Outfall Dredging-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the recommendation by DPW to award the bid to Mike Davidson Excavating in the amount of $30,000. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Second Reading and Vote on Resolution to Establish Council Liaisons to Executive Departments-Rob Collison supplied Council with the revised resolution. It creates a general development liaison between the Council and each of the executive department heads. The liaison would work with each department head to discuss issues having a direct impact upon the department, implementation of its policies and services, and general issues regarding employees with the exception of grievance issues, procedures, hiring, firing, and evaluations of employees as they will remain the responsibility of the respective department head. The department heads will be evaluated by the Council.  Commissioner Brooks said if none of the Commissioners have any questions, she will make a motion to accept this proposed resolution. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. Commissioner Knox suggested postponing the vote until the next meeting so he can review it before the vote. Commissioner Cephas said he thinks they should give Commissioner Knox the time he requested. Commissioner Brooks said she would like the motion to stand. The motion passed 3:0. Commissioners Knox and Travers abstained. Commissioner Brooks asked Rob Collison to read the entire resolution so the audience had a full understanding of it. Commissioner Brooks said before the motion was passed, they were going by three different sets of standards. The employee manual said the hiring and firing was done by the department heads which is what the proposal states. The charter states that the Mayor does the hiring and firing. Cambridge Emergency Medical Services' application says the Commissioners do the actual hiring. This resolution will bring everything under one policy. All the hiring and firing will be done by the department heads.

Update on DPW Addition-David Pritchett said he and Commissioner Sydnor tried to make one last attempt at reducing the price of the lease rate. The original quote was at $1578 per month. They did get it down to $1530. Per the motion made at the last meeting, he received permission to move forward now. The structure can be delivered within four to five weeks. Christmas could possibly delay it one extra week. They are looking forward to being able to fill their vacant positions now.

Finalization of Annexation Agreements for Palmer and Robbins Parcels-Rob Collison said Council talked generally about these agreements previously. The Palmer parcel is a 15.9‑acre parcel where they are doing senior housing and multi-family housing. This agreement sets forth the specifics regarding responsibilities. The developer is responsible for all infrastructure costs and improvements. In addition the developer is paying between $3100 and $3500 per unit to be applied toward offset costs of road and transportation problems that may be identified in the traffic study. They are also paying $50 per unit to offset the cost of the actual traffic study. These fees are in addition to the impact fees. The Palmer farm is zoned R3. The Robbins farms is 160 acres and is zoned R1. There are two additional provisions for the Robbins agreement. The developer will set aside a minimum of 10 percent of the lots for local builders to build homes according to the developer's standards. They will design the project so that if the bypass road running from Route 343 to Route 16 is ever constructed, you will be able to access this project without having to get back on Route 343. The same fees will apply to this developer. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the annexation agreements. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Cephas said he has been out of town on city business and did not have ample time to review the entire packet. However, he did talk to his colleagues and a couple of them assured him that they reviewed it in detail and it met their approval. The motion passed unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS

Request from CPD for Support to Re-implement K-9 Program-Chief Malik requested permission to send an officer to the K-9 Center to purchase and train with a patrol/narcotics dog. The price of the class and dog is $7,200. CPD has a total of $6,394 in donations. It leaves them $806 short. They anticipate having this small amount by the time the class is complete. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Request to go to Bid for Combined Sewer Separation - Phase 4-Commissioner Travers made a motion to move forward with the bid process. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. David Pritchett said this is not an optional process on their part. Beginning in 1989 the city encountered a legal issue dealing with the separation of the combined system. They have closed off all but one discharge gate into the river. This is a six-phase project. When they get into the final phase, they will be separated from discharging any raw sewage into the river. They will only be discharging treated sewer and water from the treatment plant. Everything will go through the treatment plant. Approximately 50 percent of the funds will come from a grant. The project will begin between February and April depending on the weather. Phases 5 and 6 are smaller and will be combined. From then on, just storm water (rain water) will go overboard. The sewage will all go to the treatment plant in a separate line.  The motion passed unanimously.

Approve PO 3720 - Hertrich Fleet Services - 2006 Ford Expedition - $27,290 for CEMS-Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Introduction and First Reading of Ordinance to Amend Zoning Maps for the Robbins Property and Palmer Property Which Were Recently Annexed-Rob Collison said for the 15.932-acre parcel (Palmer) the ordinance proposes to amend the zoning to R3 (multi-family). The zoning for the 162.902-acre parcel (Robbins) is proposed for R1 (single-family residential). Even though our R1 requires 10,000 sq.ft., the developer agreed to have a minimum of 15,000 sq.ft. No action will be taken this evening.

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

Approve Official List of Legal Holidays for 2006-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the holiday schedule. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Rob Collison announced that the Council met in Open Executive Session at 6:00 pm with a representative from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

Rob Collison announced that the Committee on Special Elections will meet on Monday, December 19th at 6:00 pm in Council Chambers.

Commissioner Knox thanked everyone from coming this evening.

Commissioner Sydnor said he has questions concerning the public safety complex and a list of items that have been submitted and have not been brought before Council. The list of items totals $1.5 million over budget. Ed Kinnamon said the procedure is to bring it before Council at some point. George Hyde requested to meet with two departments this week. They have tentatively set up a meeting for Wednesday to discuss these items.

Commissioner Cephas said it has been brought to his attention that there has been much discussion about Cedar Street becoming the gateway to Cambridge. This gateway is not that appealing. There needs to some sidewalks. Dorchester Avenue also needs sidewalks. He thinks it is time that the city takes a hard look at its infrastructure, especially the gateway.  There are also no sidewalks on the street with the late Commissioner Watkins lived. It would have been nice to have them when he was alive.

Commissioner Brooks said she was approached by a member of Bethel AME Church. They would like the city to take them through the process of what they need to do to get a defibrillator in their church.  Ed Kinnamon will make the arrangements for this to happen.

Commissioner Brooks asked for a streetlight near Mr. and Mrs. Stafford's property on Christ Rock Drive. This area, which is in the city limits is very dark.

Commissioner Brooks said Mr. Zentgraf asked Council if they could give him a letter of support to take to Annapolis when he goes before the General Assembly. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to give him the letter of support. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Travers said Grady Wilson is interested in purchasing a piece of property on Wright Street. He would like to build low-income houses on both sides of the street. Mayor Rippons asked Rob Collison to being the procedure for Mr. Wilson to acquire the parcel from the city.

Ed Kinnamon wished everyone happy holidays. He reminded them that the next Council meeting will be on Tuesday, December 27th.

Chief Ken Malik wished everyone a Merry Christmas.

Jane Devlin, West End Citizens Association, asked where the city stands on the comprehensive plan update. Rob Collison said it was supposed to have been completed this past year. Jane Devlin said a number of the issues we are taking about as far as streetscape for Cedar Street, low- to moderate-income housing, etc. could all be addressed through the process of the comprehensive plan. Rob Collison said Anne Roane and George Hyde are preparing the RFP to hire a consultant.

Portia Johnson Ennels said in reading the newspaper this week to find out the agenda for tonight's meeting, it said that the Council was having an executive session. It did not say it was an open session. She asked that Council inform the public about what happened in the meeting. Mayor Rippons said the city requested Cindy Stone speak to the new Commissioners about the CDBG program and some terminology such as national objectives. Commissioner Brooks said it was in direct relationship to the School House Lane project. Waugh Church has come before Council and asked that they use the land as a graveyard.  The Commissioners asked Ms. Stone if they could let that property go. Unfortunately, she told them tonight that we would have to follow the guidelines because it was CDBG money.  If they were to transfer the land, they would have to sell the property for all the money that was utilized which was approximately $150,000.  Other than that, the project would have to be closed out and the city would have to wait five years before they could do something else with the property that did not meet the national objective. She gave them a lot of good information and will send them some more information. Commissioner Cephas said they also talked about Community Legacy grants and Block Grants.  Portia Johnson-Ennels asked that notification be put in the paper if the session is going to be open.

Commissioner Brooks wished everyone happy holidays.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:30 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, December 12, 2005, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer