City Council Minutes
September 22, 2003
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, September 22, 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 Atkinson made a motion to approve the minutes of the September 8, 2003 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Report on Hurricane Isabel
Chief Malik reported that the department heads met to develop a plan in response to the reports of the approaching hurricane. All police officers were put on standby. During the height of the storm they had 6 patrol cars (2 officers each) in 6 areas of the City. Two supervisors were on duty as well as the staff, the Chief, the Captain, and the three Lieutenants. They mainly responded to lines down in the road and flooding. They barricaded the streets as necessary in conjunction with the Department of Public Works. They rescued 7 people and 1 dog by boat. He commended the men and women of the Cambridge Police Department, the Department of Public Works, Municipal Utilities Commission, Rescue Fire Company, and Cambridge Emergency Medical Services. They worked closely to overcome the problems of the storm.
David Pritchett said there were residents on the waterfront who where truly devastated by over a foot of water in their homes. In general, he feels it was less than they anticipated as far as damage to City property and streets. The Great Marsh boat ramp was damaged. The major problem they have right now is that there is no power at the Yacht Basin. They will be seeking appropriate funding for repairs. Everyone cooperated very well. They did an awful lot of preparation with all the County agencies.
On behalf of the City, Mayor Rippons asked the department heads to extend well wishes and thanks to the employees. He asked Commissioner Flowers to thank the County agencies.
Request from Mid-Shore Development LLC for Annexation of Property at Corner of Maryland Route 16 and Woods Road-Rob Collison reported that the property is shown on Tax Map 41 Parcel 18. The proposed zoning would be GC (general commercial). The parcel is located on the corner of Woods Road and Maryland Route 16 on the southwest corner. The parcel would be an extension on the side of the Cambridge Day School. The developer has submitted a subdivision plat for the area showing that three of their four lots are already in the City. The certification of publication for tonight's public hearing was in the Daily Banner on August 5, August 12, August 19, and August 26, 2003.
Lynn Thomas, Planning and Zoning, said the subject property consists of 9.009 acres. The project was originally before the Planning Commission as a subdivision of four parcels, one of which was not within the City limits. It was suggested that the parcel be brought into the City. The Planning Commission reviewed their request at their May 6, 2003 meeting and voted unanimously to forward a favorable recommendation to Council with a recommendation for zoning of general commercial. The balance of the subdivision has been approved by the Planning Commission contingent on this annexation. They have sent notice of the annexation to Dorchester County and the Maryland Department of Planning. Dorchester County said the property proposed for annexation is within the growth area designated in the 1996 Dorchester County Comprehensive Plan. The property is currently zoned I-1 (light industrial) and uses permitted would be comparable to the City's General Commercial zoning. The State noted that the subject is already designated a Priority Funding Area and will retain this status. Water and sewer will be provided upon completion of the development at the expense of the developer and/or owner. There is no cost expected to be furnished at the expense of the City.
Nobody from the Dorchester County Government, the Maryland Department of Planning, or the audience asked to speak. Sean Callaghan, representing Lane Engineering, presented a plat showing the proposed annexation. Nobody from the City Council had any comments or questions. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Weldon made a motion that the annexation be approved. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Rob Collison said this would be Annexation Resolution No. A-2003-03. The motion was approved unanimously.
Request from Long Boat LLC for Annexation of Property on the North and South Sides of Jenkins Creek Road-Rob Collison said this property is identified on the Tax Map 30, Parcel 13 (owned by Long Boat LLC), Parcels 350 and 409 (owned by the Dorchester County Sanitary District), and Parcel 165 (owned by Luthy Farms). The proposed zoning classification for all the parcels would be R1 (single family residential district). The certification of publication for tonight's public hearing was in the Daily Banner on August 6, August 13, August 20, and August 27, 2003.
Lynn Thomas, Planning and Zoning, reported the subject property, including the three parcels on the south side of Jenkins Creek Road consist of 103.571 acres. The majority is on the north side of Jenkins Creek Road with the three additional parcels on the south side. The Planning Commission reviewed the request at their June 3, 2003 meeting. The applicant requested the zoning to be R2. The Commission forwarded a favorable recommendation on the annexation but recommended R1 zoning. He said he believes Rob Collison suggested amending the zoning ordinance to reduce the minimum lot width in the R1 zoning district from 90 feet to 80 feet. The text amendment went to the Planning Commission, who by a vote of 4 to 2, recommended against the amendment but it was subsequently approved by Council and is now effective. This subdivision requires growth allocation. The applicant is in the process of attempting to obtain this from the County. Subdivision has been review twice by the Planning Commission and has been approved at the general development plan level contingent on growth allocation and annexation. The annexation request was forwarded to Dorchester County and the Maryland Department of Planning. The County Planning Office has responded that the properties proposed for annexation are within the growth area designed in the 1996 Dorchester County Comprehensive Plan. The annexation application states that the proposed zoning is R2, however, the outline states that R1 is proposed. He believes the R1 is correct due to a zoning amendment being requested. The properties are currently zoned SR (suburban residential) and are compatible with the City's R1 zoning. The State of Maryland pointed out that Finance and Procurement Article Section 5-7b-02 offers the opportunity for land annexed into the City to become a Priority Funding Area. They recommended that the City look at these annexations in the context of this section.
The outline for extension of services states that water and sewer will be provided upon completion of the development. All development costs are expected to be furnished at the cost and expense of the developer. None of such costs are expected to be paid for by the City.
Rob Collison reported that there were no registered voters in the proposed area to be annexed. The developer is the owner of the property which consists of at least 25% of the total assessment value. Nobody from the Dorchester County Government or the Maryland Department of Planning asked to present further comments. Jeff Thompson, the attorney representing Long Boat, and Sean Callaghan presented a plat identifying the area proposed to be annexed. He said they are very happy with the R1 zoning classification. Their only concern was with lot widths. They still have to 10,000 square feet. They think a back yard is more useful than a side yard. The hearing for the growth allocation is scheduled for September 23, 2003 in Dorchester County. They have a favorable recommendation from the County's Planning and Zoning Department. Sean Callaghan provided a map from the City's Comprehensive Plan which shows the farm as an area that should be annexed. This was submitted as an exhibit.
Commissioner Weldon said in this area there is a great concern about the volume of traffic that would be put on City streets to reach Route 50. He believes at one time there was a right-of-way designated for a cut-through that would divert traffic away from Glasgow and Locust Streets. Sean Callaghan said they presented a plan very similar to the Planning Commission on two occasions. They showed a proposed Cambridge Beltway which comes from Route 343 along the Sanitary District parcel, and is supposed to connect to Hambrooks Boulevard. They also submitted a traffic report submitted at the sketch plan stage that identified in the current condition and with some minor shoulder upgrades, Jenkins Creek Road could handle the development that was proposed. The City Engineer suggested that the bypass would not be connecting through their property to Hambrooks Boulevard. He's not sure of the reason it was deleted. They had the right-of-way provided for the connection from Jenkins Creek through Hambrooks. There is an area that is mostly non-tidal wetlands as are approximately 70 lots which remain unimproved. They are in the final stage of doing the design for the Jenkins Creek Road upgrades. They did provide the right-of-way but it was requested that it be removed. David Pritchett said it was basically due to the wetlands. All of the conceptual drawings at this point picking up on Jenkins Creek Road, starting from the development and going down to Luthy Farms will be mandated to provide the right-of-way and it will go across to Chesapeake Street.
Marjorie Hull asked if the connector road to Route 343 is planned before the development starts. Lynn Thomas feels it will be a requirement for the Luthy Farm part of the project. Rob Collison said it makes sense that it would be a requirement of the first phase of the Luthy Farm project. Mrs. Hull said the West End Citizens are concerned about the traffic on Locust and Glasgow Streets. They are tight roads. There are a number of sharp corners on Hambrooks and Water Street causing traffic hazards. It is most imperative that the connector to Route 343 be done as soon as possible at the beginning of the project.
Ray Simmons spoke representing a group of homeowners in the area who are clearly in opposition at this time to this project. There are a couple of factors Council needs to look at in detail. The City Engineer, Public Works, and the City Planner have a lot on their plate. The more they have to do, the more likely they will miss some critical pieces of information. The Planning and Zoning Commission has concerns about the general neighborhood (traffic, noise, population, parking, etc.). He questioned if all this development today will overburden, physically and financially, the public services that are required, including schools, police, fire and emergency, sewer, etc. He feels before this project should be moved to favor and adoption, the Council should have a warm feeling that they have done all they can to ensure that they have the answers to all these questions. The neighborhood and surrounding property owners that he represents are asking that Council defer or deny until they have answers to some of the questions that they have great concerns over.
Mayor Rippons said if the parcel remains in the county with the zoning, there is nothing to preclude the developer from doing the same thing. Tonight they are only entertaining an annexation request. He asked what is adverse to the City's contemplation of not allowing the annexation. Mr. Simmons said they are not going to be able to get the septic sewer and water facilities to get it done if it is not annexed. The City can annex it at any time. The people he represents are wondering about the timing and whether the City has the ability to monitor all the projects that they have ongoing. They need some assurance that their property values aren't going down. It will be annexable forever. Commissioner Weldon said the Mayor's point is very clear. If the City has this parcel within its jurisdiction, then the City can help direct the development in the best interest of the surrounding residents. He sees no reason not to move ahead with an annexation at this point so the planning process can begin. Mr. Simmons said he understands the City's position. His clients don't think the City needs to take this action at this time.
Ken Knox said anyone who is west of High and Race Streets is affected regardless of if you live in the county or city.
Rob Collison said there will be at least two public hearings before the Planning and Zoning Commission to discuss the specifics of the actual plan. Tonight's public hearing is only to discuss annexation.
Commissioner Weldon made a motion to adopt the annexation as proposed. Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. The annexation resolution is A-2003-05.
Joe Ross to Give Update on Shore Health System-Joe Ross reported that they continue to see growth in the utilization of Shore Health Systems, specifically at Dorchester General Hospital. The emergency room saw 16,650 people last year. In 1996 when the system was formed, they saw just under 11,000 people. This represents a growth rate of roughly 12%. On the in-patient side they had 4029 admissions representing about 16,650 days of care. This represents a growth rate of about 4% to 6% per year. The System has 468 employees who live in Dorchester County. They have had 12 physicians come to the area who currently live in Dorchester County. Mr. Ross thanked the Council for their assistance in helping Shore Health Systems being able to access the interest-free loan pool which enabled them to rebuild the waterfront of the property. Their big project has been the ICU renovations at DGH. They have been under construction for 1 year and are winding down Phase 1 (of 3) now. They will never have less than 12 beds available. When it is completed, they will have 16 new beds plus a chest pain observation area.
They identified a need for dialysis to be available locally. They have entered into an agreement with a national provider to occupy the first floor of the hospital. Renovations are underway now. When completed, they will have 12 out-patient dialysis stations and 2 of the new ICU beds will be dialysis compatible.
They have completely upgraded the fire detection and management systems in the building and are working through the electrical distribution systems. As a System, they have made a $7.5 million commitment to a new computer system which will begin to migrate them to a paperless system of recordkeeping. This is a 3 to 5 year process. He believes that once they get the ICU done, they need to look at the emergency room growth.
From time to time they get approached about their 16 acres of property. They have stayed away from the subject because it is very emotional and political. They have not been approached by any developers in the last year or two. Their position is they will talk to anybody about anything but their evaluation of their financial capabilities doesn't suggest that they can walk away from that property and borrow enough money to replace that asset.
They completed their full asset merger this year. It gave them some capabilities to streamline their governance which was greatly needed and let them focus on doing better planning and organizational management of things like financial systems, consolidating bank accounts, single payroll system, etc. This merger did not reduce employment.
Proclamation for Arthritis Month-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to Kaley Hurley, the intake coordinator for the local Health South Rehabilitation Center. The 2nd Annual Choptank 5K will be held on October 4th at the Hyatt with all proceeds benefiting the Lower Eastern Shore Branch of the Arthritis Foundation.
Open Bids for Installation of Concrete Curb, Gutter, and Sidewalk at Various Intersections Along Maryland Ave.-David Pritchett reported that the City did not receive any bids. They received messages from contractors saying they would like to have bid but were unable to due to workloads. They will rebid the project.
Natalie Chabot to Discuss "Welcome to the Heart of Chesapeake Country" Sign-The partnership to raise money was originally between Dorchester County and State Highway. She is pleased that they have the majority of the funds raised from the private sector and a significant amount from the public sector as well. The sign will cost approximately $12,000 and they have raised approximately $10,000. Sailwinds Park (Governors Hall) was interested in a partnership but they wanted to have a guaranteed number of days that they would have the sign available to them. The whole concept is that it would be a community sign to serve non-profit organizations and any kind of activity or event in Dorchester County that would appeal to visitors. Based on the number of participants they have, it was deemed that the request was not fair to everyone else. Mayor Rippons said his understanding is that they were asking for one line of the three and only for two weeks on a monthly basis and would pay one quarter of the cost of the sign. Ms. Chabot said she doesn't feel she is in a position to guarantee something forever. Dorchester County is putting in at least $2000. The State has guaranteed $1000 in cash and they are a partner in having the sign installed. Commissioner Weldon said that given the report that Council received during the last meeting that the hotel tax is far exceeding the projections, and given the fact that it is those hotel revenues that are bringing the people who are going to help make the events successful, he made a motion to approve a $1000 expenditure to contribute toward the sign. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Finalize Charges for the Curb and Gutter Repair in the 700 Block of Glasgow St.-Rob Collison said at the Council's request, the ordinance for the assessments will be amended so that both the sidewalk construction costs and the curb and gutter costs will be split 50/50 between the property owners and the City. This was due to language in the City Charter as interpreted by Mr. Collison. He will provide a revised ordinance for the Council to approve at the next meeting. Commissioner Weldon said new invoices will be mailed out and they will be lower.
Ordinance to Codify the Revised Municipal Utilities Commission Rates-Rob Collison said Commissioner Weldon asked that this ordinance be considered in two parts. The first amendment is the meter rates and the charges that are set forth on Page 1 of the proposed ordinances and then there is a second modification in the body which speaks to the minimum monthly charge being applied to commercial units based on shared facilities.
Gary Newcomb said the MUC recently implemented unit billing for multiple residential unit facilities. They are now carrying it further to effect commercial properties. MUC has adopted a minimum fee for water and sewer services. The unit billing was originally set up by the City for disposal fees. It was carried through to include water for residential units and now they would like to carry it to commercial properties. MUC will check to see if properties are occupied. If a property is a registered residential unit, the minimum bill applies. On commercial properties, if the unit is vacant, they will not charge an additional fee. The consultant who the City hired recommended the 5% increase.
Commissioner Weldon said to compare a commercial user in a small building with two offices and two single bathrooms to a residential use is beyond apples and oranges. A minimum residential bill under the current system would be $28.96 which includes trash pick-up. There are several small business downtown with several tenants and one bathroom facility that among all three tenants would never approach a single minimum in terms of gallons used. He doesn't feel it can be enforced and if they are going to do anything, they should make it a requirement that the owner put in separate meters and then he can bill his tenants directly. Gary Newcomb said if you have a business in the City, you need water and sewer to operate that business. A minimum charge should not be less for an operation because the owner of the property had elected at some time to have one meter instead of multiple meters.
Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to adopt both amendments to the ordinance. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. Rob Collison said for clarification this will amend Section 18-1 of the Code. The motion was passed 4:1 with Commissioner Weldon opposed.
Request from Dorchester Community Development Corporation for a Variance from the Noise Ordinance for Their Fun Day for Head Start on Saturday, September 27, 2003 from 10:00 am Until 4:00 pm at the St. Clair Center on Rigby Ave.-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from Chesapeake Bay Power Boat Association to Close Lower Portion of the Parking Lot at the Franklin Street Boat Ramp on Saturday, September 27th and Sunday, September 28th -Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.
Request from Chesapeake Bay Power Boat Association to Waive the $50 Peddlers License Fee for Vendors Participating in the Cambridge Summer Send-Off Weekend (September 27th and 28th)-Commissioner Weldon made a motion to waive the fees as requested. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from Main Street Board of Directors to Block Off Race and Poplar Streets From 4:30 pm Until 11:00 pm and a Variance from the Noise Ordinance From 5:00 pm Until 10:00 pm-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from Jubilee Christian Fellowship for a Variance from the Noise Ordinance for October 4th from 11:00 am Until 3:00 pm for Their "Kids Alive! Harvest Party" at 415 Academy St.-Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Establish Hours for Trick-or-Treat on Halloween (Friday, October 31)-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to establish the hours between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm for children ages 12 and under. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discuss Abating Personal Property Tax for Kenneth Smith Due to Improper Assessment-Ed Kinnamon submitted a letter from the Department of Assessments and Taxation. By all indications, the City assumed the property was located outside city limits. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to abate the property tax. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Rob Collison said for clarification the tax year was 1996/1997. The motion was passed unanimously.
Rob Collison reported he received a request for annexation for property owned by Henry Thomas on Egypt Road. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to forward the request the Planning and Zoning. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Rob Collison reported that Council met in closed executive session at 6:15 pm to discuss personnel matters and real estate.
Commissioner Bohlen thanked all the staff for their hard and diligent work during the storm last week. Commissioner Weldon repeated Commissioner Bohlen's kudos to the Police Department, Fire and Rescue, and Public Works.
Commissioner Weldon said Lynn Thomas helped the Main Street Committee through a training session. It was a very informative meeting.
Commissioner Weldon said the Heritage Tourism Authority will meet to prioritize grant requests on September 25, 2003.
Commissioner Atkinson recommended the City start its semi-annual clean-up starting on Saturday, October 4, 2003. David Pritchett said he feels they could accomplish it in one day. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to have clean-up day on October 4, 2003. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. Commissioner Weldon asked that the appliance pick-up fee by waived for the flooded areas. Mayor Rippons said he spoke to Jane Baynard from Dorchester County and she informed him that any City vehicles that are picking up debris from the hurricane will be relieved of the tipping fee at the landfill. He asked her if they could average the bills for a certain period of time because some people aren't separating hurricane debris. The motion was passed unanimously.
Ed Kinnamon received a request from Dedra Martin for a variance from the noise ordinance for a street service on October 11, 2003 from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm. The location is the parking lot of Murphy's Store (Washington and Phillips Streets). Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.
David Pritchett requested to order more benches and trash receptacles under the Community Legacy grant. The total would be $17,905.30. Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. (Purchase Orders 245, 246, 247)
David Pritchett said there is much debris from the storm. They are offering an amnesty period, within reason, for what they pick-up.
David Pritchett asked permission to go to bid for an engine for one of the DPW pick-up trucks. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to grant the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Lynn Thomas thanks all the Main Street board members and elected officials from the City and County who attended the Main Street training sessions.
Chief Malik reported that an extension of the Hot Spots Area has been verbally approved by the Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 9:05 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, September 22, 2003, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer