City Council Minutes
June 30, 2003
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, June 30, 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, 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 June 9, 2003 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Planning & Zoning-Commissioner Watkins reported that the Main Street Design Committee requested that Council defer the decision on approving the Creek projects until they have had time to review them. A public hearing on a moratorium will be held tonight.
Historic Preservation-Commissioner Bohlen reported that the Historic Preservation Commission met on June 19, 2003 and heard the following cases:
- 210 Oakley Street-The homeowners requested permission to make various improvements. The Commission approved the fence, rear deck, pavers between the garage and the deck, period lighting for the garage and whatever maintenance is necessary for the roof and porches.
- 113 Glenburn Avenue-The homeowner requested permission to replace 24single-hung windows. The Commission approved the request if all windows being replaced match the existing windows.
- 427-433 Race Street-This request was to install double doors to meet ADA requirements. The Commission approved the request.
Sgt. Calvin Secrist To Receive Retirement Certificate-Chief Malik, on behalf of the Mayor, Commissioners, and members of the Cambridge Police Department presented Sgt. Calvin Secrist with a plaque in honor of his 25 years of dedicated service to the City of Cambridge. He is one of the most decorated officers in the history of the Cambridge Police Department. He congratulated Sgt. Secrist on his retirement and awarded him his retirement badge.
Request From Cornerstone Assembly To Have Bake Sale at Long Wharf on July 4, 2003 During the Fireworks-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Public Hearing on Moratorium - for Development in the PWCD Districts-Rob Collison said there was a request made to Council to consider a moratorium for any developments within the PWCD district which binds upon the Cambridge Creek. The Council needs to decide the necessity of the moratorium, the duration of it, the effective date, and also if they wish to grandfather in any projects if they decide they wish to have a moratorium.
Steve DelSordo spoke representing the Main Street Design Committee. These volunteers work with property owners and the City of Cambridge to improve the design of Cambridge. There are a couple of proposals for projects within the PWCD on Cambridge Creek. The regulations, goals and mission for the PWCD were completed 20 years ago. They include mixed development, a variety of uses and they encourage it to remain a working waterfront. This will continue to make Cambridge unique. Some of the regulations, principally the materials, are difficult to interpret and almost impossible to enforce. The PWCD ordinance requires that projects have natural materials. It does not allow for aluminum or vinyl siding or stucco. It requires wood or brick. All projects must have pitched roofs. Two of the projects recently proposed for the Creek were originally proposed with vinyl siding and some other materials not permitted under the current code.
The plans do not provide sufficient guidance for the Planning Commission. The Main Street Design Committee is offering to donate their time and expertise to develop a set of guidelines to propose to the Planning Commission and the City Council. The guidelines will be suggestions. They are very interested in working with everybody who is considered a stakeholder on projects on the Creek. Because they are volunteering their time, they would like to have as much time as they can. They will work as hard as they can but they need everyone's cooperation to move this thing quickly. They welcome everyone's involvement. They don't want to hold up any project and they want them to move forward in a way that is good for the City of Cambridge.
Tom Anastasio is in favor of a moratorium. He is impressed by the gem that Cambridge has in its waterfront. It could be destroyed by not adequately planning for it. Six months or whatever it takes to stop and plan it right for the future is a very wise course of action.
Jane Devlin spoke on behalf of the West End Citizens Association. She said this is a gem. It can only be done once correctly. What is going to be built will be here for our lifetimes and then some. This element was left out of the comprehensive rezoning so it could be dealt with at a later time. The developers are here but they are used to delays especially if it's for the betterment of the city that they want to develop in. They support the moratorium.
Ron Spear has been a lifelong user of the harbor. What happens now is going to effect generations for at least a century. If we can't take a few months to make sure what we are doing is right, because once it is finished, it is finished. Nobody will be able to afford to come in and change it. He is asking Council to take their time and get it right this time. There won't be any second chances.
Greg Wike (Hebron) has seen beautiful places taken over by developers in many states. It is worth the time to really look at the situation and to think of the future. There are no more waterfronts.
Jane Millar said this is not about developers; it is about the citizens of Cambridge. We have the most beautiful place along the shore. We need to stop and look and consider what is best for the citizens of Cambridge. They need to think carefully to plan the future.
Peg Wolff is on the Main Street Design Committee. She believes there should be a moratorium because she has talked to workman on the Creek. People have told her that the boating taxes paid for the pier which is supposed to be for working boats and pleasure boats. A man told her the pier is being taken away from them and they don't have any place to gas up their boats. The Creek has always been for working people. She believes Council needs to take time to listen to the working people to see what they want. It needs to benefit the whole city.
Patrick Hornberg (Trappe) referred to the picture in Chesapeake Bay Magazine which was taken last August. There are only two boats in the picture. Cambridge has lost its boating industry. At one time this was a major maritime center. It was lost largely because of poor planning. Havre-de-Grace has a 2.5 mile riverwalk and a marine and fuel dock which are operated by the City with 4 fulltime employees. The condos and residences aren't going to attract the boating industry. The boating industry will account for an equal amount, perhaps more, than the tourists who come by motorcoach or automobile. That is what has happened to so many other towns on the bay that have recognized it. They have carefully written their plans to include a very mixed balanced waterfront. With a moratorium you have to give the people sufficient time to write this plan.
Tony Thomas said he is in the type of business where you hear a lot of rumors. This weekend you could not buy gasoline on the Choptank. The pumps were broken at the Shell Station at Gateway. The Hyatt shuts their gas pumps off at 6:00 pm. Everyone knew last year that there was not going to be any gas here and they expect the committee to put a plan together in six months. The marina is doing fantastic but when the word gets out that there is no gas here, it shows poor planning.
Gage Thomas feels the discussion needs to focus, not on the moratorium, but the need for the design. He was at some of the sessions with the Design Committee and the developers have been very cooperative. There are good developers out there. He thinks taking the time to get good guidelines is not too much to ask.
Marge Hull is impressed that a real estate agent would come and be in support of a moratorium for the design of the properties on the Creek. Cambridge is the second deepest port in the state. We have something here that is extraordinary. She doesn't know if we can control growth or control change but the one thing we can do is control how we grow and how we change. She thinks Cambridge has been offered a free ride for this opportunity to be able to do just that. She would certainly hope that Council would consider the benefits of the Creek to all of the citizens of Cambridge and hopefully grant the time for this donation of expertise to the City to refine the design guidelines so we can, over the next many, many decades, maybe even a century be very proud of what we will have with this growth and this change on Cambridge Creek.
Phil Feldman owns the ISG International property at the head of Cambridge Creek. The PWCD guidelines were established 19 years ago and they are very stringent guidelines. They are now in the process of adding onto their building. His architect has completed all the design work and now they may be stopped for something they were following from the past. The Committee is a worthwhile committee. Updating is necessary and required. As opposed to a moratorium, the committee should continue to look into what changes need to be made. An evaluation would be a good thing.
Jim Duswalt is the developer on the Muir Street project. He is against the moratorium because he has put a lot of time into their project. He met with City Council and he met with Steve's group. They are trying to take into consideration everything that has been filtered to them to provide a nice project on the Creek. A moratorium would hurt them. They have a contract they are bound to and it would stop them.
Dan Brannock is proposing to build condos on the Creek. They are more than willing and trying to meet all requirements and any design that makes everybody happy. They have waited so long for something good to happen and they would hate for a moratorium to come along and slap the whole community in the face. He is for updating the code to allow materials that are superior to wood. Certainly we can progress and change as we go along and meet all the requirements. He is against any kind of a moratorium.
Wendell Foxwell is wondering why we need another committee. He feels they are a self-appointed board. With all the commissions it becomes more difficult to get construction started and finished. There is too much red tape. He wants to move forward and move now.
David Tomey said in 1984 the PWCD was written by a bunch of knowledgeable people. It was open to interpretation and intended to be modified. A resolution of passed on February 29, 1988 that amended the design and architectural criteria relating to unacceptable materials to allow metal siding to be utilized in certain instances. He built the only single family house in the PWCD and applied for a permit and went through the 3‑step process including the landscape design. Contrary to what was said before, buildings are torn down everyday. In Ocean City they opened up a big new marina. They dredged it all out. Anything that is built today can be torn down tomorrow.
Joe Brooks agrees with a lot that has been said tonight. He thinks the PWCD could use some polishing up but he thinks at this point to put a halt to things would stop some momentum and he feels it would be detrimental to the development of the Creek. If there is some polishing, the property owners should be well informed of what is to come. They should have a say. He is not for the moratorium. A clean-up of the PWCD would be good.
Commissioner Atkinson opposes any moratorium on the Creek at this time. There are three projects on-line. None of the people who spoke against it have any money invested in Creek property. A 6‑month moratorium would cost the Brannocks $15,000. You can't tell him that tearing down the old Todd seafood building is not a good thing. It's an improvement if nothing goes up there. The Feldman building will be an extension of their very beautiful building. He asked why the committee waited until they have people who put their money up front and then want the 6-month moratorium. It doesn't make sense to him.
Commissioner Atkinson said he doesn't think the Committee has shown any concern for the property owners who have invested money in services regarding the development of their projects. They are a providing a financial hardship on three developers who have put their money up front. The most important thing is, should the Council pass a moratorium, we are telling developers and business people "Don't come to Cambridge because we're going change the guidelines right in the middle of the project. You can't trust us." He will not be part of it.
Commissioner Atkinson made a motion that the request for a moratorium on the Creek properties be denied and the developers be allowed to complete their development under the current ordinances. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.
Commissioner Bohlen asked Commissioner Atkinson when the appropriate time would be. There will always be something in the works. He finds it outrageous for Commissioner Atkinson to assume that this committee has such nefarious underhanded contemplations to simply shut things down to cause hardship. That is not at all what their intention is. The Council serves the citizens of Cambridge not the developers. The guidelines will be looked at. He would rather have breathing room for the developers so they can be part of the process so it will be a good product when it is completed rather than have the guidelines worked on and presented and then have to meet the new requirements. All the money they have invested is for naught. He would rather say they have 6 months or 90 days to do it right. A vote can be taken tonight but he would like to lodge a protest because the full board is not here. Commissioner Weldon is not present and part of his ward borders the Creek. He appreciates everyone who has come out to speak tonight both pro and con.
Commissioner Atkinson said Commissioner Bohlen has forgotten that the workers are working with the committee. Mr. DelSordo has said so. Mr. Brannock has changed his plans for them. So have the others developers. He questions what is wrong with the developers working simultaneously with the committee.
Commissioner Bohlen disagreed with Commissioner Atkinson's comment that this is immediately going to put the brakes on everything and is going to give a black eye to the City of Cambridge. If we are going to have progress for the sake of progress, then it is not progress. It is without any merit. We need to take the time to do it right.
Commissioner Travers said as far as he is concerned, if the developers use our guidelines 100 percent, and if they stick to our rules and regulations, then he is opposed to a moratorium.
Commissioner Bohlen said as Mr. Collison mentioned early on, there are several things Council needs to look at here if they consider a moratorium. One is length and one is what projects Council feels could be grandfathered. Council could grandfather those three projects. He feels this is something worthy of consideration.
Commissioner Watkins said the developers have been working on these projects for 6 months. They are working with the Planning Commission. As other projects come forward, we will do the same procedure. He doesn't have a problem with the new committee giving their input. He is not in favor of waiting 6 more months. It is time to be moving along. Council won't do anything that is not right. Their aim is to do it right and his wants to get started.
Mayor Rippons asked Commissioner Atkinson to restate his motion. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion that the request for a moratorium on the Creek properties be denied and that projects currently under development be allowed to complete their development under current ordinances. The motion passed 3:1 with Commissioners Atkinson, Travers, and Watkins for the motion. Commissioner Bohlen was opposed.
Mayor Rippons said he believes the City will still be interested in working together in tandem with the design committee. Lynn Thomas will be working with them in conjunction with Main Street.
Award Bids for Demolition of 501 Oakley Street, 617 Douglas Street, 600 Hubert Street and 711 Moores Avenue-David Pritchett said they received 7 bids for the demolition. The low bidder qualified and is licensed. They recommend awarding the bid to Russell Insley in the amount of $15,000. Commissioner Travers made a motion to award the bid to Russell Insley. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discuss Request from Dorchester County Detention Center To Upgrade Fieldcrest Drive-Mayor Rippons said the detention center is requesting a road, lighting, etc. which should have been done before the developer turned the project over. He is requesting that David Pritchett and Rob Collison work to see exactly what is involved. There are no taxes being generated here. The City needs to work with the County to come up with an agreement. Commissioner Atkinson said he would make that motion. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discuss Dredging Portions of Shoal Creek-David Pritchett said it appears that every 3 years the entrance into Shoal Creek narrows down to a point where boating traffic can't navigate in and out. The City owns all the property that has been developed on the east side. Several properties owners make up the west side. The City has paid for this the past 2 times to have it dredged out. His suggestion is that the residents on the west side collectively assist with the financing for half of it and the City pay for the other half. Rob Collison contacted the Maryland Geological Survey Agency and they directed him to an individual at the Department of the Environment. The Geological Survey Agency did not know of any prohibitions as far as assessing costs to the owners on the other side of the channel. His recommendation is to get an estimate for the work. They should then notify the property owners who would be affected as to what their assessment would be and obtain their comments. Commissioner Atkinson said it is only fair that the property owners share the expense. David Pritchett will contact the property owners to obtain their comments before the next meeting.
Request to go to Bid for Painting the City Hall Building-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to go to bid. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request for Sewer Connection at 1028 Washington Street-David Pritchett said this property, on the outskirts of the City on the west side, has its own septic system. The owner has been paying the sewer portion of the water bill. Hooking them up to City sewer is not a simple task because there is no line running in front of their home. The line on the other side of Route 343 is too low so the City would have to install a grinder pump to this property. The City engineer feels it best to install a grinder pump, bore under Route 343 and connect on the other side of Leonard Lane. The homeowner has paid approximately $700 through the years for service that they did not receive. He is recommending that the City apply that toward the cost of the work (approximately $5000). The remainder of the cost would be paid by the property owner as it has been in similar situations. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to allow Mr. Pritchett to contact the owner and make this proposal. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendments-Mayor Rippons said they received two budget amendments from DPW and one from the Finance Department. Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to approve all three budget amendments. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Financial Statement - May 2003-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the financial statement. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.
Council to Consider Changes to Employee Manual-Mayor Rippons said most of the changes relate to the health insurance. Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to approve the changes. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Introduction of Ordinance Imposing Impact Fees-Rob Collison said this would be the initial reading of an ordinance which would impose and create impact fees for various uses in the City. It would be implemented and codified in Section 1‑16. The City shall calculate and impose impact fees or other development extractions to provide funds to pay for a t least a portion of the costs incurred by the City to develop infrastructure. The impact fees or other development extractions collected shall be applied only to pay for the costs of infrastructure, including repayment of capital costs incurred by the City to date, payment of debt incurred to finance infrastructure or for the cash payment of capital costs related to such infrastructure. Upon application and request by a property owner, the City may adjust, abate, waive, or modify the amounts of such fees when such change is determined to be in the City's best interest.
The entire text of the proposed ordinance is available in City Hall for review. A resolution is attached setting forth the fees. The City shall define impact fees in terms of costs per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU). The City proposes to adopt an impact fee of $4000 per EDU for those lots that have water and/or sewer service available to such lot. The City proposed to adopt an impact fee of $2000 per EDU for water and $2500 for sewer for those new water and/or sewer customers outside the City's boundaries with such revenues used solely for capital costs of infrastructure related to the water system or sewer systems respectively provided that the aggregate of both water and sewer would not exceed $4000. The impact fees shall be applicable for all new construction and shall be paid with the application for a building permit or upon the water and/or sewer connections.
Mayor Rippons announced that ARC requested permission to fire "Civil War cannons" as a salute to the boats during the 4th of July parade and to play music from Sailwinds Park from 3:00 pm until 5:00 pm. Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to grant permission for the firing of the cannons and a variance from the noise ordinance for the music. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Chief Malik reminded everyone that the fireworks will be on Friday, July 4th and the Great Marsh boat ramp will be closed for all boat traffic on that day.
Lynn Thomas reported that he attended a mandatory training on submitting Community Legacy applications. The applications will be due September 8th. The criterion has changed quite a bit. They are looking to award more loans than grants with priorities being given to loans that repay plus interest.
Mayor Rippons reported that the City received a request from Santo Grande of Delmarva Community Services for letters of support to include with their applications to the Community Development Block Grant program. One application is for home improvements for homeowners in the low-moderate income range. The other application is for funds for construction of a 15-bed senior assisted-living housing complex located adjacent to their property. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to forward letters of support. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.
David Pritchett reported that the Lutheran Mission has requested changing the way the designated parking is behind their building. He doesn't feel this would be a problem. He has also received a complaint that the one-way signage on Locust Street is inadequate. The Traffic and Safety Committee will review these requests.
David Pritchett reported that the traffic light at the corner of Pine Street and Washington Street (Route 343) is going to be removed by the State. It will be done sequentially by first going to flashing yellow for 6 months and then will be permanently removed. It does not meet criteria for traffic anymore. Mayor Rippons requested that the Traffic and Safety Committee review this as it relates to our citizens.
Ed Kinnamon received a request on behalf of America Limited and Cambridge, Inc., property owners on Goodwill Avenue, for the City to take in as part of their street system, a City public right-of-way to be maintained by the City. Mayor Rippons asked that this request be referred to the City Engineer to see if it meets the specs of the City.
Commissioner Atkinson asked about the tires. David Pritchett said they are waiting for Council to make a decision on whether they mandate strict enforcement on specifically the one business involved. Commissioner Atkinson said everything he reads says it will be a real bad summer for West Nile Virus. It is on the books that it is illegal to have tires out in the open because of mosquitoes. He feels we need to enforce it or get it off the books. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to have the inspectors start enforcing it immediately. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. David Pritchett said he was asked to see what the impact would be and what could be worked out voluntarily with the business. He has met with them on 4 or 5 occasions. Because they are a tenant they would not likely be able to construct an enclosure that would satisfy the code. If full enclosure was mandated, they would probably not be able to operate in that location. Commissioner Bohlen said he can't understand why the tires can't be covered with a tarp. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Bohlen said last week the Commissioners attended the Maryland Municipal League Conference in Ocean City. Cambridge had a booth promoting our City. There was a tremendous amount of interest in the City of Cambridge and the Legislative Conference that the City will be hosting in October.
Commissioner Bohlen said there are a couple of problem properties in the West End. In the City's charter and in the numerated powers of the Commissioners of Cambridge, one of the things that comes up is No. 48 which is under the police powers. This is to prohibit, suppress and punish within the town all vice, gambling, games of chance, prostitution and solicitation thereof, and the keeping of bawdy houses and house of ill-fame, all tramps and vagrants, all disorder, disturbances, annoyances, disorderly conduct, obscenity, public profanity, and drunkenness. Under those powers, he believes that if we have such a property that continues to be a constant nuisance to both the surrounding neighborhood and taxes our services of both our Housing Department and our Police Department and poses a continued detriment to the neighborhood, that these properties be put on notice and an appropriate fine by levied. This fine should be levied on a daily basis if need be until the problem is corrected. It is long overdue. The City should put both tenants and landlords on notice. Chief Malik and Rob Collison will be looking into this.
Rob Collison said with regard to problem properties, he has spoken to Chief Malik and they should have a report back with recommendations within 30 days. He said the City probably needs to update the language. There has been some recent legislation in other communities addressing those types of issues.
Rob Collison reported that the Council met at 6:15 pm this evening in closed executive session to discuss several pending legal matters.
Evangelist Denise Corswell from the National Church of God (809 Washington Street) is concerned about the stray dogs and cats. They have contacted the Humane Society several times and were told to contact the police because they weren't being paid. The police have been a blessing because they have come out to help. Officer Patton came out and they contacted the Humane Society that day. They did come but were unsuccessful. They young man said as of today they would no will longer exist in Cambridge. We won't have a Humane Society. They have 6 dogs and 4 cats running around their property. The dogs do not have any tags indicating ownership.
Commissioner Bohlen said the Humane Society is no longer in animal enforcement in the entire county. Mayor Rippons said they will do all humane functions; they just won't do any enforcement issues. Ms. Corswell said she was informed that if they purchase a cage for $10 and catch the animals, the Humane Society will store them. She said this is inappropriate because if they can't catch the animals, how could she do it. Mayor Rippons said the issue is of county enforcement. The county went out for requests for proposals to have the animal control ordinances of the county taken care of. They have not come to an understanding of what they need to do. Temporarily, CPD must maintain the contemplation that is there. He suggested a church member attend the Dorchester County Council meeting the following night.
Deanna Cornish spoke representing Jesus Church Missionary. They are requesting permission to do some outreach activities. They were given permission by the management of The Bradford House to have discussions on Wednesdays. They would like to visit several other locations in Cambridge. They would like Council's permission and blessing to do this endeavor. Mayor Rippons said the only thing this City can do is to grant a variance from the noise ordinance; however, they must first get permission from the entity they are planning to visit.
Sherwood Wongus, 829 Park Lane, inquired about the annexation at Christ Rock. Rob Collison said Elsie Pinder applied as an individual. Annexation of the entire area collectively is on hold until at least July 2004. He believes it is very high on the approval list for grant funding at that time. The community did not want to support the annexation because they would have to pay for it without grant funding. Most people gave the City their consent as long as it did not cost them anything out-of-pocket. He told Mr. Wongus if he wishes to proceed individually and his property abuts up to some existing City property, he could proceed like Ms. Pinder is doing and pay the entire cost. Mayor Rippons said when an individual requests annexation that involves extension of City services, they have to pay for the expense. Mr. Wongus said he applied individually but was denied. He is not adjacent to any property in the City. Lynn Thomas said he would look at the tax maps and discuss it with Mr. Wongus.
Sharon Whitten said there is standing water in the ditches on Race Street Extended. She is concerned about mosquitoes. David Pritchett will contact the State.
Bill Smith requested a variance from the noise ordinance to fire the cannon after the boat parade in the vicinity of Oakley Terrace for a private affair. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to grant the request. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
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, June 30, 2003, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer