• 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

December 27, 2010

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, December 27, 2010 in Council Chambers. A quorum being present, Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Knox, Stout, Thomas, and Hanson. Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley asked for a moment of silence. Commissioner Hanson led in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

A motion by Commissioner Thomas to approve the minutes of the December 13, 2010 Council meeting as submitted was seconded and approved 4:0.

Public Hearings

Proposed moratorium on all digital display and electronic imaging signs-

The Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing on this issue in November. At their December 7, 2010 meeting, they unanimously voted to approve the moratorium. Notification of the public hearing was published in the Star-Democrat on December 12 and 17, 2010. The temporary moratorium (up to 12 months in duration) would be on all digital display and electronic imaging signs in the City of Cambridge for the purpose of reviewing, revising, and amending the sign ordinance for the City. No written comments were received prior to the public hearing. Several months ago the City received an application for a conversion of a billboard to a digital or electronic imaging sign. The permit was denied so the application is going through the appeal process. The moratorium would allow the Planning Commission to come up with revisions to electronic signage regulations, particularly in two regards: (1) whether to permit them across-the-board; and (2) to look at conversions of the existing ones the City has to possibly electronic imaging. The City believes it is not permitted under a current code. The moratorium would prohibit the issuance of permits for a 12-month period while the Planning Commission makes recommendations. There was a committee appointed by the Planning Commission that has been meeting regularly, doing research, and working with staff on this topic.  This technology has moved quickly since 2003 which is when the City adopted their zoning ordinance. It was not addressed in the City's current code. The code addresses certain flashing imaging but not higher quality and technologically advanced imaging you see today. Nobody from the audience asked to speak.

A motion by Commissioner Hanson to keep the record open through the January 10, 2011 meeting (or the next Council meeting) was seconded and approved 4:0.

Funding for water and sewer infrastructure installation in the Christ Rock Area (Annexation Resolution A-2006-02)-An informational meeting was held at Maple Elementary School a few weeks ago. Notice of the public hearing was published in the Star-Democrat on December 10 and 17, 2010. The Christ Rock area has had an application pending for approximately 4 years. The City received notification in September 2010 that the funding had been approved to cover the water and sewer installation in that area. In October, Council voted to cover all the gap funding if there was a shortage of funding so the property owners would not incur any expense subject to the following condition: All the property owners would have to participate in the follow-up survey that was required by the State for the Community Development Block Grant portion of the funding. Anyone who participates in the survey will have the water and sewer installed as well as their existing well and septic disconnected and  reconnected to the new system, at no cost. If they do not participate in the survey, the installation of the main lines will be covered by MDE grant funding but the cost to disconnect their existing well and septic and connect to the new systems would not be covered.  The main water and sewer lines can be installed in the existing right-of-way easement of the road frontage. Because the main lines will go off Rock Drive and Maryland Route 16, the City will need a perpetual easement to access and maintain the main lines for certain properties that sit off the road. All the property owners will be granting a temporary easement to the City to allow the contractors to go onto their properties to disconnect their septic systems and wells and connect the homes to the new systems as well as to secure the existing septic tank. The temporary easement is for 2 years in duration because in the annexation resolution, the City agreed to maintain those new lines for a period of 2 years.

The MDE grant funds are for the installation of the main water and sewer lines. The funds from the Department of Housing and Community Development will cover the costs of the individual property owners' disconnection and reconnections. This grant is income qualified. CDBG will award funding for disconnect/reconnect for property owners who fall within their income regulations. On average, that cost is estimated to be $10,000. If a property owner is making more than the CDBG permitted income, that $10,000 per house is what the City agreed to covered provided they participate in the survey. CDBG has a requirement that if the property is sold or the owner dies within 5 years, a portion of the CDBG funds would need to be reimbursed back to the State through the City. It is a declining period of time. The rationale is that the property is worth more because of central services. The first year it would be 100% payback. It is reduced by 20% after that.  The CDBG grant is totally forgiven after Year 5 (no restriction).

There is a 5- to 6-month time period from commencement to the end of construction. City Council entered into a contract with David A. Bramble on November 29, 2010. From that day, they have 180 days to complete the entire project which includes hooking up all the residences and abandoning all the current wells and septic systems. They plan to start digging on January 10, 2011 at the Egypt Road/Christ Rock intersection. Provided the weather remains favorable, they should be finished by May 29, 2011.

Barbara Lake, a property owner on Church Creek Road, would like it stated in the record that her section of Church Creek Road (2301) is included. Rob Collison said it is included. It is a total 116 acres. The area runs from Egypt Road going up between Maryland Route 16 to Rock Drive over to the County Park, wrapping around the Egypt Road Regional Park over to Parcels 39 and 159 which are the properties directly across from Pig Neck Road.

Theodore R. Ferguson Jr. (Christ Rock - Route 16) said he has been bypassed many times; however, he pays City taxes. He does not receive City services. His septic tank is failing and he cannot replace it due to Dorchester County rules.  Oden Wheeler said it is his understanding that the 40+ properties that were cited in the beginning are the only properties that are eligible for this grant.  Anne Roane said George Hyde is looking into this situation to see if the City can expand the funding.

Stella S. Jones, owner of property in the Christ Rock area, asked if the information has been put in writing to the property owners such as the items that the attorney brought up regarding a regulation that the owner must qualify in a specified income range, and the payback schedule for property owners who die or sell their property within 5 years. Rob Collison said it has not been put in writing yet. The City received word on it earlier this month.  Ms. Jones said several property owners were not notified of the meeting tonight and the roads were treacherous (blowing snow) tonight. She said they would like to have something in writing that they can reference.

David Yost, Church Creek Road, asked what would happen if one property owner dies and there are multiple property owners on the deed. Rob Collison said he will get more information from the State on this subject. It will be forwarded to the property owners when the City receives it. It is his understanding that if at least one property owner is still residing on the property, there is no payback. Mr. Yost asked if the area has been annexed. Rob Collison stated that it has been annexed. Police services and snow removal services commenced immediately. Refuse collection will begin January 4, 2011. Mr. Yost said he is concerned about trash cans blowing in the high winds in that area.

Shirley Green, Rock Drive, asked about consequences of transferring property to family members.  Rob Collison said he will also get that information from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and forward it to the homeowners. Mrs. Green asked that more information be included with the notices of meetings.  Information on City taxes will also be included with the correspondence.  Mrs. Lake asked the City to continue to have meetings with the residents.  Rob Collison suggested meeting after the City has all the information about the dollar figures for the 5-year lien on each property.

Oden Wheeler said the City will need the easements relatively soon.



Unfinished Business

Public comment, second reading and vote on the ordinance (Ordinance 1004) to exempt one-and two-family residences from the sprinkler requirement-In June 2010, the City adopted the International Residential Code 2009 as a building code for the City.  The State of Maryland has adopted the Maryland Building Performance Standards set forth in COMAR which include the 2009 edition of the International Residential Code for one- and two-family dwellings. As of January 1, 2011, those State requirements require internal sprinkler systems (Section R-313.2).  The proposed ordinance would exempt one- and two-family dwellings from the sprinkler system requirement.  The sprinkler systems may be installed at the option of the property owners.

Sergio Lattanji, a resident and firefighter by trade, spoke against the ordinance. He is in strong support of mandatory installation of fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes.  Firefighters are prepared to put their lives on line every day to protect the community. They should not be forced to take unnecessary risks.  Fire sprinklers are a proven way control fires, and to protect lives, properties, and municipal resources.  They are installed in schools, stores, and hotels but not in homes where most fires occur.  Each year in the US, about 3000 people (including firefighters) die in home fires.  Many more are scarred for life through physical and emotional injury.  Many of these tragedies could have been prevented if sprinklers were in place. Fires in newly-constructed homes can spread quickly due to the amount of synthetic materials and lightweight construction that is now in use. He continued with facts about home fire sprinklers when both smoke alarms and fire sprinklers are present in a home. The risk of dying in a fire is reduced by 82% when compared to a residence without either.  During construction, a sprinkler only costs $1.61 per square foot.  Insurance rates can potentially be reduced by 5% to 15%. This is good public policy to protect the public, to protect firefighters, and keep people alive.  Ten counties in Maryland have already adopted this resolution.

Dave McQuay, Past President of the Talbot County Firemen's Association and a Member of the Maryland State Firemen's Association gave a presentation to Council several years ago.  The original ordinance was rescinded because Council felt it was a financial hardship. This is not true.  The ordinance, in its original form, was much too restrictive and required virtually every new building constructed in the City of Cambridge to be sprinkled. Several residents who were in the process of building homes voiced their concerns about this restrictiveness and the ordinance was temporarily rescinded until a later date so that more discussion leading to possible revisions could take place.  The MSFA strongly supports Fire Marshal Bill Bernard in his efforts to save lives and make it safer for firefighters.  He strongly urged Council to consider the benefits of sprinklers.

James Chaney, a local builder, said the original ordinance was based on information from the Fire Marshal and the Fire Department.  Sprinklers are not a bad thing but a lot of truth came out after they adopted the ordinance which is why they repealed it.  Insurance savings are not at all if you are already getting other savings because you only receive so many discounts.  Some insurance companies are against the sprinklers because they can do more damage than good.  Sprinklers add a phenomenal amount to building a house.  In addition to the square footage cost, you also have to run a separate water line which results in an additional tap fee and additional permits.  You also have maintenance; sprinkler systems can be quite expensive if they are not maintained.  With the economy what it is today, he thinks it would be a big mistake not to pass this ordinance.

Mr. Lattanji said there is very little maintenance with a residential sprinkler system. In fact, there is next to no maintenance until the system is activated. Nothing has gone wrong with his system in the 4 years he has lived in his house.  There is no need to maintain it. There are different types of systems.  The pipes would freeze just like any other pipes could.

Commissioner Knox said safety comes first but he sees sprinklers as an enormous expense to a homeowner.  The ordinance gives the homeowner the option to install a sprinkler system.

A motion by Commissioner Thomas to approve Ordinance 1004 to exempt one- and two-family dwellings from the sprinkler system requirement to become effective December 27, 2010 was seconded and passed 3:1 with Commissioner Stout opposed.

Council to approve a right-of-way agreement with the Maryland Transportation Administration for water and sewer lines for benefit of the Tech Park-A motion by Commissioner Knox to authorize Mayor Jackson-Stanley to sign the license agreement was seconded and approved 4:0.

New Business

First reading of ordinance for digital/electronic imaging signs-The second reading and vote will be held on January 10, 2011.  If the ordinance is approved, it will become effective January 20, 2011.

Consideration by Council to waive sewer impact fee for 2967 South Road-A motion by Commissioner Thomas to waive the sewer impact fee was seconded and approved 4:0.

Approve budget amendment for CPD-A motion by Commissioner Stout to approve the budget amendment was seconded and approved 4:0.

Approve budget amendment for DPW-A motion by Commissioner Thomas to approve the budget amendment was seconded and approved 4:0.

Approve Purchase Orders:

PO 91505 - Arvid Associates, Inc. - checklist codes program annual license and support from 01/01/2011 through 12/31/2011 - DPW - $1,200.00-A motion by Commissioner Hanson to approve Purchase Order 91505 was seconded and approved 4:0.

PO 5470 - Valerie J. Mann - administration of CPD grants - $540.00-A motion by Commissioner Hanson to approve Purchase Order 5470 was seconded and approved 4:0.

Additional Action by Council

Closed Executive Session-A motion by Commissioner Stout to go into closed executive session to obtain legal advice and discuss a personnel matter was seconded and approved 4:0.

Highway User Revenue Letter of Support-A letter will be sent to the Governor requesting that Highway User Revenue not be cut.

Consider tax abatement for house on Egypt Road not receiving full City services-A motion by Commissioner Knox to give the homeowner who is not receiving full City services a tax abatement retroactive for 2 years and until services are provided or the area is unincorporated was seconded and approved 4:0.

A motion by Commissioner Thomas to adjourn the meeting was seconded and approved 4:0.

With no further business, Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley adjourned the meeting at 8:25 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, December 27, 2010, insofar as I personally am aware.

Edwin C. Kinnamon, Clerk & Treasurer