• 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
Print this page

City Council Minutes

September 3, 2009

Cambridge Maryland SealMINUTES

Council Meeting

September 3, 2009

 

 The City Council met to hold public hearings on Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 12 noon 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 Sydnor, Thomas, and Hanson.

Rob Collison said the first public hearing is for rezoning of some properties along the west and northwest side of Leonard Lane. The second is for rezoning of property owned by Delmarva Community Services.

Leonard Lane (P&Z Case 38-09)

Rob Collison said notification of the public hearing was advertised in the Star Democrat on August 19 and 26, 2009 and the Dorchester Star on August 21 and 28, 2009.

Anne Roane said the parcels were discussed at the Planning and Zoning Commission meetings on June 16, and August 13, 2009. The case was reviewed by the Commission on June 16th and voted on at their August 13th meeting. The Commission voted unanimously to forward a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and City Council. Subsequent to that meeting, after further review, Staff removed Parcel 2369 for consideration. All the surrounding property owners were notified via certified mail of the public hearing. The properties were posted. The notice was published in the newspaper as required by Article 66b on the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Map 302 Parcel 1030 (619 Leonard Lane) is owned by Mr. Wise. It is used for bulk oil distribution. It is a non-conforming use which has been there since about 1945. The parcel is currently zoned Neighborhood Commercial. To have it be conforming, the Commission is proposing I-2 which is Heavy Industrial. This is the only zoning category which would allow the bulk distribution of oil. They are arguing that it is a mapping mistake. It has been there since 1945, prior to it ever being within the City limits. It was zoned C-2. In 2003, when the City adopted the Comprehensive Rezoning, it became General Commercial, which was non-conforming at that time. Looking back in the records, they cannot find any indication why it was zoned the way it was.

Map 302 Parcel 2364 (701 Leonard Lane) is owned by Mrs. Gertrude Jones. It is currently vacant. There is a structure on it. It was a residential property. It is conforming because it is currently zoned R-1. Mrs. Jones has had the property up for sale for quite some time and has not been able to sell it as residential probably because of its proximity between the Department of Public Works and the bulk oil tanks. Mrs. Jones' listing agent approached the Commission to look at what potential uses would be allowed in that zone. That is when they discovered that Wise Oil was zoned the way it was. They realized there was quite an error there. Mrs. Jones requested rezoning from R-1 to I-2. The argument is that there has been a substantial change in the neighborhood since the structure was built.

Map 302 Parcel 2367 (705 Leonard Lane) is the parcel that the Department of Public Works operates on. It has been zoned R-1 forever. When Anne Roane went through the existing uses with Spencer Bradley, it became quite apparent that the shop is a non-conforming use. To put the City's land into conformity, they are proposing I‑2 (Heavy Industrial). The Department of Public Works has been there since the late 1950s. They would argue that it was a mapping mistake in 2003. They found a lot of mapping mistakes where maps were joined to other maps. Leonard Lane is one of the dividing areas. There were numerous mapping errors on other zoning maps.

Anne Roane said during the June 16th meeting, several Commissioners expressed concerns that Parcels 2365 and 2366 were not included and that the owners of those parcels had not been contacted. These are the parcels between Mrs. Gertrude Jones' parcel and the Department of Public Works' parcel. Once parcel fronts Leonard Lane and one is directly behind it. It is her understanding that at one time it was farmed. Mr. Michael Kiah, one of the owners, was contacted by phone and later by e-mail about this. Following the e-mail, Mr. Kiah phoned and expressed that he and the other owners did not choose to include their property and did not support the proposed rezoning. While Staff acknowledges these concerns and that the property was once well-suited for residential uses that existed at one time, with the location of the Department of Public Works, as well as the Wise Oil site, this is no longer the situation and therefore the recommendation of the Staff report remains the same. Because Mr. Kiah and his family do not want to include their property, Staff will respect their wishes at this time.

Map 302 Parcel 2369 (Elliott's Automotive) is currently zoned C-1. Initially, Staff had looked at rezoning it and making it Light Industrial. The zoning ordinance says services garages are permitted in C-1. When this all started, Waste Management was on the corner and they looked at it comprehensively. After a discussion with Rob Collison, the Staff decided that at this point, it made more sense to leave it because of its location next to Washington Street and the corner. Rob Collison said he contacted Mr. Elliott and he wishes to keep the zoning C-1.

Rob Collison said the Planning and Zoning Commission had one condition they would like to impose if Council votes to approve the re-zoning. The condition is that there be adequate natural or vegetative screening between the Department of Public Works and the residential home. Council could make the screening requirement just at that location or require it at any location where there is a division between I-2 and residential. The property owner of 707 Leonard Lane wants to remain residential.

Gregory Kiah, one of the owners of 703 Leonard Lane, (Map 302 Parcels 2365 and 2366) read two letters from members of his family. A letter from his brother states that he is opposed to the request that the property owner next to his property has applied to rezone their property as commercial in order to sell it to the adjoining Wise owner. His family is opposed to the rezoning and disappointed that Wise Oil is being allowed to continue to encroach upon residential property. His father and grandfather used to say that Wise Oil should not have been able to build that facility next to their property in an area that was only houses and farm land. His father believed the land was in the City limits and protested that such facilities were not supposed to be built within those limits. Many years later when the City built its present facility next door, his father and grandfather again protested citing the same reasons. Their voice, or those of their neighbors, was not heard at that time nor is it now. After his grandfather's death, their family used the house for their summer vacations. It was also his brother's permanent residence for a time in the early 1990s. The family used the house as a stopping point between Washington DC and Ocean City. The house fell into disrepair. When they were in the process of making the house livable again, the house mysteriously burned down last year. The house had to be leveled. It is the family's intention to rebuild the house and continue the family tradition and at some time grow crops in the field as his grandfather did. He was encouraged when he learned that the City found an error in the zoning classification for Wise's property that had not been corrected. He thought that the City had finally recognized the facility should not have been placed there and there would have been some type of rectification. He was mistaken. If his family has any say in the matter, it would be that the property next to their property should not be zoning commercial, nor should any other nearby property be further annexed as such. It is his hope that one day that stretch of Leonard Lane will be rid of Wise Oil and the City office and houses and farmland will once again dominate so his family can enjoy a peaceful neighborhood.

Mr. Kiah's sister's letter states that they have maintained the property and have kept the grass and field cut and clean. Any issues regarding the former house and the property are immediately taken care of. The house burned down and it was said that it was by arsonists. Perhaps Wise should not have been there in a residential zone. To correct the wrong (Wise's zoning) they are being forced off of their property with the threat of not just commercial land, but industrial zoning. They will rebuild their home and enjoy their property surrounded by an unhealthy environment. They City should correct their error. Wise should find a more suitable commercial industrial area to move to and perhaps this applies to the City building as well.

Mr. Kiah said when he used to come to Cambridge to spend time with his grandfather, Leonard Lane was nothing but houses. He believes the City moved their operations there in the early 1960s. They intend to rebuild. He questioned if the land behind them where they used to grow corn is now polluted by oil. It is his family's hope that the land is kept residential and that people be allowed by rebuild their houses.

Michael Hickson, an attorney representing Wise Oil and Mid-Atlantic Cooperative Services, and indirectly Mrs. Jones, asked Roscoe Handy to describe his difficulties in selling Mrs. Jones' property. Mr. Handy said the property was first listed as Commercial in the City records. It was listed for sale and once a contract was done, the applicant applied for the price to re-do the house and at that time she was told it was not commercial (C-1), it was zoned R-1 and she could not proceed to do her business of a beauty salon. She wanted to renovate the house at 701 Leonard Lane. Since that time, they re-applied to have it rezoned as it was listed in the previous tax records as C-1. It was stopped because they got another contract on the property and the contract was contingent upon it being zoned as an industrial property. Michael Hickson said Mrs. Jones would like to be relieved of the property so she can move on. He asked the uses at the Public Works. Anne Roane said they store bricks which would fall under 'brickyard'. There is bulk storage of petroleum for the trucks which is probably the most important one. They have recycling and garbage. They do metal fabrication which is a permitted use in I-2. They dismantle the trucks when necessary. They store and distribute sand and gravel. Welding is only permitted in the I-2 zone. The heavy equipment is maintained and stored at that location.

William Wise, III, was the owner of Wise Oil and Fuel, Inc. and has just become affiliated with Mid-Atlantic Alliance. To his knowledge, Wise Oil & Fuel operated on Leonard since probably 1945. That is when the company was incorporated and he thinks that is when the plant was put there. He does not want to do anything to injure the Kiah's family land. When they went out there, across Leonard Lane where there is storage and commercial property, was a pond where they dug clay. Cambridge Brickyard was on the corner. That is where they fired the brick and made the brick. The land that his bulk plant is on was owned by the Cambridge Brickyard and that is where they were getting the clay to make the Cambridge brick. Where the nursing home is now located and probably part of the land where the tennis court is, was the City dump. They would haul all the trash from the City of Cambridge to that location and burn it. They were filling in the holes that the brickyard dug to get clay out of. They would burn the garbage and put it in the holes and cover it up. The dilemma that he got caught up in, was that if you own property for 50 or 60 years and you don't ever do anything or ask about the zoning, nobody ever checks the zoning. When the plant was put there originally, he does not even think it was part of the City of Cambridge. (Anne Roane confirmed this.) When it was built, there probably were not any zoning laws. Anne Roane said zoning did not exist in Cambridge until 1964. From what she can find, it looks like these parcels did not come into the City at that time. In the 1973 Comprehensive Plan, they are shown as part of the City. Mr. Wise said when the property was put up for sale next to him, he did not need it at the present time but decided to buy it in case he ever had the need to enlarge. He checked the zoning to see if it could be used for his business. That is when he realized that his property was not zoned correctly. Anne Roane said Mr. Wise's business is an existing non-conforming use. Mr. Wise said his argument is that some time during this process between 1945 and today, indirectly the City has taken away part of his rights.

Mr. Hickson asked Mr. Wise how old he was when he first remembers a bulk storage facility being on Leonard Lane. Mr. Wise said he was 10 or 12. The facility has been at that location as long as the company has been in business.

Ginger Brannock, Realtor representing Wise Oil & Fuel, stated that the photographs presented by Mr. Hickson are of the Wise Oil & Fuel property on Leonard Lane.

Mr. Hickson requested that the City Council approve the zoning as requested for the Wise Oil property and the Jones property. The contract on the sale of the Jones property is contingent on this rezoning.

Nobody else asked to speak. Mayor Stanley said Council will be getting back to them with their decision at a later date. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion that this portion of the public hearing be closed but the record be left open until Thursday, September 10th at 4:00 pm for written comments. Commissioner Hanson seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0. Written comments can be delivered to the Department of Public Works or City Hall. Council plans to render a decision at their September 14th meeting. They will not be taking any testimony at that time.

Public Hearing for P&Z Case 39-09 (Zoning Map 306, Parcel 5831-1)

Rob Collison said this approximately 2.856-acre parcel is located adjacent to Chesapeake Street between Bayly Road and Maryland Route 16. The proposal is to amend the zoning maps from HC (Highway Commercial) to R-3 (Multi-Family Residential). They would also like a text amendment to define a community-center use as a permitted use within the R-3 zoning district.

The certification of publication of today's public hearing indicates that today's the notice was published in the Star Democrat on August 19 and 26, 2009 and the Dorchester Star on August 21 and 28, 2009.

Anne Roane said Delmarva Community Services is proposing to rezone the property to Residential Multi-Family. The zoning line goes through a parcel. Typically, zoning lines follow a parcel line or a natural feature (stream, road, etc.). She said she would consider this a zoning mistake. There has not been a substantial change in the character of the neighborhood. There is a subdivision across Chesapeake Street. The land behind the parcel is vacant. The Delmarva Community Services building is located on the corner of Maryland Route 16 and Chesapeake Street. The subdivision, Patamoke Village, is zoned R-1. Rob Collison said everything on the northeasterly side is R-3 which includes the new apartment project. The new apartment project will abut the parcel being discussed today. Rob Collison said that parcel was designated R-3 in the 2003 Comprehensive Rezoning as he can recall.

Anne Roane said the applicant is requesting 2.856 acres of Tax Map 306 Parcel 5831-1 be rezoned from Highway Commercial to Residential Multi-Family (R-3). The entire parcel is 30.787 acres and is located in the northeast corner of Maryland Route 16 and Chesapeake Street. The majority of the parcel is undeveloped and is zoned R-3. The corner portion of the parcel is developed as a multi-use facility with offices and meeting rooms as well Delmarva Community Services Transit Facilities and is zoned Highway Commercial. The property requesting rezoning is located in an undeveloped part of the parcel. The surrounding land is either R-3 or R-1. Delmarva Community Services would like to develop the R-3 portion of the property as a senior facility which is not allowed in the Highway Commercial zone.  It was hard for them to uncover any reason why this portion would have been zoned Highway Commercial. Rob Collison said prior to 2003, he thinks Delmarva Community Services had applied for a transportation facility and they may not have completed it to the scale that they originally planned. He thinks it may have been in anticipation of that fact that the Highway Commercial continued further back. What is important today, is that Delmarva Community Services is making the request for their current needs.

Anne Roane said the applicant is also proposing a text amendment. They would like it to permit the development of a multi-use community center and it is consistent with the purpose and intent of the multi-family residential zoning district. Section 113 of the Zoning Ordinance specifically states recreational health and social service facilities for the elderly and handicapped are also encouraged in this zone. The proposed amendment would be to amend Section 9 under 'Definitions' to insert between 'Common Area' and 'Community Pier' the following text:

Community Center - a facility that provides a wide variety of recreational, social, health care, personal and/or educational services to the public. Permitted uses include but are not limited to adult and/or child day care; swimming pools; spa; beauty shop; educational classes and workshops; on-site health, nursing, personal hygiene, respite and/or wellness care; café, dining facilities; gift shop; art studio and gallery; special events; rehabilitation; counseling; massage; and other therapy services. A community center may provide or house for-profit commercial enterprises provided that such commercial sales and/or services are ancillary to the primary purpose and operation of the center as a public service facility.

Anne Roane said the City does not have a definition of a community center. They are also asking the community center be permitted in R-3 zoning districts with conditions. A new section would be added to our supplementary use section (Section 236a under Community Centers). It would state that a community center may be permitted in accordance with the table of permissible uses provided that the community center facility provide sufficient off-street parking spaces to accommodate the total parking demand as approved by the Planning Commission. The Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed the rezoning and the text amendment requests at their June 16, 2009 meeting and voted unanimously to forward a favorably recommendation to the Mayor and Council.

Rob Collison submitted a letter from Ryan Showalter, Miles & Stockbridge, dated August 12, 2009 (with attachments) as part of the record. It contains information about the proposed amendments as well an article regarding the new generation of community centers.

Derek Griffin said he owns some property located on Map 306 (Parcel 5866). He asked if this would affect other parcels on the map also. Anne Roane said the request for rezoning is strictly for the parcel of land that is owned by Delmarva Community Services. It is not for any other parcel. There are no other applicants. The text amendment would apply to all R-3 zones.

Sandy McAllister, Miles & Stockbridge, spoke on behalf of the applicant. He said the rezoning is time sensitive because of millions of dollars of funding. The community center would allow young children to co-exist with older members of the community and they will all gain from the experience. With the text amendment, the City will retain control over when and to what extent they can ever be built in R-3 zones because they are with conditions. The rezoning is to clarify the R-3 zone that it was historically, and probably should have been, and was probably a mistake in the mapping. He submitted confirmation of service on all property owners, return-receipts, notice of the hearing, etc. All adjacent property owners were notified in conformance with the City's zoning ordinance. Delmarva Community Services plans to expand their services by constructing this inter-generational community center and some type of senior housing including assisted living and possibly independent living villas and apartments. They are in the last stages of finalizing the wetland permits and forest conservation compliance. He has been assured they will get the wetlands permits issued in time to make full use of the millions of dollar of stimulus funding that has been made available. The center will include an indoor heated pool for rehabilitation and exercise. He requested that Council follow the recommendation of the Planning Commission and rezone the property as requested to R-3 and adopt the text amendment that would permit the project to move forward.

Anne Roane reminded Council that if the rezoning is approved, the project still has to go through the Planning and Zoning approval process.

Nobody else asked to speak.

Commissioner Sydnor made a motion that this portion of the public hearing be closed but the record be left open until Thursday, September 10th at 4:00 pm for written comments. Commissioner Hanson seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0. Written comments can be delivered to the Department of Public Works or City Hall. Council plans to render a decision at their September 14th meeting. They will not be taking any testimony at that time.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the public hearing on Thursday, September 3, 2009, insofar as I personally am aware.

                                         

                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                    Edwin C. Kinnamon

                                                                                    Clerk & Treasurer