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City Council Minutes

January 11, 1999
 

 

January 11, 1999

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

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

Mr. Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer.

Commissioner Watkins moved to approve the minutes of the January 4th Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

POLICE DEPARTMENT AWARDS

On behalf of Chief Wroten, Lieutenant Malik thanked the Mayor and Council for recognizing the work done by the police officers in certain programs.

The first award was the 1998 Chief's Challenge. This program was to promote seat belt safety throughout the State of Maryland. As coordinator for this program, Pfc. John Williams advised that Police Departments competed against each other to win awards. Points were awarded based on participation by each Police Department. Points were awarded by placing "A.B.C. (America Buckling-Up Children)" signs along Route 50. Pamphlets covering seat belt safety were distributed to local businesses and police officers stopped motorists in an effort to educate the public.

A survey was done at the high school with an 83% compliance rate. A second survey was done 30 days later with a compliance rate of 100%.

Surveys were also conducted at the intersection of Washington Street & Rigby Avenue with the first at 83% and the second at 88% with an average of four to five hundred cars being checked.

In the category of 41 to 60 officers, Cambridge Police Department tied with one other agency in the State of Maryland for the top award. The challenge will continue in April and May of 1999 with the goal of surpassing the accomplishment of 1998.

Lieutenant Malik then advised that as a result of their pro-active crime prevention program, specifically the Pine Street Substation, they were awarded the Governor's Crime Prevention Award. Sergeant Patrick Doyle came forward, as a 13 year veteran of the Cambridge Police Department, stating that he has seen the area of the Pine Street Station as "a mecca for narcotics violations and crimes associated with narcotics." Because of residents fear of crime, they became prisoners in their own homes. The Police Department now has one of its own pro-active policing tools set right in the heart of the area ... the sub-station which was opened in September, 1997.

The police utilize the station on an everyday basis to serve the community more expeditiously and more efficiently. Some of the functions served at the station by police are initiated investigations to complete or follow-up investigations, in-service training that is mandated by the State, roll-call training, administrative duties, community policing programs such as the Governor's awarded mentoring program, senior crime prevention and "National Night Out." The station has aided in building a rapport between the police and the community.

Pfc. Louis Nichols came forward to describe the success of the HotSpots program which unites the Cambridge Police Department with Parole and Probation and also the Department of Juvenile Justice. This HotSpots team works together to share information, monitor offenders to a frequent contact and regular home visits, and enforce conditions of supervision.

He went on to say that being assigned as the HotSpots officer for the Greenwood Avenue area has widened the scope of his duties and responsibilities. A mentoring program has been started to provide support and positive activities for latch-key children during the hours immediately after school. Another responsibility of the HotSpots officer is to meet on a weekly basis with the legal advocate for the Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence in an effort to reduce domestic violence by targeting both the victim and the abuser. He also meets weekly with Dr. Cacioppo's staff of the Dorchester General Hospital Emergency Room to coordinate the Hope and Healing Project which assists the residents of the HotSpots community in getting proper medical care. The HotSpots team looks forward to another successful year and plans to continue its efforts in reducing crime and the fear of crime. They also plan to develop new programs in an attempt to reach out to the community residents that didn't benefit from the previous year's HotSpots community initiative.

Lieutenant Malik advised that Pfc. Nichols also received an award for his outstanding working commitment to the HotSpots program and he personally recognized him for his dedication and commitment to the Cambridge Police Department, the City of Cambridge and particularly the HotSpots community.

Commissioner Rice added that this is nothing unusual for the Cambridge Police Department. They have been in the forefront for years and have been in community policing before anyone else in the State knew what it was.

PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION REPORT

Commissioner Saunders advised that the Commission held their regular meeting on January 5th and made the following recommendations to Council:

ISG International / Philip Feldman - Commissioner Saunders made a motion to accept the Planning & Zoning Commission's recommendation for final approval of ISG International's plan for the proposed expansion at 204 Cedar Street; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

Ohana Creations / Robert Lubguban - Commissioner Saunders advised the Commission recommends that a special use permit for a martial arts school be denied. As a City Commissioner representing the public on the Planning & Zoning Commission, she did some research on this and proceeded to read a memo from Police Chief Russel E. Wroten and a letter from Reverend Barry Miller of the Human Relations Committee for the City.

Due to the fact that various types of weapons would be included in this martial arts training and such use would be counter-productive to efforts in eliminating violence, Commissioner Saunders moved to honor the Planning & Zoning Commission's request to deny the request from Ohana Creations; seconded by Commissioner Watkins.

In light of this coming under a special use permit, Mr. Collison, City Attorney, advised that a public hearing would need to be scheduled and the letters presented would become part of that record. Motion then carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders made a second motion to ask the City Attorney to schedule the public hearing on this issue; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

DISCUSS CODES AND GUIDELINES TO REINSTATE ARCHITECTURAL BOARD OF REVIEW

Commissioner Saunders suggested reviewing this Board along with the Historic District Commission since some of the duties are similar.

Commissioner Rice feels that the two should be combined as the Architectural Board of Review as this board would cover the review of architectural themes. This would then give the applicant a recourse through the board and then a review through Council without having to go to court as the next step.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to continue to keep this in the forefront and pursue it at a later date; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

DISCUSSION OF R-3 ZONING

Commissioner Swafford, in referring to Commissioner Rice's January 4th memo, also feels that when someone wants to put an office in a residential area a special use permit should be required with specific parking regulations, "respect for your neighbor as far as traffic", etc.

Commissioner Rice stated that his whole intent in writing this memo to the Mayor and Council was to try to make the special use permit stay in line with home occupation as much as possible and yet expand it to a point where it can actually allow some other usages and at the same time, not adversely encroach upon the neighbors and the aspect of the neighborhood which is "residential".

Mr. Collison stated that no decision could be made this evening since a public hearing would be required to amend the law. He then stated that he could advertise regarding R-1 (consideration of eliminating physician's offices), expanding on the special permit sections and the R-3 section that permits an attorney's office.

Commissioner Rice moved to authorize the City Attorney to advertise for such a public hearing; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

BNR UPGRADE AT WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT

Commissioner Rice made a motion to instruct Mr. Hyde (City Engineer) to go forward with getting the design for Phase I of the odor control; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

APPROVE CITY'S FINANCIAL STATEMENT FOR DECEMBER

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the City's Financial Statement for December, 1998; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.

DISCUSS MECHANISM TO REGISTER NEW BUSINESSES IN CITY

Commissioner Saunders wanted to have some research done as to what other cities have on their books regarding businesses to register in order to locate within city limits. She feels the City of Cambridge should have the final say as to what businesses are licensed to locate here.

Mr. Collison stated that currently the City only becomes involved if a particular business requires a building permit or if the zoning is questionable. Some communities require a use permit for which, before they can open up for business, they must get authorization through the Department of Public Works. The County Clerk's office could be advised that they are to notify incoming businesses that a use permit is also required from the City. A nominal administration fee could be charged if this is the route the City wishes to pursue.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to request the City Attorney to research this and have the information to them for discussion at the last Council meeting in March; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

DISCUSSION ON ISSUANCE OF QUESTIONABLE BUILDING PERMITS

David Pritchett, Public Works Director, expressed his concern on possibly approving certain building permits that would not fall in the criteria of the $100,000. range (which would automatically come before Council). He was basically looking for a procedure whereby he could come before Council with building permits that were not qualified by a dollar amount but by content of request.

Commissioner Watkins said he understands where Mr. Pritchett is coming from. There may be some implications in a request that the City may not even want and he feels that if Mr. Pritchett has a question, he should bring it to Council.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to table this until Mr. Pritchett can get back with some concrete specifics for Council; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST FOR LETTER OF SUPPORT FROM DELMARVA COMMUNITY SERVICES

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to request a letter of explanation before Council moves on this; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

APPROVE BUDGETED EXPENDITURES OF $250.

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve all budgeted

expenditures over $250.; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motioncarried unanimously.

HOMES FOR AMERICA - GLENBURN GARDEN HOUSE

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to put this matter on the agenda for January 25th. (They are requesting a refund for their building permit in an amount that is higher than what Council originally agreed to.) Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried unanimously.

APPOINTMENTS TO THE HUMAN RELATIONS COMMITTEE

Commissioner Watkins appointed Ms. Christine Gurule as a representative of the Second Ward; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR

Mr. Pritchett presented Building Permit request #2813 from Timonium Management, Inc. (for the Holiday Inn Express), South Side of U.S. Route 50. The fee is $12,495. for an 86 room motel with a construction cost of $2,000,000. Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the permit; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Rice told Mr. Pritchett that it is very important that the service road in the rear of the property is not lost. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Watkins added that we are happy to have them and they did not ask the City "for one dime."

Mr. Pritchett then referred Council to the Building Permit Report for 1998. A total of 158 permits were issued showing a 36.91% increase from last year's figures. Commissioner Swafford said he was glad to see these reports...."it gives us a pace of the City."

COMMENTS FROM FIFTH WARD

Commissioner Rice advised that there were two items that needed to be addressed, one personnel and one legal. He moved to meet with the City Attorney after tonight's meeting. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Saunders and carried unanimously.

FOURTH WARD UPDATE

Commissioner Swafford informed everyone that his son's open heart surgery was a success and he thanked everyone for their prayers.

MAYOR SPEAKS

Mayor Wooten requested Council's approval to appoint Chareka Harris and Tish Merrick to serve as youth members on the Human Relations Committee. Commissioner Saunders moved to grant the Mayor's request; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

He then advised that he will be out of town on the evening of January 25th for the installation of the State's new Comptroller and requested that Commissioner Rice chair the meeting in his absence. Commissioner Rice said he would be more than happy to do so.

THIRD WARD COMMISSIONER SPEAKS

Commissioner Saunders wanted to know where the matter stood as far as hiring a consultant for restructure of the City's zoning laws. It was determined that the Finance Chairman is trying to locate funds first. Commissioner Rice also stated that Council needs to have a goal in mind to focus on before they move any further.

COMMENTS FROM FIRST WARD

Commissioner Vickers moved to appoint Elizabeth Slacum and Ralph Dockins, Jr. to serve on the Human Relations Committee. Commissioner Saunders seconded his motion and it carried unanimously.

He then mentioned that Commissioner Swaffford also recently had surgery.... "I'm not sure if he can reach the top shelf yet or bend over and tie his shoes." Somebody must have prayed for him too because he is doing a lot better.

COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Ms. Portia Johnson came forward regarding the request earlier this evening from Delmarva Community Services for a letter of support. From past dealings with Mr. Santo Grande, she suggested that Council get a copy of his grant application. Commissioner Rice stated that Council is going to request pertinent information from them since they are unsure what he is asking the letter for.

Since this request has come through the City before, Commissioner Swafford asked Mr. Kinnamon to give Council copies of past correspondence to review. Commissioner Rice said that all the City is being asked to do is give support to the idea of having the bussing program within the County.... "but we don't know that from what we have in front of us."

Mr. William Jackson, Chairman of the Human Relations Committee, thanked the Mayor and Council for appointing the additional members. Several have already started to attend meetings and he feels they will be good for the Commission. "We're starting to see things from a younger perspective also."

He then said that the Committee is ready to order more T-shirts and asked if any Commissioner would like to order one at the cost of $5.00.

Mr. Jackson then stated that the Human Relations Committee meets on the first Thursday of every month. Every now and then they need the guidance of the Council (and sometimes even its attorney). They have been working on a particular complaint for the last year and a half. The complaint came from some parents who were concerned about school bus safety. Last year,they met with the school bus contractors, some parents and some students to discuss this issue at length.

The school bus contractors stated that they had radios on the buses that really didn't work, problem with some students on the buses and problem with medical assistance on the buses. It was the general consensus of the Human Relations Committee, that it would be to their benefit if they could expound on this. Letters were sent last year by the Committee to all the PTAs, all the school principals, the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools to try to have a unified meeting to discuss this issue.

The Committee felt, through their survey, that an aide be put on all the buses, especially elementary schools. This would free the bus driver from having to maintain order on the bus plus it would give him/her assistance on a medical emergency. They felt this could be done by utilizing seniors in community service, people on welfare rolls (pay them the minimum wage), parents that would volunteer, etc. He asked the Council and the City Attorney to think about what the Human Relations Committee could do. "It's easier to spend money to avoid an incident then to spend money after it happens."

Commissioner Saunders stated that she attended last Thursday's meeting of the Human Relations Committee and suggested to them that since they are "an arm of us" any direction that they take would need the blessings of the Mayor and Council.

Commissioner Rice told Mr. Jackson that he is "looking at a money transaction here even though you're talking about safety." It was suggested that the Committee give something in writing to Mr. Kinnamon for submission to the Council. The Attorney could then take a look at it and go from there.

Mr. Gage Thomas (Association for the Revitalization of Cambridge) came forward to extend an invitation to Council to attend their meeting which is held the on the third Monday of each month since there is no work session on January 18th. They are going to try to change their meeting day to allow Council to attend if they so desire.

With no further business, meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting of Monday, January 11, 1999 insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon

Clerk-Treasurer