• 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

February 2, 2004
 

The City Council met in special session on Monday, February 2, 2004 in Council Chambers.  The meeting of January 26, 2004 was postponed due to inclement weather.  A quorum being present, Mayor Cleveland L. Rippons called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Bohlen, Watkins, Weldon, Atkinson and Travers.

Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer.  Commissioner Atkinson led in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the minutes of the January 12, 2004 Council meeting as distributed.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.   

COMMITTEE REPORTS

Traffic & Safety Committee-Commissioner Watkins reported that a request has been received to reinstall the turn arrow in front of Provident Bank at the intersection of High and Poplar Streets.  The Committee recommends adding a small "No Stop Required" sign below the existing "Right Turn Only" sign.  Commissioner Watkins made a motion to accept the recommendation.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  Commissioner Weldon said there is an on-going concern for pedestrians at the crosswalk because there is not any reason for anyone to stop at that corner.  He suggested a "Yield to Pedestrians" sign.  The motion passed unanimously.

Street Lighting Committee-Commissioner Bohlen received a request to install an additional street light at 2468 Cambridge Beltway.  Upon inspection, there is already a light at the referenced address.  However, the light is an old-style sodium fixture which gives off much less light than the newer fixtures.  The Committee recommends upgrading the existing fixture with a higher output light.  No extra cost will be incurred by the City.  The light will be replaced.

Redistricting Committee (Presentation and Recommendation)-Rob Collison reported that the Committee members are Brian Manning, William Nichols, Vicky Stanley, Sharon Whitten, and Allen Satterfield.  Odie Wheeler provided h technical assistance with the computer software program.  Tonight is the presentation and recommendation by the Committee.  The City will receive public comments on the recommendations next Monday.

William Nichols displayed a map of the current wards noting the current populations in each and two maps showing possible new boundaries.  The population of Cambridge is 10,911 (49% African American, 47% White, 4% Other).  Their major problems were in Wards 2 and 4.  All wards must have equal populations ±5% either way.  He feels confident that the City will not see any chance of a court challenge on the new maps. The new maps have major corridors as boundaries.   Their goal was to make the wards as compact as possible and uniform in shape.   With the Committee's recommended map, they ended up with two predominantly White wards, two predominantly African-American wards, and one that is evenly divided racially.      

The Committee held a public hearing on January 21, 2004.  The maps are on exhibit at City Hall and at the library.  Council could render a decision at the February 23rd meeting or based on the comments received at the public hearing, they may wish to make some further modifications.  Mayor Rippons thanked the Redistricting Committee for their work.

William Nichols said the Committee is recommending that they have one polling place to eliminate the confusion people will have on the ward they are in.  Rob Collison said it is critical that transportation be provided.  Informally, he discussed this with Santo Grande of Delmarva Community Services.  He said they would help in any way they could providing transportation on the Election Days.  Commissioner Bohlen agreed.  The polling places for municipal elections are not always the same locations as County, State, and Federal elections.   

William Nichols thanked the Committee.  He said he never worked on a Board where everyone was so cordial and so nice working to get a job done.  He commended them from the bottom of his heart for doing such a fine job.

Commissioner Weldon said one thing to note is that all of the City Councilmen remain within their wards with the exception of him.  He made it clear to his appointment and another Committee member that what was important to him was that it be done fairly and appropriately.  His plans are taking him in other directions.  He has enjoyed serving on the Council and looks forward to the remainder of his time here.  After that, he will be a voter in the first ward and a concerned citizen.   He encouraged anyone who has the slightest interest in getting involved in the profound issues that face Cambridge to get involved with this process by filing for a position on Council.  It is a challenge; sometimes it is a heartbreak; but it is infinitely rewarding to watch the process unfold.  He is announcing his retirement from politics.  He is proud of the work the Committee has done.  He is invigorated to see the expansion of the 2nd Ward to become probably one of the most important wards in the City.  The future looks bright based on the map.

Commissioner Watkins said the suggestion to vote in one spot is a good one.  In his experience with elections, every time he goes to vote, there is always someone who is at the wrong place and has to go somewhere else.

APPOINTMENTS

Suzan Drescher said while driving through downtown Cambridge, she noticed the lack of public community support for Lt. Adam Mooney and his family.  She is asking the City to unite as a whole community and publicly show this support.  Many individuals have reached out to the family but she feels it is our duty to do this as a single entity as a true community.  The VFW 7460 donated the 30 flags on High and Race Streets and has offered to help in any way.  Flowers 'N Things and Hubbard's have donated ribbon.  MTS Broadcasting has also donated their time.  The American Legion will do what they can.  She has talked to the Mooney family and they are pleased with the small attempt that Gage Thomas and she were able to do in a short period of time on Saturday.  She remembered when Jessica Lynch and her crew were missing and all the stories that the media did of their home towns and how these small communities came out united to support one of their own.  She asked the Council to guide them as a community to support Adam and his family.  Mayor Rippons asked if there was anything specific she was looking for from the City.  Ms. Drescher suggested displaying banners.  Mayor Rippons asked the media to ask the public for their support.  Ms. Drescher Flowers 'N Things donated three rolls of ribbon.  Big Boy wants to line both sides of the street from Patrick Mooney's house to the VFW with ribbons and flags.  She feels the whole town should participate as a community.  Ms. Drescher asked people to contact her at 410-228-5953.  Mayor Rippons thanked her for her efforts.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

None

NEW BUSINESS

Request from Monroe and Sylvia Smith for an Extension of Time to Remove Inoperable Cars on Their Property on Bayly Road-Rob Collison reported that the Council does not have the authority to grant any type of extension.  This would come from the Housing Board of Review.  He thinks it would be appropriate to have this item referred to the Board so they can proceed.

PO 295 -  Basil, Baumann, Prost & Assoc.  ($19,500)  Cambridge City Market Feasibility Study (Community Legacy)-Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the purchase order.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was approved unanimously.

PO 3109 - Birdair, Inc. ($19,122.37) Repairs to Sailwinds Park Stage Cover Canopy and Service and Maintenance-Ed Kinnamon said this was 100% reimbursed to the City by the insurance company and Sailwinds Park.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the purchase order.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion was approved unanimously.

PO 303 - Maryland Department of Agriculture ($5,519.16) Mosquito Control for 2003 Season-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the purchase order.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion was approved unanimously.  David Pritchett said funding for mosquito control is no longer available from the State.

PO 3140 - Jess Jrs & Son ($9,920.04) Repairs to RFC Engine 1-2 Insurance Claim-Oden Wheeler said this was reimbursed by the insurance company.  The City had to pay the normal deductible.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the purchase order.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was approved unanimously.

PO 3113 - Norris Ford of Easton ($4,212.75) Repairs C-23-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the purchase order.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was approved unanimously.

Approve Financial Statement for December 2003-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the financial statement for December 2003.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was approved unanimously.

Public Comments on Proposed Disposition of a Portion of Rambler Road Between Meteor Ave. and Rosyln Ave.-Rob Collison said under the State Statute the City has to give public notice of any proposed disposition of publicly owned property.   After public comments, Council is to decide if the property is no longer needed for public purpose and is therefore considered excess property and they intend to dispose of it.  This property is from the southerly side of Roslyn Avenue to the northerly side of Meteor Avenue.  It is a paper street now.  The public will also be heard on February 9, 2004.   A decision will be given on February 23, 2004.  Rob Collison asked the public for their opinions.

Raymond Crismond reported he has a business that adjoins this property.  They are preparing to expand their business and feel that the acquisition of this additional land would be much better to serve the customers with the facility that they are going to build.  He is asking that Council approve disposition of the property.   He feels that a street on this property would cause quite a problem with its close proximity to US Route 50 and Shoal Creek Mall.   He feels Crusader Road can handle all the traffic with ease. 

Hubert Brohawn, an adjacent property owner, stated that he is also in favor of the City disposing of the land.

Commissioner Bohlen said there still may be some misunderstanding with the public.  This is a paper street.  Rob Collison said to his knowledge, it has not been dedicated to the City.  It has just been shown as a right-of-way for road construction.  To his knowledge, the City has not acquired it by purchasing the land.  Commissioner Bohlen said as a result, the City does not physically own it.  There is a misunderstanding that the City would be giving this property to these folks.  It is actually their property; the City is giving up their intention to use the right-of-way.   Rob Collison said the City would be quitclaiming any interest the City has.  In this case it would be an interest of a right-of-way easement.  David Pritchett said there are not any utilities running along the paper street.  Rob Collison said it is proposed that this disposition be made for no consideration.  The City would not be receiving any money for the relinquishment of its right-of-way.  Each property owner's deed probably states "up to the center of the paper street".   They would be receiving half of the street for the distance of their property. 

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Rob Collison announced that the Council met in closed executive session at 6:00 pm this evening to discuss a personnel matter and two economic development proposals.

Commissioner Bohlen said in finishing up the City's Community Legacy money for downtown, one thing they looked at was an information kiosk for the pedestrian mall downtown.  They consulted with the Fox Group who has designed similar kiosks for Cumberland.  The estimated cost is $7900.  The City currently has just under $5200 in the grant and David Pritchett feels confident that DPW has the $2700 in their budget to make up the difference.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to adopt the proposal.  Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.  Mayor Rippons suggested using some of the other Community Legacy money because it incorporates the Pedestrian Mall. 

Commissioner Bohlen announced that Mr. Ed McMahon, Vice President and Director of Land Use Programs for The Conservation Fund will be giving a presentation entitled "Dollars and Sense Preserving Community Character" this Wednesday at the Hyatt.  This is in conjunction with the Main Street Program. 

Commissioner Weldon said the Heritage Tourism Management Board had a Strategic Planning Meeting on Friday.  One of the results is a proposal to develop a meeting among the elected officials of the entire county.   The want to initiate a conversation on the long range goals that the county shares.  Basically it is a visioning session.  They have not selected a date yet.

Commissioner Weldon said Council received a memo from David Pritchett that involves some issues that he does not want to go into detail about.  The same day there was an article in the newspaper from Havre de Grace that talks about a fellow named Ken Buyer who owns most of a couple of blocks in downtown Havre de Grace and has been creating his own urban renewal project.  He has invested $3 million to purchase six houses and an old hotel and is restoring them into guest houses.  Commissioner Weldon said this shows that there is nothing wrong with having a large landlord in your town, if they care about the town.  One of the things that has been stuck in his crawl since he moved here is the condition of the housing that many of the people in this town have to live in while a certain class of landlord sits back and draws money off it without investing a dime back into their properties.  If they do invest a dime, it is not much more than a dime.  He feels Council has made a lot of headway but they should ask their property owners if they are using their properties to the best benefit of the community as well as to themselves.  There a building downtown that have not only been let go, they have been abused. 

Commissioner Atkinson said he would like to revisit an issue he brought up many years ago.  It concerns the Cambridge Historic Preservation Commission.  He does not desire to do away with the body activities.  His concern at that time was the awesome power that they have.  He believes that the Commission can accomplish what it is supposed to do as an advisory body.  When they first discussed it, Commissioner Travers wanted some time to consider the issue.  He has informed Commissioner Atkinson that he is now ready to vote.  Commissioner Atkinson made a motion that the Cambridge Historic Preservation Commission be changed to an advisory committee to the City Council and that their recommendations be not binding on the City Council.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  He thinks the City should have the final say on what happens to its property rather than a limited number of people.  They should be an advisory committee.  Commissioner Weldon asked that the motion be withdrawn until there is a hearing with the Historic Preservation Commission themselves here in this room.  He said it is nonsense.  Commissioner Atkinson is in no way leading the City down the right way by doing this.  The Commission was set up through a legitimate process and making this motion now is illegitimate.  Commissioner Atkinson said it is not illegitimate.  Commissioner Weldon said they have not had a public hearing.  There are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake in potential development in that City they he is blind to because he does not understand what historic preservation means in terms of economic development.  He asked Commissioner Atkinson to withdraw the motion because it is inappropriate.

Rob Collison said because it is an ordinance to amend the City Code, it would require two public readings, comments, and then a vote.  The motion tonight would be to being the process of drafting the ordinance. 

Commissioner Atkinson amended his motion to proceed with an ordinance to amend the Historic Preservation Commission to an advisory committee.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the amended motion.   Commissioner Bohlen said this seems to be a perennial issue with this body.  As was mentioned several years back when they first approached the subject, there are much greater issues here about whether certain items are appropriate or the right size.  They are beyond the scope of Council.  The Historic Preservation Commission cannot be an advisory body to the City Council because it sits as a Board of Architectural Review.  It is the only Commission of the City that has actual requirements to serve.  The people have to meet certain criteria to serve on the Commission.  You circumvent that entire process by thanking them for their decision and doing something else.   The purpose of having the Commission formed this way as is stated under the enabling legislation, not by the City Council of Cambridge, but by the State of Maryland, is that it depoliticizes the actions that are taken by the Commission.    It is based on the merit of the appropriateness of whatever the applicant is wishing to do to their property.  There are other Commissions that act independent of the City Council.  The Board of Appeals is one of them.  Once someone takes something to Planning and Zoning and they do not get the response that they want, they carry it to the Board of Appeals.  The Board of Appeals has the final say.  The next move is the same as the Historic Preservation Commission.  If they do not agree with the decision, it then goes to Circuit Court.   He said if Commissioner Atkinson wants to change the Board of Appeals to an advisory committee to Council so everyone is playing on the same field, that might be a different animal.  He feels it is ill-advised and does not agree with it.  He thinks things have been going very well.  More people are learning the benefits of the Historic District. 

Commissioner Weldon said either this community wants to be an appealing place to live that has a growing value for its residents and property owners, or it wants to continue to be the seedy dump that it has been for 40 years because of the slum lords who have cut up the houses and allow the economy to devolve into the morass that we have been trying to struggle out of for the last 5 years.

Commissioner Watkins said there are some sections of the second ward that are quite different from the first ward.  No one cares about it.  He feels they should be concerned about all wards and look at it at the City level after they received the committee's input.  Commissioner Bohlen said what needs to be looked at is the District as it exists now.  One of the powers Council still has is in the future expansion of the District.  It is a very involved process.  What enabled the District as it exists now, was documentation that cost in excess of nearly $40,000 that was paid through grants and private funds that formed a study in 1985.  Future expansion is left to the City Council. 

Commissioner Travers said the main problem he has is why they would not meet with the committee on putting the lighthouse at Long Wharf.  Commissioners Bohlen said they did meet.  He was at the meeting as liaison and they met with Mr. Hornberger and Mr. Wright.  Mr. Wright said the Lighthouse Committee made a presentation to the Preservation Commission but they wanted to shut it down.  They didn't want to have anything to do with it.  They are going to make their presentation to the City Council next week They want to build a $250,000 lighthouse and give it to the City.  The West End Citizens Association do not want to hear from them.  The Historic Preservation Commission wanted to shut them down completely.  Armond Hayward was to have said he felt they should reject it and other members of the body said that they should hear the committee.  They heard the presentation but they are still against it.  Commissioner Weldon said his understanding was that the conversation was tabled until it could be looked at in the context of a more comprehensive view.  He has asked Rob Collison to investigate to see if it is possible for the City to exempt themselves from the process because it is a City project on City property.  He has spoken to Mr. Hayward about this directly.  He relies on Mr. Hayward's experience but the more this thing unfolds, it gets into opinions and areas that he personally doesn't feel the Historic Preservation Commission belongs. This is more personality driven than ordinance driven and it can be fixed.  Commissioner Bohlen said the Lighthouse Committee was heard and it is still in the process.   Rob Collison said they could amend the Code so that any publicly owned government property is exempt from the jurisdiction of the Historic Preservation Commission. 

Commissioner Weldon said if they are talking about one instance, it is foolish to try to dismantle it.  He agrees that the system can be improved but you don't improve it by taking it apart.  Commissioner Travers said there was also an instance when a person was serving his time in the Army when he put up a carport and he was rejected and asked to take it down.  He respects the man's judgment and does not like to have one person tell him that he has to take the carport down.  Commissioner Bohlen agreed with his respect for anyone serving currently or having served in the past.  However, if you give that person rights above and beyond any other citizen, you are creating a great difficulty.  Commissioner Weldon said again it is an issue of making decisions based on an individual person over the process.  He suggested that each Commissioner talk to their appointment to the Preservation Commission and attend one of the meetings. 

Rob Collison said the motion to have an ordinance proposed for presentation to the Council which would make the Historic Preservation Commission basically an advisory capacity for the Department of Public Works in issuing building permits.  They would have no authority for enforcement of building issues.  The motion passed 3 to 2 with Commissioners Bohlen and Weldon opposed.

Ed Kinnamon received a letter from Delegate Conway of Talbot County and from a business in Easton which is located next to Cherry's building.  Both letters are commending Rescue Fire Company's quick response and aggressive battling of the blaze.   

Ed Kinnamon received a request from Zion United Methodist Church.  On Palm Sunday (April 4), they would like to have the streets blocked off starting at the corner of Poplar and High Streets to Locust Street and Locust Street to the corner of Locust and Mill Streets from 10:45 am until 11:00 am to have a reenactment of Jesus entering the gates of Jerusalem.  Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the request.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Tom Collins, Dorchester County Historical Society, requested two letters of support.  The first letter deals with a bond issue that the State of Maryland has available.  This Historical Society has put in for a grant for $250,000 to expand their museum facilities.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to submit a letter of support for House Bill 50.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.  

Tom Collins said at the present time, the National Park Services has been asked to investigate the prospects of making certain parts of the Chesapeake Bay a National Historic Area and a National Park of some type.  They will have a pamphlet listing the number of gateway sights of historical importance.  The Historical Society would like a letter of support from the City backing their request to be listed on that chart of historic preservation site.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to submit the letter.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

David Pritchett reminded everyone that the sidewalks are the responsibility of the homeowners.  They must be shoveled with 36 hours after the stop of a snow storm.  They are asking for cooperation from people who have cars on the snow emergency routes.  If they see that we will be receiving 4 inches or more of snow, they should move their cars off the road.   He thanked the public for their cooperation and for all the compliments they received. 

Mayor Rippons said the meeting scheduled last Tuesday in the Empowerment Center will be held tomorrow.  He will receive public input on the utilization of Schoolhouse Lane.  They City has just purchased and demolished the entire block. 

Tony Thomas, William Street, asked Commissioner Atkinson why he wanted to throw a monkey wrench into the works of the Historic District.  Mr. Thomas said people are moving here because of the District.  He bought three properties in the District from landlords.  One was a HUD "repo" for $45,000.  He turned it around and sold it for $165,000.   He thinks the lighthouse is a fantastic project.  The Historic District is governed by the State of Maryland.  If anyone else gets involved, the property values will go downhill.  He will sue the City.  He has put almost $1 million on Race Street.  He was told he had to do windows like they did in 1910. He had every window made for over $1000.   He questioned whether they wanted to let them go with nothing on there.  If everybody else can just do anything they want to do to this town, they are going to ruin it.  It's a disgrace for all the people who worked to make the Historic District here.  There are more Victorian homes here than there are in Cape May.  This is going to be a town that people are going to talk about despite the people who don't want it here.  

Brian Manning, Locust Street, said to say that an Historical District and Historical Preservation doesn't come out and make us all money, is ludicrous.  Historical Preservation, with all its little nit-picking problems, is good for Cambridge.

Buzz Phillips, West End Avenue, said he has not received an answer from Commissioner Bohlen in the last 2 years.  He has a home that has lap siding and he has been trying to get the siding on.  His contractor won't touch it without getting a permit and he won't do it because he didn't want to get tied up with red tape.  He talked to someone who had windows put in without talking to the Commission and another person who put siding on without talking to the Commission.  Commissioner Bohlen said he has never received a message from Mr. Phillips either at home or from City Hall.  He is more than happy to talk to Mr. Phillips about this.  The guidelines are available at City Hall and the Department of Public Works.  He feels it is more of a contractor problem.  All the contractor has to do is obtain the correct form to get a permit and he would be put on the docket for the Preservation Commission.  Vinyl siding is allowed in the District.  Replacement windows are allowed in the District with certain reservations.  Certain issues may  even be considered maintenance issues and he may not even need to go before the Commission. 

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, February 2, 2004, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer