• 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

May 10, 2004
 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, May 10, 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, 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 April 26, 2004 Council meeting as distributed.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.   

APPOINTMENTS

Bob Vigarito to Discuss Ultra Distance Triathlon on October 9 (The Chesapeake­Man)-Bob Vigarito said the EagleMan Triathlon filled in record time this year. They have 1800 people registered from 42 states and 4 foreign countries for their event on June 13th.   They feel the event brings $2 to $3 million in economic development to the area.   The ultimate distance for a triathlete is a 2.4-mile swim, 112 miles on the bike, and a 26.2 mile run.  They are proposing to host an event in Cambridge on Saturday, October 9th.   Typically people start between around 7:00 am and finish after dark. The cut-off time for the run is midnight.   The event would start at Great Marsh Park with the swim.  The bikes would depart from Great Marsh.  They would have a team of folks clean the park after the bikes depart.  The Park should be clean by 11:00 am.  The bikes would finish at the high school.  The run would be a two-loop course utilizing predominantly Egypt Road and perhaps part of Key Wallace.  In talking to the Police Department and the Sheriff, he proposed tiki lights to light the aid stations on Egypt Road.  They will have roving motorcycles and van support and also the use of a helicopter with a lighted beacon.  They are proposing to close Egypt Road after dark.  Before the event they will visit the residents and give them an entrance pass to keep in their car.  The event will finish at the football stadium under the lights.  They receive great support from other communities who host these events.  He will be presenting his plans to Dorchester County on May 11th.  

Chief Ken Malik said he would like to see the route before he gives his approval.  It doesn't look like there will be any runners at night in the City limits.  Bob Vigarito said he spoke to Lt. Paul Hurley at a recent event and he understood what they were proposing.  If they closed Egypt Road, they would be attentive to the needs of the residents of that street.  The event will be run professionally and safely as the EagleMan is run.   Rob Collison said the Egypt Road annexation will be finalized by then so a lot of the roadway will be in City limits.  Chief Malik said it is very dark down there at night and a helicopter or two will not be enough light.  From the liability of the City, this is a major concern.   Bob Vigarito said they bring their own liability insurance as they do with the EagleMan.   Mayor Rippons said they certainly are not adverse to the event, but they have a lot of questions as they move forward.  He thanked Mr. Vigarito for what the Triathlon does for the City. 

Natalie Chabot to Discuss Grant Opportunities and Dorchester First!-Natalie Chabot said they have been working on the Dorchester First! program for a year now.  The program is about fostering small business development.  There is a Dorchester County economic development agency that is focusing on bringing in manufacturing jobs.  With the influx of tourists, they are looking for services and places to eat and shop. They feel they need a program to encourage this.  Also, it would support the influx of people who will be moving to Dorchester County and are looking for services.  It started out as a one-stop shop program that would make it easy to do business in Dorchester County.  It is a small business development resource to make it easy for people to find out what the process is and what steps they need to take.  A lot of visitors are looking to start businesses here.  They are working on a website and a resource center at the Visitors Center.

Natalie Chabot said the Maryland Heritage Area has a grant round coming up with the local deadline of July 30th.   The applications go to the local Heritage Area Management board where they are prioritized and fine-tuned, if necessary.  They are then forwarded for State review in October.  Money will be available in January.  This dollar-for-dollar grant program is open to non-profits and local governments.  Cambridge still has an open grant for Water Street improvements.  Dorchester County has received over $300,000 in grant funds from the Maryland Heritage Area program for various organizations for various projects.  They have also been able to leverage another $140,000 from Federal and private sources for those same types of projects.    There will be a workshop held in June.

Commissioner Weldon said Council had approved $8000 for matching funds to be applied toward a planning grant for the area around Long Wharf which was tied to the lighthouse project.  Because the lighthouse is in limbo right now, he asked if Council wanted to continue with that allocation without the lighthouse as a project or re-allocate it to something else.  Commissioner Atkinson said he prefers leaving it with the lighthouse. 

Commissioner Weldon said our Target Investment Zone has a 5-year window.  We are now in the second year.  Given the investment we have made in City Hall and the progress we are making with the public safety building, he suggested applying for a design grant for the re-use of the firehouse section of downtown as museum space, flexible space, etc.  He thinks this should be one of the priorities.  The other thing would be a continuation of the Water Street lighting project into the downtown area.   Because of staff changes and storm damages we have had, the City is overdue for a quarterly report for the Water Street project.  

Natalie Chabot said it would make sense to apply for some kind of planning project.   She said to always keep projects in the pipeline.  If they aren't funded the first year, they will move up in priority for the next year.  The City only has a 5‑year window for capital projects.

Commissioner Weldon said the Council is looking at reviewing the boundaries of the Historic District.  He asked if it be appropriate to apply to the Heritage Area for assistance with funds for research. It wouldn't be within the specific Target Investment Zone, but it would be a non-capital project.      

Vicky Thatcher, Zion United Methodist Church, to Discuss Putting Banners Around Cambridge-Ms. Thatcher was not present to speak.

William Jackson, American Legion Post 87, to Request Noise Variance for Their Outdoor Activity on May 15, 2004 from 12 noon Until 8:00 pm-Mr. Jackson said they are planning a fundraiser at their facility on Cross Street to  raise money to supplement the building fund.  Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the request.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Consideration and Approval of Egypt Road Annexation Agreement-Rob Collison said he has received calls from the public asking the City to make sure Egypt Road continues to permit farm-related equipment and traffic because there is a large farming community south of where this would occur.  Council can assure that it will not be designated as a non-truck route.  An issue was also raised about hunting rights for those properties that are outside the City limits.  Discharge of firearms within the City limits is prohibited.  In the State Annotated Code there is a provision for a 150-yard setback or safety zone from any residence where there is trapping or hunting.   He has called the DNR for additional information.  The developer requested that the City include in the annexation agreement an assurance that farm traffic would never be prohibited. 

Sandy McAllister, representing Egypt Road LLC, said they have received input from various Council members and made amendments to the draft of the agreement.  They made modifications to Section 2.2 to address the possibility that the PWRD will have to be consistent with the County's approach.  The developer is currently in discussions with the County regarding their Comprehensive Plan modification.  If all goes as they hope and expect, this will be unnecessary.  If for some reason the Dorchester County Council were unwilling to modify their Comprehensive Plan, then they would have to develop in accordance with State and City law.  Rob Collison clarified the State law by saying that if the City annexes property and the proposed zoning is substantially different from the County's Comprehensive Plan, the zoning must be consistent with the County's Plan or stay that way for 5 years and then be rezoned.   Sandy McAllister said the County has the ability to wave any objections to the zoning; they can modify the Comprehensive Plan, or the developer can build in accordance with City zoning that is not significantly different than the current Comprehensive Plan. 

Sandy McAllister said they have deleted all references to holding the inspection and hook-up fees. 

Section 6.1 defined impact fees and excise taxes.  They understand that depending on the City's consultant, the City might choose to impose excise taxes, impact fees, etc. 

Section 8 was revised to say that the public services and improvement obligations depend on approval of the development.  All of the infrastructure under the earlier annexation agreement were triggered on zoning.  They have now linked it to the issuance of permits by the City to build the infrastructure.  They defined "developer" as "the developer and his successors and assigns" throughout the agreement. 

During the public hearings, they repeatedly were reminded of the importance of Egypt Road for the farming community.   Several farms asked to be assured that the City would not put restrictions on Egypt Road.   It was never the developer's intent to have that happen. 

Rob Collison said the developer is not asking for any abatement on the impact fees.  They are asking that they be set at the current rate for a period of years (2012).  Sandy McAllister said it will take this year and into 2005 to do designing and engineering.  Construction will begin promptly throughout 2005 and into 2006.  They suggested 7 years because the very beginning of the housing construction would be in approximately 2 years.  All of the major builders are trying to come up with 5‑year budgets.  They thought it would not be unreasonable to give them predictions of costs for 5 years.  After that, the City will have every right to impose whatever impact or excise fee it would impose at that point.   Commissioner Weldon suggested locking in the fees for a period of 4 years and then have a cap on how much it can increase.  Sandy McAllister said under their current estimates, if they didn't go up at all, the total City fees to be paid would be $27.29 million to the City alone.  This does not include the various incentives that the City has negotiated for the developer to also contribute.  Those incentives, as well as the cash contribution and pre-paid fees to help the City with some of its priorities, were all made with the expectation that the various builders would have a certain predictability.  They asked the City to give them the number and give them the ability to bank on it for the initial phase of construction.  The uncertainty causes big problems.  Commissioner Weldon said the impact fee is something that is going to be built into the cost of the house and passed along to the buyer.   Commissioner Atkinson suggested 5 years from the day they sign the agreement.  Rob Collison suggested a fiscal year basis.  Sandy McAllister said they have an agreement with the Council in principle to make a contribution of $2 million that will not be credited against the impact fees.  

Sandy McAllister said the land will be agricultural until it is not agricultural.  Everybody is talking about good planned growth.  In a PWRD, they will be coming to the Planning Commission and Council with a master development plan.   This is required to show them what could be a decade long process.  Once of the concerns they have was that when they come with a record plat that shows their whole subdivision over the next 10 to 12 years, that the City doesn't say that they have 3200 lots and assess them at their highest and best use.  That is somewhere around $800 million worth of assessable base and they would still have crops out there.   They thought it was reasonable to assume that it would be taxed fully as it is currently taxed with no abatement.  The higher assessment for residential use would happen when those lots were created and sold.  This is what is done at the Hyatt. 

Commissioner Weldon said he spoke to a concerned neighborhood about the hunting.  The gentleman had some concerns because he leases the hunting rights as a source of revenue.  The buffer is going to cause him to loose several hundred acres of available space.  The folks buying the homes are going to be complaining about the deer eating their azaleas but will be against a hunt being scheduled.  Hunting is an industry in Dorchester County.   Sandy McAllister said he doesn't think there is anything unique about this parcel.  There is a lot of hunting on the large farm on Route 16 (Burton parcel).  They have not planned any housing on the Blackwater River.  There will be a golf course across the Blackwater.  They are in the very beginning stages of planning dealing with the statutory Critical Area limits imposed by the buffer and the wetlands, which expand the buffer.  It is quite likely that this setback will not be a problem.  As they go through the design process and get a better idea of where the hunting sites may be, they will try to accommodate them. 

Rob Collison asked that the ordinances provided be for illustrated purposes only so he can prepare the actual ordinances for submittal.   

Rob Collison summarized as follows:  The impact fees will be fixed at the current rate until July 1, 2009.  The revised agreement provides that the building permit fees, inspection fees and tap-in fees would be at the prevailing rate City-wide.  The City has no control over how a property is assessed.  The City would abate any increase over the prevailing agricultural assessment rate until property transfers to new owner.   Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the agreement.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was approved unanimously.  Rob Collison will prepare the actual ordinance which creates the PWRD and the ordinance with regard to the capital financing.

Award Bid for Municipal Marina Electrical Upgrade-The Department of Public Works recommended awarding the bid to John W. Tieder, the low bidder, in the amount of $81,559. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to accept the recommendation.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS

Council to Introduce 2005 Budget-Ed Kinnamon presented Council with a memorandum outlining certain fiscal information.  The document summarized the expenditures for the coming year.   The proposed budget includes $8,090,871 in operations and $8,544,498 in capital improvements totaling the general fund budget of $16,635,369.  This budget is 14.7% higher than last year's approved budget which includes an 8.4% increase in operations.  It includes several capital projects which will be better-funded by a general obligation bond rather than by existing revenues. Major renovations proposed include a new public safety building to be built on Washington Street, Phase 2 of the Municipal Yacht Basin Marina whereby additional slips would be added, a replacement fire engine to replace a 20‑year old pumper, a replacement ambulance, as well as resurfacing of City streets.  The City's current tax rate is 0.726 for $100 of assessed property valuation.  A public hearing on the constant yield tax rate is scheduled for the May 24th Council meeting as well as the adoption of the Fiscal Year 2005 budget which is also scheduled for the same meeting.  On May 17, 2004, at 6:30 pm there will be a public work session.  Part of the agenda will be additional discussion about the budget. 

Tax Incentives for Main Street-Mayor Rippons reported that the Economic Restructuring Committee of Cambridge Main Street presented Council with a request to consider a limited tax abatement for Main Street business properties that improved the exterior of their property in accordance with the suggestions and recommendations of the Cambridge Main Street Design Committee.  They are suggesting a tax abatement on the improvements only for the next 10 years or until the property is sold.  After the term of 10 years, or when the property is sold, the improvement value would be added the existing value. 

Commissioner Bohlen said he spoke to Bill Wise and Rich Loeffler about this.  He and Commissioner Weldon suggested this some time back.   Taxes are assessed on a 3‑year cycle.  For convenience sake, Council could make it for 6 years or 9 years.  A good portion of downtown is in the Historic District so these improvements would be in cooperation with the Design Committee's guidelines and also meeting HPC requirements, as necessary.  

Mayor Rippons said when the new assessment comes out, the proof would have to be on the property owner to stipulate what percentage of that increase is from outside improvements.  Bill Wise said if a property owner applied for a building permit for improvements costing $50,000, you would subtract $50,000 from the assessment.  Commissioner Weldon said the City would bill the taxes based on the original assessment for that period of years.  He also said there could be a full abatement for 5 years and then do a sliding scale up (20 percent a year for the other 5 years).   Mr. Wise said the business owners are not asking for any money.  They are just asking the City not to punish them for improving their building.    Commissioner Bohlen said he will see what other Main Streets have done this and what their mechanism for abatement is.  Rob Collison said there was similar language in the Arts and Entertainment District.  He will prepare the documents for a first reading during the next meeting.  A copy will be sent to the Main Street Committee for their review also.   Commissioner Weldon suggested asking Dorchester County for a Resolution of Support so they would do the same thing in the Main Street District.

Request from Eastern Shore Directors Consortium to Use Great Marsh Park and a Noise Variance on Saturday, June 19th from 8:00 am Until 5:00 pm for a Community Gala-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Requests from Avery Pix, for Traffic and Parking Control While Filming Short Segments of "The Wedding Crashers"-Commissioner Weldon made a motion to grant the request.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Request from Portside Seafood Restaurant (201 Trenton Street) for Variance from the Noise Ordinance for Dock Parties on June 6, June 27, July 11, July 18, August 1, August 22, and September 5 from 2:00 pm Until 7:00 pm-Commissioner Travers made a motion to grant the request.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Request from Zion United Methodist Church for a Variance from the Noise Ordinance for Their Neighborhood Jesus Festival on June 12th from 11:00 am Until 3:00 pm on Their Church Property and Parking Lot on Locust Street-Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to grant the request.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Discussion and Approval of Lease for Trenton Street Pier to Deep Harbor-Rob Collison said the lease agreement was set forth in the MOU between the City and Deep Harbour.  At that time they proposed a 10-year payment schedule of $18,000 per year.   The developer is pre-paying the entire $180,000 upfront on the commencement date which is set for January 1, 2005.  This is for a 99‑year lease.  There is a possibility that the City may have to repay the State any grant funds that were used to construct the pier.  It is his understanding that it is approximately $25,000.  This would only be if they do not replace these slips with other slips that are available to the public.  The expansion of the marina would provide at least 28 slips available to the public.   If that work is completed by the time the Trenton Street pier is turned over to the developer for private use, it may not be a problem.   If it is not completed, there may be a re-payment provision.  The developer has inserted a provision in light of these concerns whereby even though the lease commences on January 1, 2005, the developer has agreed to continue leasing it to the public, substantially under the same terms, through the Calendar Year 2005.   Commissioner Bohlen said in further discussions, they said if some unknown thing occurs and the City was responsible for the repayment of approximately $25,000, the cost would not be borne by the City; it would be borne by the developer.   Sandy McAllister said they have no reason to believe that this would be necessary.  The developer wanted to prepay the money so it was available for the expansion project and will hold itself responsible for the $25,000 when and if it is necessary. 

Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the lease.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Appoint PWCD Review Committee-Mayor Rippons said the committee will not be appointed tonight because the request of the City was to provide a resume with background information. 

Approve Executive Assistant Job Description for CPD and Executive Office-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the request.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Request To Go To Bid for New DPW Phone System-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the request.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Request To Extend Contract to Paint City Council Chambers-Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the request.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Approve Budget Amendment for Cambridge Police Department-Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the budget amendment.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Rob Collison announced that Council met in closed executive session tonight at 6:15 pm to obtain legal advice on several matters.

Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to advertise for a public hearing for revisions to the City's Historic Preservation District boundaries.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Atkinson announced that the World War II Veterans' Memorial has been cleaned up and flowers have been planted to get ready for Memorial Day.  Local people donated their time and new flags were put up. 

Commissioner Travers asked when they are going to break ground on Trenton Street for the Deep Harbour Project.  Sandy McAllister said he anticipates it will be before the end of this month.

Ed Kinnamon said Chief Bill Watkins told him he had some emergency repairs to the ladder/tower truck.  He doesn't have the cost at this time.

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, May 10, 2004, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer