City Council Minutes
May 27, 2003
The City Council met in regular session on Tuesday, May 27, 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 Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the May 12, 2003 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Planning & Zoning-Commissioner Watkins reported that the Planning & Zoning Commission met on May 6, 2003 and heard the following cases:
- Tax Map 41, Parcel 18 - Lot 4, Route 16 & Stone Boundary Road: The Commission voted unanimously for a favorable recommendation to annex the property with the zoning classification of General Commercial. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to accept the recommendation. Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
- Tax map 30, Parcels 94, 281, 344, 280, 6 & 17; Lots 500, 502, 504, & 600: The Commission voted with a 4 to 1 vote for a favorable recommendation to annex the properties with the zoning classification of R-2, Mixed Residential District. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to accept the recommendation. Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Historic Preservation Commission-Commissioner Bohlen reported that the Historic Preservation Commission met on May 15, 2003 and heard the following cases:
- 308 High Street-The request for a new sign was unanimously approved.
- 604 William Street-The request to install new vinyl siding, new windows, and to open the enclosed porch was unanimously approved. An issue with the chimney will be revisited later.
- 213 Oakley Street-The request to replace the existing fence was unanimously approved.
- 310 Oakley Street-The request to install new siding, a new fence, new rails, and removing an old shed was unanimously approved.
- 321 West End Avenue-The request to renovate the porch was unanimously approved.
Traffic & Safety-Commissioner Watkins reported that the Traffic & Safety Committee met on May 20, 2003 to consider a request received from the Bay Country Bible Church on Locust Street to allow parking on both sides of Locust Street on Wednesday evenings and Saturdays to accommodate church functions. Locust Street was designated a one-side parking area due to the street's narrow width and heavy traffic. Access for emergency vehicles is already difficult at certain times on Locust Street. The speed of response would be slowed and an inability to respond with certain equipment is jeopardized. Off street parking is currently permitted at the Dorchester County Board of Education on Glasgow Street and on the adjacent land owned by the church. The Committee recommends against a change to the current Locust Street parking regulations.
Rev. Doug Wooten, Pastor of the Bay Country Bible Church, said he understands the parking problems. He asked if nothing could be done on Wednesdays, could something be done for Saturday morning when 200 children come to their program. When they park on the right side of the street, the children must cross the street. When cars are parking on both sides of the street, it forces people to slow down. Commissioner Weldon suggested designating the curb in front of the church as a "kiss and ride" situation where you can pull up and drop the child off on the left side but it is not a parking area. You can't get an emergency vehicle down the street when cars are parked on both sides. Rev. Wooten said he knows fire trucks and emergency vehicles do get through because they hear the sirens on Sunday mornings. They have done everything they can do to be good neighbors. They are using a drop off point but this holds up traffic more than if they just parked and stayed there. The problems are the same on Glasgow Street. Mayor Rippons asked Commissioner Watkins to take Pastor Wooten's new proposal back to the Traffic & Safety Committee. He restated his request on behalf of the Bay Country Kids' Club for the City to allow workers and parents to use the left side of Locust Street for parking from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm.
Public Hearing on Constant Yield Tax Rate-The public hearing was advertised in the Daily Banner on May 16, 2003. The advertisement was a notice about the proposed real property tax increase. The constant yield is set by the State and the assessments. With the increased assessments, if the City did not decrease the current tax rate down to the constant yield tax rate, they would have additional revenue, thus meaning the tax increase. The City does not intend to lower the rate of 0.676 down to the constant yield of 0.536. They, in fact, intend to leave it the same or increase it. It will not lower the tax rate down to the constant rate. For the tax year beginning July 1, 2003 the estimated real property assessable base will increase by 26.05 percent from $377,628,738 to $476,013,693. This is the first year for the assessment on the Hyatt property is on the City's books. The Hyatt property is assessed at $84,485,589. The City has a 25-year tax abatement with the Hyatt on real property until the property is subdivided. Currently there is no subdivision. That is the reason there is a 26 percent increase. If the City maintains the current tax rate of 0.676 per $100 of assessment, real property tax revenues will increase by 26.05 percent resulting in $665,082 of new real property tax revenues. If you take away the $571,000 that we will be abating, we will only be getting a little over $100,000 in additional revenue. In order to fully offset the effected increase in the assessments, the real property tax rate should be reduced to 0.536 which is the constant yield tax rate. The City is considering not reducing it enough to fully offset increasing assessments. The City proposes to adopt a real property tax rate of 0.676 per $100 of assessment or higher. The tax rate is 26.12 percent higher than the constant yield rate and again will generate $665,082 in additional property tax revenues. They plan to adopt the tax rate when they adopt the budget. At this time the budget is proposed to be adopted on June 9th. Mayor Rippons asked for questions and/or comments from the Council and then the audience. Hearing none, he closed the public hearing.
Representatives from the Dorchester County Health Department to Receive Proclamation for Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to Teresa Cornish. She thanked the City for the proclamation and invited them to the Lead Poisoning Prevention Carnival on Saturday, June 7th from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm at Choptank Elementary School. Mayor Rippons thanked her for her work with our youth.
Representatives from ARC to Give Update on ARC Elections and the Main Street Program-Greg VandeVisser is the newly-elected president of ARC. He announced that Steve DelSordo is Vice President; Gage Thomas is Secretary; Steve VondeBosh is Treasurer; and John Nussear, Joy Staniforth, and Carol Levy are Board Members. Under the current approved Main Street application, the designation puts Main Street under the auspices of ARC with the mention of some concerns. One of the major concerns was the history of Main Street under a business association becoming a secondary issue. The Main Street Committee, the City-appointed Main Street Manager, City Officials and ARC have been meeting subsequently on that issue. They are getting further information on successful Main Street programs under business associations. They are proposing to continue the current structure as outlined in the application which would put the Main Street program under the auspices of ARC for coordination purposes only. A full report of the findings will be submitted later. Mayor Rippons thanked them for their work.
Marine Fuel-Bill Wise said for about 2 months he has been going through a procedure with the Fire Marshal and other people to try to give temporary relief to the fuel problem at Long Wharf. At this time, the Fire Marshall has agreed to bend the rules a little bit to give them permission to station a truck at Long Wharf during daylight hours to provide gasoline and diesel fuel. If this is acceptable to the City, he can proceed to do this to alleviate the fuel problem this summer. If everything goes all right, he will start in 2 weeks. He is interested in getting the phone hooked up in the little building so he can take credit cards. The phone company won't hook a phone up without an address so the little building is now officially 96 High Street. He will probably operate it from 10:00 am until dark. The truck will not stay at Long Wharf overnight and will be attended all the times.
Mayor Rippons said as the City moved forward with negotiations with the Yacht Club and DNR about their proposal for expansion, it gives the City necessary time to see what the most appropriate place would be for a fuel delivery system. Mr. Wise said if this works, this might be what the City wants to do. He doesn't see any problem with this becoming permanent. Mayor Rippons asked Rob Collison to prepare an operating MOU for use of the City's area. Mr. Wise said in return for the use of the property and to supply the people who want the fuel, he will work out something where the City gets a set amount per gallon of all sales. He doesn't see any reason to put up any signs. He believes High Street should stay as close to looking as it does right now. If a cruise comes in during off-hours, he can make arrangements for the truck to meet them.
David Pritchett said for a short-term basis with the few options we have, this would at least give us fuel. He has already received a lot of negative comments about not having fuel. There were 46 boats in the marina this weekend and no fuel. Commissioner Atkinson said he received quite a few questions from local boaters and he appreciates what Mr. Wise is planning to do. Commissioner Weldon said he appreciates all the work Mr. Wise is doing to set this up. If the City establishes a timeframe where Mr. Wise can run this operation in the interim, that is fine. At some point if this operation proves to be profitable, he feels we owe it to the community to have a competitive process by which this service could be provided. He understands Mr. Wise has made the investment in the equipment and his own personal time in setting up this operation and he thinks it sounds like an excellent opportunity. Unless it is validated as a sole-source supplier because of the specialized equipment, the City has a purchasing process they have to go through. He does not have a problem with Mr. Wise operating it for a 6-month period as a sole-source provider to meet the immediate emergency needs. Mr. Wise said he has no problem with that. He does not want a monopoly on City property. His intention is to solve a problem the City has now. If you read the regulation as it is now, gasoline cannot be dispensed from a truck into a boat under any circumstances anytime anywhere. Diesel fuel cannot be dispensed in a pleasure craft at anytime anyplace. This is why he is working with the Fire Marshal.
Discuss Tire Ordinance for Commercial Properties-David Pritchett said in dealing with the two businesses that are affected by this, there doesn't seem to be any feasible way for them to build a structure mainly because they don't own their properties. The code also requires a sprinkler system. His recommendation is to grandfather in the two businesses and work with the EPA. They indicated they can go down quite a bit on the number of stored tires. It seems they would have to have around 200 to 300 tires in order to keep going at all. Commissioner Atkinson asked why they couldn't put a roof over the tires. It wouldn't be too expensive. David Pritchett said they would probably be glad to do it but they don't own the property. Commissioner Atkinson is concerned that we are going to have more problems with West Nile Virus than we have had before. David Pritchett said that EPA claims that their spraying is adequate. Commissioner Watkins said he feels some provision needs to be made to cover them. Mayor Rippons asked David Pritchett to arrange a meeting with the owners of the businesses and the owners of the properties. Commissioner Weldon said maybe the good news is that maybe the business on Washington Street has outgrown their location. In addition to being a health concern, it is getting to be something of an eyesore. Commissioner Bohlen thinks we need to reduce the number of tires. There has to be some other less costly way to cover and secure them. They could be covered with a good industrial tarp.
Update on Rock Drive Annexations-Lynn Thomas said on April 14th the Planning Commission forwarded a favorable recommendation concerning the annexation of 2441 Rock Drive. Mayor Rippons pointed out some concerns at that time and asked that the recommendation be tabled pending some additional information. Lynn Thomas said the property owner is electing to go forward on their own rather than wait for the entire neighborhood realizing they would be responsible for the associated costs. The cost estimate to hook-up both water and sewer is approximately $13,000. It could be a little less if they share some of the infrastructure with another parcel that was recently annexed. The City is also working on obtaining some grant funding so infrastructure can be extended to the whole Rock Drive area. The folks from MDE who are in charge of this grant think it is a very strong application and think it would stand a good chance of being approved. However, they have no funding available at this time. It would probably be a year from now when funding would be available.
Rob Collison said a couple of issues arose a couple of years ago when a few property owners came forward. Ms. Gloria Bailey's application was turned down in an effort to get the entire group annexed. She should also be re-considered to come in. From an engineering standpoint, the recommendation was to try to get the entire area because if you piecemeal it, it would not be efficient. David Pritchett said if they do it all at once, you would get a larger main and be much more cost effective and much less maintenance costs. Commissioner Atkinson said there was spot annexation before this Council took office. He is referring to the Stafford property. In that particular area, he feels they have set precedence on that road. Rob Collison said it is still at Council's discretion. If they deny it, there are solid reasons for not moving forward. If they grant it, they should reconsider Ms. Bailey. The only problem they may have in the future is if they piecemeal allow the people who want to come in, when they try to bring in the entire group, you won't have the votes to bring in the rest. David Pritchett said in order to hook up the houses in that area, they require having a lift (grinder) pump put in individually. This would cost between $4,000 and $7,000 per unit. This is the biggest problem of doing the houses individually and technically the City would have to maintain it. If it is put in as a group, it would be done with a station.
Mayor Rippons asked Lynn Thomas to talk to the applicant and Ms. Bailey before the next meeting to get their contemplation. If one or both want to move forward, Council can make their consideration at that time.
Recommendation to Award Contract for Bayly Road Drainage Improvements-One bid was submitted and opened at the last meeting. David Pritchett said they fully expected to get at least two bids. One company said they were just unable to do the bid because of the workload they currently have. The bid they received was for $511,650. They received a quote from the other bidder which was higher than the bid their received. The bid they received was an excellent price and they work well with that contractor. DPW would like to award the bid to that contractor. They are convinced the bids would be higher if they re-bid and they would not be able to meet the deadline of the summer work frame with the children going to and from the middle school area.
Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the recommendation to award the contract for the Bayly Road drainage improvements to David A. Bramble pending the subsequent approval from the State. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.
City Audit-Mayor Rippons said the City needs to go to audit. Ed Kinnamon has submitted six RFPs. He is recommending that Council select Wooden and Benson as the City's auditor for the next 5 years. They were the lowest bid per hour charge. Commissioner Travers made a motion to accept the recommendation. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.
First Baptist Church Request To Use Great Marsh on September 7, 2003 from 1:00 pm Until 7:00 pm and a Variance from the Noise Ordinance-Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to grant the request. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from Christ Episcopal Church for Two Handicapped Parking Spaces on Church Street for Sunday Parking-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to refer this item to the Traffic and Safety Committee. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.
Request from West End Citizens Association for Bulk Trash Pick-Up After Their Annual Yard Sale on Saturday, June 7, 2003-David Pritchett suggested that next year maybe this could be combined with clean-up week. Commissioner Weldon said setting up for a yard sale is different from cleaning out the yard and gutters. They are just looking for someone to pick-up any items that didn't sell. It won't be nearly as bulky as the clean-up. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the request of the West End Citizens Association. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.
Request from Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians for Funds Toward Their Annual Event at Sailwinds Park-Chief Sewell Winterhawk Fitzhugh said they are making their request early as suggested by Mr. Kinnamon last year. They are also requesting funds from Dorchester County; however the county didn't give them any donation last year. Tourism has told them they are the second largest event drawing tourists. They are negotiating with an insurance company in Fredrick, Maryland to insure their Long House and maybe they will be able to "blanket" the festival. The insurance last year cost $400. At this point the insurance company told them they could not give them an absolute quote because the date is too far out. Commissioner Atkinson suggested tabling this until they continue working on the budget. Commissioner Bohlen said if they could get $200 from the County or private sources, the City might be able to donate $200. Chief Fitzhugh said the County has been a great help. It cost over $6,000 to get the festival running. They have raised the admission price this year but are afraid to raise it too much because they want to keep it a family event.
Council to Adopt New Building Permit Schedule-David Pritchett said the new schedule is on a linear scale and a scale that takes into account what kind of a structure it is. The standard is around $65 per square foot. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to accept the recommendation of DPW for the new building permit schedule with the multiplier of 0.015 in the building permit structure. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discuss Proposed Future Refuse Collection-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to have David Pritchett investigate different refuse collection methods. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Introduction of Ordinance to Amend Demolition Citations and Costs as Part of the Property Maintenance Code-At Mayor Rippons' request, Rob Collison drafted a proposed ordinance. Presently under the current system, if a demolition order is issued and there is no appeal from it, there could be a citation for failure to demolish at $100 per day. The demolition cost was a lien on the property. This is an attempt to substantially increase the citation for any violation. It would create a new Section 4-34.2 of the City Code. If a property owner fails to comply with a demolition order within the time prescribed, the owner shall be deemed guilty of an infraction, the fine for which shall be $1,000 and every day that the said violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense. The code official may cause the structure to be razed and removed. The cost (1) shall be charged against the real estate upon which the structure is location (2) be collected in the same manner as real property taxes; (3) constitute a lien upon such real estate in the same manner as unpaid real property taxes; and (4) entitle the City to obtain a judgment lien against the property owner.
In the event that the owner causes the structure to be razed and removed within 60 days after the effective date of the demolition order, then the Commissioners of Cambridge shall abate/reduce the amount of any fines and citations issued therefore, by a "to be determined" percentage.
Mayor Rippons said all the City is looking at is to get the property demolished at no cost to the City. He would not be adverse to 100 percent abatement. Commissioner Bohlen suggested 90 percent because there are costs to administering the paperwork. Commissioner Weldon suggested 75 to 90 percent. Commissioner Travers suggested 65 percent. Commissioners Atkinson and Watkins agreed with 75 percent. The second reading will be on June 9, 2003.
Resolution to Amend ASOP #17 Regarding Tax Abatement-The proposed amendments would be to Section 1 which is for manufacturing and/or processing. The language really applied abatements only to increased investments meaning additional improvements or additional personal property. The proposed amendment would provide the abatement option to the City if they have a new business coming in and employs at least 15 full-time people.
To avoid a company from coming in, getting an abatement and then leaving, a new section was added stating that if the company leave within 20 years, they will have to repay what was previously abated. The amendment states the abatement would not apply if you just have a change of name or assets. The vote on this resolution will be at the June 9, 2003 meeting.
Approve PO 2721 Graves Uniforms for CPD ($5,801.89)-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendment for Rescue Fire Company-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendment for Cambridge Emergency Medical Services- Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendment for Department of Public Works- Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Financial Statement for April 2003-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the financial statement. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Lynn Thomas asked each member of Council to sign the reproducible copies of the approved zoning maps.
David Pritchett said landscaping on the islands at the foot of the drawbridge should be completed in a few weeks.
Commissioner Atkinson said he is still getting complaints about people riding bicycles at night without reflectors and riding on the wrong side of the road. Chief Malik said they will issue citations to offenders.
Commissioner Atkinson asked David Pritchett to check with the State EPA to see if they have any regulations on the tire issue.
Commissioner Weldon said on May 19th he met with the Mr. Victor Hoskins, Secretary of Housing and Community Development Department. He was hosted by Greg VandeVisser, Steve VondeBosh, Carol Levy and a number of other downtown business folks. Canvasback provided them with lunch. They had a very pleasant walk visiting with businesses on Race Street. Mr. Hoskins had a real good feel for the energy and the opportunities that are here. Despite all the discussions on budget cuts from the State level, DHCD is funded primarily with Federal money and his overall budget reduction was less than 7 percent.
Commissioner Weldon said the Heritage Tourism Board will be taking applications for the fall round of grant requests, business loan requests, etc. over the summer. The grants will be awarded in September. The State Highway Signage Project is coming down the home stretch. They are anxious to install the directional signs to get people off Route 50 and into downtown. At the request of the business community, they have identified Maryland Avenue as the primary corridor to get into downtown.
Rob Collison asked Council if they wished to have the date the Pine Street Committee was granted occupancy as the effective date for the Empowerment Center lease. Mayor Rippons said he felt this would be appropriate. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to allow the date the Pine Street Committee was granted occupancy to be the effective date of the ten years. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Mayor Rippons announced the Council met in executive session before the meeting tonight. Commissioner Travers made a motion to go into executive session following the meeting to discuss the budget. Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Gage Thomas asked if a copy of the revised comprehensive rezoning would be made available to the public. Lynn Thomas said the adopted version is on the website and printed copies are available at the Department of Public Works.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:25 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Tuesday, May 27, 2003, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer