• City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland

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City Council Minutes

February 7, 2000
 

February 7, 2000

Cambridge, Md .

The City Council met in regular session at 7:00 p.m. with Mayor David J. Wooten presiding.

Those Commissioners in attendance were: Commissioners Vickers, Watkins, Saunders, Swafford and Rice.

Bishop Riley opened the meeting with a prayer.

Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the minutes of the January 24th Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Watkins then moved to approve the minutes of the January 31st meeting; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.

PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION'S REPORT

Commissioner Watkins advised that at their February 2nd meeting, the following two cases were heard:

Chesapeake Resorts, LLC and Maryland Economic Development Corporation / PWRD Text Amendment: Commissioner Watkins indicated that the Hyatt is interested in changing the line spacing for parking and moved to accept the Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation to reduce the parking width of 9 feet to 8 1/2 feet and to have the City attorney make the necessary Text Amendments A, B & C, as documented in Miles & Stockbridge's December 15, 1999 correspondence; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

Clifton Enterprises, Inc. / Annexation and Subdivision request: Commissioner Watkins advised the Planning Commission heard the pros and cons on this issue and, at this point, they are planning to put it on hold until the next meeting to be revisited and they will make a recommendation at that time.

HISTORIC BOAT TOURS AT LONG WHARF (RANDOLPH COLLINS)

As requested by Council at the January 31st meeting, Mr. Collins advised he submitted a letter with additional information. Commissioner Saunders indicated that Mr. Collins "answered everything in the letter to suit me." She then made a motion that Mr. Collins be able to move forward with his business (to offer one hour historical tours of the creek area) pursuant to all the insurance information being submitted to the City attorney to make sure "that it meets our coverage." Motion was seconded by Commissioner Vickers and it carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders then thank Mr. Collins "for enduring the questions that I had last week-you gave the answers exactly."

ANDY RUSSO - AFFORDABLE MULTI-FAMILY HOUSING DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Shane Acevedo (the "A" in A & S Development) came to the podium after handing additional information to the Mayor and Council. He mentioned that Andrew Russo was also present this evening along with Rick Englert from Project Teamwork, Inc. (their 501(c)3 non-profit partner) as well as their Maryland based general contractor Ken Mathews (Hammel Construction).

Mr. Acevedo said since the last time they came before Council, they have located a site for their proposed development and are under contract for the property.

They are proposing a 144 unit multi-family development, "that is a gated community", off Glenburn Avenue. A majority of the units will have three bedrooms and two baths with a little under half of the units having two bedrooms. The residents would be given a digital card to get passed the gate into the community.

They propose a clubhouse with an on-site computer lab and on-site after care programs for the children... "one of the things we pride ourselves in is that we do not just develop a complex in a community and have citizens come and live there and stay there for a while." They have a program where they would move residents from rental to home ownership. When a tenant comes in, they sign up with the management company and express their interest in homeownership. For the first two years, 5% of the rent goes towards the down-payment for a home of their choice in the community. As a non-profit, they also provide credit counselling as well as pre and post home ownership counselling to the tenant before they close on their house "so it gives them the opportunity to move from rental to homeownersip."

Mr. Acevedo indicated that they were here tonight to request Council's support of the development.

Commissioner Watkins asked if they have done any projects similar to this and what their experience is as far as moving tenants from the project into buying a home. Mr. Englert replied by saying they have rehabed about 900 homes in Florida and about 100 in Michigan. They work with organizations like Fannie May in helping tenants clean up credit issues and of the 100 homes refurbished in Michigan, 56 of the homes are now with first time homebuyers.

Commissioner Saunders said that when Mr. Russo originally came before Council he stated this was subsidized rental housing... "is that what this is?" She was advised that it is not subsidized.

A reference was then made to a letter from A & S Development indicating that they tried to get the Cambridge Housing Authority to try to work with them and they were not interested. Commissioner Saunders asked if they spoke with the Board of Directors or the Executive Director and they were unsure.

The person he spoke to at the Housing Authority was asked about a local issue bond. Typically, the Maryland CDA issues tax exempt bonds but often local communities can do that rather than going through the State agency. Commissioner Saunders asked if the Housing Authority bears any expense for repayment of that bond and she was advised, "no they don't." She was advised that it would be easier for the developer to do a local issue bond and Commissioner Saunders suggested that he deal with Mr. Carlton Stanley who is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Housing Authority.

Since their last meeting in November, interest rates have gone up making a tax exempt bond deal less feasible. They would like to submit it as a standard tax credit deal where they will not be using tax exempt bonds "and therefore there wouldn't be a local issue of tax exempt bonds." This would require competing on a State level with other developments.

Commissioner Saunders asked if any of the units were subsidized rental housing. She was advised that when they get the tax credits from the State of Maryland through the competitive cycle, that is turned into equity for the development. With the equity in the development, they would take less debt on, and by taking on less debt, they could charge rents that are affordable.

Regarding her question as to whether they would have any Section 8 housing, Commissioner Saunders was advised that if they are awarded the tax credits, they take those tax credits "and we sell them on the open market to corporate investors." When the corporate investors buy those tax credits, they get tax credits for the next ten years. In return, the developer gets up front capital from the investors to do the development and this allows a smaller amount of the total financing cost as debt which allows the unit to be affordable to the tenant. He added that Federal law states, "we can't deny just because somebody has Section 8."

Commissioner Saunders stated that she spoke with the City's Fire Chief today and he stated that no one has talked to him about this project but he noticed several problems and suggested that the developer speak with him.

Mr. Englert indicated that they are asking for a letter of support from the Council, consideration for the paving of Glenburn Avenue up to Cosby Avenue, and that the Council commit to the development in the form of a waiver for building permits.

Commissioner Saunders said she is very hesitant with committing to this because of past dealings with HUD and the fact that she is not getting straight answers to some of her questions... "and I'm just not comfortable with your proposal."

Commissioner Vickers said this would fall in his Ward "but I would not support this concept as far as giving a vote for any other Ward in the City of Cambridge." To him it's just more rentals, backed up by Section 8, and it's going against the very basics of the City's Comprehensive Plan. He added, "if you really want to do something great", take this property and put up single homes like the ones you wanted to move the rental tenants into.

Commissioner Saunders stated that the City's public housing started over 30 years ago, "and the concept was exactly what you're standing there talking about. I can tell you, on one hand, in 33 years, I can count how many people that have moved out of there and got homes..."

Commissioner Rice commented, "...in all of the projects that have been done... to relieve the burden of sub-standard housing, I have yet to see one that has done that for the residents of the City of Cambridge... until we can guarantee that our people are the ones that are going to benefit, I got a real problem." He added that Cambridge residents get the least benefit from any of these programs. People from other communities get the vast majority of the benefit "and what have we done to our community... dropped it down, not picked it up."

Commissioner Saunders asked the question, "if you can't get those places rented based on the rent that you would be charging and 15 or 20 people come along with their Section 8 and you can get your fair market value, would you put them in there?" The response was, "I don't know." A gentlemen representing this development stated that if someone has a Section 8 voucher and 30% or more of their income goes towards housing, they would not qualify for this development. There will be some Section 8, however, it's going to be the exception.

Various issues of the development were discussed back and forth with Council and Commissioner Rice indicated that it was relatively obvious that there would be no decision this evening... "and without additional information there won't be." He therefore suggested setting up a meeting with someone from CDA for a joint meeting.

Commissioner Saunders indicated that when she spoke with Mr. Wexler today, he asked her as President of the Council to send him a letter requesting the meeting (which she authorized someone to do on behalf of the Mayor and Council) and he will mail back some suggestive dates when he can come. The Mayor and Council, as a body, would pick a date and time. For the record, Council was advised that the application deadline is early April so the sooner the meeting could be set up, the better.

REVISED ETHICS CODE

Commissioner Saunders indicated that the revision is to "Enforcement procedures; violations and penalties" of the Ethics Code Ordinance as proposed by Mr. Collison. She proceeded to read Section 8, Subsection (A) which adds "to the Mayor and City Commissioners" in the second sentence. Subsection (B) adds, "Any decision to discharge, remove or suspend a city official, employee or volunteer, pursuant to this provision, shall require the affirmative vote of four (4) members of the City Council and/or the Mayor. For the purposes of this provision, the Mayor shall be entitled to vote where there is less than four members of the Commissioners of Cambridge who are present and eligible to vote on a disciplinary matter set forth herein."

She then read Section 3-35 of the City Charter which refers to "Removals from office; cause, procedure." She asked that "the chief bailiff" be removed from the first sentence by Mr. Collison as it is a dated term. The rest of Section 3-35, which includes the following revision, was read by Commissioner Saunders: "Any decision to remove an elected official or discharge a department head shall require the affirmative vote of four (4) members of the City Council and/or the Mayor. For the purposes of this charter provision, the Mayor shall be entitled to vote where there is less than four members of the Commissioners of Cambridge who are present and eligible to vote on said removal or discharge."

Commissioner Saunders advised that within the proposed Ordinance it mentions how people can get appointed to the Ethics Commission, the number of members, qualifications, etc.

Mr. Collison suggested that on page 6 of the revised Ethics Code it should say (Subsection B) "remove or suspend a city official, or department head, (delete the word employee because they would come under the requirements of the Personnel Manual).

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to adopt the revised Ethics Code and that they become effective March 1, 2000; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

PROCEDURES FOR THE CONDUCT OF MEETINGS

Commissioner Saunders stated that she had read this and it leaves a lot to be desired. She then made a motion to table this for thirty (30) days; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Mr. Collison stated that if the Council had any suggestions, changes or additions that they give them to him. Motion then carried 4 to 1 with Commissioner Rice opposing.

APPROVE RECOMMENDED CHANGE TO CITY ORDINANCE DEALING WITH ENFORCEMENT OF GARBAGE ISSUES

Commissioner Saunders said, if Mr. Collison has something drawn up, she would like to make a motion, for discussion, that this be adopted tonight; seconded by Commissioner Swafford.

Commissioner Saunders stated that she feels that enforcement of garbage related issues should not burden down the City's Police Department and that this is more of a Housing Department issue. 'Mr. Collison said he prepared a proposed resolution which would designate the officials and employees of the Housing Department as the enforcement officers of Section 8-2 of the City Code. Motion then carried unanimously.

DISCUSS CAMBRIDGE CEMETERY ISSUES

Mr. Collison stated that Mr. Kinnamon had advised him that there was a proposal by a property owner at 600 Academy Street to donate some property to the cemetery corporation that maintains the Cambridge Cemetery on Cemetery and Academy Streets. When he looked into it, the corporate charter of the Cambridge Cemetery Company Incorporated had been inactive for a number of years and had forfeited its charter. In order to reactivate it there needs to be Articles of Revival submitted.

He further indicated that three decisions would need to be made this evening:

1) to authorize the activation of the corporate charter; (Dave Thomas of Robbins & Adams is handling the tax side of that to pay the back filing fees that are due. That corporation is a non-profit corporation that manages the funds to maintain the maintenance issues on the cemetery.)

2) that the corporation purchase from Dan and Ginger Brannock the property at 600 Academy Street. (They want to sell it for the same price they purchased it for which is $4,500.)

3) under the proposal, the cemetery corporation would demolish the structure and at that time, it would be donated to the City of Cambridge. Title to the property on which the cemetery sits is in the name of the Commissioners of Cambridge.

Commissioner Rice moved to submit the Articles of Revival for the corporation; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Vickers asked why a signature is required by the President of the County Commissioners and it was determined that this may have been a requirement of the original by-laws. Mr. Collison indicated that once the corporation is reactivated, there are steps that could be taken to amend the by-laws. With no further discussion, motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Rice felt that the rest of the issues need to be put in abeyance until after the corporation exists and he moved that this be done. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried unanimously.

APPROVE BUDGET AMENDMENTS FOR D.P.W. AND FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATION

Commissioner Swafford moved to approve the Budget Amendments for Financial Administration and the Department of Public Works; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

APPROVE BUDGETED EXPENDITURES OVER $250

Commissioner Swafford moved to approve the budgeted expenditures over $250; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS

Dave Pritchett referenced his memo regarding a tree in front of the Cambridge Recreation Center on Poplar Street. Commissioner Rice moved that this be referred to Traffic and Safety; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

A reference was then made by Mr. Pritchett to a memo from Dale Price requesting approval of a letter he wishes to send out to an applicant for a liquor license. Since this is in her Ward, Commissioner Saunders made a motion to table this until the applicant provides more indepth information to the Department of Public Works; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT

Ms. Adams advised that Mr. Clarence Johnson had contacted the City with regards to the peddler's license he had obtained for his produce stand on Court Lane last year. He purchased an annual license last year on October 14th once his special use permit was approved. She advised Mr. Johnson in a letter that he had the option to purchase the license for a designated day, a designated six-month period or an annual license. Had he purchased less than an annual license it would have expired prior to the upcoming produce season.

Commissioner Swafford asked if Mr. Johnson had complied with all the rules and regulations that were put on him before the license was even issued? Who follows up on that?

Commissioner Saunders stated that since this is in her Ward and "I was very vocal about it, it looks very nice out front this winter. He was very quick after the season was over to remove the tables and the baskets..."

Commissioner Rice doesn't understand what the problem is because he purchased it for a year which would cover him through October 12, 2000. A suggestion was then made by Commissioner Rice that it may be more sensible for the City to have the licenses run from January through December rather than from day of application to day of application.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion for the City attorney to look into this; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM FIFTH WARD

Commissioner Rice addressed a question regarding the application for grants for the pumping station operation. He is more concerned about the main and Mr. Pritchett assured him that the line is the main concern due to its age... "we're not so worried about the flow going into the station, it's the age of the line." Commissioner Rice just wanted to get that straight because everything he is reading just mentions "pumping station."

COMMENTS FROM FOURTH WARD

Commissioner Swafford addressed a memo in Council's books regarding the annual fireworks. He made a motion indicating that he would like to receive estimated figures and also that a letter be sent to the County "asking them again if they would like to contribute to our beautiful Dorchester County/City of Cambridge fireworks." Motion was seconded by Commissioner Saunders and it carried unanimously.

With traffic being directed down Academy Street due to the closing of the creek bridge, the additional traffic has caused many potholes. He asked that Mr. Pritchett check with whoever does the maintenance on Maryland Avenue for the State of Maryland to see if there is any funding available for repair of damage being done to City streets due to the rerouting of the traffic.

COMMENTS FROM MAYOR

Mayor Wooten read aloud a request from local business owners of the Arcade Laundromat to hold an Easter Egg hunt at Great Marsh Park on Saturday, April 22, 2000 from approximately 10:00 a. m. until 3:00 p.m.

Commissioner Vickers moved to grant the request; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Saunders said that they need to make sure that everything is worked out with the Department of Public Works. Motion carried 4 to 0 with Commissioner Swafford abstaining.

On another note, Mayor Wooten addressed a concern he has regarding the fact that when public hearings are held in Council Chambers, on many occasions, there has been an overflow crowd. The capacity is stipulated at 49 persons. Commissioner Vickers feels the only option would be to reschedule the meeting in a larger building at another time, since the fire code is being violated.

Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. Collison what the legal ramifications would be on advertising a public hearing and then, because of an overflow crowd, the public hearing is not held? Mr. Collison said there would be none if it was postponed or deferred to another location. If Council anticipates the possibility of a large crowd, they could get another site that same evening "as long as you wait and announced it after the time to meet and did not start it early at the other location to give people time to get there." He agreed with Commissioner Vickers that there would be the possibility of a citation from the State Fire Marshall.

Mr. Collison said another option would be to monitor the number of people in the room with the overflow crowd outside and then give them the opportunity to come in to speak. He then said he would look into other options and report back to Council.

COMMENTS FROM THIRD WARD

Commissioner Saunders, at the request of Mayor Wooten, made a motion to have a letter sent to allow a meeting to be held in cooperation with Mr. Bob Boettger of Chesapeake College and central business district owners to discuss ways to allow students to shop on the main streets before class, during breaks and after class. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried unanimously.

She then mentioned what Commissioner Rice had brought up about the line problem from the pumping station and yesterday Senator Colburn called her to say that Mr. Norm Conway is supporting him in the City's efforts to obtain funding. She then made a motion to ask Council's permission to let Mr. Pritchett move forward and do the work that he needs to do and that Senator Colburn be copied on all correspondence and with everything that happens with the grant. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Rice who said, "that's one project that if it doesn't get done, the taxpayers of this City will pay for it many times over." Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders then stated that Delegate Eckardt sent her a memo that she wanted to pass on to Mr. Pritchett, but she felt obligated to share it with the Council. Delegate Eckardt wants the City to look into Federal funds that are available for waste and waste water disposal systems.

She then mentioned that there is a situation in one of the departments where there is secondary employment and she has asked Mr. Wheeler to speak with LGIT and to look into the City's personnel books. A motion was then made by Commissioner Saunders for permission to have Mr. Wheeler get specifics from the department head to get this straightened out. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Swafford and it carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders then read aloud a request from the Cambridge Institute for Excellence to hang Black history banners on utility polls on Pine Street between High and Washington Streets (with the help of D.P.W.) the week of February 14th to February 18th. She then made a motion to allow them to be hung from February 14th until the last day of February since the whole month of February is Black History Month. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Rice said that when Mr. King came last year with this same request, "I thought we said as a group, that this should be an ongoing project and should start the first day of the month of February and go throughout the whole month." Motion then carried unanimously.

A letter from the Dorchester Senior Program of Delmarva Community Services was then read aloud by Commissioner Saunders. It extended an invitation to the Mayor and City Commissioners to join them for its third annual Friendship Valentine Luncheon at the Cambridge Senior Center on Monday, February 14. There will be a brief program, beginning at 11:00 a.m., with the meal served shortly afterwards and a brief entertainment after lunch.

COMMENTS FROM FIRST WARD

Commissioner Vickers mentioned the fact that Great Marsh used to have bathroom facilities during the warmer months and since there were some problems, they had to be removed. He then made a motion to request that "we, at the beginning of April, put one bathroom down there (handicapped, which will take care of all situations), rent it on a month-to-month basis and see how it works out." Motion was seconded by Commissioner Rice for discussion. Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. Pritchett whose responsibility it was to clean those bathrooms and he told her it is the responsibility of the company they rent them from. The previous contract was that they were to come in twice a week to clean them. Commissioner Swafford indicated that if they are abused, they will have to be taken out again.

In response to a question from Commissioner Saunders, Commissioner Vickers said he would like to see them there until the end of October "if we don't have any problems." Motion then carried unanimously.

On another note, Commissioner Vickers referred to an item on Council's pending list..."revision to abandoned vehicle ordinance." Mr. Collison stated that he would resubmit his memo on this subject. Commissioner Rice indicated that he believes, "that what you won't like about it is that the abandonment is going to go by the State Motor Vehicle Administration laws, not by what we want."

COMMENTS FROM CITY ATTORNEY

Mr. Collison referenced his proposed revised Ordinance for the bona fide restaurant. Unless there are objections or any other changes, he stated that he would submit it in final form because that would be a text amendment on zoning and it would require a public hearing. He said he would advertise for it.

MORE COMMENTS FROM FIFTH WARD

Commissioner Rice stated, "I thought that Commissioner Vickers would bring this up since we have been working on trying to get a grant to install an elevator at the firehouse."

Council received in their packet that one of our local citizens, who has the best interests of the community at heart, has raised the issue as to whether or not those funds should be made available for that particular use. Commissioner Vickers indicated that he would be involved in this particular thing.

Commissioner Saunders indicated that when the State people come down this week, they will be made aware of what is needed.

Commissioner Saunders then made a motion to adjourn at 8:50 p.m.; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting of Monday, February 7, 2000 insofar as I personally am aware.

Heidi R. Adams

Executive Assistant