• 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

September 28, 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, Saunders, Swafford and Vickers.

Mr. Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer.

Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the minutes of the September 14th City Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously.  He then made a second motion to approve the minutes of the September 21st City Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried 3 to 0 with Commissioner Swafford abstaining.

JOINT PUBLIC HEARING - CHESAPEAKE BAY CRITICAL AREA COMMISSION

Mr. Collison advised that this is a joint public hearing between the Commissioners of Cambridge and the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission. The purpose of this hearing is to consider comments, and to take public input, on the proposed amendment to the City's Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Ordinance Program. This amendment process is required pursuant to Section 8-1809(g) of the Natural Resources Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, known as the "4 - year Review". He then turned the public hearing over to Roby Hurley who is a staff member of the Critical Area Commission.

Mr. Hurley came forward and introduced Mr. Bill Giese who is Chairman of Critical Area Commission panel for this joint public hearing. Mr. Giese advised that they are required by law to have these hearings on any amendments to the critical area regulations for the City. He then introduced the other members of the panel ... Joseph Jackson, Samuel Q. Johnson and Bill Corcoran.

The amended changes are the result of a study conducted by the City and State staff. Comments made tonight will be taken into consideration when the full commission meets on this proposal on November 4th, 1998.

Mr. Hurley, Critical Area Circuit Rider for the City of Cambridge, spoke of the official work products that the Critical Area Commissioner staff and the City's Department of Public Works have been working on. There are specifically three work products ... mapping, the critical area program and the City's official zoning ordinance (Chapter 20). The mapping is required to be updated to correct mistakes and any changes in the habitat areas in and around the City. As a case in point as to corrections to the map, they neglected to include a section of Cambridge-South Dorchester High where there is tidal influence from the Blackwater River.

The ordinances were updated to correct mistakes and to reflect changes made by the State Legislature due to periodic amendments to the critical area law. In the future, these changes will provide for a more efficient and effective planning and zoning process.

He then expressed his thanks to DPW, under the leadership of Tom Moore and Dave Pritchett, for their indulgence, intelligence and guidance over the past few years "in this arduous process."

With no comments from the audience, Commissioner Saunders made a motion to close the public hearing. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders then thanked the State, especially Q. Johnson, for the work they have done to help the City of Cambridge.

Mayor Wooten expressed his gratitude for the work the State has done to facilitate the impending deal with the Hyatt.

APPOINTMENTS - CORPORAL DOYLE (CPD)_- REQUEST NOISE VARIANCE

Corporal Doyle advised that they are hosting a Community Day in the open field located at Greenwood Avenue and Cosby Avenue on October 3rd from 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. They are trying to draw attention to their crime prevention efforts and answer some "quality of life" issues by inviting other government agencies to the Cosby Avenue Community Center parking lot. They are planning to have a D.J. and request a variance from the noise ordinance from noon to 4:00 P.M.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to allow them to block off whatever area of the street that they need as well as to give a variance of the noise ordinance for the requested time. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Swafford asked what age groups they plan to have and Corporal Doyle responded "infant to 90". They will be serving hamburgers and hot dogs free. Motion carried unanimously.

DARLENE WROTEN AND ROBBY HUGHES - MARYLAND AVENUE SIDEWALKS

Mr. Robby Hughes, 415 Maryland Avenue, mentioned that he had recently received a repair notice to replace the sidewalk in front of his house. He could not understand why he is responsible for repairing the sidewalk since he doesn't own it.

Mr. Collison advised that three or four years ago Council had made a response to this issue. Mr. McAllister, City Attorney at that time, researched the issue and found out that under Maryland law, the property owners adjoining the streets own the fee simple title up to the center of the street for the public right-of-way to cross the street.

Ms. Darlene Wroten, 413 Maryland Avenue, came forward and requested that notices for sidewalk repairs be sent to all 27 property owners on Maryland Avenue not just to ones where the City received complaints. She then referred to a letter dated November 1, 1996 that she received from Tom Moore regarding the removal of the trees which states, "the City will provide removal of any remaining roots which may be raised under the sidewalk area." She went on to say that, "a lot of these problems on Maryland Avenue, and even on Henry Street, is due to the City." A question was raised by Ms. Wroten as to how much money Governor Glendening gave the City of Cambridge for improvements on roadways and sidewalks leading into Cambridge? Commissioner Saunders advised that $50,000. was issued to be used on the extension of Washington Street and the Council voted to utilized these funds on that portion of Washington Street where the children are walking to the school bus.

Everyone agreed that there is a problem on Maryland Avenue that needs to be resolved.

Commissioner Watkins asked that the matter be researched to find out if there is any documentation which authorized the Garden Club to plant the trees along the street originally.

Commissioner Swafford also asked for research to be done regarding the trees that were planted along Washington Street to see if there is any written authorization for the planting of the trees.

Commissioner Vickers asked how many citations were issued against pavement repair within the last couple of years whereby David Pritchett said that notices approached 100. Mr. Pritchett said that when he was with the Housing Department there was about 70 to 80 percent compliance to repairs. The only issue now is that these people feel that they got trees that maybe they didn't want and are now responsible for them. Commissioner Vickers did not want to paint a picture for the community that the homeowner is not responsible for the sidewalk, "because he is." "Whether we decide to help them or not, that's another issue to be solved at another time."

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to set up a meeting with all property owners on Maryland Avenue and that the City have an engineer available in his time to go out and look at these sidewalks and find out if these tree roots are responsible for any damage to the sidewalks. Based on meeting with everybody and based on finding of facts, then the City Council and Mayor would get together to get costs and see if there is any way possible, if not through City finances, through grants or whatever, to help relieve some of the burden of the cost on the property owner based on whether or not the roots were part of the cause. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. Commissioner Swafford suggested getting the root structure of a Bradford pear tree and this might help where the roots run. Motion then carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders then moved that the City hold off on any notices to the homeowners until the first of the year so things can be worked out after the meeting is held with the citizens; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders then made a motion to schedule the meeting with the homeowners for the November 16th work session scheduled for 6:30 P.M. and to let this be the only matter on the agenda. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried unanimously.

Council requested that Ms. Deborah Camper, Director of Housing Department, notify all the property owners on Maryland Avenue of the upcoming work session.

Commissioner Saunders further requested that the forestry people be contacted by Mr. Pritchett as well as an independent engineer to give an analysis of what the trees did or did not do to the sidewalks. The property owners would also need to get some ball park figures on what it would take to replace the sidewalks and any grass that would be torn up. This information would need to be available for the November meeting as a starting point.

Ms. Wroten then requested a meeting with Mr. Kinnamon to determine where the funds go that are received from the State Highway Administration. He suggested that she call his office to schedule an appointment.

OLD BUSINESS - LIBERTY VILLAGE EMPOWERMENT CENTER

The Commissioners were requested, by the Forestry Department, to sign a "Single Lot Declaration of Intent" for Liberty Village Empowerment Center stating that no trees were destroyed on this site. The only trees there were two that were planted by the City.

Commissioner Saunders then made a motion to have the Commissioners sign the document so it can be sent forward; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

ADOPTION OF BOCA NATIONAL PROPERTY MAINTENANCE CODE/1996 UPDATE

Mr. Collison advised that Ms. Camper had submitted proposed changes to the property maintenance code to Council. Advertisements were run twice in the local newspaper about the proposed amendments and Mr. Collison then asked for any comments or questions regarding these changes. Commissioner Saunders stated that she had read it and felt the changes were beneficial to the citizens as well as the City.

Commissioner Swafford then asked Mr. Collison if there was anything in the document that's conflicting with the City's ordinances today? Mr. Collison advised that what is in the document would amend the City's code.

Commission Saunders then made a motion to adopt it; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

DISCUSS CHANGES IN EMPLOYEE MANUAL

Mr. Wheeler had included in Council's books, some changes to the employee manual. The first change was to correct the language that the employees will be paid on a biweekly basis effective January 1, 2000.

The second change was to give priority consideration to funding service increments for employees who complete their introductory period in a year in which Council does not award merit increases to all employees. "In the event that funding is not available to award service increments to all employees, Council will give priority consideration to funding service increments to those employees satisfactorily completing their introductory period."

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to adopt the new procedures; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Commissioner Swafford asked if the Department Heads were privy to this information and Mr. Wheeler assured him that they were. Motion carried unanimously.

DISCUSS JOB CLASSIFICATIONS UPDATE

Mr. Wheeler advised that the revisions are basically "housekeeping things" in trying to keep everything in a condensed order so that everybody's job description is the same and are the same for who gets overtime and so forth.

Commissioner Saunders stated that there was one point that she did not agree with but after Mr. Wheeler explained it to her she now understands it. Therefore, she made a motion to adopt the changes; seconded by Commissioner Watkins.

'Commissioner Swafford questioned overtime approval. Mr. Wheeler advised that, as worded in the employee manual, that all overtime first needs to receive prior approval from the Department Head before it is done and it is the Department Head's responsibility to make sure there is sufficient funding available to pay the overtime. In the event that there is not sufficient funding, the employee would be entitled to comp time in lieu of being paid. Mr. Wheeler further stated that there is a maximum accumulation of comp time that is permitted but he was uncertain of the limit. The City used the guidelines from the State of Maryland on this issue.

Commissioner Swafford asked if employees could use their vacation time and save their comp time (up to approximately 320 hours)? Commissioner Saunders wanted to know when this was passed and Mr. Wheeler advised April, 1995. Commissioner Saunders requested that Mr. Kinnamon put this issue on the agenda for review.

Motion then carried unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS - REQUEST FROM BAYLY CROSSING

A request was received from William Peckham, General Manager of Bayly Crossing, for relief from the newly imposed sewer hook up fee of $750.00.

Commissioner Watkins stated that consideration should be given since this development was started prior to the new rates going into effect. He then made a motion to allow them to follow the old schedule; seconded by Commissioner Vickers.

Commissioner Swafford felt that if a project was "approved" prior to July 1, 1998, the old rates would be in effect. (This development received final approval on March 9, 1998.) Any future requests would be determined by whether or not the "approval" was given prior to July 1, 1998, not the fact that the developer "applied" prior to the new rates going into effect.

Motion then carried unanimously.

APPROVE BUDGET AMENDMENTS

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

APPROVE BUDGETED EXPENDITURES OVER $250.

Commissioner Swafford motioned to approve all budgeted expenditures that were listed over $250.; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Commissioner Swafford then mentioned an emergency petition received from the Police Department for $298. for an emergency repair and as Finance Chairman he did give approval. The paperwork will be in Council's books next week. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMENTS FROM FIRST WARD

Commissioner Vickers commented on the Dorchester Showcase that was held yesterday. There was quite a bit of difference in the weather from last year... "we didn't get rained out but we did some sweating didn't we!!!"

He further directed a comment to Commissioner Saunders regarding her bid for the House of Delegates in Annapolis stating that he felt she could have done some good for the City in Annapolis and that's why he was behind her. And although she didn't make it, "if it's the State's loss maybe it's our gain."

COMMENTS FROM SECOND WARD

Commissioner Watkins stated that although he wanted Commissioner Saunders to win, he didn't know how he would have made it with her not sitting next to him on Council.

He also stated that he had a wonderful time at the Showcase, with all four of his children there. It was very rewarding the see the community working together.

COMMENTS FROM THIRD WARD

Commissioner Saunders believed a letter was received from the Governor stating there was a $40,000. grant awarded to the City for final architectural drawings for the Pine Street Revitalization Empowerment Center. Since it takes time to get the money to us and the next round of applications to complete this project is November 13th, she moved to have Council allow Public Works to go to bid, with the help of the attorney, for this final architectural design. The City would then be that step ahead when the money comes in because this design needs to be submitted with the next round of funding.

Commissioner Watkins noted that he sees no problem because the bids would not need to be honored until the City receives the money from the State. He then seconded Commissioner Saunders' motion. Commissioner Swafford asked if any funds needed to be appropriated for the advertising and Commissioner Saunders stated that it could be taken out of the $40,000. Since advertising would need to be paid by the City before the funds are received, Commissioner Swafford made a motion to take the money from the contingency fund and that it be paid back at a later date. Commissioner Saunders amended her motion to include Commissioner Swafford's suggestion. Motion then carried unanimously.

Commissioner Saunders said that in order to cut back on costs, some things were changed so she would get together with Mr. Pritchett before this goes out to bid.

On another note, she congratulated the Banner on the nice article about the Showcase. She was unable to attend but in reading the paper, "it felt like I was almost there."

MAYOR SPEAKS

With regard to the issue of the residents in the trailer park whose future was "uncertain and insecure", Mayor Wooten advised that he has been speaking with Mr. Zentgraf out of concern for the individuals and where they were going to go. It appears from what Mr. Zentgraf told the Mayor, he has worked it out somehow to help everyone who has been affected by this in order to facilitate their long term arrangements. The Mayor expressed his appreciation to Mr. Zentgraf on behalf of the people who were affected.

Two weeks ago, he sent a memo to Department Heads requesting information on some grants that have been received within the last four years. After Mr. Pritchett speaks this evening, he will get back to this issue.

He then referred to an article in the Banner last Monday by Dave Ryan about what the Boy Scouts have done to beautify the City. We are remiss many times in not pointing out the good things that are done and he wanted to express his thanks to the Scout Troop and to those who lead them. They deserve a lot of credit.

He further expressed his appreciation to the organizers of the Dorchester Showcase. "It was a good day and people had a good time."

COMMENTS FROM FOURTH WARD

Commissioner Swafford was happy to hear that Mr. Zentgraf has worked some details out with the people at the trailer park.

COMMENTS FROM CLERK-TREASURER

Mr. Kinnamon noted that there was one building permit application from Bennie Smith's Funeral Homes, 524 Race Street, remodeling and addition, in the amount of $200,000.00.

Commissioner Watkins moved to approve the building permit; seconded by Commissioner Swafford. Commissioner Saunders stated that she was really glad that this building is being remodeled, but be prepared, when they have funerals there will be some problems because they're going to feel like they should use the City's parking lot for their funeral people. Commissioner Vickers said that as long as they're there for only two hours, they're alright. Motion then carried unanimously.

Mr. Kinnamon then presented a proclamation that came in late for "Mental Illness Awareness Week". Commissioner Watkins moved to authorize the Mayor to sign the proclamation; seconded by Commissioner Saunders. Motion carried unanimously. Mr. Kinnamon then proceeded to read the proclamation.

COMMENTS FROM PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR

Mr. David Pritchett advised the Mayor that he is in the process of gathering the information the Mayor had requested. He stated that he is almost done, however, with the loss of Tom Moore and another senior employee they're finding some buried grants as they go as far back as 1995. Mr. Pritchett requested to have an extension of two or three extra days from the October 1st deadline. The Mayor said that was no problem and anyone else who is having difficulty, a couple of days won't cause any tremendous amount of problems. He did state that he needs all the information to be exact, meticulous, and he needs it as soon as possible.

Mr. Pritchett referred to his memo to Council regarding the painting of a DPW pickup truck. Permission had been previously granted by Council to paint the hood and cab due to excessive paint chipping.

Despite earlier evaluations, the body shop advised him there is a tendency for the remainder of the truck to peel. His current budget is insufficient to do the whole truck and he requested Council's input. The truck is in good mechanical shape and could be used for another five to ten years.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to direct Mr. Pritchett to work with the Finance Chairman in trying to reallocate funds to take care of this; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

There was a letter in Council's books regarding a drainage situation for the new Eastern Shore Hospital Center and Southside Landing Trailer Park. Mr. Pritchett advised that this study is on-going right now with Andrews, Miller. They are looking into the problem but he advised that the developer is responsible for any extra water or problems that he creates onto a private property that did not exist prior to the development. He requested that this be tabled.

COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Ms. Anna Ruth Pope, Henry Street, came forward on behalf of her father who had received a notice from the City regarding the sidewalk issue. There are some deeds within the City which include sidewalks, but the sidewalks in question are owned by the City. Their homeowners insurance does not cover the sidewalk, it only covers what is in their deed. She was told by Mr. Warren from the State that if she was to do any type of patch work on the sidewalk, that would hold her liable.

She further stated that the old clay sewer pipes have collapsed and this is causing some of the sidewalks to sink and she was advised by the General Assembly, "not to bother the sidewalks."

Mr. Collison stated that he would get Ms. Pope a copy of the common law that Mr. McAllister had previously researched.

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to give the residents of Henry Street the same consideration as far as not imposing the fines until January 1, 1999 to get all the legalities cleared up. Motion died for lack of a second.

Ms. Darlene Wroten stated that years ago when she had problems with the alley, she wrote a thirteen page letter to Governor Schaefer. She said that she would give Mr. Collison a copy of his response to discuss with the Council.

Ms. Lois Elliott, 402 Henry Street, could not understand why she received a notice about the sidewalk since it is in the same condition it was when she bought her house eight years ago. She does not feel she should bear the whole cost because the sidewalk was never made to be repaired before the house was sold to her.

Commissioner Saunders asked the Council and the Mayor to allow the City Attorney to immediately research this and get an opinion from the Attorney General's office on the common law.

She then restated her earlier motion regarding not imposing fines on Henry Street until January 1, 1999. Motion died again for lack of second.

Commissioner Vickers felt that if there is to be a motion, it should set a moratorium to include the whole City until Council can legally establish the ownership of the pavements.

Mr. Danny Chester came forward on behalf of the Dorchester Lodge No. 223 and Progressive of Dorchester Temple #224 of the Improved Benovolent Protective Order of Elks of the World requesting permission to hold their annual Organization Day parade on Saturday, October 24, 1998 beginning at 3:00 P.M. The parade route will be from Maces Lane Middle School to their Lodge at 618 Pine Street. He further requested a noise ordinance and invited all of the City Council members to participate.

Commissioner Watkins moved to grant his request with the stipulation that the noise ordinance would be suspended until 10:00 P.M. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Saunders and carried unanimously.

With no further business, meeting adjourned.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting of Monday, September 28, 1998 insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk-Treasurer