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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
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City Council Minutes

March 22, 2004
 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, March 22, 2004 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 Bohlen, Watkins, Weldon, and Travers.

Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer.  Commissioner Travers led in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the minutes of the March 8, 2004 Council meeting as distributed.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.   

PUBLIC HEARING

Critical Area Amendment From RCA to IDA  --  Area North and South of Southside Avenue at the Intersection of Southside and Maple Dam Road-This hearing was advertised in the Daily Banner on March 5 and 12,  2004.  It is a consideration for a map amendment under the Critical Areas Program.  Linda Nabb reported that the Planning Commission has reviewed this proposal and they unanimously supported a favorable recommendation for approval of the request to change approximately 108 acres of land which is designated as Resource Conservation Area (RCA) to Intensely Developed Area (IDA).   There was a request for development in that area that had a small portion (21 acres) in the Critical Area which caused a review on how the property was designated as RCA in the first place.  It seems like when the original Critical Area maps were done in the 1980s, the County thought this area was part of Dorchester County.  They put one RCA symbol in that area.  The area includes portions of Maple Elementary School and the Cambridge-South Dorchester facility on the westerly side Maple Dam Road and some property on the easterly side of Maple Dam Road in the vicinity of Southside Avenue.  The mistake was not picked up until 1997 when the City did a 4-year review under the Critical Area Program.  It appears from the minutes that it was shown on the County map and was assumed to be correct and then carried forth in the City's review.  When the County designated it as RCA, they would have no knowledge that there were already existing major water and sewer lines through the property.  These are some of the largest transmission lines in the City.  One of four items must be shown to meet the test of an IDA.  Included is the fact that there is public water and sewer available and housing density is at least 3 dwelling units per acre.  There was, but not in the Critical Area, a part of a huge parcel of which only 21 acres were in the Critical Area.  There was already subdivision activity occurring in the non-critical area (or upland) portion of it at that density in 1988.  She believes it met the test under that basis alone.  Also, if it is an institutional use, such as a school, then it should have an IDA designation.  Therefore, the school property should also be included in the IDA.  The recommendation of the Planning Commission is to designate the property as an IDA as a map amendment based upon mistake in the original designation which had been placed by the County in error instead of by the City.  They are also asking that the Critical Areas Commission look at whether this is qualified for an expedited method because it's not a full amendment but rather a program review because they feel that it clearly was a mistake.  Roby Hurley, the Circuit Rider for Critical Areas, felt they have a very strong proposal and recommended that they send a letter to the staff to get some preliminary feedback.  Today they received correspondence from a staff person with the Critical Areas Commission and they have some concerns that perhaps their interpretation of having public sewer and water system at the site were slightly different from ours.  The Commission has never seen a proposal like this where you had just water and sewer lines and there were not already major housing units attached to it.   The staff person had some concerns about meeting that test.  If it does not qualify as an IGA, then the next level is Limited Development Area (LDA).  The LDA requirements have slightly different requirements.  In the LDA if you have public water and sewer, there is no requirement that there be houses developed.  It drops the density requirement.  Linda Nabb feels that, at the very least, the property would qualify for an LDA.  She feels there is a sound argument that it would qualify as an IDA.  Therefore, the recommendation is that City Council approve this as an IDA but if the Critical Areas Commission does not concur, then it be designated as an LDA instead.   The Critical Areas Commission does have the final say.  Because this was a map mistake, it would not count against the City's growth allocation.

Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to put forth to the Critical Areas Commission that it was a map mistake and we request an IGA designation on the property and if that is not possible, we will settle for an LDA designation.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

APPOINTMENTS

Open Bids for Phase III - Combined Sewer Separation Project-Ed Kinnamon received two bids:

  • J. Marion Bryan & Sons (Easton) - $1,147,300.00
  • David A. Bramble (Chestertown) - $690,717.50

Commissioner Travers made a motion to refer the bids to the Department of Public Works for their review and recommendation.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

Open Bids for Demolition of 3 Structures-Ed Kinnamon received four bids:

  • Wheatley Brothers - $21,980.00
  • Jerol Moore -- $19,239.00
  • Eastern Shore Paving -- $25,500.00
  • Bennett Construction, Inc. -- $54,397.00

Commissioner Travers made a motion to forward the bids to the Department of Public Works for their review and recommendation.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

Jane Devlin, West End Citizens Association, to Discuss Housing Issues-Jane Devlin thanked David Pritchett for working very well with their committee over the past 6 or 7 months.  They have seen a lot of positive changes. She would like to discuss the rental registration list that Commissioner Bohlen has.  They also have a list and would like to meet with David Pritchett to compare the lists.  After that, they will draft a list of possible rentals that are not registered.  They have re-organized their Neighborhood Oversight Committee and have three committee members who are taking the entire West End into sections.  They have completed five streets of the twenty streets and have two pages listing untagged vehicles and infractions.  They are asking that the City keep working the way they have been because it certainly shows.  She thanked the City for their time.  Commissioner Bohlen said he has been working with the West End Citizens on several issues.  Jane Devlin thanked Enessa Whitten for the work she has done since the fall of last year. She is extremely organized and sees that things are completed and follows through. 

John Fox to Discuss Comments on Slots-Mr. Fox said he is involved with slots every day so it makes no difference to him whether Dorchester County gets them or not.  He read an article in the Daily Banner on March 15th in which Commissioner Weldon made a statement that he took offense to.  He referred to "drunken sailors".  Commissioner Weldon said he appreciates the fact that Mr. Fox and so many other veterans have fought so hard to protect the constitution that gives him the right to speak his mind.   Commissioner Weldon thanked Mr. Fox for his concern and offered an apology if anybody took offense to his comments.  They were made in the context of a literary reference and were not intended to offend anybody. If anyone took offense to it, he apologizes.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Award Bid for Street Paving-David Pritchett said they received three bids.  It came in at roughly $10,000 over the budgeted amount of $175,000.  The lowest bid was Interstate Construction of Delaware, Inc. at $185,160.  They would like to make a recommendation to award the contract to Interstate Construction of Delaware minus the amount that was included for a small portion of Race Street.  This would bring the cost to $174,783.38.   This low bid was based on per unit price of ton and milling.  Commissioner Watkins made a motion to accept the recommendation of the Department of Public Works.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

Award Bid for Bush Hog-David Pritchett reported that they only received one bid.  It was from Eastern Service Corporation in the amount of $4,458.00.  They have $8,000 budgeted.  The Department of Public Works recommends awarding the bid to Eastern Service Corporation.  Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to award the bid to Eastern Service Corporation.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

Vote on Egypt Road / Blackwater Annexation (Annexation Resolution No. A-2003-06)-Rob Collison said the developer requested this annexation of approximately 1061 acres on both sides of Egypt Road.  If Council elects to proceed and adopt the resolution, it would be conditional of two matters.  One would be the development and adoption of a PWRD ordinance.  The other condition would be the development and adoption of an annexation agreement between the City and the developer.  If those items are not agreed upon by all parties (City and developer), the annexation does not take place.  Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to approve the annexation with the conditions outlined by Rob Collison.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0. 

NEW BUSINESS

Discuss Community Clean-Up-David Pritchett said all wards will have their clean-up on the same day.  They are suggesting Saturday, April 17th.  They will run from 8:00 am until approximately 2:00 pm or until they are finished.  Mayor Rippons asked the local media to assist with coverage of this issue.  David Pritchett said they are requesting that everything is put out the night before.  Because they are doing all wards in one day, the will probably only pass through each street one time.  They will get whatever anyone puts out including "white goods".   

Review and Approval of Modification to Master Development Plan of Deep Harbour-Mayor Rippons introduced Ann Roane, the City Planner.  Ms. Roane said in reviewing the Deep Harbour file, she found there had been some significant changes since the Master Development Plan had been approved on February 22, 2002.  The City Code states that major changes to an adopted Master Development Plan shall be submitted to the Commission for review and approval and referred to the City Council.  The plan went before the Planning Commission on March 16th.   Copies of the staff report were forwarded to City Council.  The concept plan that was approved included 92 townhouse units, the Master Development Plan did not propose any.  The new housing type has directed a change in the vehicular and pedestrian circulation patterns from the Master Development Plan including the layout of roads, parking, and sidewalks.  The open space recreation area including the common pool area has been relocated and reorganized. 

Attorney Sandy McAllister, representing Deep Harbour LLC, said if they are successful tonight, they can begin construction in a matter of weeks.  He introduced Joe Forotino, Vice President of Land Development for the Maryland Division of Beazer Homes, and Darryl Wagner and Scott Wallace of Deep Harbour LLC.  Mr. McAllister said during the discussion of the original Master Development Plan, a couple of observations were made by the City.  They hoped the developer would consider a more neighborhood feel.  That suggestion has been the genesis of the changes made.  Joe Forotino said they are trying to make this the crown jewel  -- the gateway of Cambridge and also accomplish marketing needs to make it attractive for people who want to spend their money or live in Cambridge or to have a second residence.  They took into account many of the comments and feedback they received over the last 6 months from various members of the City Council, Planning Commission, and city staff.  They prepared a logical site plan with a logical progression of density from existing Cambridge up along the Route 50 side into townhouses about mid-project and then into the higher density condos along the waterfront.  They took some of the amenities on the site (club house and pool complex) and shifted them toward the rear of the project.  They want to make the riverwalk an amenity for all the residents of Cambridge.  The proposed condominium product has four stories of living space on top of one level of parking.  It is consistent with the condos on the other side of creek.  They are below the 75-ft height limit as dictated by the zoning code.  Their marketing study has shown that the large majority their buyers will be using the home as a second or summer home. They will have very few full-time residents who live in Deep Harbour.   The townhouses will have 2-car garages integrated into each unit.  The driveways will be long enough to park additional cars.  There will be 3-story buildings with porches.  Things they feel critical to do that do not fall under the MOU are odor control and re-fence/re-screen the existing pump station; relocate the 30‑inch sewer line that runs through the project from Cedar Street at their cost with upgraded materials, and widen the new Green Street relocated from 20-ft to 24‑ft wide. 

Sandy McAllister said what they brought before Council tonight were simply the items for which they are requesting a modification to approval.  All the other approved items in this mixed-use project, including the hotel, the restaurant, the commercial elements, farmers' market, etc. are unchanged and are not part of this request.  He said it is no mean engineering feat to cut a new marina simply to accommodate these unit holders and the public but it enhances the project a great deal.  It keeps them from attempting to go out into the creek; in fact, it makes more creek.  The riverwalk will continue over to the restaurant and hotel complex on the current site of the former Cambridge Tractor.  That will hook it up with an upgraded Trenton Street to update and modernize the intersection in front of Portside.  They have already seen a lot of activity in the Hayward Street and other adjoining neighborhoods.  People already know a good thing is coming.  They are hoping this kind of pedestrian in-migration is going to enhance the revitalization efforts downtown. 

Sandy McAllister said there are absolutely no tax abatements relative to this site.  It will result easily in $80 million plus in infrastructure just on this component of the project in the next few years.  In 2002, when they began the discussion on how this project would work, the City did not have any impact fees.  At the time, the principle focus of the City was making sure that the design involved in a mixed-use fashion.  One of the absolute critical components that each Commissioner insisted on was that this not be just a residential development.  There is a lot of money in residential development and a lot of money lost in commercial and mixed-use development.  It was an important concession to come up with a mixed-use that works for both the City and Deep Harbour LLC.   It required some significant assistance from the City.  That principally meant, in order to create a parcel that was developable, it had to be contiguous without streets running through it.  They worked with the City to decide that the way to enhance its value and enable significant downtown urban housing to occur was to consolidate these parcels.  It required a new Green Street to divert traffic that has historically used Trenton Street.  The riverwalk was a concept that this Council felt very strongly about.  It's a very expensive proposition when you go from Cedar Street to Maryland Avenue building a 10-ft brick paver public access with amenities.  The developer said that is going to be very expensive over the next 10 years to build the sort of infrastructure that they need.  At that time the City was considering impact fees but hadn't come to any conclusion over what they might be.  The developer said they needed some sense of how to set a budget over the next 5 to 7 years.  They asked the City to establish whatever hook-up fees it needs and maintain those and they asked for some assurance that they don't make all these expensive concession and find years down the road that they would be saddled with impact fees also.  There is not an MOU with the County and there is still at least the possibility, if not likelihood, of the County's fees being imposed at some future date.  They have every expectation of that happening.  There were public hearings and the MOU with the City was made available to the public for weeks before it was discussed in public session and voted on by Council. 

Commissioner Weldon clarified that the riverwalk and the mixed-use concepts weren't concessions.  Deep Harbour received the railroad bed, the area around the depot, and the Trenton Street bed for free without the City even doing an appraisal.  It was a pro quo. 

Commissioner Bohlen said there was negotiation and a give-and-take.  He stressed that this is a very superior product to the original one.  He is delighted by what he sees.  One of the things he is looking to do is put a moratorium on the PWCD to particularly look at the guidelines.  He asked Council to look at the Section 13 of the MOU dealing with the surcharges or impact fees.  He feels they may need to revisit it. 

Commissioner Weldon said the additional work Deep Harbour is proposing, especially the sewer line, is pretty quantifiable.   Before he would enter into any discussion about assessing additional impact fees, he would like to get an idea about what kind of dollar value they are talking about.  He asked them to work with David Pritchett as far as the sewer lines and the screenings around the pump house and the odor control.  He would like to see if those can be codified as an addendum to the MOU and that will give him a clearer vision in terms of an impact fee.  There is a value there that is worth taking into consideration.

David Pritchett said long before the conception of this development, the City Engineer had become very concerned with exactly the upgrading they are talking about.  The cost was prohibitive for the City at the time.

Rob Collison said they need to take into account that at the time this project came into being, Commissioner Weldon had a task force looking at increasing public access to the waterfront.  There was a lot of waterfront that up until then was blocked by development.  At that time the proposal was to try to amend the PWCD code to require public access and riverwalks along residential, as well as commercial areas.  Had they moved forward with that, it would have been a taking to go in and take 10 or 12 feet of someone's waterfront property by the City for a public riverwalk.  He would hate to venture the cost of that right-of-way from Cedar Street up through Cambridge Tractor which is the waterfront and then upgrading the sidewalk from there to Maryland Avenue, in addition to the actual cost of construction for the 10-ft-wide riverwalk, not including the seating area and on‑going maintenance.  This will be constructed at the developer's expense, maintained by the developer, and shall always be a public walkway.  It is defined as a public sidewalk.  They will also have to insure it because of the public access which is a huge expense. 

Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the modification to the project as it stands at this particular time.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  Ann Roane reported that the Planning Commission recommended a favorable recommendation approval to the modification.  Commissioner Bohlen asked that the motion include the verbiage "with the detail shown on the exhibits".   Commissioner Travers agreed to add this clause to his motion.  Commissioner Weldon approved the second and suggested that the approval be conditional upon the developer submitting valuations for the additional improvements they are agreeing to make as it would relate to any discussions on impact fees.  Commissioner Travers agreed.  The motion passed 4:0.

Approval of Charter Amendment Resolution Regarding Absentee Ballots (CR-2004-05)-Rob Collison said the Charter needs to be updated to make it consistent with both the County and the State voting practices.  This amends Section 3-12, entitled Absentee Voting.  The applications are available 45 days prior to the election and you have to get them in 10 days prior to the date.  It is a 2‑step process.  After you submit the application, the actual ballot is forwarded to you.  The applications will be available at City Hall.  To register to vote, you go to the County Elections Office in the County office building.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve Charter Resolution CR-2004-05.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

Approval of Charter Amendment Resolution Regarding Voter Registration  (CR-2004-04)-This amends Section 3-8, entitled "Universal Registration of Elections"  to provide for a uniform date by which persons must register to vote in the City elections.  The proposed amendment would require that all persons must register to vote at least 20 days prior to the date of the scheduled primary election and 20 days prior to the date of the general election.  Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve Charter Resolution CR-2004-04.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

Approve Financial Report for February 2004-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the financial report for February 2004.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

David Pritchett received a request from Super Soda on Cedar Street to install two temporary buildings either at Council's discretion of the time frame or a 2‑year time period until they can renovate their building which they have outgrown.  The only reason this is coming to Council when it normally would not, is because Planning and Zoning has the jurisdiction over changes within the PWCD.  However, this is only for a temporary building and this is not addressed.  Rob Collison said his inclination is not to have the Council vote on decisions such as this which are zoning.  He would direct David to see if they are permitted and send it back to the Board of Zoning Appeals.  David said he looked through everything and couldn't find what it would fall under.  He will work with Rob Collison on this.  This is not a time-critical issue.

David Pritchett said power is out on the sea wall where the largest boats are.  They have a quote price from John Tieder who did the other work for them after Hurricane Isabel.  They have offered the City their cost on purchasing the pedestals and installing them on the sea wall to help us keep going.  The price quote is for $7000.   Rob Collison said the City adopted an ASOP dealing with emergency situations to prevent loss to property.  Written estimates are required rather than going through the bid process. 

David Pritchett said Council has addressed over a long period of time the issue of the tire storage at the commercial tire businesses in Cambridge.  He has notified the businesses that are in violation.

David Pritchett reported that the pawn shop on Route 50 has placed signs all over town again despite previous warnings.  He has notified them in writing of this violation and they have 10 days of receipt of the letter to react and correct the violation.  If not, the City will physically remove the signs, fining them, and taking the signs back to them on their property.   He feels they will be cooperative.

David Pritchett reported that the radio station building is now a non-conforming use in the zoning in which they are located.  They are grandfathered in.  At this point in time they are looking to expand.  They are looking to do a fairly extensive amount of work.  There are some major issues to be dealt with because it is located in the NC1 district and some relatively close neighbors are concerned about it.  He is requesting a meeting with MTS Broadcasting, the Mayor, and Rob Collison.  Commissioner Bohlen said he would also like to be included.  He has received certain concerns over the years from residents in the areas of Bay Street about the radio station.  WCEM has been there since 1946.  During the hurricane 6 months ago, when we probably need radio communication dealing with the emergency, their transmitters were flooded and they were off-line. 

David Pritchett said the City has had a long time problem with someone who has an automobile junkyard in Cambridge.  The City has been contacted by the MVA and also by the County of problems they have had with this individual.  The Department of Public Works is actively working on it and the MVA is requesting a letter of support if the Council feels it is an on-going problem.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to allow David Pritchett to draft a letter to be sent to the MVA after Rob Collison reviews it.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

David Pritchett said due to the lack of boat slips in the area, some due to the development on the Creek loosing access to areas they did have, there are some individuals and commercial businesses who want to come into the marina.  He has come up with some pricing that he feels is the appropriate way to handle this.  It would be an increased rate fare for the commercial businesses.  This does not include waterman.  He is speaking about commercial in the aspect of sales.  This issue will be discussed at the next meeting.

Rob Collison said the public hearing for the moratorium for the PWCD is scheduled for April 12, 2004 at 7:00 pm.

William Giese said he is also representing his wife and his mother-in-law.  They own property adjacent to the Blackwater/Egypt Road properties.  While they don't particularly agree with the decision to annex the land, they will be good neighbors and they certainly understand some of the reasons why annexation is being considered as well as the reasons for the development.  He is asking Council to consider the adjacent land owners.  While they may be in the county, there is a direct cause and effect of the activities that will be occurring on the proposed City property in this development and the adjacent properties.  Because of some of the State regulations, they are looking at loss of income in excess of 70 acres of hunting property rentals that they will not be able to hunt.  It causes problems for them in controlling the deer on their agricultural land.  Certainly in an intense development, people don't want to hear scare guns at night which are used to keep the geese out.  They will work together to minimize the problems.  The developer has stated in some of the public hearings that he is willing to work with the neighbors and perhaps screen the property off.  That is something he greatly desires.  He also sees trespassing and liability issues.  He is urging Council to consider them in their deliberations and/or concerns.  They want to work with the City and the developer to be good neighbors. 

County Commissioner Tom Flowers said the radio station is really something to consider because during Hurricane Isabel it was the issue that brought the most questions.  Without radio, we were almost lost.  He really thinks the consideration is that they want to try to do something; either to build a wall around it or to make some arrangement to lift up the floors so that they are actually able to be on call and can continue to broadcast during a storm regardless of how much the water would come up.   He certainly recognized that it is a non-conforming use but it is something that is so very important to this community.

Ken Knox, President of Jenkins Creek Association of Proper Development, quoted a few items from the MOU between the City of Cambridge and Deep Harbour LLC dated February 20, 2003.  In his opinion, the MOU should be null and void because the game has changed.  The current rate of impact fees being $45,000 with approximately 380 units, retail shops, hotel, office, etc. being waived would result in a loss of revenue of approximately $2 million.  They will be giving the developer public streets, public property, public pier, boat slips on Trenton Street and the discounted rate at the soon to be expanded municipal marina.  This will result in lost revenue to the City of several million dollars with no benefit to the citizens of Cambridge. It is his belief that before Council makes any further decisions regarding this redevelopment, they ask themselves if they are truly representing the citizens who entrusted them to do so or if they are failing their responsibility.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:45 p.m.  I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, March 22, 2004, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer