City Council Minutes
January 13, 2003
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, January 13, 2003, in City 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 December 23, 2003 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Historic Preservation Commission-Commissioner Bohlen reported that the Historic Preservation Commission met on December 19, 2002 and heard the following cases:
- 5 Willis Street (J.W. Tyler)-The project was approved unanimously.
- 702 Water Street (Ken Wheatley)-The project was approved unanimously.
- 1110 Locust Street (Elizabeth Miskell)-The project was approved unanimously.
- 107 Glenburn Avenue (Garth & Gamble Foster)-204 High Street (E. Thomas Merryweather)-The project was approved unanimously.
- 303 Belvedere Avenue (Kirkwood White)-The project was approved unanimously.
- 308 Mill Street (Shazhad Azam)-The project was approved unanimously.
Planning and Zoning Commission-Commissioner Watkins reported that the Planning and Zoning Commission met on January 7, 2003 and heard the following cases:
- 207 High Street (Vestry of Great Choptank Parish)-The Commission voted unanimously to grant a favorable recommendation to the Board of Zoning Appeals for a special use permit to expand their graveyard.
- Chesapeake Street/Bayly Road (Delmarva Community Services)-The Commission voted unanimously to support a proposal for a 92-unit 1-story senior-citizen housing project.
- Jenkins Creek Subdivision (Critical Area Growth Allocation)-After much discussion, the Planning Commission made an unfavorable recommendation. The vote was 4:2. The Jenkins Creek residents have requested that the Planning Commission and City Council consider the new growth allocation for Jenkins Creek. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to have Jim Michael review this request with Rob Collison and then present it to the Council at a later date. Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. (See additional information under New Business.)
Mike Walsh with a Hyatt Update-Mike Walsh reported that they occupied over 19,000 guest rooms and had over 35,000 visiting guests in the room. This does not include the people who came for day visits. Their projections were well-met and well-exceeded. In 2003, they have exceeded their expectations. They are expecting over 125,000 visiting guests (excluding day visitors, people going to the restaurants and people going to the marina and golf courses). The 150-slip marina and gas stations will open on April 1st.
Mr. Walsh said tourists who come to resorts come with a lot of free time. They come to experience culture and history, shop, dine, tour, and explore. He asked if the City had any strategic plans for downtown. A number of his visitors have expressed concern about some of the buildings that aren't as presentable as they would like to see. He asked for a master plan for downtown that he can distribute to visiting guests to help encourage their excitement.
Mr. Walsh said he has been talking to people from downtown who are interested in revitalizing the area. His interest is in trying to help in any way he can. On Thursday, January 29th at 5:30 pm, they are planning a social and informative reception for downtown businesses to see if they can form a partnership of everybody. The Hyatt is willing to help any way they can with planting trees, painting, etc. David Pritchett said in about 3 weeks they will be installing the new trash receptacles. The benches will arrive any day after that. The new lighting will be installed probably in the late spring. Mayor Rippons said Commissioner Bohlen is working on the signage issues. Rob Collison said they are planning to incorporate language in the comprehensive rezoning plan dealing with the esthetic appeal of buildings from the street. All structures will be required to appear occupied. Mayor Rippons said they are planning on hiring a City Planner. This individual will work with the revitalization of downtown.
Commissioner Weldon thanked Mr. Walsh for coming to Council and for attending all the other meetings that he attends. Mr. Walsh is on the Board of the Heritage Tourism Authority. They are developing the directional signage project. Commissioner Weldon said he went to Crownsville last week with Steve DelSordo to meet with the Maryland Heritage Authority to discuss Cambridge's two applications. The results were good and they are slated for approval. He would like to get real aggressive on the property maintenance code. He understands there are things in BOCA that the City can use as a hammer relating to access to the buildings, exterior appearances, etc. He feels downtown Cambridge should be the priority in the budget for the upcoming year.
Bill Watkins to Discuss Boat Slip for Rescue Fire Company Rescue Boat-Bill Watkins said RFC is responsible for the water rescue in the Choptank River and surrounding tributaries. Currently they are storing their boat in the warehouse on Washington Street. Their current method of operation is to hook up the boat and take it to the boat ramp, off-load it and respond. It takes about 21 minutes to get this accomplished. They feel it is a little too slow for what they need to protect the waterway. They can cut this at least in half and hopefully by two-thirds if they have the boat in the water year round. They are anticipating DNR grant money to have a second lighter boat that is trailerable to use when they go to the lower part of the County. Their ultimate responsibility is the local area from Secretary to the Choptank Light and beyond. They are asking Council to let them use one of the slips at the Yacht Basin. David Pritchett said the Marina is full with a waiting list. RFC needs one of the better slips in order to be located in the right area to park equipment, get the boat loaded, etc. They do have a slip available next to where the DNR keeps their boat. He feels it would be a benefit to the City to have the RFC boat there. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve RFC utilizing the slip that Mr. Pritchett has indicated. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Representatives from the Ingerman Group to Discuss Proposed Development-David Holden, Director of the Ingerman Group, spoke of their ideas on developing affordable housing in Cambridge. They have identified a need for housing workforce housing. The site they have under contract is at the end of Glenburn Avenue. This housing would be targeted toward local government employees, law enforcement, and school district employees. They are asking for the City's support in the form of two resolutions and would like to structure something where they are paying their fair share of impact fees. They would like to enter into a formula agreement with the City that allows them to pay taxes based on a pre-determined formula rather than going through the assessment and appeal process. With the way this type of development is structured with using resources from the Maryland Community Development Administration, the cost on a per-unit basis exceed the value because the rents are restricted under the different programs. He is requesting that this be included in the form of a resolution which they will use when they apply to CDA. They are also asking for the Council's general support. They are applying for a State-wide competition that the State holds twice a year. The deadline is March 3, 2003 so they will need their resolutions in the next six weeks. Commissioner Atkinson asked if it is subsidized housing. Mr. Holden said it is housing developed under the housing tax credit program with money from the Community Development Administration. You have to have an income and pay rent to live there. The zoning allows 10 to 12 units per acre so they are talking about 70 to 85 units.
Mayor Rippons said Council will have to decide if they want to support the project. They will also have to look at the PILOT program the Ingerman Group wishes to use. Mr. Holden said he would like to sit down with the Council and go through the numbers in detail. Mayor Rippons said Council will review this project and a vote will be taken in 4 weeks (February 10).
Steve Meehan to Discuss Procuring Federal Grants-Mr. Meehan is the Director of East Coast Operations for Randall Funding and Development. Randall Funding has been working in 39 different states with 45 to 50 different clients ranging from Indian reservations to large cities. They help governments through the inordinate and burdensome paperwork involved in researching, writing, and then accounting for Federal monies that are received. Because their company deals in volume and because they deal in an extremely thin margin that is paid long-term after a certain of funding is procured, it makes it cost-effective for a city to use their services. Mr. Meehan believes the County is moving forward to give the program a valid evaluation. They are hoping the cities in the county will serve as small umbrella organizations. If the county moves forward, there may be a package they can offer where it would cost next to nothing for cities to use them as an inter-county circuit rider, who not only handles CDBG or state grants, but the federal grants. He would be happy to meet with the City officials so they can get to know his organization and look at their strategy and figure out their compensation. Their success rate is close to 60 percent. They do not get a commission from their clients until they have delivered the minimum amount of promised funding. Mayor Rippons said the City Council will be meeting with the County next week and they will discuss this further at that time.
Frank Newton, President of the Richardson Museum to Request Tax Abatement -Mr. Newton requested an abatement of FY 2003 property tax paid in the amount of $4755.19 for their property on Cambridge Creek. They acquired the property on June 28, 2002. The parties acting in the interest of the museum did not record the deed prior to the beginning of the new tax year. Acting on the advice of City Council on October 23, 2002, they did seek from the Department of Assessment and Taxation a tax exemption for their 501(c)3 organization. They provided a copy to Mr. Kinnamon. Ed Kinnamon said when they paid their taxes, they asked if there was anything that could be done to recoup the money at that time. Council asked him to have the organization apply for abatement and upon the Supervision of Assessments making the determination, they were to report back to Council. The letter from Diana Willey, Department of Assessments and Taxation basically says that because the July 1 year has gone by, they cannot go back and give an abatement; however, for all years after this year, they will have full tax exemption on the property. They have paid the City $4,755.19. Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to refund the property tax in the amount of $4,755.19. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Bohlen said had things been recorded properly, they probably would not be having this discussion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Jeff Middlebrooks to Discuss Proposal to Acquire and Develop City Parcel of Land on Leonard Lane-Jeff Middlebrooks, President of Neighborhood Housing Renewal Company said they have been in business in Cambridge for about 6 years now. They are a small charitable organization aimed at creating home ownership. They have done about 20 homes that they have rehabilitated then sold or torn down and rebuilt. They sell to low/moderate income families and have been working primarily on Camper Street. They are interested in the 6.2‑acre parcel of land the City owns on Leonard Lane. He is proposing they develop the land. They are so small they can't afford to buy the land upfront but would like to do it a lot at a time and pay the City as they go along for each lot as they settle. They feel they can get maybe 28 or 30 houses on the parcel. They would apply this summer to see if they could get some grants for assistance with streets and utilities. They find families with good credit and good jobs but most don't have any savings. Settlement costs run typically 6 percent. One of the thoughts they had, was if they work with the City, the City could take the money they received from Neighborhood Housing in the sales and use that money to help people with their down payment or settlement costs. If the City has any interest in this project, he would like to sit down with the officials to discuss if further. Mayor Rippons asked Rob Collison to look at any legal constraints as it relates to the City's involvement in a project like this. Council will discuss this further at the meeting on February 10, 2003.
Decision on Amendment to Inoperable Vehicle Ordinance-During the last meeting in December, it was discussed about deferring action on this amendment and adopting the International BOCA Code. The most upcoming version of the International BOCA Code is due out in February 2003. The history has been that the City will receive it, review it, and amend certain sections to make it apply to the conditions in Cambridge. In talking with David Pritchett, it is his recommendation that Council approve the amendment to the existing and operable vehicle statute and then in the next four or five months they will complete the updated version of the International BOCA Code. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the ordinance. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
First Reading of Ordinance to Amend Section 1-15 Regarding Change in Council Meeting Dates-Rob Collison said in Section 1-15 of the City Code it sets forth how often the City Council will meet in regular legislative sessions. Council decided to meet on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. This would amend Subsection (a)(2). The recommendation has been made to meet a third time, as needed, for a work session or public hearing. It was proposed to be the third Wednesday of each month; however, some Council members have a conflict. Mayor Rippons said this month they will have it on the last Wednesday. Commissioner Weldon said at some point he feels they should solidify when the third meeting might be so people who are going to participate in them have some predictable idea of when they will be. The second reading and vote will be held on January 27, 2003.
Request to go to Bid for Annual Paving Contract-Commissioner Travers made a motion to allow DPW to go to bid for the paving contract. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discuss Request from Dorchester County Public Library for Parking Permits for Tax Preparation Assistance Program Volunteers-Mayor Rippons said every year the library provides a volunteer program for tax preparation assistance. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from Delaware Valley Development Company for Letter of Support and City Contribution for Proposed 76 Unit Apartment Community on Woods Road-Mayor Rippons said the developer requested City contemplation last year and the City gave them support. They were turned down last year and are applying again this year. They are asking for another letter of support and the same in-kind service. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve PO 2592 - Municipal & Financial Services Group for Consultant Fees ($79,050)-This consultant will entertain the aspect of impact fees, utilization of a fire district, and consideration of effective utilization and structuring of sewer fees both inside and outside City limits. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve PO 127 - David A. Bramble for Phase 2 of the Combined Sewer Separation Project ($862,411)-David Pritchett said this is the full amount of the work to be done in the Phase 2 separation. The work has started on Maryland Avenue. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve PO 128 - Apple Marine Construction, Inc. for Dredging the Boat Ramp at Great Marsh Park ($31,430) (100% DNR Grant)-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve PO 129 - Stephen E. Wingate Masonry, Cost of Labor and Material for Construction of Concrete Header Curbing at Parking Lot on Yacht Club Drive ($4,750)-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendment for Dept. of Public Works-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Financial Statement for November 2002-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the financial statement. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Growth Allocation Request for Jenkins Creek Subdivision-Jim Michael introduced Roby Hurley, Critical Areas Circuit Rider. Mayor Rippons said the contemplation is to have this item looked at by the Planning Commission before it moves forward. Roby Hurley said the reason he is proposing growth allocation for Jenkins Creek Subdivision is called impervious surface restrictions which are associated with limited development areas. The City annexed Jenkins Creek as a limited development area (LDA). LDA carries an impervious surface restriction of 15 percent. Each lot was limited to 3902 sq.ft. of impervious surface. Two variances were requested to exceed the 15 percent impervious surface. The law requires that the City notify the Critical Area Commission when a variance to the 15 percent is requested. The Critical Area staff wrote back recommending denial of those variances; however, the City approved them. We have a situation which is a hardship on the residents. It is a lot of a paperwork, time, and expense for hearings for the City and it creates this situation between the State Critical Area Commission and the City. In proposing growth allocation, he proposes going to Intense Development Area (IDA). This would eliminate the impervious surface requirement. In place of this you would have a very strict storm water requirement. The Department of Public Works studied the storm water and found that the storm water plan that the City requires in zone ordinance actually meets the Critical Area ten percent pollutant reduction or storm water requirement. Without doing anything, we already have the storm water plan in place to meet the IDA for the growth allocation. That is based on 5000 sq.ft. per lot. If individual residents want to exceed the 5000 sq.ft. limit, they could put their own storm water on site. The cost is important to discuss because it would mean growth allocation of 15.42 acres. The City has 63.7 acres of growth allocation left in its in-fill growth allocation account. Most of the City is excluded from Critical Areas regulations. The Hyatt is included. The only area conceivable where growth allocation would be used is near the high school (Maple Dam Road). If the City annexes land and needs growth allocation, the land would come out of the County's growth allocation account which has roughly 1400 acres in it.
Gage Thomas asked if the whole subdivision had to be taken in. Roby Hurley said yes. Robert Lloyd, Jenkins Creek, said his wife was at the Planning Commission meeting last week and she didn't think they understood what was going on. They listened to one person and then made their decision.
Mayor Rippons received a letter from the Critical Areas Commission and their recommendation is to allow the allocation. Jim Michael said he believes it is important to really consider this for growth allocation. Roby has worked with Critical Areas for many years. He believes this subdivision needs to be rectified by making it IDA. Lee Greer, Jenkins Creek, asked if there are any other houses in the City under these guidelines. Roby Hurley said there are not. Jim Michael said after the Planning Commission reviews the Critical Areas Commission's letter, they could re-evaluate it in a different light and he thinks they will.
Commissioner Weldon said the way he read the Planning and Zoning report was that the Planning and Zoning Commission made a negative recommendation. He would like to know why Council can't act on it now and correct the problem. He is satisfied with the report and he would like to make a motion to change the designation of the area to Intense Development Area. Commissioner Atkinson said they already approved the motion to refer it back to the Planning Commission. Commissioner Weldon said according to the report, they have already considered it and just sent a negative recommendation to Council. He thinks it is quite clear that it is in the City's best interest to move forward with the change. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. Commissioner Watkins said the Planning Commission is against it and it was forwarded to the City Council. We are loosing a lot of the area that we need to keep. We are subsidizing a few to the disadvantage of a lot of people. He would like to wait for the recommendation of the Planning Commission. Commissioner Weldon said they already granted two variances to build larger impervious areas than are allowed under the percentage. The houses that are already there are consuming their allocation and the variances are allowing certain other house to consume even more. Additionally, it is not taking up resources according to the recommendation from the Consultant and there is adequate acreage in the City to compensate for additional growth. He doesn't think the rationale that was provided by the Planning Commission adequately addresses the problem. He doesn't think they understood entirely what it is they were looking at. Commissioner Watkins said there is a gentleman on the Commission who has a lot of training in Planning and Zoning on the County level and he is against it. Jim Michael said there are two main areas that the Planning Commission had concerns with. One in particular was the Critical Area's position, which is clarified with the letter, and the other was the storm water management issue which Roby Hurley clarified in the beginning of his presentation. David Pritchett said there are only five properties left to be developed and they have already been delineated with building description lines. It's not a growth; it is only allowing a different impervious surface.
Mayor Rippons repeated that the motion is move to immediate vote at this time on the issue. The motion was denied 2:3 with Commissioners Bohlen and Weldon for the motion and Commissioners Atkinson, Travers and Watkins opposed.
David Tomey said he does a lot of work in Ocean City as a subcontractor and he knows there are ways to work around the impervious surface; for instance, the type of driveways installed. He said there are only 5 lots left and if the City changes the zoning, they are changing the classification of the whole area. When the lots were divided, the impervious surface was equally divided between lots whether it was a big or small lot. A person with a big lot had the same amount of area that they guy who bought a small lot had. That was a mistake of the person who subdivided it and allotted the allocation. He attended the Planning and Zoning meeting and Mr. Dubuque had some valid points about protecting the waterways. The whole intent of the Critical Areas is to protect the waterways. If we can protect the waterways by not changing this classification here and still keep our growth allocation for some other time, that is something we need to consider. Commissioner Weldon said regarding the driveway allocations, he is absolutely right. If you have a larger lot, you're going to need another 100 feet of driveway. As far as constructing a driveway to meet the impervious requirements, the City doesn't have a review process or inspect it to make sure it is in compliance with the Code.
Roby Hurley said the City's Critical Area Ordinance requires a public hearing for growth allocation. He suggested perhaps the Council would consider making final determination after they hold the public hearing.
Mayor Rippons said a small business owner is contemplating setting up a small shop at 302 Cedar Street and is requesting that the Planning Commission hear her request at their February meeting. Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to refer the request to Planning and Zoning. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Mayor Rippons said the City has two vacancies on the Board of Zoning Appeals. He would like to appoint Thomas William McGinn and William Burris to fill these vacancies. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion that these two individuals be approved. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.
Rob Collison announced that the City advertised that they will be holding a public hearing on Wednesday, January 29, 2003 regarding three issues-the comprehensive rezoning, a density text amendment, and a PWCD text amendment. In light of the event being held at the Hyatt and the fact that the consultant for the comprehensive rezoning has informed them that he cannot attend that night, he asked if Council wanted to reschedule all three topics or just the comprehensive rezoning public hearing. Mayor Rippons instructed Mr. Collison to proceed with the other two topics at the public hearing that night. The public hearing on the comprehensive rezoning will be rescheduled.
Commissioner Bohlen announced that the Christmas lights are now in Cambridge. He thanked Pritchett's Transportation for the use of their driver and truck; the anonymous person who donated the 3000 sq. ft. of bubble wrap; the Yacht Club for their donation of funds for storage; Mayor Rippons for his diligence and hard work in procuring donations; Dorchester County for their contribution; David Pritchett, Mike Mills, and Scott Fitzhugh from the Department of Public Works who assisted on Friday; Commissioner Travers for initially going up with him to look at the lights; Commissioner Weldon for his help loading the truck; and Julia Davis for her help loading the truck on Friday. It will be a super Christmas display.
Commissioner Weldon said Julia Davis has offered to spear-head the effort to organize the installation and operation and volunteer efforts that will be necessary this fall to make the Christmas light display come to life. Anyone wanting to help should contact Commissioner Weldon or Commissioner Bohlen.
Commissioner Weldon said he requested financial statements from Sailwinds Park. He noted there was $3500 expended on an audit and he anticipates seeing the report shortly.
Commissioner Weldon said the City has been notified by the State that their application to renew and/or expand the Enterprise Zone is due shortly. He suggested referring this to the Economic Development Committee. Mayor Rippons said they will be discussing it tomorrow. The meeting is open to the public.
Commissioner Weldon said tomorrow there will be an event at the St. Clair School hosted by the Governor's Office on Poverty. They are opening an office in Cambridge to address issues in our community. He thanked Rev. Leon Hall and Rev. Enez Grubb for pursuing this endeavor. Other folks were also instrumental in helping.
Mayor Rippons said the Pine Street Committee is working with Larry Dail to obtain insurance for the Empowerment Center. Mr. Dail is out of town until the week of January 20th. Everything else has been approved. They are just waiting for final notification that the insurance is in place.
David Pritchett said January is the time we renew the slip rentals at the yacht basin. The new rates are in effect and everything went well with that. They filled up the basin. Commissioner Bohlen said he has had requests from City residents asking the City to consider a discount to slip holders who are City residents. Mayor Rippons asked David Pritchett to get Council the number of City residents who are slip holders and if the City were to abate a portion, what portion that would be. He said there has also been a request from 3 remaining watermen who are paying $1405 a year and they are asking the City to abate part of their dockage.
Jim Michael said with regard to the Schoolhouse Lane Community Development Block Grant, the procedure is for the City to get estimates for whatever action we need. We need to get appraisals for the actual acquisition of the properties prior to demolishing them. He received three estimates for the project. They came in at $3880, $3000, and $1000. The lowest estimate was Susan Froesch. His recommendation is to proceed with Ms. Froesch. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:50 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, January 13, 2003, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer