City Council Minutes
January 14, 2008
January 14, 2008
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, January 14, 2008 in Council Chambers. A quorum being present, Mayor Cleveland L. Rippons called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Sydnor, Brooks, and Travers. Commissioner Cephas arrived at end of the meeting. Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Travers led in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the corrected minutes of the October 29, 2007 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the minutes of the December 10, 2007 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.
Proclamation for Girl Scout Cookie Sale Program Week-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to the Girl Scouts. Girl Scout Leader Anne Harris thanked Council for the proclamation and for allowing the girls to come to the Council meeting.
Jemal Pinder to Discuss Diversity With Personnel of the City of Cambridge-Mr. Pinder asked why there is not more diversity within the Department Heads in the City of Cambridge. The departments are run by 5 white males. He asked why there were not more females, Hispanics, Black males, Black females, etc. He asked if the City is being sued for discrimination. Rob Collison said there is one Federal suit pending that he cannot comment on. Jemal Pinder said he thinks they would learn as a City to diversity themselves. It just does not look right. He asked if there are any assistant department heads who are female or black males. Mayor Rippons said there were. Jemal Pinder asked what departments they were in. Mayor Rippons answered MUC. Commissioner Sydnor said there are 6 departments counting MUC. Mayor Rippons said in MUC the maintenance supervisor and the assistant is a female. The chief supervisor who is in charge of everything is African-American. Jemal Pinder said when he pays his water bills or goes to City Hall, there are no African-Americans or Hispanics or any other ethnicity within those departments. All he sees is white females. He asked if something could be done about it. Mayor Rippons said when the positions are available, there is no more they can do other than advertise for the position and then review the resumes submitted by the people. Jemal Pinder said it seems like we get more nepotism. It seems like nieces and cousins get the jobs before anyone who applied. These are things that he has heard happen in the City. Mayor Rippons said he does not know about the nepotism. Rob Collison suggested that maybe Mr. Pinder could meet with Mr. Wheeler to see what the process is with regard to in-house advertising, outside advertising, and the guidelines to be followed. Commissioner Sydnor said the department heads are recommended by the Mayor for the City Council's approval. Any subordinate under the department head is hired through the department head's approval to the Mayor who is the head of personnel.
Jemal Pinder said one day last week when he was approximately in front of the Salvation Army at 4:00 pm, there was a black truck that was on its way to the new fire house. The driver had his flashing lights on but he wasn't blowing his horn. Other fire trucks were leaving the fire house at that time but he was trying to pass 3 or 4 vehicles in front of him. He asked if the firemen could have sirens or lights on their personal vehicles because he was almost hit by another fire fighter who was on his way to the old fire house last year. Something needs to be done before someone gets seriously hurt. Chief Malik said they cannot use sirens. There are guidelines by the Maryland Transportation Code that they have to follow. It is legal for them to go with just their lights flashing. They have to take due care and due caution. If they were in an accident, they would most likely be at fault. They have a right to go through a red light with their flashers on if it is safe to do so. Jamel Pinder said his point is that they should try to avoid an accident altogether. Commissioner Brooks said there have been some complaints from residents who live on Washington Street about the speed of the fire trucks going to fires or accidents. There are children that play on that street. The fear is that the child might not know the danger and could run in front of the trucks. Mayor Rippons suggested that when this happens with the personal vehicles, if someone could get the license plate number, he will talk to the person to encourage a different standard.
Gage Thomas asked if the City has a diversification policy whereby they seek to hire the best-qualified candidate and also to seek diversity. Commissioner Brooks said she has never seen one. Chief Malik said they are an equal-opportunity employer which he believes is stated in every application. Rob Collison said that is correct. Jemal Pinder said going to MUC or City Hall, it just seems like there is nobody else who wants to apply for whatever reason. Chief Malik said he can only speak for the police department. CPD is as diverse, or even more diverse, than any police department on the Eastern Shore. Since he became Chief, he has promoted an African-American to both Sergeant and Corporal. He promoted a Hispanic to Sergeant. They have an African-American Detective and 2 female detectives. They are pretty-well diversified in the police department. Octavene Saunders said 1 African-American Detective left.
Octavene Saunders to Discuss Housing Board of Review Appointments-Octavene Saunders asked Mayor Rippons if he sent letters to all people who serve on City committees telling them that they need to submit a resume to either be re-appointed or get appointed. Mayor Rippons said he asked for resumes for the 2 committees that he has openings for. Octavene Saunders said when she read the letter to Rob Collison, the only comment he made was that he had not seen the letter. She asked if it is proper for the Mayor to not bring to Council his decision to say that to serve on a committee as a volunteer, after they served 3 years or more, they need to submit a resume to the Mayor without the Council's input in order to stay on the committee. She asked if that is part of a process that is in writing in the City Code or standard operating procedures. Rob Collison said to his knowledge, it is not in writing. It would be within his discretion to require it if they were to be his appointments. He thinks there are 2 committees that the Mayor nominates the individuals and the City Council has to approve them. There are other committees that the City Council makes the nominations. He thinks it would be within the Mayor's discretion to do it without the Council's approval. The Commissioners could decide they do not like the procedure and not approve his appointees. Octavene Saunders said her term on the Housing Board of Review expired in August 2007. She called Kathy Foster at least 3 times from August to October to see if she heard from the Mayor yet about the re-appointments and stated that she would like to be re-appointed. Kathy Foster said she had not gotten any direction yet. She then called Mayor Rippons at home and told him that she would like to stay on the committee. Jane Devlin was appointed by Council. She did not hear Mayor Rippons object to it when Jane Devlin's name came up. She believes Council voted 5:0 to put Ms. Devlin on. In November she believes Enez Grubb was appointed by recommendation of Commissioner Sydnor. At that time, according to Ms. Grubb, the Mayor did not have any problem with the appointment and Ms. Grubb was appointed 5:0. She participated in November's meeting. As Chairperson of the committee, she was handed a paper at the December meeting stating that 2 appointments were in question. They had to excuse themselves and let the appellates know that they had a legal issue and they had to stop the hearing to go into the back room. If those 2 ladies could not stay on, they could not have the hearing. They discussed it with Mr. Nabb, their attorney. She surmises that Ms. Grubb was recommended to the Mayor for the MUC Board but apparently that was not to his liking. It was strange to her that 2 weeks after Ms. Grubb was appointed to the Housing Board of Review, and after Ms. Devlin had participated in 3 or 4 meetings, all of a sudden Ms. Grubb's appointment was questioned and then Ms. Devlin's appointment was questioned. If the Mayor did not want these people appointed, he had the pleasure at that time to object to those 2 appointments because he did not recommend them. It was very strange that Ms. Grubb's and Ms. Devlin's appointments were questioned. When Ms. Devlin was appointed, there was do dissention from the Mayor or anybody else. She would think that before the Mayor sends letters out asking for resumes, he would have put together guidelines on these two committees as to what they are looking for as the Council did when they formed the Historic Preservation Commission. The State said the members had to have certain qualifications. The people interested in being on the committee were asked to submit resumes. The other thing that bothers her is that if he put guidelines together, would they be so stringent that the everyday people would not be able to be appointed. She does not understand what he is trying to do. She has been a City housing inspector, a State/Eastern Shore of Maryland/Prince George's County Weatherization Director, she has been up on ladders, installed windows, etc. and she served this committee for over 3 years. She called Commissioner Sydnor and he didn't know anything about it. He told her he served on the Housing Board of Review for at least 3 years and never had to provide his qualifications. She has no problem with submitting her resume because she knows she is qualified to do it. She does not have a problem if he decides not to re-appoint her. She does have a problem when arbitrary information starts like this. It seems like something is not too straight. These jobs are unpaid. If she is going to look for a job and you don't tell her up front what qualifications you are looking for, and she is just coming in saying she is just wants a job... She said Rob Collison said the Mayor has a right to do this. This is one of the problems with having what she calls a dictatorship-one person being in charge. He is going to do what he feels he has to do. If he has the thoughts in his mind as to what qualifications he is looking for on a particular committee, it would be nice if he would draft them up and give them out to the committee members and then they can decide if they fit the qualifications and if they even want to submit a resume. She asked if he sent the letter to all the members or just the people who had expiring terms. Mayor Rippons said he believes they were sent to everyone who is currently a member and to the other people who expressed an interest in being on the board. Octavene Saunders said one man on the committee is a builder and he doesn't know why he has to give a resume. She asked for some guidelines and qualifications. She said after Jane Devlin's second meeting, Portia Johnson-Ennels asked at a Council meeting if it was proper for Ms. Devlin to have been appointed the way she was appointed and she did not get an answer. She said this is a little strange.
Mayor Rippons said because of all of this confusion on how they were appointed, if he is supposed to appoint the members, then he will make his recommendation. He spoke to Steve Johnson because the committee falls under him. He did not set the qualifications. He asked Mr. Johnson and Mr. Johnson is in the process of coming up with the qualifications he would recommend for people on that committee. Steve Johnson said he will have the document ready this week. In light of the fact that there are these discrepancies, now it will be done correctly. He will review the information and recommend 7 people for the committee. People have submitted resumes to Steve Johnson and Steve has forwarded them to the Mayor. To be fair to everybody, maybe the people who have served 10 or 20 years on a committee have served enough time. Maybe they have done enough volunteer hours. Maybe the City should look at some new people. It has been pointed out to the City by the attorney, by Mr. Johnson, and by members of the Housing Board of Review that there are many more cases because the City is growing. Mr. Johnson has set up a new structure of Code enforcement that will come before that committee. In order to have that committee ready, he is developing standards that he believes to be most appropriate. He is trying to enforce what the City should be doing anyway, which is a stauncher, more-strict regulated Code enforcement and people on that committee that understand that. That is why he is asking for resumes and guidelines so he can put together the 7 strongest people to reiterate what his Code enforcement officials are doing. Mrs. Saunders asked if that will also include the alternates. Mayor Rippons said it will.
Commissioner Sydnor said there are 2 members of that Board that were appointed under the circumstances of how they were to be appointed on that Board. Ms. Devlin was appointed on August 14th. It was approved by Council. There was no dissent by the Mayor. By not speaking, he was giving his acceptance to that. On November 19th, there was a vacancy on the Housing Board of Review because one of the members was employed by the Department of Public Works. There was a motion passed unanimously and again there was no dissent from the Mayor. He read a statement from the December 10th City Council Minutes. "If the Mayor agrees with the appointment that was made, then no action is needed. The way it reads is that they are the Mayor's appointments to make with the consent of the Council. Commissioner Sydnor said they can assume that since he did not dissent any of those, then they were in agreement with him so Council voted on them. Rob Collison said since it is after the fact, if he does not have a problem with them, then it is o.k. Mayor Rippons said in the future, he would like to see bios of the people to be consistent." Two of the people are already on the Board. The other ones will be replaced or reappointed. Enez Grubb's term expires in 2010. Jane Devin's term expires in 2010. The other terms expired in 2007. Octavene Saunders asked why Jane Devlin and Enez Grubb would have to supply resumes if they were just appointed. Commissioner Sydnor said they should not have to submit a resume. Council followed procedure. The Mayor had the opportunity twice on each appointment to dissent if he wished to. Each time he did not say anything which would indicate that he was in consent. Mayor Rippons said he would like to have a resume from everybody. If they do not want to submit one, then they will not submit one. Octavene Saunders asked if they would be removed from the committee. Mayor Rippons said he can't remove them. Octavene Saunders said she wants to see fairness and procedure followed. Commissioner Sydnor said there should be some guidelines for all the boards and they should be applied equally. Octavene Saunders said she has been an executive director for a lot of years. She knows a subordinate might fill something out but it passed her eyes too and she gave her input. Her feeling is that a professional person is going to say what the member is going to need to know and not look at people's past experience so that the everyday person who can look at something may be left out. This committee is quasi-legal. Every time a case comes up, Mr. Johnson's department gives you the law based on that case. He gives you a complete packet. You would have to be really dense, with a lawyer and Mr. Johnson, not to understand what a procedure is. They even supply information about the building materials that are needed. Everything is figured out. They basically compare what his people fill out in the building part to what the law says. They have to understand that and do the findings in that manner. She doesn't see something being drawn up where they need to know engineering, what a stress ball is, what to do if a house is not in plumb. She fears it is going to be put together so that a lot of people who want to serve will be turned down and can't serve based on what is put on it. That is why she is concerned that the Council has not input on this.
Commissioner Brooks said maybe the word 'resume' is an incorrect word. She agrees with Mayor Rippons that for every single board that we have, especially Planning and Zoning, that there should be a letter of interest given to the entire Council. The letter should tell Council why they want to serve on the board and what they can contribute to the City of Cambridge. She thinks that is fair. She doesn't think it should be just anybody who has no interest in it whatsoever other than they are sitting on a board. Then they run into the problems that they have with some of the boards that people do not show up for meeting or they show up and have no interest in the topic whatsoever. It doesn't do the City any good. It should be some type of letter coming from the person giving the Mayor and Council information why they are interested and what they can contribute to the City. Octavene Saunders asked if the resumes will be made available to the entire Council. Mayor Rippons said he will make his recommendation to the Commissioners. He feels they would not be able to vote unless they have the same information that he has received. Commissioner Sydnor said Commissioner Brooks made a good point about interest letters if this is for the future. Quite often the Commissioners will recommend to the Mayor and then he can decide whether to recommend that person to the entire Council. In that particular situation, the person making the recommendation may be more familiar with the person. It gives him a synopsis of the person. They want to make sure nobody is left out of the process especially the second and third wards because this is where we will have more housing problems. He would not like to see a board made up of members all from one ward deciding what is going to happen in another ward. Octavene Saunders asked if the board will be heavily handed with landlords. She asked if the board should have to fill out a non-collusion form. Rob Collison said they should be getting that already. Octavene Saunders said if they are going to make this standardized, then it needs to be put in writing. This is a board that once you make a decision, that person's only other recourse it to go to court. If you have not done everything correctly, then you are causing the City a big a lawsuit and you may be causing yourself an individual lawsuit. She is totally concerned that the whole Council is not a part of this procedure.
Rob Collison said the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Housing Board of Review are the 2 committees that the Mayor makes the nominations for. The Council has to approve them. The members of the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission are appointed by the Commissioners. Octavene Saunders said the Mayor makes complete nominations for the MUC board. She said she has uneasiness and unrest about what is happening.
Jane Devlin said there should be staggered terms so everyone doesn't come off at one time. That seems to work on other commissions. She has no qualms about submitting a resume. The concern she has is that she is a willing and active participant in the City. She was originally asked to be on the Housing Board of Review last January by a City employee because they were having trouble getting a quorum. She said no. She was asked 2 or 3 months later and apologized and said she had too much on her plate and she could not commit. The employee was almost pleading with her. He said he knew she would do her homework, show up, and make fair decision. At that point they were not meeting 2 times a month. She agreed to take it on. She was appointed and the motion has not been removed. She attended 4 to 5 meetings. The week after she was appointed, Ms. Ennels asked about her name coming through Commissioner Knox. It was basically a consensus that it was not unusual for a Commissioner to bring a name forward. She got a call after 4 meetings that she did her homework on, she prepared for, and made the correct decision for the City, to submit her resume. You want people to serve who are willing to give their time whether there is compensation or not. It is time you are giving to the City. If you make it such a discouraging process, you will lose good people. Mr. Johnson has done a lot since they have been meeting. She thinks they are getting much more structure. She would like to see the structure continue. There should be a process that anyone can review and know what is expected of them and what the City will give to them in support. She will be submitting her resume. Rob Collison asked Ed Kinnamon to check the terms because the Code provides for overlapping terms and it sounds like they all expired at the same time.
Commissioner Brooks said there is a procedure for removing someone from a board. Once Council has voted on it, then that vote stands. Whether they submitted a resume or not, you would only be removed from the Board through the proper procedures. That is not just one person saying you can no longer serve on the Board. Octavene Saunders asked if there was a deadline or are they waiting for Mr. Johnson to write the guidelines because she is going to re-submit hers too. Mayor Rippons said a resume is what it is. It could be a biography. It could be as broad as possible because some people do not have a resume sitting there. He asked Steve Johnson to forward his slate of considerations as soon as he gets them. He will have Kathy Foster contact the people who have not submitted their information in 2 weeks if they have not received it so he can make a recommendation. Everyone pretty well knows what comes before the Board. They know what qualifies them to hear the cases. All he is looking for is to get an understanding of what qualifies the people to hear the cases. Octavene Saunders said she will submit her document within the week because she wishes to be reappointed. Commissioner Sydnor reminded the members that they are members until another member is appointed to their place. This is true even if the time has passed their term expiration date.
Portia Johnson-Ennels said if there are structural changes to this committee and it comes back to the floor for replacements, if there is opposition from the residents from the City, will the Council take it into consideration. Commissioner Sydnor said the Mayor will only recommend them to the City Council. The City Council will approve them. Portia Johnson-Ennels said if the citizens speak out against someone being appointed and state valid reasons, that should be a red flag. The citizens may know a little more about the people being nominated than the Council. Rob Collison suggested that the Mayor can announce at one meeting the slate of people he plans to nominate at the next meeting. That would give people 2 weeks to get back to the Mayor and Commissioners why or why not that person should be appointed. Portia Johnson-Ennels said these are very serious committees so the people sitting on them should represent the City. Some people on some of the committees do not represent the City. They represent the developers and everyone else. Commissioner Sydnor asked that comments be submitted directly to the Commissioners-not spoken in public. The process that has been in place for some time, as it was with Ms. Devlin, is that the Commissioner of that particular ward would recommend someone. Whether the Mayor accepts it is up to him. If he does not accept it, they have to go back. The Commissioners should know the constituents they have in their ward. They are picking the best person they feel for the job. The Mayor then determines if the person should be recommended to the entire Council.
Jemal Pinder, asked why it the Mayor makes the nominations for 2 boards and Council makes the recommendations for the other ones. Mayor Rippons said Council still has to vote on his nominations. Rob Collison said the process is in the City Code, State Ordinance, or the City Charter. That is just how it was structured. The members are all approved by the City Council.
Laurence Rossi to Discuss the Inadequacies of the Marina Improvements and the Unreasonable Slip-Holder Fee Increases for 2008-Laurence Rossi read a prepared statement. He spoke on behalf of numerous slipholders at the Municipal Yacht Basin. They want to voice their concern about the dramatic increase in fees, up to 67% in some cases, and the general lack of maintenance and safety issues at the marina. They are forming a neighborhood association of slipholders to work closely with the City to help address the concerns to keep the marina a beneficial economic attraction for the City. They are a community within the City and not a collection of rich out-of-towners with yachts. With the fee increases, that may be the end result. They are members of associations that bring other such groups to Cambridge which give national press for City. They spend dollars in local establishments and promote the preservation of the waterways and tidelands that are Cambridge's biggest economic draw. They have stood by the marina and Cambridge for decades. They have come to expect fee increases as a course of doing business and are always willing to carry their fair share of the load. A 67% increase in 1 year without advance notice has hit a number of slip holders hard to the point where they are seriously considering moving their boats.
Many slipholders have already shared their views and disappointments with the Mayor or the Department of Public Works, with whom they hope to work closely and cooperatively. These factors are: (1) The marina lacks the facilities, amenities, security and upkeep found in other comparable public marinas. (2) Issues such as water depth of only 4.5 feet have resulted in damage to the boats. (3) Pier planks and pilings in some place are in serious disrepair. (4) The expansion was to have used a sea wall to protect the boats in the marina, but the switch to floating docks has allowed such serious wave action to enter the marina. There are serious safety issues. (5) Electrical problems with pedestals and stray electrical charges in the water itself present a safety issue to boaters and divers.
Many of these points present serious liability issues to the City. They have reviewed the Council minutes from prior years. They commend Council for the substantial time and energy put forth bringing this project to fruition. They noted some inconsistencies as there have been multiple statements in these minutes that the marina has been historically profitable under the old fee schedule and the new slips in the expanded part of the marina would have underwritten the debt service on the expansion based on the old schedule. The slipholders feel they have been taken advantage of. There were several statements that the expansion would be revenue-neutral because of the new slips and that a 2008 Marina Enterprise Fund was established. Their new slip holder bills do not bear out those statements.
Such dramatic increased in rates in light of existing life threatening safety issues are hard to accept. Combined with the lack of advance notification of these increases and zero cooperation with or input from the marina community, these actions will force many of the citizens to move elsewhere and will discourage new slip holders from seeking dockage here. The net result will be a loss to the marina and to the City of Cambridge, in both direct and indirect negative impacts.
They are asking for relief on our fees for this year and are hoping the Council will work with them to rectify the situation. They are asking Council to pass a motion to retain last year's profitable fee structure for this year. If this is done, their association representatives can work with the Director of Public Works and others with the City over the next 60 days to establish the maintenance issues and cost-basis for a fair rate structure for subsequent years. Another option would be to limit the increases to 14% across the board and work with Public Works on what cuts may be needed in the 2008 Marina Enterprise Fund to offset the revenue shortfall, then develop a comprehensive plan for a brighter marina future to enhance its economic benefits to the City.
As members of the marina community, they are committed and invested, emotionally and financially, in the well-being of the marina and the City.
Wayne Rigby said the fee increase for his slip is a 79% increase if you include the electric deposit.
Jim Harvey said the statement he received in his bill said that the increase was due to all the benefits that the slipholders have derived from the expansion. He said you would have to look hard and wide to find any benefits to the slipholders. There are benefits to the City in that they have quite a few more slips to rent. There are very few, if any, to current slipholders. Mayor Rippons said they have installed a fuel dock and a clean-out station. Mr. Harvey said they had a clean-out station. They now have a fuel dock where that competes with the other fuel docks.
Jemal Pinder asked why different slips have different costs. Mayor Rippons said it depends on the size and where the pier is. Jemal Pinder asked who would address the problems about the tide levels. Mayor Rippons said Mr. Johnson will review it.
Bruce Franz said Piers E, F, and H are the original piers. No improvements were made in that part of the marina. The pump-out is frequently not operable.
Steve Johnson said they know that the marina has problems. They are putting together a program to re-dredge to a deeper depth. They are aware of the probability of wave action inside the marina. They have an engineering investigation going on to determine the cause and the best fix. Everybody has talked about improvements they would like to see at the marina-all of which cost money. In 2008 they have a Marina Fund which means that the fund is supposed to be revenue mutual. This means that any improvements and work they do should be covered by the collection of fees from those who use the marina. It is hard not to raise the fees and provide an increase or even a correction to existing problems. They are looking at all the things that are in Mr. Rossi's letter. They have received other letters. Tonight is the first time he has head that the pump-out is frequently not working. He will look at that. The electrical problem of H pier has been addressed as a reverse polarity problem. They have investigated it. It is actually a problem with voltage on what is called a 'neutral'. He does not see it to be a life-threatening situation as long as the people operate the pedestal as they should. They are going to correct the problem. It is true that Piers H, G, and E are the older pier. It would be a very expensive project to repair them. It is one they will propose to the Council for a future year so they can replace them to make them matching quality with the piers that were provided under the expansion.
Steve Johnson said the marina is a real jewel for the City. It should be considered as such and treated as such. In their efforts to improve the marina, they will seek public input from all the groups that will be affected. This includes not only the folks who use the marina, which includes the watermen, and the folks who live near the marina.
Commissioner Sydnor said he thinks Mr. Kinnamon needs to work with the group because there is that reduction that has to be factored in as far as the rates are concerned.
Jerry Rossi asked what depth they are planning to dredge to. Steve Johnson said he hopes to have a meeting with the various representatives of the interest groups. He feels you cannot work with a large crowd but if you get a group of about 7 people representing the various interest groups, they can probably have a manageable workable meeting. At the moment, the target is about 7.5 feet at mean low water.
Rob Collison asked how our new rates compare with comparable marinas within the mid-Shore. Steve Johnson said he has been told that the rates are very favorable. They are equal to or less than the cheaper rates. Tonight is the first time he has seen an allegation that there are some marinas that are cheaper than us. It is something he will take a look at. Laurence Rossi said he has looked at Somers Cove Marina and the Salisbury Marina. His slip fee for this year will be $2500. In Somers Cove they charge by the foot and it would be $1870. This equates to $49 per foot. If you look at the Salisbury Marina, the charge is $44 per foot. Rob Collison asked if he looked at anything else on the Choptank River. Laurence Rossi said he looked at public facilities. He cannot find a public facility other than those 2 locations. Steve Johnson said he thinks they should be geographically relevant-the Choptank River and the Chesapeake Bay in this vicinity. Those would be marinas that are comparable to this one. Laurence Rossi said Somers Cove is in a community that is significantly smaller than Cambridge. It is in Crisfield. Steve Johnson said that is not geographically relevant to this location.
Ben Parks, President of Dorchester County Seafood Harvesters Association, said Phil Jones in Dorchester County is $700. They are talking about $800 this year. They provide water and electric. All the county slips in Dorchester County range from $360 to $600. You have to remember they do not live in Oxford or St. Michaels. They live in Dorchester County. Talbot County's tax base is higher than ours. Dockside value of the oysters in the State of Maryland last year was over $6 million. Dockside value of seafood is in excess of $16 million. It is an asset to Dorchester County. He does not have a slip in the Cambridge Marina. A lot of other watermen do have slips there. $2500 is a good hit when you have been paying $1250. They are not comparable to the rest of the marinas in Dorchester County.
Commissioner Brooks as the City and County recently had an argument about why the City should be paying certain dollars for ambulance fees for the County since we were already paying taxes, etc. and providing funds for the City. She asked if the same viewpoint be taken for our citizens here in Dorchester who live here and own boatslips. A 77% increase is a huge increase. She asked if any consideration could be given to the fact that they are already paying some sort of tax that the City of Cambridge is benefiting from. Mayor Rippons said DNR stipulates because they are providing some of the funding through a grant, there can be no concern given to anybody engendered within that political subdivision to have reduced rates. Mr. Rossi said in the past, because he was a resident, enjoyed a 10% discount. Ed Kinnamon said some time ago the Council approved that Dorchester County residents would get a 10% discount. Any waterman who has a tidewater fishing license is afforded a 20% discount.
Michael Lees said he takes people out for charters on his boat. A large portion of his business comes from the Hyatt. He looked at the cost of a slip fee there. To have a slip without availability to all their amenities was only $1000 last year.
Ben Parks said he tied into the Hyatt when they first went there. They did some work on the oyster bar restoration. With winds northeast you have to leave that marina too. He is paying monthly rates to keep his boat at the City Marina. Before the old bulkhead was taken up, he had 4 lines on the boat-2 on the stern and 2 on the bow. Tonight she has 3 on the bow, 2 brace lines, and 2 on the stern. It is 3 times rougher in there now than what it ever was in the past and it is because the wash comes under the floating bulkhead. It is an engineering problem. The Hyatt has always been that way.
Commissioner Brooks said there are 2 groups that can receive discounts. She asked if there is anything that says that we cannot create another type of discount for the citizens of Dorchester County. If we can, she suggested a group of people work to come up with a rate that is feasible and reasonable for the citizens of Dorchester County. Ed Kinnamon said any fee structure different than what we have, would have to be reviewed by the Department of Natural Resources. The structure for the boat slips this time was created to generate revenue. They have to be revenue neutral meaning you have to have as much revenue as it costs to operate the marina. Obviously it costs more this year because the City had to float a $3 million bond. We have a separate budget for the marina. We did not have debt prior to this. Now we have debt and we had to increase the rates. Commissioner Sydnor said that increase is considered in the operating expense of $584,000 plus the help on the debt reduction and we are at zero. Ed Kinnamon said that is a very optimistic revenue source. If we do not receive the revenue, then we will be in the red on that particular fund.
Mr. Rossi asked what would happen if the slips that are presently empty fill up. He asked if that would provide relief with respect to the revenue that is needed to cover the outlay for Fiscal Year 2008. Ed Kinnamon said they anticipated renting these slips. They allowed for some transient boaters. Mr. Rossi said the budget crunch is probably worse than what they are saying.
Mayor Rippons asked that a small group of interested people meet with Steve Johnson. Mr. Rossi said there will be a meeting on Friday. Mayor Rippons asked that a waterman attend the meeting also.
Mr. Rossi said if a reduction in slip fees in not considered, there is a code in the City ordinance that allows a slipholder to pay semi-annually as opposed to just one payment in January. Ed Kinnamon said he is not aware of it. They used to have July to June and then when Ms. Saunders was in office, it was changed to January to December.
Further Discuss on Disposition of City-Owned Property Which Was Requested by Habitat for Humanity-Rob Collison said the public hearing was held during the last Council meeting (Dec. 10, 2007). The record was left open. The hearing was strictly on whether or not the parcels on Goodwill Avenue (Tax Map 304, Parcel No. 3938) and one on High Street (Tax Map 304, Parcel No. 3104) were excess properties and no longer need for any public purpose.
Steve Johnson said the deed for Parcel 3938 indicates that only one house can be built on the lot. The lot could be subdivided which would allow a portion of it to be sold to an adjacent neighbor. If the City so desired to do so, the other parcel could be made available to Habitat for Humanity for example. They would be able to build one house on that lot. With regard to the property on High Street (Parcel 3104), one single-family house could be built there with no variances or special exceptions required. DPW does not see any future use for the parcels.
Ed Kinnamon said he contacted all the department heads and they did not have any use for the properties either. Rob Collison said based on the recommendations and input from the various departments, Council could make a decision whether or not these are excess properties. Commissioner Brooks said somebody expressed an interest in purchasing the property on Goodwill Avenue. Rob Collison said if a decision is made that they are no longer needed for a public purpose, the second step would be for the Council to decide how they wish to proceed. They could transfer them to Habitat and the adjoining property owner on Goodwill; transfer them for a consideration of some dollar amount; or they could put out an RFP. If Council decided to sell to Habitat for $1000 (an example), the City would have to advertise that dollar amount and who is to receive it. They would then have to wait 20 days before the transfer in case someone in the public objects to it.
Commissioner Brooks said she is a supporter of Habitat for Humanity 100%; however, she thinks that submitting an RFP would be fairer. Other groups have come in who have stated that they build low-income homes. An RFP would be especially fair if the City was just going to transfer the land for no amount of money. Commissioner Sydnor said they were provided information at the last meeting that these properties could bring in $12,000+. Rob Collison said the document showed the tax assessment value of the properties.
Commissioner Brooks made a motion to deem the properties as excess properties. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to have Rob Collison draft an RFP for the properties. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Rob Collison said it will be a very general RFP. It will ask for the proposed purpose and the proposed consideration to the City.
Portia Johnson-Ennels said if Habitat gets these two pieces of property, she hopes they will not come back to Council and ask that the impact fees be waived.
Mike Edgar said the discussion has been to divide the property on Goodwill Avenue. Mr. Jones has offered to buy the property. The property has a right-of-way for the power lines. Rob Collison said the RFP will be the City's invitation for bids or offers.
Discuss on Compensation for City Committee Members-Rob Collison said he and Steve Johnson drafted guidelines on this subject. The committees that meet on a regular basis are Planning and Zoning, Board of Zoning Appeals, Housing Board of Review, and the Historic Preservation Commission. The criteria would be for an official meeting. It would be regularly scheduled meeting where a quorum is present and where official business is conducted. One formal case or matter must be presented at the meeting. It would not apply if some of those members meet with staff at DPW or elsewhere. Commissioner Sydnor asked if they considered that Planning and Zoning will be meeting to discuss the Comprehensive Plan and it will require additional meetings. Steve Johnson said he would not recommend compensation for those extra meetings.
Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve compensation for the 4 Committees that Mr. Collison outlined with the specification that they meet for an official meeting. The rate would be $50 per month. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.
Approve Contract for Sale of MUC Building-Rob Collison asked if this could be deferred until January 28, 2008.
Request from Cambridge Power Boat Regatta Association for Permission to Use Great Marsh Park from Monday, July 21st to Monday, July 28th with Exclusive Use from Friday, July 25th through Sunday, July 27th and a Noise Variance for Those Three Days-Steve Johnson said the dates are available. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.
Request from Resident at the Corner of Light and Hughlett Streets for a Street Light on the Pole at the End of the Property-Commissioner Travers made a motion to refer the request to the Street Lighting Committee. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.
Approve Memorandum of Understanding Between the County and City Relating to the Construction of Water and Sewer Infrastructure Facilities to the Technology Park-Steve Johnson requested that the Council not sign the MOU. It has several deficiencies. It is definitely not in accordance with the agreement they had the day of the meeting. He suggested contacting the County to see why they phrased it the way they have. Rob Collison said he concurs with what Steve Johnson said. He has a couple of questions also. Ed Kinnamon will set up a meeting with the County. Commissioner Sydnor called attention to Item C on Page 3.
Request from National Multiple Sclerosis Society to Hold Their Walk MS Event in Cambridge on April 12, 2008-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve this request. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.
Request from Faith Baptist Fellowship to Use the Vacant Lot on the Corner of Race and Cedar Streets for Outreach Ministry in Conjunction with Main Street's Second Saturday Events in June and July Between the Hours of 6:00 pm and 11:00 pm-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.
Request from Dorchester County Recreation & Parks Board for Permission to Use Great Marsh Park for Their Annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 15th at 11:00 am (rain date Sunday, March 16th at 2:00 pm)-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.
Request to Go to Bid for the Following Items:
- Annual Paving Contract (DPW)
- Steam Cleaner (DPW)
- Industrial Mower (DPW)
- Large Format Printer (DPW)
Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.
Approve PO 1065 - David A. Bramble - Road Resurfacing Beyond Original Contracted Amount - $11,025.32-Steve Johnson said they had some money left over from the FY07 contract year that they used to help pave High Street Extended. They had to use $11,000 from FY08 to complete the project. That is what this represents. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.
Approve PO 4641 - Johnny Janosik, Inc. - Furniture for Public Safety Building Bunk Room - $31,390.00-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Jemal Pinder asked if they could have found this furniture any cheaper. He said Johnny Janosik is the highest furniture store on the Eastern Shore. Commissioner Sydnor said from the information that Council received, this was the cheapest that they could find. They went to several different vendors. Ed Kinnamon said Bill Watkins told him that Johnny Janosik had discounted the amount very deeply. It is for 26 bunks. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve PO 1071 - C. E. Abend & Sons Plumbing Co. - Labor, Material, and Installation of Air Drops, Excess Flow Valves, Valves and Fittings, Air Test on Existing Pipe by Contractor (Public Safety Building) - $15,000.00-Rob Collison asked if this went through the bidding process or was it part of the original contract. Steve Johnson said it was one of the contracts that was in place when he was hired. It is part of the overall construction contract. It is not new. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.
Approve PO 1072 - Mid-Atlantic Salt, LLC - Road Salt - $4,225.45-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.
Approve Financial Statement for November 2007-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the financial statement. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.
Ed Kinnamon distributed a memo to Council from Bill Watkins regarding hanging lockers for the CEMS area of the public safety building. They were too expensive from the vendor they looked at and they were not exactly what CEMS wanted. He contacted a local craftsman who designed the system on a CAD system for a cheaper price. It would be for 12 lockers at $755.58 each for a total of $9,067.00. Commissioner Sydnor asked if this is part of the furniture budget. Ed Kinnamon said it is an item that Bill Watkins had requested for his area. He requested the furniture that was just approved and lockers. Commissioner Sydnor asked Council to table the request until they determine if it was a budgeted item.
Ed Kinnamon received a request to secure a phone system to be put into the old police station which will eventually house MUC, City Hall, Economic Development, and the Mayor while the current City Hall building is being renovated. The paperwork is from the vendor that 2 departments are already using. This phone system could be tied-in and have networking capability. He thinks it should be considered because it can be connected. It will cost a total of $7,449.79. What is there now is not capable of handling what will be in there. Mayor Rippons asked if it is budgeted. Ed Kinnamon said it is not budgeted. Rob Collison asked if it has gone to bid. Ed Kinnamon said it has not. This particular system is what has been approved in the past. It is the system that is installed in the new public safety building and at the Department of Public Works. It is a sole source for what we already have. To go away from that would not be a wise decision. Mayor Rippons asked if the system will be able to be moved to the current City Hall building after it has been renovated. Ed Kinnamon said it very well could be but he did not ask that question. Steve Johnson said the phone units could be moved. Commissioner Brooks asked where the funds would come from. Ed Kinnamon said MUC will be the first department to go into the old police station. Mr. Newcomb suggested as far as funding, that perhaps partial proceeds from the sale of the MUC building could be used for it. Because of the fact that he thinks they are going to move on the sale of the MUC building in the next 30 days, if the City is going to do this, they need to move on it. Rob Collison said he thinks they are looking at selling it on March 31st. They will enter into the contract in the next few weeks. Commissioner Brooks said they could plan on using the funds from a sale that they hope will go through, but anything can happen between now and then. Mayor Rippons said they have a back-up plan if this deal does not go through. Commissioner Sydnor asked if MUC has any excess funds in their budget for part of this. Ed Kinnamon said he did not know. Mayor Rippons said they have some discretionary amounts. Commissioner Brooks asked to table this discussion until they have some definite answers.
Commissioner Brooks said there were a few complaints with the house that went up on Robbins and Race Street that really looks odd. It is 3 stories tall. It looks out of place for the neighborhood. Several people have told her they called DPW and they said it was within the Code. Even members of Planning and Zoning are complaining about this odd house in the middle of a neighborhood which make everything look about as bad as the house that is being put in sideways is going to look. She asked Steve Johnson to find out who approved it. She asked if it is within Planning and Zoning to build a house 3 stories tall when you do not have anything else in the neighborhood like that. Steve Johnson said this is why they have a zoning ordinance. It sets forth the criteria for each zone as to what a structure has to comply with. Then there are people who administer the zoning ordinance. That house followed the normal housing permit process or construction permit process. It is at the maximum height allowed (35 feet in that zone). It is an NC2 zone. It is exactly what the zoning ordinance allows. Some questions were raised about egress. Before that house was built, there was a Victorian house there that was converted to apartments. Because of the fire, they have preserved their privilege to maintain an apartment building in that location. This new house will be 3 apartments. The first floor has 2 exits. The second and third floors have one exit each which is approved because the structure will be sprinkled. They have examined it thoroughly and that house is allowed by our zoning ordinance in that area. When you get into architectural details, that is subjective. They try to avoid them as much as possible. What one person thinks is pretty, another person might not.
Gage Thomas asked if they were saying it had been grandfathered. Rob Collison said grandfathered would apply to the apartments.
Commissioner Brooks said she personally thinks our whole Zoning Board and the ordinance needs to be revamped because you complain about other houses in the City stating that it makes the City look bad because a certain house does not have paint on the outside or whatever. Then you can go stick a house sideways or backwards anywhere you want and 3 stories up regardless of what the other neighbors feel that have lived in these neighborhoods for years. To other people it looks a mess that high in the air. It looks like it was squeezed into a little tiny cubby hole on the end of the sidewalk and it is allowed. Everything within Cambridge, as far as Planning and Zoning is considered, needs to be revamped and rewritten. We need to pay people. We need to get these letters of interest because we need qualified people making decisions in that area that support the residents of Cambridge that have lived here all their life and not other people coming in just to get anything in and having it look any kind of way just to fit something in that spot or in that hole. Rob Collison said on this house, there was no decision to be made. Generally, you will have substantial revisions to the Code following the revision of the Comprehensive Plan. That should happen in the next 2 years. Steve Johnson said there are many problems in the zoning ordinance. He is hoping that as a result of the Comprehensive Plan that we will be able to resolve it.
Commissioner Sydnor wished everyone a happy new year.
Rob Collison announced that Council met in closed executive session at 6:00 pm to discuss personnel and legal matters.
Jemal Pinder asked if Council could hold their executive session in the back so the doors to Council Chambers could be left open for the public when the weather is bad.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 9:00 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, January 14, 2008, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon
Clerk & Treasurer