City Council Minutes
September 9, 2013
A request to apply a PUD (Planned Unit Development) floating zone designation and for Preliminary Plan approval as applied to property located at 201 Mill Street, (the corner of School and Mill St.), Map 301, Parcel 124, 1.86± acres-The property which now houses the former Academy School is shown on Tax Map 301 Parcel 124. The public hearing was advertised in legal notices of the Star Democrat on August 25 and 30, 2013 and in the Dorchester Star on August 29, 2013 and September 5, 2013. The property was subject to a previous PUD designation. This action is due to the expiration of the previous PUD conditions and a proposed modification of that preliminary plan. The new PUD zoning is requested to allow for construction of 8 multi-family units in the existing schoolhouse building and 15 multi-family units in a new building to be constructed at a later date. The application was filed by Cambridge School House Associates, LLC. Anne Roane reported that this is a zoning overlay district. The ordinance requires that it receive a public hearing at the preliminary stage from the Planning Commission with the recommendation that it is then forwarded to City Council for another public hearing. The Planning and Zoning Commission offered a favorable recommendation of the preliminary plan at their August 20, 2013 meeting. There were two conditions associated with the approval. One was that there be clarification as it moves forward into the final development design phase and approval of the rental vs. home ownership in the condominium aspect of the project. The second condition was that there be covenants (required through the ordinance) that address any potential future rentals of the property. Before it can be recorded, it has to come back to the Planning Commission again with a lot more detail and then come back before the City Council at another public hearing.
Tim Crosby presented a written packet of information to Council prior to the public hearing. The property has been the location of a school since at least right before the Civil War. The original Academy School burned down in 1902. The ‘new' fireproof school was built in 1903. It was closed by the Board of Education in the 1970s. It was purchased by Golden Shore and then sold to Cambridge School House Associates. The rear additions were demolished in 2007 and 2008 and a PUD plan was approved in 2008. When they came to the site, the footprint of the building was approximately 13,000 square feet. The common open space was 81% of the existing site. The owner's goal is that the development should strive to match as closely as possibly what is currently there. The plan approved in 2008 was for single-family residential with 4 condominiums in the old school building. Because this project is being done under the Federal tax credit guidelines for the old school, they had to do a historic preservation zoning analysis. They have 24 parking spaces on site and will improve School Street to provide additional parking spaces. They will also have on-street parking on Mill Street. The plan has received the unanimous approval of the Historic Preservation Commission with the condition that they did not recess the parking because they thought the streetscape was historic. There is enough width in the street to allow parking. This gives them a total of 40 spaces and there are 23 that are required. The restored school house will have 8 units. An addition will be put on the back for the fire stair and elevator. They will add balconies to the side of the building. The plan has also been through the Maryland Historical Trust. They are retaining 97% of the interior of the building and restoring the actual lobby space. The typical units will be about 746 square feet consisting of living, dining, kitchen, half bath, large master bedroom, large master bath, walk-in closets and a sitting room. Everything is handicapped accessible throughout the building. The new building will have 15 units-three 1-bedroom/1½ bath units and twelve 1 bedroom/2 bath units. Every unit will have a balcony. In the front is a 2-story 4600 square foot club house. The smallest unit is 830 square feet; the largest unit is 1447 square feet. The three-story building will be four feet shorter than the existing school house. The eve heights will match and will be very compatible. When they come back before Council, they will have very specific elaboration of the guidelines for this senior housing development. It is an age-restricted (62+) community. This is classified in the HUD guideline as ‘above market' luxury housing. The sales can be to residents only-no investor purchases. They went through a lengthy process meeting with all of the surrounding property owners before they designed it. It was a very positive process. The project will be done in phases with the old school house being done first.
Cheryl Campbell said she is not for or against what was just said. She asked when this all changed. She remembers going through this the last time and getting the whole plan approved that would go with the neighborhood. The people in the neighborhood were a little concerned about the density. This does not seem like a lot of density. Tim Crosby said the plan was approved in 2008; then the economy changed. The developers came to him in 2011 and said they want to look at the plan. They did a market analysis and found the use that was really needed was for an upscale senior housing project. They proceeded to do the plan on that basis. While there are more units in every other measurement, there is less square footage, fewer vehicles, less trips, less crime, and so it changed in 2011 to respond the current marketplace. They think that marketplace is very strong right now.
Portia Johnson-Ennels asked where the people would be coming from for this development. We have had other houses designated for seniors and the people who first got the units were from out of town. Tim Crosby said it will come from both inside the community and outside the community. They have had significant interest from people who already live in the West End. This is a great opportunity for them to possibly sell their larger houses. This is a service-rich project. It will be very attractive, and will be marketed heavily to people on the Western Shore. They are hoping to bring people in from outside of Cambridge.
Tony Thomas lives about one-half block from here. He thinks it is a fantastic project. He will be close to 62 and will be knocking on their door. He can't wait until the project gets started.
Dave Thatcher said the article in the paper said this would be a 55+ community; now the presentation says 62+. Tim Crosby said the information in the paper is incorrect. Rob Collison said some of the original documents said 55; now it is being amended to 62.
A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to close the public hearing but leave the record open until September 23, 2013 was seconded and approved 4:0. Written testimony can be submitted until that time.
Bill Jarmon, Representing the Economic Steering Committee, to request support for the upcoming Neat Street events on October 5th and December 7th (use of trash cans, traffic cones, placement of no parking signs (7 am until 1 pm) trash pick up and running of the street sweeper before and after the clean-up event)-A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to approve the requests was seconded and approved 4:0.
Portia Johnson-Ennels, Representing the Pine Street Committee, to request permission to make alterations or improvements to the Empowerment Center (as required by the lease agreement)-The Pine Street Committee would like to have DPW install new lighting fixtures which were obtained from the Mid-Atlantic Lighting Solution. A motion by Commissioner Thomas to authorize DPW to provide the in-kind services of installing the lighting fixtures was seconded and approved 4:0.
Proposed abandonment and disposition of paper alley between Robinson Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue-The public hearing was held on August 26, 2013. There was no opposition. A motion by Commissioner Thomas to declare the alley as excess property and no longer needed for a public purpose was seconded and approved 4:0.
Agreement with Jim Chaney to forgive the fines on parcels he wishes to purchase and re develop-A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to approve the memorandum of understanding and agreement for deferral of collection and/or abatement of fines and certain citation fees with Mr. Chaney was seconded and approved 4:0. Mr. Chaney said the formal name will be Quality Housing of Cambridge, LLC.
ASOP on Long Wharf Advisory Committee recommendations (ASOP 42)-A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to approve ASOP 42 for procedures related to approval of events and signs/structures at Long Wharf and Long Wharf Park, as amended to include commercial uses, was seconded and approved 4:0.
Appointments/re-appointments to the Housing Board of Review-A motion by Commissioner Vickers to re-appoint Enez Stafford Grubb, David Cannon, and William Jackson for another three-year term was seconded and approved 4:0.
Introduction and first reading of Ordinance to abandon unimproved alley between Robinson Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue (Ordinance 1033)-No action was taken.
Approve Purchase Orders:
PO 2014-018 - Washington Post LLC - Eight advertisements in Capital Business (Economic Development) - $6,300.00-A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to approve PO 2014-018 was seconded and approved 4:0.
PO 2014-019 - Atlantic Tactical - ammunition (CPD) - $6,592.68-A motion by Commissioner Hanson to approve PO 2014-019 was seconded and approved 4:0.
PO 2014-020 - Kenneth W. Malik - replenish drug informant account (CPD) - $2,000.00-A motion by Commissioner Hanson to approve PO 2014-020 was seconded and approved 4:0.
Closed Executive Session-A motion by Commissioner Thomas to meet at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, September 11th at 4:00 pm with the intent of going into closed executive session for the acquisition of real estate and the discussion of economic development for the expansion or location of a business in the City of Cambridge was second and approved 4:0.
The Council met in closed executive session at 5:00 pm tonight to discuss the acquisition of real estate and the discussion of economic development for the expansion or location of a business in the City of Cambridge.
Work Session-The City Council will hold a work session on Monday, September 16th at 6:00 pm to discuss the Council/Manager form of government. The meeting is open to the public.
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 8:22 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, September 9, 2013, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon
Clerk & Treasurer