• 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
Print this page

City Council Minutes

July 26, 2004
 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, July 26, 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 Knox, Cephas, Watkins, Brooks, 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 July 19, 2004 Council meeting as distributed.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.   

APPOINTMENTS

None

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Establish Organization of Council-Mayor Rippons appointed the following:

City Council President-Commissioner Edward Watkins

ADA-Commissioner Walter Travers

City Properties-Commissioner La-Shon Brooks

Finance Chairman-Commissioner Walter Lee Travers

Historic Preservation Liaison-Commissioner Kenneth Knox

Main Street-Commissioner Gil Cephas

Planning & Zoning Liaison-Commissioner Kenneth Knox

Street Lighting-Commissioner Gil Cephas

Streets, Sewers and Drainage-Commissioner Edward Watkins

Traffic & Safety-Commissioner La-Shon Brooks

Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the appointments.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Variances from the Noise Ordinance for Snappers and Creekside Seafood-Rob Collison reported that this issue was discussed in June.  Snappers was granted a variance from the noise ordinance for Sunday evenings until 10:00 pm.  Chief Malik said the Police Department was asked to look at the possibility of purchasing a decibel meter for the noise issue.  A decibel meter would not address a variance.  It would just measure noise that is outside of a variance granted by Council.  They looked at a number of local towns including Easton, Annapolis, Salisbury, Dover, Rehoboth, and Ocean City.  Ocean City uses a decibel meter. Rehoboth has just obtained one and they did not feel they could supply Cambridge any information at this time.  Dover used on at one time and felt it was not compatible and they went back to using the 50-foot rule.  This is what we use in Cambridge and is what most of the towns use.  Easton does not have a noise ordinance.  The Police Department received 175 noise complaints since January which is less than one per day.  Of the 175 complaints, 38 or more were unfounded.  It is not a major issue overall in the City.  He feels it has just been targeted in this particular area and does not feel a decibel meter is necessary.  The cost to Ocean City is quite extravagant.  The use a decibel meter costs between $2800 and $3000 a year.  It is calibrated on a yearly basis and they have to send officers to Kansas City to be trained to use it.  The decibel meter they use has been accepted in the judicial circuit so it may be the only one we can use.  It would be costly for the City of Cambridge to use it for the few noise complaints that they actually receive.  They have issued 26 citations since January for noise violations.  They have not received any calls from Cambridge Landing since Council discussed this issue in June.   After 10:00 pm, Snappers has been closed or near closed according to an officer who has been sitting near there. 

David Pritchett said on June 15, the City Planner forwarded a letter to Snappers saying that the City has determined the tiki bar to be a seasonal use application for the structure.  It requires a special exception which requires a hearing before Planning and Zoning and a hearing before the Board of Appeals.  He told them they had to cease operation of the tiki bar immediately.  This has nothing to do with the music.  He enclosed an application for an appeal but has not heard from them yet and they continue to operate after receiving the letter.  He contacted Snappers' attorney and it is his understanding that they did cease from using the tiki bar this weekend.  There are two different issues.  One is the noise for the outside entertainment.  The other issue is the use of the structure and the colors, which are in violation of the PWCD regulations. 

Rob Collison said six or eight years ago the use of a decibel meter was discussed.  They determined that it does not resolve these issues.  If the same amount of noise is being heard today, with or without the decibel meter, it would still need a variance.  It removes a police officer from having to make a judgment call as to whether a noise is unreasonable.   Variances would still be needed on occasion. 

Sandy McAllister, representing Snappers, explained the importance the variance has had.  He was City attorney when the noise ordinance was written.  They researched it a great deal.  The determination was made that regardless of whether you had a definitive decibel level or a 50-foot ordinance, you would still have the same number of people wishing exceptions to that rule.  They determined that a decibel meter was not money well spent.   He will be meeting on Wednesday with Rob Collison, David Pritchett, and Anne Roane to go through in great detail the concerns about the PWCD zoning and whether or not the tiki bar complies or needs a special exception and if so, what kind of special exception is required. If changes have to be made, they will discuss what they would be, including paint compliance, etc.  He contacted the Department of Public Works and Rob Collison, who was on vacation.  When Rob Collison came back, Sandy McAllister was on vacation.  Snappers has been ready, willing, and able to meet to make sure everybody is on the same page.  David Pritchett called him last Friday and told him that they need the tiki bar to cease and desist, which immediately happened.   

With regard to extending the variance, the outside entertainment at Snappers ends on Labor Day weekend.  There has been a great deal of effort to discuss the concerns of the citizens, including foul language, extending hours beyond 10 o'clock, loud music, different kinds of music, etc.   The Council has been granting the variances for only Sunday nights and only until 10:00 pm.  It has worked out well.  Tonight they hope to get a variance for the balance of the summer.  The music is similar to the music they have been playing for a decade.  The whole development plan for the creek is multi-use.  Deep Harbour is required to put in multi-use projects including a restaurant, a hotel, outside activities, and retail.  Snappers appreciated the Council's approach to date. 

Grant Davis, Talbot County, said a lot of people travel to Cambridge because of the progression that has gone on.  The challenge is the comfort zone.  There are a lot of great things happening here. 

Mark Stanley, a business owner in Talbot County, said he entertains a lot of clients.  He works in the medical profession of dialysis.  Snappers is a comforting place to go to bring clients to relax and show what Maryland has to offer.  He would like to see them continue their business.  It is a wonderful place to go. The music they entertain with is comforting. 

Jerry Hayes, Jr., said he is the Sous Chef and also the manager on Sunday nights at Snappers' tiki bar.  A lot of people come to Cambridge to relax.  Last night they had Cambridge residents playing music.  The owners and employees are like his family.  They work hard to maintain the ordinance.  He maintains control of what goes on.  Last night the music was stopped exactly at 10 o'clock.   They have not received any complaints in the last month.  He wants people to continue to enjoy Snappers.  They are bringing revenue to Dorchester County. 

Ray Moore, Harbor Haven, agrees that they have been cutting off at 10 o'clock and appreciates that.  Last night the music kept getting louder as the night progressed.  There were about 30 people on the porch of Snappers during the time the music was playing.   He hates to continually hear that four hours of music on a Sunday is so valuable to Cambridge. It is ridiculous. The only issue that we have is whether the citizens who live around the creek should be annoyed by unnecessarily loud music.  He is not opposing the variance being continued for the rest of the summer.  He can take anything for six or seven Sundays.  There may have been some effort to cut the music down last night.  He was inside with the doors closed and could not concentrate on what he was reading.   It can be very annoying to the neighbors living around the creek.  He does not think it is a life-or-death situation for Snappers.  He is sure if it is granted this year, they will request three nights next year.  He is asking Council to consider the side of the residents, most of who have been living there for ten years. 

Rob Collison asked if it would be more acceptable to the parties if the music started an hour earlier and ended at 9 o'clock as opposed to 10 o'clock.  Sandy McAllister said it is something that could be discussed for next summer.  The advertisements have been run and contracts signed for this year.  This will take some energy over the winter because it is an important issue.   Mayor Rippons said he will ask the Waterfront Committee to address this issue.

Valerie Williams said she lives next door to Snappers.  Snappers has made a concerted effort throughout the month and has been very diligent about stopping the music at 10 o'clock.  She has heard nothing after 10 o'clock.  There are not groups of people hanging out in the parking lot or yelling obscenities.  She feels playing music by a solo artist until 10 o'clock would fall within most of our definitions of reasonable. 

Mr. Moore said the solo artists use electronic equipment with steel guitars and drums.  It all goes together to make the so-called music and it is loud.   He never hears the music from Creekside Seafood because it is in the rear of their building. 

Ryan Michael, Secretary, said he doesn't like loud music too much.  He likes going to Snappers; the music is not very loud.  The problem is that noise travels across the water.  He understands how the residents can hear the music.  He chose to move to the country because he likes the peace and quiet. 

Mr. Moore said he did not move across from a bar that was playing music.  There was not music playing when he moved there. 

Commissioner Cephas said Mr. Moore made an interesting point when he said he can't sit in his home at 10 o'clock and read.   Yet he said he can tolerate it for the next six weeks.  It puts him in a difficult situation to make a decision. 

Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve a variance from the noise ordinance for Snappers for Sundays through Labor Day until 10:00 pm.   Commissioner Knox seconded the motion.  The motion pass 4:1 with Commissioner Travers opposed.   

Ben Krewson, owner of Creekside Seafood and Produce, said they haven't had any complaints with noise.  They handle their own problems if they arise.  They have missed probably 70 percent of their Friday nights because of rain.  Weather permitting, he would like an open-ended variance unless they receive complaints. Their music is never loud.  They shut down completely at 10:00 pm.  Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the variance from the noise ordinance for Creekside Seafood for Friday evenings from 7:00 pm until 10:00 pm through the end October, pending no problems.  Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion.  Commissioner Knox said it has to be a management control effort.  The creek will be giving them more neighbors.  They have to work together.  Commissioner Travers asked if anyone from Cambridge Landing had any problem with this variance.  An unidentified woman said they have none.  The motion passed unanimously.    

NEW BUSINESS

Request from Cambridge Police Department for Variance from the Noise Ordinance for National Night Out on Tuesday, August 3rd from 6:00 pm Until 9:00 pm-Commissioner Travers made a motion to grant the request.  Commissioner Knox seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

DPW Request to Purchase Traffic Controller (Muir and Race Streets)-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the request.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Appoint Members to Planning and Zoning Commission-Commissioner Knox nominated Lawrence Bohlen.  Commissioner Watkins nominated Jerry Burroughs.  Commissioner Cephas nominated Dwight Cromwell.  Commissioner Brooks nominated Hubert Trego.  Commissioner Travers nominated Marshall Rickert.  Mayor Rippons asked that Dorchester County make a recommendation for the next meeting.  Mayor Rippons nominated Mary Losty.  Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the entire slate.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 

Approve PO 3240 - Norris Ford of Easton -  $3,929 -Vehicle Engine - CPD- Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the purchase order.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Approve PO 3239 - Hertrich Fleet Services -  $60,957 - Three Police Cars - CPD-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the purchase order.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

Approve PO 3304 - Party Perfect Special Events - $5,610 - Tent, Table, & Chair Rental for Seafood Feastival-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the purchase order.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Rob Collison reported that he and Claude Gootee will review the City's election procedure and make further modifications to the City Charter. 

Commissioner Knox said the Council will be reviewing the City's Comprehensive Plan at a later date.

Commissioner Cephas said it is a pleasure so far to represent the City of Cambridge, as well as the Third Ward.  He is looking forward to working with the Council.

Commissioner Brooks informed Council that she will be meeting with the Egypt Road developers on Thursday at 5:00 pm.  The meeting will be held in Sandy McAllister's office.   

Commissioner Brooks asked the media to help her receive input from the citizens on the kind of activities they would like to see in Cambridge.  She requested any responses be sent directly to her at PO Box 565 instead of to the City.

Ed Kinnamon reported that Gypsy Hill Properties has sold some of their properties in the last couple months.  The City had placed several liens on the properties for demolitions.  The total amount for the 20 properties, with every expense including Municipal Utilities bills, amounts to $33,303.  The properties were sold recently and the proceeds came to $30,689.  The difference is about $2280 (short).  They would like to be able to get a clear deed on these 20 properties.  This would require the City to release these 20 properties from the court in the lien process that we have placed on their properties, which includes more properties than the properties in question.  It would become a partial lien release.  The City has done this in the past for related individuals in this property.  The difference here is that there are not enough funds to take care of these 20 properties.  He pointed out that of the amount that is due to the City, $9,300 is interest on the demolitions.  We would be getting more than what the principle cost the City but would not be getting the total amount due to interest being added. 

Rob Collison said the City never abates the actual cost.  He asked David Pritchett for a listing of all the demolitions and what is currently owed broken down by actual cost and penalties and interest.  As far as the properties in question tonight, they will continue to have a lien on the sellers' other properties.  He believes the City received a settlement statement showing they received all of the net proceeds and some taxes.    Often, once the property is torn down, the building site is no longer compatible with the current zoning.   The City may be able to establish a policy to encourage getting the demolition fees off our books and encourage multiple parcels being satisfied and developed. 

Commissioner Brooks asked if the properties are predominately in one area or if they are sporadic.   Ed Kinnamon said eight are on Charles Street (401-415) and the extension of Oakley Street, a couple are on Moores Avenue, and three are on Pine Street. 

Commissioner Watkins made a motion to accept the offer. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  Rob Collison said for clarification, the balance of what is owed, including the $2000+, will remain outstanding on other properties they own.  The motion will be to allow Mr. Kinnamon to process the deeds on these parcels for the $30,000+ that they are submitting.  The motion passed unanimously.

David Pritchett submitted a memo to Council regarding the Combined Sewer Overflow Phase 3 upgrade the City is doing right now.  They ran into an additional 536 feet of 15-inch sewer line that was extremely deteriorated.  It was cracked and collapsing and causing the road to sink.  They have to replace it.  It is not an option.  They do not want to get completed; have the new road paved; and then come back later and dig up it up.   They budgeted $750,000 for Phase 3 with the total bid award of $690,000.  They have the funds within the budgeted amount to proceed with this.  Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the additional expense.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

David Pritchett said he has been moving ahead with the Water Street work.  They have met with all the utilities that will be burying their lines in order to establish the seven antique lights and the burying of the power lines by the old duck walk.  They received an extension of the grant until March 2005.   The order for the lights will take four months. 

Chief Malik congratulated the Mayor and Commissioners for their victory.  He said he is looking forward to working with them in the next four years. 

Chief Malik said he is still waiting for the report from the Fire Marshall's office on the mishap during the fireworks on July 4.  He will forward the report to Rob Collison when he gets it to see what the City's options are.

Ed Kinnamon received a letter from the Hyatt stating that they will be having a fireworks display on Wednesday evening (July 28) starting at 9:30 pm for about 10 minutes.  Their rain date is July 31. 

Mayor Rippons asked the local media to inform the public that Municipal Utilities will be flushing the hydrants on Saturday, July 31, beginning at 8:00 pm.  It will be done all over town and will take approximately three to four hours. 

David Pritchett said they have never found a good means of solving all the grass that grows up between the curb and gutter plan.  They have contracted to have the grass sprayed and then will be cutting it out with weed eaters.  They will be doing all the main roads first.  As they see how it works, they will be done other sections as they can fit it into the budget. 

Mayor Rippons reported that Council will hold a work session before their next meeting at 6:00 pm to bring them up to date on the public safety building.  He would also like to have a joint meeting with the Dorchester County Commissioners to introduce the new Commissioners and discuss some issues raised by the County.

Commissioner Travers made a motion to enter into Executive Session after the meeting at the request of Rob Collison to discuss a legal matter.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:10 p.m.  I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, July 26, 2004, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer