City Council Minutes
July 29, 2002
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, July 29, 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.
Rob Collison reported that the Council met in Closed Executive Session at 5:30 pm to discuss the acquisition and financing of real estate.
Shirley McWilliams Present to Discuss Maryland Avenue Traffic and Safety-Mrs. McWilliams (404 Maryland Avenue) reported she has just had another car totaled on Maryland Avenue. The car was parked with nobody in it. Her car was hit so hard it ended up against the tree in Bob Kinnamon's yard (312 Maryland Ave.). The speed limit is 25 mph. In response to her question, Chief Malik said this street is deemed a residential street. Mrs. McWilliams would like a police officer to sit there for the next 2 days and write tickets. It was estimated that the car that hit her car was going between 75 and 85 mph. She asked the police to patrol the area at night as well as during the day. She feels they are doing a good job during the day. She asked Commissioner Watkins about the survey they did in the past about a stoplight at Dorchester Avenue. Commissioner Watkins wasn't sure. Mayor Rippons said the City's Traffic and Safety Committee will review Mrs. McWilliams' concerns. Mrs. McWilliams said she appreciates anything the Committee or Council can do. Commissioner Bohlen asked Chief Malik to review the accidents on Maryland Avenue during the past five years.
Council to Offer Decision to Require Riverwalk on All Waterfront Projects in the PWCD-Rob Collison reported that a public hearing was held last week to review this amendment to the zoning code. It amends Page 8 of the development standards within the PWCD. Presently for all new construction of waterfront projects within the PWCD that runs on Cambridge Creek, there is a riverwalk requirement for non-residential projects. This proposed amendment would delete the phrase "non-residential". Therefore, all waterfront projects must provide an unobstructed public walkway along the water. This walkway must connect at each end to walkways required on adjacent properties. This doesn't impact existing projects. It would become effective ten days from the date of passage. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to make the change to the PWCD ordinance as outlined by the Attorney. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.
Marti Tomey (100 High Street) said they are currently the only residential property on the creek at this time. She said she sees the gate at the end of the marina where the City has experienced problems with the boats. She would like to know why, if the Council is trying to make public property private, why they are trying to make private people make their property public. Commissioner Weldon said they had a discussion about that particular fence a couple of weeks ago. That fence was installed primarily because there were a couple of vandalism problems. Chief Malik gave statistics that indicate that over a period of years, it has been a very minor problem. The main reason the fence is there now is because of the deterioration in that part of the marina. It will be repaired during the next phase of the marina reconstruction. David Tomey said they are the only single family residential property on the creek at this time. He is concerned about the limitations on new developments. He asked if putting in new grass would be considered new development under the PWCD. They are required to have a landscaping permit for this. Rob Collison said it is his understanding that to come into compliance under the development standard, it would have to be a development project proposed on a new construction. If there is an existing house and they are putting on a room addition, this does not come under the definition of new development. Mr. Tomey asked if they wanted to do a $200,000 major renovation to the property, would they be subjected to this ordinance. Jim Michael said they would have to review the type of construction proposed. If they are doing a lot of renovation (interior and exterior), he doubts if it would apply to those standards. It is a case-by-case basis. If it is a major development project, it may apply. Mr. Tomey said the ordinance says any project. Rob Collison said the development standards states waterfront project. Commissioner Weldon gave the example that if they were to undertake renovations to their home like they are doing, it would not apply. If they were going to take the back half of their lot to build ten condominiums, then it would apply. Mr. Tomey said as a private residence on the piece of property, they have a public sidewalk on the front that they have known from day one when they bought the property, as do the people who have the condominiums and the other people who have bought property on the Creek. He thinks the change in this ordinance goes back and changes the intent of what they in good faith bought the property to be. Whether it's a new development, that is something they have to live with and he doesn't see a problem with it. It makes a big difference in the change of the character like Harbor Haven. If they open it up and put in a public riverwalk that is mandated by law, there is no discretion about who walks across your property. He is cordial if tourists should come down the back street and want to walk across his property; he will usually give them a little history of Cambridge and welcome them to come across. But if he has some undesirables on his property at 3:00 am and he asks them to leave, it is hard for them to back and say by law they are allowed to be there. The PWCD mandates the criteria for the riverwalk, what it is made out of, the width, the ability to maintain a fire truck access across it, etc. We don't have any riverwalks right now or walkways bordering the creek that meet the criteria of the PWCD. Commissioner Weldon said that is because they were built as part of residential projects that were exempted from it. Harbor Haven is not going to have to come back and retrofit their property to conform to the new ordinance. It is grandfathered out, as is Mr. Tomey's property. They are looking at projects such as the Arundel project, which is already proposing to include a riverwalk; the Point, and other vacant parcels around the creek that are conducive to having that amenity included. Mr. Tomey said there are some properties, for instance Snappers that came under the PWCD that did not have a riverwalk incorporated into it. Mr. Tomey asked if this is mandated by the City, does this mean the City's liability be extended to private property. Rob Collison said it would be similar to the sidewalk. The City is obligated for the inspection to make sure it is being maintained in good condition. If they adopt the same policy as the sidewalks, the property owners would be responsible for the maintenance of it. If they received a "fix and repair" notice and the repair wasn't done in a timely manner, the City would then make the repair and assess the property owner. Mr. Tomey asked if the property owner would be responsible if someone were to become injured on the riverwalk. Rob Collison said it would depend on whether the defect was known to the City or should have been know because of failure to inspect. Then the City would be responsible. If the City had know about it and sent a fix and repair order to the property owner and they ignored it, the property owner could be responsible.
Rob Collison said for clarification, if Mr. Tomey was going to be keeping his property basically for the same use but making some alterations, his understanding is that this would not apply. If he wanted to convert it from a single-family residence to a commercial inn, then he would have to go through the various zoning and permitting procedures, and it would probably apply.
Rob Collison said if the Council wishes to address these assurances, they could add the language. Commissioner Atkinson thinks they should define it more clearly. This will be discussed further next week. Commissioner Weldon withdrew his motion until next week.
Gage Thomas asked why the ordinance is not considered a taking or a condemnation. Rob Collison said they are not preventing the use of a property for any particular purpose. Setbacks exist already. He said the case law is that the municipalities or counties, through their regulatory authority and zoning authority, could argue that any zoning is a taking. If, in the comprehensive rezoning, they change the zoning classification from residential to commercial or vice versa, they might be taking someone's right to use a property a certain way. Here they are not prohibiting the use of a property; there is a setback from the water anyway. In his opinion, the case law is that it would not be a taking. Gage Thomas said it would be subject to some sort of consideration. He said there might be some properties on the Creek that may have some type of activity whereby this could restrict or limit the use of that property. This is in essence reducing its value and has some monetary consequence as Mr. Tomey brought up about the liability issues. It's not just somebody walking, but somebody could be hurt because of an activity. To avoid liability, the City may not even allow that activity to occur in the first place. This further takes away the value. Rob Collison said variances from the requirements could be granted for hardships. Gage Thomas asked if the City would pay for the sidewalk or if they are getting an easement. Rob Collison said it would be classified as a public walkway. Commissioner Weldon said Cambridge Creek is a public way because there is public boat traffic passing in and out. This is the same as a street. From an economic development standpoint, obviously the only projects that have succeeded on the Creek are residential because the developers were interested in their bottom line and they were exempted from having the expense of constructing it. If Cambridge Creek is going to be an asset to the economic development of this City, it needs to be opened up to public access with a public way which is defined in this ordinance. Gage Thomas said usually ordinances are broad reaching. This is very site specific. He thinks the solution is an agreement with the property owners regarding their rights. Commissioner Bohlen said the PWCD, in its very nature, is very site specific.
Mr. Tomey didn't think anyone knew about the riverwalk until it came out in the paper tonight. Rob Collison said the City is required by law to advertised one time at least 15 days in advance. It was advertised in The Daily Banner under the public notices section on July 5th and July 12th.
Council to Render a Decision on Proposed Ordinance to Regulate the Number of Stored Vehicles at Automobile Repair and Assembly Business and at Automobile Storage/Impound Yards-Rob Collison said the second reading for this proposed ordinance was last week. Questions arose concerning the ordinance pertaining to salvage dealers. Jim Michael said looking at the zoning ordinance, in the case of junk or salvage yards, they are principal uses; therefore, they will be exempt from this section. This ordinance would only be for accessory uses; for example, auto repair facilities and auto body shop. This would be an accessory to it where it would limit the number of vehicles.
Monroe Smith asked if his place of business was exempt. Jim Michael said it was. Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to adopt the ordinance as presented. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was pass unanimously.
Request from Egide to Use Great Marsh Park on Friday, September 13, 2002 from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm for a Company Picnic-Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to grant the request. He also would like to include a noise variance for the time of the picnic. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Resolution for New Beginnings Youth Center to Apply for Tax Credit under Neighborhood Partnership Program-Mayor Rippons reported that the Cambridge Park Apartments submitted a letter outlining their concern. Betsy Cooksey, Executive Director of the apartments, said the Neighborhood Partnership Program is a relatively new initiative by the State. It allows them to be eligible for up to $50,000 worth of tax credits. That equals $100,000 of funding to any private non-profit. The Cambridge Park Apartments would be awarded the $50,000 worth of tax credits and they would sell the tax credits to local business people. These are State tax credits only. A resolution from the City is a requirement for their application which is due in September. Commissioner Weldon said he had the opportunity to work with Ms. Cooksey on a couple of occasions and he has seen the work they are doing. It is a fantastic project to support and he recommends the Council pass the resolution. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to pass the resolution. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Council to Adopt Heritage Tourism Area Resolution-Rob Collison said in May of this year there was a resolution which authorized the development and submission of the plan. The plan has been approved. The resolution submitted tonight is for the City's Comprehensive Plan to be amended to incorporate said plan. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to adopt the Heritage Tourism Area Resolution. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Council to Choose Council President for Fiscal Year 2003-Commissioner Weldon made a motion to nominate Commissioner Bohlen for City Council President for Fiscal Year 2003. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
First Reading for Animal Nuisance Ordinance-Rob Collison said Commissioner Atkinson requested this ordinance. There is a problem in his neighborhood with some animals roaming onto other people's property. The ordinance would amend Section 3-2.1. The failure of an owner or keeper of an animal (1) to prevent the animal from entering the trash or garbage container of a person other than the owner or keeper of the animal or removing any trash or garbage and depositing it on the property of another or on public property or (2) failing to prevent the animal from excreting on the private property of another. It would increase the fine from $25 to $100. Commissioners Atkinson said the original ordinance applied to dogs only. Neighbors are complaining about cats. The second reading and vote will be held next week.
Request to go to Bid for Fence for Race Street Parking Lot No. 4-Dale Price reported that DPW has $8,000 budgeted for this fence. Commissioner Atkinson said Ms. Whitten contacted the property owners near the parking lot to see what kind of a fence they would like to see installed. Ms. Whitten said they would all be happy with a chain-link fence. A wooden fence would not hold up. It is not a safe public area. There are broken bottles, trash, a basketball court, etc. This area needs a lot of attention desperately. She has lived in Cambridge most of her life. She sees a lot of potential here and is glad to hear the things Council is trying to do but a lot needs to be done as far as cleaning up. Commissioner Travers made a motion to allow DPW to go to bid for the fence. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. Commissioner Atkinson thanked Ms. Whitten for the interest she is showing in the community.
Approve PO 2477 for DPW ($80,000.00 for BNR Upgrade Inspections)-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Rob Collison reported that he will be on vacation the week of August 12, 2002.
Commissioner Bohlen would like to meet with Rob Collison to work on strengthening some ordinances. He has reviewed the City Code and has not found one mention about litter. He is also working on a new comprehensive way for collecting old appliances.
Commissioner Weldon said on the original agenda there was an item concerning Governor's Hall at Sailwinds Park and the Fireman's Convention. This was resolved earlier this week.
Commissioner Atkinson said he noticed the street sweeper coming down Aurora Street about 9:30 am. It is missing about half the street because of parked cars. The ordinance passed in May 1976 prohibited parking on the major arteries but it doesn't address all the other streets that have curbs. He would like Rob Collison, the Department of Public Works, and the Cambridge Police Department to amend this ordinance. Now we are cleaning the streets in every ward once a week.
Commissioner Travers congratulated the Cambridge Little League All Star Team. They played their final game this past Saturday. They came in No. 2 in the State.
Commissioner Travers would love to see a stoplight at the corner of Maryland Avenue and Dorchester Avenue.
Mayor Rippons spoke to Jim Michael and in conjunction with clean up; it is already budgeted for a part-time code enforcer. He asked each Commissioner to visit their ward and come up with a consideration of where this code enforcement needs to be. This includes sidewalks, etc.
Mayor Rippons reported that Bill Watkins sent him a letter requesting it be read tonight. The letter references the City and County EMS. County politicians, referencing the potential that the County may take over all advanced life support interests Countywide including CEMS, made statements recently that disturb him. Since he started as director in April 2000, he has strived to streamline CEMS operation, utilizing his budget in the most effective way possible and at the same time keeping primary focus on their mission of delivering the highest quality of emergency pre-hospital patient care to the taxpayers and visitors in their first-due area. CEMS has endeavored to assist the County on several different fronts with little or no appreciation. He feels if the County did assume control of CEMS, the current high-quality patient care and qualified operational leadership would stop or be altered.
Ms. Whitten would like clean-up day advertised on the radio and in the newspaper. She also suggested businesses put a flyer in their window to remind people to clean up their area.
Marge Hull asked for the name of the employee sweeping the street on Hambrooks Boulevard between Talbot, Glenburn, and Somerset. She told him she would call and commend him to the department for his courteous and most cooperative service. During the time that the Sycamore and Cottonwood trees were dumping all the pollen on the streets, he was most willing to come back and pick up what she dug up without damaging the grass. She really appreciates his particular demeanor and cooperation.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:10 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, July 29, 2002, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer