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City Council Minutes

November 1, 1999
 

November 1, 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 made a motion to approve the minutes of the October 25th Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST FROM WAL-MART FOR 30 DAY EXTENSION FOR STORAGE TRAILERS

Commissioner Rice stated that under their original request, "I think this is certainly appropriate" and he moved to grant the request; seconded by Commissioner Watkins.

Commissioner Swafford noted that Wal-Mart currently has six (6) trailers parked behind their building and he was wondering if they had a permit for those and whether they are required to have one. He requested that D.P.W. check into this and Mr. Pritchett said he would look into it and report back to Council. Motion then carried unanimously.

DECISION ON SPECIAL USE PERMIT FOR ON-PREMISES SALE OF BEER AND WINE AT 315 SUNBURST HIGHWAY

Mr. Collison advised that this arose from a question as to whether or not there was an active church within 500 feet of Mr. Bramble's restaurant. At last week's meeting, the Department of Public Works presented a letter from the property owner indicating there was a church. Mr. Bramble did not receive the letter in time to prepare and attend tonight's meeting to rebut that and Mr. Collison asked that this be tabled until next week's meeting.

Commissioner Saunders stated that this is the first time since she has served on Council that anybody has gotten this special treatment saying that they have an opportunity to rebut that a church is within 500 feet of their business "when they want to sell these alcoholic beverages."

Mr. Collison advised that at the Public Hearing, which is the only evidence that the Council could consider in granting a special exception, there was no evidence presented that there was an active church. A decision was made to defer rendering a decision and have the Department of Public Works try to attempt to receive something in writing, either confirming or denying that fact. Obviously, that evidence comes in without Mr. Bramble having the opportunity to rebut it. There is no special treatment being given. Normally that information would have been available at the Public Hearing at which time Mr. Bramble could have commented.

Commissioner Saunders stated that last week she had brought up something about ethics and asked Mr. Collison to review the Minutes "because you said that anybody that is on a committee... that has a special financial relationship with a person coming in to do business with the City, has to reveal that and I think if you read the minutes that may not be the case when this came before that committee and you may have to start all over again." Mr. Collison said he will look into it.

Commissioner Saunders accepted Mr. Collison's recommendation and moved that this be tabled until next week; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Swafford advised that he will not be available for next week's meeting and the vote for a special use permit requires a 4/5ths vote... "so it's up to Council when you have it." Motion carried unanimously.

ADOPT REVISIONS TO ETHICS CODE

Mr. Collison advised this is in reference to questions that arose last week with regard to the proposed ordinance he submitted on revisions to the City's ethics code. In the proposed ordinance there was a provision that states if the ethics commission were to find a violation, "what would be the procedures for removal of someone from office?" The proposed ordinance states that it would in accordance with the City Charter. There is a section in the City Charter, Section 3-35, which addresses removal from office for misconduct, etc.

He feels an appointed committee "could not remove an elected official ...it has to be an elected body." Mr. Collison now proposes to include within the ordinance, specific hearing procedures on how the hearing would be conducted rather than amending the Charter.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion that this be delayed until "we get the complete document where we can review it as a body and make sure we have a legal understanding of what we are voting on." Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried unanimously.

DECISION ON WATER RATES FOR HYATT GOLF COURSE

Mr. Collison stated that this was brought up at last week's meeting and some of the Commissioners had some questions as to the formal position of the Municipal Utilities Commission.

It was his understanding that if this is strictly for irrigation, the 200a sewer surcharge would not be applied but the M.U.C. would impose a new "capital improvement surcharge" of 50s of the water bill. The upgrade to the Woods Road piping would be at M.U.C.'s expense. The extension by Wal-Mart: was one of the issues to be resolved by Council as to whether there would be a division of the cost of extending it (ranging from $50,000 to $125,000) or whether the total cost would be on the developer. There was also discussion of a division split and the developer granting to M.U.C. a right-of-way easement area, if it is ever needed in the future, to extend the water line to the Tates Bank area.

Mr. Collison said he had discussed this with Mr. Newcomb following last week's meeting and asked him to submit his formal position in writing to Council but since his position hadn't changed, no letter was submitted.

Mr. Kinnamon advised that the position M.U.C. was taking on the extension down by Wal-Mart was that it would be bore 100s by the Hyatt project.

Mayor Wooten interjected that Mr. Newcomb makes the recommendations that the Municipal Utilities Commission directs him to make. . . "we're dealing with the M.U.C. as a body, not Mr. Newcomb as one person."

Mr. Pritchett said that the discussion on Thursday night with Gary Newcomb was, "he was in favor and so was the Commission on not charging the full surcharge since it is not going back into the sewer."

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to delay the vote for at least two weeks "'til we get some information... because there has been different information passed along". Mr. Kinnamon said it would need to be delayed for three weeks because there is a work session scheduled in two weeks. She then amended her motion to three weeks; seconded by Commissioner Swafford.

Mayor Wooten then asked if a work session was scheduled in two weeks, "could we go into session long enough during the work session to do that?" Commissioner Saunders said, "if you want me to change my motion for two weeks, I'll change it for two weeks..." Commissioner Watkins stated that whenever they do meet, Mr. Newcomb should be present. Commissioner Saunders added that "if he comes next week, then the following week we should be ready to vote..."

Commissioner Swafford stated, "I'd like to see all citizens of Cambridge who haven't been able to get some of these benefits, get the benefits."

Commissioner Rice said that in the information that Council will be getting from M.U.C., "I think it certainly be imperative for that group to recommend an alternate surcharge, not that there should be one, but there should be one of 'whatever' based upon it's going to take this much to do A, B, C and D. If it's going to be repaired, then we would have some feel for that and there certainly is historic information that that can be derived from."

Next item is, "if you're going to do this, there has to be two items ...the granting of the non-sewer access... how you police it ...and what do you do if you find somebody violating it?"

Mayor Wooten said he normally doesn't do this, but he asked Mr. McAllister (attorney for the Hyatt) to speak. Mr. McAllister stated that two weeks ago in an Executive Session, representatives from the engineering company and he met at the same time the M.U.C. representative was present. Unfortunately, Commissioners Saunders and Rice were not .in attendance and he feels some of the confusion is from not having 100% attendance at that meeting where all of the issues were discussed very thoroughly. He went on to say that the Hyatt development group is very concerned that there were newspaper articles suggesting that there is a dispute over who will pay for water and "I think it is very critical in the context of waiting to see what the M.U.C.'s position is to understand how we got to where we are."

Mr. McAllister stated that from very early on, it became apparent that there would be between five million and seven million gallons a month needed to irrigate the golf course. There is absolutely no question, never has been a question, never been a request before this Council or anywhere that the Hyatt absorb, not buy, 100s of its water at 10017 of the water rates. The question was those five to seven million gallons of unrecycled water that would be used for irrigation purposes, "was there a means by which to not use the City's own treated water sources?" An alternative that was proposed was that the City would get a brand new City well on site, at property donated by Hyatt, with the cost of that well to be paid by Hyatt.

It was thought at the time, that it might provide some benefit to the City to have a new City well built to handle expansion in that area with the full understanding, "and each of you know this but the newspapers don't and I think it is time that the whole story was perhaps known." The suggestion was made that the total cost of all access to and from the City well, the City well itself, the storage, the treatment, the ground on which it would be built, etc. would all be donated by or paid for from the Hyatt. Mr. McAllister stated that Mr. Newcomb, after some serious consideration, determined that the City didn't need a well and that wouldn't be an appropriate use of resources.

Mr. McAllister said he came before the City three or four weeks ago and asked permission to be able to meet directly with the Municipal Utilities Commission, Mr. Kinnamon, Mr. Collison and Mr. Pritchett. Rather than waste time making proposals "that we thought were in the best interest of the City but were not, that we ought to go ahead and meet with the people and come up with a plan. " They did meet with the M. U. C. with their engineer Tom Moore in attendance. Mr. McAllister stated that it was made clear to him then that Mr. Newcomb's position was that it really wasn't a big deal to have all that money spent on a new City well that the City didn't need. The idea developed that perhaps that money could be used better somewhere else.

Mr. Newcomb, for example, suggested that there were sections of the Woods Road pipe that needed upgrading. Mr. McAllister said he came up with the idea, "rather than dedicate money to improvement you don't need or want, why don't we do a capital improvement surcharge... forget the price of water... be 100% the price of water... we'll come up with a capital improvement surcharge that lasts forever that will enable you to do things like improve the Woods Road facility and upgrade the system as you determine it to be necessary."

With reference to the Route 16 crossing, Mr. McAllister stated, "that is anywhere, depending on who you talk to, a $65,000 to $100,000 improvement. The City requested, and we obtained permission from the State Highway Administration, at the request of the City, for an open cut across Route 50. That was obtained. The idea was that improving the City's water system all the way passed Route 16, upgrading Woods Road, going past Wal-Mart, going across Route 16 and looping it around to Woods Road, in the view of the Hyatt development, was not only good for the developer but might also improve the City's ability to expand eastward..." Mr. McAllister said his understanding was that Mr. Newcomb said, "well, we would like to do it as a development obligation but we understand the position that it would also benefit the City as a collective tool." The issue was raised, "but isn't it true that in the event you want to expand to Bucktown, you would need easements across the Hyatt property out to the pumping station at Bucktown Road and also to get across that property to Tates Bank and Moose Lodge and those other areas eastward.,, The offer was made, "and I thought it was discussed and accepted that if the Hyatt developers were willing to grant those easements to the City and willing to compromise and split the cost of the Route 16 connection, that it made sense to create an exception to the 2000. surcharge rule that would provide for a 50% capital improvement surcharge for irrigation only. Now, Commissioner Swafford took that point and expanded it and said, you know, there are other areas where that might make sense but the Hyatt development people said look, that may well be a policy decision for the City to consider. It may make a lot of sense to decide whether or not other irrigation uses or other non-irrigation uses that don't put water into the sewer system perhaps you might want to consider it. I don't know, it wasn't our issue. Our issue was, in the context of either a public park, a golf course or other irrigation only purposes, does this make sense? Not to cheat the City out of revenue, in fact to pay a 500. surcharge just to do with that as you please in the future ...100% plus 50%. The issue was, does that make sense?" Mr. McAllister then asked, "why is it that the City or anyone else should split the cost of running those water lines to what could be a 700 unit residential development?" They believe that was a capital improvement that ought to be the responsibility of the City, and M.U.C. thought that that was a developer expense so inorder to effect a compromise where everybody wins, the Hyatt talked about putting a 50/50 and then providing the future easements as the City requires, for no charge. Mr. McAllister then thanked the Mayor for the opportunity to speak.

Commissioner Saunders said she was under the impression that if the well was to be put in, bond bill money would be borrowed by the City and with the Hyatt paying for their water, some of that money would be used to pay the note back. She stated that she had balked at that idea because, "we've been giving and giving and giving and all of a sudden now we're going to incur a debt based on the fact that we'll take some of the money to pay the bill, that's fine, but what happens if something goes wrong. Are we left with that debt?" Mr. Collison had previously advised her that that could be worked out if Council chose to go that way... "so then I felt comfortable."

Commissioner Saunders then said that her motion stands that Mr. Newcomb come next week with whoever the Mayor has "and they get this all ironed out, and then the following week we make the vote." Motion then carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders requested from the Mayor, since he chairs M.U.C., "that Mr. Newcomb don't just come here standing and talking. That he rewrite his facts and his figures and his justification." She then asked Mr. Kinnamon to be sure that Mr. Newcomb has a packet for Mr. McAllister and all of Council "so as he talks and goes along, we can follow."

UPDATE CORPORATE BANKING RESOLUTION SIGNATURES

Mr. Kinnamon advised that he had brought this up on last week's agenda. He put a memo and a copy of a standard banking resolution in Council's packets this week. The request is just to authorize himself and others to sign, on behalf of the City, and also a security measure when he is moving funds around "so the institution can call and verify that I am in fact doing that: ...it's not someone saying he's me."

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to do this; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

COUNCIL TO DISCUSS SIDEWALK STUDY OF MARYLAND AVENUE AREA

Commissioner Saunders advised that with the response needed from some of the residents in this area, "we fell within the low income category of the HUD's rules to apply for a CDGB study."

Commissioner Rice, who is the Councilman for this particular Ward, stated, "inasmuch as we spent the time to get where we are, I think we at least ought to address it." He then made a motion to move forward and go to the next step by allowing Ms. Kathy Foster to get the grant request ready for submission; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Vickers stated that "even though we have committed to do that, I still disagree with it but I will vote for it and move forward on this thing." Commissioner Saunders added that the State is paying the money for the surveys since they are the ones who said the City had to do a survey "before we attack the issue." Commissioner Vickers then stated, "my problem is I think the price of the survey was more than fixing everything over there." Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders made a follow-up motion to send a letter to Mr. Skinner, Secretary of DHCD, under the Mayor's signature letting him know that the City will be submitting this per his directive. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Rice and it carried unanimously.

REQUEST FOR HELP FROM CITY FOR "NATIONAL FAMILY VOLUNTEER DAY"

Before Ms. Portia Johnson came to the podium, Commissioner Saunders stated that Ms. Johnson had lost a very close relative this weekend and made a motion that a letter of sympathy be sent from the Mayor and Council for the bereavement services. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and it carried unanimously. She then asked Ms. Johnson to get the necessary information to Mr. Kinnamon.

Ms. Johnson said she was present on behalf of the Dorchester and Cambridge Promise team. On November 20th, which is "National Family Volunteer Day"; they will, be doing a community clean-up on five streets in the 4th Ward of Cambridge. They are Carlton Court, Hubbard Street, Moores Avenue, Phillip Street and Robbins Street which include several ethnic groups. She added that they will also be giving residents in the area information on the rulings about the City's ordinance on trash.

She asked for use of one truck, trash cans and two wheelbarrows from the City to help with the clean up.

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to ask the Department of Public works to look into the possible use of a truck, trash cans and wheelbarrows for that day; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

REQUEST FROM SHERRY STOKER FOR SPECIAL USE PERMIT TO OPEN A DAYCARE CENTER AT 1107 ROSLYN AVENUE

Commissioner Rice moved that this request be referred to the Planning and Zoning Commission; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

APPROVE BUDGET AMENDMENT FOR D.P.W.

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the Budget Amendment for the Department of Public Works; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.

APPROVE BUDGETED EXPENDITURES OVER $250

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve all the budgeted expenditures submitted over $250; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS

Mr. Pritchett said he had nothing to report but hoped that everyone has had a chance to see the resurfacing of the parking lots. "I think they did a great job and the company we used for that just could not have been any better."

COMMENTS FROM FOURTH WARD

Commissioner Swafford stated that last week Council held back some budget amendments and some purchase orders for C.E.M.S. He did receive a letter from Dawn Windsor and apologized for not getting it into Council's books. He then made a motion to approve the budget amendment and the purchase orders. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins.

Commissioner Saunders stated Ms. Windsor is always talking about not having enough staff for coverage and she needs to hire more people. The budget amendment is taking money from C.E.M.S.'s salary account..."I have a problems with the way she handles budgets and I'm going to say this right up front." Commissioner Swafford said he has discussed this with Ms. Windsor and it is being addressed. He added, "I think you will see a difference in the future or we'll have to take action." Motion carried 4 to 1 with Commissioner Saunders opposing.

Commissioner Swafford said he has had a couple of people ask him about the fire sirens again... "well who's fault is it ...is it the County's or the City's?" He said he would like to know who has control of how many times a fire siren blows and what it is for.

Commissioner Saunders said, based on her tour with the Chief in late October, "it was said, and the Chief agreed, Mr. Hurley said it and Commissioner Flowers said it, that the Chief can control how many times the siren blows." Everything else is handled from 911.

Commissioner Swafford said, "when it blows and blows and blows, that's normally a general alarm, but today it could blow and blow and blow and not be a general alarm. " Commissioner Saunders said it was asked of the 911 Center to add one more button and Mr. Hurley stated that they could not treat Rescue differently than the rest of the fire companies and there would not be any additional button to notify Rescue as to what type of alarm before the siren actually goes off... "and that's the way it's going to continue."

COMMENTS FROM THE MAYOR

Mayor Wooten shared a letter he received today stating that "thanks to your support, Sojourner Douglas College will remain in Dorchester County."

The Mayor then left his seat to go to the podium and stated "that I care a great deal about our community and for the last seven years and three months, I've tried to show that in what I've done and what I haven't done, the actions that I've engaged in and those I've refrained from doing. I put my heart and soul into serving this community and there's been several things that have happened recently that have really been distressing to me and I'm going to right up front and say, if anybody anywhere thinks I'm going to be roadkill along the side of the highway in the City ...you can forget it." He proceeded to read comments which he will be submitting as a letter to the editor.

Mayor Wooten ended by saying, "I'm proud tonight that I've had the opportunity to serve and I've done the best I can do and I'm going to continue to do that and I appreciate the opportunity to speak tonight."

COMMENTS FROM THE THIRD WARD

Commissioner Saunders said that she had also received a letter as a former adjunct professor of Sojourner Douglas College thanking her for support. "We never acknowledge the fact that we have another college, without walls, that's been here a long, long time and they have classes at Bethel Church as well as Maces Lane School."

She then made reference to a letter from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development with regards to preparing a Consolidated Plan every five years. The current Plan is in its last year and they are seeking advice and input in developing a new five-year Plan. The Plan sets the State's goals and priorities for helping very low-, low-, and moderate income people using federal (and to a lesser extent State) housing and community development resources. As Council President, she has registered to go to the Rental Housing part and Ms. Kathy Foster is going to be attending the Community and Economic Development workshop. Since Ms. Portia Johnson is Vice-Chairman of the Housing Authority and is very active in the public housing, she has been asked to accompany them to the Section 8 and Public Housing Planning sessions. They did not indicate that there would be any cost whatsoever to the City.

On another note, she wanted to inform the public and the press that there will be a Department Head training and meeting on November 8th beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Pine Street Sub-station. From noon to 2:00 p.m. there will be training on Cultural Diversity and from 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. they will be going into Executive Session to deal with some personnel issues. Because there is a possibility of three Commissioners at the meeting, Mr. Collison said this needed to be announced publicly.

In reviewing last week's minutes, Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. Pritchett if there has been any research done on the painting costs of the lines where cars would park on the main business street? Mr. Pritchett said he has assigned someone to do this and he contacted two of the sign companies but hasn't gotten the prices back in a report form. The maximum cost of the painting would be around $600.

Commissioner Saunders then asked Mr. Pritchett if anything has been done with him on the Enterprise Zone Expansion. He said he has not spoken with Ms. Foster yet. An inquiry was received by Commissioner Saunders as to whether the City was going to include the area where Snappers is "and that wasn't part of what the Committee recommended... but I would like to throw that in the pot for the Council's discussion when you do it ...it's Claytons and Snappers."

She then thanked the media and the public for those that came to the ground breaking for the Empowerment Center and she has received nothing but good comments from so many people. From that, she has contacted the Mayor and one Councilperson in Salisbury. They have done a community citizens project that doesn't cost much money and there are some grants out there for it.

The next meeting at Church Creek to discuss sewage from the Madison area is scheduled for November 19th and will cover the engineering study that they did as well as cost factors "and it is a public meeting." She added that Dave Ryan from the Daily Banner, Bryon Johnston from the Star Democrat and all involved were very professional "and I just wish some of our Council meetings could be that good." County Commissioner Newcomb chaired the meeting, they had all their facts together and "they allowed me to ask 90,000 questions." Those people really want something for their community and they came out in an orderly fashion.

On November 9th, Mr. Pritchett, Commissioner Saunders and Commissioner Watkins will meet at 10:00 a.m. at the Church Creek Firehouse to go on a tour to learn some things first hand.

COMMENTS FROM SECOND WARD

Commissioner Watkins took this opportunity to express his appreciation for the manner in which Mayor Wooten supported Sojourner Douglas College. It is an outstanding institution and "it has helped a lot of boys and girls to get their degrees."

COMMENTS FROM FIRST WARD

Commissioner Vickers said he had a few comments on the Church Creek meeting. He is certainly glad that Commissioner Saunders has gotten involved in this because it is something that needs to be addressed. As Chairman of City's Properties, "it concerns me as to how this is going to go. I have always felt that if we start taking in other areas without annexation, we may be hurting ourselves. Maybe in the long run, this is what we have to do. We're not there yet and I think that we need to have a lot of good financial information before we get close to doing that and also feel we have to have a lot City taxpayer input..."I don't want to give the Hyatt the farm, and I don't want to give South Dorchester the sewage plant."

COMMENTS FROM CITY ATTORNEY

Mr. Collison said he had submitted procedures to be formally adopted regarding meetings, etc. and at the suggestion of one of the Council members, Section 121 (b) has been revised to basically state if an ordinance or resolution shall directly affect a department, it would be directed to that department head for comments and feedback.

Mr. Collison then advised Council he will be taking a class which is only offered on Monday evenings beginning November 15th for six weeks. In his absence, his partner, William Jones, has agreed to provide legal representation at the Council meetings.

He then said he needs to meet with Council after tonight's meeting on a legal matter.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to go into Executive Session after this meeting to meet with the City attorney on a legal matter that he has; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Collison publicly accounced that on Thursday afternoon, pursuant to the Council's motion and approval, three Council members met in Executive Session specifically regarding a legal matter.

COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Mr. Gage Thomas came to the podium to re-extend an invitation to the Council this Thursday, November 4th to the next "Company's Coming; Let's Get Ready" program to be held at Chesapeake College. The focus of this session is qoinq to be downtown revitalization. The program includes Ms. Cindy Stone, Director of the Maryland Main Street Program, a representative of the Easton Main Street Program and also Mayor Haley from Berlin along with his Administrative Director. The program starts at 9:00 a.m. (registration is 8:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast).

With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:23 p.m.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting of Monday, November 1, 1999 insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk - Treasurer