• 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

Print this page

City Council Minutes

July 3, 2000
 

July 3, 2000

Cambridge, MD

The City Council met in regular session at 7:00 p.m. with President Commissioner Saunders presiding due the absence of the Mayor.  Commissioner Saunders announced that prior to the meeting they held personnel department head evaluations. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioner Vickers, Watkins, Swafford and Rice.

Commissioner Watkins led in the Lord's prayer. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the minutes of the June 26th Council meeting.  Seconded by Commissioner Vickers.  Motion was carried unanimously.

LOIS ELLIOTT TO DISCUSS REPAIRS TO SIDEWALK ON HENRY STREET

Ms. Lois Elliott of 402 Henry Street came to the podium to discuss the repair of the sidewalks in her block of Henry Street.  Ms. Elliott explained that on December 8,1998 she received a letter from the Housing Board of Review stating that they had won their appeal regarding the sidewalks in her block of Henry Street.  On May 24th she faxed the letter to the Mayor's office so he would be advised of the decision of the Housing Review Board.  The board voted that the City of Cambridge was responsible for the repair of the five sidewalks mentioned in the letter.  Ms. Elliott contacted the Housing Board in Annapolis and discovered that the grants were denied.  The Housing Board also advised Ms. Elliott that when this request went for a second review that they would be denied a grant again. 

Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. Collison to discuss the point of law with Ms. Elliott.  Mr. Collison explained that Council reviewed, updated and amended the ordinance, which makes the joining property owners responsible for the sidewalks. Mr. Collison said that the revised code would not apply to these property owners, and therefore the city began looking for funding to repair the sidewalks.  Mr. Collison asked if anyone on the Council had received a formal acknowledgement from the state that the grant has been or will be denied?

Commissioner Saunders said that she and Kathy Foster together wrote the grant.  Mr. Collison asked again, had anyone on the Council received a formal acknowledgement that the grant was denied and if we haven't received such notice we need a formal acknowledgement from the state. 

Commissioner Rice said that the grant was not to repair the sidewalks but to do a study to find the cause of the problem. 

Mr. Collison continued and said that Council may want to committee this into finance. 

Commissioner Saunders entered for the record a letter dated December 5th that was signed by Andrew Atkinson.  "Ms. Camper produced to Mr. Neubauer a copy of an opinion written by Mr. Robert Collison attorney for the City of Cambridge, in which he implied that no ordinance is required since the landowner by operation of law held title to the property to the center of the street.   In response to a question by a member of the board as to whom would be liable for injuries occurring on the sidewalk.  Ms. Camper advised the board that the city would be liable for injuries occurring on the sidewalk, if the city knew or should have known of the defect causing injury and failed to act.  Mr. Neubauer questioned Ms. Camper about the bases of the city's authority to require abutting landowners to maintain and or repair sidewalks.  As the city ordinance had taken control of the streets and inquired of Ms. Camper if in fact there is a specific city ordinance requiring abutting landowners to maintain and repair said sidewalk.  Ms Camper advised Mr. Neubauer and the board that the specific ordinance is contained in the BOCA National Property Maintenance Code Order 1996 Section 301.2."  Commissioner Saunders stated that she felt Ms. Camper said that there is an ordinance and her office operates under the BOCA code. 

Commissioner Watkins stated that he always believed that it has been the property owners' responsibility to repair the sidewalk. 

Mr. Collison recommended that the Council refer this to committee to look into the cost and projected completion date and times.

Commissioner Rice said that Council only has two choices either Council could appeal the decision of the board or fix the five sidewalks.  Commissioner Rice made a motion to research the cost, set up a repair date and take care of those five sidewalks.  The motion was not seconded therefore, the motion died.

Mr. Collison suggested that Council should request from the state if there would be any funding and address this issue at a later date.

Commissioner Rice said that it didn't matter if there was any funding or not the funding was to find out the ultimate cause of the deterioration of the sidewalks not for the repair of the sidewalks.

Mr. Collison said that the only other option would be to make a motion to see what the cost of the repairs would be. Commissioner Rice made a motion to research to determine the cost of the repairs for those five sidewalks only and the cost be brought back to Council.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  Commissioner Rice amended the motion to state that Council receives a legal opinion as the ramification to the vote that is made.   Commissioner Rice wanted to have the cost given by the next Council meeting (July 10, 2000).  Motion was carried 3 to 1.  Commissioner Swafford opposed.

Ms. Elliott said that she bought that house eight years ago, and the sidewalk was in the same condition as it is now.  She wanted to know why the previous owner was not cited for the sidewalk. 

Anna Pope came to the podium for her dad Leon Adkins 207 Dorchester Avenue, Ms. Pope said that they followed the steps they were suppose to, to have the sidewalks repaired.

BLAISE DEPALO FROM BALTIMORE CLAYWORKS TO DISCUSS HARRIET TUBMAN MURAL

Blaise Depalo came to the podium to represent Baltimore Clayworks and the Harriet Tubman Mural.   She presented visual aids to the Council.  Ms. Depalo introduced her boss Deborah Bedwell Executive Director of Baltimore Clayworks. Baltimore Clayworks chose a New Jersey muralist named Mike Alewitz to paint the mural of Harriet Tubman.

After Mr. Alewitz was chosen, Baltimore Clayworks got two national advisors. They are Addie Richburg from the International Network to Freedom and Vince Deforrest from the National Park Service.  These people directed them to Thelma Chapman of the State Highway Association. It was suggested that Cambridge be chosen to receive one of these murals to be erected at the Harriet Tubman Park.

Ms. Bedwell said that they are looking for some financial support for this project.  There will be five of these murals done throughout Maryland. 

The children that are involved with the Hotspot program will be asked to help with tiles that will surround the mural.

Blaise Depalo came to the podium to discuss the Hotspot program.  Baltimore Clayworks has been working with Sgt. Doyle.  Sgt. Doyle put them in contact with a group of children he calls Dreambuilders.  These children will do the actual work on the mural.

Ms. Bedwell requested a $1,000 contribution for the clay and paints for the Cambridge mural only. The total cost for the Cambridge mural is approximately $12,000.  Ms. Bedwell said that they have raised $11,000 and only need $1,000 more. They have asked the State Highway and Ms. Bedwell is willing to go to the County Commissioners for funding. 

Commissioner Watkins said that he believes this is a worthwhile project and if there is anyway that they can find the money it should be done.

Commissioner Swafford said that he believes we could find the $1,000 for the project.

Commissioner Rice said that if we don't do it nobody would.

Commissioner Vickers said that we should ask the County Commissioners to pay $500 and Council pay the other $500.

Commissioner Rice made a motion to donate a $1,000 to Baltimore Clayworks for the Harriet Tubman mural and that the finance chairman will dictate where it comes from.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  Motion was carried unanimously.

BRUCE MCWILLIAMS REQUESTING A NOISE VARIANCE FOR THE SEAFOOD FEAST-I-VAL AND UPDATE THE COUNCIL

Bruce McWilliams  of 404 Maryland Avenue came to the podium and requested a noise variance for the Seafood Feast-I-Val on August 12th from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.  Commissioner Vickers made a motion to allow the noise variance.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  Motion was carried unanimously. 

Mr. McWilliams asked for a portion of the Franklin Street parking lot adjacent to the hospital for parking for the Feast-I-Val.  Commissioner Vickers made a motion to allow the parking.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  Motion was carried unanimously.

Ticket Sales are less then last year due to the fact that there are no buses from other states or other parts of Maryland this year.  The reason there aren't any buses this year is because when the Chamber cancelled the Seafood Feast-I-Val on March 9th they sent letters to the participating bus companies informing them that the Feast-I-Val was cancelled and not to be rescheduled.  Mr. McWilliams said that even though he called the bus companies to tell them the Feast-I-Val had been rescheduled most of the buses had pulled the advertising for this event.   Mr. McWilliams said that we would not lose money especially with the food because any food not sold will be returned for credit.

Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. McWilliams what they are doing about advertising?   Mr. McWilliams said that Barbara Dalrymple has sent many press releases to various publications and the Feast-I-Val is on the Maryland Calendar.  This Sunday, July 16th Mr. McWilliams will be on channel 47 and he has two more tapings to do.

Commissioner Swafford asked if the Chamber was helping in anyway with advertising?   Mr. McWilliams said that when you call the Chamber they have an option button to push if you are calling about the Seafood Feast-I-Val and a phone number is supplied. 

Commissioner Swafford asked if the Office of Tourism was helping?  Mr. McWilliams said that they are helping with flyers. 

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to put a full-page flyer in the Chamber Newsletter.    Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  Motion was carried unanimously. 

Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. Kinnamon to have Kathy Foster call the chamber to see when they would need the flyer for their mailing.

Commissioner Rice asked what type of financial backing did we receive from the County Commissioners?   Mr. McWilliams said we received none.  The County Commissioners even turned down the city's request to waive the tipping fee.  Commissioner Rice continued he wanted to know if the two County Commissioners involved in bus trips were participating in the Seafood Feast-I-Val with their buses.  Mr. McWilliams said no.  Mr. McWilliams said that the only help the county has offered is that the Seafood Feast-I-Val Committee used the county office to fold and staple the flyers.  Vendor sales are going well.  Elks Lodge #223 is doing the barbecue chicken this year.  Mr. McWilliams also volunteered his service at the dunking booth at the Bay Country Festival on July 4th to raise money for the Seafood Feast-I-Val.

APPROVAL OF ORDINANCE FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION AMENDMENT

Mr. Collison reminded everyone that there was a public hearing a few weeks ago relating to the ordinance, the by laws and the procedures of the HRC.  One change that was requested was that the appointments to the committee be changed from February to July and that the committees reappointment according to the ordinance limited their appointments to two terms and the by laws had an open ended appointment.  The recommendation was to use the open ended appointment.  The other changes were to clarify the appeals process in reference to the city zoning boards. An appeal will now be 30 days and must be appealed to the Circuit Court.  There was no explanation of who made the decision when a full commission review was not needed.  The decision was to have the chairperson make the decision rather then public works. 

Commissioner Vickers made a motion to approve the amendments to the Historic Preservation Commission.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  Mr. Collison made a point of information that there needed to be a separate motion for each amendment.  Commissioner Vickers made a motion to amend section 20-20 B.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion was carried unanimously.

Commissioner Vickers made a motion to adopt the Historic Preservation Commission by laws.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  Motion was carried unanimously.  Commissioner Vickers made a motion to adopt the Historic Preservation Commission rules and procedures.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  Motion was carried unanimously.

APPROVAL OF ORDINANCE FOR AMENDMENT TO TAX ABATEMENT

Mr. Collison said that at the last public hearing and work session it was discussed to consider amending the existing ASOP#17.  The current ASOP#17 is limited to a five-year term. The proposed amendment would add two more categories as well as clarify new versus existing businesses.  A new business would be a business that has not been in existence and the jobs have not been in existence in Cambridge and would not include the transfer of stock or assets between one company to another entity of stockholders.  Subsequently the proposed ASOP would provide for tax abatements up to ten years if the company is creating fifteen new jobs, and up to fifteen years if the company creates at least eighty full time jobs.  In all the categories the abatement is phased in over the last five years.  The Council may want to consider more detailed abatements for hotels. 

Commissioner Rice made a motion to adopt the amendment to ASOP#17.  Commissioner Swafford seconded the motion.   Commissioner Rice said that the way he reads this, it doesn't change the concept that the abatement is non-transferable.  Mr. Collison said that the existing ASOP#17 does state that they are transferable but it can be changed if Council chooses.  Commissioner Rice stated that if he remembered correctly all of the abatements are only for the increase in value and whatever taxes had been collected on the existing property or properties would still be collected.  Mr. Collison asked Mr. Kinnamon if you have an unimproved lot in the industrial park and a company comes in to build on this lot and they get a tax abatement do they still pay taxes on the unimproved land or do they receive full tax abatement?  Mr. Kinnamon said if the lot is assessed at $100,000 then whatever is over that $100,000 is taxed.   Commissioner Rice asked if the company does not meet its employment criteria would the tax abatement be removed?  Mr. Collison said that by June 30th of each year the company must resubmit their employment statistics to Mr. Kinnamon and if they reduce their work force during the time frame the abatement is cancelled. 

Commissioner Rice made a motion to state that the tax abatement be non-transferable.  Commissioner Swafford seconded the motion.  The motion was carried unanimously.    Commissioner Rice made a motion to adopt the amendment to ASOP#17 as amended tonight.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion was carried unanimously.

CORRECTION TO THE 2001 BUDGET

Mr. Kinnamon said that last week during the adoption of the budget for 2001 the General Fund figure, which was read, was incorrect.  The correct figure should be $8,703,385.  Commissioner Swafford made a motion to accept the correction.  Commissioner Rice seconded the motion.  The motion was carried unanimously

APPROVE FINANCIAL STATEMENT FOR MAY 2000

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the financial statement for the month of May 2000.  Commissioner Rice seconded the motion.   The motion was carried unanimously.

OWNERS OF WOODS CROSSING REQUESTING ADDITIONAL APARTMENT CONSTRUCTION

Commissioner Watkins made a motion to refer Woods Crossings request to Planning and Zoning.  Commissioner Rice seconded the motion.  The motion was carried unanimously.

DEPARTMENT HEAD ANNOUNCEMENT

Commissioner Vickers announced that we have had an interim director of CEMS.  Commissioner Vickers made a motion that we immediately appoint Mr. Bill Watkins director of CEMS.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.

Commissioner Saunders said that even though Mr. Watkins six-month probation had not passed that the Council felt he was deserving of the appointment and it was advertised in house according to personnel procedures.  The motion was carried unanimously.

APPROVE BUDGET EXPENDITURES OVER $250.

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the purchase order from the police department for long sleeve duty shirts.  The amount is $317. The money comes from a COPS grant.  Commissioner Rice seconded the motion.  Motion was carried unanimously. 

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the purchase order from the police department to purchase five automobiles.  Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion.  The motion was carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM THE CEMS DIRECTOR

Mr. Bill Watkins thanked the Commissioners for their confidence in him.  His department is doing well and he looks forward to the future and continued success.

COMMENTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS

Mr. Pritchett told Council that L.A. Merrell was unable to secure the required construction bond for the BNR upgrade.  They have withdrawn their contract.  Mr. Pritchett and Mr. Hyde will be going to Baltimore on Wednesday to interview the next lowest bid and to see if they can qualify, as Mr. Prtichett is sure they will.  The second lowest bid was $1.1 million over.  Mr. Pritchett said that they have a $650,000 bid bond received and Mr. Pritchett and Mr. Collison are looking to see if any of that is entitlement to DPW.  Additionally, Mr. Pritchett has been working with MDE to see if the percentage that they are going to go toward the over all cost could be added to the $1.1 million.   Commissioner Rice made a motion that Mr. Pritchett and Mr. Hyde begin interviewing the next bidder for the BNR upgrade.  Commissioner Swafford seconded the motion.  The motion was carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM THE FIFTH WARD

Commissioner Rice asked Mr. Prtichett where we stand on the bids for the sewer problem.  Mr. Pritchett said the bids are due in August and all the advertising has been completed.

COMMENTS FROM THE THIRD WARD

Commissioner Saunders read a letter from Philip L. Katzenburg Director of Rental Service Program in reference to the housing problem at Crusader Arms Apartments.  The letter explained that eight residents have received federal section 8 rental assistance.  These families have been notified that their leases will be terminated by August 31, 2000.  Project Management intends to renovate those housing units and wants them vacated by August 31st.  The Maryland Department of Housing Community Government Housing Assistance office located in Cambridge is working to find alternate section 8 housing for these families.  He asked that Council might want to try to intervene for these families.  The reason the project manager wants to renovate these apartments is so that he can rent them for more money than Section 8 would pay.  These tenants are not young people. These are elderly people, many who have lived in the same apartment for years.    If Council tore down houses they would have to pay all relocation, utility and moving costs.  Commissioner Rice wants Mr. Collison to look into the legalities of this move.

Commissioner Swafford said that Section 8 pays well below the normal rent.

Commissioner Saunders said that these renters are not behind in their rent, they are not destroying the property at the apartment and this is a money issue only. 

Commissioner Saunders read a memo from Mr. Robert Collison in reference to the liquor license and regulations for Dream Catchers 520 Race Street.  Mr. Collison wanted the Mayor and Commissioner Saunders to sign the memo that will be sent to Dream Catchers.  Dream Catchers has had several complaints from merchants in the area and that Dream Catchers is not in compliance with the sale of alcohol. 

Commissioner Rice wanted to know the names of the people who were complaining and if Commissioner Saunders didn't want to make them public he privately would like to know.  Why weren't these complaints brought up when it was Cheetah's Pub?  Commissioner Saunders said they tried. 

Commissioner Vickers said they fall under the county code. 

Commissioner Watkins made a motion to sign the letter and send it to the owner.    Commissioner Vickers seconded the motion.  The motion was carried 2 to 0 with Commissioner Swafford abstaining.  Commissioner Saunders voted yes.

Commissioner Saunders read a memo from Deborah Camper in reference to registration for non-home owner occupied properties. Ms. Camper was informed that Mr. Kinnamons' office would be taking over the billing.  Mr. Kinnamon has discussed the billing with the city's software supplier.  There are some problems with the program because the computer doesn't know if the bill is for one apartment or a complex.

Commissioner Rice made a motion that Ms. Camper should mail her bills forthwith until such time that Council can make a determination on how the billing maybe redone.  Ms. Camper will have to allow an extension period due the lateness of the billing.  Commissioner Vickers seconded the motion. 

Commissioner Swafford said that he thought we were further along with this decision. 

Commissioner Rice suggested that since taxes come out in July and are due September 30th maybe we could have the same type of policy to the point that the rental fees would be due the same time as our taxes.  Commissioner Rice's motion was carried unanimously. 

Commissioner Saunders discussed assigning the car that the Mayor and Council and the Administration office uses over to the ambulance service because they need a car.  There are three cars that are being refurbished from the police department and one of them will be coming over to the administration office.  Commissioner Watkins made a motion to let Mr. Bill Watkins take over the car immediately from the administrative office.  Commissioner Vickers seconded the motion.  The motion was carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders read a letter from 414 Bradford Avenue Apt. 12 in Trenton, New Jersey. The request was for a Special Use Permit for the Jolley Community Center located at Greenwood Avenue and Camelia Street.  The center is a training center based on education and reviving the reason of Cambridge, computer training for business entrepreneurs.   The mission is to build a facility that houses and provides services for children, the youth and loutish adults.  The hope is to help revitalize the community and communicate technology for a stronger economy. 

The Jolley Center needs the 2000 Census results of Cambridge, 501 C3 tax exempt status and a building site.

Commissioner Rice said to acknowledge that Council received their request.That Council would need to request references and once they receive that information then it can be evaluated.

Mr. Collison said to grant a Special Use Permit the center must have a site first. 

Commissioner Saunders spoke on the Main Street Program that they went to in Greensboro.  Commissioner Saunders showed the board and the pictures that were taken on their trip.

COMMENTS FROM THE SECOND WARD

Commissioner Watkins had a special request from the Housing Authority Residential Council that they will be holding an affair on Saturday, July 8, 2000 at 5:30 p.m.  This affair is to honor some of their members.  They would like to receive a letter from the Mayor and Council congratulating them on their longevity and wish them well.   Commissioner Watkins put this in a form of a motion.  Commissioner Vickers seconded the motion.  The motion was carried unanimously. 

COMMENTS FROM THE FIRST WARD

Commissioner Vickers asked if they would send him a letter for surviving four years with the Council.  

COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Helen Peel 310 Talbot Avenue came to the podium, to discuss the property of 303 Talbot Avenue that has been rented to Crossroads Community Inc that houses mentally, challenged people.   Ms. Peel read the petition, which had 23 signatures.  The petitioners believe that they reside in an R-1 area and that the dwellings in their area are for single family homes.  They feel that an enterprise like Crossroads Community is not in keeping with the R-1 area.  Ms. Peel asked the Council to support them in their request that Crossroads is not in keeping with an R-1 area. 

Mr. Pritchett explained that Crossroads is a means of introducing the mentally challenged into a neighborhood.  Mr. Pritchett has had two items to consider; the first what to classify Crossroads as.  If it's a family residence they are permitted in an R-1 area but if it is a lodging house then it can only be permitted in an R-3 with the Councils Special Use Permit.  However, there are some statues that the Federal Government has that over ride these issues.   Mr. Pritchett should have this information to the city attorney by Wednesday. 

Commissioner Saunders said that often in codes "family" means blood relatives and she doesn't know what our code states. 

Commissioner Rice said that he thinks they have had this situation before in east Cambridge.  He feels that the Federal Government might tie the Council's hand and they may not have any say in this matter. 

Commissioner Swafford said that he knows of six places now that are operating in an R-1 area. 

Commissioner Saunders asked Ms. Peel if they are asking for the legal course that the community make take in this matter.

Ms. Peel said that they want to go on record that they are against this center entering into their community.  She asked why do we have zoning regulations if a center like Crossroads can just come in and automatically over ride the zoning regulation.  Commissioner Rice said that state government can come in and the zoning means absolutely nothing.  They don't even need to request a permit.

Commissioner Rice told Ms. Peel that she needed to ask for a letter opposing the center opening in their community.

Mr. Collison stated the procedure would be as follows: Mr. Pritchett will make a decision as the Director of Public Works.  If either party disagrees with the decision, the renters or the surrounding property owners may appeal the decision to the Board of Zoning Appeals. The Board of Zoning Appeals will hold a hearing and decide if Mr. Pritchett made the correct decision.  That decision can be appealed to the Circuit Court, unfortunately the Council has no impact on the Board of Zoning Appeals.  Mr. Collison will take the petition and that may be taken to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Commissioner Vickers agreed with Commissioner Rice that for the next two weeks that he sits on the Council he is definitely against this center.

Ms. Peel asked if the Council would send a declaration of opposition.

Commissioner Rice made a motion that the Council should go on record as opposing this kind of usage for an R-1 property.  Commissioner Vickers seconded the motion.  The motion was carried unanimously.    Mr. Kinnamon will draft the letter of opposition.

Gordy Jones of 304 Talbot Avenue came to the podium to discuss the Crossroads Center.   Mr. Jones said that one item that was not mentioned is that this is not a state organization, Crossroads is a private corporation. 

With no further business, Commissioner Watkins made a motion to adjourn, at 8:40 p.m.; seconded by Commissioner Rice.  Motion carried unanimously.

I hereby certify that the forgoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, July 3, 2000 insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer