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

September 16, 2002
 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, September 16, 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.

Heidi Adams led in the Lord's Prayer.  Commissioner Atkinson led in the Pledge of Allegiance.  The meeting minutes from the September 9, 2002 meeting will be approved next week.   

APPOINTMENTS

Public Hearing for Rezoning Property for Deep Harbour Project to PWRD (Planned Water Resort District)-Rob Collison said this is a public hearing on a request to rezone several parcels of property which are proposed to be incorporated within the Deep Harbour project otherwise known now as the Arundel property.  The proposal is to have the property rezoned from the current PWCD designation to PWRD as defined in Section 20-15D of the City Code.  The notice of tonight's public hearing was published in the Daily Banner on August 30 and September 6, 2002.  He reminded everyone that we are not here about any specifics of any planned construction on the property; it is only whether or not this parcel as they will designate, qualifies for PWRD zoning classification.  If the property is rezoned PWRD, the second phase would be for the developers to come and present the specific design standards and project.

Jim Michael reported that the Planning Commissioner met on September 3rd and deliberated on a recommendation for rezoning this property from PWCD to PWRD.  After much discussion the motion was made with regard to recommendation and the vote was 3 for and 3 against.  Only six of the seven members were present.  The minimum requirements are stipulated in the guidelines.  One of the major criteria is that it has to contain a minimum of 20 acres.  Rob Collison said the staff report also indicates the fact that unlike other rezoning that has to come before Council, there is no requirement for showing a mistake in zoning or a change in the neighborhood. 

Sandy McAllister, representing Deep Harbour, discussed the appropriateness of this particular group of parcels for consideration as a PWRD.  City Council has indicated that there are five criteria that must be satisfied in order to create a PWRD.  The point of a PWRD is to do a multi-use plan that involves water.  Unlike standard zoning, the overlay zone enables a multi-use project to be examined in its entirety and reviewed by the City on that basis.  In order to become a PWRD, the five criteria you have to meet are as follows: (1) at least 50 percent of the parcels comprising the total land area proposed for inclusion in the PWRD are bounded by a navigatible body of water; (2) the land proposed for inclusion in the PWRD is at least 20 acres in overall size with all the land or parcels proposed for inclusion in the PWRD being either continuous with one another or separated only by a public right-of-way (The parcels in hand to date constitute 19.4891 acres; the City of Cambridge parcel proposed under the MOU to be for public parking is an additional 2.31 acres.); (3) a preliminary development plan is submitted showing generally the area to be included in the PWRD and the locations of those permitted uses defined in the section; (4) all the land area proposed for inclusion in the PWRD is served or will be served at the time of physical development by public water and sewer; (5) 80 percent of the land area proposed for inclusion in the PWRD is privately owned. 

Mr. McAllister summarized by saying under Section 20‑15D Planned Water Resort Development, they have met or exceeded every criteria and the developers are very anxious to continue to quickly and aggressively pursue the next step which is the submission of a master development plan before the Planning Commission for their input and referral to Council.  This has been delayed only to allow the petition for the PWRD status.

Rob Collison explained to Council that the five criteria as outlined and detailed by Sandy McAllister must be met.  The Council technically owns some of the parcels being included.  If they have no problem with some of their properties being rezoned for this purpose, and they feel this is for the benefit of the community, the criteria of 20 acres has been met.  Rob Collison doesn't see any objection to this.  He would recommend that the parcel that the pumping station is located on is included also. 

Mayor Rippons asked the Council if they had any questions.  Hearing none, he opened the discussion up to the audience.  Frank Herbert, owner of the Cambridge Lady, asked why the request is being made.   Sandy McAllister said there are a number of reasons.  The most important is the fact that the process for approval under a PWRD is far more detailed and involves direct petition to and response by Planning & Zoning.  The PWRD was historically created as a mechanism relative to the Hyatt project because the ordinary zoning process of going before the Planning Commission for a phased-in project was found to be outdated and cumbersome.  This would enable a phased-in project to work directly with the Department of Public Works as designs were made to be reviewed and approved.  The standards that were created for the Hyatt relative to material use, design, flexibility in design, setbacks, height, etc. are also more flexible in a PWRD.  These are the two biggest reasons. 

Matthew Falls (5 West End Ave.) said there must be some heavier return on their investment if they are going from a PWCD to a PWRD.   Sandy McAllister said the density under a PWCD is 20 residential units per acre.  Under the PWRD the density is reduced to 15 residential units per acre.  One of the hard decisions was to try to calculate whether this same number of units could even be built if the zoning was changed to PWRD.   It would not be accurate to suggest that there is more of a return with the zoning change.   There is a comprehensive master plan that is developed as part of the PWRD process that identifies how the project is conceived as a unitary design.  A PWCD type of process is designed for numerous small individual properties within an overall larger overlay district.  This better addresses the needs of the developer to know what he is getting approved as he goes through each of the phases of his development in accordance with comprehensive master plan for the development. 

Rob Collison said when the PWCD was created, he doesn't think anyone envisioned a developer being able to come up with a project with as large a scope as this.  The significant part of the PWRD is the master development plan, which goes through the regular process of Planning & Zoning and their public hearing and then before the City Council for public hearings.  The PWCD does serve its purpose, but not for a parcel that is 20 acres in size.

Mr. Falls read a letter from the West End Citizens Association.  They are concerned with any issue that affects the City's most valuable real estate, its waterfront.  They strongly urge the City Council to deny any zoning change at this time and to consider it only after receiving adequate public input.

Commissioner Weldon asked if the PWRD under the comprehensive rezoning as an overlay district changed significantly.  Jim Michael said there was no change.

Rob Collison said if there were no further questions, they could then close the public hearing.  It is at the Council's discretion if they wish to render a decision this evening or consider the comments and render a decision next week.

Mayor Rippons closed the public hearing.  Commissioner Atkinson made a motion that the rezoning of the property for the Deep Harbour Project to PWRD be approved.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  Commissioner Weldon said he thought the presentation clearly defines that all of the requirements have been met.  The nature of the project is very well thought out.  The motion was passed unanimously.  Rob Collison said if the developers desire to proceed with the development of the site that has been rezoned, they would then develop their master development plan and submit it to the Department of Planning & Zoning for scheduling before the Planning & Zoning Commission.  From there, it would then come back to Council for a public hearing. 

Open Bids for Glasgow Street Improvements-Heidi Adams said they received two bids:

  • P&A Engineering Company, Inc. -- $134,300.17
  • Eastern Shore Paving, Inc. -- $63,804.90

Commissioner Watkins made a motion to refer the bids to the Department of Public Works for their review and recommendation.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Dr. Ed Anderson to Receive Proclamation for Spinal Health Month-Heidi Adams read the proclamation.  Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to Dr. Anderson. 

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Council to Vote on Request from Dorchester County Commissioners to Permit Access to Sanitary District No. 4 for the New Terminal Building Located at the Cambridge-Dorchester Airport-Mayor Rippons said the Council met in Closed Executive Session and the vote will be taken next week.  They have requested Rob Collison to contact the County to set up a meeting.  Rob Collison explained to Dorchester County Commissioner Jay Newcomb that they would like to set up a meeting with two County Commissioners and two City Commissioners.  He will contact Jane Baynard to set up the time.  Mayor Rippons said there are just a few questions that Council would like to have answered before they are asked to vote on the issue.

Award Bid for Furnishing and Delivering One New Ocè 7055 Large Format Copier or Equivalent-David Pritchett said their copier is now out of service and beyond repair.  They budgeted $9,000 for the copier and received four bids last week.  The low bid of $7,125.00 fully met all specifications.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to award the bid to Charrette Corporation, LLC in the amount of $7,125.00.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Riverwalk-Mayor Rippons said it was previously discussed that tonight there would be a consideration regarding the riverwalk.  Rob Collison is drafting a document that goes into detail about the consideration of not only eliminating the requirement, but also the language that is currently in there regarding a riverwalk on commercial, retail, and industrial properties may also be eliminated.  Rob Collison said the motion was to remove completely any requirement of the riverwalk within the PWCD and to restore the height limit to 75 feet.  Because these are zoning amendments, a public hearing will be held on September 30th

NEW BUSINESS

Request from Dorchester Arts Center to Fire a Gun Using Blanks for Dog Retrieving Demonstrations During Dorchester Showcase (Saturday, September 21 Between 10:30 am and 12:30 pm) (Sailwinds Park)-Neither Chief Malik or Rob Collison had any consideration.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to grant the request.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Request from Dorchester Arts Center to Hang a Banner Across Race Street from September 17 through September 22 to Advertise the Dorchester Showcase-Neither David Pritchett nor Chief Malik had any problem with this.  Commissioner Travers made a motion to grant the request.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Approve PO 2513 Computer Information Systems ($10,000) for CPD-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the purchase order.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

Approve PO 2494 Taylor Sports and Recreation ($21,564)- Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to approve the purchase order.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

Discussion and Vote on Resolution for Arts and Entertainment District Tax Abatement-Rob Collison provided two drafts using current resolutions for approved Arts and Entertainment Districts.  There are two portions.  The first is the abatement of the admissions and amusement taxes (4 percent) for a period of six years.  The second is the property tax credit for any improvements made or increases to the assessable tax base of a qualifying artist within the district.  There are two options: (1) 100 percent abatement of the increase of improvements for the first three years with a three-year phase-in; and (2) 100 percent abatement of the increase for six years. 

Commissioner Weldon said the reason they were looking at the three-year increments is because that is the cycle the tax assessment schedule rotates on.  The sample they received was for a five-year abatement with a five-year step-in.  They felt this might be a little too long. They want to encourage this to happen as quickly as possible.  It would encourage people to make improvements quickly so they could maximize the advantage of the time that is involved.  Regarding the admission and amusement tax within the proposed district, he doesn't think there is anything in place at the moment.   Greg Vande Visser said Mr. and Mrs. Herbert operate the Cambridge Lady out of Cambridge Creek and they would be a beneficiary of this.  Rob Collison said if they are located within the district, they would become exempt.  Greg Vande Visser said they would fill out some forms and the A&E Committee would qualify them under the guidelines set by the State.  Commissioner Weldon said this is to encourage business that would like to have live entertainment to locate in the district which also includes Sailwinds and Governors Hall. If a for-profit venture came in to produce a program that would have been subject to those taxes, the abatement would now apply.

Sherry Herbert (Cambridge Lady) wants everyone to keep in mind their shifting location should the Deep Harbour development occur so the line is drawn to include them.  Commissioner Bohlen said the lines drawn right now are not concrete but can fluctuate based on the progression of the City at a later date. 

Commissioner Weldon made a motion to amend the recommendation to read a five-year abatement for the admission and amusement tax.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to go with a straight six-year abatement on improvements within the district with no phase-in.   Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion.  Commissioner Weldon said he would be more comfortable with a phase-in.  Mayor Rippons said the issue at hand is a full six years or three years with a three-year phase in.  Commissioner Bohlen said there are benefits both ways.  His feel is that if you buy a property in the proposed district, and you fix your property up spending $100,000, for six years the property is taxed at the pre-improvement level.  His motion is that for six years (or two tax assessment cycles) it will stay the same.  The property owner will know what the taxes will be.  The phase-in would then be after the third year; it would be incrementally brought back up until the seventh year when it would be in line.  Commissioner Weldon said with the percentage phase-in, the business owner would know what the taxes would be also.  The City would also know what it is.  He is concerned that they want to encourage things happen at a more aggressive clip.  Commissioner Watkins said he likes the three-year phase-in.  Mayor Rippons said the motion is to give a full six-year abatement.  The motion passed 4:1 with Commissioner Watkins opposed.   Mayor Rippons said the vote is for a six-year abatement.

Discussion and Vote on Resolution Which Formally Designates an Acting Clerk/Treasurer in the Absence or Incapacity of the Clerk/Treasurer-Rob Collison said this recommendation was made by the auditors.  It would designate the Executive Assistant to serve as the Acting Clerk Treasurer.  Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the resolution.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS

Chief Ken Malik said Officer Chambers has completed the training for the K-9.  Hopefully, he and the K-9 will attend the next meeting.

David Pritchett said they sold less than 10 old parking meters.  He received a letter offering to buy 60 meters for five dollars each. 

Commissioner Atkinson said he would like to congratulate David Pritchett for moving forward on the design and bidding on the portion of Glasgow Street.  It is one of the most heavily traveled streets in Cambridge.  It has been in deteriorated condition for too long.  Commissioner Weldon echoed Commissioner Atkinson's thanks for the Glasgow Street improvement.

Rob Collison said the Council met in Closed Executive Session at 6:30 pm to obtain legal advice.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to go into Closed Executive Session following the meeting with regard to the acquisition of real estate by the City.  Commission Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Wendell Foxwell asked if the purchase order for Taylor Sports and Recreation was for Cornish Park.  Mayor Rippons said this is correct.  Mr. Foxwell suggested that this be clarified on the agenda because it is paid for by taxpayers' money and grants.

Joy Staniforth had a meeting today with some talented art students at the high school and they have agreed to help beautify downtown Cambridge.  She has 13 students who would be willing to give up a weekend to do this.  She needs to be able to access the property owners of the closed-up stores in downtown Cambridge to get permission for these students, under supervision, to provide artwork in or on the windows.   Rob Collison said that other than going to the tax assessment records, he suggested maybe the Chamber of Commerce or the Association for the Revitalization of Cambridge (ARC).

Greg Vande Visser asked if there was any mention of an income tax subtraction in any of the examples from the other Arts and Entertainment Districts.  It was brought to his attention that it should possibly be in the resolution.  Rob Collison said there was mention of properties that were within the Enterprise Zone, but nothing that he can recall from the income tax.  Mayor Rippons said the City does not impose an income tax.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:00 p.m.  I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, September 16, 2002 insofar as I personally am aware.

Heidi R. Adams, Executive Assistant