City Council Minutes
January 8, 2001
The City Council met in regular session on January 8, 2001, 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 December 18, 2000 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the December 18, 2000 Public Hearings as distributed. Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Street Lighting Committee (Commissioner Bohlen)-Ms. Alice Wongus of 809 Truman Street requested an additional light in front of her house. The Committee recommended that the homeowner consider installing a privacy light. It was agreed an additional streetlight should not be added at this time.
A request to reconnect the two lights on the side of the Place on Race Café was received by Council. Conectiv informed the City it is against their policy to connect public lighting on a private structure. The only option would be to install a pole along the side of the building in the City alley. The Committee recommended tabling this issue until it can be studied further.
Public Hearing - Special Use Permit Home Daycare Barbara McKnight 106 Patamoke Way-This Special Use Permit would allow Barbara McKnight to care for up to eight children at her home at 106 Patamoke Way. The Certification of Publication indicates that notice of the public hearing was published in the Daily Banner on December 22, and December 29, 2000. The Planning and Zoning Commission considered the matter on November 15, 2000 and the motion passed unanimously to permit the special use permit. At the Planning and Zoning Commission, Ms. McKnight stated she is presently licensed by the State, having met all the State Agency requirements, to care for four children and is looking to increase the number to eight. William Jackson and Constance Elliott spoke in favor of the request. Nobody asked to speak in opposition. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously. A decision will be rendered at the January 22, 2001 Council Meeting.
Public Hearing - Rezoning Request by Skip Miller [Property from R1 to R4 (Property Tax Map 30 Parcel 116 -- West of Bailey Road) ]-The property is presently zoned R1 (single family residence) and the request is being made to have it rezoned to R4 (multiple family residence). The Certification of Publication indicates that notice of the public hearing was published in the Daily Banner on December 22, and December 29, 2000. Harold "Skip" Miller, representing the property owners and A&S Development who is the contract purchaser of the property if the rezoning takes place, reviewed the planned project for the parcel of land. They appeared before the Planning and Zoning Commission on November 15, 2000 and presented a list of nine items justifying the reason for the rezoning request as "changes in the neighborhood". Photographs were presented as "Exhibit 1", a handout as "Exhibit 2", an aerial photograph as "Exhibit 3", and a copy of the City tax map as "Exhibit 4". The parcel consists of approximately seven acres. The property was annexed into the City with development in mind. A 50-ft right-of-way through the property for construction of the Westside Sewer Inceptor to tie in Sanitary District No. 1 was given to the City in exchange for the right to develop (1980's). The new Choptank Elementary School, plans for a new Maces Lane Middle School, and several new subdivisions in the area have changed the neighborhood according to the applicant.
Commissioner Watkins stated that the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that the Council not approve the rezoning at their meeting of November 15, 2000. The vote was 4:1 to deny the request. A letter from Octavene Saunders (High Street) indicated her opposition to changing the property rezoning (Exhibit 5). Nobody requested to speak in favor of the rezoning. Commissioner William Nichols (Dorchester County) spoke against the rezoning. He feels the neighborhood has changed for the better. From the calls he has received, the neighbors want to keep it the way it is. Lorraine Henry (Maces Lane) spoke to represent the Maces Lane/Bayly Crossing community. They concur wholeheartedly with the Planning and Zoning Commission that the parcel should remain R1. William Jackson believes the citizens of this area want single-family homes with home ownership. A cemetery located on the property must also be considered. No further comments were made.
The Council will consider the comments made and the exhibits and will render a decision on January 22, 2001. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
William Beebe to Discuss Cars Towed During Snow Emergency-Mr. Beebe was not in attendance.
Lexine Lowe Pomeroy Requesting Letter of Support for Dorchester Art Center/Tourism Grant Application-The Art Center wishes to participate in the Maryland State Art Council's program to promote art events from around the State. They are submitting " Dorchester Showcase" to promote cultural tourism. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to offer a letter of support. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Decision on Annexation for Gloria Bailey on Rock Drive-The public hearing on this matter was held on December 18, 2000. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the annexation and authorize the Mayor to sign the resolution. Commissioner Atkinson seconded the motion. David Pritchett, DPW, expressed concern about extension of the services to one home and the distance they will have to run it. It has always been a desire to annex in, if possible, the whole Rock Drive area and then appropriately run the right size sewer line, main, and water. One at a time, they run in small lines and as people add on, the lines are quickly outdated and need to be replaced. Rob Collison, City Attorney, suggested the Council table this decision for two weeks to investigate the costs associated with running the larger line. Mayor Rippons would like to notify the other property owners and make them aware of their annexation options. Mr. Watkins withdrew his motion and made a motion to table the decision until January 22, 2001. Commissioner Atkinson seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously. Letters will be sent to the other property owners involved.
Decision on Annexation for Clifton Enterprises, Chesapeake Drive (Annexation A-2000-03)-The public hearing has held on December 18, 2000. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the annexation. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously. It will become effective 45 days following its passage.
Request from Zion Church to be Reimbursed for Variance Filing Fee-Rob Collison researched the history of reimbursements as they pertain to churches. The hard costs associated with the variance were discussed. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to deny the request. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. Commissioner Atkinson stated he would abstain because he is an official of Zion Church. The motion passed 3:1 to deny the request with Commissioner Watkins opposed and Commissioner Atkinson abstaining.
First Reading of Ordinance to Expand Police Board-Rob Collison informed the Council that an ordinance was not formally signed which was approved by Council on September 11, 2000 to revise the Police Commissioners to the Police Advisory Board as recommended by Commissioner Atkinson. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the ordinance to create a Police Advisory Board consisting of five members. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Rob Collison read an amendment to above ordinance revising Section 15-1a. Instead of having five members it would consist of seven members. The members shall consist of the Mayor, a resident of each ward of the City nominated by the Commissioner for that ward, and a resident of the City nominated by the Mayor. It would add a provision that the Mayor has a right of nominating one person who is a resident of the City and all members would have the right to vote. The second reading and decision will be on January 22, 2001.
Council to Award Bid for New Fire Engine (Pumper)-The Chiefs of Rescue Fire Company, the President, Vice President, and membership of the Company and the Truck Committee reviewed the three bids and recommend the City award the bid to Pierce Manufacturing for a total cost of $479,948.04. Approximately $385,000 is currently budgeted for this engine. Additional funds will have to be either taken from the City's investments or have to be procured by a loan. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to award the bid as recommended by Rescue Fire Company. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discuss Commissioner Atkinson's Proposal for Future of Historic District-
Commissioner Atkinson: Regardless of what you all read in the paper, I do not desire to get rid of the Historic District. My main concern is the awesome authority that they have over the residents now. I do not agree that any appointed Commission or Committee should be able to tell a citizen what color shingles he can put on his house and his next recourse is that he has to go the courts. He cannot appeal to elected officials. I would like to thank the Commissioners for responding to my request for (in writing). Let me shape this out for you where it stands. Mr. Bohlen and Mr. Weldon support the Commission as it now stands; Watkins and Atkinson desire a Commission with advisory responsibilities-not decision-making authority. We would also like to expand the area the Commission covers. Mr. Travers had a discussion with me earlier this evening and he has a motion I think he'd like to bring up and put on the floor.
Commissioner Travers: Mr. Mayor, I would like to make a motion that we table this for at least six months until I can fully understand about this Committee and what their authorities are and explain to me somewhere in the next six months what has happened each month per individual case that they have showed up. I would like to make that in a motion.
Commissioner Watkins: I'll second that motion. Are you going to get the information from . . .
Commissioner Travers: I'm going to get the information, I hope, from Commissioner Bohlen if he would get this information.
Commissioner Watkins: o.k.
Commissioner Travers: At every meeting that they have.
Commissioner Watkins: Yes
Mayor Rippons: Is your motion for six months?
Commissioner Travers: Yes, sir.
Mayor Rippons: Do you need that much time or do you want to just leave it that you want to table it until you can make...
Commissioner Travers: It might be in three months.
Mayor Rippons: It might be the validity of the situation comes to three months and you just want to say ... I would table it until you come...
Commissioner Travers: Just table it until I come up to the scene that I can make an honest decision for or against.
Mayor Rippons: So you would like to amend your motion
Commissioner Travers: Yes
Mayor Rippons: ...to table any discussion on this until you come to a point where you are comfortable.
Commissioner Travers: Yes, Sir.
Mayor Rippons: Is there anybody who has any trouble with the amended motion?
Commissioner Watkins: I just don't want it to be too long. I think we can get together, or shorter if possible. o.k.
Mayor Rippons: o.k. Did you want to amend it to say as soon as you feel comfortable not to exceed six months?
Commissioner Travers: As soon as I feel comfortable, not to exceed six months. Yes, Sir.
Mayor Rippons: Is there any objection to that amendment?
Commissioner Watkins: I have an objection. I think we can do it before six months, that's all. But it's fine. I'll vote.
Commissioner Travers: I don't know that.
Mayor Rippons: That's why I requested that it be amended. But anyway, there be no objection, the motion stands on the floor as amended. At this time, is there any discussion on the motion?
Commissioner Bohlen: I do have just a couple things I want to say. First off, to answer Mr. Atkinson's concern which I did in writing, the Commission doesn't determine the color of people's shingles on their house. That's in the guidelines and if you would look at the guidelines, you would see that. A great deal of effort was made and put forth to be as open and liberal and accommodating to the folks, the homeowners, the building owners, involved in the district as possible when this was put together. I have no problem giving additional feedback to my fellow Commissioners concerning the monthly operations of this Commission. As I have said many times you will find it deadly dull because it's windows here, and a door there, and a porch here, and shutters here, and those kinds of things. And, in fact, shingles, if it's like-kind replacement, isn't even going to be heard by the Commission. It's going to be given an exemption and the gentlemen or the contractor is going to go right ahead and put the new roof on the house. The other thing I would like to add further is, is that again in follow-up from Council's recommendation of the City attorney, that the State does not allow a Commission to be advisory to an elected board such as this Commission, this City Council. It is against the State law and it cannot be advisory, it must be de-politicized; in other words, they cannot just ... and us have the final authority. However, I could add that if that were the case, tongue-in-cheek, that if you kept the qualifications the same, I might agree with that because there are two members of this Council right now that are qualified to serve as the Historic District Commission. Anyhow, what has got to be remembered, gentlemen, that it has to be a separate entity and there are reasons why. This body has a tremendous amount of power in the fact that it appoints those members. You don't like people on the Board? You can change your appointment and every gentlemen here has the power of appointment and I want you folks to remember that. Thank You.
Commissioner Atkinson: May I respond? Sir.
Commissioner Bohlen: Yes, you may.
Commissioner Atkinson: Number 1, I agree with you that the State requires the Commission to have this authority and that the elected officials are completely cut out of the appeals process, but you could change it and have a committee rather than a commission and that would meet State law. Am I correct?
Commissioner Bohlen: That I would have to refer to the City attorney.
Commissioner Atkinson: I believe that's correct.
Commissioner Bohlen: It would not be in the State model.
Rob Collison: It would be a totally different. . .
Commissioner Bohlen: It would be totally different. It would still be an advisory capacity, which serves the need of the community.
Commissioner Bohlen: It would not serve the need to the community. It would not.
Commissioner Atkinson: Well, that's your opinion. I will not argue with you at this point.
Commissioner Bohlen: o.k.
Mayor Rippons: Is there any other discussion before the motion is voted?
Commissioner Weldon: I'll speak briefly to it. Again, I'll remind Council I'm the only member that actually lives in the district and to allay everyone's fears, if I want to replace my windows with new vinyl energy-efficient replacement windows, I can do that under the guidelines. If I want to replace my porch roof with asphalt shingles, I can do that under the guidelines. If I need to maintain my chimney and point it up or even I believe in one instance a chimney has been removed because of the maintenance problems related to it, the guidelines do allow for that to be reviewed, considered, and can be done. If I own a commercial building downtown that has major structural flaws, I can tear it down if I can verify those structural flaws. If I have something that I need to have painted and I don't want to paint it anymore and I want to replace it with maintenance-free materials that have the same appearance, I can do that under the guidelines. And most of these things I can do under the guidelines without having to file a whole bunch of paperwork and spend a lot of time in meetings. It's a simple matter of bringing it for a preliminary review and it can be done. This is not the boogey man. This is something that's very beneficial to our City; it has proven to be beneficial in city after city after city-not only all over the State, but all over the country. It is something that enjoys tremendous support within the district from the residents, I'm sure there's one or two folks out there that disagree with it, but you're going to have no matter where you are or what you're doing. The economic value of this is un-paralleled. We have property values climbing because people know that when they buy a home in the district, the house next door to them is not to be defaced with inappropriate and additions and renovations and such that aren't appropriate to the historic fabric of the neighborhood. That's what it's all about. I face this directly. I should probably excuse myself from this vote because my house is in the district and I have a house that's next door to me that's presently a rental; two doors up that's presently a rental; I have a building across the street from me that's abandoned, that faces redevelopment and every one of those things is going to impact my ability to get the value out of my home. This concerns me greatly. That fact that the Historic Preservation Commission is there to run interference for me is very very comforting and I think it should be comforting to everybody in this room whether you live in the district or not. I don't believe from the pure technicality of it that I have to excuse myself so I won't; 'cause I support it tremendously. If someone wants to split hairs on that and make another recommendation, please do, but this is the most valuable asset we have in our City outside of our people is our architectural history and it needs to be protected and it needs to be protected with the mechanism we've worked eight years to put in place.
Commissioner Atkinson: Why don't we move it to include the whole City?
Commissioner Weldon: Because the whole City does not have the architectural significance of the area that's covered.
Commissioner Atkinson: There are many historic buildings throughout the whole City other than the first and third wards.
Commissioner Weldon: Right.
Commissioner Atkinson: Mr. Watkins and I relinquish that in our wards we have homes that are historic but are not included.
Commissioner Weldon: That's right.
Commissioner Atkinson: What makes your area so great?
Commissioner Weldon: Well, there was a study that was conducted that covered that and I'd certainly support a study to expand it.
Commissioner Bohlen: And if I could answer Commissioner Atkinson's point, which is a valid point, and I have discussed this with Mr. Watkins, I've discussed it also with Mr. Travers, and I would have been happy to discuss it with Mr. Atkinson had he asked me. I was involved with this from the very ground floor from the beginning and I will tell you now when the boundaries were looked at all of these things were considered. They were all looked at. But what must be done and I what I have to reiterate is that documentation must be done and the documentation had been done on the area which is now a district. And so it was felt to be the most expedient thing at that time to adopt the existing Federal nationally-recognized boundaries as the district with the provision there was a proviso that additional areas of the City be researched when the time was available and the funds were available so that they too could be taken in for consideration for additional either districts or additions to this district. So no one has ever been cut out of this, it is a living thing. It can continue to grow and there are certainly and I will say unequivocally there are other areas of this City that are valid for investigation, consideration, and adoption as either a separate district or as an addition this district.
Mayor Rippons: Is there any other discussion?
Commissioner Watkins: Mr. Mayor, I'd just beg to differ about consideration of certain areas notably as far down as Waugh United Methodist Church but for some reason it was cut out or wasn't put in there and I have some ideas and some feeling about it. And I still have them and I'm not wanting to get in a great big argument about this thing but I'm not buying and I see what I think is happening and I don't especially like it and I've taken a stand that I think we ought to look at what's going on. Period.
Commissioner Bohlen: Mr. Watkins, with all respect, Sir, I respect you a tremendous amount, when that was happening, the initial recommendation the Commission was embodied, the Commission was first instructed to provide to the City Council recommendation of boundaries. That accomplished, and then draw up guidelines for the City's approval, which was then subsequently done; by-laws and then actually become operating as a Board of Architectural Review, which is what this Commission does. When the boundary issue was first discussed, there is the National-recognized district, which is based on the Reed Study. There was also consideration for both areas of Waugh Church, Bethel Chapel, Sycamore Cottage, the Meredith House, and several locations throughout the City, and Appleby, Governor Hicks' home on Appleby. At that point in time, Commissioner Otto Cheesman because very upset and said wait a minute, wait a minute, you are deviating from the recommended boundaries because the Commission wished to basically, which is in their authority, to spot those as landmark structures and at that point, it nearly looked like everything was going to collapse because the Commission was looking to expand slightly beyond the existing boundaries that were already in operation on the Federal level. And at that point in time, the Chair of the Commission withdrew that until some future time. And it was never denied but to keep things moving forward, it was decided to just adopt the Federally recognized district boundaries, which was done.
Commissioner Travers: One more question. Could we be considered into an additional area in each of our wards?
Commissioner Bohlen: Absolutely.
Commissioner Travers: I'd like to add three places. We can discuss that later.
Commissioner Bohlen: Any they could be anywhere, Commissioner Travers, from an individual home or building to a street, a block, several streets, or a contiguous area. And I won't take up any more time of the Council's but several come to mind.
Commissioner Watkins: I appreciate your discussion. I recognize, but the thing that still sticks in my mind is at the initial onset of this, no consideration was given to any other ward and I think it was a mistake. ... Whoever told you did it, you did it, you paid for it, fine, but what I'm saying that there's history in all districts and I think that needed to be considered. And the fact that you didn't consider it or who didn't, I don't care who recommended it, I don't care if the President of the United States recommended it; I thought it should have been considered. And that's my point.
Mayor Rippons: Any other discussion? If not, gentlemen, you have before you a motion to table any recommendation or discussion for the future of the Historic District not to exceed the six month period. All those in favor:
Commissioner Atkinson: Aye
Commissioner Travers: Aye
Commissioner Weldon: Aye
Commissioner Watkins: Aye
Mayor Rippons: All those opposed?
Commissioner Bohlen: Nay
Mayor Rippons: Let's go back to the vote again. There was some confusion here. All those who are in favor of the motion to table it for a period not to exceed six month, say aye.
Commissioner Atkinson: Aye
Commissioner Travers: Aye
Commissioner Watkins: Aye
Mayor Rippons: Opposed?
Commissioner Bohlen: Nay
Commissioner Weldon: Nay
Mayor Rippons: By a three to two vote, the motion is tabled.
Approve Consulting Services for Grant Applications-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve Jeff Middlebrooks of CityWorks to complete a CDBG grant application on a consulting basis for a fee of $5,000. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Appraisal Services-Commissioner Travers made a motion to utilize the appraisal services of Ms. Frosch in the amount of $950. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Open Bids for Park Benches (DPW)-Bid to be used in the pedestrian mall on Race Street were received from:
- Victor Stanley, Inc. (Dunkirk, MD) - $2,829.00
- Barco Products (Batavia, IL) - $2,514.00
- Taylor Sports & Recreation, Inc. (Martinsburg, WV) - $776.00; $599.00; $684.00
Commissioner Travers made a motion to submit the bids to DPW for their recommendation. Commissioner Atkinson seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Open Bids for Regular Cab ¾ Ton Pickup Truck (DPW)-Bids were received from:
- GM Giant (Easton, MD) - $20,038.46
- Preston Buick Pontiac GMC (Cambridge, MD) - $21,866.00
- M&L GMC Volvo (Federalsburg, MD) - $19,628 and $20,254 (2 bids received)
Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to submit the bids to DPW for their review. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discuss Letter on Parking on East Appleby Avenue-Commissioner Watkins reported that the Traffic & Safety Committee is trying to resolve the parking problem on East Appleby Avenue. The Committee will meet with the property owners to discuss different parking options.
Approve Clerk/Treasurer to Establish Line of Credit Relative to Interim Financing for Environmental Projects-The City has been receiving extreme invoices due to the ongoing environment construction both at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the sewer separation project on Water Street. The City has applied for loans through MD Dept. of Environment Maryland Water Quality Financing. This line of credit is for interim financing until the City can draw money for reimbursement. Commissioner Travers made a motion to allow the Clerk/Treasurer to establish a $1 million line of credit. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Letter of Intent for Borrowing Up To $10 Million Through MWQFA For Environmental Upgrades-The two projects mentioned above will cost approximately $20 million. There are grants for roughly 50% of these expenses. This will be the first reading of Resolution 01-001 Authorizing the Borrowing of Up to $10 Million for the Projects.
Introduce Resolution Establishing New Sewer Rates for Purpose of Funding of On-Going Maintenance Costs and Debt Service-In order to borrow money from the State, there is a requirement to have a revenue neutral consideration of rates. With the $10 million loan that the City would be getting from the State, it would require approximately $620,000 debt service requirement per year for the next 20 years. To come up with the additional revenue, the sewer service charge needs to be increased from the existing in-City rate of 210% to 290%. The additional money would be collected from the Sanitary Districts. Mr. Collison read Resolution 01-002 (first reading). If accepted, this would become effective July 1, 2001.
Request from DPW to Purchase a Sewer Camera-DPW budgeted $16,000 to purchase a sewer-line camera this year. It will be purchased through a State contract purchase agreement. The camera will cost $15,990. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to allow DPW to purchase the sewer camera. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from Wal-Mart for Zoning Approval for "Seasonal Lawn and Garden Corral" in Front Parking Lot-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve Wal-Mart's request. Commissioner Atkinson seconded it. Mr. Pritchett expressed a concern over an issue with Wal-Mart about the number of parking spaces the corral takes up bringing it below the minimum required parking necessary for the area. Commissioner Travers removed his motion from consideration. Mr. Collison will direct Wal-Mart to obtain a Special Use Permit, which will address the issue.
Approve Budget Amendment for CEMS-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to go into executive session after the meeting to discuss personnel. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Mr. Collison's research found that in 1997 Council approved Bethel AME Church to purchase property at 705 Pine Street and 614 Bethel Street. Resolution No. 97-008 confirmed that the properties would be conveyed to them for $475. If the money has been received by the City, the deed will be prepared.
Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to allow the Historic Preservation Commission be allowed to seek grant funding on behalf of the City of Cambridge to research additional areas and sites that are worthily of inclusion into the Historic District for the boundaries to be enlarged. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 9:30 p.m.
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, January 8, 2001, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer