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  • 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

May 6, 2002
 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, May 6, 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 April 22, 2002 Council meeting as distributed.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.    Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the April 29, 2002 Council meeting as distributed.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.   

COMMITTEE REPORTS

Historic Preservation Commission--Commissioner Bohlen reported that the Historic Preservation Commission met on April 18, 2002, and heard the following cases:

  • Steven Vondenbosch and Greg Vandevisser (447 Race St.) requested permission to hang a sign in front of their building for their graphic design company. The request was passed unanimously.
  • Ted and Bonnie Abbott (11 Willis St.) requested permission to install a 6-ft stockade privacy fence for their rear yard. The request was passed unanimously.
  • Norman Eckels (314 Belvedere Ave.) requested permission to install a post lamp on his property. The request was passed unanimously.

Traffic & Safety--Commissioner Watkins reported that the Traffic & Safety Committee met on May 2, 2002, to discuss the following issue:

  • Consideration to abandon Truck Route 341 from the detour through Goodwill Avenue, Boundary Avenue, and Stone Boundary Road. This truck route was established in the 1980s to decrease wear and tear on State Roads 343 (Washington St.) and 341 (Race St.). As a result of the State Highway Administration's refusal to assist in the maintenance of the affected roads, the Committee made the recommendation to remove the current business route signs immediately and divert all truck traffic onto State maintained Washington and Race Streets. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to accept this recommendation. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Rob Collison said the motion is only to eliminate the roads as an official truck route. No weight limitations are stated at this time. The motion was passed unanimously.

PUBLIC COMMENT SESSION

Proposal to Construct Curb, Gutter, and Sidewalk Improvements to Certain Areas of Glasgow Street-On March 25, 2002, Council adopted Resolution No. 02-003 pursuant to several sections of the City Charter, particularly Section 3-29 regarding improvements to City streets.  It sets forth certain improvements that are proposed to be completed on portions of Glasgow Street.  Rob Collison read a list of the properties this would affect.  The purpose of the public session is to hear any comments with regard to the proposed improvements.  As set forth in the notice that was published in the Daily Banner on two successive weeks, it sets forth the total cost to each property at half that being borne by the property owner and the other half borne by the City.  In addition to that the City is incurring about $40,000 in additional expenses for the drainage and other improvements to this area.  As set forth in Section 3-29 of the Charter, this is within the discretion of the Council as to the need and the imposition of these costs.  The property owners did not make the request; the City initiated it. 

Weldon Andrews (806 Locust) would like to say from his part, he thinks it would enhance Glasgow Street if the curb and sidewalk would be put there.  He asked if assessing the homeowner for half the cost was the usual procedure to follow.  Rob Collison said the City Charter provides for the division as set forth here.  There is another section of the Code that states if you have existing sidewalks, you will be responsible for 100 percent of any reconstruction.   Mr. Andrews said he thought the City owned the curb.  David Pritchett said it is a 50 percent shared value on installation and replacement.  Mr. Andrews is also concerned that the street at that part is very narrow and there are driveway entrances.  David Pritchett said they will still have their driveways.  One of the biggest obstructions is the utility poles and they are getting moved.  Mr. Andrews said while none of them like to see any addition costs come their way, for his part, it would beautify that area.

Elizabeth Temple (720 Glasgow) is concerned about the amount of property the City is going to take to put in the new sidewalk.  David Pritchett said they really are not taking any of the property.  They are using the right-of-way and easement that the City currently has access to which is the area where the sidewalk will go and the utility poles will be moved to.  They won't be going up into the yards.  David Pritchett said the road only gets widened by alteration.  The area that bounds the homeowner's property has a right-of-way that the City can use for utilities, access, sidewalk, etc.  Right now where there is deteriorated sidewalk or no sidewalk, it would simply be putting the sidewalk in that location.  The right-of-way extends a little beyond that portion.  The road width will be 24 feet and the sidewalk will be 4 feet just on the south side (not on the north side).  Ms. Temple asked if they had the option to do their own sidewalk.  Rob Collison said anyone who wishes to have their sidewalk done by a private contractor would need to get with the Department of Public Works and have everyone in line so it is done at the same time and it would have to be extremely well coordinated.  David Pritchett said the only way to get the project completed and looking uniform is to do it all at the same time.  If several contractors came in, you would have a different look.  Ms. Temple would prefer a brick sidewalk like her neighbor has.  David Pritchett said there is a City standard that has to be adhered to. 

David Pritchett said the sidewalk, curb, and gutter will be bid at the same time.  Commissioner Atkinson said if you come down from High Street to Short Street you will basically have the same amount of space that you have now.  In answer to Ms. Temple's question about people parking on the sidewalk, David Pritchett said when they elevate it 6 inches with the curbing, it should alleviate parking on the sidewalk.  If not, it can be legally enforced.  

Commissioner Weldon said the sidewalk and curb and gutter are being installed simultaneously under the same contract and the City is paying half of that cost including the sidewalk.  If someone was to independently get a sidewalk contractor to install a sidewalk, they would bear 100 percent of the cost.  Working through this process, the unit cost per square foot of sidewalk is going to be lower because the City is doing so many plus paying for half of it.  Generally speaking, it is the most economical way to approach the project. 

Daryl Doman (706 Glasgow) is not real happy about getting a sidewalk when he already has a sidewalk and he did not see anything about competitive bids.  He does construction work and the prices look pretty high to him.  David Pritchett said the prices are estimates based on $15 per lineal foot.  Rob Collison said if the Commissioners approve the ordinance, they will begin the process of going to bid which is required by the City. Mr. Doman said there are pink marks on his driveway and wanted to know if he can assume this will be the edge of the sidewalk because it goes into his yard about 2 feet.  David Pritchett said everything is in the right-of-way.  He will gladly meet with anyone personally at his or her property to discuss this further.  Rob Collison said for clarification, the right-of-way area may currently go into the grass area of their yards on a case-by-case basis.  David Pritchett said in some of the areas, the area has been infringed on even beyond the sidewalk or what is left of the sidewalk, and they won't notice a difference. 

Kay McComas (710 Locust) is 100 percent against this.  Her property is all grass right up to the edge of the street.  She parks in her back property between the street and where her chain link fence is.  This is about 8 feet.  The curb will have to be recessed on both sides so she can drive up over a curb into her parking space which is grass.  David Pritchett said the she will have to request a depressed curb.  It will not be the 6-inch high type.  The reason they have to put the curbing in is the drainage issue.  That area has a standing water problem.  Ms. McComas said the road tips down into her yard and there is no drainage on the road where she lives.  It just lays in her yard and she doesn't have a problem with it.  She also said she was told if she doesn't pay her half, they will put a lien on her house.  Rob Collison said the Charter provides that with this advertisement of the assessment if the Council decides to go forward with it and there is a cost for the property owner, you have a period of time to pay it.  Ms. McComas said she doesn't want it to pay for it because she doesn't want it.  In 1990 she got a letter from the City saying her front sidewalk was tore up.  The City was going to repair the curb and they had to pay for the sidewalk.  Rob Collison said the Charter on new construction requires a 50/50 split.  If the property owner does not pay it, it would become a lien on the property.  If you ever went to refinance or sell the property, you would have to pay it with interest. 

Stephanie McComas (710 Locust) is speaking on behalf of Hazel Holley.  She asked how long the project would take and when it would begin. Mayor Rippons said if Council approves it, DPW will go to bid.  David Pritchett said the total construction part of it beginning with the survey work and actually getting in and doing the construction would around a 6‑ to 8‑week time frame.

Commissioner Weldon said if the concern is about living through the work and the cost of the work, he lives on Mill Street right in the middle of the sewer separation project that went on for the last year and he thinks his neighbors will all attest to the ability of the Department of Public Works to work with each individual with situations they need addressed.  He was disappointed that the property owners on Vue de Leau, William, and Mill Streets chose not to get the curbing done.  He was ready to chip in and now he has old ratty curb on a nice new street.  There is a little cost involved but the improvements to the street are going to be reflected in the value of the homes.  This will impact every neighborhood in the City at one time or another. 

Annita Young (704 Glasgow) said her property was originally part of two properties.  Her deed has not been changed. Mr. Kinnamon told her they got the measurements from the deeds.  She would like that to be accounted for.  They have charged her more than anybody else on either street.  Rob Collison will review this. 

Christine Williams (802 Locust) asked what the City plans to do once they put in the gutter and sidewalk.  Her property is level to the street.  The sidewalk will come up 6 inches above her backyard.  David Pritchett said the street will be milled down so it won't be so much of an issue of building up on the sides, it's a matter of bringing the street down and installing the proper drainage and gutter plans and correcting it that way.  It will drain properly when completed. 

Leroy McComas (710 Locust) said we live in supposedly a republic where a majority rules.  The City of Cambridge wants to do this.   There were approximately 23 names listed in the Daily Banner and they found two, possibly three, people who are for this.  At the same time they found 12 other people who were totally against it because of the money.  He said if we do live in a true representative government in the City of Cambridge and 12 out of 23 people who do not want it because of financial reasons, that tells him that the City of Cambridge is going to get their way with it whether the people want it or not.  He said there is no water drainage problem on Glasgow.  There are two drainage ditches behind Bay Country Bible Church, which take the drainage out.  David Pritchett said there are problems with drainage.  As far as the democracy part, anybody who lives inside a City limit come in knowing there is a code of laws that the City has adopted.  This is being exercised fully within the code of laws.  These areas are guaranteed by law to be a public access area in that the City is responsible for the safety and meeting the livability code that is set by the State, Federal, MDE, and EPA.  In doing this we do have issues along Glasgow Street.  We are not allowed by law to have standing water so the City does have a responsibility to address this issue. 

Commissioner Bohlen said this affects everyone who lives in the City of Cambridge who wishes to walk on the sidewalks.  The half the City is paying is coming from everyone to improve this public way.  This is not just a whim for beautification; there are serious issues here such as water drainage.  It's a health and safety issue. 

Weldon Andrews is certainly sorry for the contention that is here tonight.  He has to believe this is important.  He knows there is a need for a sidewalk that is higher than the brick one is now.  It lays underway.  He is doing all he can to beautify his house and property.  It's also a safety issue.  He feels it is a democracy but it is also a republic which means a few people make a decision for the best of everybody.  That's why we have elected officials.  

Commissioner Atkinson said he rides down Glasgow Street every Sunday morning between 9:00 am and 9:30 am.  Particularly when it rains, he sees people walking in the street.  What little sidewalk there is, is under water and cars are parked every place. He is a member of Zion Church and when school starts late, 18 kids come up that street to get the bus at Zion.  He would hate to vote against this project and have a child killed.  He is going to vote for the sidewalk and drainage.   It's for the good of everybody-not just the children.  It's a drainage and safety issue. 

Commissioner Weldon said most of the properties involved are in his ward and he thinks it's an important project to complete.  He is concerned about the safety issue.  From the health side of it, mosquitoes will breed in a bottle cap full of water.  If we have puddles 6 and 10 feet in diameter, we've got a health issue.  Commissioner Bohlen said when it rains, it is hazardous on Glasgow Street. 

Rob Collison suggested taking a vote next week to give thought as to the amount of interest, if any, Council wishes to assess if payment is not received in a certain period of time divided over the years, or if they want the entire amount the year it is incurred.   He will provide Council with options.  Mayor Rippons asked the Commissioners to be ready to vote on this next week.      

APPOINTMENTS

Representatives from Delmarva Community Services to Receive Proclamation for Older Americans Month-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation and Mayor Rippons signed it.  Commissioner Watkins presented it to Michael Foster and Henrietta Dashiell.  Mr. Foster invited the Council to their celebration on May 8th.

Representatives from The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks to Receive Proclamation for Youth Week- Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation and Mayor Rippons signed it.  Commissioner Weldon presented it to Dottie Enders.  The Elks participate in soccer shoots and hoop shoots, and they are trying to get a golf program underway for the youth.  They appreciate the City joining with them in celebrating the youth of our community.

Representatives from Cambridge Police Department to Receive Proclamation for National Police Week- Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation and Mayor Rippons signed it.  Commissioner Travers presented it to Chief Kenneth Malik.  Chief Malik thanked the Mayor and Commissioners for the support they have given over the years to the Cambridge Police Department.  May 15th is National Police Officers Memorial Day to honor those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.  Fortunately we have not had one for a long time but Daniel Bier, an officer of the Cambridge Police Department, died in the line of duty in 1953. 

Representatives from Relay for Life to Receive Proclamation for Dorchester County Relay For Life Days and to Request Noise Variance for May 17 and 18, 2002- Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation and Mayor Rippons signed it.  Commissioner Bohlen presented it to Gail Skinner and Pat Bridges.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to grant a noise variance for Relay for Life.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded it.  The motion was passed unanimously. Gail Skinner said this is their 6th Relay for Life.  The fundraiser for the American Cancer Society is a celebration of life. The opening ceremonies will start on May 17th at 6:00 pm at Cambridge South Dorchester High School.  Forty teams will be participating this year.  Last year Dorchester County raised $145,000. 

R. Shelby Clendaniel to Request Noise Variance for an End of the Year Concert/Picnic at Spring Valley on June 1, 2002 from 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm for 4th and 5th Grade Band, Parents, Relatives, and Friends-Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to grant the request for the noise variance.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  Dorchester County has granted Mr. Clendaniel permission to use Spring Valley for the event.  The motion passed unanimously. 

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Request from The Groove City Finest for a Noise Variance to Practice at the Salvation Army Property on Goodwill Avenue Every Day From 4:00 pm Until 6:00 pm and Before a Parade Until 8:00 pm Until the End of the Year-Anya Tillery said they moved from the Salvation Army parking lot to the big grass field.      She said it is part of the Salvation Army and fenced in where the basketball courts are located.  She did not provide a letter of permission as requested last week and said Salvation Army told her she would have to get insurance to use the parking lot but they cannot afford insurance.

William Asplen (Washington St.) said the music is too loud when they practice on the parking lot.  Richard Barlow, representing his father-in-law, Charles Todd who lives across from Kool Ice, said the noise is driving him crazy.  Mary Lowe lives right across from the Salvation Army.  The other week she thought a parade was coming down the street.  If they practice on the back field, she thinks it would be a lot better.  Ms. Tillery said now they are practicing in her backyard with a radio.  Commissioner Atkinson said he has had two complaints about her radio.   Allen Malone (Washington St.) loves music but keeps it in his own car or house.  He doesn't see why the ordinance should be changed for a private band to practice every day.  Gage Thomas (Washington St.) thinks it would be more acceptable if the practice was on a limited basis, like one day a week. Ms. Tillery said the Elks Home on Pine Street gave them permission to use their backyard if it was a problem with them using the Salvation Army field.  She can cut down the practice from five days a week to three days a week.  Right now they have a performance on Saturday and they have not practiced with the drummers.  Commissioner Travers has had several calls about the noise from the cars at the car wash and he is very concerned.  If they only practice a couple days a week toward the back, it might not be such a problem. 

Commissioner Atkinson suggested the K-Mart parking lot.  He said they have to stop practicing in Ms.Tillery's backyard because they are annoying people, even in his ward.  Practice has to be moved away from houses.  Christine Barlow, representing Charles and Gloria Todd, said her father suffers from severe migraine headaches and the drums gives him one.  She said her father wanted to come but he was too upset.  Commissioner Bohlen offered to talk to the necessary people to ask permission for the group to practice in the Vo-Tech parking lot. 

Commissioner Weldon made a motion to grant a noise variance for Tuesday and Friday nights this week only from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm at the far end of the Salvation Army field because they have an event this Saturday.  This would be contingent on receiving written permission from the Salvation Army.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. Commissioner Weldon asked the neighbors to let them know how this week works out.  The motion passed 4:1 with Commissioner Travers opposed.

Consider Adoption of Resolution for Certification of the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to adopt the resolution.  Commissioner Travers seconded it.  The motion passed unanimously.  Commissioner Weldon said he appreciates Council's support of this project.

NEW BUSINESS

Council to Review and Approve Changes to the Employee Manual-Mayor Rippons said one of the considerations relates to the Police Board.  He asked Council to read it and refer any questions to Mr. Wheeler.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the outlined changes.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Commissioner Travers said he must have the cleanest ward in the City because of they had the smallest amount of trash removed during Clean-Up Week. 

Commissioner Atkinson reported that Cambridge just finished their Spring Clean-Up and 40.64 tons of junk was taken to the landfill.  This brings a total of what was carried out during three clean-ups to about 90 tons.  He thinks its great.  They also took 217 tires to the dump. 

Last week Council appointed Commissioner Atkinson to work with Rob Collison to try to come to an equitable solution with the Humane Society.  They met with Mrs. Spicer, the acting chairman and Mr. Gunby, their attorney, this past Thursday.  They didn't come to any great conclusions to resolve the present issue.  Mr. Collison and Mr. Gunby are going to set up a meeting with the County and the other municipalities to come to an agreement for next year (July 1).  Commissioner Atkinson said they have a dilemma now.  He presented a few things to Mr. Gunby and lost on all issues.  The Humane Society is incorporated under the laws of Maryland as a private non-profit organization.  The main purpose of the society, as their charter states, is to provide an effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout Dorchester County and to carry humane education in all possible ways into the schools and houses among the people of the County.  Commissioner Atkinson contends that they are not doing it.  Mr. Gunby told him if they went to court, they would lose.   The problem is that we do not have an ordinance that applies to the entire County.  We have a very strict ordinance in Cambridge but some parts of the County don't have any ordinance.  The property owners of Cambridge are facing double taxation on this issue.  The primary sponsor for dollars for the Humane Society is Dorchester County.  The secondary sponsor is Cambridge.  The other municipalities don't pay anything.  He can see in a way the Humane Society's point that since that there was money in the budget for this year, they expected to get paid.  The City appropriated $22,000 which they probably should not have done.  They have requested funds from July 1, 2001 through April 19, 2002 when they stopped providing services to the City of Cambridge.  He heard that the police were chasing dogs.  He doesn't think they should be doing this because they are not trained for it.  In view of the conflict, he is asking that Rob Collison research the other municipalities in the County and what the Code of the County is and also to research how the Humane Societies of Talbot and Wicomico Counties are funded.  For the rest of this year, Commissioner Atkinson made a motion that Cambridge pay the Humane Society the funds through April 19, 2002 and pay them for the rest of this fiscal year from the time they start their services again.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.

Mayor Rippons said in difference to Commissioner Atkinson's statement and statements that have been repeatedly out in public about the things the Mayor is doing, the Mayor is the Chief Fiscal Officer for the City.  He is the one to ask the question about where expenses are allocated and the services that are received.  In looking at the budget and the needs of our safety forces, he thinks it is consistent with asking and requesting (since July of last year) a statement.  The ordinance from Hurlock is very stringent.  They have a resolution where the Humane Society came in and recommended using the City of Cambridge as a prototype.  The Humane Society doesn't ask for money from any municipality but Cambridge.  As Chief Fiscal Officer of the City of Cambridge, Mayor Rippons finds this hard to rationalize.   All they have requested from last July has been a statement showing what the Humane Society does in addition to the base plan.  The City will pay for those services.  At the budget hearing they heard two considerations.  There were nine times that they responded to one of the City's ordinances.  She did not know how many times with the other relevant issue and never got back to the City with the number.  Mayor Rippons said the relevant issue is before the Commissioners have the matter to a vote, do they take into concept the inequity that has been placed on the City residents? 

Commissioner Atkinson said last year Council should have taken this issue and got it straightened out before funds were allocated.  Council was wrong in allocating funds.   Mayor Rippons said funds are allocated so should the need arise and become paramount that the services have been provided; the City has provided funding to take care of it.  It is an allocation not a binding contract.  The taxpayers of the City are not being treated equitably in any of these matters. Mayor Rippons called for a vote.  The motion was passed 4:0 with Commissioner Watkins abstaining. 

Commissioner Weldon asked Mr. Kraemer, who serves on the Board of the Richardson Museum, to provide additional information on the demolition they are requesting from the City of Cambridge.  Herman Kraemer said they are asking the City to remove a small building in their parking lot at 401 High Street.  They cannot bring buses through the parking lot with the two one-way streets. Commissioner Bohlen noted that the landfill tipping fees were approximately $800 and asked Mr. Kraemer to contact Dorchester County to see if they could waive the fees as an in-kind service.  David Pritchett said they can do some work there; however, being a bank, it may have a lot of re-bar and concrete.  They are always happy to do in-kind services, but they don't want to start and find out it is too much to handle or not be able to do properly.  They would like to limit it to something they can handle that would be beneficial to the Maritime Museum such as helping to finish up the site, cleaning it, grading it, taking out some concrete and maybe put some in.  If they can find another way to remove the building, it would be a lot better.  It has to be done by hand using a torch to cut off the roof.  It far exceeds the City's standard precedence for in-kind services.  Commissioner Atkinson said the City could take care of the driveway, take out concrete, put in concrete, and making it available so the buses can get in and out.  Mr. Kraemer said that would be very kind and they would appreciate it.  They are in the process of trying to obtain a contract to do the rest. 

Rob Collison said an Executive Session would be scheduled some time later this week to continue their discussion of last week.

Gage Thomas thanked Mr. Kinnamon for the letter regarding the Arundel Project and asked if there was a date chosen for a public hearing regarding Fletcher Avenue and the other streets.  Rob Collison said the hearing will be held on the first Monday in June.

Malik Churchwell is here with a concern and a sense of anger.  In the Second Ward and parts of the Third Ward there are a large number of vacant homes.   Recently he has assisted a community around the Chesapeake Court / Schoolhouse Lane area where the dwellings have been condemned.  He has spoken with Planning and Zoning, the landlords, the possible landlords, and the tenants who have nowhere to go.  There are houses but they are boarded up. His concern is to speak to the people who own those properties because children can wander in and get hurt.  He asked that the landlords be held responsible to do something about these locations.  He would like to give back to the community and make a difference.  Jim Michael said he has spoken with Malik, with Ms. Wongus, and they have been working with the tenants in this situation.   Those properties have been appealed.  Any appeal stays any action from Planning and Zoning.  He has encouraged the individuals to try to find alternative housing.  Condemnation means that the property is not suitable for human habitation.  That is why there are housing in the City already boarded up which they are systematically dealing with.  Malik said one house has been condemned since 1999.  The landlord should be held responsible to bring the house up to living standards or demolish it so it can be replaced. 

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 9:12 p.m.  I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, May 6, 2002, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer