City Council Minutes
March 25, 2013
A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to approve the agenda as presented was seconded and passed 4:0. A motion by Commissioner Vickers to approve the minutes of the March 11, 2013 Council meeting, as amended, was seconded and passed 4:0.
A motion by Commissioner Thomas to hold public hearings was seconded and approved 4:0.
The application for the re-designation of the Enterprise Zone of the City-This public hearing was advertised in the Star-Democrat on March 8 and 15, 2013 and the Dorchester Star on March 15 and 22, 2013. Mary Calloway gave the Council and citizens an explanation of the benefits of the Enterprise Zone. The City's first Enterprise Zone was established in 1993; it was expanded in 1998 to include the Hyatt property; renewed in 2003; and expanded in 2011 to include the Tech Park. To date, 25 businesses have benefited from this designation. In 2013, 10 businesses will be eligible to receive benefits. The current application is to renew the application using the current boundaries. The City of Cambridge qualifies due to our high unemployment rate and also the percentage of families that fall below the median family income level for the State. A sign-up sheet was provided for citizens to request to speak. Mr. John Mason, Business Attraction Manager for Dorchester County, said he worked with the Economic Development team on this application. It is an excellent selling tool for the City and County. The statutory benefits of the Zone help mitigate the costs of putting a project just anywhere. Mr. Mason suggested having the Market Street area included in the Zone at a later date. Mr. Jeffrey Powell, a consultant for the incubator project at the Dorchester County Tech Park, will be involved with the new businesses. Mr. Powell said this is a partnership with the City and County. He looks forward to working with the City. Nobody else asked to speak. A motion by Commissioner Thomas to close the public hearing was seconded and approved 4:0.
The application for the re-designation of the Arts & Entertainment District of the City-This public hearing was advertised in the Star-Democrat on March 8 and 15, 2013 and the Dorchester Star on March 15 and 22, 2013. Mary Calloway explained that the Arts & Entertainment District includes most of the downtown area. The Economic Development Department has worked with various A&E teams to gain insight and add meat to the application. They spoke to the individuals who Commissioner Saunders asked them to contact and would like to get further input from the Pine Street neighbors about expansion into that neighborhood to use vacant properties as housing for the artists. They have learned that the properties cannot be just residential; they must be mixed use properties. For example, it must be a commercial space on the lower level and living space on the upper levels. Public art (murals, banners) was also suggested during the application discussions. They would like to talk to the residents to get the names of other artists and discuss their vision for the area. The draft of the application includes an expansion on Pine Street down to Washington Street as voted on at a prior Council meeting. Commissioner Sydnor asked Ms. Calloway to electronically send Council any additions to the draft application before Mayor Stanley signs the application and resolution. Dave Harp, a member of the Maryland State Arts Council, said the A&E District is a very popular program that is sought-out throughout the State. The artists in the City of Cambridge have really benefited from it; however, the last 5 years have been really hard on artists. Some communities apply and do not get the designation; Cambridge has it and the artists would like to keep it. Jermaine Anderson spoke in support of the Arts & Entertainment District. It would be a wonderful opportunity to broaden the arts. He said the wall behind the Empowerment Center on Pine Street would be a great place for a mural. There are a lot of other opportunities for public art also. Nobody else asked to speak. A motion by Commissioner Thomas to close the public hearing was seconded and approved 4:0.
The application for the designation of Sustainable Communities of the City-This public hearing was advertised in the Star-Democrat on March 8 and 15, 2013 and the Dorchester Star on March 15 and 22, 2013. Anne Roane explained that the Sustainable Communities designation is now necessary for Cambridge to apply for grants such as Community Legacy, the Neighborhood Business Works program, Sustain Communities Tax Credit Program, etc. The State has reviewed the proposed map and approved it. A working group met on a regular basis to come up with the action plan. A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to go into Closed Executive Session to obtain legal advice was seconded and approved 4:0. A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to go back into Regular Session was seconded and approved 4:0. Nobody from the audience asked to speak. A motion by Commissioner Thomas to close the public hearing was seconded and approved 4:0.
A proposed Ordinance to amend Section 230 subsection (3) of the City's Zoning Ordinance to add drycleaners and Laundromats as permitted uses as of right, within C-1 Neighborhood Commercial Districts-This public hearing was advertised in the Star-Democrat on March 8 and 15, 2013 and the Dorchester Star on March 15 and 22, 2013. Rob Collison reported that a business owner requested this amendment to the zoning code. It is the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Commission and Planning Staff to amend the zoning code by permitting in Section 230 Subsection 3 of the City zoning ordinance to allow as a matter of right, drycleaners and Laundromats. This would be applicable in all C-1 neighborhood commercial districts. It is a zoning text amendment. Anne Roane explained that historically, dry cleaners have been seen as contributors of brownfields. Recent EPA regulations have prohibited use of those chemicals. She believes that is why in the current code, the drycleaners are only allowed in commercial areas (General Commercial and Highway Commercial). With the new Federal regulations, those situations are not being created at all. A current drycleaner/Laundromat owner wants to relocate into an existing facility. When they checked on the zoning, they realized it was not an allowed use in a C-1 zone. There are at least two other Laundromats currently located in C-1 zones. Laundomats are neighborhood-serving uses. People often have to walk to the Laundromats. Commissioner Vickers asked if anyone looked at a MSDS sheet and if they asked how the business would get rid of their waste. Anne Roane said it did not come up. They will be using the most environmentally-friendly state-of-art solutions. There are state regulations for these establishments. Anne Roane will find out who polices the drycleaners and inform Commissioner Vickers. The Planning and Zoning Commission met on December 18, 2012 at an advertised public hearing and unanimously recommended adoption of the text amendment. Nobody from the audience asked to speak. A motion by Commissioner Thomas to close the public hearing was seconded and approved 4:0.
A proposed Ordinance to prohibit the planting and growing of bamboo after the effective date of the ordinance, and to regulate existing bamboo within the city, by requiring the removal of bamboo within certain setback areas of property lines and public rights of way, and to prohibit the encroachment of bamboo across property lines, and to permit the abatement of violations-This public hearing was advertised in the Star-Democrat on March 8 and 15, 2013 and the Dorchester Star on March 15 and 22, 2013. Rob Collison explained the regulations in the proposed ordinance. Since the first reading, the City has received preliminary feedback from the
Department of Natural Resources. Dan Brandewie said the State is forming a committee to look at invasive species. He believes there are 5 active stands in the City. There are property owners who are expressing a need to have more time to further identify what type of species are on their property. Commissioner Sydnor asked if the type of bamboo in Cambridge is considered a native species. Dan Brandewie said he cannot say it is not; however, based on the conversation he had with one lady from DNR, she believes it is not in Cambridge. Ed Kinnamon received written comments from C. and H. Kramer.
Judd Vickers believes bamboo, under certain circumstances, can be an effective screen for privacy and a noise buffer. He does not feel a cumbersome regulation is appropriate. It could also be very difficult for the City to regulate and enforce.
Michael Downey has bamboo which he has always thought of as cane. His daughter's swing set was near the bamboo and she was never harmed. One corner of his garage shop is in the bamboo; the bamboo is not tearing it down; however, he does have to take the English Ivy off if it three or four times a year. In 20 years, the bamboo has not spread appreciably. He showed pictures of other buildings in town being destroyed by other vines, but no bamboo. You would have to bring machines in to irradiate the bamboo from his property. He is only 80 feet from the river. Any chemicals put on the bamboo would end up in the river because of the tides. He is concerned about the resolution going through the way it is written. His adjoining neighbors also have bamboo.
Herman Kramer is a neighbor to Michael Downey and other folks present tonight. Bamboo makes a great corner barrier; a great privacy fence; and helps with blowing wind. Living on a fixed (retirement) income, he does not have the funds for total irradiation. He has soft sandy soil. They will be in trouble if they bring in any heavy machinery. His water level is 2 feet below the surface. When it rains hard and the tide is up, he has 3 or 4 inches of water in his yard. The bamboo soaks it up. He is against any ordinance like this.
Chet McWilliams said his property adjoins Mr. Kramer's and Mr. Downey's properties. He has about 10 stalks of bamboo. He has lived there for 8 years and does not think the bamboo is coming his way. It has not been a problem. It provides privacy. If the ordinance passes, he suggests a grandfather clause so the people who have bamboo can keep it. He has no problem with the bamboo between Willis Street and West End Avenue.
Donald Gray has bamboo next door to him. When he purchased his house, he did not know he was going to run into this problem. His neighbor told him he could cut on his side, but he could not cut on her side. In some places, it is 16 feet in height. He has to keep cutting it. His fence fell down; he cannot put one up. He has talked to the State (Annapolis) and DNR about it. With this type of bamboo, you have a terrible mess is you walk on it. Mr. Gray showed pictures of the bamboo in his yard. Mr. Gray is for the ordinance.
Brian Roche said he worked at the National Aboretum in Washington DC maintaining collections of plants including all types of bamboo. He understands bamboo can be a potential nuisance but it is also a widely-respected landscape plant that has a variety of uses. Running bamboo can be controlled by installing a permanent barrier about 2-ft deep. The clumping form of bamboo can be controlled the same way or often placed in large potted containers. A permitting process is a reasonable compromise. The City can document new or existing plants and can use permit fees to recover regulatory costs. Property line or right-of-way encroachment would require property owners to contain or remove the bamboo. He asked Council to strike Sections 4-44.3 and 4-44.7 and instead add language to permit and regulate so that residents have the right to plant bamboo in the City.
Jane Devlin said in the staff report from January 7th, there were statements that were misleading and some information was lacking and/or incorrect. She read the quick overview of the proposed ordinance by John Peter Thompson. This is the gentleman who Dan Brandewie alluded to. She hopes the City will request a formal review from Mr. Thompson. She understands that Mr. Thompson's comments were done in a 15-minute window between meetings so they are very rough. She has been dealing with bamboo for many years since she purchased her property. She has eradicated some and she chose to maintain some. As far as removal, you can do herbicides. All bamboo is cut to approximately 6 inches and disposed of. An exterminator is contacted to spray herbicides at $300 per spraying. It would require two to three sprayings the first year and it could take two to three years to eradicate it. She used a weed wrench to remove the bamboo from the alley. It is labor intensive. The other option, which is not economically feasible, is to use earthmoving equipment. If the City has to remove the bamboo on non-owner occupied properties or on properties of someone who does not wish to eradicate it, the liability becomes another issue. A City staff person made a statement to a State representative that the City is experiencing an outbreak of bamboo. She asked where the outbreak is. The property owners who have been maintaining their bamboo have identified eight stands of bamboo-all of which have been in existence for more than 20 years. The bamboo on the 310 and 312 Glenburn Avenue is 30 to 40 years old. All but one property wishes to keep and maintain their existing bamboo. She asked why the City is expending scarce City resources at the request of one person. Bamboo that is maintained correctly does not pose a danger to humans or outbuildings. She asked Council to consider the negative impact an incorrectly-drafted ordinance could impose on property owners who have inherited bamboo with their properties and have been good stewards for their bamboo stands for years. [Barbara Harp conceded her time to Ms. Devlin.]
Mary Gray said she and her husband knew the property they were purchasing had bamboo but they never dreamed they would experience what they have been experiencing. It has overtaken their outbuilding; it ate the back off their tree; and it is hard to walk on. She has torn up three pair of shoes. They have cut it down with chainsaws and garden sheers. It is invasive-it is not pretty. They need Council's help with this bamboo. They have devoted a lot of time and money into this house and they need help.
Marge Hull said she does not have bamboo but many of her friends have it. She cannot imagine that because one person in a community who seems not to know how to take care of bamboo would be the cause of all of this. These other people find it healthy, useful, and almost a necessary thing for their privacy. She hopes Council will review what they heard tonight and received in writing, and then ask for professional assistance and then seriously consider the community when only one person carries a negative vote.
Ray Shelly said he knows Council realizes there is more than one variety of bamboo. He is sure they will use their heads to fit the needs of Cambridge residents and we will have good results.
Robert Haynes said his property had existing bamboo on it when he purchased it. There is more than one kind of bamboo. There are three native varieties of bamboo in the United States. The major one in our area is called Arundinaria gigantean. It is very important culturally for the American Indians. It is also very important for wildlife, run-off, and erosion. There are also non-invasive non-native varieties that are not problematic at all. Maintenance of bamboo is not that difficult. If you cut it to 6 inches, you have a hazard. If you contain it, you do not have a hazard. It is easy to maintain, if you do it right. If you do not do it, you will have problems.
Commissioner Thomas thanked the public for their input. He suggested leaving the record open and work with our legal counsel to review the information they have received and gather further information and come back with another draft.
Commissioner Sydnor said Council has to look at this in its totality and what it means. There are some legal ramifications that can result from this. He asked if they can deprive an individual from the entire use of their property. That is something Council would have to consider. He asked if the Council would be setting the City up if they knew a condition exists to deprive someone of their property and then did nothing. He thanked everyone for giving their input.
Commissioner Vickers said the problem did not grow overnight and cannot be resolved overnight. She suggested putting Ordinance 1028 on hold for 6 months so Council and staff can obtain more information, do more in-depth research, consult experts, and develop an ordinance that will be fair to everybody.
A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to close the public hearing was seconded and approved 3:1 with Commissioner Thomas opposed. A motion by Commissioner Vickers to put Ordinance 1028 on hold for six months to allow the Council and the staff time to obtain more information, consult with experts, and develop an ordinance that is fair for everyone died for lack of a second.
Nancy Lee Harvey, Cambridge Sail and Power Squadron, to request permission to use Great Marsh Park on Saturday, May 25, 2013 starting at 2:00 pm to hold a flare demonstration and a fire extinguisher demonstration; permission to reserve a pavilion for lunch at noon; and a proclamation for Safe Boating Week-A motion by Commissioner Thomas to approve the requests was seconded and approved 4:0.
Jerry Hayes to request permission to use Long Wharf Park on Saturday, June 8, 2013 from 3:00 pm until dusk for a wedding ceremony and a variance from the noise ordinance-A motion by Commissioner Thomas to approve the request was seconded and approved 4:0.
Kirsten Strohmer, MTS Broadcasting, to request permission to use the City-owned property to the left of the "duck walk", the driveway leading to the City parking lot antecedent to the Yacht Club, an a variance from the noise ordinance on September 20th (noon until 6:00 pm), 21st (9:00 am until 6:00 pm), and 22nd (noon until 6:00 pm) for The Maryland Boat Builders and Dealers Expo-A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to approve the requests was seconded and approved 4:0.
Amanda Bramble, Jimmie & Sooks, to request permission to close a portion of the City parking lot (Lot No. 3) next to 307 Gay Street on Saturday, April 20, 2013 from 2:00 pm until 11:00 pm, a variance from the noise ordinance until 10:00 pm, and outside liquor sales for her 5th Annual Crab Bash (a fundraiser to benefit Chesapeake Bay Commercial Fishermen's Association)-A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to approve the requests was seconded and approved 4:0.
Appoint and/or re-appoint members to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the ADA Committee-A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to have the effective date of any appointments to the Planning and Zoning Commission be July 1st to allow the current Commission time to complete the zoning ordinance was seconded and approved 4:0. Mayor Stanley asked that appointments to the ADA Committee be temporarily postponed also.
Approve resolution for redesignation of the Enterprise Zone (13-005)-A motion by Commissioner Thomas to approve Resolution 13-005 for the redesignation of the Enterprise Zone was seconded and approved 4:0.
Approve resolution for redesignation of the Arts & Entertainment District (13-006)-A motion by Commissioner Hanson to approve Resolution 13-006 with the amended map after Mayor Stanley reviews the completed application which will be sent electronically to the Council was seconded and approved 4:0.
Approve resolution for designation of Sustainable Communities (13-007)-A motion by Commissioner Vickers to approve Resolution 13-007 adopting the Sustainable Communities map and plan was seconded and approved 4:0.
Approve Choptank River Lighthouse rental agreement-A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to approve the rental agreement changes outlined by Rob Collison was seconded and approved 4:0.
Approve budget amendment for Department of Public Works-A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to approve the budget amendment for the Department of Public Works was seconded and approved 4:0.
A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to adjourn the meeting was seconded and approved unanimously. With no further business, Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley adjourned the meeting at 8:55 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, March 25, 2013, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon
Clerk & Treasurer