City Council Minutes
November 5, 2001
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, November 5, 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 October 29, 2001 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discuss Legal and Financial Ramifications of Proposed Annexation-As the City has received several requests for annexation, Rob Collison outlined the legal requirements. An annexation request can come from a property owner or it can be initiated by the City Council. In each situation, you must have consent of the owners of 25 percent of the assessed values of the property and you must have 25 percent of the registered voters within the area to be annexed in. Before the City can proceed with the annexation resolution they must have the meets and bounds description of the area to be included. After the resolution is introduced, there will be four advertisements for a public hearing. At the public hearing the City will present a plan for expenditures as to the area in question and how it would be funded. The big expense is the extension of water and sewer. This could be partially funded by the residents or by grant funding or other sources. Following the plan will be time for public comment and then the Council will decide whether to approve and proceed with the annexation. After the vote is taken, there is a period of time (45 days) in which 20 percent of the people within the area can petition for a referendum.
Rob Collison said there have been several cases recently on required annexations in extending any water and/or sewer. A developer outside Oxford wanted City water and sewer but did not want to be annexed. The City turned it down. You cannot turn one person down in that scenario and then later approve someone. Once you grant an exception to let someone get services without annexation, anyone else can request services and get them as long the system has the excess capacity. Easton does not grant any exceptions. Rob feels this is a sound policy.
The only other exception that has occurred with the City was when the State of Maryland demanded that the City take certain areas in for environmental reasons on a public safety or health issue. If the City had not accepted the Town of Church Creek in its system, Cambridge would have been fined $25,000 a day. The only other exception Rob is aware of is the State of Maryland at Horn Point. There is a provision in State law for State facilities. If you have excess capacity and a State facility is within reach and they will pay for it, you cannot deny them access.
There have been other instances when the City took over the water company that had pre-existing contracts with certain areas (Algonquin, etc.). These contracts were upheld. The Sanitary District is something separate. Another expense is the cost of advertising. This is usually billed to the property owners if the property owners requested the annexation. The City would pay this cost if the annexation was initiated by the City.
The annexed area cannot create an island of un-annexed area in the City. The area has to be contiguous to the City but you cannot skip over a property and take in everything around it. The whole process takes approximately four months unless there are sufficient numbers to have a referendum.
David Pritchett reported that George Hyde came up with two options for running sewer to the area. One option would cost $351,600 and the other would cost $288,600. The only difference is the location of the pump station and the linear feet of the force main.
George Hyde showed the Council a map of the properties requesting annexation. He projected the sewer flows for the area to be 27,510 gal/day. There is a sewer line on Chesapeake Drive and a force main on the other side of Route 50 which is actually owned by the Sanitary District. He determined the City would need a pump station. There is no way to gravity feed to either point. The station would be capable of handling about 100 gal/min. The first option would be to provide a pump station with a force main pumping down along Route 16 and up Chesapeake Drive to the location of the existing gravity sewer. This would cost approximately $351,600. The other option would be to connect to the Sanitary District's 8-in. force main on the north side of Route 50. This is a lot closer. We would still need the same pump station but the force main would be shorter. This would cost approximately $288,600. The City would probably have to take over and maintain the Sanitary District's force main from the point we tie in, which goes all the way to the treatment plant.
If the Bucktown area experiences failing septic systems, this area could be annexed in or the boundaries of the Sanitary District could be expanded to take them in.
Gary Newcomb reported that presently water would be available for the Dave Wilson auto dealership and for the Exxon Station. We presently have a 12‑in, water main on Route 16 that comes from Chesapeake Drive and crosses to the Hyatt property. Before the Cambridge Inn was constructed there was some consideration about possibly connecting to the City water system. At time the possibility of getting water to service the Cambridge Inn was running the line up an alley, which appeared to be a 15‑ft alley to the rear of the properties. It would consist of approximately 12,000 ft of waterline to be installed and connecting to the existing line on Route 16 and would cost between $48,000 and $50,000 to service the Cambridge Inn. The other properties could be serviced from that same line. He is not certain if there is any kind of utility right-of-way across the property, which would be good to know for future expansion. There were a number of possibilities in the preliminary plans for getting water to the airport. One possibility would be to connect to the 12‑in. line that will be installed on the Hyatt property during Phase 2. Presently this line is not in.
David Pritchett said historically the expense is borne by the developer or the homeowner requesting annexation. Jim Michael said block grant funding is typically only for low-moderate income projects like the City looked at for the Christ Rock area. There may be some low-interest loans for water and sewer projects. Rob said the City probably should address the expenses with each of the property owners. There is a proposed hotel for one of the sites. Mayor Rippons suggested a meeting with the property owners to address the issue before we move on. Rob Collison said it would be about six weeks before the actual public hearing where the cost allocations and loan and/or grant funding would be explained. Rob will arrange the meeting.
Gage Thomas asked about impact fees. Ed Kinnamon said this could be an avenue to look at. Commissioner Weldon noted the amount of undeveloped property in the parcel. There is a lot of future potential but nobody there to pay for it yet. If the City could come up with a ratio of the developed parcels that need the services immediately vs. the undeveloped parcels, the City could pay for the parts of the undeveloped portion and then the remainder could be divided among the property owners of the existing development. This would make it easier on the property owners and the City could recoup it through impact fees as the other land gets developed. An impact fee structure would benefit the City.
Request for Re-Zoning for Proposed Apartment Community on Woods Road-Delaware Valley Development Company has submitted a request for rezoning from R‑1 to R‑4 to accommodate their proposed apartment community. This would be located off Woods Road and adjacent to the rear of the property that is situated next to Woods Crossing. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to refer the request to Planning and Zoning. Commissioner Watkins seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Approve PO 1941-Wheatley Brothers (P&Z)-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to approve PO 1941. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Cancel Meeting for November 12 in Honor of Veterans Day-Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to cancel the City Council Meeting on November 12th in honor of Veterans Day. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Ocean Highway Exxon Request to Convey Property-Raymond Crismond, President of Ocean Highway Exxon, Inc. requested that the City consider conveying to them the street bed of the paper street of the extension of Rambler Road portion behind his business which runs from Roslyn Avenue to Meteor Avenue. Rob Collision said to do so, the Council would have to run a notice in the newspaper that the City was contemplating this and have deemed that the property is no longer needed for public purpose. After a sufficient number of publications, Council would render a decision if they wish to sell it to the individual. David Pritchett said he received a request from the Dairy Queen to have this occur last year. The Department of Public Works did an evaluation at that time looking at the monetary balance of what the City would be giving up and potential future income, etc. They did not see anything negative to the City if they worked something out with the property owners. David requested additional time to look into this request.
Ken Usab and Jeff Johnson explained that Dorchester General Hospital has the opportunity to replace the existing deteriorated timber bulkhead along their Choptank River frontage (approximately 600 ft of shoreline) with stone riprap. Andrews & Miller has been retained by the hospital to design the measures. They have been seeking funding for the project through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Shore Erosion Control Program. The State gives low interest or no interest loans to local governments (city and county) to allow landowners to protect their shorelines to prevent erosion. They are requesting the City sponsor the project. The State has approximately $300,000 to grant to the hospital as a loan at 0 percent interest over 25 years. In addition to the stone riprap, the hospital is proposing to construct a timber riverwalk to provide a connection between the Franklin Street boat ramp and the existing boardwalk at Sailwinds Park. Several storm drains will be replaced by the City as part of the project. They are asking for the City to write a letter to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Shore Erosion Control Division to express their support and their intent to be a sponsor of the project. A condition of this would be the development and execution of a memorandum of understanding between the City and the hospital to work out the terms of repayment or any securities that would be required. The State will provide assistance in the development of the document.
Mayor Rippons asked what the loan entails as it regards the City's position. Mr. Usab said the State of Maryland has a fund and they enter into a loan agreement, which is a pass-through loan through the City to private property owners or public entities for implementation of shoreline protection projects. The State either issues bonds or they have other reserve funds in the general fund that they commit to the program. The money is given to the City to cover the cost of engineering, construction, etc. for the given project. The City would enter into an agreement with the property owner that would require repayment of the loan over a 25-year period at 0 percent or low interest. They City would process the payment. The hospital would pay the City and the City would pay the State throughout the course of the note. The hospital would be responsible for maintaining the project throughout the 25‑year loan life in accordance with the terms of the agreement with Shore Erosion Control.
They made the same presentation before the County Commissioners last month. If the property owner does not meet their commitment to pay the loan back, a lien is filed against the property and the City would be paid first. It is a very secure program. Mr. Usab said it is his understanding that though the full 25 or 30 years that the program has been in place, there has been less than 2 percent of problem loans and most were brought back to current over a period of time. It is a very successful program.
Rob Collison said that on the private properties that he has seen in doing title transfers, they usually file the lien of the Shore Erosion in the Land Records like a mortgage. The real estate at the hospital property will secure it. Mr. Usab said that work on whatever is necessary to make Council comfortable with the memorandum of understanding.
Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to support the project. Commissioner Travers seconded it. Mayor Rippons said right now the support is in the form of a letter initially saying the City will support it and make provision pending an MOU that will be amenable to both parties. The motion was passed unanimously.
Jim Michael announced that there will be a joint Planning Commission / City Council Meeting on November 6th at 7:30 pm in City Council Chambers to discuss the Comprehensive Rezoning.
David Pritchett reported that the Department of Public Works has begun the painting and striping in conjunction with a grant that they received. They have painted 2.6 miles last week. Intersection marking will begin this week.
Referencing a letter from the Chamber of Commerce designating their appointment to the City's Economic Development Committee, Mayor Rippons suggested waiting until the entire Committee is named.
Ed Kinnamon referenced a letter from Bill Watkins regarding medical equipment (medical control radios, automatic external defibrillators and cardiac monitors). He is asking for direction because it is an additional expenditure for his department. Normally, the equipment had been funded by a grant, but this year the State has cut back funding and they are requiring a 50 percent match. Mayor Rippons asked Council to review the letter and contact Bill Watkins with any questions. A funding source will be discussed next week.
Ed Kinnamon reported that Planning and Zoning noted that an Ordinance was not codified regarding reducing the seating capacity for bona fide restaurants from 100 to 50. The Council approved the ordinance on May 22, 2000. The ordinance was never signed by the mayor even thought it was approved. Rob Collision has prepared an ordinance for adoption tonight to be signed by Mayor Rippons. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to authorize Mayor Rippons to sign the ordinance. Commissioner Travers seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Atkinson received the financial statement audit report for Municipal Utilities Commission for the period ending June 30, 2001. According to the report their management has been excellent and the Commission has done a great job. Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to send them a letter of appreciation for the fine job the Commission and employees have done. Commissioner Weldon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Weldon commented on the amount of news about the relationship between the City's fire company and the County. To answer all the questions everyone has, he feels the City should draft a letter asking the County Commissioners to clarify their position on cutting the funding for Lloyds Fire Hall after Rescue Fire Company has assumed the operation. There were also a couple of other issues relating to both our emergency services and fire protection and the relationship between the City and County. He would like to see these issues get resolved without hard feeling. The people who live in the area serviced by the Lloyds Fire Company deserve to have that protection. The City and Rescue Fire Company would not be out of line to ask for the County Commissioners' reasoning behind their approach to this situation. Mayor Rippons suggested a work session. Commissioner Weldon said a work session with the fire company would be appropriate. Ed Kinnamon will arrange a date with the fire company.
Mayor Rippons referenced a letter from Bill Watkins discussing the BLS Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the ALS MOU. Mr. Watkins is requesting that until all the companies sign the BLS MOU, that the City should not sign the ALS MOU. Mayor Rippons said the task force made a recommendation of an EMS Director. Mr. Watkins outlined in his letter that he feels it is in the best interest of the City, that the director be in place before they move forward with the ALS. Rob Collison has reviewed the BLS document with Bill Watkins. Commissioner Weldon made a motion to support the letter. Commissioner Watkins seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
Commissioner Atkinson made a motion to convene in Executive Session to continue a discussion on a real estate matter. Commissioner Weldon seconded it. The motion was passed unanimously.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 8:05 p.m.
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, October 29, 2001, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer