City Council Minutes
July 16, 2001
The City Council met in regular session on July 16, 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 Watkins made a motion to approve the minutes of the July 9, 2001 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Atkinson wanted the minutes to reflect the comment made at the meeting that the new project proposed on the old Gilman property would be as high as our water tower. That's really not true; the water tower is 133 feet. The new condos on the Creek are 64‑feet high. That gives you a better sense of the elevation. The motion with the amendment was passed unanimously.
Continuation of Discussion on Potential Development of the Property Known as "Cambridge Creek Property"-Mayor Rippons reported that Council met in Executive Session before tonight's meeting to discuss this item. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to hold an Executive Session after the meeting to continue the discussion. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
The developer has asked for abatement of past-due taxes. Mayor Rippons asked if they would be requesting future abatement. Mr. Parker responded that the abatement for pre-existing taxes was requested last week. As to the future, the principles of Palisades would be happy to pay the taxes assessed on the unit when they are built and the first occupancy permit is granted. They would like a deferment until such time as the construction has allowed them to get a unit available for sale. They are trying to establish the site as a "Brownfields". The City may need to originate the request to have the site delineated as Brownfields. They may be able to get a reduction in the assessment on the property because the assessment is based on the property as a performing asset. This is not the case. The owner has to work with Circuit Court in the tax sale. They may be asking for a Chambers Conference with the Judge to try to get some type of "breathing room". It seems impossible to meet the August 2nd deadline. It would take approximately 6 months for the State to determine if the site would qualify for Brownfields. If the designation is granted, there may be assistance that can be obtained for clean up of the site. Any abatement that the Council may extend would be non-assignable. The developer would be willing to pay the recapture of any taxes that may accrue from his date of legal title at the time of the sale of the first unit.
With bankruptcy proceedings in process, the City may not be able to collect the $35,000 outstanding. The developer is asking the City to relieve them of the $35,000 with the contemplation that the annual tax consideration for the project when it comes to fruition is going to be roughly $94,000 per year. The developer has already addressed the County Commissioners regarding the $69,000 owed to the County. There are substantial costs associated with clean-up (over $500,000). Bulk-heading costs will exceed $200,000. Under Maryland regulations and Federal regulations, when someone steps forward and takes title to a property, they are charged with the environmental clean-up. If they do not do so, there are severe penalties and there can be criminal penalties.
Under Federal bankruptcy law, the transfer of title does not extinguish a pre-existing debt that is a priority non-dischargeable lien. Tax liens are non-dischargeable priority liens.
Commissioner Weldon computes that 52 units at an average of $250,000 equals $13,000,000 in revenue on this project which is where the City will generate their revenue. Worst-case scenario on the clean up may be close to $1 million. Looking at this type of projected revenue, he is questioning why $35,000 is that big a deal. Mr. Parker responded that they don't know the saturation (or absorption) rate of the units. The developer is fronting millions of dollars in exchange for a profit. There could be a long absorption period in which interest would run on the money. The City is being asked to share a fraction of this risk.
Review Lease Agreement for Empowerment Center-Because the Pine Street Committee did not have adequate time to review the lease agreement, this item will be discussed next week. The City is probably looking at another 60 days for final approval from the Board of Public Works. Commissioner Atkinson would like a statement regarding the extension of the lease based on evaluation of performance. Rob Collision suggested the evaluation be during the 10th month.
Discussion on Christ Rock Annexation-The time period has expired provided in the notices to the residents of the Christ Rock Area. Rob Collison reported that both of the qualifying criteria have been met which means the City can proceed with annexation. Of the registered voters in the area, 44.12 percent signed the petition for annexation and 31.38 percent of the valuation of the property owners signed. At least 25 percent on each is required. The area covered by the proposal would extend 3 properties past the Christ Rock Church. This includes everything from Egypt Road up to the Church and then the next 3 properties on that side of the road. Jim Michael will try to obtain funding for the water and sewer extension. He will apply for CDBG funding in the fall/winter. Since the area is going to be annexed into the City, Rural Development funds would not apply. He will contact MDE to see if they can assist with funding.
Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to have the Department of Public Works and Planning and Zoning proceed with obtaining the approximate costs for the extension of the water and sewer to that area and to proceed with any grant funding available. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously. A public hearing will be scheduled after the City obtains these figures so the residents can understand what, if any, costs they will incur if they are annexed.
Discussion on Community Legacy Program (Resolution)-Mayor Rippons invited the audience to ask questions or give input on the program. Jim Michael outlined the items to be considered. They include:
Improvements to Sailwinds Park including air conditioning ($95,000); kitchen/ snack bar and facilities-excluding structure ($86,090); construction and renovation to the storage area, kitchen area, counter area ($30,291); renovations to the repair the sprinkler system, leaking roof, and renovations to the office, food pavilion, and water shed ($28,525); boardwalk and lighting along river side and creek side of Sailwinds Park ($81,250). The total estimated costs for Sailwinds Park improvements is $321,156.
City Marina. Replacement of the bulkhead/finger piers and improvements to interior marina, replacement of electric and water service along the service drive would cost $375,000. A like amount would be matched through the Natural Resources Waterway Improvement Program.
Economic Development/Tourism Specialist. The individual will work with the Sailwinds projects, tourism, downtown, Hyatt venues off-site, historic areas and be the liaison with the County projects ($50,000 including benefits).
Street improvements to historic High Street from Locust to Poplar to include replacement of water and sewer lines, both in excess of 100 years old. This would cost approximately $298,100.
Downtown Streetscape areas include portions of Race, High, Poplar and Pine Streets including pedestrian lighting, tourism signage kiosk, and trash receptacles (no cost available at this time).
Improvements to museum and office at the Harriet Tubman Organization.
Ed Kinnamon presented an updated list of committees the Commissioners will oversee this year. The assignments are the same as last year except that Commissioner Watkins is now Council President. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve the list of assignments for City Council for this fiscal year. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Purchase Orders--Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the following purchase orders for Rescue Fire Company: PO 1847 Moreans Fire Equipment; PO 1848 P.P.E.S.; PO 1849 Allsafe Fire Equipment; PO 1850 Moreans Fire Equipment; PO 2001 Safeware, Inc.; PO 2002 Caldebaugh Communications; PO 2003 Allsafe Fire Equipment; PO 2008 Potomac Fire Equipment; PO 2012 Moreans Fire Equipment. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve PO 1868 for Municipal Code Corporation. This is for Supplement No. 4 and 25 additional copies of the City Code. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve Financial Statement (unadjusted) for June 2001-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the financial statement. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously. The final figures will be available after the audit is complete.
Commissioner Weldon reported that several months ago a representative from the Power Boat Association requested City assistance with their banquet, which takes place on Saturday, July 21, 2001. The overall event carries a budget of about $85,000 for the whole weekend plus an additional $5,000 for the banquet. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to give the Power Boat Regatta a $2,500 advance provided they match that amount with private fundraising efforts. He amended his motion so it would be a matching grant up to $2,500 to come out of the Economic Development fund. Commissioner Bohlen seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
David Pritchett made a request that the Council refer a request to Traffic & Safety for yellow curb painting on Willis Street. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to refer the request to Traffic & Safety. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Mayor Rippons received a letter concerning the sanitary district fees. Jim Herbert, Chairman of Dorchester County Sanitary District, requesting a meeting to discuss modification of the rate structure. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to have Mayor Rippons, David Pritchett and George Hyde meet with the Sanitary District to discuss a new rate proposal. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:15 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, July 16, 2001, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer