• City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
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City Council Minutes

August 24, 1998

The City Council met in regular session at 7:00 P.M. with Mayor David J. Wooten presiding.

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

Mr. Wheeler led in the Lord's Prayer.

Commissioner Watkins moved to approve the minutes of the August 10th City Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried 4 to 0 with Commissioner Saunders abstaining as she was not present at the August 10th meeting.


Commissioner Saunders presented the Commission's recommendation, on a matter which was discussed at their August 4th meeting, that was deferred from last week's Council meeting:

Henry Thomas / 206 Trenton Street / PWCD: The Commission recommends approval for the construction of the proposed piers and bulkheading, providing the plans meet DPW restrictions, subject to the condition that the adjacent property owner and Mr. Thomas reach an agreement in regard to development within the common mooring area, and if no agreement is reached, that area will be discluded. Commissioner Saunders motioned to accept the Planning Commission's recommendation. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried unanimously.


Commissioner Vickers advised that the Traffic & Safety Committee addressed an issue on August 18th in regards to a parking area on Hughlett Street. There is a small section of unpainted curb there that is not the legal length of a car and when vehicles park there, it prevents some businesses from having entry. The Committee recommended that the curb should be painted yellow (as a no parking area). Commissioner Vickers moved to accept the Committee's recommendation and proceed with the painting; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.


In the absence of Robert Collison, Attorney Sandy McAllister conducted the Public Hearing. Mr. McAllister advised that the purpose of the Public Hearing is with regards to a request by Dr. Michael Moskewicz to change the zoning of property designated as Rose Hill Medical Center, 503 Byrn Street, from R-3 (two family residence) to C-2 (General Commercial District) as defined in Section 20-9 of the City Code.

Mr. David Pritchett, Public Works Director, advised that the original request was heard by the Planning & Zoning Commission at their July 7th meeting. Notice of the Public Hearing was published in the newspaper on July 31st and August 7th, 1998. The area property owners were notified by letter on August 13th and the property was posted on August 13th with notification of the Public Hearing.

Mr. McAllister then called upon the applicant, Dr. Moskewicz, to come forward and present his arguments justifying his request for rezoning. Dr. Moskewicz advised that for the past 18 years, the property at 503 Byrn Street (known as Rose Hill) has been a medical facility according to Section 20-10(b)l of the Zoning Code.

Dr. Moskewicz further stated that the neighborhood has become far more commercial. There is a new medical clinic coming right behind them which fronts on Maryland Avenue (Peninsula Cardiology Group). Since the original zoning, Burger King has developed; the area that was an auto glass store is now owned by the State of Maryland and the new Visitor's Center is being constructed fifty feet down the road.

With no one speaking in favor of the request, Mr. Robert Hansen, 102 Dorchester Avenue, came forward in opposition. He stated that many of the people present this evening reside in the Rose Hill area. "The thirty some houses on Dorchester Avenue, Byrn Street, Rose Hill Place, Radiance Drive are 100% in opposition to this rezoning." He further stated that there has not been any change in that community in the last thirty years. Mr. McAllister asked if Mr. Hansen was speaking for himself or for others. There was then a show of approximately thirty-five hands indicating that Mr. Hansen was speaking for them also. People had started building houses in this area as early as 1940 and stopped as late as 1974. It is a residential community, the character is residential, and it is in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan and the integrity of the City of Cambridge.

Mr. Rex Marshall, Rose Hill Place, was next to speak in opposition. He stated that Dr. Moskewicz's office is in a house. It had an addition put on years ago but it still looks like a house and it still blends in with the neighborhood. He is afraid that if this zoning is allowed to take place, that may no longer be so. Mr. Marshall then presented a petition on behalf of the residents who live in the vicinity of the Rose Hill Medical Center. The petition has the signatures of 100% of all the owner-occupied homes in the area including the block directly in front of the Rose Hill Medical Center. These homeowners are letting Council know they oppose the rezoning; that the character of their neighborhood has not changed; they live in a residential area and they hope Council will represent them by voting to allow them to continue to live in a residential area.

Mr. Andy Atkinson stated that the residents were not here tonight to discredit Dr. Moskewicz or his plans to expand his practice and that Dr. Moskewicz is his family's primary care physician. Referring to a resent rejection of a zoning request that was made a couple of months ago just one block away on the property located at Dorchester and Maryland Avenues, he asked Council to extend these residents the same courtesy they extended the residents of Maryland Avenue and reject this rezoning.

Mr. Claude Gootee stated that he has been living in this area for sixty-nine years. Since the State purchased the property adjoining Rose Hill Place and Radiance Drive there has been some change but not the type of change that is being discussed tonight. The entire waterfront will soon become an oasis where once there was just sand, bushes and trees. There will be a recreation playground for children and a fountain of information at the Visitor's Center and Tourism Office. The area will now be a landmark that tourists will seek out. "We are anxious to keep our neighborhood as it is today."

Mr. Wheeler read a letter in opposition from Mr. Melvin G. Hickman that was received at City Hall on August 14th.

Mr. William Wright came forward in opposition to say that he does not agree with spot zoning.

With no further comments, Mr. McAllister advised that the Mayor and Council will taken this matter under advisement and announce their decision at a later Council meeting. Commissioner Watkins then made a motion to close the Public Hearing; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.


Ms. Kathy Foster, Grants Administrator advised that the City had received a request from Miles & Stockbridge on behalf of Chesapeake Resorts to expand or create an enterprise zone to include the Eastern Shore State Hospital property. The Public Hearing was advertised in the Daily Banner on July 31st and August 13th. She then asked if anyone would like to speak in favor of the Enterprise Zone.

Mr. Sandy McAllister stated that he was asked by the developers to raise a couple of issues for Council's consideration relative to the Enterprise Zone. It has been revealed that somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.1 to 1.8 million dollars a year in revenue to the City alone is anticipated from the proposed Hyatt project. There is no cost component to the City of Cambridge in expanding the existing Enterprise Zone to include the contiguous parcel that is currently represented by the Eastern Shore State Hospital. When the City is entitled to a minimum of 3% of the room tax, with an occupancy rate of 70% to be just a standard, that would generate between $500,000 and $800,000 per year for the City. The residential property taxes for the 282 multi-family units and the 98 single family residences are also expected to generate in the neighborhood of $640,000 to $700,000 in taxes. The construction faze of 2 to 4 years will employee hundreds of compensated laborers and specialists in the City. The State and County officials are very supportive and Mr. McAllister hopes that Council will support the request to expand the Enterprise Zone to include this parcel.

Mr. Otto Cheesman presented conceptual drawings of what the Hyatt complex will look like. He is a member of the Enterprise Zone Committee which is comprised of Alan Shepard, John McGuinness, Betty Causey, Jeff Powell, Kathy Foster and himself. They met and looked at this project and unanimously made the recommendation to Council that the request be approved. He felt that Mr. McAllister's figures were somewhat on the conservative side as far as the taxes it will generate. Mr. Cheesman then asked Council's support for this proposal for the Hyatt property.

Mr. Alan Shepard, Executive Director of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce came forward to say that they would be quite remiss if they did not speak in favor of this proposal as the Chamber represents 342 individuals and businesses. They feel very strongly that this is going to do a great deal for the general economy of the area. He concurred with everything that Mr. Cheesman had said and hopes that the Council will support this proposal.

With no one further speaking either in favor or in opposition, Commissioner Saunders asked Mr. McAllister to explain in more detail about the room tax since it was not just for the Hyatt and the City has been trying for almost a year to get a signed agreement from the County since they collect local room tax.

Mr. McAllister said that he had spoken to Delegate Eckardt's office today about the precise language. The City of Cambridge has been very consistent and adamant that the City enjoy a revenue stream from taxes imposed on people who spend a night at this resort. There has been great discussion, privately and publicly, between the City and County officials regarding how that might be arranged. It is his understanding that the bill to be submitted to the General Assembly will be submitted by both the City and the County together and it will provide for an increase in the room tax to 4% with 3% being rebated to the City. It is very vital for that legislation to be approved. Unfortunately, it does require General Assembly approval for the 3% to be guaranteed to the City. He was informed today that they would not be able to submit the request until the General Assembly convenes. He related to the Legislative Assistant that he needed the language as soon as possible so that the Mayor and Council could review it and the City Attorney approve its form. It will also be related to the County for that purpose. He has been assured in writing that the County Commissioners agree to that arrangement.

Commissioner Swafford asked if the Enterprise Zone would also include the boat slips proposed and Mr. McAllister said yes.

Commissioner Saunders went on record to say that this is not the first time this issue has been put to the County Commissioners. If there is any hold-up, it is not the City since this is one of the points that the City insisted on being signed so this project could move forward.

With no further comments, Commissioner Watkins made a motion to close the Public Hearing; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Bruce McWilliams was present on behalf of Sailwinds Park to request a noise ordinance variance on Sunday, September 13th between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. The band that Mr. McWilliams is a part of is waiving their fee to do a fundraiser/entertainment evening for Sailwinds. Commissioner Rice made a motion to grant abatement of the noise ordinance between the requested hours; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. It was established that there will be no admission fee but Sailwinds anticipates selling beer, soda and hot dogs to raise money. With no further discussion, the motion carried unanimously.


Ms. Barbara Keene, Curator of Meredith House, came forward to say that the Historical Society has obtained two grants to refurbish the Meredith House. They have put up $80,000. to back up the grants. She was present tonight to request a refund of the building permit fee in the amount of $855.00 since the contractor's work has exposed beams for reinforcement as well as rotten window lentils and old electrical wiring, the remedy for which the Society will need to find funding.

Commissioner Rice moved to remit the $855.00 back to the Historical Society as an in-kind contribution for the City's support of this project. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Saunders and carried unanimously.


Attorney Robert Greenleaf came forward as representative for a group of tenants from Southside Landing. He stated that the tenants feel they are being treated as second class citizens. "Notwithstanding the fact that these folks pay their rent on time, keep their places up, obey the rules and the regulations, not just ten days after the new owner of the trailer park received the blessing of the Planning Commission to proceed with this park, almost every person in the trailer park received a notice to quit (an eviction notice) saying that they had to be gone by September 30th." These are people who have lived there many years and have mortgages on their trailers and have no other place in the County to go to. Some of these people have been contacted by the new owners saying they can stay, but none of this has been put in writing. There is an enormous amount of stress going on in these people's lives. "A situation of incredible frustration has been developed, it's not healthy ... it's not safe and it is unnecessary." They are not asking for any new law but are asking that existing laws be implemented. "All trailer parks within the City limits of Cambridge are licensed. You have a license in power, you passed it, it's in this City Code. This is contained in Section 20-15A." He then referred to sub-section (e)4 which states "whenever the City finds an emergency exists which requires immediate action to protect the public health, it may, without notice or hearing, issue an order reciting the existence of such an emergency and requiring that such action be taken as it may deem necessary to meet the emergency, including the suspension of the permit or license."

Mr. Greenleaf asked that the evictions be halted until the new owner comes up with a relocation plan or a buy-out plan or gives them some decent notice. He then suggested issuing a Show Cause Order requiring the owner to show cause why this emergency exists at Southside Landing "except for those evictions, of course, that relate to people who fail to pay their rent...."

Mr. Greenleaf went on to say that the letter that the new owner sent out this past weekend indicated that he had spoken to Nick Lyons of Planning and Zoning for Dorchester County and he advised that there are two potential sites in Dorchester County where these people can relocate. Mr. Greenleaf asked Mr. Lyons if this was in fact so and he stated that he had contacted both mobile home parks that had considered taking them and they both decided that they will not take any second-hand mobile homes in their lot. They would give the people the opportunity to buy a new mobile home and place it in their park.

The only other alternative is to move into the County since the City does not allow trailers within their limits. That could be a timely procedure unless the lot is already improved with existing well and septic on it. It would take an average of two to six months to get those approvals.

Commissioner Saunders asked if there was anything in the law stating that these people were not given reasonable time to vacate? Mr. Greenleaf stated that the new owner is taking the position that he only has to give 30 days notice.

As a scenario, Commissioner Saunders stated that she had lived somewhere for fifteen years in the same trailer and in less than ninety days she has to get out. No one is going to take the trailer she has because of its age and she is not in financial position to go out and borrow money in order to relocate. She cannot understand, with the little bid of time has given and all the extenuating circumstances, how this can considered reasonable enough time.

Commissioner Saunders then asked Mr. Greenleaf how the City would be protecting public health, according to the City Code, "if we put the hammer down on this man?" Mr. Greenleaf responded that the City would be looking after the health of the citizens of this trailer park. Their mental health is being adversely affected resulting in deterioration of physical health. His concern is that as these frustrations grow and get closer to the deadline, we may possibly see physical violence. These are people who want to stay here, have done nothing wrong, and are being told they can no longer be a part of the City of Cambridge.

Commission Swafford mentioned to Mr. Greenleaf that in some of his statements he stated that all these people pay their rent on time and then a little later he said some of them failed to pay their rent. Mr. Greenleaf said, "that if you issue a Show Cause Order saying that the eviction notices will be stayed, but its a stay of all evictions except for those related to the failure to pay rent " He then went on to say that he made the statement that the people who are here tonight are people who paid their rent. Commissioner Swafford then asked how many people are being evicted and Mr. Greenleaf advised that he had done a canvass of the neighborhood and it is his understanding that everyone they canvassed received a letter however he did not canvass every single person. He believes that there are two people who did not get those letters. Mr. Pritchett interjected that there are eight people out of forty-two. Mr. Greenleaf did not agree with the fact that only eight people received a Notice to Quit.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to ask Mr. Pritchett to convey Council's concerns on this issue to the City Attorney to determine what legal standing the City may have; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Rice suggested that Mr. Greenleaf supply the City Attorney with a copy of his written presentation. Commissioner Saunders then amended her motion to include that. Motion then carried unanimously.

It was determined that no one has requested an extension in writing from Mr. Zentgraf. Mr. Greenleaf stated that, "we have just not had a great deal of success communicating with Mr. Zentgraf .... It's more or less, we receive his demands."

One of the residents came forward and stated that she had received a letter from Mr. Zentgraf stating that if a resident found a place to relocate and needed additional time, they would need to contact him in writing as to how much additional time was needed in order to relocate.

Mr. Gage Thomas came forward, as a realtor, to offer some alternatives to remedy the relocation process.


Commissioner Vickers noted that at the present time he has no appointments. He discussed this fact with Council and they have agreed to have Mr. Kinnamon put an ad in the paper advising citizens of the various committees the City has and requesting that if someone is interested in serving, they contact City Hall. From this pool of names, Council will try to fill any vacancies or expired terms.

Commissioner Watkins reappointed Ms. Georgia Dickerson to another term on the Human Relations Committee.

Commissioner Saunders noted that from her Ward, Ms. Vivian Keene and Ms. Judy Moody have agreed to serve another year so she has reappointed them on the Human Relations Committee.

Commissioner Swafford reappointed Reverend Barry Miller and Mr. Benjamin Saunders who have agreed to serve another term. He then made a motion to appoint Mr. Brian Hurley and Mr. Daniel Swafford, Jr. from his Ward to the Human Relations Committee. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Saunders and carried unanimously.

Mr. Daniel Swafford, Jr. came forward to thank the Mayor and Commissioner for his appointment to this committee. He said it would be an honor to serve, and as one of the City's younger citizens he feels this will be a good way to get Cambridge united.

Mr. Brian Hurley said this was a huge honor and he will do his best to do what is expected of him.

Commissioner Rice reappointed the Chairman of the Human Relations Committee, Mr. William Jackson, for another term.

Mr. Jackson then came forward and extended an invitation to the Mayor and Council to attend the Annual Dinner Meeting of the Human Relations Committee which is scheduled for September 1st at the Substation on Pine Street at 6:00 p.m. They will present their annual report at that time.

Commissioner Rice moved to approve the reappointments as made. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried unanimously.


Commissioner Rice stated that this item needs to be taken under advisement with the City Attorney and if it meets the criteria, Council will report back to Toolwrights. He then made a motion to table this matter for a couple of weeks; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Swafford stated that he is still trying to get more information from the County as to the possibility of funding for this project from them. This will be tabled for one week.


Mr. Pritchett advised that he had attended the regulatory meeting in Annapolis this past week and things are getting down to a very strict time table, especially where the Hyatt is concerned. It was determined that little, if any, of the new review offered any option for change.

Commissioner Rice stated that about 95% of the items that were up for amendment were mandated through the State law... there isn't an option. He then moved to adopt the Critical Area Four-Year Plan; seconded by Commission Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.


Mayor Wooten appointed Mrs. Sandy Murphy. She came forward to say she considers it an honor and a privilege and hopes she can do her best for all the citizens of Cambridge.

Mayor Wooten then expressed his gratitude to Mr. Joe Feldman whose term had expired. Due to time constraints and all the activities he was trying to balance, Mr. Feldman asked if he could be relieved from the Board.


Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the City's Financial Report for July, 1998; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Saunders stated that this has become a nightmare in her estimation. Businesses have found a loop-hole to get around this ordinance and there is not much the City can do to prevent them from propping up on every corner. She asked if the City Attorney could look at some suggestions and revisions so this could be worked out before next year. Commissioner Saunders then motioned to bring this up as public discussion at Council's next work session; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Pritchett advised that this is a budgeted item for Fiscal Year 1999. An on site evaluation indicated rotten wood from previous leaks. Commissioner Swafford made a motion to allow the Department of Public Works to go to bid for a new roof; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Rice mentioned that the Police Board unanimously approved this but he personally would like to put this off and deal with this next week as a Council.


Commissioner Rice motioned to also put this off until next week's meeting; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Commissioner Rice stated that these regulations need to be broadened as the City may be dealing with water taxies within the not to distant future. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Rice moved to remove three police officers from probation to regular status; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. (Because of security, the officers' names were not made public.) Motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Pritchett advised that this is not a budgeted item, but it is an issue that Chief Wroten has addressed several times. The weed control cannot be maintained under the bleachers at the shooting range located off of Town Point Road. Mr. Pritchett said that he would be able to absorb the estimated cost of approximately $340. into one of his property maintenance accounts.

Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the installation of the cement pads; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Saunders motioned to give the Dorchester County Office of Tourism a Resolution of Support; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Swafford made a motion to approve the Budget Amendment for Financial Administration; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Swafford stated that he has reviewed all the purchase orders for these budgeted expenditures and made a motion to approve them; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Vickers did a re-run of what he had said at the last Council meeting. The expenses that the City is incurring due to the lawsuit regarding the sewer separation was at $25,000. but the figure is now well above that and still growing. He would like to once again let everyone know that if they would like information on this, it is public information. A copy of the suit is on file at City Hall. "It's your tax money and if you want to know something about it, come and look at it." He even went as far to say that if any of the Plaintiffs get this message, maybe that should look at it because he is not so sure they all completely understand what kind of a law suit they're in.


Regarding the law suit, Commissioner Saunders brought up the fact of the erroneous information printed in the guest commentaries in the Banner. If the news media would check out what's going on, they would find that the City has been doing their job. The special interest group who filed the suit wants what they want, not what is best for the City or the taxpayers. She then asked Mr. Dave Ryan of the Banner to go back and give the City the same coverage that his column continues to give the opposition, "and get facts, please."

Commissioner Saunders then addressed a ten year old Standard Operating Procedure (#17) and made a motion to discuss revision of this at Council's next work session. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried 4 to 1 with Commissioner Swafford opposing.

She then referred to a copy of a lease agreement that was in Council's books. She had some concerns and suggested that this be discussed before the Mayor is authorized to sign it.

A draft of a letter to the Governor was included in their books thanking him for the $40,000. Community Development Block Grant for the Pine Street Liberty Village Empowerment Center. It was agreed that the letter should be sent.

Ms. Foster had also included a memo regarding Maryland, Department of Housing and Community Development's invitation to apply to participate in the State's "Live Near Your Work" Program. Commissioner Saunders made a motion at this time to table this for further consideration, "indefinitely"; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Swafford motioned for Council to go into Executive Session after this meeting regarding a real estate matter; motioned by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Rice commented about the Cambridge Classic that transpired this last weekend. He invited everyone to go to Great Marsh and look at the monument that is set there in recognition of the people that have given their lives to racing.


Mr. Wheeler referred to a building permit application submitted by Mr. Pritchett for Toolwrights, Inc., Lot 8, Chesapeake Industrial Park, Addition/Renovations, in the amount of $190,000. Commissioner Rice motioned to approve it; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:10 P.M.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting of Monday, August 24, 1998 insofar as I personally am aware.

Oden C. Wheeler, Administrative Coordinator