City Council Minutes
May 12, 2003
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, May 12, 2003 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 28, 2003 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. Commissioner Bohlen said on the last page the vote concerning the water billing says the motion was denied 4:1 with Commissioner Weldon voting for the motion. Commissioner Bohlen said he voted with Commissioner Weldon so the motion was denied 3:2. The motion to approve the minutes in the amended form was approved unanimously.
Dorchester County Commissioner Glenn Bramble asked each member of Council to consider writing a letter to the Board of Education to ask them to grant Mr. Gary Rosenthal, Principal of Cambridge South Dorchester High School, a public hearing. He asked that the letters be hand delivered before the meeting on Wednesday night.
Proclamation for Safe Boating Week-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to Bob Hammerton of the Cambridge Sail & Power Squadron. Mr. Hammerton urged everyone to have a vessel safety check.
Proclamation for Older Americans Month-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to Hubert Trego. Mr. Trego announced Senior Celebration at Sailwinds Park on Thursday, May 15th. He invited the community to attend.
Rev. Doug Wooten to Discuss Parking at Church at 714 Locust Street and to Discuss Outreach Programs in the Community-Rev. Wooten addressed the parking problem that have at their church. The problem has become more severe now. The have purchased a piece of property on Race Street Extended so they hope the problem will be alleviated in the near future. They have started a kids club which currently has 289 active members and approximately 39 adult volunteers. There is no cost to the children who range in age from 4 to 12. Rev. Wooten said the club is not a church ministry. It is completely non-profit. He asked for a variance to park on the left side of the street on Saturday mornings from 9:30 am until 12:30 pm and Wednesday evenings from 6:00 pm until 8:30 pm. Rob Collison suggested the Traffic and Safety Committee review the request. Commissioner Watkins said the committee will meet and report to Council at the next meeting. Rev. Wooten said their church members are supportive of the Council and want to be a part of the community. If there are needs in the community, they will help any way they can.
Patricia Thomas spoke on the positive effect that the kids club is having on her children. At kids club the children receive the love that nobody else has shown them. Mayor Rippons thanked them on behalf of a grateful city and said the City looks to partner with them in any way they can.
Karen Boulden, Shore Bid Auction, to Discuss Putting Temporary Signs in Cambridge Advertising Their Auction-Ms. Boulden's auction is located at 446 Race Street. Her customers have a hard time finding her location. She is asking permission to place temporary signs around town twice a month from Friday 9:00 am until Saturday 2:00 am. She has buyers coming from various states and Race Street is hard to find. Once the City puts permanent directional signs in place, she will not need her temporary signs. Rob Collison said if they allow the Ms. Boulden's signs, they will have to allow them for anyone who requests them. Council will have to establish a regulation if they are inclined to permit temporary signs. Commissioner Weldon said they are meeting tomorrow with a sign supplier. The City has been approved by the State for a pilot project in the County. They are striving to have the signs installed in weeks. He would be willing to make a motion to grant permission for a 60-day period with a possibility of an extension if the permanent sign project is held up. It would be contingent on the lack of the official signage. Rob Collison recommended the City finding some temporary signs directing everyone downtown and to parking areas. David Pritchett said they can order a few signs and have them in within a week for the general parking area. Ms. Boulden said she needs signs directing people to downtown. Commissioner Weldon said they are presently looking at identifying Cedar Street as the primary corridor to come into town because on Maryland Avenue you have the drawbridge and a difficult intersection. He withdrew his first motion and made a motion to go ahead with temporary signage as an intermediate means.
Ms. Octavene Saunders said she has a concern that if the new ordinance is adopted tonight including signage, there is not a clause for a private property owner to give a person permission to erect a temporary sign for 24 hours. Mayor Rippons said there will be discussion later on the Comprehensive Rezoning. Ms. Saunders' questions will be addressed then.
Commissioner Bohlen seconded Commissioner Weldon's motion to allow DPW to erect temporary downtown and parking signs at appropriate locations until the permanent directional signs come in. The motion was passed unanimously.
Rebecca Fairbanks to Discuss Conditions on Hayward Street-Ms. Fairbanks said she is afraid to go outside even during the daytime hours. She has been threatened and her truck has been vandalized. The police have been wonderful but something has to be done. Captain Hutton said the department is working on the problem in the area. After numerous investigations, they are not finding anything of a criminal nature. There are people of different lifestyles living close to each other. They have found minor vandalism, some civil matters, a barking dog complaint, and a few neighbor disputes. Ms. Fairbanks said her truck was vandalized last Saturday night. The girl next door chased her down the street and told her if she took one more picture, she would bust her. Captain Hutton said they are very sympathetic to her situation. She probably talks to Detective Sgt. Lewis on a daily basis but they are limited on what they can do when it isn't a criminal matter. Commissioner Weldon asked if the issue can be addressed with the landlord of the rental property. Captain Hutton said they have increased patrol considerably. Rob Collison said it sounds as if from the Police Department's perspective, the activity does not raise itself to a violation; however, you could have a civil nuisance being part of this. CPD could refer them to the Legal Aid Bureau to handle a civil matter. They might then be able to go to the Court Commissioner for charges against the individual. Ms. Fairbanks said she called the Court Commissioner and they told her it was up to the City Police to investigate but it seems like they aren't there at the right time. Rob Collison suggested that some representatives of the City could meet with the property owner and the Police to see if there is any action to be taken. Commissioner Travers said he used to be the owner of the property that Ms. Fairbanks is talking about and he will probably be the owner in a few more weeks. He will certainly try to do anything he can to solve the problem. Rich Roth, who collects rent for Jeff Middlebrooks has filed papers in court to have the gentlemen discharged from the property. Ms. Fairbanks said Commissioner Travers has always helped her.
Representative from National Church of God (809 Washington St.) to Request Variance from the Noise Ordinance for Their Street Ministry on the Saturdays from June through September from 2:00 pm Until 4:00 pm in the Area of Douglas Street/Cornish Park/Cornish Drive/Washington Street/ Weaver/Camellia Circle/Camellia Drive and Robbins Street-Joyce Opher said they would like to target the streets they did last year for their street ministry. They will probably be using a speaker but not to a level that would be a problem to someone. On May 24th, they would like to have a youth rally starting at 3:00 pm until 8:00 pm on their church property. They would like a variance from the noise ordinance for this day also. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the requests. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.
Open Bids for Bayly Road Improvements-Ed Kinnamon said the City received one bid from David A. Bramble, Chester, Maryland for $511,650. Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to send the bid to DPW for their recommendation. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Council to Adopt Comprehensive Rezoning Ordinance-Rob Collison said it is his understanding that with regard Section 7 on Critical Area District, there are additional revisions that need to be made and also reviewed by the State Critical Area Commission. He recommended that this section be withheld when the Council votes this evening and the matter be revisited after they hear comments back from the State Critical Area Commission. He said Mr. Johnston, the consultant, would be happy to address any questions Council may have. At this time it would be appropriate to approve the ordinance as presented. Lynn Thomas agreed with Rob Collison on the critical areas section. He said Council also received a letter in reference to the zoning of a particular piece of property. If Council is inclined to address the issue, prior to the vote would be the time to do it.
David Holden with the Ingerman Group said they have done their best to work openly with the Council and neighborhood groups to put together a high quality affordable housing proposal. They initially received a letter from the City saying their site had appropriate zoning and was going to stay appropriately zoned as multi-family housing which led them to move forward. They did get a letter from the City correcting this. They are within 2 weeks of the State making a decision to fund a $10 million investment in the community for affordable rental housing that the City has mentioned that they need. He is requesting that the Council reconsider changing the zoning and leave it at multi-family.
Mr. Johnston said Mr. Holden is referring to Parcel 1028-1 on Map 301. It is approximately 6 to 7 acres. It was originally zoned R3 and they recommend that it be zoned R1. During the course of reviewing the ordinance, there were a number of citizens concerned about the traffic related to the development of this property. There is probably another 25 to 30 acres of undeveloped R3 zoning in that area. There may or may not be a traffic issue. Council would hear that same issue every time this type of application came in. They recommended that all of the R3 area be down-zoned to R1 until such time as there could be a traffic circulation study and determine what, if any, improvements would be needed to service that area and how much, if any, of the cost of those improvements should be allocated to the developers. Lynn Thomas said he feels the safest thing to do is to keep it zoned R1. If the circulation problems are solved, then it could be rezoned R3. Rob Collision recommended that if Council were to adopt the recommendation to keep it R1, they should have a traffic circulation study completed.
Wendell Foxwell said the people on Glenburn Avenue just don't want a low-income housing development there. This is a historical section and it just isn't good to put it at the end of the street. It won't add anything to the community; it will take something away most of the time. It is more than a traffic problem. They haven't gone against any other project. Maybe in the future if it is R1 and then bring it back to R3 they wouldn't be against a senior citizens' home. He feels Mr. Johnston is an able person and he recommended R1 zoning. The City Planner recommended R1 zoning.
Commissioner Weldon said it is not subsidized public housing. It is a State mechanism that enables the rents to be lower than the market. He was at the meetings about the Glenburn House and the neighborhood was not in favor of that. It is a very well thought out project. It is a level of housing that would serve a market that this community does not presently adequately serve. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to ask that separate from approval of the whole ordinance, to retain the R3 on this property, given the fact that the developer is so close to the completion of their process. If in 2 weeks they don't get their funding from the State, it would be a dead issue anyway. He believes they need a traffic study done. The traffic problem is the 500+ undeveloped lots out in Algonquin and Sandy Hill which sooner or later will be filled in. His motion is to retain the R3 so they can see if the project will be approved by the State.
Marge Hull agreed with a number of things that have been said tonight. There is a need for this kind of project. The project that they are proposing is indeed a nice project. The consultant has spent many months putting the plan together taking in a lot of consideration from the Council, Planning and Zoning, and the community. The plan that is now up for consideration has extended the single-family designation past this particular piece of property. She would request that the consultant's opinion on this be accepted and the project be put where the consultant has suggested.
Bill Press, Edlon Park, said of all the people he has talked to that live in the area, they all say they would like to see the neighborhood stay the way it is. He asked Council to consider the ordinance and accept it the way it is proposed. They would like to see it go to R1.
Because nobody seconded Commissioner Weldon's motion, the motion died. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to adopt the comprehensive rezoning ordinance without the critical areas section. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Watkins made a motion to adopt the comprehensive zoning maps. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. Rob Collison said for clarification, the site spoken about early will be zoned R1. The motion was passed unanimously.
Lynn Thomas said the consultant will prepare Mylar maps for Council's signature at the next meeting and they will become the official zoning maps of the City.
Commissioner Weldon thanked everyone who was involved in the project.
Discuss Tire Ordinance for Commercial Properties-Commissioner Atkinson said he thinks everyone should be treated the same. There shouldn't be any difference if it is a commercial establishment or an individual home. He said experts are predicting another summer of increasing cases of West Nile Virus. There is no way you can convince him that by spraying the top of the big pile of tires on Washington Street, it will get all the tires. The ordinance applies to everybody. Mr. Brannock should put a cover over them or get rid of them. Commissioner Bohlen said one of their responsibilities is dealing with the health and safety of the community. He could invest in a good industrial tarp and spray the tires thoroughly. David Pritchett said it is not feasible to say that the business cannot store tires. With the EPA spraying, and if they can be covered, it would be fine. The pile has to be brought down. There are two businesses that are affected. Commissioner Watkins said a commercial business should protect the people in the community. Commissioner Atkinson suggested a shed over the top of the tires. Commissioner Weldon suggested looking into a place in the industrial park the City can work on with Mr. Brannock. Because of it being an environmental issue, maybe there is a grant or low-interest loan program to help him relocate to someplace else. Mayor Rippons asked David Pritchett to meet with Mr. Brannock to address the issue of covered storage and the issue of the total number of stored tires and enforcement. He should also address the issue of possible relocation.
Award Contract for Engineering Services for Phase 2 of Marina Upgrade and Expansion-David Pritchett said DPW recommends awarding the contract to Andrews Miller, the low-bidder of the two received, in the amount of $99,930. They met all the criteria of the scope of work. Mayor Rippons said DNR is providing half of this amount. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to award the bid to Andrews Miller. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Minimum Water Bills-Mayor Rippons said there was a question raised on the provisions that the City is setting up as it relates to minimum billing. The new residential bills go into effect this month. Gary Newcomb said they have master meters servicing residential and commercial properties; some are a combination of residential and commercial and some are strictly commercial properties. MUC has a list of approximately 63 properties that they will be looking at. A minimum charge allows usage. Some places have service charges and then have usage charges above the service charge. When you look at our minimum bill of $5.79 a month for water services, that's not much of a service charge and allocation for usage. Of the 63 properties, the ones they are concerned about would be ones that are entirely self-supported operations. There are maybe two operations within a building. Any place that would have any kind of shared facilities would be exempt and there would be no change in the current billing status. The key is shared facilities. If there are multiple tenants on a floor, that by definition would be exempt. The bill would be based on the meter size that is there. Most of the concerns that they are receiving are from people saying their bills are increasing and they aren't using any more water than before. Any business operated in the City needs water and sewer service. The opinion of the MUC Board is that $5.79 a month minimum bill for that service is a small minimum. A lot of small businesses only use their water for restroom facilities. Most of those would use less than one thousand gallons of water a month. It is really not a volume issue as much as a minimum usage bill for the business. Most of the buildings they are looking at are individual businesses like in the shopping center on Route 50 where Comcast cable is. All the units have their own facilities.
All the residential units are supposed to be registered through the City through rental registrations. Unit billing started with the disposal fee in 1993. Since then, they have been assessed a disposal fee per unit. The reason they don't have accurate information on the commercial properties is the fact that there is no means for registering those properties. Presently 55 percent of their customers receive a minimum bill which allows four thousand gallons of water. Many customers use a lot less than that. When you start assessing minimum bills for the number of units in the building, there is still a possibility that the revenue generated would be less than the revenue generated if it is individual meter. If you have a building with 4 units, they are allowed 16,000 gallons of water a month. If they were billed individually, you could have 3 units using 1,000 gallons a month, the other unit using the rest of the water and, of course, they are going to pay for the additional consumption for that meter unit. Some landlords have requested additional services to be put in when they do improvements. MUC installs additional services at time and material cost. It is difficult to separate the plumbing in the older buildings. MUC is seeing more projects coming to Cambridge that have master meters for multiple units. It has never been a real issue but now they are seeing more of it. For a single unit in town, you are looking at a minimum water and sewer cost of $271 a year. Compared to other areas, it is on the low side. For a small business it might be 3 or 4 months before the meter registers another 1000 gallons. They pay the minimum water and sewer bill of $22.58 and $15 disposal fee. These are costs necessary to operate a business.
Commissioner Bohlen said he supports the new billing because you could have a 400,000+ condominium unit with one meter and 12 units in it so potentially those folks are paying less than the minimum amount. Gary Newcomb said the average bill for the complex is $9.75 a month. He always pushes for individual meters. It is more costly and more difficult to have separate meters and that is probably the main issue.
Request from R. S. Clendaniel for Variance from the Noise Ordinance at Spring Valley on June 1, 2003 from 1:00 pm until 2:30 pm for Picnic and Band Concert-Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from RFC for a Carnival License (Circus) at Sailwinds Park on May 13, 2003-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. Ed Kinnamon said there is a fee of $150 plus a $3 clerk's fee for any carnival permit. Commissioner Travers amended his motion to approve the request and waive the fees involved. Commissioner Watkins seconded the amended motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from Portside Seafood Restaurant for Variances from the Noise Ordinance for Outside Entertainment on June 8, June 22, July 13, July 27, August 10, August 31, and September 14 (Hours between 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm)-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Council to Appoint Ethics Commission-Ed Kinnamon said an ordinance has been passed by the previous Council establishing an Ethics Commission. Several citizens expressed an interest in becoming a member. He is recommending Grason Eckel, Gregory Meekins, and Jane Devlin. The terms for the first two members will be until 2007 and the term for the third member will end in 2005. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to appoint the above named individuals to the Ethics Commission. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from Nancy Richardson for Water Hook-Up at Lot 3B, Sandy Hill Road-Rob Collision said it is not conceivable that this property could be annexed into the City. It is his recommendation to follow the prior practice that they would pay the appropriate fees as an out-of-town user. Once the impact fees are established, it would apply to this particular parcel. Council could defer the permission until the impact fees are in place. Commissioner Weldon said given the fact that we don't have a fee schedule for the impact fees and this is an immediate situation, and this isn't the last lot to be built out there, he would like to make a motion to allow the connection to proceed. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. Rob Collison said if the impact fees are established and adopted and the landowner has not received their building permit and construction started, the impact fees would be imposed. Commissioner Weldon amended his motion. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the amended motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from Waugh Chapel United Methodist Church to Use Great Marsh Park on Sunday, August 10, 2003 from 9:00 am until 11:00 am-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the request and to include a variance from the noise ordinance, if needed. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve PO 163 Redman/Johnson Associates, Ltd. For Professional Services Rendered thru March 19, 2003 on Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Maps ($3,220)-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve PO 2781 RFC Inc. for Banquet Expenses ($5000)-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve PO 2741 Jess Jr's & Sons to Refurbish 1986 Chevrolet Fleetside Truck (RFC) ($69,355)-Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendment for CPD-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Rob Collison announced that Council met in executive session before the meeting to consider several matters. One concerned personnel. The second was the acquisition of real estate by the City. The third was to obtain legal advice.
Commissioner Bohlen received a letter from Mike Walsh of the Hyatt in support of Karen Boulden and her Shore Bid Auction.
Commissioner Weldon said he received word that the New Beginnings Youth Center that operates at the Cambridge Park Apartments received a $50,000 grant through Associated Black Charities which will enable them to hire staff and to do some summer programs. If everything goes smoothly, they will be eligible for another $50,000 grant in September.
Commissioner Weldon congratulated all of the youth service groups that have appeared before Council tonight.
Commissioner Atkinson attended the Senior Citizens' Day at Delmarva Community Services last Thursday. It amazes him every year to see the programs that DCS provides to our community, including bus transportation.
Ed Kinnamon announced that the next City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 27, 2003. On Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, 2003, there will be a ceremony at Long Wharf at 11:00 am.
Lynn Thomas thanked the Council for the vote on the zoning ordinance this evening. He will begin work immediately on the one remaining issue. He asked if anyone finds typos, discrepancies, errors, etc. to provide him with a list.
Lynn Thomas thanked everyone who was involved in the Main Street application process. Special thanks go to Chuck Kelly, Chairman of the Committee and to Jim Michael who worked on the application before Mr. Thomas did. The application was successful.
Gary Newcomb reported that since the installation of the communication antenna on the Fletcher Avenue water tank last winter, they have been suggesting to Verizon that the cables be shrouded. This work will be completed in the next few weeks.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:58 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, May 12, 2003, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer