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City Council Minutes

April 26, 1999
 

April 26, 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.

City Attorney Collison advised, pursuant to Section 10-508 of State Government Article, Council met in closed Executive Session at 6:30 p.m. this evening to discuss a personnel matter regarding one specific employee and also to review several legal matters.

Commissioner Watkins moved to approve the minutes of the April 12th Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

Another motion was made by Commissioner Watkins to approve the minutes of the April 19th Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION REPORT

Commissioner Saunders advised that she was unable to attend the meeting which was held on April 20th as she was teaching a class that evening. She then advised that the following recommendations were made:

L. Renee' Clayton / 417 Robbins Street: The Commission recommends approval of a "special use permit" for day care. A motion was made by Commissioner Saunders to accept their recommendation; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

Marguerite L. Jones / 710 Meadow Avenue: The Commission recommends approval of a "special use permit" for day care, contingent upon State license approval. Commissioner Saunders made a motion to accept their recommendation; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Rice then made a motion to direct the City Attorney to advertise for public hearings for both of these items; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

TRAFFIC AND SAFETY / STREET LIGHTING UPDATE

Commissioner Vickers gave an update on some past projects as follows:

The lights on Chesapeake Court, Bethel Street and Schoolhouse Lane have been upgraded from 70 watt to 250 watt fixtures. This was done at no cost to the City, with the exception of a slight increase in the electric bill itself.

There was also a light installed at the Woods Road and Roslyn Avenue intersection.

The Bunker Street light has been increased to a 250 watt fixture.

BID OPENINGS FOR AIR CONDITIONING UNIT FOR CITY'S EXECUTIVE BUILDING (CONTRACT #99-02)

Mr. Kinnamon advised that four bids were received as follows:

1) Sard & Son Inc., 306 Trenton Street Cambridge, MD   $4,500-00

2) Wise Oil & Fuel, Race Street Cambridge, MD   $5,220.00

3) Conectiv Services, Georgetown, DE   $5,675-00

4) Dorchester Services Associates, 120 Virginia Avenue, Cambridge, MD   $4,749.00

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to refer the bids to' the Department of Public Works for review; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

PROCLAMATION FOR "COAST GUARD AUXILIARY DAY"

Mr. Kinnamon proceeded to read aloud the proclamation. Commissioner Rice moved that the Mayor be authorized to sign the proclamation; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously and the proclamation was presented to Commander Wayne Anthony.

OLD BUSINESS: AWARD BID FOR TURN OUT SETS FOR R.F.C.

Chief Jeff Hurley said that it is the recommendation of the Rescue Fire Company to go with Personal Protection Equipment Specialists and that the City purchase eleven (11) sets at the total cost of $10,622. of which $3,000. will be taken out of the current year's budget and the balance taken out of the State Aid account. Commissioner Swafford confirmed with Chief Hurley that the 508 money can be used for these items. He then requested Chief Hurley to supply him with a copy.

Commissioner Rice moved to accept the Chief's recommendation contingent upon the availability of funds; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

PROPOSED PROCEDURES FOR STREET NAME CHANGES

Mr. Collison advised that he believes Council had a work session on this a couple of months back. Based on the comments that were made that evening, he drafted a memorandum which sets forth some of the criteria that Council was discussing.

Commissioner Watkins was concerned with the fact that if this is formalized as submitted, "one person could prevent the name from being changed." What is the validity of having half of the people saying they want it and one person coming along and saying they don't want it? Mr. Collison said that it could be amended to state that the application itself would not have to have everyone's approval to get it and then if no one objects, it would be approved.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to table this item until she gets a better understanding; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

APPROVE CRITERIA AND GUIDELINES FOR SEASONAL AND/OR TEMPORARY COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES

Mr. Collison advised that this was a request from Council to create some objective criteria when the City has seasonal or temporary request for special use permits. Over the past several years we have seen a wide variety of structures from wire fencing to some attractive stands. Applicants would need to show in detail what their proposed structure would look like and its location.

He recommended that the City advertise for a public hearing to amend the Code section so that these specific items are incorporated and become part of the City Code.

Commissioner Rice noted that nowhere in the criteria does it speak of revocation. A special use permit would be for one year, but if they are in violation of the procedure it should be stipulated that the permit could be revoked. Mr. Collison stated that he would see to it that this is added.

On this same issue, Commissioner Rice asked if it was necessary to also include that the operation of any such facility without the special use permit would then be subject to fines. Mr. Collison said this would not be necessary because there are other provisions in the Code that deal with all types of unauthorized zoning stating that they would be cited.

Commissioner Rice then moved to schedule a public hearing to deal with this since there is a change in the Code with the one amendment about revocation; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.

It was also motioned by Commissioner Rice that no special use permits should be issued for these seasonal businesses until after the public hearing and these changes are signed into law. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Saunders and it carried unanimously.

DISCUSS CITY HISTORIC COMMISSION AND GUIDELINES

Mr. Collison advised that this was something he submitted a couple of weeks ago. As you recall, the Council approved the Historic Commission itself approximately 3 or 4 years ago. During the interim, the Commission has been working to create specific guidelines and several public hearings on that issue were held in late December and January of this year.

There were some questions raised dealing specifically with the Ordinance that was previously passed, in particular with regards to the "Demolition By Neglect" provisions. The amendments that he has proposed would specifically clarify that if the Commission thinks there is an issue of neglect, they would make a referral to the Department of Public Works and/or the Housing Department and they would conduct an investigation and take whatever action is needed. If Council wishes to adopt the Ordinance, then a public hearing would need to be scheduled because this Ordinance amends a provision of the City's zoning code.

He has also provided Council with a draft of the By-Laws and Rules of Procedure for the Historic Commission. Commissioner Rice had a few questions regarding the document and after discussion, Mr. Collison said he would make the necessary changes. It was also addressed by Commissioner Rice that an appeals process needs to be established.

Commissioner Swafford stated, with reference to the five members appointed by the City Commissioners, it should stipulate one member from each Ward.

Mr. Collison advised that he will make the necessary changes and have it for next week's agenda. He will also advertise for a public hearing to amend the existing ordinance.

Commissioner Saunders added that Armond Hayward has put a lot of time in this and he has saved the City thousands of dollars. He has not asked the City Council for any money to go to any workshops ... he has paid for everything himself ... "that's what you call a dedicated volunteer."

DISCUSS GUIDELINES FOR HIRING CONSULTANT FOR RESTRUCTURE OF CITY'S ZONING LAWS

Mr. Pritchett advised that the City Engineer has begun drafting of a "Request for Proposal" to contract an outside consultant.

When it is ready, it will be submitted to the City Attorney for his review, input and legal advice.

Commissioner Saunders noted that in Mr. Pritchett's memo he asked Council to explain or reiterate what level of zoning revamping they desire. Speaking for herself and based on constituent's comments, she feels it should be all of the zoning in the City.

Mr. Collison added that you don't just want the consultant to look at how the districts should be mapped out but also to look at the zoning code to make suggestions on how to clarify, clean up and make additions to it. Mr. Pritchett said he would like all of Section 20 in the zoning code looked at including appeals.

Commissioner Swafford asked Mr. Pritchett if he had a cost factor for this whereupon he replied that he didn't. Commissioner Saunders suggested that the Grants Administrator be directed to start sending out feelers for any type of grants that the City could put in since this is the time of year that applications should be filed. Commissioner Swafford said he would like to have that done.

PROPOSAL FOR "USE PERMITS" FOR BUSINESSES COMING INTO CITY

Mr. Collison said that this is a request made by Council some time back. As you are aware, if someone is doing alterations to an existing structure there is no need for a building permit. There is nothing currently in the code that requires a "use permit".

Commissioner Saunders moved to advertise for a public hearing since this would be an amendment to the City's zoning code; seconded by Commissioner Vickers.

Commissioner Swafford asked for clarification and Mr. Collison advised if someone were to purchase a building and no alterations need to be made to the building, they would then need to go to the Department of Public Works to make application for a use permit to state what business the building is going to be used for, i.e., restaurant. Public Works would then look to see if the use is permitted and if it is, they would issue the permit. Commissioner Saunders added that it would then help Council to be informed as to what types of businesses are coming into the City. If there is a fee for the use permit, Mayor Wooten wanted to go on record "as being in opposition to any serious financial outlay."

With no further discussion, motion carried unanimously.

MAYOR TO SIGN RESOLUTION TO ESTABLISH A CITY OF CAMBRIDGE MILLENNIUM COMMISSION

Commissioner Saunders stated that the Mayor and Council members were to have three names each tonight to be nominated to this Commission and apparently she was the only one who has her nominees.

She then made a motion that the Mayor be asked to sign the resolution for President Clinton's Millennium Commission for the City of Cambridge; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

Another motion was made by Commissioner Saunders that by the second meeting from tonight that the Mayor and Council bring in the names and addresses of their three nominees; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

DISCUSS WEEKLY VS. BIWEEKLY PAYROLL FOR CITY EMPLOYEES

Commissioner Swafford stated that for two years he has been trying to go with biweekly payroll. During that time he has had the opportunity to speak with several City employees and several Department Heads. His feeling today is that we should do it because "it's the right thing to do." He can't see where this would be a hardship as many employees expressed.

He said he would back up and then made a motion to stay on the weekly payroll system; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried 4 to 1 with Commissioner Swafford opposing.

A.D.A. TRANSITIONAL PLAN

Mr. Collison advised that Mr. Wheeler submitted to Council the final transitional plan that has been worked on with Mr. Whaples and the Maryland Disability Law Center (MDLC). It was mentioned by Mr. Collison that Mr. Pritchett's department has really been working hard these past couple of months to get a lot of the items completed.

There are still some major ones that are currently being worked on and everything should be in compliance by December, 1999.

Commissioner Rice moved to adopt the A.D.A. transitional plan; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Swafford noted that the work to be done has been reflected in the budget and the dollar figures will be available when the work is done. Motion then carried unanimously.

DECISION ON PROVIDING COUNTY WITH REQUESTED AUDIT FOR A.L.S. SERVICES

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to provide the requested audit; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Commissioner Swafford stated that they are just asking how we are spending their money and they have a right to know. Motion then carried unanimously.

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

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

REQUEST BY SOCIAL SERVICES FOR YELLOW CURBING

A letter was received from the Department of Social Services requesting a no parking yellow strip painting to their curb that is adjacent to their parking lot entrance to address a safety issue. Commissioner Saunders made a motion to refer this request to Traffic and Safety; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST FROM ST. PAUL'S UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

A request was received from St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 205 Maryland Avenue, for permission to prevent parking in front of the church during their annual Flower Fair on April 28, 29 and 30. Commissioner Saunders moved to grant their request; seconded by Commissioner Watkins.. Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST FOR HANDICAPPED PARKING SPACE AT 513 PINE STREET

A request was received from Nathaniel Wilmer for a handicapped space in front of his house. Commissioner Saunders said she spoke with Mr. Wilmer and he was not trying to get a designated spot for only him to park in. There are several handicapped people in the area and he was hoping to get a designated spot in the vicinity of 513, 515 or 517 Pine Street.

Commissioner Saunders then made a motion to refer this to Traffic & Safety; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Rice suggested that the spot be designated somewhere in the 500 block of Pine Street rather than a specific location. Motion then carried unanimously.

COUNCIL TO DISCUSS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND BUSINESS PACKET FOR PROSPECTIVE BUSINESSES

Commissioner Saunders advised that at the Mayor's request, Kathy Foster has already put together packets. Mayor Wooten said he would like Council as a group to look at this because there is a tremendous increase in inquiries as far as business goes already. He wants to be sure that when something is sent out it represents the City well.

Since there were some Chamber of Commerce members present, Commissioner Saunders asked if they could give the City a list of what they think could be included in the packet. Skip Miller suggested that when a request is received by either the City or the Chamber they notify each other that there has been an inquiry. Mr. Miller further suggested that Ms. Betty Causey of the County's Economic Development also be included.

Commissioner Saunders asked if the Chamber could get some ideas to City Hall by Thursday so it could be included in their books for next Monday's meeting.

REQUEST FOR "THE PRIDE OF BALTIMORE" TO DOCK AT LONG WHARF

Mr. Pritchett advised that The Pride of Baltimore has requested permission to dock at the Long Wharf pier from May 20 to May 24, 1999 for the purpose of allowing tours and other public relation activities.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to grant permission; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST TO MOVE OFF-TRACK BETTING ESTABLISHMENT WITH SPECIAL USE PERMIT FOR SALE OF ALCOHOL

A letter was received from Gregory Burton and Charlene Burton to move the Shoals Off Track Betting Parlor from 601 Sunburst Highway to the Cambridge Plaza with a special use permit for their operation of an off track betting parlor; permission to transfer their liquor license for the sale of wine, beer and liquor on premises only and the placement of three 101 diameter satellite dish antennas on the roof.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to refer this to Planning and Zoning; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST BY ST. PAUL'S UNITED METHODIST CHURCH FOR HANDICAPPED PARKING SPACES

A letter was received requesting permission to erect three (3) handicapped parking signs in front of the church on Maryland Avenue.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to refer this to Traffic and Safety; seconded by Commissioner Watkins.

Commissioner Saunders suggested that instead of giving them three (3), it should be considered to put one near the grocery store on the corner. Commissioner Vickers asked that the request be put in writing to follow procedure. Mr. Kinnamon said he would submit a memo.

Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST BY WILLIAM H. THOMAS REGARDING PLAN FOR MOORING PILES ON CAMBRIDGE CREEK

A letter was received from William H. Thomas to be referred to Planning and Zoning regarding a modified plan he submitted for mooring piles on Cambridge Creek.

Commissioner Saunders moved to refer him to Planning and Zoning; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders asked if the Planning and Zoning Commission's May meeting could be changed from May 4th to May llth since she will be unable to attend the regularly scheduled meeting.

REQUEST TO HOLD NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER

A request was received from Reverend Barry L. Miller, Pastor of Cambridge Wesleyan Church, to hold the National Day of Prayer on May 6th on the sidewalk and steps of Council Chambers for Prayer between 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Commissioner Saunders moved to grant his request; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST FOR DAY CARE CENTER AT 410 TALBOT AVENUE

A letter was received from Linda Holliday requesting a special use permit for day care at 410 Talbot Avenue. She currently is a licensed family day care provider at 512 Glenburn Avenue.

Commissioner Saunders moved to refer this to Planning and Zoning; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

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

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the Budget Amendment for Department of Public Works and the two from Financial Administration; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

APPROVE BUDGETED EXPENDITURES OVER $250

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the budgeted expenditures over $250. and that the figure on Purchase Order #00784 be changed to $600. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM CITY ATTORNEY

Mr. Collison stated that the issue has arisen several times regarding whether or not a restaurant which sells alcohol as an accessory part of their food service, would be required to get a special use permit under the alcohol sale provision of the code. If it's the Council decision to exempt a restaurant from a special use permit procedure (in other words, restaurants which are bona fide restaurants under the State and County definition for Dorchester County) that code section would need to be amended. A restaurant could then be located within 500 feet of a church or a school and, as long as it is zoned for a restaurant, the sale of alcohol would be a permitted use and no special permit would be required.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to allow the City attorney to advertise for a public hearing; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Commissioner Saunders said she made the motion to see how the community feels. Although she has taken a hard stand in the past about the sale of alcohol within 500 feet of a church or school, it could deter certain fine class restaurants from coming into the area if they could not sell alcoholic beverages with dinners or when they hold wedding receptions or banquets. With no further discussion, the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Collison then requested a brief Executive Session this evening for a legal matter. Commissioner Saunders made a motion to grant his request; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

A reference was then made by Mr. Collison to the Consulting Agreement between the City and the Chesapeake Group whereby they would assist the City in seeking grant funding for sidewalks. Commissioner Saunders made a motion to adopt the Consulting Agreement with the amendment that specific streets be named (Maryland Avenue, Dorchester Avenue and Henry Street). Motion was seconded by Commissioner Rice. Mr. Collison said he would amend it and submit it for the Mayor's signature tomorrow. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM FIRST WARD

Commissioner Vickers requested Mr. Collison to draft documentation to amend the code by Ordinance to address the issue of nonconforming businesses operating in certain zone areas that close for two years and then could reopen. He would like to see that reduced to one year.

Mr. Collison said he would draft this and submit it to Council.

COMMENTS FROM THIRD WARD

On a similar note, Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. Collison to see if any legal requirements could be placed on commercial buildings that set empty and unattractive. The-City has passed nothing to make at least the fronts of buildings look acceptable to the community.

Regarding items being worked on with the County, she advised that information will be in Council's books this Thursday.

As requested by Mayor and Council, she has done some background work and research with Chief Hurley about identifying some property locations for the new firehouse. Information that is gathered through the Chief, the Grants Administrator and herself will be submitted to Council. Cost factors and preliminary architectural plans need to be established.

COMMENTS FROM MAYOR

Mayor Wooten commented about all the good that will be forthcoming with regards to the meeting that was held last week with the County.

He then shared a letter he received from Senator Barbara Mikulski as well as a letter that was sent to her by the Army Corps of Engineers with regards to unresolved problems with the Hyatt project that have now being taken care of. Mayor Wooten said that "the Hyatt becomes closer every day to becoming a reality."

At this point, Commissioner Saunders referenced a memo from David Pritchett regarding carpeting allowance for R.F.C. The renovations have been completed and it would be a great final touch to replace the deteriorated carpet in the Chief's office and the secretary's office. She then made a motion to allow this to proceed; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM FOURTH WARD

Commissioner Swafford moved to allow Mr. Kinnamon to go forward with computer upgrade for the City's accounting works to bring it into compliance with Y2K; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.

Another motion was made by Commissioner Swafford to allow the Director of DPW to advertise in-house for an engineering assistant position; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Swafford mentioned that three of the four heating/air-conditioning units are not working properly at Council Chambers. He then made a motion to allow DPW to go to bid for a central air conditioning unit for Council Chambers; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM CLERK-TREASURER

Mr. Kinnamon said he received a letter today signed by several businesses in the 400 block of Race Street concerning the lighting and general security of the parking lot which runs behind Craig's towards Fassett-McGee. Commissioner Rice made a motion to refer this to Traffic and Safety; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS

Mr. Pritchett said he appreciated the motion that was made on the engineering assistant.

COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Ms. Marjorie Hull came forward to mention that when DPW advertises or hires a zoning consultant to not forget that the City's Comprehensive Plan makes reference to land use and this is something that she hopes is included in the full prospectus.

On another note, Ms. Hull noted that Mr. Messick spoke about how does the community know when public hearings or meetings are coming up. She said that only one page of tonight's agenda was posted outside Council and the topic that Mr. Messick was interested in was not there. Mr. Kinnamon checked the message board and confirmed that all items were posted... the two pages of the agenda were taped together to make one sheet, including what Mr. Messick was present for.

She then said that hear say on the street is that $14,000. from a consultant got the verdict that there are no fox squirrels on the Hyatt property. Commissioner Rice stated that common sense would tell you that "they just couldn't survive coming across Route 50." Ms. Hull said there was a claim that there was one sighted.

MORE COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Mr. Gage Thomas came to the podium on behalf of ARC and the Chamber of Commerce to applaud Council's initiative tonight on the economic development frontier.

With no further business, meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting of Monday, April 26, 1999 insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk-Treasurer