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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
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
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City Council Minutes

September 27, 2004
 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, September 27, 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, Brooks, and Travers.

Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer.  Commissioner Travers led in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the September 13, 2004 Council meeting as distributed.  Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion.  The motion was passed.   

COMMITTEE REPORTS

Traffic and Safety Committee-Commissioner Brooks reported that the Committee met on September 22 to review the following requests:

  • No parking signs on Chesapeake Court-The Committee recommends "no parking" signs be erected on the south side of Chesapeake Court in front of the City-owned properties. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the recommendation. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Chief Malik said this is a safety issue. They must be able to get fire trucks down the street if there is an incident. Commissioner Brooks reported that Chesapeake Court is really an alley, not a street. The motion passed 4:0.

 

  • Request to make Hughlett Street a one-way street-The Committee recommends changing Hughlett Street to a one-way street entering from Washington Street. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to accept the recommendation. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

 

  • Request to paint traffic lanes at the northern section of the intersection of Poplar, High and Locust Streets-The Committee recommends not painting the lanes at this time. Future upgrade of the intersection, including curbing, sidewalks, and surfacing will be forthcoming and would be the appropriate and most advantageous time to consider the request. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to not move forward with painting the lanes. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

 

PUBLIC DISCUSSION

Impact Fees-Rob Collison said this issue has been raised at the last several meetings about imposing the impact fee on a sliding scale. Ed Kinnamon contacted Ed Donahue who drafted the City's impact fee documentation and recommendations.  It is his position that the impact fees that the City approved are the same no matter what size the household is.  It is the same cost to the City to maintain those capacities and costs.  It is his recommendation that if the City desires to go to a sliding scale format, they should look at instituting an excise tax similar to what the County has done as opposed to an impact fee.  The excise tax gives the Council much more discretion in creating a sliding scale. If Council desires to implement an excise tax, they would need to draft legislation to implement an excise tax in lieu of the impact fee.  Council can finalize the modifications to the impact fee and begin working on the sliding scale excise tax. Commissioner Cephas said he came up with the idea of a sliding scale at the last meeting and he thinks they should explore it. Mr. Donahue will prepare a report in the next 30 days on it.  In the interim, the impact fee will stay the same.  David Pritchett will also provide his recommendation of the allocation. Council will discuss the allocation of the current $4500 at the next meeting.  

Julie Fox, representing the Mid-Shore Board of Realtors, read a statement concerning the Council's consideration of increasing the impact fees.  It is their position, that while they are not opposed to the idea of impact fees in the City, they are very concerned about the effect these fees will have on affordable housing.  Dorchester County has just enacted a building excise tax legislation which became effective September 15, 2004. It taxes a single family detached residential unit within Cambridge at $3,671 per unit.  With the current level of impact fees in Cambridge being $4,500 for a single family residential unit added to the Dorchester tax, potential homebuyers will have to pay nearly $8,200 in taxes.  With permitting fees and other required costs, puts the level over $10,000 in taxes and fees. If Cambridge increases this fee by $1,500, the purchaser will have to spend nearly $12,000 in taxes and fees.  This would price a large segment of our lower and moderate income buyers out of the housing market.  The Mid-Shore Board of Realtors recommends that the Council not increase the impact fees.  They will be happy to help in any way they can to show the effects on affordable housing.  They would like to share with the Council several studies from across the country which address these issues. 

Commissioner Knox said impact fees are for infrastructure issues.  The City looks at it as an impact fee to address the infrastructure issue that is created by development.  If the proper fees are not in place, taxes will be going up and people coming to the community look at these things.  The impact fees offset the taxes for the people who already live here. Ms. Fox said there are studies that show how this can be changed.  The infrastructure has to be taken care of and money has to come from somewhere but they have to give special consideration to a special group of people who cannot afford to buy homes to begin with.  Commissioner Knox said any input they have is welcome.   Commissioner Cephas said he would applaud any developer who has the courage to come to Cambridge with the high price of real estate and do low-income and moderate-income housing.  He feels Council should do something to help them.  Commissioner Knox said there are other avenues that can be explored to make this more attractive for low income affordable housing.  The three new Council members agree that they want to do anything they can to make sure everyone is brought along with the development of Cambridge and nobody is left behind.  There are hook-up fees that can be waived.  There is an enormous amount of things the City can do to bring the developers here to create low-income housing which we definitely need. Commissioner Brooks said most of the homes they are talking about developing over the next 10 years are from $250,000 up.  They should have no problem paying a $6,000 impact fee but Council wants to look at the low income housing that will come to this area. 

Dan Beall, Belvedere Avenue, said he is speaking to represent developers and other people who are interested in coming to Cambridge.  He has an extensive background in the economics of rural development.  It does effect what is going to happen in this town if you do have any kind of excise tax or impact fee, even on people who are looking at $250,000 and $300,000 homes.  He is not saying that the developer should not pay for the infrastructure that is needed.  He believes the City Council needs to look at alternatives other than impact fees or excise taxes.  A good example of raising money for the infrastructure is a TIF bond put up by the builder.  There are many options to excise taxes and impact fees. He thinks Council needs to look at what the effect is going to be. If they do not have this "roof count", he cannot bring merchants into the City and help revitalize Main Street because there isn't enough business for these merchants in this City. He renovated the old Rob Roy building and has one merchant so far. He sees other buildings on Poplar and High Street that have been empty for over a year because the merchants cannot afford it. He also sees a lot of progress. 

Tom Johnson feels the realtors have the same motivation that the developers have and that is to make money.   The excise tax or impact fee is for paying for the infrastructure.  If they get rid of it, the young people who are here now are going to pay for the lack of vision that we have now.

APPOINTMENTS

Mrs. Rebecca Fairbanks to Discuss Boat Slips on Trenton Street-Mrs. Fairbanks asked Mayor Rippons if he agreed on anything about the boat slips on Trenton Street.  Mayor Rippons said they have had several discussions where he brought Mrs. Fairbanks up-to-date and introduced her to the developer.  Mrs. Fairbanks said he also told her that she would have a boat slip.  She has been living here 47 years and they have always had a boat there.  She talked to Scott Wallace and he told her that she definitely would have a boat slip but he would not write it on paper.  All they are getting is a run-around.  Scott Wallace called her today at 4:52 pm to tell her if she went to Council today she would have bad luck.  Mayor Rippons said the City would move forward. The prior Council gave the Trenton Street area to the developer.  Mayor Rippons put Mrs. Fairbanks in contact with the developer.  In addition, they talked to David Pritchett.  He assured the Mayor that the watermen would have a slip at the marina if the Trenton Street area is not available. David Pritchett said Mrs. Fairbanks is guaranteed a slip.  Commissioner Cephas said it is his understanding that there are two workboats in that area.  He understands that both watermen were told that they would forever have a slip there. Mrs. Fairbanks agreed. Commissioner Cephas said he understands that Mr. Wallace also re-affirmed it.  Mrs. Fairbanks said "exactly".  Sandy McAllister, representing the developer, said that Mrs. Fairbanks is guaranteed a slip.  He said all the slips on Cambridge Creek that are leased to Deep Harbour LLC were exchanged for slips to be built that equate to those slips so there would never be any boat owner on the Creek who would not have the ability to maintain a slip.  In addition, Mr. Wallace contacted Mrs. Fairbanks because he understood that she was upset.  He told her she would keep her slip.  Mr. Wallace contacted Mrs. Fairbanks again today (from Greece) and she told him she didn't have any problem and she knew he promised her a boat slip. Mrs. Fairbanks asked why she couldn't have the same slip she has now. Sandy McAllister said to his knowledge nobody has asked her to move an inch. Mr. Wallace will rent her a slip on a year-to-year basis as she has always rented. Commissioner Knox said the watermen pay a reduced rate vs. the recreational boaters. David Pritchett said this will be passed on to them at their new location. Commissioner Knox said the only differences he sees is that the creek has better coverage from storms, and they would have a little further to drive but they will also be closer to the river. The facilities will probably be far better than what is there now. Nobody likes to change. He suggested keeping things neutral and not worrying about them. Commissioner Cephas said if Mr. Wallace said she could have a slip, he should let her have one. Rob Collison said the developer agreed to let all the current slip holders stay in the creek until December 2005.

Doug Eskridge said he has a slip on Trenton Street.  His biggest concern is not knowing and hearing things. He would have liked to receive a letter.  Scott Wallace told him he might be able to give him more information when he came back from Greece.  David Pritchett said just this week he and the dockmaster finished the form that will be mailed to all Trenton Street slipholders. It tells them they are guaranteed a slip. They have no obligation to do this.  Even though the Trenton Street pier was built by DNR funds for watermen, it would not be feasible to maintain it for the two workboats left there. It has been utilized in many ways by the general boating public. He spoke to DNR and it was their intent that watermen have a priority.     

Mr. Caldwell asked how long he would be able to stay in Slip 28 at Trenton Street. Rob Collison said the City will continue leasing the slip to him through December 2005.  On January 1, 2006, the developer will take control of it. As of January 1, 2006, if the developer is not willing to continue leasing it to him, he will be guaranteed a slip at the City marina.

Representative from Bay Country Apartments-Nobody was present to speak.

John Mooney to Discuss Skateboarding in Cambridge-Mr. Mooney thanked the Council for inviting him to speak. He said it is pretty much illegal to skate within the city limits of Cambridge which makes them criminals when they do their sport. Five years ago he came before Council to look into having a park built. It was approved and was supposed to be included in the FY 2001 budget. He asked if there is anything they can do to get it done or lessen the fines for skating. Commissioner Cephas said Portia Johnson Ennels had told Council during the last meeting that Easton just opened a skateboard park.  He was impressed with what the citizens did to raise approximately $30,000 for the park. They received matching funds and grants. The cost of the total project was a little over $100,000.  He is in favor of some type of facility.  He suggested putting together a committee like Easton did.  John Mooney said several spots were named five years ago. One was across from the county pool but it is Dorchester County property. Another spot was on Meadow Avenue.  Rob Collision said as he recalls, the County was not willing to relinquish the property near the pool.  David Pritchett said it was never promised; it was promised to proceed with looking into the feasibility and there was quite a bit of effort put into it but it never materialized. Ed Kinnamon said Council budgeted $125,000 in FY 2001. They looked at the YMCA property but it did not work out.  Mr. Mooney said one business owner has let them skate on his property.  Commissioner Brooks said if they would be willing to get together with some of their parents and form a committee to look into this, she would be more than willing to serve on the committee to try to find out what some of the other communities have done and try to bring a skateboard park here.  It sounds like it was almost a go, but for some reason it fell through.  Commissioner Knox asked if the guys are willing to wear the proper equipment and enforce the rules.  Liability is a very big issue and it will take a team effort to make it happen. John Mooney said they would abide by the rules. Commissioner Knox said he is 100 percent for it but the guys have to help the city make it happen. Mayor Rippons suggested John Mooney and his friends contact Commissioner Brooks.  He thanked them for coming before Council.

Representatives from Main Street to Discuss Their Recommendations for the Community Legacy Application-Liddy Garcia, Debbie Herr, and Judy Scott were present to discuss their recommendation.  Their first priority is to conduct a R/UDAT (rural/urban design assistance team program).  They are requesting that the City submit an application for funds to do this.  The idea behind this is that they would be relying on community participation and involvement to come out with a comprehensive downtown commercial district plan. Before they move forward with any streetscape design for Main Street, they would like to have this very intensive plan done for downtown. Six to eight professionals (architects and planners) come to town and interview all sorts of community groups, residents and the City Council. They produce a report with steps for implementation. Actions items are prioritized by date.  It will allow the City to write more grants. It will let them plan for the downtown revitalization by looking at issues that are a concern for everyone. This is not only for the retail shop owners; it is for the residents also.

Their second recommendation was based on getting historic lights to replace the current lights.  Their suggestion is that even though it is more costly, they would like to make sure that both sides of the streets are trenched so that the lights are staggered as opposed to on one side. 

Mayor Rippons asked if Council had any other concerns or recommendations for the Community Legacy application which is due on October 6, 2004. 

Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the recommendations of Main Street and to approve submitting a resolution of support.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Cephas asked how far the historic lights would go.  Liddy Garcia said she thinks the City has done a plan for the lights. She thinks Mayor Rippons is going to work on this.  They had even talked about doing some of the historic lights down Cedar Street so it acts as an entry into downtown.  It is an expensive project but they hope they can get it down section-by-section. David Pritchett said it will be a standard light called the Granville.  They have done a comprehensive mapping that shows downtown, over to the little bridge, Court Lane, etc. but it has to be done in segments. The motion passed 4:0.  Commissioner Cephas suggested that Liddy Garcia come back to Council to give a long-term plan for Main Street and what is included so all citizens can feel like they are a part of it.   

Russ Nelson, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center-Mr. Nelson is asking permission from the Mayor and Council to fly over Cambridge at about 660 feet sometime in the next two weeks in a Cessna 182, a small single-engine fixed wing plane. His background is forestry. It will be carrying a laser to measure tree heights which relate to the amount of wood on the ground and they can also assess habitat, in particular the Delmarva fox squirrel. The standard plane flying over the City is at 1000 feet.  At 660 feet, data quality improves quite a bit. David Pritchett said he is a commercial pilot but he is not sure the Mayor and Council have the authority to grant this.  The Federal air regulations state that you have to have 1000 feet over an occupied area or 500 feet from any person or grouping.  He feels Mr. Nelson has to seek an FAA variance.  Mr. Nelson said did seek FAA variance. He is flying "restricted" which means he cannot carry passengers. One of the restrictions is that he has to fly at FAA regulations except for "with permission of the Administrator". He is assuming that means the Mayor and Council.  Rob Collison asked to look at the paperwork.  Commissioner Cephas said he doesn't have a problem with it, but he feels they should put a notice in the paper notifying the public about it just in case someone gets suspicious when they see a plane flying low. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request pending the approval by Rob Collison and David Pritchett.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Request from Adkins and Walton to Use Great Marsh Park for a Wedding on October 9, 2004 from 2:00 pm Until 6:00 pm and a Variance From the Noise Ordinance-This was on the agenda two weeks ago.  October 9th is the day of the ChesapeakeMan Triathlon.  Ed Kinnamon contacted the parties making the request and they did not feel this would be a problem. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

NEW BUSINESS

Rental Registration-Ed Kinnamon received a call from an apartment complex asking what the rental registration was for. He explained to them it was to cover the cost of inspections, etc. The manager asked for a copy of the inspection report. No inspection has been done.  Rob Collison gave them more details. Ed Kinnamon said he feels the City should give them some type of certificate acknowledging their property has passed an inspection.  Rob Collison said the rental registration fee is a fund that is raised to help offset the cost of the Housing Division of the Department of Public Works.  He feels the City needs to issue actual certificates to show that the landlords are registered and that there should be some type of regular inspection program established. This could be yearly or every other year. The Municipal Utilities Commission is currently collecting the rental registration fee. David Pritchett reported that it would take one inspector, working full time, to perform all the inspections. He feels it would be appropriate to do an initial inspection and then always at the change of occupancy. Mayor Rippons asked David Pritchett to look into this further and provide Council with the costs.

Request from Wal-Mart for Use of Storage Trailers for a 30-Day Period- Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request.  Commissioner Knox seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

Request from New Life A.M.E. Zion Church for Permission to Hold Street Services on Saturday, October 2nd and Saturday, October 23rd at Cornish Park from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm-Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request and included a noise variance.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Amnesty for Interest on Demolitions-Ed Kinnamon said there are properties in the City which are stagnant because of demolition liens.  In an attempt to try to redevelop these properties, the City has offered amnesty on the interest on a case-by-case basis. A list of all demolitions with interest and principle totals $144,000. There is another case, which when added to the demolition, would bring the total up to $164,167. The purpose of the amnesty would be to encourage the owners of the properties to settle with the City and be relieved of the interest.  Mayor Rippons asked Council to think about this and they will discuss it further at the next meeting.  Rob Collison said the idea would be that there would be a three-month amnesty period at the end of the year.

Tax Abatement for Newly-Annexed Business-Rob Collison supplied the Council with an annexation agreement for the Cambridge Inn. This was negotiated with the prior Council during the time they were working on the Route 50 annexations. This property was critical to the annexation. The hotel already had sewer so there was no incentive for them to agree to annexation.  It was worked out that they would agree to pay their cost to extend the water and sewer (about $100,000) and they asked for consideration on abating the taxes. The City agreed to give them a 13-year abatement on the taxes because the City is going to get the room tax.  The agreement was never formalized in writing.  Commissioner Cephas said he noticed that the room tax in Cambridge is extremely low. Rob Collison said the five-percent tax was created by the State Legislature.  Dorchester County gets one percent and the City gets four percent. Commissioner Cephas said before they approve a 13-year abatement, he would like to know how much it will be. This will be discussed further at the next meeting.

Impact Fees for GKD-Mayor Rippons said this company relocated to Chesapeake Drive.  The size water line they installed was not really necessary for the business itself.  The line runs in the back of the building.  All they are going to use it for is for the restrooms in the front of the building.  It is not a water intensive business. The City reviewed the water usage from the company's prior location.  The impact fee is based on the size line installed. Gary Newcomb gave the Council documentation on two ways they can assess the fee.  Gary Newcomb and David Pritchett both agree that the impact fee for GKD should be set at $13,500.  David Pritchett said that even further justification as to why they had to install a 2‑inch line was not by necessity as far as their usage, it was strictly the distance they had to run the line to get the water.  They had to install a larger one in order to get enough pressure by the time it got there for the fire suppression system. They only operate a few bathrooms. Mayor Rippons said the City will retain the right to amend this should water usage go beyond the scope of what is in there now. Commissioner Travers made a motion to set the impact fee per the recommendation of DPW and MUC including verbage that stipulates that the City can revisit the issue should water use exceed those prescribed amounts.  Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Day and Hours for Halloween Celebration-Mayor Rippons said Halloween will occur on Sunday this year.  His recommendation is that trick-or-treat be celebrated on Saturday, October 30th, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm for children ages 12 and under. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the Mayor's recommendation. Commissioner Brooks seconded it. The motion passed 4:0.

Request from Robert Vigorito for Permission to Use Great Marsh Park for The Chesapeake Man Ultra Triathlon (set-up October 6 - 8) Event on October 9th and Permission to Close Boat Ramp from Midnight October 8 to Noon October 9-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request.  Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

Appoint/Re-Appoint Members to the Housing Board of Review-This item will be discussed at the next meeting.

Request To Go To Bid for New Garbage Truck-Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

Request To Go To Bid for New Dump Truck-Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

Approve Financial Statement for August 2004-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the financial statement.  Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion.  The motion passed 4:0.

Next Council Meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2004 (Monday is Columbus Day)-Commissioner Travers made a motion to hold the next Council meeting on Tuesday, October 12, 2004.  Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Rob Collison announced that Council met in closed executive session at 6:30 pm to discuss a personnel matter and acquisition of real estate.

Rob Collison said the Planning and Zoning staff will be attending a workshop/seminar on affordable housing sponsored by Governor Ehrlich's office in November in Baltimore.  The Planning staff, some of the DPW staff and he will be attending an annexation growth seminar offered by the Maryland Department of Planning in October. 

Rob Collison asked if the developers of large developments are required to purchase the street lamps.  David Pritchett said they are going through the typical lease program.  The developer pays for the conduit and then the City leases the light.  Rob Collison said they might want to consider having the developer purchase the lights and then all the City would have would be maintenance.  They must use City-approved lights and the City approves the spacing.

Commissioner Knox asked about sidewalks for new businesses being built in Cambridge. There are a lot of people walking in the streets. He feels that Council needs to look at this.  There are a lot of repairs that are necessary.

Commissioner Cephas thanked Mr. Beall for his ideas. He would like to talk to him to explore some of the possibilities.

Commissioner Brooks made a motion to elect Commissioner Cephas as vice president of the Council to act in Mayor Rippons' place in the event he and Commissioner Watkins, as president are not at the meeting. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Ed Kinnamon said when Council approved the budget in June, they approved for the first time a pension for the volunteer firemen.  It was to become effective October 1, 2004.  He received a bill today for $105,000 and is asking permission to pay it.  Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.

Ed Kinnamon announced that the County Council would like to meet with the City Council on Thursday, October 7th at 4:00 pm.  Council agreed they could be in attendance. Mayor Rippons asked that the County supply the City with more details on the topics to be discussed.

Ed Kinnamon said that he attended a meeting a few weeks ago with Gary Newcomb hosted by the Maryland Department of the Environment regarding the Bay Restoration Fee.  The fee will be collected starting January 1, 2005.  It will be assessed on the water and sewer bill.  MUC will collect this fee for the City.  The fee will not take effect until October 1, 2005 for the rural areas.  The fee is $2.50 per month which equates to $30 per year.

David Pritchett informed Council that Phase 3 of the sewer separation project has been on-going in the Oakley Beach area.  Paving will begin on the next good day.

David Pritchett said they will be painting the yellow center lines on Egypt Road, Maple Dam Road, and Glasgow Extended on Saturdays during the month of October.

Mayor Rippons reported that there was a joint meeting between the City and County. One issue revolved around Sailwinds Park and the request from the County to come aboard as a partner.  Commissioner Cephas made a motion to ask the Dorchester County Commissioners to reconsider their involvement as a partner on the Sailwinds Management Board.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  Commissioner Cephas said he was at the meeting and one of the last things he heard was Commissioner Flowers say that if the City does not want them, he is fine with that.  The motion passed 4:0.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:55 p.m.  I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, September 27, 2004, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer