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  • 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
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City Council Minutes

October 7, 2002
 

 City Council met in regular session on Monday, October 7, 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 Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the September 30, 2002 Council meeting as distributed.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.   

Planning and Zoning Commission Report-Commissioner Watkins reported on the Planning Commission's meeting of October 1, 2002:

Tina Hubbard, Southside Avenue/Maple Dam Road: The Commission made a favorable recommendation of preliminary, conditional and final approval for a lot line revision. She requested the one lot cut off from her property. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the recommendation. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

Oakley Beach / Rick Beavers - Commercial Development: They were seeking a primary application. Based on the feedback after the meeting, Commissioner Watkins made a motion to refer this back to the Planning Commission and ask them to have a hearing where everyone can speak. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

Brenda McNair / 3 Choptank Court: She is seeking a special use permit for additional children at her daycare. She currently has a license for 8 children and would like to increase it to include 2 additional children. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to accept the Planning Commission's recommendation to allow her to have the additional children. Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion. Jim Michael said the next step would be for the request to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals for a variance. No action is needed by City Council.

John Moody and Judy Moody / 742 Cambridge Plaza: They are proposing opening a business next to the Off Track Betting Parlor with 23 pool tables, a restaurant, sports bar, and entertainment area. Based on the Commission's favorable recommendation, Commissioner Watkins made a motion that the City allows John Moody and Judy Moody to have this project. Rob Collison said this request would go to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

William Littleton / 816 Locust Street requested to permit him to convert his house to a duplex. The Planning Commissioner did not look favorable on this request. If the developer wants to go further, they would have to go to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Deep Harbour, LLC / Trenton Street: The Planning Commission recommended a favorable report on this project, which will come back for further consideration. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to favorable approve this plan. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. A public hearing will be held tonight.

Reverend J. J. Green's Crusade, Inc. Mace's Lane / McBride Avenue / Parkway Street requested conditional approval for a subdivision for duplexes. They gave him a conditional approval. He will provide further information at a later date. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the recommendation. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.

Commissioner Watkins said the Planning Commissioner also had a discussion on the PWCDs and PWRDs.   The approved the height limit of 75 feet on both.  They voted not to approve the riverwalk requirement.   Commissioner Watkins made a motion to accept the recommendations of the Planning Commission.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

APPOINTMENTS

Public Hearing - Review and Approval of a Master Development Plan as Submitted by Deep Harbour, LLC for the Deep Harbour Project Binding Upon Cambridge Creek, Trenton Street and Green Street-Rob Collison said all PWRDs require a master development plan.  As Commissioner Watkins reported, it has gone before the Planning and Zoning Commission and came back with a favorable report.  Notice of the public hearing was published in the Daily Banner on Friday, September 20, and Friday, September 27, 2002. 

Sandy McAllister of Miles & Stockbridge represented Deep Harbour LLC.  Scott Wallace and Darrell Wagner of Deep Harbour, Don Rifling-Schoeffer  (the architect) and Ken Usab from Andrews Miller were also present. 

Under Section 20-15d of the City's Zoning Ordinance, the PWRD has certain requirements that must be met.  (1) A boundary line map with physical features of the PWRD area showing its relationship to the water abounding the area was provided.  (2) A location map showing the relationship of the PWRD area to surrounding properties was provided.  Some of the parcels included in the PWRD district are either under contract, under option, or under negotiation.  (3) An area map of the PWRD showing specifically the locations of the permitted uses as defined in the section proposed and intended for the various land area was submitted.  (4) A specific design and architectural criteria and standards for all the structures, landscaping, and other amenities to be located within the PWRD was submitted.  (5) The patterns of proposed and existing public and private roads, driveways, and parking facilities were included in the master development plan.  (6) The location of recreational open spaces and spaced dedicated or reserved for public use were indicated on the master development plan.  Areas already available for public use (county park and city dock) are independent of the master development plan.  The riverwalk system for public access to the creek is indicated.  (7) Standards relating to the total size of the PWRD area; residential density limitations, permitted heights, setbacks, parking requirements, retail square footage limitations and other pertinent and standards relation to how the overall goal of promotion of esthetic waterfront utilization is to be achieved are included in the plan. (8) A preliminary site plan indicating location, height, and general design of improvements was provided.

The process for master development plan approval requires that the applicant go before the Planning Commission.  The criterion just reviewed was gone through in detail at their meeting last week.  They received a unanimous vote of the Planning Commission in support of the project.  The final master development plan approval is in the hands of the City Council.  Don Rifling-Schoeffer explained what the master development plan shows.   Rob Collison said for clarification, with regard to public amenities, there is a riverwalk that binds upon the entire waterfront; however, the swimming pool will be private.  The small putting course will be private also. The farmers' market area will be open to the public.  A public parking lot will be constructed.  The hotel, retail, and restaurant complex and the bed and breakfast are public areas.  The boat ramp and park are being maintained.  The riverwalk will continue for almost one half mile. 

Marge Hull asked about the height of the buildings.  The developer said the buildings along the waterfront have been reduced to four stories with a story of parking below.  The setback they are proposing is 20 feet.   There will be a total of 380 residential units.

Mayor Rippons asked for questions from the audience.  A gentleman asked about PUD approval.  The developer said they have not sought any federal funding at all.  It is a phased-in project and is well in excess of $1 million.  How the phasing will occur has not yet been determined. 

Marge Hull said it was brought up during the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting by one of the members of the Commission that there are concerns of the City as far as the added population and use of the bridge, particularly for fire equipment.  She is not speaking against the project, but she is saying that there has been no plan made by the City.   Mayor Rippons asked that the questions be limited to questions for the developer.  Sandy McAllister said at the Planning Commission meeting a couple of questions were raised in a general fashion regarding increases in population, etc.  The original zoning for the property was PWCD.  Under PWDC, the developer was entitled to building 20 residential units per acre.  On their own they sought re-zoning to a PWRD which reduced the density from 20 per acre to 15 per acre.  This was in part because of those same concerns about marketability of an overdeveloped creek-front.   The developer is very interesting in working with the City to ensure access issues; traffic jams, etc don't inhibit the success of the project.  The road system has been designed to help the development of Cedar Street as a primary corridor into town.  The developer has concentrated the parking and commercial office space on the arteries that the City has indicated it wishes to further develop as principle arteries to the City.   Refinement of the plan will go forward with the fire and other safety agencies.  Mayor Rippons said the new safety building will be located on Washington Street.  It is his belief that the public safety building will up and maintained by the time the phase-in of the project is done.  The City is also considering the use of substations.  Rob Collison said the Fire Marshal's office will review all plans.

Sandy McAllister said there is a Memorandum of Understanding obligating the riverwalk for this project.  It was designed so the public will not be blocked from the Creek.  Rob Collison said the developer is not asking for tax abatements of any type.  If the Council approves the project, and this particular developer goes by the wayside, that is the only project that is approved.  If someone purchases the LLC, they would have to construct it according to these standards or re-submit a new plan to the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council again. 

A gentleman asked about the boat slips, sewage pump-out, and fuel.  Ken Usab said at the present time there are not any plans for sewage pump out facilities.  They exist at the Creek and at the entrance to the Yacht Club.   There are not plans for any fueling facilities at this time either.  It is his understanding that the City is considering one as part of their plans for expansion and redevelopment of their facility.  The City has agreed to convey or lease the slips on Trenton Street to the developer.  In exchange for this, the developer has agreed to rent an equal number of slips to be constructed in the Creek or as part of the municipal marina expansion.  The developer is agreeing to lease from the City for a period of a decade 28 slips to be constructed at a rent of $18,000 per year with the City entitled to use and sublease the slips at no consideration to the developer.

Hearing no further questions, Commissioner Watkins made a motion to close the public hearing.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the Master Development Plan.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

Betsy Cooksey from Cambridge Park Apartments to Request a Variance from the Noise Ordinance for "The Rockers" Who Practice Monday Through Friday from 4:30 pm Until 6:30 pm-Betsy Cooksey said they have a group of about 30 high school students in and around the Greenwood Avenue area who have organized a drill team.  They would like to practice between 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm from Monday through Friday in order to prepare for competitions.  They would like to practice until the end of the year.  Rob Collison said if Council begins to get complaints, they will ask Ms. Cooksey to come back in to either select another location or limit the hours.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to grant the noise variance as requested through December 31 with the caveat that it be able to be reviewed if there is feedback from the community.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

Brenda Hayward Representing WECA to Speak on the Oakley Beach Project-Ms. Hayward thanked the Council for sending the Oakley Beach preliminary review back to the Planning Commission for their reconsideration so the public can be heard.  WECA has been very concerned after last week's meeting.  They appreciate the responsiveness to the community who wish to speak and did not have a chance to do so last week.  Jim Michael said the next meeting of the Planning Commission is the first Tuesday in November.  He said it is his understanding from the motion that the vote was nullified as Ms. Hayward stated.  Their recommendation still stands.  He thinks there is going to be more information to be presented at the meeting.  Rob Collison said it will be referred back to be reopened after further testimony and then come back to City Council in the amended form.  Rob Collison asked if a special meeting could be set up to discuss Oakley Beach.  A public notice will be run at least two weeks prior to that date.  Brenda Hayward asked if there would be a true public hearing in this process.  Rob Collison said the Planning Commission does not technically hold a public hearing; it is an open meeting or work session.  The public hearing would be before the City Council.  The City Council will appoint a legal counsel to attend the Planning Commission meeting.  The legal counsel will review the consideration of exactly what will be heard that night and then make a legal consideration to the chairman.  Brenda Hayward said at the last meeting several people felt they were denied the right to speak.  Discuss on Oakley Beach was limited; however, discussion on Deep Harbour was allowed to be free flowing.   Rob Collison recommended that prior to the meeting, they would review what the procedure will be.  Brenda Hayward said that is what they would like to have. 

Christopher Drummond, an attorney from Centreville, represents the owner of the property.  They came to Council tonight expecting to be able to present their project as they presented it to the Planning Commission to seek Council's approval under the pertinent provisions of subdivision regulations and zoning ordinance.   They were caught be surprise by Council's decision which they respect though they disagree with it.  They received preliminary approval during the Planning Commission last week.   They did not receive a copy of Ms. Hayward's letter; therefore, they had no way to respond to the claims that were apparently made in the letter.  It is their view that the Planning Commission acted appropriately.  It is an administrative agency with informal rules.  It was not a public hearing.  A Planning Commission could decide not to take any public comment if it wished to.   They violated no rules.  They understood that they would be back before the Planning Commission for conditional and final approval next month when the public would have had every opportunity to go over every detail of the project.  He believes the goal of WECA is to delay.  He asked Council to reconsider their decision of earlier tonight. 

Rob Collison said in light of the next regularly scheduled Planning and Zoning Commissioner being on Election Day, he thinks Mr. Michael might want to re-schedule the meeting to another night.  Jim Michael said the next date will probably be the next Tuesday.   Commissioner Weldon asked in the conditional review process, based on the recommendation they got last week, if Council approved it and they went onto the next step, at what point is there a public forum where the community can be assured to speak.  One of the things he is hearing from the citizens is that at the Historic District review, Mr. Drummond said the public will have their day at the Planning and Zoning process.  He said there were questions in Mr. Williams' letter that were fairly detailed the probably couldn't be answered under a preliminary review anyway.  Mr. Drummond said they were not before the Planning Commission to be discussed.  No engineering has been done.  Commissioner Weldon asked if in the conditional review process, if there could be an assurance that those questions that Mr. Williams raised in his letter will be addressed at that time which is a more appropriate time to address them, then will advance a motion to approve the preliminary so they can move to the next part of the discussion where they will have the answers that the community is looking for.   Rob Collison said this is in the context of a subdivision process so it would only have public comment when it comes before Council.  The developers are not asking for any variances or exceptions.  Commissioner Weldon said the development proposal is well within the bounds of the existing zoning. They are not even reaching to the limit.  Jim Michael said the Planning and Zoning Commission is strictly a recommending body.   Mr. Drummond said they will be happy if a condition of the reconsideration would be that Mr. Beavers posts the property with notice as to any meeting before the Planning Commission or any hearing or meeting before Council for any future approval. 

Mayor Rippons asked for Rob Collison's recommendation before there is a second to the motion.  Rob Collison said he advised Council previously to retain counsel where that body (Planning Commission) has never had legal representation before.  Brenda Hayward said she would like to respond to Mr. Drummond.  She pointed out that there was nothing in the letter that related to Oakley Beach, they were strictly talking about the procedure of last Tuesday. They just wanted to say that they had not had a chance to be heard because they have concerns and would like to be heard. 

Ben Lacey from Glenburn Avenue said his concern on all these things not that their comments and questions were not heard, but they are timely.  The developer wants to move things along rapidly.  If things move rapidly, concerned citizens are heard but their comments and concerns are out of sync with the progress of the project, then it is not timely.  He would like his comments to be heard in a timely fashion. 

David Pritchett said they have discussed at past Council meeting the appropriateness of the preliminary hearing and there is always a massive confusion about just how preliminary that hearing is.  It is not a public hearing in any sense of the word.  It is an open meeting.  It does not require them to listen to anyone.  He has no doubt they will open it to the public and want to hear their comment.  It is a preliminary hearing that takes about 5 minutes.  They establish if public water and sewer are available, does the zoning meet the proposed development, and roads.  That is what it is based on.  It is a concept for proceeding to notifying agencies and so forth.  They just determine if it is appropriate that it can be built there by existing zoning. 

Marge Hull said her deepest concern at this point is that it is quite evident that the Oakley Beach property is being treated, regardless of what the rules and regulation are, based on the way the Planning and Zoning Commission have been held.  There was a complete deviation from the usual procedure for this particular project.  When it was given the approval to recommendation for an approval and they left, the Commission went right back to their usual way because Deep Harbour followed.  There was discussion back and forth and everyone had an opportunity to make a statement.  She can understand where Mr. Pritchett is coming form.  She would like the motion to refer the project back to Planning and Zoning be left that way so this project does not have less public input than any other project. 

Mayor Rippons said in comparing the two projects, you have to remember Oakley Beach was a preliminary hearing and Deep Harbour was for the master development plan.  Jim Michael said they are entirely separate situations.   Preliminary plat or site plan approval is a three-step process with the City-that is, preliminary, conditional, and final.  With a master development plan there is no sequence.  It is basically the master development plan.  That is why there is so much detail involved and so much process.   Preliminary plans take about 5 or 10 minutes.  They are distinctly different.  Marge Hull said there was a tremendous in the give and take between the audience and the developers.  She has been to many preliminary hearing and never has she ever seen people told they couldn't make a statement.   David Pritchett asked Marge Hull if she was in disagreement that the water, sewer or road were there or in disagreement that the zoning was correct.  Rob Collison advised Council not to discuss this now.

Mayor Rippons said there is a motion on the floor and asked for a second.  Hearing no second, the motion died.  The issue will be referred back to Planning and Zoning.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Render a Decision on Amendment to the Development Standards of the PWCD to Eliminate the Requirement of the Public Walkway Along All Waterfront Projects and to Reduce the Height Restrictions in the PWCD and PWRD Binding Upon Cambridge Creek-Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the amendment.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  Rob Collison said for clarification, this would reduce the height limitations to 75 feet in the PWCD in certain areas, in some areas it is not that high, and for PWRDs it would only be PWRD that are along Cambridge Creek.  The motion was passed unanimously. 

NEW BUSINESS

Resolution in Support of Home Rule Charter for Dorchester County-Commissioner Atkinson said he doesn't think we should be telling the people how to vote.   He is personally going to vote for it but he doesn't think the Council, as a political body, should endorse it or say no.  He will vote against the resolution.  Commissioner Weldon said while he agrees with Commissioner Atkinson, it is a touchy situation to get into matters of politics.  He doesn't think it is any secret that there has been friction between the County government and City government and he believes part of the problem in his opinion, is that the County government's hands are tied because everything they have to do, they have to wait for a 90-day legislative session and hope that someone votes for it.   As such, he thinks it is in the best interest of the City to endorse the resolution because it is important to the interests of the City.  Commissioner Weldon made a motion to endorse the resolution.  Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion.  Commissioner Bohlen said it was requested of him to put in this resolution and he understands Commissioner Atkinson's concerns and he has said to a couple members of Council, they are not endorsing a candidate; they are endorsing a very fundamental idea.  People will vote however they see fit.  He served on the Charter Board.  He finds it a little sad that time and again Council meets and there is a proclamation or resolution in support crime prevention, etc. and those things are all good in their own right.  This resolution, which can directly affect all of us as Dorchester County citizens.  Because of that Council should be able to say as the City, this is a good thing for all of us.

Commissioner Watkins said he will not say he is against it, but he is not at this time ready to vote in favor of it.  He thinks Council needs to stay clear of that type of activity.  He doesn't see why we need to get involved endorsing something that is germane to them only.  He recognizes that they haven't had home rule for all these years and Cambridge has, and he hopes they get it but he doesn't see a need to endorse it. 

Commissioner Travers said he feels the same that Commissioner Atkinson and Commissioner Watkins feel.  When he was County Commissioner in 1978 and 1982 the same thing came up for a vote.  Evidently it was not the same type of a charter that we have today but it was defeated.  He doubts it will be defeated this time.  He doesn't feel that City Council should endorse a thing that is actually meant for the Dorchester County Commissioners.  He is going to oppose the City Commissioners endorsing this resolution.

Mayor Rippons called for a vote.  The motion to support the resolution was defeated 3:2 with Commissioners Weldon and Bohlen voting to support the resolution and Commissioners Atkinson, Travers and Watkins opposed.

Request from Dorchester County Family YMCA for DPW to Replace a Single Slab of Concrete As An In-Kind Service-David Pritchett reported that they installed the concrete as an in-kind service when they were seeking a grant.  This is an extremely small job for an extremely small amount of money but it is moving on to forever maintenancing an in-kind service.  It is no problem to do it but he feels whatever they do will have to be done in the future.  Commissioner Atkinson said he is opposed to it. He thinks they are setting a bad precedence here for other non-profit organizations.  Commissioner Bohlen agreed.  If there are specific parameters set forth by a grant for specific projects, he thinks it is fine.  Mayor Rippons asked if there is a motion to support this request.  Hearing none, the matter was defeated.

Request from Department of Public Works for Authorization to Proceed with the Demolition of 711 Moores Avenue and 501 Oakley Street and to Proceed in the Advertising for Bids to Demolish Said Structures-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the request.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Review and Approval of Shore Erosion Control Loan Documents for DGH Project-Ed Kinnamon said DGH would like the City to assume 1/25 of the cost to them to put shore erosion in on the parcel that the City is leasing from them (boat ramp).  This would amount to $504 a year.  After the 25 years, it goes back to 1 cent per year.  Rob Collison said the other modification to the lease is the repayment agreement on the pass-through grant.  The City is getting money from DNR and gives it to DGH for them to make the improvements.  Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to approve the loan documents as it relates to the shore erosion control and the DGH project.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. Rob Collison said there will be a pedestrian walkway.  It will connect from the existing boardwalk at the Visitors Center over to the boat ramp.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to approve the new lease amendment.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Request for Traffic & Safety Committee to Review the Intersection of Maryland Avenue and Aurora Street-Ed Kinnamon said a resident of the immediate area made this request.  Apparently there have been two or three accidents in a period of two or three months.  Commissioner Watkins said they will take care of it.

Approve PO 2318 Redman/Johnston for $3,220 for Professional Services for the Comprehensive Plan-Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the purchase order.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Discuss Canceling Council Meeting on October 14 (Columbus Day)-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to cancel the meeting.  Commissioner Travers seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Commissioner Atkinson attended the Delmarva Community Services recognition awards dinner yesterday.  He thanked them for the services the provided for the community.

David Pritchett said people are always curious about "snow time".  DPW will be better equipped this year than ever before.  Council approved an increase of one new truck, fully equipped with salt spreader and plow.  The truck is on order and the salt is stocked.  All the equipment they have has been overhauled. 

Mayor Rippons asked Captain Hutton to briefly discuss the Weed and Seed program.  Captain Hutton said it is a Federal Government Justice Department program.  It is roughly about $175,000 of which 50 percent will go the Police Department and the other 50 percent will go to a community group.  The Hot Spot Program is a break-off of Weed and Seed.  They branch out through the community and identify troubled areas and concentrate law enforcement and community activities in those areas.  Cambridge basically is designated as the entire area so they can move around to all areas of the community wherever a problem develops and work on it.  Mayor Rippons asked the Council for consideration that they outline a letter of support for the application to the US Department of Justice.  One of the groups that has already expressed an interest is the West End Neighborhood Watch.  Commissioner Atkinson made a motion for Mayor Rippons to proceed with a letter of support and application.  Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion.  The motion was passed unanimously.

Sharon Whitten asked for the status of the fence for the city lot on Race Street.  David Pritchett said the bids will be opened on October 28.  They had to rebid it because they changed the specifications.  The fence should be fully installed by the first week of November.  It will be a black chain line fence with slats. 

Kathleen Wise said it is too late to do anything about this now but when people elect government officials, she thinks they look to government officials for leadership.  Although home rule is not a City issue, she is sorry they didn't take some leadership in supporting it particularly since many of them say they will probably vote for it personally.  She thinks there are lots of people who don't quite know how to process all the information out there.  They look to the leaders they elected.  She personally doesn't like Annapolis and Western Maryland decided on what is good for Dorchester County.  She would like to see the elected officials step up to the plate and take a stand.  She encourages Council to think about that in the future.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:55 p.m.  I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, October 7, 2002, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer