City Council Minutes
June 5, 2000
The City Council met in regular session at 7:00 p.m. with Mayor David J. Wooten presiding.
Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioner Vickers, Watkins, Saunders, Swafford and Rice. Mr. Kinnamon led in the Lord's prayer.
Mr. Collison mentioned the meetings that were held in closed session this evening.
Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the minutes of the May 22nd Council meeting. Seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion was carried unanimously.
CAMBRIDGE SKEET CLUB
Commissioner Saunders on behalf of the Mayor, Council and Cambridge Police Department presented a plaque to the Cambridge Skeet and Gun Club for the use of their facility for the training of our police officers. Commissioner Saunders read the plaque of appreciation to the Cambridge Skeet and Gun Club
Chief Wroten shared a few words of appreciation for the continued support of the Skeet Club in helping our officers with their training.
Mr. James Busick from the Cambridge Skeet and Gun club also thanked the officers for their help in the upkeep of the Skeet and Gun Club.
PUBLIC HEARING FOR THE CONSTANT YIELD TAX RATE
Mr. Kinnamon stated that this is an annual hearing on the City's tax rate. The information comes from the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. A notice for the hearing was advertised on May 26th. Due to assessments rising there will be a revenue increase; people will be paying more taxes but this does not mean the City Commissioners will be raising the tax rate. The constant yield rate for this year is $1.59. This means that Council would have to lower the tax rate which is currently $1.69 to $1.59 to keep the same amount of revenue coming in as the previous year. Mr. Kinnamon than read the advertisement to the public. Mr. Kinnamon made a comment on the Senate Bill #826, which is the Truth and Taxation Law. Currently the taxes are based on the assessment value, which is figured on 40% of the market value of the property. The new method that will start October of this year will tax property on the market value and the City's tax rate will change to .676 cents per $100 of assessed value this change will have no effect on revenue. Mr. Kinnamon asked if there were any questions? There were no questions.
Commissioner Saunders made a motion to close the public hearing. Seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion was carried unanimously.
CORNERSTONE ASSEMBLY OF GOD REQUEST FOR BAKE SALE AT FIREWORKS
Kevin Gibbs 715 Race Street came to the podium to represent the Cornerstone Assembly of God Church. He made a request to have a bake sale and soda sale at Long Wharf during the 4th of July fireworks. Mr. Gibbs said that the church would have trash receptacles so the area would be kept clean. Commissioner Watkins asked if they needed a permit from the Health Department. Mr. Gibbs said he couldn't answer that question. Commissioner Watkins made a motion that as long as they received permission from the Health Department that the church be allowed to have the sale. Commissioner Saunders seconded the motion. Motion was carried unanimously.
Commissioner Saunders explained to Mr. Gibbs that his minister needs to call the Dorchester County Health Department and they will get the paper work to the church .It is not the Council's responsibility to get the paper work.
MT. OLIVE BAPTIST CHURCH REQUESTING A NOISE VARIANCE
Commissioner Saunders being a member of the church explained they are going to have gospel singing on the church parking lot. Mt. Olive Baptist Church was requesting a noise variance on June 17th from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to allow the noise variance for their celebration. Commissioner Vickers seconded the motion. Motion was carried 4 to 0 with Commissioner Saunders abstaining.
CARNIVAL PERMIT AND NOISE VARIANCE FOR BAY COUNTRY FESTIVAL
Kim Seward came forward to request a carnival permit and noise variance for the upcoming Bay Country Festival to be held June 30th - July 4th. Ms. Seward gave the Mayor and Commissioners a brochure and a complimentary ticket to the Festival. The Festival will begin on Friday, June 30th. That evening will be community appreciation night and admission will be $1.00. There will be five days of family fun and entertainment at the park. The main entertainment this year will be Peaches and Herb and they will be appearing Saturday evening. On Sunday, July 2nd will be Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad. The festival will also have local entertainment again this year.
Ms. Seward requested a carnival permit from June 30th until July 4th for M&M Amusements and a noise variance on June 30th from 5:00 pm until 10:30 pm and the other evenings from 6:00 pm until 10:30 pm. The festival will be opened until 11:00 pm but they do not need the variance until 11:00 pm. Ms. Seward requested that on Saturday and Sunday she would like an additional variance starting at 3:00 pm until the gates open so the entertainment may do sound checks.
Commissioner Saunders made a motion that Ms. Seward's entire request should be permitted and that Mr. Kinnamon would handle any permits that are needed. Commissioner Vickers seconded the motion. Commissioner Saunders wanted the public to be aware that the ticket value was $41.00 so there is no need for a $50.00 disclosure. Motion was carried unanimously.
PROCLAMATION FOR LEAD POISING WEEK
Mr. Kinnamon read the proclamation aloud. Commissioner Watkins made a motion that the Mayor should sign the proclamation. Commissioner Rice seconded the motion. Motion was carried unanimously. Commissioner Saunders asked that Lois Young give a poster to Mr. Kinnamon that we could place on the bulletin board in City Hall. Debbie Gootee came forward with some posters and flyers on Lead Poisoning Week and she explained about the conference that the Health Department would be holding on Tuesday, June 20th at the Holiday Inn Express. There is no charge to the public. Everyone is invited from the public, health care providers, tenants, and landlords. The Health Department's main concern is the children because lead poisoning is a silent disease. The symptoms are slow and chronic. Many problems can develop from lead poisoning including learning disabilities.
TONY THOMAS TO DISCUSS THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF DOWNTOWN
Tony Thomas of 421 Race Street came to the podium and asked the City Council as a body or a whole what they have done for the development of the downtown area.
The Mayor answered him by saying that he has worked with the downtown people on a regular basis as the need arose. He was downtown almost daily. He started the Revitalization of Cambridge and supported the downtown not only in words but also in deed.
Commissioner Saunders respectfully declined to answer his question. Since they are all candidates including Mr. Thomas she felt that his question at this time was inappropriate. She thought that according to the agenda he was coming to discuss some of his ideas for development.
Commissioner Swafford said that he had spent about one million dollars. He did so as an individual developing quite a few apartments and storefronts. He said he did all this much to the dislike of many people, 22 people especially in the 400 block. Mr. Thomas said he appreciated what he did. Commissioner Swafford asked why Mr. Thomas signed the petition against him. Mr. Thomas said that what he, the business people and the revitalization of downtown were trying to do was put Cambridge on the same level as Easton and Oxford. Why can't we have the option to have better businesses in Cambridge? He felt that a laundry mat was not an appropriate business for the downtown area.
The Mayor spoke that Cambridge has suffered for the past 40 to 50 years because of what we saw happening in this meeting. Differences are to be expected. If two people agree on everything all the time, then one of them is not necessary. He will continue to care about the City even though he will not be sitting in the Mayor's seat in six weeks. The Mayor feels that even when we disagree with each other we should do so respectfully. Respect for each other is what is going to make Cambridge a better place.
Commissioner Watkins spoke that he has been on the Council for a long time, but he feels that there has been more progress in the past eight years and especially in the past four years. We may not have accomplished everything but we have grown dramatically. He feels that this has been one of the better Councils that he has served on. Commissioner Watkins suggested the following: "Accent the positive, eliminate the negative and don't bother with the in between." He feels that his job is try to help improve Cambridge.
The Mayor continued to say that one thing he wished he had done differently was that he has a tendency to take things personally. He realizes now that was not the way it should have been done, everyone is entitled to an opinion even if we all don't agree. The Mayor knows that Mr. Thomas and Commissioner Swafford may not agree but they both tried to better downtown and therefore they should both be respected.
Commissioner Vickers said that he feels Tony has done a lot for the downtown area and is a qualified candidate for Mayor. But as a candidate he can't agree with what he did this evening because it seemed as if Mr. Thomas was asking them to campaign from the Council's side of the table.
Mr. Thomas said that when he first came here he joined ARC and became its president. They had a fundraiser at Sailwinds and raised approximately $2,000. They hired Steve Delsordo who is a grant writer, Mr. Delsordo suggested the Main Street Program which for two years the ARC members attended meetings in Annapolis to find out how this program would work for Cambridge. After two years they turned the Main Street program over to Council because it became too big for their small group of people to handle. Mr. Thomas questioned where are we now with the Main Street Program? Mr. Thomas feels we need the Main Street Program now and that in his opinion since the Council took over the Main Street program it is nowhere right now.
Commissioner Saunders spoke on the Main Street Committee and said as far as she knows there are at least three businesses that are involved in this program. Commissioner Saunders felt that Mr. Thomas came that night to campaign. She continued to say Main Street was not stalled and not dead and is moving forward.
SANITARY DISTRICT #3 EXTENSION TO THE CHURCH CREEK AND MADISON AREA
Mr. Collison told the Mayor that there could be discussion on this matter but no voting this evening. Mr. Collison went on to explain that in our procedures unless it is an emergency legislation we should raise an issue at one meeting then place it on the agenda for the next regularly scheduled meeting. By putting this on the next agenda it gives Council time to consider the matter and get public opinion on the issue. Commissioner Saunders shared a letter that Council received just before the meeting from the MDE dated June 2, 2000. The letter was in reference to the sewer service to the Woolford and Madison area. The letter explained a study report was done on 160 properties. The rate of septic system failure was 40%. This is considered a high percentage. The MDE said that a real and present health hazard exists to the residents of the surveyed area. The Dorchester County Health Department with the MDE agree that the surveyed area is in serious trouble and needs a timely solution. Therefore the decision of both departments was that the best alternative to the problem is to connect to the Cambridge Wastewater Treatment Plant. MDE would like a letter from the City of Cambridge reaffirming its commitment to serve the area. MDE will work with the county and the city to amend the county water and sewerage plan to reflect this change.
Commissioner Saunders made a motion to place this decision of the Sanitary District # 3 on the June 26th agenda for a vote. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.
Commissioner Rice wanted a copy of the report that was to be attached to the letter that Commissioner Saunders had read. He suggested that a map was also needed to show how far the system would need to go. Commissioner Rice also suggested that they absolutely should have a report to show how many gallons have been committed to each property in the City limits this way we will know how many free gallons we will have. The Council knows that the Hyatt properties when fully utilized will be between 900 to one million gallons a day.
Commissioner Saunders amended her motion to be that all the items that Commissioner Rice mentioned should be in their books by the June 26th meeting if at all possible. But she would hate to see this project held up if there is no problem with the water or sewer consumption. She still wants to be ready to vote by the June 26th meeting. Commissioner Watkins seconded the amended motion. Commissioner Watkins feels that Council received the proper information.
The Mayor asked Mr. Pritchett to please regenerate the information again to the Council members.
Commissioner Vickers said that this situation is one that we cannot jump into and as he had stated before he isn't against this idea but he feels we are jumping with both feet first into a big mud pond. We need to consider what happens if someone wants to build a business in the Church Creek or Madison area and what will that do to the daily gallon rations. The people that need this system belong to the county and he wants to know where the county is. He feels that the county should be helping with the situation.
Commissioner Saunders said that they have discussed what would be done if a new business wanted to connect and it had been decided at this point if they get three votes the legal agreement would be only with those existing homes that have been identified with the problem. The county has been involved along with our state delegate. The other issue was that the engineers that were utilized through the finances of the people that are asking for the service.
Commissioner Watkins is worried about the health problems that could exist from this sewer problem. He feels we need to help these people.
Mr. Ted Bramble came to the podium to say that he is in favor of the city extending the line to the Church Creek area. He said that the county is involved. That they put the money up for the engineering study and had asked for the feasibility study. The county has not had a problem with helping the citizens in the Church Creek area. The county has not spoken highly to the Council because they feel the relation is strained between the two Councils. Mr. Bramble said the county has seen the same letter that the city received and they are willing to help.
Commissioner Rice spoke again, that the county has not had any long- term plan to resolve the issue not only for new people but also, for the people of Taylor's Island and Hoopers Island. They need to think about what they are going to do for the people of Hoopers Island especially because you can't pump that far.
Commissioner Swafford spoke briefly he has looked at a lot of employment area reports and he has tried to analysis them the best he could. He would not have a problem to vote for this and help the citizens. He feels that we need to have a starting point and that he would vote for the expansion.
The motion was carried unanimously to render a decision at the June 26th meeting.
COUNCIL TO APPROVE CITY AUDITOR FOR THREE YEARS
Mr. Kinnamon said that on May 22nd we had three CPA firms that had responded to a bid proposal. The low bid was received from Reznick, Fedder and Sliverman from Baltimore and they are currently the city's auditors. Based on the low bid and they do comply with the regulations that the city must comply with Mr. Kinnamon asked that the city to accept their bid of $47,450 total for the three years. Commissioner Swafford made a motion to accept the bid. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. Motion was carried unanimously.
ACCEPT DATALUX BID FOR MOBILE COMPUTERS
Mr. Kinnamon shared the memo from Chief Wroten. The Chief was requesting that Council grant the bid from Datalux in the amount of $9,960 for the mobile computers that will be used in the police cars. These computers are being purchased through a COPS grant program. Commissioner Swaffrod made a motion to accept the bid. Seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.
TAX ABATEMENT FOR TOOLWRIGHTS
Mr. Kinnamon reviewed the agenda on Thursday afternoon and since Mr. Collison had requested this be added late Mr. Kinnamon did not see the addition. The gentleman from Toolwrights said that he wanted to be contacted when this abatement was going to be put on the agenda. Commissioner Saunders made a motion to put this on the Agenda for June 26th so that Mr. Kinnamon may contact Toolwrights. Seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.
HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN
Armond Hayward came to the podium he explained that he attended a preservation /revitalization conference in Frederick. The conference dealt with the small town growth and he thought it would be a good idea if we considered having a survey done in the downtown city area. The surveyor would come spend a day downtown exploring growth opportunities and ways to revitalize downtown. The cost would be less than $400. Mr. Hayward asked Council if they would consider funding this project? If, they did not want to fund the project he did offer to pay for this project out of his own pocket. Mr. Hayward also invited the Council to attend the day the surveyor would come. Commissioner Saunders made a motion that Council table the decision until Mr. Hayward could provide them with the information and place this item on the June 26th agenda. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. Commissioner Vickers said he would like to try to find the money for Mr. Hayward since he has paid out of his own pocket before. Motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Swafford asked a late question. He wanted to know how soon a decision had to be made. Mr. Hayward said it had to be done within sixty days of the letter.
MOTION TO CANCEL JUNE 12TH COUNCIL MEETING
Commissioner Saunders made motion to cancel the June 12th Council meeting due to the MML convention in Ocean City. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
APPOINTMENT TO THE HUMAN RELATIONS COMMITTEE FOR WARD 2
Commissioner Watkins made a motion to appoint Gladys Bynum to the Human Relations Committee. Commissioner Saunders seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
SHORE HEALTH REQUEST A NOISE VARIANCE FOR A PICNIC
A letter was received from Ms. Hoevenaars requesting a noise variance at the Sailwinds Park on June 17th from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for a company picnic since a DJ will be performing. Commissioner Saunders made a motion to approve the request for a noise variance and if they need any city services they should contact public works and the police department. Commissioner Vickers seconded the motion. Motion was carried unanimously.
APPROVE BUDGET AMENDMENTS
Budget amendments were received for EMS, the Police Department and the Department of Public Works. Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the budget amendments. Commissioner Rice seconded the motion. Motion was carried unanimously.
APPROVE BUDET EXPENDITURES OVER $250
Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the budget expenses over $250. Commissioner Saunders seconded the motion. Motion was carried unanimously.
COMMENTS FROM THE CITY ATTORNEY
Mr. Collison needed a motion to meet in executive session for legal advice concerning two matters. Commissioner Saunders made a motion that they meet for fifteen minutes in closed executive session for the two matters. Commissioner Vickers seconded the motion. Motion was carried unanimously.
Mr. Collison reminded Council that on June 19th there is a work session and also a public hearing for some minor amendments to the procedures for the Historic Preservation Commission. He also asked Council to add to the work session a discussion on the amendment to the city's tax abatement (ASOP#17) policy.
Commissioner Saunders made a motion to place the ASOP#17 on the work session agenda. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. Motion was carried unanimously.
COMMENTS FROM THE FIRST WARD
Commissioner Vickers reminded Council that due to vandalism a few years ago it had become necessary to remove some of the trash cans and the port a potty from Great Marsh. The policy since the removal has been if you wanted to use the park and needed a port a potty you had to pay for that yourself. Last winter Commissioner Vickers brought before Council that he would like to try again to supply a port a potty. So they put one down there again. Commissioner Vickers asked Mr. Pritchett to tell what happened at Great Marsh, Mr. Pritchett explained that they put one down there that had a 88 gallon capacity and it had been there for two months. At a school function held at Great Marsh last week due to the vandalism of the port a potty, the children were unable to use it. This is the second complaint that Mr. Prtichett has received. Mr. Pritchett also explained that the company they used last year for the port a potty had no interest in a contract again this year, due to the condition that the port a potty was in. He also explained that we have to pay for the damages that are incurred. Commissioner Vickers wants the public to know why these conveniences are discontinued. He asked that the paper consider doing an article. Mr. Pritchett has written a letter to the school to apologize for the inconvenience. Commissioner Vickers said he would like to leave the port a potty there for a couple more months.
COMMENTS FROM THE THIRD WARD
Commissioner Saunders read a letter from the Health Department. Mr. Roger Harrell the Health Officer wrote a letter of explanation on the situation of the cloudy water the city experienced over the weekend. In his letter Mr. Harrell explained that they did not expect a contamination event at this time and we do not believe the water to be a health hazard to the public.
The Mayor, Council and the community received an invitation to the D.A.R.E. graduation. The D.A.R.E. program will honor the fifth grade graduates and anyone interested should call 410-228-4950 it will be held June 13th at Choptank Elementary at 10:00 am.
Commissioner Saunders attended the AIDS prevention program on Saturday on Pine Street. She learned Dorchester County ranks very high with the AIDS epidemic. The Health Department, the Elks lodge and the Police Department were all there.
Commissioner Saunders said that the empowerment center is on the move. She praised Mr. Pritchett for his hard work.
Commissioner Saunders said that Mr. Rolston has done a wonderful job at the Nathan building and he should be opened late June.
The Mayor also commented that Tom Rolston has been doing a great job and he hopes the ribbon is cut before July 18th so he can get one last picture in. Mr. Rolston came to the podium and thanked the Council on what a wonderful job they have done, especially in helping him build his restaurant. The project has doubled since he first started and the reason he doubled the size was he sees the potential in Cambridge. He was a little disheartened by the article in the Sun paper. Mr. Rolston has sixty employees nine of them are either African American or Hispanic. The foreman he hired was black and the first waiter he hired is also a black man. He feels we need to work as a community to stop the race issue. He has decided to call the restaurant Chesapeake Grill because the Nathan's Hot Dog chain did not want him to the call the restaurant Nathan's. Mr. Rolston said on the 26th or 29th of June they will be having a Company's coming and will be discussing employment. Chesapeake Grill will be employing fifty. Just imagine what the Hyatt will employ and these people employed will be local residents. Mr. Rolston said that all many businesses want are people who want to learn, work hard and show up on time and that is what he bases his hiring practice on.
Commissioner Vickers said that if Mr. Rolston can figure out how to get the newspapers (especially the Sun) to change what they print good luck to you.
Commissioner Saunders said that the Sun got their information from the community. She said as long as you have distinction of classes of people, not just color but classes of people financially and otherwise you are going to have problems. Commissioner Saunders was worried about give away jobs, jobs that are not advertised and a certain individual receives the job.
COMMENTS FROM THE MAYOR
The Mayor was out of town for the weekend and when he came back there were many calls on his answering machine about the water problem. He talked to Gary Newcomb of MUC and Mr. Newcomb gave him a brief description so that he could share this with the public. The discolored and cloudy water started on Sunday morning. The initial discolored water was from the MUC changing the operations of their pumping stations on Saturday morning. The cloudy water it seemed was caused from very - fine well clay that was suspended in the water. This happened because of the change in the flow and velocity. The water problem does not cause any health concerns. There was a further investigation and MUC found that a well at Nathans Avenue had begun to pump cloudy water therefore that well was taken out of service and the distribution system is being flushed. Mr. Newcomb apologized for the inconvenience.
COMMENTS FROM THE FOURTH WARD
Commissioner Swafford said that this weekend he had four people come in from the Yacht Basin to wash their clothes, eat a sandwich and buy something from the store. They were pleased they had a place to go.
Commissioner Swafford talked with a gentleman from a local lumber store. He is getting him a book on cornices and Commissioner Swafford has talked to Mr. Hayward about in the future as money allows all those cornices at his building will be replaced. He wanted the public to know that there were bricks that were falling off and there was an instance where bricks fell off and struck a car. Several layers of bricks had to be taken off for safety.
COMMENTS FROM THE FIFTH WARD
Commissioner Rice stated that someone from MUC should be able to call in and retrieve the messages off of the machine, especially in a situation like this past weekend the public should have had a quicker response. Whoever is on duty should call in and retrieve the messages.
Commissioner Rice publicly thanked Herman Stevens for answering a letter to the editor in reference to the economic development efforts of the 50's and 60's.
The Ironman Triathlon was held this weekend and was well attended but we need to get in touch with these people as soon as possible in reference to the parking. Parking should not be allowed on the site but somewhere else with a shuttle service supplied. With the quantity of cars parked on both sides of the street if an emergency had occurred emergency vehicles would not be able to get down the street.
Commissioner Rice discussed about delinquent personal property taxes. There are some people that are lienable and as far as he is personally concerned "if they are in a situation where liens have gotten to that point we should exercise the right to get the lien. And if in fact these people come back later on and can present proof that the liens are not proper they certainly can be removed." Commissioner Swafford asked if that was a motion? Commissioner Rice said he would make that a motion. Commissioner Swafford seconded the motion. Motion was carried unanimously.
COMMENTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
Mr. Pritchett received a request from the YMCA that they want to place a small directional sign (like the VFW sign) on the same pole as the Brannocks Maritime Museum sign. The Brannocks Maritime Museum has given their permission for the YMCA to use the poles. Commissioner Rice does not see a major problem except what happens when you get to the place that you have a full pole? Commissioner Rice said this is another problem since we don't have any guidelines.
Commissioner Vickers said that when he walks around Hambrooks Blvd. at least once a week somebody will pull over in a car and ask how to get to Route 50 so if we had that on a pole it would help. Commissioner Watkins said we need a study.
Commissioner Vickers said that we could allow the signs on a temporary basis. Mr. Pritchett offered to go to the YMCA to locate the exact poles they want to use. Mr. Pritchett told the Council that the poles the YMCA will use are not city property. After he talks to the YMCA he will come back to Council with a report.
Mr. Pritchett explained the memo referencing the damage he feels DPW caused at a residence when they cleared a line. He wanted to know if this went to the risk manager and insurance. Commissioner Saunders made a motion that the risk manager evaluates the bill and we can handle this through our insurance before we decide to pay. Commissioner Vickers seconded the motion. Motion was carried unanimously.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS FROM THE CITY ATTORNEY
Mr. Kinnamon brought it to Mr. Collison's attention that we did not have an ordinance drafted that amended the city's snow emergency route designations. By the Councils actions and minutes dated March 13, 2000 at the state's request Council approved adding Race Street from Washington Street to the Cambridge Beltway and Washington Street from Race Street to the city line into the snow emergency route. He needs the approval and the Mayors signature on the ordinance. Commissioner Saunders made a motion that the Mayor should sign the ordinance. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. Motion was carried unanimously.
With no further business, Commissioner Saunders made a motion to adjourn, at 9:00 p.m.; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.
I hereby certify that the forgoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, June 5, 2000 insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk Treasurer