• City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
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City Council Minutes

April 8, 2002
 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, April 8, 2002, in City Council Chambers.  A quorum being present, Mayor Cleveland L. Rippons called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Bohlen, Watkins, Weldon, Atkinson and Travers.

Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer.  Commissioner Atkinson led in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the minutes of the March 25, 2002 Council meeting as distributed.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.   

COMMITTEE REPORTS

Traffic & Safety-Commissioner Watkins reported that the Committee revised their recommendation for parking on West Appleby.  David Pritchett said originally they wanted to eliminate parking on one side of the street.  After talking to the residents, they agreed to eliminate parking for the first 300 feet on one side which would accommodate the emergency vehicles, the congestion at the opening of the street, and the residents who do not have off-street parking.  Commissioner Atkinson made a motion that the amendment be accepted.  Commissioner Travers seconded it.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Planning Commission-Commissioner Watkins reported that the Planning Commission met on April 4, 2002, and heard the following cases:

  • Zoning Text Amendment, Section 20-14 "I-2 Heavy Industrial District"-The Commission recommended eliminating Section (2)(b) which would eliminate salvage yards. There will be a public hearing on this tonight.
  • Zoning Text Amendment, Special or Conditional Use in an R-3 "Two-Family Residence District" -The Commission unanimously agreed to make an unfavorable recommendation to allow the conversion of a school on Mill Street to residential condominiums or townhouse condominiums. There will be a public hearing on this tonight.
  • Cambridge West, LLC, Final Subdivision Approval-The Commission unanimously agreed to make a favorable recommendation subject to departmental approvals.

APPOINTMENTS

Natalie Chabot (Dorchester County Tourism) and John Nussear (Chamber of Commerce) to Present Walking Tour Brochure-Natalie reported that the reprinting of the Historic Walking Tour Brochure was a partnership between the City of Cambridge, the Chamber of Commerce, and Dorchester County.  John Nussear thanked the Mayor and Commissioners for their participation. 

PUBLIC HEARINGS

Re-Zoning Request by Gloria Bailey to Change the Zoning of Property Designated as 411-413 Pine Street from R-4 (Multiple Dwelling District) to C-2 (General Commercial District) as Defined in Section 20-11 of the City Code-Jim Michael said the Planning Commission had a favorable recommendation for this request.  Rob Collison reported that the notice for the hearing was published in the Daily Banner on March 22 and 29, 2002.  Gloria Bailey said her house is located in an R-4 district but it should be a C-2 commercial building. She feels it was a mistake in the re-zoning in 1964.  A barbershop was always there and she would like to continue the business.  Jim Michael added that the other corners are C-2.  Commissioner Watkins said he has known that property for 70 years and it has always been a commercial area with a barbershop so a mistake has been made.   Nobody requested to speak in favor of or against the rezoning request.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to close the public hearing.  Commissioner Watkins seconded it.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Text Amendment-To Amend Section 20-14 "I-2 Heavy Industrial District" of the City Zoning Code by Eliminating Subsection (b)(2) Which Sets Forth Certain Permitted Uses as an I-2 District-The City Council requested this amendment to eliminate junk yards for auto parts, asphalt-producing plants, fertilizer plants, garbage incinerators, etc.  The Planning Commission reviewed the request and in light of the new comprehensive rezoning that will address the I‑2, they made a favorable recommendation to eliminate Section (b) (2) in the current zoning ordinance.  In answer to a question by Gage Thomas, Rob Collison said if the text amendment is approved, these uses will not be permitted at all.  Existing uses will be grandfathered in as in Mr. Condon's operation.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to close the public hearing.  Commissioner Atkinson seconded it.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Text Amendment-A Request by Richard W. Naing for a Special Conditional Use in an R-3 Two-Family Residence District.  The Conversion of a School to Residential Condominiums or Townhouse Condominiums-Jim Michael said the text amendment deals primarily with the density issue regarding conversion of existing school buildings as well as new construction.  It does not restrict the construction of duplex buildings.  Current Zoning Law 20-8 (b)(3) already allows multiple family use by way of conversion of single-family dwellings as a conditional use providing the same lot areas are met.  The text amendment could potentially effect the development of three former school building currently located in the R‑3 district.  The proposal, which has generated this request, is for a combination development of condominium units within an existing school building with additional new construction of townhouses on the same parcel at 201 Mill Street.  Rob Collison reported that the notice for the hearing was published in the Daily Banner on March 22 and 29, 2002. 

Tom Merryweather represented Richard Naing and Joe Macomber.  This text amendment would allow the conversion of school buildings into condominium projects. Commissioner Watkins said the Planning Commission's unfavorable recommendation was based on the plat that was drawn and the number of houses that were put on it.  It was not against the project itself but they were opposed to the number.  Mr. Merryweather said the request started some time ago with Tony Thomas and his request received a favorable recommendation from the Commission.  That request was on the density of 6000 sq.ft. for the first unit and 4500 on subsequent units.  Jim Michael said this is correct.  Mr. Merryweather said their request is extremely similar to that.  It is 6000 sq.ft. for the first residential unit and 3000 for each additional residential unit.  The parcel of ground is 1.8 acres.  The only thing that is different is that Mr. Thomas requested 18 units and they are requesting 26 units.  Jim Michael said the original request was for a different density and finally recommended by the Planning Commission for 6000 sq.ft. for the first unit and 4500 sq.ft. for each additional unit. That was the favorable recommendation.  Rob Collison said Mr. Thomas was considering just condominiums-all within the current facility.  Mr. Merryweather said they are not suggesting that this is the final enactment.  It has to be refined.  The purpose for the text amendment is to turn school buildings that have used their useful life into reasonable residential development in the condominium or townhouse type of development to be decided within the Council's legislative grace.  The Academy School has a tremendous amount of asbestos contamination.  One of the reasons they are asking for eight more units is because in order for them to develop the land, it is going to be an extremely expensive project to rehabilitate that building and remove the contamination. 

Richard Naing started in the development business in 1973 with historic rehabs.  He feels they need the density to pay for the quality that they plan to put into the project which will add a lot to the neighborhood and the City.  Commissioner Weldon said the text amendment only addresses the square footage and density; he had a question regarding the setbacks as they are currently delineated.  If the text amendment is applied to the existing zone which requires a 25-foot minimum setback (maybe 15 or 18 feet in the Historic District), he asked how they can reconcile the density with those setbacks when you add into the equation the side lot and rear lot requirements under the R-3.  Either they are going to be building really small houses or they will not be able to accomplish the density without further variances being requested and accepted. 

Mr. Naing said the process was to get the text amendment changed based on the concept.  With respect to the setback and engineering, the fine detail, and dimensions, first they have to have the concept agreed on in the text amendment so he can afford to go out to spend the kind of money required for the plans.  Mr. Merryweather said it is a conceptual plan.  It is not a final plat or a subdivision plat or a condominium plat.  Unless the law is amended, there is no reason for them to spend money on anything else.  They realize there will be problems with setbacks, etc.  Commissioner Weldon said he has multiple issues with this.  The quality they are discussing is very exciting and very positive but there has to be a process within the bounds of the law that everything works.  He feels at this stage it would be helpful to have the information a little better detailed.  Mr. Merryweather said they are stuck until there has been some amendment to the zoning codes to at least allow them to go forward.  Richard Naing said the smaller units would be 1500 sq.ft. and the larger units would be 1750 to 2000 sq.ft. 

Rob Collison read a letter of support from Kathy Tieder who owns property across the street from the school.  Commissioner Weldon mentioned that Ms. Tieder does not live in that residence; she has it rented. 

Tony Thomas was very interested in this project.  The reason he withdrew his request because of the 18 units they were allowed.  He feels we should all be grateful to have these gentlemen try to put a project to this caliber in the West End district.

Hubert H. Wright IV lives across the street from the proposed project.  He attended the Historic Preservation Commission meeting and the Planning and Zoning meeting of April 2nd where the meeting was discussed.  It was his understanding that the proposal was to convert the oldest section (1908) of the building to four condominium units.  As far as a variance goes, it is one thing to request a variance of a couple of inches.  When you are requesting in 50 and 60 feet increments, it shows you are doing something that you shouldn't be doing.  That is the concern of the residents of Mill Street.  They are not opposed to townhouses.  They are asking that Mr. Naing comply with the existing zoning.

Commissioner Weldon said one of the deficiencies in the zoning ordinance, as it now stands is there is no definition of a townhouse as it applies to the R‑3.  He would like to include as part of the text amendment a clear definition of a townhouse.  Rob Collison said there is a distinction between a townhouse and a townhouse condominium.  With a condominium, the entire lot would remain as one parcel owned by the condominium association.  You would not have 26 separately owned parcels of land.  There would be one parcel owned by the association and then individual owners of the units. 

Mr. Naing said they are asking for conceptual approval of the project.  Then they will come back after they spend time planning a project that meets the current requirements.  If they cannot meet the current requirements, they will reduce the size of it or ask for an acceptable variance. 

Rob Collison said for a point of clarification, the proposed text amendment is to have it contained as a conditional or special use.  If the text amendment is approved, and with whatever variation, when they present their plans and get their approval for the special use, they will then have to go to the Board of Appeals and make application.  That is an entire separate process.  It doesn't come before the City Council again for any granting of variances or any other matters.  There would be a public hearing at which time the detailed layout, sketch plans, setbacks, etc. would be proposed and the Board of Appeals would then vote on that matter.

Mr. Wright asked, in closing, that Council protect the residents of Mill Street by making this language so specific that the conversion is only the front part and not the entire school.  The center section of the school is eaten up with termites.  It would be a planning disaster. 

William W. Clyde thinks the points Hubert and Lee made are right on point.  He, and the neighbors he spoke with, are not opposed to a nice use of the front portion of the old school.  He shares the concern that the text amendment is not specific enough in its wording.  He urged the Council to make sure that everything they do is precise and specific and this is not such.  While they talk about the money it would take to develop the plans a little further, they have spent enough time and money to sit down and draw up the plan and come up with the number of units.  It would not have been that difficult to do so using the setbacks that they know to be in existence.  The Council needs to require the laws and the zoning requirements be displayed before they approve a specifically worded text amendment.

Commissioner Weldon made a motion to end the public hearing.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded it.  The motion was passed unanimously.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Discuss Heritage Tourism Target Investment Zones-Last week, Commissioner Weldon provided Council and the press with a document for their review.  It was also submitted for the public's review.  There were three zones suggested last week.  There are issues about the Trenton Street corridor so he feels it would be prudent to withdraw that as a first round Target Investment Zone.  What they are asking for from the Heritage Tourism Steering Committee is an approval of those two as recommended Target Investment Zones at the City level.  They are recommendations that will be included into the Management Plan that the Committee will submit to the State as they request certification as a Heritage Tourism Area.  Once it is in place (July) provided it is approved, they would then begin the process of identifying specific projects, specific budgets, specific amounts to request, and that takes place in October.

The primary area is the center City downtown area (Race Street from Muir Street up to Church Street) and the second area is the Long Wharf area which would enable the City to build upon the work that DPW is overseeing with the marina and the park.

Commissioner Bohlen thinks they are good areas to consider for the first round.  Commissioner Weldon said the State has planning funds available for those areas that are not yet designated as zones that can be helpful in cultivating plans.  Steve DelSordo said planning monies are available but they are very limited due to the State budget cuts.  There is only $600,000 remaining for this fiscal year and for the next fiscal year that starts July 1, the State only has a total of $900,000 for all the Certified Heritage Area Target Investment Zones.   

Commissioner Weldon made a motion to accept the two areas, the center City and the Long Wharf areas, as the City's recommendation to be included in the Tourism Management Plan.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS

Proclamation for the Cambridge Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation and Mayor Rippons signed it. It will be mailed to Linda Watkins Henry.  Commissioner Watkins said this is an outstanding organization that has performed work throughout the community.

Proclamation for Administrative Professionals Week-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation then Mayor Rippons signed it.  Mayor Rippons presented the proclamation to representatives of the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

CDBG Grant Award-Mayor Rippons announced that Cambridge received an award for a grant proposal that encompasses the work of Commissioners Atkinson and Watkins.  Jim Michael said the funding is in the amount of $517,000 for the Bayly Road project.  He anticipates that the project will begin this spring. 

Open Bids for Demolition of 505 Elm Street, 600 Washington Street, 407 Charles Street and 706 Lincoln Terrace-Ed Kinnamon read the following bids:

  • Wheatley Brothers (Cambridge) - $21,050
  • Eastern Shore Paving, Inc. - $20,788
  • Bennett Construction (Fruitland) - $24,925
  • Jerol Moore Landscaping (Cambridge) - $20,975
  • BBJBC Inc. trading as Beechum Brothers Construction (Eden) - $21,200
  • A to Z Environmental Group (Joppa) - $23,200

Commissioner Watkins made a motion to refer the bids to the Housing Department for their review.  Commissioner Travers seconded it.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Open Bids for Furnishing and Maintaining Dumpster-Type Containers and Refuse Removal at Various Locations-One bid from BFI Waste Systems (Felton, DE) was received in the amount of $6,835 for the first year and $7,040 for the second year.  David Pritchett said this is funded in part for nine months of the year by the Department of Natural Resources for the boating public.  The dumpsters are placed at Franklin Street, Long Wharf, and Great Marsh.   Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to refer the bid to DPW for their recommendation.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded it.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Open Bids for Furnishing and Placing Approximately 2,900 Tons of 1½" Thick Bituminous Concrete Overlay on Existing Streets-Ed Kinnamon read bids from:

  • Joint Venture American Paving/Kary Asphalt (Salisbury) -$119,577
  • PA Engineering Company Inc. (Delmar, DE) -$135,670
  • Eastern Shore Paving (East New Market) -$139,160
  • David Bramble (Chestertown) -$140,850
  • IA Construction (Delmar, MD) -$127,000

Commissioner Travers made a motion to refer the bids to DPW for their recommendation. Commissioner Watkins seconded it.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Request to Jenkins Creek Subdivision Property Owners to Request Growth Allocation for Redesignation as Intensely Developed Area (IDA)-Jim Michael said they have received two requests for variances specific to the Jenkins Creek subdivision.  When the subdivision was platted, there was a large street  placed into the property.  Within that requirement it put a constraint on the amount of impervious surface as permitted on each lot.  Because most of the lots are in the process of being built-out, some are at their maximum or exceeded their maximum, thus requiring a variance.  The comments back from the Critical Areas Commission and our Planner have suggested that rather than continuing going through this process to require variances which will ultimately be challenged by the Critical Area Commission, it is their feeling that the best course to take is to proceed with changing the Critical Area Designation from Limited Development Area to the more Intensely Developed Area.  It would nullify the issue of impervious surface but it should require stormwater management issues to be taken in place. 

Jim Michael recommended sending the property owners letters notifying the residents that the City wishes to proceed with this change in classification.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to honor this recommendation.  Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.  

Approve PO 2188 (Graves Uniforms) for CPD-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve PO 2188.  Commissioner Watkins seconded it.  The motion was passed unanimously.

First Reading of Ordinance to Amend Section 12-6 of the City Code-Rob Collison said the amendment would be to the gambling section.   There is some confusion in the City Code.  Presently Section 12-6 outlaws all types of gaming devices.  Obviously, some kinds of gaming devices like Lotto and Keno, etc. are permitted because the State law permits them.  The City cannot go against the State law.  This is clarifying that the City is only prohibiting gaming devices which are prohibited by the State.

Mayor to Present FY2003 Budget-The Commissioners were presented with copies of the budget.   The topic of next week's work session will be the budget with the departments making their presentations at that time. 

Mayor Rippons also announced that there will be considerations at the work session as they relate to the Arundel site.  Rob Collison said the developer of the Arundel site is asking the City to consider relinquishing certain City properties in exchange for certain development aspects the developer would provide to the City.  The City would relinquish as a public street the section of Trenton Street from Cedar Street up to Green Street and also the railroad bed between Green Street and Cedar Street.  In exchange for that, the developer would create a river walk constructed to current City code under the PWCD which would be a minimum of 10 feet in width constructed of brick or brick pavers.  It would run the entire length of the property along the waterfront.  They would also construct a municipal parking lot on Green Street for public parking.  The City would also give up future development of several paper streets that have never been improved.  The developer has also asked for a long-term lease on a portion, if any all, of the slips on Trenton Street. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

David Pritchett said the Community Clean-Up began in the First Ward last week.  Public Works removed 7 tons of trash and 14 tires.  This cost the City $325 which is well worth it.  Commissioner Atkinson announced that the Second Ward Clean-Up will be this Saturday.  He asked the Commissioners to call Jim Michael if they see any old cars that should be removed.  Commissioner Watkins encouraged everyone from the Second Ward to participate in Clean-Up Week this Saturday.  Commissioner Bohlen thanked the Department of Public Works for the wonderful job this past Saturday.  The neighbors complimented him on how courteous and helpful the employees were.

Ed Kinnamon said regarding the proposed budget for FY 2003, he has some figures he wishes to reveal.  The General Fund preliminary budget figures are $9,631,591.  The expected revenues are $7,962,182.  We are $1,669,409 short of expected revenues. 

Commissioner Weldon said he met with the Osprey Development folks who will be developing the Cambridge Park Apartments. Groundbreaking is scheduled for early June. 

Commissioner Bohlen said about two weeks ago they discussed the per diem rate the Federal Government charges for Federal employees staying in the area.  We are at the lowest rate possible.  Mayor Rippons informed him that Representative Gilchrest's Annapolis office said a change is in the works and they have all the information they need.  Further information will be published in the Federal Register in August.

Mayor Rippons announced that the Economic Development Committee will be meeting soon.   An invitation will be extended to Betty Causey (Dorchester County) and Vernon Thompson (DBED) for the initial meeting. 

Mayor Rippons said a meeting will be held with the Pine Street Committee on April 11 at the Dorchester Elks at 7:00 pm.  Commissioner Watkins, Mayor Rippons, and Commissioner Travers will represent the City at the meeting. 

Sylvia Basquez from Schoolhouse Lane is concerned because the houses are condemned.  They do not have enough time to pack within the 30-day limit placed on them and they have no place to go.  (Someone from the audience added also Chesapeake Court).  Jim Michael said they have met with the property owner and the supervisor of the property at least twice.  They have issued condemnation orders on several properties and demolitions orders on some vacant properties.  They are trying to work with Mr. Middlebrooks as far as allowing him to continue to remedy the situation.  That is why condemnations orders, not demolition orders, were issued on some of the properties.  They work individually with tenants as they are in the process of moving.  He asked Ms. Basquez to work with Mr. Harris or Mr. McCray on this process.   They don't intentionally want to move everybody out; they want the properties to be brought up to standards.  Extensions may be given if the 30-day notice is not sufficient time for residents to move. 

William Jackson said the citizens of Schoolhouse Lane and Chesapeake Court contacted him about their situation.  They really need to be advised of the law because these people are paying rent every week on houses that are substandard.  The landlord had some inkling that this was coming about.  He feels we need to have a procedure where the tenants are made aware of these situations.  Rob Collison said legally the requirement is to the property owner.  If Council desires, a copy could be mailed to the property address.  Jim Michael said they will try to work with the tenants as long as it is practical until they find other housing.  Mr. Jackson asked if there are any grants available through the City so the tenants can purchase the houses and rehab them.  Jim Michael said he didn't think so on a short term with these particular properties.  On a long term it may be a possibility through some of the existing special loans programs that the State currently has but typically they work with properties that are up to code.

Commissioner Watkins said the City needs to look into the possibility of getting grants to build decent housing for low-income people.  That area has been in bad shape for a long time.  Commissioner Weldon said there is a Federal Hope 6 program which is a major housing grant that comes from the Federal government.  This is the program Baltimore used when they tore down all the high-rises and built the low-rise housing.  He said Dorchester County is the only subdivision in the State that does not have a housing office that funnels State programs to people who need them.  Mayor Rippons said the City will continue to use all interests we have in the City grants department to continue to strive to reach this.  William Jackson would like the inspectors to go door-to-door to talk to the tenants.  Jim Michael will follow-up with this suggestion.

Commissioner Atkinson said the City had a meeting a couple of weeks ago with the County concerning the airport.  The press covered it very well.  The attorneys are drawing up a Memorandum of Understanding. 

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 9:10 p.m.  I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, April 8, 2002, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer