City Council Minutes
May 13, 2002
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, May 13, 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, Weldon, Atkinson, and Travers. Commissioner Watkins was absent.
Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Atkinson led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the May 6, 2002 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Proclamation for Safe Boating Week-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to John Lease, Commander of the Cambridge Power & Sail Squadron. Mr. Lease said they are going to focus on training young people to help and protect themselves in the water. Their kick-off celebration will be on May 18, 2002 at Great Marsh Park.
Proclamation for Celebrate Senior Citizens Month-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation and Mayor Rippons signed it. The proclamation will be sent to Pleasant Day Medical Adult Day Care Center.
Bruce McWilliams to Discuss the Seafood Feast-I-Val-The 22nd Annual Seafood Feast-I-Val ended with a moderate profit despite bad weather, no buses, and high crab prices. For 2002, things are very well underway. A website is now available with links to the City, the County, Tourism, and other agencies. At this point, four buses will be coming with the possibility of two more. The Committee is asking for verbal backing by the City the way they have in the past. They are looking forward to continuing the Feast-I-Val for at least a couple more years. He thanked the Council for their support over the last few years. Mayor Rippons thanked the Committee for their work and said the City would continue their support.
Planning Commission-Jim Michael reported that the Planning Commission met on May 7, 2002, and discussed the following items:
Rev. J. J. Green's Crusade, Inc., McBride Street, Subdivision Request-The Commission unanimously voted to make a favorable recommendation to approve the preliminary subdivision request off of Maces Lane on Parkway and McBride Street. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the recommendation. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Ben & Kristi Krewson, 400 Academy Street-The Commission unanimously voted to make a favorable recommendation to approve the construction of a deck and concrete pad for a walk-in cooler. The building permit will be issued.
Heritage Tourism-The Commission unanimously voted to make a favorable recommendation to proceed with the process of the addition to the City's Comprehensive Plan. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to accept the recommendation. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Decision on Glasgow Street Curb and Sidewalk Improvements-Rob Collison reported that a public comment session was held last week. In order to do the final ordinance, Council will have to decide how to access any costs associated with the property owners. The exact amount will be determined after the successful bid is accepted. Ed Kinnamon said the expense could be entered into the City books as a receivable and eventually would be a lien if it were not paid on time. Other curb and gutter assessments were not collected immediately. They were finally collected through aggressive action.
Commissioner Weldon made a motion that the City proceed with the project and at the advice of the Attorney and Clerk Treasurer, set the accounts up in such a way that the property owners can have a period of up to three years with a nominal interest rate (which he will ask the Treasurer to recommend), to enable the owners to cooperate with the City without having a negative impact on their own personal expenses. Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion. Commissioner Weldon said he, George Hyde, and Dale Price met with some of the property owners on Friday. George Hyde pointed out where the work would take place and they discussed how it would take place. He thinks the neighbors were satisfied with the nature of the work and feels it would be equitable on the part of the City to establish a plan that allows them to take a couple of years at a minimal interest rate to pay off the obligation. The motion passed unanimously.
Discuss Christ Rock Annexation / Grant Process-Jim Michael reported that the City has been looking at the issue of annexation for the immediate area around Christ Rock (Rock Drive). While he was looking into grant applications, he discovered that it did not meet the appropriate water and sewer plan designation in order to expand and get Federal and State money. The preliminary part of this has been accomplished on the local level and submitted to the State. In his discussion with CDBG they have informed him that in order to grant any funding, the area would first have to be annexed. He is in the process of submitting a pre-application to MDE. MDE's planner said it is at least 1½ years time lag for any funding. Community Development Block Grant applications are due July 1, 2002.
Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to proceed as quickly as possible for the annexation and have Jim Michael prepare the grant application. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. Commissioner Bohlen questioned the time regulations for providing water and sewer to newly annexed property. Rob Collison said the City can work around trying to have it coordinated with the anticipated grant approval or selection date. In order for the City to even apply for the funding, we have to vote to approve annexation. In the event the grant funding is not given, the City would be paying for all the upgrades for infrastructure of water and sewer extension. Jim Michael said he believes if annexation is immediately impending, he thinks they would accept that. The motion was passed unanimously.
Salvage Yard Fencing on Washington Street-Jim Michael reported the applicant had requested an ordinance under the I-2 zoning to permit a salvage yard. The ordinance was passed with a requirement that the yard be surrounded by a fence not less than 6-feet in height in which any openings do not exceed 50 percent of the total fenced area. The applicant does not want to screen the entire area. He has a fence that meets the requirements but the issue is the screening. Rob Collison said it appears that the request is for a variance of the strict requirement of the screening. He will research this further and strongly recommends that the surrounding property owners be notified before a decision is rendered. Mr. Windsor from 5W Towing said he is surrounded by warehouses on two sides. He has no problem with screening the Washington Street side. If you leave the side where they have the gate, it would give the City police access to ride through to keep an eye on the lot. People are jumping the fence now. Mayor Rippons asked the Commissioners to drive by the site to view it before they make any decisions.
Request from Ted Bramble to Put a Hot Dog Cart on the Grass Lot on Cedar Street Next to Heckler's-Ted Bramble came to Council six months ago asking to put a hot dog cart on Cedar Street. The landlord at the location he had chosen would not renew the lease. He has received permission from Mark Marshall of Heckler's to use the grass lot, which has plenty of parking and would not interfere with the traffic. Rob Collison said his recollection was that Mr. Bramble was given permission for a 30-day period under the trailer definition in the Code. Otherwise, the City would need a text amendment proposed for these types of uses. He suggested coming up with a definition of "cart" or "vendor exhibit" that would apply to this as well as any other seasonal business as a produce stand, etc. that is not a typical trailer. Right now, Council could grant a 30-day use for commercial purposes until a text amendment is completed.
Jim Michael said there are two sections of the City Code. One is under Section 8 "Health and Sanitation" which deals with trailers. The other is under the zoning ordinance under "Special Uses" which applies to temporary uses. Rob Collison said they need to clarify the definition of "trailer". It could apply under a seasonal special exception. Mr. Bramble could apply for a special exception for a seasonal business at that location and could proceed immediately through the Planning and Zoning Office. In the meantime, Council could work out the logistics and the technicalities on the definition of a trailer. His recommendation would be that Mr. Bramble apply for a special exception for a seasonal business. This would come before the Board of Zoning Appeals. Their next hearing will be on May 28.
Request from Delaware Valley Development Company for Letter of Support and Contribution for Their Proposed Apartment Community on Woods Road-Mayor Rippons said when these developments are built, the City usually has to come up with in-kind services. As they reviewed what the City could conceivably do at the least cost, instead of the City providing services, they could cut the water connection fee in half. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to authorize the Mayor's signature on a letter outlining this contribution. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from Sharon Wilson of Vision's America to Use Both Pavilions at Great Marsh Park on August 24, 2002 for a Community Block Party-Commissioner Weldon made a motion to support this request. Commissioner Travers seconded it. Ed Kinnamon will notify Ms. Wilson in writing that she must supply lavatory facilities at the park at her cost. If a noise variance is needed, she must request it in writing. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from Johnny Johnson (1100 Maces Lane) for the City to Abandon the "Paper Street" Boundary Avenue Extended-David Pritchett said DPW has no problem with abandoning this paper street. There is no prospect for anything that would affect the City in future development in that area. Rob Collison said there are no City right-of-ways for utilities needed on this particular property. The property owner will realize that if they ever want to subdivide the property, they would have to re-dedicate it and have it to City standards. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Purchase Order 2361 to Verizon for $11,500 (DPW)-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Atkinson seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Bohlen attended the Delmarva Firemen's Convention this weekend at Sailwinds. He said it was good to see people from all over the peninsula enjoying the City of Cambridge. He also enjoyed the Family Youth Festival on Race Street on Saturday.
Commissioner Bohlen said after their discussion on the Humane Society last week, there was some information in the media that he would like to clarify. Under the Cambridge Charter (Section 3-21) concerning the Mayor, Section "g" states the Mayor shall prepare or have prepared on his behalf, a budget which he shall submit to the Commissioners. The Mayor shall be responsible for the administration of the budget as adopted by the Commissioners. The second part he wanted to share is under Section 3-27, Powers Listed, No. (1) General Powers, states the Commissioners shall have the power to pass ordinances, to levy, assess, and collect property taxes, to expend municipal funds for any public purposes, and to have general management and control of the finances of the town.
Commissioner Weldon said in the Maryland Municipal League Bulletin is an article regarding infrastructure financing. This is a bond program through the Department of Housing and Community Development. There is a round coming up with a filing deadline of June 14. He would like to ask Jim Michael to review this program.
Commissioner Weldon said in his discussions with the neighbors on Glasgow Street regarding the curb and gutter project, it was very refreshing to have an exchange with the citizens. They were very concerned at first, but as they talked through the issues, they came to some good solutions. He asked Mr. Hyde to look at the project in terms of potentially in the future being an opportunity to underground some of the utilities. As undergrounding becomes a priority at the State level, then we will already have some of it worked on.
Commissioner Weldon is working on developing a program on incentive taxation. This would look at our tax code in such a way that it would have as many karats as it does sticks. One process he looked at is two-tier property taxes. Properties that are abandoned, rundown, or vacant are taxed at a much higher level than properties that are in use and functioning as part of our economy. This would encourage slum landlords to tear their houses down before the City does.
Commissioner Weldon shares Commissioner Bohlen's concern regarding the City Charter and the responsibilities of the Council. They all represent the City of Cambridge.
David Pritchett received a request for the Traffic and Safety Committee to review a possible four-way stop sign at Hambrooks and Choptank.
Commissioner Atkinson thanked the citizens for their cooperation in Clean-Up Week. The City hauled 100 tons of junk to the landfill in the three clean-ups. David Pritchett added that the County is assisting on the fees.
Chief Malik said Wednesday, May 15th, is National Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor the police officers who have fallen in the line of duty and by executive order, the flags will be at half-mast on that day.
Mayor Rippons said he attended all of the Firemen's Convention activities this weekend. The compliments and statements made by the people spoke well of the City. He reported that Hyatt will be holding an open house for the media and Council on Wednesday.
Next week there will be an announcement as it relates to moving forward with the public safety building. Everything is in place and they would like to receive public comment during the Council meeting on May 20th.
Clemon Cephas Jr. (627 Douglas Street) said the City bought the field in back of his house and it is taller than him. He has been cutting it but his brother had to pay a fine for not cleaning up his yard. David Pritchett said he will look into this tomorrow. Mr. Cephas would like to know who will pay back the money his brother paid out. Commissioner Weldon said David will find out if this is a City lot and if it is, he will find out why it isn't being cut down.
Gage Thomas, 1502 Race Street, said he has a client who is ready to settle on 726 Glasgow Street. He asked for clarification on the payment terms for the curb and gutter. Mayor Rippons said there would be three installments during that time.
Gage Thomas asked about the value of the in-kind services for the Delaware Valley Development Company. Mayor Rippons responded that it would amount to a little over $13,000.
Gage Thomas said that last week the County determined that they could put anywhere from 10 to 28 boat slips at Trenton Street. He suggested working out a partnership with the County. The City made an agreement with Deep Harbour but there is a problem finding 28 slips somewhere else.
Wendell Foxwell, 413 Glenburn Avenue, asked if something could be done with the old bike shop on Race Street. The front window is full of lumber and buckets and doesn't look good. He suggested flowers or a curtain. He also said on Hambrooks Boulevard between Willis Street and West End Avenue the old Sheets building has broken panes of glass. Commissioner Bohlen said he and Jim Michael have had numerous discussions on that property and are working on it.
Mayor Rippons requested a motion to go into executive session to discuss a legal matter. Commissioner Atkinson made the motion. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:05 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, May 13, 2002, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer