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City Council Minutes

September 13, 1999
 

September 13, 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 Vickers, Watkins, Saunders, Swafford and Rice.

Mr. Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer.

Commissioner Watkins moved to approve the minutes of the August 30th City Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried 4 to 0 with Commissioner Rice abstaining.

PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION REPORT

Commissioner Watkins advised that the Planning and Zoning Committee met and heard two cases:

Timothy Moxey / 301 Choptank Avenue: A favorable vote of 3 to 1 came from the Commission. Based on that, Commissioner Watkins moved to accept their recommendation for a text amendment to Section 20-10(b)(4) to allow the sale and storage of propane in a C-1 district and asked that the City attorney prepare for a public hearing on the matter. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Saunders.

Mr. Pritchett explained that the applicant is operating as a C-1 business, strictly as a nonconforming use. He cannot expand a nonconforming use. By all purposes it is strictly right now an R-3 and has to adhere to all those regulations. If it is amended under a C-1, then a C-1 would be able to sell propane. Mr. Pritchett feels he should not be able to because he is in an R-3 as a nonconforming use.

Commissioner Rice stated the recommendation, as he understands it, is for changing the wording of the zoning to allow this as a use. "This is not a recommendation to allow the use." Mr. Collison advised, "you're not endorsing the recommendation from Planning and Zoning. You are accepting what they recommended..."

Commissioner Saunders stated "it may be a zoning issue, but to me it's also a safety issue. I would not want to live in a residential area where several tanks of gas are stored."

A question was directed to Mr. Collison from Commissioner Rice who asked, "...if in fact you may see something where somebody wants to change zoning on a particular piece of land in one area which is absolutely wrong, is it a requirement that you have that public hearing even though you know full well that it's detrimental to the community?" Technically, Mr. Collison advised "there's been an application for a text amendment ...and where the applicant has come forward and has requested it and is willing to pay for the advertisement of this ...I would advise that a public hearing be held, hear all the evidence as to what is involved and then have the vote after that."

Commissioner Swafford then asked, "as a resident, is there an amount of tanks that any one resident can have in their home for use?" Mr. Pritchett said there is nothing currently on the books. Motion then carried 3 to 2 with Commissioners Saunders and Vickers opposing.

Laurence Edwards / 746 Race Street / Produce Stand: Commissioner Watkins moved to accept the recommendation of the Planning Commission. He added that the Commission felt the produce stand should be put back further away from the street to allow vision around it, "and the gentleman agreed wholeheartedly to conform to it." Motion was seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Commissioner Saunders stated, "he not only agreed, he did it this weekend." Motion carried unanimously.

BID OPENINGS FOR NOTEBOOK COMPUTERS (C.P.D.)

Mr. Kinnamon advised that two bids were received:

1) Logical Approach, Inc.
203 Sunburst Highway
Cambridge, MD

$25,382.80

2) Data Profit Corporation
300 East Lombard Street
Baltimore, MD

$28,304.00

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to forward the bids to the Police Department for evaluation; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

"M*A*S*H BASH" SPONSORED BY THE AMERICAN RED CROSS

Mrs. Carol Asplen-Masden came to the podium to personally invite the Mayor and Council to an event that has been sanctioned by the Department of Defense "honoring our Korean War veterans." It is going to be taking place on Saturday, September 25th in two pieces. The first part of the day (from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.) on the grounds of the V.F.W. Post #7460 is a free event open to the public. There will be some U.S.O. shows, the National Guard will be doing their exercises for the weekend, a medivac helicopter will be flying in and "it's going to be a really neat opportunity to see what a mobile Army surgical hospital (M*A*S*H unit) might possibly look like back in Korea."

They are here to celebrate and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Korean War effort. From 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. in the evening of September 25th they will be having a dance with "Southern Breeze" at the V.F.W.

Mrs. Masden handed out a packet of information and stated, "if you have a Korean era war veteran in your life, please get him or her to complete one of these and get it in to the Red Cross office so that he or she can be honored because we feel that it is a distinct privilege that we have to recognize these men and women who fought so valiantly for our country. We will be recognizing those survivors as well as those who were killed in the war effort."

She further stated that she was present this evening to seek Council's approval to post signs and banners in the community. Tickets for the dance are $10.00 per person but they are providing the Mayor and Council with one complimentary ticket each. The funds raised will be staying in Dorchester County.

Commissioner Swafford stated that he had two brothers who served in the Korean War and he was pleased that this event is going to take place.

"CONSTITUTION WEEK" PROCLAMATION

Commissioner Rice moved to authorize the Mayor to sign the proclamation for "Constitution Week"; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.

Mayor Wooten proceeded to read the proclamation aloud. September 17th marks the 212th anniversary of the drafting of the Constitution of the United States and Constitution Week is designated from September 17th through September 23rd.

Ms. Barbara Keene, representing the Daughters of the Revolution, came forward to accept the proclamation.

AWARD BID FOR ZONING CONTRACT

Mr. Pritchett advised that after reviewing the bids received, the Department of Public Works recommends Redman-Johnston & Associates for the project to do the City's rezoning, updating and mapping.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion that for the budgeted amount of $43,600, Redman-Johnston & Associates be awarded the project for the zoning contracts; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

AWARD BID FOR DEMOLITION OF 700-712 RACE ST. (CONTRACT NO. 00-02)

Mr. Pritchett advised that several proposals were submitted ranging from $74,000 to $175,980. Since the hazardous materials will be taken care of by DPW prior to the demolition, they were able to award to the lowest bidder. Their recommendation is Wheatley Brothers in the amount of $74,000.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to move forward with accepting this bid proposal "with the stipulation that we understand that we are working on our environmental issues there and that they be taken care of before the demolition begins." Motion was seconded by Commissioner Vickers and it carried 3 to 1 with Commissioner Rice opposing and Commissioner Swafford abstaining.

REQUEST BY D.P.W. TO GO TO BID FOR NEW SALT DOME

Mr. Pritchett advised that he had budgeted this year the amount necessary to replace the salt dome. Last year there were some emergency repairs done so that it would not collapse.

Commissioner Saunders moved to grant the request; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST BY D.P.W. REGARDING APPLIANCE DISPOSAL

Mr. Pritchett stated that the City had to comply with the environmental issues of Freon disposal. He feels the only way to do this, at this point without any further study, is to go to the landfill in Beulah where there is a contracted disposal and recapture of Freon. He estimates the landfill charges to increase by $5,000 per year utilizing this means of disposal.

He is asking for consideration or approval to start a charge system for the Freon containing units that D.P.W. disposes of.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to refer this for draft to the City attorney to be put on the next work session agenda; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. In response to Commissioner Swafford's question, Mr. Pritchett advised that it costs the City $29.00 to drop off a unit. Commissioner Vickers added that when someone takes their car to a garage to have the air-conditioning worked on, there is always a fee added to the bill for disposal of the Freon. Motion then carried unanimously.

DISPOSITION ON SURPLUS POLICE EQUIPMENT

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to follow the proposal that was given to Council by the Police Department for the sale of their surplus police equipment. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Saunders wanted it noted in the minutes that this is for one patrol vehicle. Motion carried unanimously.

DETERMINE DATE FOR HALLOWEEN CELEBRATION

Commissioner Saunders mentioned that she had spoken to some people (about 12) and they preferred that it be celebrated on Saturday since this year it officially falls on Sunday.

Commissioner Watkins stated that he hadn't spoken to anyone about it, "but my first feeling was that Saturday would be a better day than Sunday to have it."

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to hold "trick or treat" on Saturday, October 30th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for children 12 and under; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried 4 to 0 with Commissioner Vickers abstaining.

REQUEST TO OBTAIN FUNDS FOR "OPEN-SPACE PROJECT"/GREAT MARSH PARK

Commissioner Saunders stated that she had attended a meeting a while back about some funding for the City. Mr. Pritchett had mentioned that he would like to have some additional equipment for the children since there are so many requests for the use of Great Marsh pavilion. If the suggested items are purchased, including a tug boat style playground, the City's 25% share of this matching grant from the State would be $11,200. This was based on a total project of $44,800.

Commissioner Vickers made a motion to proceed with the project; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Swafford asked which budget year this would fall into and Mr. Pritchett said 2000. He added that this also includes a second pavilion because the current one is booked so heavily. Motion then carried unanimously.

REQUEST FOR NOISE VARIANCE FROM CHIEF FITZHUGH (NAUSE WAIWASH BAND OF INDIANS)

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to allow a noise variance for their 7th Native American Festival from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 18th and from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. This festival is scheduled at Sailwinds Park. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried unanimously.

APPOINTMENT TO ENTERPRISE ZONE CORE RESPONSE GROUP

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to appoint Commissioner Thomas Flowers to represent Dorchester County on the Core Response Group; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST FROM PROPERTY OWNERS ON POPLAR STREET

A request was received from property owners on Poplar Street to pave the alley next to Bob Parks' Barbershop that runs behind the businesses on Poplar Street. Mayor Wooten stated, "I'd like to say, as one person, I'm in favor of this."

Commissioner Saunders advised that she has spoken with Mr. Pritchett about this. She asked that this be tabled until the next regularly scheduled meeting so Council can have some more discussion and more understanding of what's going on. This was put in the form of a motion and seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

Mrs. Lednum came to the podium to explain that the reason this came up so quickly and was not discussed with any of the City Commissioners was because the project to pave the parking lot next to City Hall was starting and the business owners became aware of it. The project director suggested that a letter be sent to Mr. Kinnamon to present it to the City Council. Mrs. Lednum feels that this would be enhancing the beautification of Cambridge. She stated, "right now we have a very rough deeply rutted alley and a lot of our customers go through that alley... from the parking lot to our back entrances..."

She further commented that the property owners have taken care of the City for a long, long time as far as grass and weeds on the edges of the parking lot and on the sidewalk... "so maybe this would be a little bit of a payback to us for all the times that we have shared in the weeding along the City lines."

In their request it was also suggested, to enhance the whole project, to have a fence along the edge of the parkinglot. They would be in agreement to erect the fence along their property because the Department of Public Works took down their fence in order to clean up the weeds, the ivy and all the debris that was there. Mrs. Lednum stated that they need something to divide the parking lot from the alley way because on heavy court days people are parking in the alley. She offered to talk further with Commissioner Saunders on their ideas since this is in her Ward.

Commissioner Saunders asked Mrs. Lednum if there are any signs indicating that there are private parking spaces in the rear of the stores. Mrs. Lednum advised that they hadn't needed them in the past and she is not for the idea because sometimes "they are looked upon as being unfriendly..."

It was determined from Mr. Pritchett that the fence that was removed by D.P.W. will be put back up at no cost to the businesses in the same condition, or better condition, than it was.

Mayor Wooten stated that he was in favor of paving the alley but Commissioner Rice added, "I don't think the cost of that alley is what you have to worry about ...it's the thousand of miles of other alleys in town that you would have to do the same thing to." Commissioner Rice further stated that he doesn't have a problem, while the City parking lot is being paved, if the adjoining property owners would want to pay the cost of doing the alley at the same time.

REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL SECURITY MEASURES TO CITY EXECUTIVE BUILDING

Mr. Kinnamon stated that when the security system was installed at City Hall, all the doors were protected with the exception of one that was secured, bolted and blocked with equipment. Due to some changes in the office, the obstruction was cleared and this door is used on a daily basis and not secured properly. He requested that the same security measures be utilized on this door.

Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. Kinnamon if the $365 cost for this is in his budget and it was determined that this would fall under Repairs and Maintenance and Mr. Pritchett has the available funds for this.

Commissioner Vickers made a motion to allow Mr. Kinnamon to move forward on this request; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

APPROVE BUDGETED EXPENDITURES OVER $250

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve all expenditures over $250 that were included in Council's packet this week; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS

Mr. Pritchett referenced his memo regarding a two week extension to complete the bids on the Empowerment Center due to some amendments that were made by D.P.W.

A reference was then made to his memo regarding the problem with lightning damage at the Trenton Street pumping station... "MES couldn't have handled it any better."

Commissioner Rice stated that this had occurred while the Seafood Feast-I-Val was in progress. The pumps at Trenton Street were not pumping because there was no electricity. Fire Chief Hurley needed authority to lay down four inch hose to pump from the pumping station to the other pumping station by the hospital. With no one else around, Commissioner Rice gave authority to do this. The Health Department was there at the same time and a gentleman looked at him and said, "you can't do anything else." The amazing part about that is that the Chief was told that they (the State) would pump that overboard... "I got ballistic ...the gentleman from the Health Department was probably more ballistic than I...at that point in time we moved the Chief and his people directly in to try and pump it out." Commissioner Rice went on to say, "I haven't yet found out who that person was, but I shall."

Mr. Pritchett said he was unaware of the details as explained by Commissioner Rice but added that "after three nights, they had to stay there 24 hours around the clock to manually switch it ...and there was zero spillage ...up to twelve million gallons a day goes through there."

COMMENTS FROM MAYOR

Mayor Wooten read a letter from the Maryland Retailers Association announcing the first annual Law Enforcement Awards program to recognize the activities, accomplishments and performances of the law enforcement officers who affect the daily business lives of Maryland retailers.

He directed the letter to Chief Wroten and Council for their assistance in making nominations in various categories.

Commissioner Saunders publicly stated, "I certainly hope Officer Palestine Elliott is one of the nominees because he does an excellent job downtown."

The Mayor then shared some details of a program he is working on for November 18th. He is planning a seminar entitled "preparing for progress" associated with the Hyatt coming to the community. A list of the scheduled speakers was then announced by the Mayor. He then stated, "we're going to a program that day that's going to touch every facet and every area of what we anticipate will be some tremendous changes that will take place in our community..." Every community on the Eastern Shore will benefit from this.

COMMENTS FROM THIRD WARD

Commissioner Saunders referenced a memo that was in Council's packet that she thought had been addressed. She asked if the City has a policy that prohibits the lending of City owned equipment of any kind to private contractors or anyone in the private sector? Mr. Collison said he will get a Standard Operating Procedure to Council this week.

Commissioner Saunders, at the request of Mr. Kinnamon and Mr. Wheeler, reminded the Mayor and Council to look at the addition to the new health insurance policy effective October 1, 1999 with regard to special limitations. The limitations would increase the deductible to $2,500 per individual and $5,000 per family when charges for services, supplies or treatment are incurred relative to an accident that occurred while a plan participant is using illegal drugs, has a blood alcohol level in excess of the legal limit of the state in which the accident happened, not wearing a helmet as the result of a motorcycle or ATV accident or not wearing a seat belt as the result of an automobile accident.

Commissioner Saunders then made a motion to have the City attorney look at this as quickly as possible and if everything is legal, let Mr. Kinnamon know so our insurance carrier can have this in the plan for October 1st. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Rice and it carried unanimously.

On another issue, Commissioner Saunders advised that a request was received from Airpax to hold a celebration picnic at Great Marsh Park on Friday, September 17th from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a variance from the noise ordinance. She then made a motion to grant the request; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders then made reference to the Department Head meeting that was held this afternoon. Cambridge Day 2000 was discussed to expand on what has been done for the past two years. Each department had expressed what they were planning and she made a motion for Council to vote affirmatively to have it April 8, 2000 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM FIRST WARD

Commissioner Vickers made reference to a letter received from Robert Spedden and made a motion "thanks but no thanks" at this time. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Rice who advised that Mr. Spedden has a client who wants to either lease or buy the building currently housing the Fire Company when they relocate. In discussions over the last three years, the concept for the utilization of the existing firehouse is to consolidate City offices. Although no plans have been drawn up to do so, the concept has been put forth. Motion then carried unanimously. Mr. Kinnamon was asked to send a response to Mr. Spedden advising of Council's decision.

COMMENTS FROM CITY ATTORNEY

Mr. Collison advised that, in response to the issues raised by Monroe Smith at the last Council meeting regarding demolitions, he has prepared a proposed Standard Operating Procedure. The drafted proposal would require ten days advance notice in writing to the property owner or to the tenant, if it is not owner occupied, whose property adjoins a structure which is scheduled for demolition by the City.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to authorize the Mayor to sign the Standard Operating Procedure and that it become effective immediately; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM CLERK-TREASURER

Mr. Kinnamon stated that Mr. Wheeler had submitted a letter for the Mayor's signature regarding the health insurance. Commissioner Saunders noted that she had given it to Mr. Collison who advised that he needs to speak to Mr. Wheeler about it.

COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Ms. Portia Johnson came forward and advised that she had just handed the Mayor and Commissioners an invitation to the opening house of the Eastern Shore Task Force which is located at 414 Muir Street. The Task Force is consisted of people from the nine rural counties of the Eastern Shore. They are working with the Juvenile Justice System and she added, "we have to remember we have children out here that need our support more than a lot of other things that need it..." She worked very hard to have this in Cambridge.

MORE COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Mr. Tony Thomas, President of the Association for the Revitalization of Cambridge, was next to speak. It has come to his attention that there are some problems on Poplar Street and Race Street and feels that there should be some type of controls on signage.

Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. Thomas if ARC would be willing to submit some written thoughts and ideas so Council can work with them. She further stated that for the last three years she has been trying to find a way, before the County issues business licenses, to have businesses get some type of release from the City so there would be a record of the kinds of businesses coming in, especially downtown.

Commissioner Saunders then made a motion to work with ARC with their written suggestions in two weeks and that the City attorney and Mr. Pritchett look at the suggestions to see what the City can do to cooperate; seconded by Commissioner Watkins.

Commissioner Swafford mentioned the fact that "usage" is being questioned and he advised that zoning is established in the City and that addresses usage.

Mr. Thomas referenced the use of "for sale" signs downtown and suggested that if a business is for sale, it should be advertised in the paper... "how does it look if you have 30 "for sale" signs ...it looks great if you got one..." Commissioner Rice stated that he has a very difficult time when someone's rights are infringed upon when they are within the legal limits of the law.

Mr. Collison advised that a lot of these issues will be addressed by the consultants that were just hired to work on the zoning within the City. One of the components in their presentation was that they would like to work with a committee particularly composed of some representatives from the business community. Motion carried 4 to 1 with Commissioner Swafford opposing.

A comment was made by Portia Johnson from the audience regarding signage downtown. She wanted to know if this included signs that are placed on the sidewalk and Mr. Thomas responded, "if it's tasteful." Ms. Johnson stated that "what you see as poor taste, may not be to someone else."

Commissioner Saunders mentioned the fact that this is only opening up something that the City is going to pay a zoning consultant to do. Before any changes are voted on, there will be a public hearing and plenty of public work sessions with these zoning issues.

An additional comment was made by Commissioner Saunders stating that she hopes the consultants will also look into the signs that are left on electric poles. Fines are issued by some cities to the sponsors of the signs, not to the person who put them there.

With no further comments, 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, September 13, 1999 insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk-Treasurer