City Council Minutes
December 22, 2003
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, December 22, 2003 Council Chambers. A quorum being present, Mayor Cleveland L. Rippons called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Commissioners Bohlen, Watkins, Weldon, Atkinson and Travers were in attendance.
Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Atkinson led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to approve the minutes of the December 8, 2003 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Alan Travers to Discuss Problems With Rescue Fire Company-Mayor Rippons said on the advice of the City Attorney, because this issue is dealing with personnel, he is requesting that Council hear Mr. Travers' concerns in executive session. Commissioner Travers made a motion to go into executive session. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. The meeting was temporarily adjourned so Council would meet in executive session.
Representatives from the League of Women Voters in Dorchester County to Introduce Their Organization-Bree Breland introduced Liddy Garcia-Buñuel, Chairperson who explained more about their organization. She noted that they are a unit of the Talbot County League. Their non-partisan organization works to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in their government. It does not support or oppose any political party or candidate. Membership is open to all citizens of voting age. This year their issue is land use growth management. Their position states "Action to promote the establishment of coordinated land use plans between Dorchester County and its towns and unincorporated villages; Action to promote the establishment of design and development standards for Dorchester County and its communities to achieve land use plans that meet the changing goals and needs of its citizens". They are planning a series of forums entitled "How Do You Want Dorchester County To Look in 10 Years?". They will be held the third Saturday of January, February, and March from 3:00 pm until 5:00 pm at Delmarva Community Services.
Kay McElvey, President of NDAAIGA to Request Permission to Close a Portion of High Street on Sunday, December 28th from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm in Front of the Court House to Film a Movie (rain date Dec. 29)-Dr. McElvey said the movie is entitled "The Message in the Sun". One of the purposes of the movie is to tell Dorchester's story from Dorchester's point of view on Harriett Tubman. Barry Foreman, the videographer, said they would like the streets around the courthouse blocked for 2 hours. Chief Malik said they can set up the detours. Commissioner Bohlen asked that they post signs prohibiting parking on the street during those hours. Dr. McElvey asked the Council to participate in the movie. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to accommodate the filming crew for whatever they need. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Recommendation to Award Bid for Cambridge City Market Feasibility Study Contract-David Pritchett said they received three very comprehensive submittals on this project. Department of Pubic Works recommended awarding the contract to low bidder, Basil, Baumann, Prost & Associates. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the recommendation of the Department of Public Works. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Decision on Rezoning Request by Town Point Properties (Corner of Muir & Academy Streets)-Rob Collison reported that a public hearing was held during the last Council meeting. He said the relevant issue would be if the Council determines there has been either a change since the last zoning or if there was a mistake in the zoning in its current designation. The Planning and Zoning Commission did not make a recommendation either favorable or against. They felt additional information was needed. Commissioner Weldon said after looking over the information and the City's zoning plan that was provided just a few months ago, in his estimation there is no mistake. The building that currently houses a commercial property is a commercially-zoned property. While it is a non-conforming use, he believes the business that is there leases the space, so they have the flexibility if they want to relocate to take care of the conformance issue. The other part of the property is in neighborhood conservation which is zoned to help preserve the architectural rhythm of the street. In reviewing all of this, he doesn't see anything out of line. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to deny the request based on the fact that there is no mistake in the zoning plan. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Update on Status of Request by Owner of Exxon Property at the Corner of Route 50 and Meteor Avenue To Abandon a Portion of Rambler Road-Rob Collision said the Council had previously referred this request to Planning and Zoning for their recommendation. Their recommendation was not to abandon that portion of Rambler Road from Meteor Avenue to Roslyn Avenue. Some of the members felt there may be a need to develop that road to alleviate some traffic along Meteor Avenue. The owners of the Exxon Station are planning to expand their business and could use the additional land if the City has no intentions of constructing that portion of road. The City has several things to consider if they were to approve it. One would be the outflow of traffic from this segment of Rambler Road onto Meteor because you are so close to the light. The cost would possibly prohibitive to develop that segment from Meteor to Roslyn. David Pritchett said to put in a service road would cost between $500,000 and $750,000. Rob Collison said unless a property owner who owns property along that segment has a plan to develop it and could incorporate that expense, Council needs to decide if the City needs to spend $600,000 to $750,000 to develop that road and do a cost benefit analysis. He sent a letter to the property owners asking for their comments. If it is abandoned, the property is divided to the adjoining property owners from the center of the paper street. Ed Kinnamon read a letter received from Dr. Jay Nave, an adjoining property owner, saying he would not want the street to go through. Hubert Brohawn (605 Roslyn) can't see the need to put the street through with expensive as it is. It is best to do away with it. Roy Todd (owner of balance of the property between Mr. Crismond and Mr. Brohawn) said when he bought the property 18 years ago he was excited that there was a paper street and hoped it would go through. He has nine building lots that front on that street and has everything to gain by the street going in. After discussing the situation with Mr. Crismond and Mr. Brohawn, he believes it would be chaotic to put a street in that location. The City is spending a lot of money to cut the grass and not getting any use out of the property. He feels a street would be a traffic nightmare.
Rob Collison said the City is required by law to hold a public hearing if Council desires to proceed with conveying or transferring the property. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to schedule a public hearing. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. Rob Collison said the public hearing will be scheduled for January 26, 2004.
Discuss Status of Marine Fuel Study-David Pritchett said the City truly needs a fuel facility somewhere. They have a proposal for one that does not affect the local area in any way. Commission Atkinson made a motion to seek bids on the proposal. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Weldon said before the Council gets to that point, they need to see additional information. There is a lot of concern about what this building is going to look like. He feels it might be more appropriate to solicit actual proposals from potential builders to show Council what they plan to do rather than take this design and start applying numbers to it. David Pritchett said they don't need a ship store. He is looking at something that would be an accessory to the marina. He is not talking about a building; he is talking about ground-level fuel tanks with pumps at the water's edge. Commissioner Atkinson said some people had problems with the current fueling system. He is for a fuel facility at that location utilizing the pumps on the slip side rather than on the outboard side. He feels Council should go ahead and decide soon or forget it. To him it is an important part of Cambridge's revitalization. Commissioner Weldon agreed that there needs to be a fuel site here. David Pritchett said this is the most favorable area versus in the marina. He offered to work up some numbers on fitting this in as an accessory to the marina's income. He could draft up exactly how it would look. Commissioner Weldon asked Commissioner Atkinson to amend his motion to include a draft so they can have a visual concept. Commissioner Bohlen said they had an ad hoc committee meet on this. They came back with a recommendation which Long Wharf was looked at as a possible site. They felt it was not the right location. He cannot support a fuel dock at that location. The motion passed 4:1 with Commissioner Bohlen opposed.
Main Street Financial Allocation-Commissioner Weldon said the City was awarded a grant of $25,000 and they have received $12,500 of it to go toward the expenses of the City employee serving as the Main Street Manager. The Main Street Committee is requesting an in-kind cash payment since Mr. Thomas was only employed by the City for a short period of time and Mr. Oden Wheeler is standing in that position without any additional compensation. Overall, the City is spending $31,000 on salary plus expenses for Mr. Thomas' overall salary which also covered his Planning and Zoning functions and Economic Development functions above and beyond Main Street. They are questioning what portion of the $31,000 is attributed directly toward Main Street and because the grant came in under economic development, that would also be included in there so it could be determined whether there was any remaining balance of that $25,000 grant that could be applied toward a cash contribution to Main Street so it can establish its budget for this year. In reviewing Mr. Thomas' job description, he only could identify two or three items that could be applied directly toward Economic Development and Main Street functions. If you take that into consideration, if the $25,000 was applied for Economic Development/Main Street, then only 25 percent of the $31,000 was actually expended and could be applied to his expenses. There should be a remaining cash balance that could then be applied toward a cash contribution toward Main Street. He doesn't think it would be appropriate to account for the entire $25,000 because so many of Mr. Thomas' functions were involved with Historic Preservation, Planning and Zoning meetings, permit processing, that do not relate directly to Economic Development.
Mayor Rippons said the grant was written for an Economic Development Specialist through Rural Development and is broadly based. The issues such as planning issues, zoning issues and historic issues can all be encompassed within the framework to meet the criteria outlined. It was not written to stipulate Main Street activities. It has been approved by Rural Development that the City has met all criteria and all $25,000 will be released. The Main Street Board agreed to come back when they have their budget completed. They are not requesting any numerical value at this time. They are looking to hire somebody part-time. The Chamber of Commerce said they will give up to $10,000 toward that salary on an annual basis.
Request from Cambridge Power Boat Regatta Association for Permission to Use Great Marsh Park from July 22 through July 25, 2004-Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to grant the request. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. Commissioner Bohlen amended his motion to include a noise variance for those days and permission to sell alcohol during the Regatta. Commissioner Watkins seconded the amended motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Final Approval of Cambridge/Harbor Watch Condominium Project (200 Gay Street on Cambridge Creek)-Rob Collison said this is Dan and Ginger Brannock's project. It has been through many revisions and submissions to the Planning and Zoning Commission and a public hearing. At the last meeting, the committee report from the Planning and Zoning Commission indicated that the Planning Commission made a favorable recommendation for final plat submission with reservations. Rob Collison clarified that the only reservation that they had was their disagreement with the Board of Appeals in granting a variance for the roof. Because the Board of Zoning Appeals granted a legal variance to permit the proposed roof, even though there are reservations on the issue, neither Council nor the Planning Commission can take any action adverse with regard to that. There were several comments at the conditional phase. The Planning Commission wished for the developers to address public maritime access as well as sidewalk construction. Those two issues were adequately addressed to the Planning Commission at the last meeting. The public will still be able to dock at the end of Gay Street without prohibiting entrance into their area. The suggestion was made for them to extend their sidewalk across Gay Street if the City would grant them a right-of-way that would connect to the County's property so eventually when the County dedicates a 10-foot-wide right-of-way along the river for a riverwalk it would come down to Gay Street. The developer will then have a brick paving along the foot of Gay Street connecting to their sidewalk. They are planning to widen the sidewalk along their property that would create a promenade from the water up Gay Street toward downtown. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to concur with the Planning and Zoning Commission's approval of the final plan as submitted. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Bohlen said he appreciates the walkway and the dockage. Commissioner Weldon said he does also. Personally he feels it's too big and that is where the fuel dock should be. He said he argued that from the beginning. He appreciates all the hard work. It's generally a nice design but our community and for the cityscape that we have in place, it's too big, it's too tall, it's too massive and it effectively walls off the corner of the Creek that has the best visibility from downtown. He is sorry it has gotten to this point. Rob Collison said it does not exceed our height limits. Commissioner Weldon said he knows it doesn't. He feels the roof compromise was inappropriate. The use of that prime commercial property on a prime corner of the Harbor is a senseless waste or real estate for a quick profit. The motion passed 3:2 with Commissioners Weldon and Bohlen opposed.
Resolution on Changes to Personnel Policy-Rob Collison said Council had discussions at previous executive sessions concerning adoption of a resolution which would amend the City's employee manual concerning a one-time employment reduction benefit for a City employee whose position has been reduced solely by the City Commissioners from full-time classified to a part-time position. Said employment reduction benefit shall not exceed the sum of $1,000. The employee's work history and number of years employed shall be reviewed in determining the amount. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the resolution. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. (Resolution 03-017)
Request To Go To Bid for Work on Special Teams Truck and Trailer for RFC-Mayor Rippons reported that Chief Watkins asked that this item be delayed so he can compile some additional information.
Approve Budget Amendment for Department of Public Works-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commission Travers 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. Commission Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Financial Statement for November 2003-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the financial statement. Commission Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Mayor Rippons asked that the Council move into executive session after the meeting to discuss economic development. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion go honor this request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Ed Kinnamon said he would like approval on a purchase order for E. D. Supply for electrical supplies for the Christmas lights. The total amount of the purchase order is $6,280.63. They need approximately $3800 from City funds to pay this bill. The remainder of the funds is from donations. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the purchase order with the City funds not to exceed $4000. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Ed Kinnamon received a request for a noise variance from Reverend Lavone Chester and Reverend Lemuel Chester of the Church of the Anointed One Ministries. They are requesting permission to use a loud speaker to play Christmas carols during the time period 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm from today through December 26, 2003 in the City limits. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
The Commissioners each wished everyone happy holidays.
Rob Collison announced that the computer program for the redistricting has been mastered. He gave a lot of credit to Odie Wheeler who has been working on it for some time. The City will hold several meetings starting next week.
David Pritchett announced that the power is back on at the marina. He also said the large antique clock that was ordered for downtown will be installed shortly.
Rob Collison said the reason the Egypt Road annexation was not on the agenda tonight is due to a pending matter with the County on their development plan.
Ed Kinnamon received a letter from the library requesting parking permits for the volunteers assisting with income tax preparation. The volunteers park on Spring Street and the courthouse block of High Street from January through April. Chief Malik didn't have any problem with it. They have done it for years. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Mayor Rippons said he and Ed Kinnamon attended a meeting with the Community Legacy Program. The City of Cambridge has been awarded two grants. One is in the amount of $22,975 to move forward with a program to upgrade the parking lot behind Chesapeake College and work in the pedestrian mall. The Department of Public Works is working with the Main Street Committee on this. The other grant is in the amount of $100,000 to be a revolving loan fund for façade and building rehabilitation mainly among the Main Street program corridor.
Mayor Rippons wished everyone the well wishes of the City. He asked that the holiday season bring everyone happiness into the New Year.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:22 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, December 22, 2003, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer