City Council Minutes
March 26, 2001
The City Council met in regular session on March 26, 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 Weldon made a motion to approve the minutes of the March 19, 2001 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Traffic & Safety--Commissioner Watkins reported that Center Market requested a 30‑ft yellow curb on Cemetery Avenue to facilitate loading and unloading. The Committee felt only the 3-ft standard yellow curb be allowed because of the shortage of parking on the street. A yellow line disallows parking for all vehicles which would include the trucks for Center Market. No action will be taken.
A representative from Bayly's Crossing has requested action to slow down traffic through the new development. The Committee recommends that 4-way stop signs be installed at the intersection of High Street and Bradley Avenue. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to accept this recommendation. Commissioner Atkinson seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Saint Paul's Church of Maryland Avenue requested assistance in improving visibility when entering and exiting their parking lot. The Committee recommends extending the yellow marking on the sides of both curb cuts in addition to repainting the intersection. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to accept this recommendation. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Street Lighting--Commissioner Bohlen reported that the Lighting Committee met to address the request from the Cambridge Park Apartments on Greenwood Avenue for increased lighting on the property side of the light poles. The Committee visited the site in the evening and it is their recommendation that it be left as it is because the additional lighting should be the responsibility of the apartment complex. The public street and sidewalk are well lighted. No action will be taken.
Planning & Zoning Commission-- Commissioner Watkins reported that the Committee reviewed the zoning for the building at the intersection of High and Washington Street (formerly White Owl). Historically this has been a commercial area. The Committee recommends that the zoning be changed from R4 to C1. A public hearing will be held to discuss this matter.
Ms. Marie Beasley has been approved for a daycare center for 8 children pending the plan for fencing. The Committee approved the site plan for the fence and recommends Ms. Beasley be allowed to get her permit for daycare for 8 children. No further action is required by Council.
Proclamation for Administrative Professionals Week (April 22 through April 28, 2001) -The proclamation was read, signed and presented to Ruth Bradley of the International Association of Administrative Professionals.
James E. Cornish to Request Permission to Hold Family Reunion at Great Marsh-Mr. Cornish would like to hold a family reunion on June 30, 2001 from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Great Marsh Park with amplified music. Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to allow the reunion and to grant the associated noise variance. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Portia Johnson-Ennels With a Citizen's Concern-Mrs. Johnson-Ennels presented the Council with a letter last week expressing her concern and doesn't feel she has to discuss it further. Commissioner Atkinson responded to the concern by discussing the letter Mrs. Johnson-Ennels sent to the Department of Housing and Community Development objecting to a grant the City applied for. This letter was published in the newspaper. A response was received from DHCD responding to Mrs. Johnson-Ennels' concerns. The CDBG staff has reviewed her comments and found the City has complied with all regulations concerning the public hearing. The second concern regarding payment to Jeff Middlebrooks was unfounded, as Mr. Middlebrooks did not receive any money. The letter will be made available to the press.
Ted Bramble to Request Approval for Mobile Hot Dog Stand-Rob Collison reviewed the City Code and doesn't feel there is anything specifically on target for this except for "seasonal or temporary businesses". Mr. Bramble will need to apply for a special use permit. Commissioner Travers made a motion to refer the request to the Board of Appeals. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Hubert Brohawn Request to Renew Special Use Permit to Operate Produce Stand-The practice has been that the permits are automatically renewed unless there are complaints filed with the Commissioners and by placing it on the agenda thereby providing public notice. Nobody in the audience asked to speak in opposition; therefore, the permit has been renewed.
Adopt Resolution for the Establishment of the City of Cambridge Citizens Advisory Committee for Persons With Disabilities-This resolution was read 2 weeks ago. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the resolution. Commissioner Atkinson seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Award Bid for Furnishing and Installing Replacement Bulkhead at the Municipal Marina and Park Area-Four bids were received and read on March 19. A complete evaluation was done by the Department of Public Works and they recommend Council award the bid to the low bidder, Baltimore Pile Driving for $629,720.00. This is contingent on the necessary performance bond, payment bond, and certificate of insurance. Commissioner Bohlen made a motion to accept the recommendation. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Planning Grant for Proposed Public Safety Building-This is a small grant through the Economic Development Administration of the Rural Development Center. This grant is for $6,000 and could cover appraisals, feasibility and planning, and architectural/engineering services. The funds have to be obligated by the end of April. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the planning grant. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Continue Discussion on Clean-Up Month (April)-Ed Kinnamon read a proclamation for Clean-Up Cambridge Month. Each Saturday in April and the 1st Saturday in May will be devoted to cleaning a specific ward with an emphasis on abandoned vehicles, appliances, tires, yard debris, and a general clean-up of each ward. Commissioner Bohlen asked for volunteers from the 1st Ward to get together at Great Marsh Park at 8:00 am on Saturday, March 31st, to pick up litter. After Clean-Up Month is over, the inspectors will be stepping-up on their inspections. Commissioner Watkins would like April 7th designated as the 2nd Ward's day. Commissioner Weldon designated April 21st as the Saturday for the 3rd Ward. The 4th Ward's day will be April 28th; the 5th Ward's day will be the first Saturday in May. Clean-up of the downtown area will be discussed at a later date.
Discuss Annexation of the Christ Rock Area-Jim Michael reported that DPW conducted an information survey 2 years ago concerning annexation of property the Christ Rock area. Approximately 76% responded to the survey of which about 45 to 46% of the individuals voted in favor of annexation. A local surveyor provided an estimate of $3,000 to do a boundary survey of the total area. Another issue is the cost to run sewer services to the area. Mr. Michael would like to submit a Community Development Block Grant application for running water and sewer to this area. He has contacted MDE as to any loan/grant money that may be available.
Rob Collison highly recommends Council authorize Mr. Michael to proceed with the application process because it will directly impact on a possible referendum. If a certain percentage of the property owners within that area to be annexed in petition it, you must have a referendum. Commissioner Atkinson stated that wells are failing in that area and whether or not they are in the City, he feels the City has an obligation to furnish water and sewer. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to authorize Mr. Michael prepare the application for the water and sewer to go to that area. Commissioner Watkins seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Weldon made a motion to appropriate adequate funds for the survey of the Christ Rock area. Commissioner Watkins seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Introduction/First Reading of Joint Resolution for City to Assume Lease for Sailwinds -Rob Collison read the Joint Resolution between the City of Cambridge, the Maryland Port Administration, and Sailwinds Park, Inc. Mayor Rippons asked for public comment. Commissioner Weldon asked about the formal amendment process. Rob Collison stated that comments could be heard tonight, draft them into the final form for submission, and approve them at the next meeting. If the Council wishes to have another first reading, they can do so. If there are drastic changes that it takes in a completely new resolution, then another first reading would be necessary. It would also have to go back to Maryland Port Administration. Rob Collision suggested that it should be added in Item No. 1 that the City of Cambridge will be involved in all levels as well. Likewise under Item No. 3, where it discusses the east end of the Park which is outside the scope of what the City will be taking on, there should be provisions stating that the City is not undertaking any of these obligations.
The Chamber of Commerce advised Commissioner Weldon today that their Board is going to submit a letter stating their position as supporting the City's assumption of the lease but that issues relating to development, etc. be limited to a single point of contact. He has not received a formal written document. Commissioner Weldon feels this is the most effective way to move forward and he feels that point of contact should be the City.
Frank Narr, representing the Board of Directors of Sailwinds, disagrees with Commissioner Weldon's request. For the last 8 years the Sailwinds Board of Directors have been involved in the on-going development of the project so it is their position that they be, if not the lead, at least equal partners in taking the lead of this development aspect. The primary mission of his organization has been the commercial and ultimately fully commercial development of the Port property as well as the development of the entire waterfront area. They feel they should be at the lead with the City.
Mayor Rippons stated that the Port Administration has entertained input from the City and Sailwinds and Wini Roche-Smith has been invited to represent the County. Commissioner Weldon got the clear impression from the State that the resolution is a local matter and that they would act on the local input that results from whatever this resolution creates. He doesn't disagree that Sailwinds needs to be part of the process. He feels it is such a critical piece of Cambridge waterfront, a critical part of our overall economic development scheme for the City, the City has taken on considerable financial risk in operating the best facility and moving forward with the things that Mayor Rippons has in his plan, and as such he feels it is in the best interest of all of the City of Cambridge that the City be the lead contact but not the only contact.
Rob Collison said that if there were something that Sailwinds Board does not find acceptable, it would be an impediment to the City taking over the lease.
Randy Heirs, President of the Sailwinds Board, feels everyone wants what is best for Dorchester County and the City of Cambridge. He thinks they all want to participate equally (City, Sailwinds Board, County). One of the things that the Sailwinds Board has been aware of for the past years is that they have the lease. They can shut Governors Hall tomorrow and negotiate directly with the State themselves. That's not their intention. Their intention has always been to have everyone involved. They want what's best for Cambridge and Dorchester County. It is paramount that the City of Cambridge recognize what they have been through, what they have done with Sailwinds in dealing with the City, County and State over the past 8 years. He feels they should participate on an equal level.
Commissioner Watkins thinks Sailwinds is a valuable asset. No matter who is in charge, they should have meetings of the minds.
Commissioner Weldon is willing to withdraw the issue of the City taking the lead role but the next thing that should be on the table is the future of the festival grounds and the hall. Based on the comments they heard last week from several people who are involved with events and based on his own experience with events, and based on the fact that nobody seems to want to have events there that's involved with the Sailwinds Board at this point, and that closing the door doesn't seem to be a big problem, he feels the potential of that site as a fairgrounds is an economic engine onto itself if it is handled properly. His intention is that if the City is involved with it, all those things can happen. However, if they are going to invest in that building, they have to know that it is going to be there. He is asking to not limit the language the say that they absolutely have to retain it but suggests striking the language that offers it up as a sacred cow. He doesn't like the fact that it is suggested that you can tear it down and move it. If the language is taken out, the flexibility is still there that a better offer can be considered.
Mayor Rippons said that Sailwinds Board does not own it, the City will not own it, the State of Maryland Port Administration owns it.
Rich Loeffler, a Board member, stated that the process is not to determine who's going to run it, all they are trying to get to is the ability to go out to see what can be done with the property. The State wants to be sure that the City and County are in accordance with what the Board is asking. Basically, they want to get a request out to see what interest is there. Commissioner Weldon feels the Council should have been brought up to speed on this a little bit sooner. Mr. Loeffler said the Board would like the opportunity to see what can be done with the property and that is what they are asking for.
Commissioner Bohlen sees this discussion diverge into two different things. One is what is going to happen with the property that is owned by the State of Maryland. However, it came to Council's attention that Sailwinds was going to have to close the doors of Governors Hall if they did not get an infusion of money. It was at that time that Council discussed Sailwinds financial difficulties and the potential resources that the City has to run Governors Hall. That is where the assumption of the lease for the operation of Governors Hall came from. His concern is that if the City is going to assume the lease and the operation of the facility, they are taking on a great deal. The only issue he has is that he wants to make sure that the City, because they will be held fiscally responsible by the assumption of the lease that they take on those responsibilities. He has an issue if someone is going to be dictating to Council about the operation of the facility.
Mayor Rippons explained that the resolution deals with the procedure that will be followed when the State comes back with the interested developers in the form of RFI's and who will be sitting at the table. Sailwinds is simply asking that they be at the table for that discussion. The City will be at the table and will have public hearings to bring the developer's interests to the community. If the assignment goes through, the day-to-day operations rest solely with the City; the Sailwinds Board will be out of the picture.
Commissioner Weldon would like to formulate a contract to allow the park to book events this year. There is uncertainty if this is going to happen this year, and if it is going to happen with the City. He thinks it will and in the end, it will be the most beneficial thing. However, if this events facility is going to go away at the hands of redevelopment or is not going to be incorporated into a sensible development, then any waterfront-based events will be eliminated. He thinks its critical to removed the language that leaves that door open.
Rob Collison suggested wording it so the Maryland Port Administration would give preference to someone willing to maintain the hall and festival grounds at the present location.
Shirley Coleman, a private citizen, believes Sailwinds Board has a stake because they are holding the lease; the County also has a stake and the City will have a stake when they take it over. They should get together and decide what they want to negotiate what they want and don't want and be ready to negotiate as a unit when they get back to the Port.
There are a few small changes Rob Collison talked about that will be made for the next meeting.
Request from Bay Country Festival for a Carnival Permit and a Noise Ordinance Variance-Kim Seward, Chairperson for the Bay Country Festival submitted a written request for a carnival permit and a noise ordinance variance. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to grant the permit and a noise ordinance variance. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The festival hours are 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm from July 3rd through July 7th. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request to Set Policy for Use of Newly Installed Kiosk at Long Wharf-Mr. Pritchett suggested an annual fee of $10 to use the kiosk. The kiosk was initiated as a result of a request to have signage for small boat owners who run cruises. It will accommodate from four to six operators. It does not meet the needs of what the downtown has requested. A similar kiosk with slots for brochures could be put closer to Water Street to accommodate the downtown area. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to purchase another kiosk for the downtown area. Commissioner Travers seconded it. Ed Kinnamon will contact the Chamber of Commerce to invite input from the downtown community as to what they would like to see in a kiosk and the location they would suggest. Commissioner Atkinson withdrew his motion until this input is received. David Pritchett will draft some regulations for the kiosk at Long Wharf.
Approve Purchase Order - Cambridge Police Dept.-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Two Budget Amendments - Planning & Zoning-Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the two budget amendments. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendment - Cambridge Police Dept.-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Bohlen seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Financial Statement for February 2001-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the financial statement. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discuss Canceling Council Meeting-April 2 (Cambridge Day)-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to cancel the Council Meeting on April 2nd. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
David Pritchett reported that building permits went up 515% in building permit money. It typically ranges from $6,000,000 to $13,000,000 and this year's building permit totaled $42,476,000 (value of construction). There were 176 permits issued.
Joanna McCoy of the Choptank Animal Hospital would like to purchase a used fire hydrant in conjunction with the remodeling of their building. It will be used in a little park. Ed Kinnamon reported that MUC has several old non-usable fire hydrants. Gary Newcomb was asked to determine a price for the fire hydrant.
Commissioner Atkinson would like the City Code amended to specifically read that parking is prohibited on sidewalks as the State law does. This was referred to the Traffic and Safety Committee.
Pat Bridges, a representative of Relay for Life, has requested permission to have employees participate in Casual Wednesday with proceeds going to Relay for Life. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve Casual Wednesday. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Rob Collison reported that as part of the Cambridge Park Apartments renovation project, the developers had requested that the City convey to them some land (a portion of the street-namely, Fairmont Avenue running from the southeast side of Greenwood Avenue into the Cambridge Park Apartments toward the northwest side of Edgewood Avenue) as part of the City's in-kind contribution. This will be In exchange for a 6-acre parcel across from the Department of Public Works. Under State law, public notice must be provided for granting of City property. Since no objections have been received, Rob Collison will proceed with the transfer.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:40 p.m.
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, March 26, 2001, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer