Print this page

City Council Minutes

February 8, 1999
 

February 8, 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 and Vickers.

Mr. Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer.

Commissioner Watkins moved to approve the minutes of the February 1st City Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Commissioner Saunders noted that on page 22, the minutes did not reflect the total "show of hands" of people being represented by Mr. Morris of Cambridge International in opposition to the special use permit for the crab chum facility. As indicated on the tape, there was a total of 18 and she requested that this be included in the minutes.

Commissioner Watkins then moved to make the necessary change to the minutes; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion then carried unanimously.

TRAFFIC & SAFETY COMMITTEE REPORT

Commissioner Vickers advised that this committee has a few items pending and they have a tentative meeting scheduled for tomorrow. They should have their report by the next regular Council meeting.

PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION REPORT

The Planning and Zoning Commission, at their regular meeting of February 2nd made the following recommendations:

Ohana Creations / Robert Lubguban / 410, 412 and 414 Race Street: The Commission recommends that Ohana Creations be granted a "special use permit" to hold community and cultural activities at this location.

Commissioner Saunders advised that Mr. Lubguban had withdrawn his original request to teach martial arts which included the use, and possible sale, of weapons. She then made a motion to honor the Planning and Zoning Commission's request, and since this is a "special use permit", that we ask the attorney to draw up an agreement that there would never be any weaponry sold or used for training at those sites. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Mr. Collison noted that since this is a special use permit, he will advertise for a public hearing. Motion carried unanimously.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY

Mr. Collison advised that he had reviewed the original draft and the only changes, based on some comments from the Council which were incorporated in the revision, was that it should follow the employee manual with regard to grievances. If there is an alleged problem and the Department Head does not correct it or address it in a timely fashion, then the complaint would be referred to the Personnel Review Committee and it would go through the regular channels.

Commissioner Saunders said that she would like to see something added with regards to "complete and concise up-to-date records being kept on each incident" before this is adopted. She then made a motion to table this until the February 22nd meeting. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins.

In response to Commissioner Vickers question in which he asked if the City has anything like that in regards to other employee policies, Mr. Collison advised that if the grievance made it to the Personnel Review Committee there would be records kept. If it didn't make it that far, without it being expressly stated, it would remain within the Department Head's records. Motion then carried unanimously.

TRASH REMOVAL DURING HOLIDAYS

Commissioner Saunders advised that this was an issue which she had brought up on several occasions and Council, at their February 1st meeting, requested Mr. Pritchett to explore options to facilitate trash removal during holiday schedules.

Mr. Pritchett advised that he has addressed this with the Superintendent of Public Works as well as all of the men who would be working to make this happen. They are very receptive to it. The only time there would be a conflict is when the landfill is closed due to it also being a holiday on their part.

In general, this could be done and his department would like to try it on February 15th (Presidents' Day) and see how it goes if this is what the Council would like to do.

The employees would be given an alternate day off if they were to work on a holiday.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to proceed with the alternate holidays for trash and garbage pick up and that Mr. Pritchett work out the logistics of it. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Vickers and carried unanimously.

SECOND READING OF REVISIONS TO SIDEWALK ORDINANCE

Mr. Collison advised, that under the proposed amendments to the property maintenance ordinance of the City, there would be a new Section 303.3(a) which would specifically state that "it shall be the duty and obligation of the owner of property abutting a sidewalk for public use, to maintain the abutting sidewalk, driveway, apron and sod in such a condition as to be safe for public use. This obligation includes the clearing of all growth or grass, roots and weeds within, under and around the sidewalk, snow shoveling and actual structural repair."

There would be a new Section 303.3 (b) which would clearly delineate that it is "the duty and obligation of the City to maintain the property of the City, which includes the repair and maintenance of curbs, gutters and City streets."

He suggested that this proposed ordinance be ruled upon at the next scheduled meeting in case there is any additional public comment.

Commissioner Saunders moved to accept the attorney's suggestion; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO ZONING CODE

Mr. Collison advised that this was in response to the Public Hearing that was held on February lst to permit some types of offices in R-1 zone. The proposed revisions would only make an owner-occupied professional office permissible as a special exception in R-3 and R-4 residential districts. if adopted, this would broaden the definition of the type of offices that are permitted which would be owner-occupied professional offices and would delineate doctors, attorneys, accountants, tax preparers and related offices.

He further indicated that Council would need to discuss tonight whether or not they wish to incorporate those proposed amendments and what type of reasonable conditions they would also impose. For example, maximum number of employees and that the exterior of the structure must maintain its residential character so that it doesn't look like there is an office building in a residential district.

Commissioner Rice indicated that he agrees with Mr. Collison and stated, "we do need to maintain the integrity of neighborhoods as best we can and at the same time, allow people to make a living." He feels that by this proposal of extending the special use permit to R-3, R-4 zoning, it would allow limited professional uses. Some of the conditions could be to limit sign sizes, as well as lighting; limiting hours of operation; permit being non-transferable (but renewable under the same process again) and limiting only one special use permit per structure with a five-year term limit.

Commissioner Watkins asked if there would be a limit to the number of individuals working at the location. In his opinion, Commissioner Rice indicated that he thought it should be looked at as a home occupation where you would have the owner and one other person working at the same time. Another issue would be off-street parking which he feels should be limited to two.

Mr. Collison suggested that language should be included to state that the use shall not create any unreasonable noise, vibration, glare, fumes, odors "standard language."

Commissioner Rice also felt that "any violations of the special use permit will be grounds for revocation" should also be included.

It was then agreed that Mr. Collison would prepare a "draft" ordinance on this issue and present it at the February 22nd meeting.

APPROVE CITY'S FINANCIAL STATEMENT FOR JANUARY, 1999 (ASOP #10)

Commissioner Watkins moved to approve the City's Financial Statement for January, 1999; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST FOR A "DISTRICT COURT" DIRECTIONAL SIGN

Commissioner Saunders moved to refer Judge Norton's request to Traffic and Safety Committee. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried unanimously.

APPROVE BUDGETED EXPENDITURES OVER $250.

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

COMMENTS FROM PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR

Mr. Pritchett advised that it is time to remove the two small sheds at the old St. Clair School site per the agreement with the County. The only expense to be absorbed by the City will be the dumpster rental.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to continue with Public Works doing the removal and demolition of those two buildings and that not more than $600. be spent for the dumpster rental. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried unanimously.

Mr. Pritchett then requested approval to expend monies, allocated for the renovations to the RFC building, for the flooring in the downstairs lobby area. He only received the prices last Friday and would like to move this along and not wait until, the February 22nd meeting for approval.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to allow Mr. Pritchett to move forward as long as the expenditures stay within the approved budget. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried unanimously.

On another note, Mr. Pritchett advised that there was an emergency sewer line stoppage in the Cedar Street area this pastFriday. The estimated repair cost was $1,265. Today, people came in today from Philadelphia and found that it was more extensive than originally believed. Commissioner Swafford had approved the emergency sewer repair based on the $1,265. Amount but there will be an additional expense of $1,500.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion, if he can keep within his budgetary constraints and move money with permission from one area to put in the grit account, that Council let's him move forward. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Rice.

Commissioner Vickers asked if there was a possibility of reclaiming some of this money and Mr. Pritchett answered affirmatively. It was noted by Commissioner Vickers that this is a situation where someone is at fault that caused a problem in the Church Creek area and now they have caused this problem in the Cambridge area and they can be held accountable.

Motion then carried unanimously.

Mr. Pritchett referred to his memo regarding the preliminary study for the service road in the vicinity of the new Holiday Inn Express motel. He stated that there is no emergency on this and it can be put on the agenda at a later date.

The next item discussed was Dale Price's memo regarding proposed changes to Route 50 billboard signs.

Commissioner Rice's first thought was that maybe it's not in the City's best interest to have any billboards within the city limits of Cambridge. He would not encourage anybody to incur any expense until that decision is made.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to allow Council to study this proposal and since it has something to do with the highways and byways, that they refer this study to Traffic and Safety to help give Council some ideas. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM CLERK-TREASURER

Mr. Kinnamon advised that a request was received from Marguerite Jones of 710 Meadow Avenue to be referred to-Planning and Zoning for a special use permit to allow her home to be a day care center. Commissioner Saunders moved to honor her request; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

Next was a request to be referred to Planning and Zoning from Sandy McAllister of the law offices of Miles & Stockbridge in reference to Chesapeake Resort LLC Hyatt Development. He is requesting that Planning and Zoning consider the proposed development plan and design criteria for the Planned Water Resort District. It was noted that this has already been scheduled for Planning and Zoning's March 2nd meeting at 7:00 p.m.

'A reference was then made by Mr. Kinnamon to Chief Wroten's memo regarding a promotion of one of their personnel. Commissioner Saunders made a motion, since this is personnel, that Council meet in Executive Session after tonight's meeting to discuss this issue; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

Next, Mr. Kinnamon addressed a request from Gary Newcomb of M.U.C. regarding the painting of a water tank. Mayor Wooten indicated that the memo was just to let Council know what is being considered and when they establish an agenda, Mr. Newcomb will be notified.

COMMENTS FROM THIRD WARD

Commissioner Saunders stated that she is registered to attend a seminar/luncheon on "Women in Government Services" which is scheduled for February 22nd. Commissioner Saunders made a motion to allow Kathy Foster, Grants Administrator, to also attend. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried unanimously.

She then referred to a request from Odie Wheeler to attend a LGIT seminar "Renewal Workshop" scheduled for February 10th. There is no cost involved and LGIT will also provide the City with estimated quotes on insurance premiums for the budget year 99/2000. Commissioner Saunders then made a motion to allow Mr. Wheeler to attend; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

A motion was then made by Commissioner Saunders to have put on the next regular Council meeting a decision about a zoning consultant contract so this could be cleared up to get some work done on the City's zoning problems. Commissioner Vickers seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders then thanked Council President and the Mayor to allow her to take on a project during Black History Month. This past Sunday, the Wrights, a local Cambridge African-American family, were honored for their positive contribution to the community.

REPORT FROM THE SECOND WARD

Commissioner Watkins announced the loss on Friday of Philip Jones who served the City faithfully for a number of years on the Planning & Zoning Commission. He then made a motion that a Resolution of Condolence be sent to his family letting them know how much the community misses him and the outstanding job he had done. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Rice who said that he had served on the Planning Commission with Mr. Jones ... "the man was always there ready to do it ... a gentlemen in every sense of the word ... he will be missed." Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM FIRST WARD

A few months back, Commissioner Vickers mentioned the possibility of reviewing a housing code whereby a house is approved for rental but it goes out of business for a period of two years. Once it passes two years it loses its right as rental property. He feels that two years is too long so he made a motion to bring this up for discussion at some future meeting. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Commissioner Rice asked if Commissioner Vickers was referring to rental property that would either be a nonconforming use or a special use for something that was not allowed and he replied affirmatively. Commissioner Rice then stated that he agreed 100%. In fact, there are some that have been grandfathered in and there needs to be a sunset clause whereby you could grandfather this for a certain period of time. At some point in time, it still has to be in compliance with the zoning ordinance. Motion then carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders then asked the City attorney to look up some legal precedent in that area so when it is discussed on February 22nd, Council will have some information..

COMMENTS FROM CITY ATTORNEY

Mr. Collison advised that there was to be a closed Executive Session this past Thursday, but due to the lack of a quorum, there was no meeting.

He received a phone call today from Miles & Stockbridge in Baltimore advising that there was an amended Consent order and Judgment entered in the State Court proceedings regarding the law suit. An agreement has been reached and they need Council's approval so the Department of Public Works can proceed with those terms. Commissioner Saunders made a motion to go into Executive Session this evening to review this; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Collison then requested that a formal motion be made to refer Chesapeake Resort LLC to the Planning & Zoning Commission for their March 2nd meeting. Commissioner Saunders moved to honor his request; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

Since the press was present, Mr. Collison advised, so that everyone could be aware of what time schedule we're looking at, the Hyatt developers are planning to submit their proposed plans for the PWRD on February 16th. The Planning & Zoning Commission would hear it at their public hearing on March 2nd and Council would anticipate receiving their report on March 8th. There will be a public hearing before the City Council on March 15th.

COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Ms. Portia Johnson came forward mentioning the public hearing last Monday evening regarding zoning changes. From that meeting, there were remarks made about junk yards within the City limits. Under the City's zoning regulations, she asked what constitutes a used car lot within the City limits. Do they have to be licensed? How many cars are they allowed in residential areas and if they are not allowed, what is the length of time that is given to the person that is illegally selling cars?

Commissioner Rice stated that this obviously needs to be researched and "I think you deserve an answer on it." Commissioner Saunders made a motion to have this information by the next regularly scheduled meeting. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Rice and carried unanimously.

MORE COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Attorney Fletcher Thompson came to the podium on behalf of Ken Daniel of R & D Boat Supply on the issue of the proposed chum processing plant. He presented a petition to be included in the record with signatures from 22 businesses in the area opposed to-it, 97 signatures from Cambridge International's employees and 156 individual residents in the area.

Mr. Collison interjected that before Council sees them, he suggested that he holds them since technically, unless the applicant would consent otherwise, we would have to confine Council's decision to what was presented at the public hearing. He suggested that he communicate with the applicant to advise them of this subsequent evidence coming in and provide them with an opportunity to rebut it or respond to it.

In response to Mayor Wooten's question, "why is that a technicality", Mr. Collison responded that because the public hearing is the opportunity during which any and all evidence should be presented for Council's consideration on this issue. The applicant, Mr. Condon, is not here tonight to formally respond but if we provide him with a copy of this, he could then respond with a response for Council's consideration.

At last week's meeting, Commissioner Saunders had asked what the status was on the infractions on the building. Today she rode out to the building because someone stated they only did the front of the building and the two sides. Sure enough, he was right.

Commissioner Saunders then proceeded to read a letter submitted by the Housing Department Director, with color photographs, indicating that the rear of the property continues to be in violation of the Property Maintenance Code.

This is one of the issues that would determine how the vote would go as far as allowing this gentleman to start his crab chum facility. The second issue is that Council would need written confirmation from MES as to what goes into the City's water system would not be hazardous to anyone's health and would not increase any of the smell at the treatment plant. The decision by the Council is to be made on February 22nd, but with these outstanding issues she doesn't know how it can.

Mr. Pritchett interjected that it may take a month to get a response back from MES.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Mr. Robert Lubguban stated that he applied last week to Planning & Zoning for a special use permit to have hula, outrigger and different cultural activities. At that point in time, he decided not to teach or sell any Chinese weapons. He was not clear on what was discussed earlier this evening.

Commissioner Saunders advised that it was her recommendation that as part of the special use permit that he does not teach how to use those weapons nor would he sell them.

He asked if this would include him and his family since he is the weapons coach and he would like to continue his training and studies behind closed doors. People will be coming from Pennsylvania to pass down weapons to him as the weapons coach. He agreed not to teach anyone in the community or sell any weapons but he would not want his masters coming here carrying the weapons if they could not teach him behind closed doors.

Mr. Collison advised that private instruction would be allowed for him and his family. Commissioner Rice added that this is not over yet as it is subject to a public hearing.

MORE COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Mr. Ken Daniel, owner of R & D Boat Supply on Washington Street came forward to elaborate on the businesses and people who are opposed to the crab chum facility. He realized that this is after the public hearing but one of the reasons why he was so late was because he just absolutely didn't know about it until Wednesday afternoon when a customer walked into his store and told him about it. When he bought his property, there was no mention to him about this proposed facility.

Mr. Collison advised Mr. Daniel that Council could not consider his testimony this evening since it is after the fact.

MORE COMMENTS

Mr. Rob Peel, 310 Talbot Avenue, came forward to voice opposition to the crab chum processing plant. He asked Mr. Collison, "if the petitioner does not approve the submission of the evidence, it's a moot point. What can the Commission then do to extend or open another public hearing in light of the fact that people located right along the contiguous property line were not notified?" Mr. Collison had to research whether or not it is permitted to schedule another public hearing. Mr. Peel asked if it could be done through a motion tonight and Mr. Collison said he would not advise it.

MORE COMMENTS, NEW ISSUE

Mr. William Jackson, President of the Human Relations Committee, came to the podium to discuss the issue of aides on the school buses. They will be forwarding their written presentation to the Board of Education tomorrow and upon receiving it, they will be on the agenda for the 17th of February. He encouraged all the citizens and Council to be there to support them.

He has received some positive feedback since articles appeared in the paper but he wanted to make a special note that "we would certainly hope that our presentation is received in the spirit that it is given." They are very concerned about safety issues that could possibly save some of our children some injuries. They are not trying to disrupt anything that the Board of Education and the bus contractors are already doing.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Mr. Gage Thomas, 1502 Race Street had a few follow up items that were discussed tonight. On the trial trash removal, it wasn't expounded on whether or not there would be any interruption in service. Commissioner Saunders responded that the City is trying to add to the service.

Commissioner Rice added that on certain holidays, some of the residents don't have their garbage picked up. The idea is to pick up under normal circumstances and revolve the crews so there is no "non garbage day" .... there will be garbage day on every day that it is supposed to be.

His next question was relative to the zoning considerations for the R-3 and R-4 professional uses. Are the changes going to be specific regarding doctors and attorneys or is it going to allow some latitude? Mr. Collison replied it would say for owner-occupied professional offices such as, but not limited to, attorneys, accountants, tax preparers or possibly realtors.

Mr. Thomas then said, regarding the sidewalks, it seems to him that what came up about that whole issue was the trees which were planted by the Garden Club.

As far as the billboards, he thinks that the looks and scenery could be improved if the gentleman wants to invest in the change. Commissioner Rice stated that, if you look at surrounding communities, the trend is there to completely remove them within city limits. They weren't removed in Salisbury, but they were greatly reduced in size.

On another note, as a result of the Hyatt meeting with Planning & Zoning for the first Tuesday in March, there will be a second meeting on March 9th which would handle any other planning and zoning issues including the Oakley Beach project.

With regards to the crab chum issue, Mr. Thomas stated that Council holds in its hands all the power they need to give a conditional approval.

MORE COMMENTS

Ms. Judy Moody, 602 Glasgow Street came to the podium relative to the billboard sign. She said, if she is not mistaken, that one of the eight poles is outlawed already because of footage (the one by the car wash). Mr. Pritchett advised that the particular sign she was talking about was not part of the earlier discussion. That particular sign would have to either come down or be given to the property owner where it sits.

MORE COMMENTS

Mr. John Russell was next to speak. He had purchased the old Nelson Jones Machine Shop by the R & D Boat Supply and just wanted to state that he never received any written notice about the crab chum facility. He asked if it was normal procedure to give written notice to property owners that are right beside and Commissioner Saunders responded that it is a courtesy and Mr. Collison added that it is not required.

A request was then made by Mr. Russell that Council give as much consideration as they can to have another public hearing.

With no more comments from the audience, Commissioner Saunders made a motion to cancel next Monday's meeting due to the holiday; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:12 P.M.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting of Monday, February 8, 1999 insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk-Treasurer