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City Council Minutes

August 16, 1999
 

August 16, 1999

The City Council met in a work session at 6:00 p.m. with Mayor David J. Wooten presiding.

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

PUBLIC HEARING - KEVAN SULLIVAN (DAY CARE CENTER) 117 WASHINGTON STREET

City Attorney Robert Collison advised that the procedures for both of the public hearings tonight fall under the Special Use Permit section of the City Code and the Council is acting as a zoning board in rendering their decision.

Mr. George Hyde from DPW advised that the letters to the area property owners were sent out on July 29th and the property was then posted on July 30, 1999. The first notice was published in the Daily Banner on July 30th and the second notice was published on August 6th. No letters were received either in support or opposition.

Ms. Kevan Sullivan came forward to state that she plans to operate year-round from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with eight children. She has parking on the side of her house for five vehicles at one time (the sixth available space is for her van). In response to Mr. Collison's question, she advised that she is the only employee except for her substitute who does not get paid. She is currently in the process of getting her license from the State.

Commissioner Saunders asked if substitutes get background checks even though they don't get paid? Ms. Sullivan responded that they do although it is a lesser one than the provider gets. Her mother-in-law is her emergency substitute and she is a registered nurse for Shore Health Care but her husband had to get the full background check because he is also a substitute, and he lives in the home. She further advised that her yard is fenced in by a six foot high fence.

Mr. Collison then asked if anyone wanted to speak in favor or in opposition of the request. With no response or any further questions, he asked Council for a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Watkins moved to close the public hearing; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

For everyone's information, Mr. Collison advised that Council will render their decision next Monday night.

PUBLIC HEARING - CLARENCE JOHNSON (PRODUCE STAND) 513 COURT LANE

Mr. Hyde advised that letters to the area property owners were sent out on July 29th. The property was posted on July 30th. The first public notice was in the Daily Banner on July 30th and the second was published on August 6th. There were several letters, along with a petition, that were turned over to Mr. Collison and the department has no objection to what is being proposed.

Mr. Collison advised he has letters and a petition that were submitted prior to tonight's hearing that will be available for anyone to review.

The petition, which was several pages long, appears to be in favor of the request by Mr. Johnson being granted. Mr. Collison said this will be entered as "Exhibit Ill.

The second is a letter dated July 30, 1999 from Sandy Murphy in opposition of the request based on the appearance of the produce stand in the past.

The third is a letter dated August 11th from Carole McClain in support of the application.

The fourth is a letter from Betty Wayne Adams dated July 29th and it is also in support of the application.

The fifth is a letter from Lisa Nield dated July 29th in support of the application.

The sixth is a letter from Mr. and Mrs. Michael Maloney in support of the application.

The seventh is a letter from Suzan Drescher in support of the application.

The eighth is a letter from Michael Baker in support of the application.

The final letter, number nine, was received today from Marcella Tolley in support of the application.

Mr. Collison advised for the record that the Planning and Zoning Commission met on August 3rd and recommended that the special use permit be granted and it received a unanimous vote.

Attorney Grason Eckel came forward on behalf of his clients Clarence and Anna Louise Johnson asking that the Zoning Board's ruling of 5 to 0 be upheld. He certainly feels that there has been overwhelming support in favor of this for these folks. The applicants have heard some opposition and they have agreed to take corrective action with respect to the aesthetics. Mr. Eckel then asked that Mr. Johnson be allowed to operate tomorrow morning if possible.

With regards to the aesthetics, Mr. Collison asked if the tables would be removed during the off-season and Mr. Eckel responded that they would. Mr. Johnson also agreed to remove any baskets or boxes during the time he is not selling during the sea son.

Commissioner Saunders asked if the Johnsons were still planning to use the same structure that is there now or will they have something that looks a little more acceptable? It Mr. Eckel's understanding that they plan to put some dressing around the table to make it look a little more professional. Commissioner Saunders felt that what is currently there is an eyesore.

Ms. Ginger Brannock came to the podium and stated that she is one of the owners of the building where Mr. and Mrs. Johnson live. Both she and her husband are very concerned about the appearance of the outside of the building also. They are working on a plan to dress it up for Mr. Johnson and possibly put an awning up over the produce stand and shutters on the windows ... "and I think it will be something you'll be proud of.

Mr. C. Lloyd Robbins, former Mayor of Cambridge, came to the podium. He served for twelve years as Mayor and "I never had one complaint in the twelve years, not one." He wouldn't have a problem seeing the stand fixed up a little bit but he would hate to see a man's livelihood taken away. Mayor Wooten then corrected former Mayor Robbins by stated that he sat as Mayor for sixteen years, not twelve ... "you shortchanged yourself."

Mr. Mike Baker, Clerk of the Circuit Court, was next to speak in favor. He has never experienced a traffic problem on the street that runs between his building and the Johnson's produce stand "and I wish and hope that you will grant their continued use." He feels they provide a valuable resource to the community.

To raise some of the concerns in the past about parking, Mr. Collison offered a suggestion that a temporary fifteen minute parking space be allowed on Court Lane closest to High Street to not only serve the produce stand but possibly for people who would be going to court to file something quickly. He asked Mr. Baker if this would interrupt the court's management and Mr. Baker stated that to the best of his knowledge, "no."

Ms. Pam Pitt, Hurlock, Maryland, came to the podium and stated that she was born and raised in Cambridge and has known Mr. Johnson for a long time and "I think it is a disgrace to treat him this way ... and I think he should be granted his fruit stand." She also felt that he should be reimbursed for all the money that he lost this summer (followed by a round of applauds from the audience).

Mr. Milford Foxwell, Glenburn Avenue, was next to speak and stated, "I am in total support of Mr. Johnson's request." He has known Mr. Johnson for over sixty years and he has always worked for a living and he urged Council to try to help him.

Mr. Oliver Gore, 209 High Street, spoke in favor of the Johnsons having the opportunity to continue their business. He said that his good health at age 78 is due to "the Johnsons feeding me good produce and vegetables." Mr. Gore stated that the Johnsons are excellent neighbors and he thinks they are doing a good service, not just to those who live nearby, but also to people going to and from work. In response to Mr. Collison's question about traffic, Mr. Gore stated that he travels that route at least four or five times a day and "I don't know of any time that I've had to cuss or fuss or do anything about being stopped there."

Ms. Susan Kunkle, 117 High Street, said she just moved back to Cambridge in March of this year. She doesn't know the Johnsons but when she read the article in the paper about these people who have had a permit for twenty years, she could not believe that they were denied their permit this year... "is this the town that I grew up in?" Out of respect for the Johnsons who have worked so hard, she came tonight to support them and urge Council to reconsider to give them their permit.

Mr. Warren McWilliams, a lifetime resident of Dorchester County, came to the podium. Both he and his wife are friends of the Johnsons and he feels he should be granted his request to continue to serve people in Dorchester County and the City of Cambridge.

Ms. Joann Baker, 5433 Whitehall Road, came forward in support. The Johnsons take the time to speak with their customers and make them feel special..."the world needs that."

Mr. Collison then asked if the applicant had any questions in rebuttal and Mr. Eckel asked, for point of clarification, "if the Council favorably grants this, when can they begin operation." A vote of 4/5ths is needed for a special use permit and Mr. Collison advised that there are only three Council members present this evening. This will be deferred until next Monday to allow Commissioners Swafford and Rice to review the minutes and the exhibits and then render a decision. As soon as the decision is rendered, it becomes effective immediately.

Ms. Gamble Foster, Glenburn Avenue, stated that she became a Cambridge resident four years ago and the Johnsons were some of the very first people she had met. It is sad the way the Johnsons are being treated. There are other problems that need to be addressed in Cambridge ... "and not whether he is going to sell some tomatoes." She drives on Court Lane every day and has never once been caught up in traffic. The Johnsons made her feel welcome in Cambridge because they wanted to know how she was doing and she misses that. She said she would really appreciate it if the Johnsons could get their permit back.

Mr. Luther Howard Hoffman, 5247 Stone Boundary Road, spoke in support of the Johnsons. He stated that if it weren't for people like Mr. Johnson "we would not be free and have the freedoms we have today." Mr. Johnson has served his country in the military and has never asked for a hand out.

With no further comments, a motion was made by Commissioner Watkins to close the public hearing; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

DISCUSSION OF EMPLOYEES COMMENTS RELATIVE TO MEETING WITH COUNCIL PRESIDENT

Commissioner Saunders addressed some suggestions and ideas various departments and employees discussed as to modifications that the City could provide that would offer better service to our citizens and/or employees.

Flex Time: Ms. Camper's staff at the Housing Department asked if "flex time" could be utilized so that she could provide more office hours and inspection time to the public and the City. Commissioner Saunders, upon information from Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Kinnamon, explained that according to the personnel policy procedures, "this was a Department Head's call as long as they kept proper records."

Employees reducing their lunchtime to one-half hour: This was also a department's call of staggering lunch times in order to be available to give citizens service.

Before Commissioner Saunders continued, she asked Mr. Collison, since this is a work session and not a voting session, if these items could be deferred to go on a future agenda three weeks from now? Mr. Collison stated that they could.

Honoring employees at five, ten, fifteen, twenty and twenty-five year intervals during the "Appreciation Night" activities: It is Commissioner Saunders intention to set this on a future agenda.

Centralizing City Offices: Commissioner Saunders informed the group that this was a future goal of the City Council.

Making 'CPR training available to all employees:Mr.Wheeler offered to get with the CEMS director and explore what services we can provide and associated cost and to get back to the Council.

Maintaining accumulated sick leave on payroll stubs: Commissioner Saunders advised that Mr. Kinnamon informed the group that when he was exploring the possibility of putting vacation time and sick leave on the pay stubs, he was informed by another City agency that they had put both items on their pay stubs, and they noticed an increase in sick leave use. Commissioner Saunders asked that this item also be deferred and set on a future Council agenda.

Making Good Friday a paid holiday as opposed to a floater: Commissioner Saunders feels this is "a Mayor and Council call" but she wanted to bring out this as a request from our employees.

Pension contribution and the deduction as it is now: Mr. Kinnamon and Mr. Wheeler explained this at the employee work sessions to everyone.

Will employees be compensated for the difference between their actual salary and their stated salary? When? At the meeting with employees, Mr. Kinnamon explained the situation and he has taken care of it.

What is the status of the weekly versus biweekly paycheck issue? Commissioner Saunders noted "that had been put to bed months ago." The Commissioners voted on continuing the weekly payroll.

Why isn't city policy instituted within City departments uniformly? Commissioner Saunders stated that this particular department gave a clarification of this question and it had to do with lunch hours. Again, Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Kinnamon referred them to the personnel handbook.

How often will employees have the opportunity to meet with the Council President? This has been set up for every four months.

Moral Booster: Commissioner Saunders said it was suggested to have a bus trip once a year for all City employees. She deferred this issue to a later date.

Family Day: It was suggested to have a City wide picnic at Great Marsh and Commissioner Saunders reminded them that the Human Relations Committee has held "The Great Cambridge Cookout" for the past three years. She advised the employees when this year's is scheduled and "they said they would be there."

The Mayor and Commissioners should contribute money towards Each Departments' Christmas Party: Commissioner Saunders asked for this issue to be deferred for three weeks to be put on the Council's agenda.

There was talk about the increased workload at DPW and Mr. Pritchett said this was a Department Head call for the things that they were asking. He said he has taken care of this.

Another issue was to have an Employee Committee meet with Council when Council is considering making decisions on personnel matters. Commissioner Saunders stated that this would also need to be discussed at a future Council meeting.

"Christmas Club" deduction from paycheck: Commissioner Saunders said that at last week's Council meeting Council voted unanimously to have Mr. Wheeler move forward on this.

Have the "annual leave,, increased back to 45 days: This is another issue that needs to be addressed by Council.

Return to practice of "vacation checks" being issued in advance: At the employee work session, Mr. Kinnamon advised how this effects his office and Commissioner Saunders stated that "this would be a Mayor and Council call at a later date."

Have a monthly City wide "newsletter": Commissioner Saunders suggested the employees have a committee and let two representatives talk to the Council about the kinds of things they want to go in the newsletter before the Council could act on this.

Employee of the Year: The Department Heads who participated in the work sessions felt that this should be a Department Head call.

Employee Attendance Certificate: Again this is up to the individual Department Heads to do within their departments if they chose.

This final issue was to have the insurance rates explained to them, why they're going up and who is in charge of the decision regarding insurance. They asked why the City couldn't have the same type of insurance as the State has. Their questions were answered by Mr. Kinnamon.

Mayor Wooten then announced that there are two items that need to be addressed prior to the next meeting. If they are not acted on tonight, they won't be able to be taken care of.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to go into regular session to address the two issues; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST FROM TEMPLE OF DELIVERANCE FOR NOISE VARIANCE

A request was received from the Temple of Deliverance for a noise variance for Thursday, August 19th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to hold an outreach street service on Pine Street near the police substation. They also had an additional request for a noise variance for Wednesday, August 25th through Friday, August 27th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to hold outside services in front of their church on the parking lot.

Commissioner Saunders mentioned, in reference to the street service on Pine Street, "they're either going to block the sidewalk or block the street." Commissioner Saunders made a motion that the request for August 19th not be granted and that the other request be put on the August 23rd agenda; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders said she wasn't against them having a program... she just wanted to make sure people were safe.

REQUEST FROM LIVING CLASSROOMS FOUNDATION TO DOCK "LADY MARYLAND" AT LONG WHARF

This is a request to use Long Wharf during the weekend of August 20th through August 23rd to dock the Lady Maryland which provides the opportunity for local teenagers to learn to sail the historic Chesapeake Bay boat.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to allow the docking and that "we do as we've always done, waive the fee." Motion was seconded by Commissioner Vickers and it carried unanimously.

With no further comments, meeting adjourned at 6:56 p.m.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council work session and meeting of Monday, August 16. 1999 insofar as I personally am aware.

Oden C. Wheeler, Administrative Coordinator