City Council Minutes
June 4, 2001
The City Council met in regular session on June 4, 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.
Heidi Adams led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Atkinson led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mayor Rippons asked everyone to have a Moment of Silence in honor of all the students who are graduating from high school tonight. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the minutes of the May 21, 2001 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
PUBLIC HEARING (7:28 pm to 8:10 pm)
Topic: Text Amendment: Creation of the Following as a Special Use in an R3 District: "The Conversion of a School to Residential Condominiums"
Mr. Tony Thomas requested the proposed amendment. A Certificate of Publication from the Daily Banner states that the public hearing was advertised on May 18 and May 25, 2001. The Planning and Zoning Commission met on May 2, 2001 and recommended 6000 sq.ft. per unit for the lot size. They reconsidered this on June 4, 2001 and revised it to 4500 sq.ft. per unit to establish the lot size. The acreage divided by the lot size determines the number of units allowed. Rob Collison stated that presently under R3 the only uses permitted are single-family dwellings and duplexes. A duplex is permitted as a special exception. This would create a new special exception. The testimony tonight is on whether this type of special exception should be created in the code. It is not for the approval of Mr. Thomas' particular development proposal for the Academy School on Mill Street. The special exception would apply in any R3 district. If the text amendment is approved, each applicant would have to come back before the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals to receive the special exception (or special use).
Mr. Tony Thomas proposes to keep the front of the building the same for historical purposes. He intends to put in 18 up-scale condominiums, a tennis court, and a swimming pool. The prices will average between $150,000 to $190,000.
Lawrence Owens (109 Mill Street) questioned the original 6000 sq.ft. per unit lot size and the change to 4500 sq.ft. Rob Collison explained that the calculations were "off" the first time.
In response to a question by Bill Clyde (112 Mill Street) the property has been surveyed by the same company who surveyed the East New Market School. He also questioned the one parking space per unit parking plan and feels that this is archaic. Mr. Thomas stated that there will be a minimum of 27 parking places and the tennis court can be eliminated for extra parking.
A gentleman who is restoring the house at 607 William Street is concerned about the character of the neighborhood and the historic values. He feels the City could use the building for something else that would not affect the people who have lived here all their lives and those who have come to invest money in Cambridge.
Cathy Ridgley (122 Mill Street) was drawn to Cambridge by the quiet atmosphere, the people, and the historic homes. She is concerned about the children in the area finding a place to play and the increased traffic the condos would bring.
Rob Collison stated that if the special exception is approved, it does nothing to the Historic Preservation Commission. Any proposed project would have to go before them for their approval.
Mr. Alverez (1105 School Street) stated that the Oakley Beach project for condominiums was opposed by the City. He feels any new development should be looked at in the same scope as the Oakley Beach property.
Jack Rosemere (609 William St.) has seen the neighborhood change quite a bit. The traffic has increased. Changing the zoning to make the school a multi-family dwelling area is wrong. It will be too many people in too little space. The City should make it into a park for the children.
Tony Thomas stated that 18 condos would bring the tax base up for the City. They are trying to better the community either here or at Oakley Beach. He has a waiting list of 10 people from Cambridge who would like to move into the condos if they are built. The condos on the creek sold out extremely fast.
In answer to a question, Rob Collison calculated that the parcel could be subdivided into 11 lots for 11 additional houses. R3 zoning allows duplexes, however 9000 sq. ft. would be required, therefore 9 duplexes would be allowed.
Commissioner Weldon, in response to suggestions for a park or recreation center reminded the neighbors about the volume of traffic that goes in/out of the YMCA. Residents of the condos wouldn't create as much traffic as there would be if the property were open to the public. This is a residential neighborhood with an abandoned building.
Mayor Rippons asked Rob Collison to review the procedure that will follow after tonight. Rob explained that assuming it gets approved, Mr. Thomas would then submit an application to the Historic Preservation Commission. This will require at least one public hearing. If it passes with the Historic Preservation Commission, then he would apply for the approval of the project through the Planning and Zoning Commission for the special use itself. There would be a Planning & Zoning hearing that would be open to public comment. Then there would be a public hearing with the Board of Zoning Appeals, which is advertised in the newspaper, and all surrounding property owners receive notices. All specifics (number of units, height, setbacks, etc.) are given at this hearing. If the Board of Zoning Appeals approves it and someone doesn't like it, they can appeal it to the Circuit Court.
Mayor Rippons asked that the engineering study be made available before Council makes their decision. With no further questions or comments being offered, the public hearing was closed.
Representative From Social Services to Discuss Their Current Programs-William McDonnell, Director of Social Services for Dorchester County, told of the enormous changes they have gone through in recent years. They are operating under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (welfare reform). Handouts describing the various programs were distributed and are available for the public to view at City Hall.
Social Services requested a two-hour parking time limit on the south side of Cedar Street be removed. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to refer the request to the Traffic & Safety Committee. Commissioner Watkins seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Wini Roche-Smith to Discuss Tourism Requests-Ms. Roche-Smith would like part of the City's hotel tax revenues dedicated to tourism. With the visitor's center being open 7 days a week and the increased interest in this area, there is a major shortage of brochures. On behalf of the Tourism Advisory Board, she recommends that the City of Cambridge begin to annually dedicate 1% (of 4%) of the hotel tax collected in the City to the Tourism Department beginning with Fiscal Year 2001-2002. This would mean that the County Tourism Department would ultimatelyreceive 2% of the total 5% collected.
Her staff will assist Cambridge in its promotional efforts in any way they can. Cambridge-specific items are not available with their existing resources. Just to reprint 30,000 the Historic Walking Tour of Cambridge of Maryland brochures would cost approximately $11,000.
Commissioner Weldon suggested taking a portion of the funding and do something specific for economic development and have resources available to partner, where necessary, with the County. He made a motion to establish at Council level, an Economic Development Committee to start reviewing these issues. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. Commissioner Weldon and Commissioner Bohlen voted for the motion. Commissioner Atkinson, Commissioner Travers, and Commissioner Watkins voted against the motion. The motion was defeated by a 3:2 vote.
Commissioner Watkins is concerned that the Hyatt will not pay property taxes. The room tax was established in lieu of property tax. Mayor Rippons stated that in 1998 the State estimated that the City would forego $676,000 of real property tax when the Hyatt is complete. Now it will be even higher. The 4% room tax, predicated on the usage that the Hyatt has predicted, came out to $680,000.
The City is considering (under the Legacy Program) entertaining money to hire our own promotional and tourism consultant. It very well may not cost the City anything. The City is always ready to complement the County with tourism. The City came forward in taking care of Sailwinds Park.
Commissioner Weldon feels it is obvious that there needs to be some coordination on our economic development efforts. At a previous meeting, when the fate of the Main Street program was discussed, they talked about possibly creating an economic development position within the City. He again made a motion to create an Economic Development Committee comprised of two members of Council and the Mayor. Commissioner Bohlen seconded the motion. Commissioner Weldon and Commissioner Bohlen voted for the motion. Commissioner Atkinson, Commissioner Travers, and Commissioner Watkins voted against the motion. The motion was defeated by a 3:2 vote.
Brenda Hayward of the West End Citizens Association read a letter strongly urging reprinting the Historic Walking Tour of Cambridge of Maryland brochures and providing additional funds for individual projects that will directly and specifically benefit the City of Cambridge.
Pastor Pete Macinta, Cornerstone Assembly of God, to Request Permission to Hold Bake Sale on July 4th at Long Wharf-Rob Collison stated that this event occurs every year on the City parking lot. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to allow the Cornerstone Assembly of God to hold their bake sale at Long Wharf on July 4, 2001 as long as it meets the requirements of the Health Department. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
George Ames, President of the Dorchester County NAACP, to Request Letter of Support from Council to Host NAACP Convention in Cambridge in October 2002-The Dorchester County NAACP is in the running to hold the State 2002 convention in Cambridge. It will be a 4-day affair beginning with a religious service at a local church on Thursday; workshops, lunch, and an evening banquet on Friday and Saturday; and a religious service will be held on Sunday. Bethel AME Church is having their April 2002 convention in Cambridge. Commissioner Watkins made a motion for Council to send a letter of support to the NAACP to hold their convention in Cambridge in October of 2002. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Appoint Additional Member to the ADA Committee-Cindy Lewis, a 1st Sergeant in the Maryland State Police is experienced in this type of work and has offered to serve on the ADA Committee. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to appoint Cindy Lewis to the ADA Committee. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Watkins and Chief Hurley to Appoint Representatives to the 911 Task Force-Commissioner Watkins' appointment is Ivory Buck. Jeff Hurley's (RFC) appointment is Clay Stamp. He has another tentative appointment that will be announced at a later time. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to appoint these representatives. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Second Reading and Decision on Ordinance on Bicycles, Skates, Scooters, and Skateboards-Rob Collison contacted LGIT concerning the City's liability with this proposed ordinance. They said it would not affect their ability to insure the City from a liability standpoint. The City would need to monitor the condition of our sidewalks. It would not increase our liability or rates. If someone on a skateboard or bicycle injures a pedestrian, the liability would be with the operator of the skateboard or bicycle or with their parent if they are a minor. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to adopt the revised ordinance effective immediately. Commissioner Travers seconded it. Commissioners Travers, Weldon, Watkins, and Bohlen voted in favor of the motion. Commissioner Atkinson abstained. The motion was passed 4:0 with Commissioner Atkinson abstaining.
First Reading of Stormwater Management Ordinance-Rob Collison gave a summary of the ordinance that was requested by the State. Copies are available at the Department of Public Works for review.
Approval of Appointments to the Sailwinds Management Board-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to allow Mayor Rippons to appoint the Sailwinds Management Board. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from Kelly Marshall to Have Rededication of the Pedestrian Mall-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the request to have a rededication ceremony at the Pedestrian Mall. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Request from Glenn Bramble, Dorchester Service Associates, for Refund for Building Permit-DSA applied for a permit for an addition to a house at 410 Pennsylvania Avenue on May 10, 2001. The client who was going to use the room passed away on May 12, 2001. They are requesting the permit fee be refunded. Rob Collison will review the history on refunding permit fees and report on it next week.
Discuss Enforcement of Trash Ordinance-David Pritchett reported that the City Code is very specific on what type of container can be used to put trash in. Increasingly people are not adhering to this ordinance. He would like to publish the ordinance in the Daily Banner and have some door tags made so if they reject picking up someone's trash, they can hang a tag on the door with an explanation. Rob Collison will work with David Pritchett on this.
Discuss Alarm System for Empowerment Center-The architect did not include an alarm in the specifications. Property maintenance money was used to rough-in the wiring. The system would cost approximately $3500. Mayor Rippons recommended going to bid and by the time the bids are received, the money can be put in the new budget. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to go to bid on the alarm system. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discuss Job Classifications for Planning & Zoning Department-The job classifications call out the distinction between a Code Enforcement Officer I and II. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the new job classifications. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Chief Wroten to Discuss Bullet Proof Vest Program-This will be discussed at a later date.
Approve Budget Amendment for Financial Administration-Commissioner Weldon made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Watkins seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendment for Planning & Zoning--Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Watkins seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendment for Department of Public Works--Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Mayor Rippons recognized the American Legion and the VFW for the Memorial Day services they held at Long Wharf. He also thanked the VFW for the flag and flagpole they supplied for Great Marsh and the flag they donated for Sailwinds Park.
Evelyn Townsend requested the use of Cornish Park for the Juneteenth Celebration on June 16, 2001 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and the associated variance from the noise ordinance. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the requests. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Watkins made a motion to go into Executive Session on Friday at 1:00 pm. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned the meeting at 9:40 p.m.
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, June 4, 2001, insofar as I personally am aware.
Heidi R. Adams, Executive Assistant