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City Council Minutes

August 23, 1999

August 23, 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, Vickers, Swafford and Saunders.

Mr. Wheeler led in the Lord's Prayer.

Mr. Collison advised that at 6:00 p.m. this evening there was a meeting held with regards to reviewing the proposals for health insurance for the City employees. Commissioner Saunders advised that it was not held in Executive Session, "it was public ... we held it right out front."

Commissioner Watkins moved to approve the minutes of the August 9th Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Watkins then made a motion to approve the minutes of the August 16th meeting; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Wheeler advised there were several bids received. Mr. Pritchett brought one to his attention that was not received until 4:12 p.m. today... they were due a D.P.W. by 4:00 p.m. Council determined that this bid would be rejected.

Mr. Wheeler proceeded to open the bids and read them aloud:

1) Preston Buick-Pontiac-GMC
    Gypsy Hill Road
    Cambridge, MD

(after trade-in) $19,499.15

2) Schaefer & Strohminger
    S & S Delmarva Autopark
    Cambridge, MD

(after trade-in) $18,474.00

3) Bob Smith Automotive Group, Inc.
    Easton, MD

(after trade-in) $19,907.27

4) Preston Ford
     Preston, MD

(after trade-in) $17,995.00


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


Kelly Marshall, member of Boy Scout Troop #209, came forward to say that he is working on his Eagle Scout badge. One of the things he needs to do is a service project that would benefit the community. He stated that he would like to improve the pedestrian mall on Race Street.

His plan includes planting flowers in the flower beds, cutting a few old trees down that could possibly push up the bricks, replacing two boards on top of the arbor and painting the arbor. He would also like to take off the electrical outlets on the top of the arbor because "they look trashy in my opinion." Another idea was to tear down the bushes and the vines on the walls so the walls could be painted, restore the fountain, replace the decking around the fountain, replace the benches, plant trees and put in more lights to cut down on vandalism. He was told by the head of the Downtown Business Association that the Business Association would pay for the upkeep on the fountain.

A further suggestion from Mr. Marshall was to have a sign with the history of the fountain and to set collection buckets around for the upkeep of the fountain. Commissioner Saunders asked if he was doing all that hard labor by himself ... he responded "no." His Boy Scout Troop will be assisting.

Commissioner Saunders asked him to rethink his idea about the collection buckets. She then made a motion "for this courageous and insightful citizen of Cambridge" to be able to have all of his plans carried out with the direction being coordinated through the Department of Public Works. Mayor Wooten stated that he appreciated Mr. Marshall's initiative.

Commissioner Saunders then made an addition to her motion that Mr. Pritchett make every effort in his existing budget to find money to make sure these things are carried out. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and he commended this young man for his courage and his interest in the improvement of the City of Cambridge on a project that is very much needed. Mayor Wooten asked if there was any further discussion and Mr. Marshall stated, "I need this in writing ... 11 Commissioner Saunders advised Mr. Marshall that the minutes of the meeting are taped and all he needs to do is see Mr. Pritchett to get a free copy. Motion then carried unanimously.

A voice from the audience advised that it is part of Mr. Marshall's Eagle project to find the funds. Commissioner Saunders asked if the City could supplement funds if he can't find enough and the response was "yes."

Mayor Wooten asked who sponsored this Boy Scout Troop and he was advised Elks #1272 on Route 50.


Mr. Collison asked Council if they want him to submit for next week's meeting a proposal in resolution/ordinance form.

Commissioner Saunders stated that she had hoped that he could take the proposal that she submitted with permission from Mayor and Council, and match it with what is currently in effect "and take the best of two worlds." She then made a motion to have Mr. Collison submit it by the second meeting in September so Council will have time to look it over; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Saunders stated that she is totally in opposition to this. City employees have wanted ambulance bills waived and Council worked with them and she feels a bad precedence would be set because it costs the City to operate the ambulance service.

She then made a motion "to say no"; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Collison advised that the public hearing on this was held on August 16th for a request for home day care at 117 Washington Street. Council just needs to render their decision.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to grant the special use permit pending receipt of her license from the State. (Ms. Sullivan's request came in before the moratorium set by Council.) Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins.

Commissioner Swafford asked Mr. Collison if he could vote on this. Although he wasn't present at the public hearing he did review all the notes. Mr. Collison advise it was alright for him to vote. Motion then carried unanimously.


Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the special use permit with the following provisions:

1) the area and tables would be dressed up;

2) tables and baskets would be removed during the off-season;

3) the permit would be issued for one year (as stated in the City Code), not five years;

4) there will be a designated 15 minute parking space for use by the public, not solely for the produce stand, and tickets will be written if it is abused; that the tables need to be "dressed up" within 30 days.

Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins. For a point of clarification, Mr. Collison explained that at the public hearing there was discussion that since one full time parking space was being eliminated, Michael Baker from the court house said that the loading zone on Court Lane could be utilized for parking by removing the yellow line on the curb. Commissioner Swafford amended his motion to include the removal of the yellow line for additional parking. Commissioner Watkins seconded the amended motion and it carried unanimously.


Mr. William Jackson, Chairman of the Human Relations Committee, came forward to issue a report to the Mayor and Council as to the Human Relations Committee's participation in the school bus safety issue with the Board of Education.

A committee was formed in which H.R.C. was involved along with parents, bus contractors and administrators. As a result of meeting for several months, they have come up with several issues and recommendations to the Board of Education. They met directly with Dr. Spicer Bell at their final meeting and "I think when he left the final meeting that he was in accord with all of our recommendations" although the financial issues would have to wait until they discuss their budget and money restraints.

There is not only an issue of people riding the school buses, but there were also issues with the people who were walking. He feels the City should be aware that "we have no cross guards in the City of Cambridge." They determined that the City police try to accommodate the cross-walks but they are not really assigned to be there.

Some of the other recommendations were school bus drivers could provide parents with contact numbers (i.e., cell phone numbers); drivers should create a newsletter for their individual bus; have schools include the drivers in regular school events; appropriate notes for riding alternative buses; bus routes for administrators; administrators awareness of communication with drivers.

Another issue was aides on buses. The committee recommended to employ temporary aides to assist bus drivers on a rotating basis. These aides could be assigned to problem buses as needed and they could help the driver with Pre-K and K students that usually ride the bus for short periods of time in large numbers and make it difficult for the driver to learn their names. They feel it would be financially impossible to put aids on all buses but if some people could train children at an early age on proper behavior on the bus, possibly this behavior will be instilled in them when they are juniors and seniors.

Video cameras on all the buses was another recommendation along with a review of the bus routes to end lengthy rides as some children are on the bus for almost an hour. Establish a system for transporting large items and instruments on the buses and limit standing on buses.

The committee feels that communication can be a key to safety. Mr. Jackson said he feels there must be some funds available within the State of Maryland to support crossing guards.

It was determined that most of the accidents happen in the school parking lots and a suggestion was made to stagger hours for walkers, drivers and buses in hopes that less congestion would help ease some of the safety issues.

Mr. Jackson feels that something good is going to happen in response to the work that this committee has done and he thanked the Mayor and Council for supporting them. He hopes that if some of the issues require money, the City and the County would get together and come up with some ideas.

Mayor Wooten told Mr. Jackson that he feels "this was leadership on a major issue" and he appreciated everything that they did.

Commissioner Saunders said that Mr. Jackson has done an excellent job as Human Relations President and he has made sure that the Mayor and Council have been involved with any project that they have used to represent the City, "and I just want to say congratulations and thank you."

Mr. Jackson then mentioned that they had 377 people go through the food line at the "Great Cambridge Cookout" this past Saturday "but there were more people than that down there." He thanked everyone who helped make it such a success. They had a variety of activities, a multitude of people from various ethnic and religious groups ... "this was an activity where people met people to have a good time."


Commissioner Saunders made a motion that Mr. Tony Thomas be the representative from the City "along with one of our Commissioners who has not picked the ball up yet on the Core Response Group"; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

A request was then made by Commissioner Saunders to have Mr. Wheeler "fast track a letter" to Mr. Thomas to see if he would accept.

She then made a request to put this back on the next agenda for a City Commissioner appointment. If a City Commissioner doesn't accept, we need to find out from the State if the ruling can be changed because it specifically says "a City Commissioner."


Commissioner Vickers noted that a request was received from the Dorchester County Health Department to hold their Fall rabies clinic at Great Marsh pavilion on Saturday, September 25, 1999 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The clinic was previously held at the gymnasium of the Eastern Shore Hospital Center and they can no longer use that facility.

Commissioner Vickers made a motion to grant them permission to use Great Marsh as requested; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Saunders made a motion to refer this to the Lighting Committee; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Pritchett advised a new evaluation was done today, and it was much more in line with what was originally considered to be the best way to air-condition this building. He wanted a little more time to research central air-conditioning the front half as was originally discussed.

Commissioner Saunders motioned to grant Mr. Pritchett's request; seconded by Commissioner Vickers who said that he has been working with Mr. Pritchett on this and after a number of evaluations and opinions, one person has come up with something that is completely contrary to what was given previously and . more time is needed to look into it. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the budget amendment for the Department of Public Works; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve all budgeted expenditures in Council's books over $250; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Pritchett referenced his memo regarding the open space at Great Marsh. He asked Council to get up with him if they had any questions as it is rather involved, "but it's a lot of good news." It appears to have gone through as the City requested.


Commissioner Swafford stated that he had a report that a light was out at 1415 Bayly Road and he wanted to make sure that Mr. Pritchett was aware of this.

He then mentioned that he had replaced some of his sidewalks and is in the process of replacing some on Gay Street. When some of the sidewalks were poured years ago, they were about an inch and a half thick... "and that's part of our problem. I'm not saying that's all of our problem... and he stated that he just wanted to make that comment.


Commissioner Saunders thank Public Works for all the extra trash cans for the Great Cambridge Cookout, "and it was really clean when we got there on Saturday."

She then made an announcement that the Mayor and Commissioners will be having a work session on September 20th (5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.) at Council Chambers with the Association for the Revitalization of Cambridge to increase marketing of downtown Cambridge and revitalization of Pine and Race Streets. At 6:30 p.m. there will be a public work session for input, ideas and suggestions on how the City of Cambridge can better work with the special use permit structure of in-home day care.

At this time, after receiving a note from Portia Johnson, Commissioner Saunders asked if the City attorney, with approval from Mayor and Council, would research other town ordinances regarding free standing basketball net stands. She feels this is a great safety hazard and causes gathering of crowds in the street. No only this, but property damages. She then made a motion that Mr. Collison look into this; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

A reference was then made by Commissioner Saunders to a memo from Attorney Collison regarding Bed and Breakfast establishments. They are being charged both for an annual license to operate and a rental registration fee. In Mr. Collison's opinion, it is not in the City's best interest to impose both fees for Bed and Breakfast owners. She then made a motion to only charge the licensing fee; seconded by Commissioner Vickers.

Commissioner Rice stated that the terminology needs to be looked at. Though the ordinance was written to address rental property, it doesn't state rental property... "it states non-owner residents" which in many cases are the elderly parents who have given their property over with life residencies in which case they would fall under the guides of that bill and be charged a rental fee ... "which I think is a tad ridiculous." Commissioner Saunders said, "if we're doing it, we need to stop and we need to clean up our act." Commissioner Rice said the ordinance needs to be reworded because "the intent and the words don't agree." Motion then carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders made another motion that the Housing Department be directed immediately to cease and desist for those people who have lifetime ownership and that we find out how much these people have paid and we refund their money; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Commissioner Swafford ask how they would know who is and who isn't. Mr. Collison stated if they are a life tenant it would be a life estate deed. If they were to produce for the Housing Department that type of documentation that would suffice for them to remove it. Mr. Collison further stated that there could be a problem with the way the deed was recorded. Commissioner Saunders then made a motion "if that is the case, all the resident would need to do is provide a certified letter or a copy of the deed. Motion carried unanimously.

On another note, Commissioner Saunders stated that there has been a question raised by an individual as to her conducting the meeting the other week. "I looked into our rules and the attorney gave me rules. I reserve the right, as has the Mayor in the past reserved the right, to give people a time limit to speak when I chair the meeting. There is nothing that says I can't do that. I specifically did that because I did not want any confrontation. I will not sit here and tolerate myself being pulled into a confrontation so whenever I chair the meeting, I have the right to say that remarks will be limited to 5 minutes per person and if I feel as chairing the meeting that it will get out of control or that it will bring a confrontation that is not conducive to the work of the City and the citizens, I will exercise that right. I have no more comment on the subject and will answer no more questions on the subject. Thank you Mr. Mayor."


Mr. Collison stated that pursuant to a Police Board meeting of June 21st, I have in your packets for review and consideration a memorandum addressing those issues. He asked that Council contact him if they had any questions.

Reference was then made to an Annexation Resolution to be introduced, but not acted upon until a later date, for the Amoco property on U. S. Route 50. This needs to formally be introduced by the Council by a motion. After that there will be a public hearing and it will be approved or disapproved following the public hearing.

Commissioner Watkins made a motion to formally introduce Resolution No. A-99-001; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried 4 to 0 with Commissioner Saunders abstaining.

Mr. Collison then stated that he needs to meet with Council very briefly following tonight's meeting for a legal matter. Commissioner Swafford made a motion to go into Executive Session following tonight's meeting; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.


Ms. Theresa Stafford came to the podium and stated that she had been before Council in June regarding annexation of property on Christ Rock Drive. As of today, nothing has happened. She has called the City Attorney and contacted two Commissioners as to why nothing has moved. In the meantime, the interest rate is "steadily skyrocketing".

Mr. Collison advised that he has had some conversations with Ms. Stafford. one conversation was regarding whether or not she wished to be included with everyone in the same advertisement. Initially she had told Mr. Price she wanted to be individually. The price was exorbitant so she then asked to be included with the other three. The problem is that the resolution and the law requires that there be a meets and bounds description of the properties. He had to do title work on four properties. The only one that had a meets and bounds description was the Amoco Station. That means a survey has been done with courses and distances. If Ms. Stafford has a survey, he can go ahead with the resolution and advertising. If not, a survey is going to have to be done on this as well as the other two properties, being Mr. William Green's property and Ms. Gloria Bailey's property.

Ms. Stafford stated that "when I talked to the secretary today, this is the first time I heard anything about you needing a survey... 11 Mr. Collison advised that he only finished completing the four titles this passed Friday and then proceeded to explain the procedure for annexation.

Commissioner Saunders said it was her understanding that there are people in the Christ Rock area that don't want these people to have their specific property annexed so they can build their own home. Mr. Pritchett said "a couple of people almost campaigned against this" which has no bearing on his study and what is revealed back to Council.

Ms. Stafford said that when she came before the Planning Commission, Public Works said they wanted to survey and see if other people wanted to come in and "I distinctly remember Mr. Trego and one of the other guys made the comment that under no circumstances was that survey to hinder Ms. Stafford's moving on her project", -and it is in the minutes. She then added "that should not have held up what you needed to do or anybody else ... I understand that you wanted to do it to see if you could save me some money... right now you are costing me money by not moving on it."

Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. Collison where we stand on this issue now and he stated that a survey would need to be prepared on the properties. Once the survey is done, it should go to Mr. Price in Zoning.

Ms. Stafford asked if there was any way to expedite this process and Mr. Collison advised that this is the law. The reason for the 45 day waiting period is that the County and the State Department of Planning need to be notified to see if they have any objections.


Ms. Marjorie Hull came forward to applaud the City Council for moving to return the rental registration fee where homeowners were inappropriately charged. She had heard that there is a property in the West End that received a bill for the $20. because it was a building on a lot that adjoined the property owners home "and it is a garage with no water and no sewer." When this was explored with Ms. Camper it was determined that she does not have a data base that permits her to access the data base from Taxation and Assessments which has the correct information. Commissioner Saunders advised Ms. Hull that Ms. Camper has budgeted money for upgrading her system and it has been approved by Council. Ms. Hull stated that she will be alerting the members of the West End Citizens Association via their newsletter that if there is something they feel is inappropriate to contact the Housing Department.

Commissioner Saunders then advised Ms. Hull that Council has not forgotten her rezoning. Mr. Pritchett is in touch with a qualified State official that has much more background in looking into the bids that were received by the City from consultants for the rezoning study "and we're still moving on it." Ms. Hull stated that she hopes that Council will include in whatever contract that Council sets forth, that public input be significantly in the proposal.

With no further comments, meeting adjourned at 8:03 p.m.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting of Monday, August 23, 1999 insofar as I personally am aware.

Oden C. Wheeler, Administrative Coordinator