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  • 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

December 7, 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 Rice, Watkins, Saunders and Vickers.

Mr. Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer.

Commissioner Watkins moved to approve the minutes of the November 30th City Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

REPORT FROM PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION

Commissioner Saunders stated that at their December 1st meeting the committee made the following recommendations to Council:

SMG Management/Andy Botticello: Commissioner Saunders made a motion to accept the Committee's recommendation for approval of the preliminary plan for the Oakley Street project. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins and carried unanimously.

311 Byrn Street/Sylvia Brohawn: Commissioner Saunders moved to accept the Committee's recommendation that the code be expanded to include, as an allowable use, bookkeeping and/or accounting businesses as a professional service in an R-3 district under Section 20-8(3)(c) of the City Code of Laws; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. The vote was 2 to 2 with Commissioners Watkins and Vickers in favor and Commissioners Rice and Saunders opposing. Mayor Wooten stated "the motion dies."

On this same issue, the Commission recommends that Council approve, as a follow up to this issue, that the Commission review and consider other permitted professional uses in an R-3 district. Mayor Wooten asked for a second to the motion but nothing was-audible on the tape. Commissioner Rice stated that the only motion on this issue is to do a study to see what the impact would be of those other uses. Commissioner Saunders asked him to make the motion as she only read what the Commission's recommendation was. Commissioner Rice said that it was put on the floor as a motion and seconded. His comments were only part of discussion. Motion carried unanimously.

Harbor Haven Phase II/Edward Mowbray: Commissioner Saunders stated that Mr. Pritchett wished her to inform Mayor and Council that Harbor Haven/Edward Mowbray withdrew their request although they did come before Planning & Zoning.

PUBLIC HEARING - ZION METHODIST CHURCH (REZONING)

Mr. Collison advised that this public hearing is to receive public input and comment on a rezoning request to change the zoning of property designated as Tax Map No. 301, Parcels 316, 317 and 318, located on the southerly side of Glasgow Street. Their request is to change zoning from R-3 (Two Family Residence District) to R-4 (Multiple Dwelling District). Following tonight's hearing, the Council will review the minutes and testimony of the hearing and render their decision at the next regularly scheduled meeting. Anyone affected by the decision after it is issued, has 30 days to file an appeal with the Circuit Court.

Mr. Pritchett advised that the Planning & Zoning Commission heard this case on October 6th and recommended approval from R-3 to R-4. The public hearing was posted in the Daily Banner on November 23rd and November 27th. On November 30th, area property owners were notified and the property was posted.

Mr. Collison stated that the issues to be addressed would be that there was a substantial change within the neighborhood that would justify the change in rezoning or that there was a mistake when the property was last zoned.

Mr. Fletcher Thompson, attorney for Zion Methodist Church, came forward stating that the church seeks rezoning across from the church property which is currently being used as a parking lot for the Board of Education. There has been a change since the zoning code was enacted. At that time, the Board of Education building was used as a junior high school with buses, parents, children and teachers going in and out. The building is now used as an office where the Board of Education conducts its business. There is less traffic and far fewer people in the area during the day. The church would like to utilize this property for housing for the elderly. Since some adjoining properties are commercial units, it is more appropriate to have this multi-family type of dwelling which is consistent with commercial use. They feel this use would not adversely affect the surrounding district and ask that the City Commissioners adopt the recommendation of the Planning Commission.

Mr. Sandy McAllister, representing the Dorchester County Board of Education, came forward. As a contiguous land owner to the proposed project, the Board was very concerned and sensitive that it be done in a fashion that was consistent with the neighborhood and would in turn be both a credit to the Board of Education property and other neighbors. Both he and Dr. Spicer Bell met with the engineer for the project to ensure that the project, as proposed, was compatible with the concerns of the Board. The principle concerns of the Board of Education were that it maintain its access to and from its property and that the existing shared agreement for parking be honored in the future. The Board of Education agreed to attend tonight in support of the church's application for rezoning.

Mr. Brian Manning, 617 Locust Street, came forward. He wanted to go on record to say that he is in absolute favor of the building that the Zion Church wants to build as presented to him by Dr. Crosen but he views, with deep concern, the request to change the zoning. It fosters spot zoning and puts the adjoining properties at risk of also being spot zoned to either C-2 or R-4. He proposes, that rather than changing the zoning, to grant them waivers so that they may build their building and keep the zoning at R-3.

Ms. Judy Moody, 602 Glasgow Street, was next to step to the podium. She stated that "common courtesy would be to have a meeting with the nearby property owners but, nevertheless, this is not the way it's done here." On August 13, 1998, a drawing was done by Lewis and Rogers, architects of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania and Andrews, Miller & Associates, Inc. of Cambridge, Maryland. Following this a drawing was issued on September 24, 1998 for a Planning & Zoning meeting to follow on October 6, 1998 for rezoning from R-3 to C-2. The previous plans mentioned by Ms. Moody were not the ones that were presented on October 6, 1998. The parties walked into the meeting with a poster board reflecting a new drawing which no one had time to review as the previous ones. The Mayor and Council approved the recommendation of R-4 at their regular scheduled meeting on October 26, 1998. She is not against the home, but she is totally against the parking status as it is today and can only worsen with this project if this issue is not in cement as to how this will come to play.

For clarification, Mr. Collison stated that the problem of getting into what they are proposing to build tonight is, if the rezoning is approved, Council cannot say they will only rezone if Zion Church builds a 30 unit elderly apartment building. If it is rezoned to R-4, that means any permitted use in an R-4 (which are listed on Page 1,438 of the City Code) can be constructed there.

Ms. Moody then asked, "when is the parking issue going to be addressed?" Mr. Collison stated that if the R-4 zoning is approved and they come in with specific plans for what they want, they would then need to meet the parking requirements. If they do not, they would need to request a variance from the zoning provisions and that would need to be done through the Planning & Zoning Commission and a public hearing.

At Commissioner Saunders request, Mr. Collison then mentioned all the uses permitted in an R-4 zone. Commissioner Saunders then went on to say that it seems that every time this Council works on any project, "we get the accusation that we're doing something under the table or we're trying to hide something from the community. That just burns me up." This has been one of the most open Councils. They instituted public work sessions on things that they didn't even have to so before they voted on something, the public would have the opportunity to have input.

With no further comments in favor or in opposition, Commissioner Watkins moved to close the public hearing; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Motion carried unanimously.

MAYOR TO SIGN RESOLUTION FOR DOTTIE GRIFFITH'S REZONING

Commissioner Rice made a motion to authorize the Mayor to sign the Resolution; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

MAYOR TO APPOINT YOUTH MEMBERS TO THE HUMAN RELATIONS COMMITTEE

Mayor Wooten asked that this be put off again and not put back on the agenda "until we know somebody will be here."

COUNCIL TO CANCEL WORK SESSION AND COUNCIL MEETING

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to cancel the December 21st work session and the December 28th Council meeting; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

APPROVE PRELIMINARY PLANS FOR LIBERTY VILLAGE EMPOWERMENT CENTER

Commissioner Saunders made a motion to approve the preliminary plans. (Mr. Pritchett had them on display for the public to see.) Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion and it carried 3 to 0 with Commissioner Saunders abstaining.

MAYOR TO SIGN RESOLUTION FOR GRADING PERMIT FEES

Commissioner Rice moved to authorize the Mayor to sign the Resolution for grading permit fees, plan review fees and reinspection fees that were approved at the November 9th Council meeting. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Commissioner Rice stated that this is an item that has been long overdue. It's an item the City has never had although every other community in the general area does the same thing. Motion carried unanimously.

REFER SHARON TYLER'S REQUEST TO STREET LIGHTING COMMITTEE

Commissioner Watkins moved to refer this request to the Street Lighting Committee; seconded by Commissioner Vickers. Commissioner Rice stated that he travels this route (Roslyn Avenue and Woods Road) and share's Ms. Tyler's concern for the deer that roam the area. He does not feel that lighting will resolve the issue but feels that the Department of Natural Resources should be contacted to relocate the deer especially once the Hyatt project "gets off the starting blocks and gets running." Commissioner Vickers stated the Lighting Committee made a suggestion for a light in this area about six months ago, but it will again be considered at their meeting tomorrow. Motion then carried unanimously.

REQUEST FOR TRAFFIC & SAFETY COMMITTEE

Commissioner Saunders had a request from Orchid Beauty Enterprise and Hubbard's Drug Store to put a handicapped spot between their two businesses on Race Street. She then made a motion to refer this to the Traffic & Safety Committee; seconded by Commissioner Watkins. Motion carried unanimously.

APPROVE BUDGETED EXPENDITURES OVER $250.

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

Mr. Pritchett advised that they had obtained quotes for demolition of properties on Pine Street and Douglas Street, both under $2,500. for which funds had been set aside. Commissioner Saunders made a motion to allow Mr. Pritchett to move forward on these; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried 3 to 0 with Commissioner Saunders abstaining.

MAYOR MAKES APPOINTMENT TO THE MUNICIPAL UTILITIES COMMISSION

Mayor Wooten announced that the City has an individual who served faithfully on the MUC committee for five and one-half years and his term is up this month. He has chosen not to be reappointed and the Mayor has asked Lorraine Henry, former Guidance Counselor at the high school and the School of Technology, to fill this position. She has said that she would do so and he asked Council to approve his recommendation.

Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the Mayor's recommendation; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Rice asked that a letter be sent thanking that person for his time of service. Mayor Wooten advised that the letter has already been sent.

Mayor Wooten asked Ms. Henry to come forward to say a few words.

REQUEST FOR EXECUTIVE SESSION

Commissioner Saunders advised that Council had a personnel concern in their books which deserves some attention. She made a motion to go into Executive Session after this meeting; seconded by Commissioner Rice. Motion carried unanimously.

REPORT FROM DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS

Mr. Pritchett advised that he has spoken with the State Highway Administration per Commissioner Rice's request for an impact study relative to the proposed Spring closing of the Cambridge Creek Bridge. They advised him that they expect the closure to be several days, not a full week. The SHA will be meeting again in January. Commissioner Rice felt that they should have involved the businesses that may have an impact from the closing at the beginning of these discussions. He is pleased that they are taking the businesses into consideration.

Mr. Pritchett then referenced a memo submitted,to Council by the City's Engineer regarding the Odor Control Study as part of the BNR study relative to the ongoing improvements to be undertaken at the wastewater treatment plant. This was done for informational purposes and he thought Council would like to address it at the next meeting.

Commissioner Vickers advised that the City is presently under a mandate by the State to meet certain requirements by the year 2000. The present estimates for doing this is approximately six million dollars. An additional project for odor control is also in the neighborhood of six million dollars.

Commissioner Rice stated that there has been ongoing odor problems. "Even in the old days with the outhouse and the gravel path, honeysuckle didn't hide the odor either." There is no way to eliminate it 100% but the City is trying to minimize that amount of odor.

The end result that Commissioner Vickers wanted to point out is that this Council is 100% behind the Hyatt project but this is one of the costs that the City is going to be eventually faced with.

COMMENTS FROM THE FIRST WARD

Commissioner Vickers advised that last Friday he was personally involved in a situation on Talbot Avenue that Chief Wroten is very well aware of. He wanted to commend the officers that were there for the job they did. This was as bad, if not worse, than some crime scenes they have been involved in.

CLERK-TREASURER SPEAKS

Mr. Kinnamon referenced a proposal that was in Council's books regarding Administrative Standard Operating Procedure No. 29 regarding services received from C.E.M.S. Commissioner Rice asked that this be tabled until Council is at "full force". Commissioner Saunders also asked that the City attorney look at it because it may become a personnel issue.

COMMENTS FROM THIRD WARD

Commissioner Saunders made a letter from Comcast available indicating an increase in cable rates.

COMMENTS FROM SECOND WARD

Commissioner Watkins commented on the odor problem previously discussed this evening. He is happy to see that Mr. Hyde, City Engineer, is trying this project in two phases to try to have less money involved.

COMMENTS FROM CITY ATTORNEY

Mr. Collison reminded everyone that on December 17th from 7:00 p.m. to 11: 00 p.m., at Sailwinds Park, there is a public hearing to receive the community's input on the proposed Hyatt project. It is a joint hearing which is required by the Maryland Department of the Environment and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE

Ms. Portia Johnson, 700 Cornish Drive, came tonight to thank the Department of Public Works. A light burned out the night before Thanksgiving on the corner of Cornish Drive and Camelia Street. Although the maintenance department couldn't get it fixed at that time, she spoke with Mrs. Camper today and with her help, they did replace the light.

Mr. Gordy Jones, Jr., 304 Talbot Avenue, was present tonight, along with some of his neighbors, in regards to the conditions at 305 Talbot Avenue. The number one problem is the roach infestation at that property along with health problems. He has had his house exterminated about four times a year for the past three years. They have had good cooperation so far, "but maybe just not enough results." He has letters dating back to 1996 which were sent to Housing Inspectors, West End Community Association, Mayor Wooten and former Commissioner Reg Asplen.

He referenced Mr. Collison's September 8, 1998 emergency notice to Mr. Jack Bennett, who is the out-of-town owner of the residence, stating the conditions and what needs to be done immediately. Not long after that (November 17th), an extension was granted to Mr. Bennett. The extension, until April 1st, was to give Mr. Bennett more time to clean up his property.

Attorney Collison advised that after his letter went out, the necessary action was not taken. The Housing Department issued a condemnation order that went to the tenants and the owner. The tenants were notified that the property was not fit to be habitable and they would have to vacate. There were additional requirements of the owner to exterminate to the satisfaction of the City. Both of those orders were appealed to the Housing Board of Review. Had they not been appealed, they would have had thirty days to comply or the City would take action. The extensions were granted in the appeal to the Housing Board of Review. Mr. Bennett had appealed for further time to comply with the requirements for the eviction and fumigation and for whatever reason, the Housing Board of Review gave them until April 1. (Commissioner Saunders stated that, by law, the Council has no power over the Housing Board of Review.)

Mr. Collison then said that the only option at this point is to move forward with the appeal that was not granted any extension (appeal to keep tenants out was upheld because they didn't show). The only recourse on the other appeal which was granted, would need to appeal that decision through the Circuit Court. (The Housing Department would appeal the decision of the Housing Board of Review.) Mr. Collison said they would request an expedited hearing to get it in before April.

Commissioner Rice wanted to know who else could be involved with this that has more power to say "do it now because it's a problem." Commissioner Saunders said "once it goes to the Housing Board of Review, we're out of the picture by State law."

Mr. Collison said that if an appeal was filed today, it would probably be scheduled in July.

Mr. Pritchett advised that they did meet with many of the home owners in the area last week and went over some of the alternatives. The son is the personal representative of the estate who owns the home and although the tenants are currently no longer living in the house, this will be a never ending cycle ... exterminate, condemn, move back in, etc. Once they comply, "it's their home." It was mutually agreed in their meeting 5 or 6 days ago, that Mr. Bennett indicated he would evict the tenants and sell the home. The people who were living there are dysfunctional and they cannot get rid of the roaches with them living there. An exterminator estimated that there are in excess of one million roaches. Mr. Jones then stated that the end result would be that the house would need to be burned. Commissioner Rice suggested that the judge be invited to the house if that's what it takes to get action.

The woman who lives next door has had to have her house exterminated three times this summer. "They're all over the neighborhood."

Mr. Jones feels that the authorities are sympathizing with Mr. Bennett who's in Westminster and is oblivious to what is happening.

Commissioner Saunders wanted to know who appointed the members to the Housing Board of Review and Mayor Wooten advised that he does. She then said, "Mr. Mayor, I'd like 'to ask you to make some new appointments then."

Mr. Jones stated that Corporal Doyle and Corporal Slowik can attest to the conditions. Commissioner Vickers said he can also attest to that.

On Friday, the Humane Society was contacted about some cats that were left behind inside the house with no food or water. They removed approximately 9 cats and dug up 11 from the back yard that were recently buried.

Commissioner Rice mentioned the fact that if a person receives a weed notice and does not comply within the time frame allowed, the City would cut the grass and put a lien against the property. Is there any way the City can tent the house and fumigate and put a lien against the property? Mr. Collison responded, not while it is being appealed.

Mayor Wooten said he would speak with some of the area residents after the meeting to explore some options.

On another note, Mr. Chris Abbott, 2835 Ocean Gateway, came to the podium requesting a variance or an amendment to Ordinance No. 799, Section 8-21 of the "unreasonable noise levels". Their band rents a room in a commercial area of town and they have been playing music in that building for at least the last ten to twelve years, "with no complaints." As of late, they don't even have to be playing before the Police are coming up to "turn it down." They usually practice on Sundays between 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Tuesdays between 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. They would like to have the same time frame as a lawn mower, jackhammer or anything else the ordinance allows between 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Commissioner Saunders advised that there are two families complaining (one couple in their 80's), and they feel the noise is unbearable and they just don't feel that they need to listen to this in their homes with their doors closed. She advised, unfortunately, the zoning in Cambridge is so that things like this should not be happening close to a residential area and she is in sympathy with the home owners there.

Attorney Collison advised that in looking at variances that were granted in the past, it has only been on an occasional date not for an ongoing situation and he suggested that this be tabled for the present time. Commissioner Saunders said that Mr. Abbott had a suggestion to poll the neighbors.

Mr. Collison noted that if they challenge the case in Court and the Court finds that the people complaining had a reasonable complaint, that would decide the case.

Commissioner Saunders went on record to say, "I will not sit here and ask to make an amendment for a noise ordinance that, when we got on this Council, we had people from all Wards wanting and we put a year and one-half legally to make sure we did not do anything we shouldn't do. I will never sit here, as long as I am a City Commissioner, and vote for, or make a motion for, an amendment to this noise ordinance unless it is something that is totally acceptable and to me, two nights a week for a band practice that seems to be annoying (if it's to no more than to one citizen) is a concern for me."

With no further business, meeting adjourned at 8:22 p.m.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting of Monday, December 7, 1998 insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C Kinnamon, Clerk-Treasurer