City Council Minutes
April 14, 2008
April 14, 2008
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, April 14, 2008 in Council Chambers. A quorum being present, Mayor Cleveland L. Rippons called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Knox, Sydnor, Brooks, and Travers.
Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Travers led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the March 24, 2008 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Rezoning 301 Washington Street currently zoned R-3 (multifamily residential district), rezone to GC (General Commercial District), Map 302, Parcel 4858-Rob Collison said notice of the public hearing was published in the Star-Democrat on March 20 and 27, 2008 and in the Dorchester Star on March 21 and 28, 2008. The public hearing is being held to consider a rezoning request. The City of Cambridge is the applicant based on an allegation of a mistake in the last comprehensive rezoning. The property at 301 Washington Street is currently zoned R-3 (multifamily residential) but should have been retained as GC (general commercial) during the last comprehensive rezoning in 2003. The Planning and Zoning Commission met in February and unanimously recommended that the property be rezoned back to the GC district that it was previously. In reviewing the maps, certain parcels changed their zoning classification during the comprehensive rezoning. It was not the intent to do that. There were also several parcels that were not designated any permitted classification. It was a mapping mistake. Anne Roane said it was a mistake. It was omitted when they were re-mapping the City. The property is located at the corner of Washington Street and Peachblossom Avenue. It has been a commercial use for a number of years. The owner of the property, Larry Dail, was present. Commissioner Sydnor asked what the building was currently being used for. Mr. Dail said it is currently unoccupied. He is using it for storage for his office equipment. He has a contract of sale on the property. He did not find out the zoning had been changed until the perspective buyer researched it and Planning and Zoning alerted him that the zoning had been changed in 2003. In 2003, he was still operating his insurance agency there as he did for almost 18 years. He purchased the property in 1980 and his contract of sale was contingent on it being changed at that time. He went before Planning and Zoning and the City Council in 1990 and they agreed to change the zoning to commercial. He operated an office with an apartment upstairs for almost 18 years. Nobody from the audience asked to speak. Commissioner Knox made a motion to grant the zoning change based on a mistake in zoning. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Tom Wilson, Pleasant Day Adult Day Care Center to Receive Proclamation for Celebrate Senior Citizens Month and Request Noise Variance for Senior Celebration at Sailwinds Park on Thursday, May 15th from 9:00 am Until 3:00 pm-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the noise variance. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0. Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to Tom Wilson.
Proclamation for Administrative Professionals Week-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to representatives of the Tidewater Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals.
Allan Nelson, Cambridge Power Boat Regatta Association, to Discuss Their 100th Anniversary in 2010-Allan Nelson said community involvement with the Cambridge Classic has really been critical to their success. Cambridge Classic and the Cambridge Power Boat Regatta Association are approaching their 100th anniversary. It is the oldest active regatta in the country. Cambridge was offered the Triple Crown for 2010. This event has only happened one other time and at no time in the United States. It is comprised of the United States Summer Nationals, the World Championships, and the Canadian Championships. It will be an international event. They have begun having conversations with community organizations to see who might be interested in partnering with them to stage this event. It will involve a major portion of our community. It looks like it will be a week long activity. He asked Council's blessing and support as they move forward. Mayor Rippons asked Mr. Nelson to extend the City's best wishes to the Association.
Pete Macinta, Cornerstone Assembly, to Request a Noise Variance on Thursday, May 1st from 6:45 pm to 9:30 pm at Soul's Harbor Church of God on Peachblossom Avenue, for an Ascension Day Service-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Pete Macinta, Cornerstone Assembly, to Request Permission to Sell Baked Items on July 4th at Long Wharf-Rob Collison said he believes this is an annual event. He requested that they contact the Health Department again this year. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Representatives from Christ Rock Neighborhood to Request CDBG Funding-Hershel Johnson, Rock Drive, spoke representing the members of the Christ Rock community. On April 10th, they met with Joyce DeLaurentis and Anne Roane to talk about a grant to run water and sewer to their area. The funding is short. Right now they need an additional $257,960 for water and $305,248 for sewer. They are asking the City to apply for gap funding using the Community Development Block Grant program. There are residents at Christ Rock who are having problems with their sewer system. At times in the summer, you can smell the sewage. Some homeowners cannot put another drain field or septic system in because they do not have enough land. Other residents cannot build. It is a health issue and it would help the community if their request would be approved. Anne Roane said the City applied to the Maryland Department of the Environment. The CDBG funding would fund what the MDE did not fund. Mayor Rippons asked if the County could apply for CDBG funding. Rob Collison asked Anne Roane to contact the County because the area we are talking about is not technically in the City. It may be a condition of the loan that if it is approved, it would have to come into the City. Mayor Rippons said a municipality can only request funding up to $800,000. There are other needs in the City. This project certainly needs to be done because of the conditions out there. Anne Roane said she will contact the County.
Mary Calloway and Anne Roane to Discuss Community Development Block Grant Applications-Anne Roane said the Christ Rock application would be one application that the City could submit. Another application would be to apply for CDBG funding for the elevator in the renovations to City Hall. She would also like to apply for funding for demolition assistance. They would be looking at $300,000 for the elevator and $90,000 for the demolition assistance. The application is due May 16th. Commissioner Sydnor asked how long it would take the City to discuss the Christ Rock application with the County. Anne Roane said she will have to look at the County's meeting schedule. Commissioner Brooks suggested that if the County applied for either the water or sewer funding for Christ Rock, the City could apply for the other; thereby allowing us leeway to submit another application without exceeding our $800,000 limit for City projects.
John Seward to Discuss Farmers' Market-Dave Harp, President of Cambridge Main Street, said they are getting ready for Year 2 of the Farmers' Market. They would like to use the Academy Street parking lot. All the conditions would be the same. They would be open every Thursday from 2:30 pm until 6:30 pm. The dates would be from May 1, 2008 until October 30, 2008. They would like to coordinate with the City to make some improvements on the area. They would like to get some plants and volunteers to plant them. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the use of the parking lot for the Farmers' Market. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
David Harp asked permission to use the City owned lot on the corner of Race and Cedar Streets on Saturday, May 10th for the 3rd Annual Jazz and Blues Festival from 8:00 am until 10:00 pm. He requested a noise variance from noon until 8:00 pm and permission to use the electric on the lot. He said they are the same conditions as last year. Commissioner Knox made a motion to grant the requests pending that the lot is not reserved on that date. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Rev. Yvonne Penn to Discuss an Apartment for Senior Citizens-Rev. Yvonne Penn said they are proposing a housing development for seniors which will be named St. Luke Village. They have gone through a lot of steps to get to this point. They attended the workshop for the Community Development Block Grant and are asking for some assistance with the grant. The first phase will be the soft costs and the infrastructure. They have obtained prices and added 5% to everything. They came up with a flat fee the best they could and the rest they will do with other donations and other grants to assist them with the first phase. Rev. Penn presented Council with a packet illustrating where they are now. They are requesting $200,000. Before they did the work on their church, they looked at the census to see what was needed in the City of Cambridge, what would be most helpful, and how they could play a part in it. They noticed there was a need for activities for young people but there was more of a need for housing for seniors. They are asking to be included in the Community Development Block Grant and will be more than happy to write their portion of it. The Second Ward is an impoverished area. Mayor Rippons asked what the first phase of the project will cost. Rev. Penn said it will be over $300,000. The rest of the funds they will seek elsewhere. Commissioner Sydnor asked if they will be subsidized rents. Rev. Penn said they will be. Commissioner Sydnor said he noticed in the written documentation that the project will be for people 62 years and older; however, most projects are for 55+. Rev. Penn said the funds they are going for call for that age group. Commissioner Sydnor said he appreciates them taking the initiative to prepare this. Rev. Penn said they have put a lot of time and funds into it already. Commissioner Knox asked how many units will be handicapped accessible. Rev. Penn said they will all be handicapped accessible.
Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if the units will be compatible with the neighborhood. A lot of the properties in the surrounding area are homeowners and they are thinking of putting renters in the mist of it. Rev. Penn said they are putting seniors in the mist of it. Portia Johnson-Ennels said the people may be seniors but the property will be rental property. Rev. Penn said it will be well-maintained rental property. Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if St. Luke's talked to the community to see if they want that there. Rev. Penn said they have not gone house to house. Portia Johnson-Ennels said she thinks that is something they need to do before they go further with the plans. Rev. Penn said they own the property they want to build on. Commissioner Knox said Rev. Penn came before the Planning & Zoning Commission and requested a special exception and Planning & Zoning Commission granted it. There was nobody in the audience in opposition of the project. It will move onto the Board of Special Appeals which will be advertised. If there is any opposition at the hearing, the folks will come forward at that time as well. Rev. Penn said they have had meetings and focus groups at the church and they were well advertised. They have had articles in the paper. Persons in that area have thanked St. Luke's for doing this. Portia Johnson-Ennels said the reason she made the comment was because recently they have had a lot of senior housing coming up. They are asking the City and County for things. It all ties down to dollars and cents. She asked if the City has the money to do certain things. She asked them to tread softly and make sure they can accommodate everyone no matter who they are. The younger community might say that they want something too. This is not a town for only senior people-we have people of all ages here.
Commissioner Brooks said there was one individual who lived very close in that area who was asking a lot of questions about the project and their final comment was that they didn't care as long as it doesn't bother them. Rev. Penn asked that anyone with questions call her. When they build the housing, they will have a pocket of money for subsidizing them also. They will give some people some opportunity that probably cannot find their way into other subsidized apartments.
Commissioner Sydnor said he thinks they are recognizing a population group that may not fit in some of the senior homes that we have at the present time. He thinks they are covering a good area. This would be a good way to show how we appreciative the seniors who developed this City. Commissioner Brooks said there is a very small population of seniors living in the City who are unable to get into the current residences that we have for citizens because either their credit is not good or they may have broken the law in small ways. Rev. Penn said she planned as if she is going to live there too. She wants to take care of those who are in need.
Crystal Camper asked if the utilities will be included in the rent. Rev. Penn said they are going to try to include everything. It will be a good thing.
Andrew Counts to Discuss Concerns About the Marina-Andrew Counts said he is a permanent resident of Cambridge. He pays his local taxes to Cambridge, is proud to be a resident and feels passionate about his community responsibility. His concern for Cambridge is comprehensive and not merely for the best deal he can get as a marina slip holder. He shares equal concern for all of our City needs. He has been a slip holder for 11 years. He has a 30-ft sailboat which is too tall to negotiate the Malkus Bridge. He never ran aground in the marina but he has in other marinas. He never experienced any safety problems or issues in the Cambridge marina but he has in other marinas. He has never had any wind or wave damage in the Cambridge marina. This is true even though he kept his boat in several different slips over several seasons. He has always had prompt and courteous service from the dockmaster and he has never paid less for a marina slip anywhere else than he has in Cambridge. One person's minor annoyances are another person's major problems. He considers Cambridge marina to be the finest marina in which he has ever held a slip and it is a tremendous bargain given its convenience and its cost. It is not perfect but he challenges all those who disparage it to please tell him where he can get a better deal, if they can. He is before Council as someone who is a very satisfied, long-standing slip holder of the Cambridge marina. He was particularly proud to receive a 10% slip fee discount as a City resident. It gave him a greater sense of ownership and pride in his community which goes far beyond the dollars that are involved. Such an investment by the City and its residents is a most fundamental and profitable investment it can make in the long run. It is based on the simple principle of respect for its citizens as stakeholders in the community. The lack of respect for its citizens has an equally opposite and devastating effect on the success of any community. The expansion of the marina sounded good to him when it was first proposed. He understood the need for it to be based on a real waiting list of boat owners. Today the marina is bigger than before with some remaining problems which is not uncommon for a project of this size. He feels that the new fee schedule is better because it is based fairly on competitive market rates. He believes the slipholders were aware of the new fee schedule. He found the complaints to be indigent when they were coming from those slipholders who received large rate increases since these slipholders were obviously relying on the goodwill of their neighbors and fellow tenants to pay their way through these past years. They received an increase that was equal to the market rate. If theirs was much higher, it was because they were not paying what they should have been paying all along. In light of the obvious disparity between the old rates, he now wonders if the 10% City resident discount could have ever been real. He wants to share the most disconcerting evidence of what he feels is hostility aimed squarely at City residents. Economic They are many new alternative deepwater slips attached to condos along the Cambridge Creek. Dramatic inflation and rising fuel prices have affected boating trends and altered the basic cost benefit equation upon which the expansion was originally justified.
According to the City Council meeting minutes of January 14, 2008, Mr. Laurence Rossi spoke on behalf of numerous slipholders at the Cambridge Municipal Yacht Basin. That may be partially true. Mr. Rossi did not have his permission or any legal right to represent him or speak on his behalf as a resident slip holder. Mr. Rossi failed to disclose that he was acting as a spokesperson at the time for a position statement which was collectively developed with the resources of an organization called "ESSA" which stands for Eastern Shore Sailing Association which has been fully-incorporated under the Maryland law in Wicomico County since the 1970s. Mr. Rossi stated that they are a community within the City and not a collection of rich out-of-towners with yachts. Mr. Counts said nothing could be further from the truth. According to this organization's website and newsletters, a majority of their membership are residents of surrounding counties with higher median incomes that Dorchester County. It was an outright deception to pretend to have the City's interest at heart rather than their own interest in getting the biggest bang for their buck. It should have discredited this group's position from the beginning had the truth been known. He knows Mr. Rossi and his organization. He was a member himself. They are very fine individuals but he is personally ashamed of their behavior. In his opinion, they could be good customers. He would welcome them if they chose to become City residents and generally share in the risks and responsibilities to which they now pay lip service. Mr. Rossi was attempting to speak as some type of self-imposed leader of what amounts to a tenants' union. As he recently spoke to Steve Johnson regarding these matters, he became further aware of research and planning and the lack of cost-benefit analysis that has gone into the most recent marina improvement expenditure decisions. They are improvements as opposed to corrections which are essentially cost-free. Mr. Johnson seemed surprised to learn that he has been actively consulting, if not basing many of his expenditure rationales, upon consultation with Mr. Rossi, if only because there was no other information available to him to go forward with. He provided Mr. Johnson with a copy of Mr. Rossi's organization's own recap of their lobbying strategy. This non-resident lobby has essentially gotten behind the City's business counter using simple antidotal evidence and talking points without ever disclosing their obvious conflict of interest and therefore their impropriety of actors. He suggested polling the slipholders on basic questions. He asked why there is not a waiting list still. He asked how a dredging recommendation be proffered without even an updated topographic bottom chart of the marina. He asked for an analysis of boating trends or any consideration of the economic conditions which have dramatically changed in the past year. He asked who is deciding which boats to accommodate. He asked how we know we are not throwing more good money after bad. He asked how we know we are not following the same pattern of poor planning that has plagued other City projects and taken the marina to this point in the first place. Unfortunately in Mr. Johnson's response, he heard far too many of the unsubstantiated talking points proffered by the out-of-town lobbyists. It appears to him that the non-residents' lobby has been rather successful in achieving financial concessions by way of the improvements at the expense of City residents and the aggregation of the residents' slipholders tenancy agreement-all without any risk to themselves. It appears that they are further consolidating their foothold on the marine budget process by assuming more formal advisory and consultative roles with the Department of Public Works. Even their previous risks have been reduced by achieving a 6-month interest-free loan from the City which allows for a threat of mid-year tenancy cancellations. He asked where the resident slipholders 10% discount is in all of this. If the resident is being asked to pay money out of their own taxes for additional improvements and the non-resident slipholders are not, then he asked where that discount is. He asked where respect for the City stakeholders is in this process. That is his bigger concern. In summary, a group of non-resident slipholders has recently covertly assaulted City residents in a greedy lobby attempt to avoid paying the fair market rent value for the slips. Unless it has been some unbelievable coincidence, timed simply in the wake of Mr. Rossi's comments and his non-resident lobbying efforts, there have been some unfairly financial gains made by non-resident slipholders over resident slip holders authorized at the risk and expense to all City resident taxpayers. The customer-proprietor between individual slipholders in the City has been undermined and potentially legally violated. Marina management and decision making has been commandeered along with citizen empowerment that comes from long-range planning even before it has had an opportunity to get started. Resident pride of ownership in the marina has been sorely diminished in his opinion. These situations can be rectified by any number of possible actions on Council's part. His own recommendations would include putting an immediate moratorium on spending for any marina improvements; attaching a surcharge to slip fees representing the actual cost of improvements, or an expense representing equivalent risk for non-resident slipholders equivalent to that which is being demanded of resident taxpayers; employing the use of direct polling; demanding complete and honest disclosure of all conflicts of interest by anyone consulting on marina issues.
Mayor Rippons said Mr. Counts' statement was curious when he said he was proud to get his 10%. He said for years it was a great rate for everybody. For years, revenue from the marina was placed into the general fund so for years, citizens of Cambridge were getting a tax benefit. The residents did not come forward when it was an advantage. Now they are coming forward. You cannot have it both ways. His point is well taken. Mr. Johnson will address the issues about the conflicts as will Rob Collison. Mr. Counts said he cannot agree with Mayor Rippons more. There is funding out there. He would be more than happy to give back his 10% discount to the City. He wants the City to make a profit off the marina. It's not the money-it was the gesture he was referring to. He doesn't know if that gesture has been rescinded.
Second Reading and Vote on Ordinance to Amend Section 4-34.2 to Provide for the Imposition of Fines When a Property Owner Fails to Comply with a Demolition Order-Rob Collison said the proposed amendment would add the provision that would provide for an assessment of a fine of up to $100 per day for each day that a demolition does not occur after the appeal and the deadlines have been met. Sylvia Smith asked if there is a time set on the demolition. Rob Collison said the present process is that once DPW determines that the property should be demolished, they send the property owner a notice. It gives the property owner a period of time to apply with the demolition order or to appeal that decision to the Housing Board of Review. If they do not appeal it and then do not demolish the structure, on the date that it was to take place is when the fines would be assessed or the demolition would take place by the City. If an appeal was taken, then no fines would be assessed until the appeal process plays out. If the property owner appeals to Circuit Court, it would wait until the Circuit Court case is finalized. This would not apply to properties already under demolition orders. It will not be retroactive. Monroe Smith said they are changing the laws because of a couple of citizens. He asked if they are doing it to protect the people or hurt the people. Mayor Rippons said the recommendation came from Mr. Johnson. People have circumvented the system. It is in the best interest of the City. People who maintain their buildings should not have to look at other buildings which are not maintained. Steve Johnson said the intention is to encourage people to comply. They work very hard with folks trying to find out what their issues are and trying to give them an opportunity but a few people say they just are not going to cooperate. At the moment, the only remedy the City has is to shoulder the expense, take on the demolition, and then send the bill to the property owner. That is not good for the taxpayers to shoulder this expense. Monroe Smith said he was born and raised in Cambridge. He is looking at it a different way. It is a weapon for the City to completely destroy the black section of the Second Ward. He doesn't think it is right. Mayor Rippons said there are a lot of people in the Second Ward who try to maintain their homes and the dignity of their neighborhoods. They are tired of their children walking past houses that are not appropriate. Monroe Smith asked for signatures of people who are saying this. Mayor Rippons said there is no list. They are trying to maintain the integrity of the neighborhood. Commissioner Sydnor asked when this would affect the property on Washington Street. Steve Johnson said that property owner has 6 months which will expire in early June. If they are not done at that point, the City will be able to fine them. He would much rather fine them than have the City take over that demolition project. Commissioner Brooks said this ordinance is not retroactive. That is one of the main reasons they are looking at this. There are rats in the neighborhood on Washington Street from that demolition. Rob Collison said the Washington Street property owner has demolished the building. He doesn't think the City could assess him a fine for failure to demolish because he has demolished the building. It is the removal of the debris that will be part of it. There are other sections of the Code after his 6 month period that he thinks they can use to assess fines for that particular property. Commissioner Brooks said the document says 'and/or cause the structure to be raised and removed', so it includes the removal. Rob Collison said it would for future properties. Commissioner Sydnor asked if this ordinance is in line with other communities. Steve Johnson said he looked at other communities and it is in line with what they do. A woman from the audience asked what determines a demolition. Steve Johnson said first a property owner would receive a repair order. The next stage is a condemnation. This is when the building is not fit for people to live in. It could be boarded up in compliance with the property maintenance standard. The third stage is demolition. That is when the property is so far gone, it cannot be economically salvaged. They judge it at 100% of the replacement value of the house. They use the County tax records. Many of the tax records have quite low values on the properties. The person has benefited over the years by paying very low taxes but when it comes to assessing the value of correcting the deficiencies, it is very easy to exceed the value of the house. When you go the Housing Board of Review hearing, you may bring in an appraisal from a licensed appraiser who has appraised the property as it exists today and you can bring in a repair estimate from a licensed contractor showing what it would take to bring that property up to standards. If you have a better appraisal and a better estimate from what Public Works provides, the Housing Board of Review frequently says you can keep the property and they give you a time schedule. Sometimes people do not adhere to the time schedule. Right now there is no time limit on how long you can keep boards on a property. He thinks it should be changed. Commissioner Brooks said some people put boards on the windows because children break the windows multiple times. If a property is unoccupied, it may attract drug dealers and drug activities. That is when it becomes a danger to the neighborhood and children. The properties are eyesores to the neighborhood. Portia Johnson-Ennels said trash accumulates in these yards and grass is not cut. It should be the responsibility of the property owner to keep the neighborhood looking good. Properties have been boarded up for 15 to 20 years. She said she is tired of the garbage in the neighborhoods. If the people are not going to fix it up, she thinks they should take the example from a Mayor in Talbot County. When the homeowners would not do it, he got on a bulldozer and bulldozed them all down and sent the bill to the property owners. They rebuilt a section of Easton that looks very good. If people are not willing to keep the neighborhood clean, they do not need to be property owners.
Rev. Yvonne Penn said her concern is with the rats. That is dangerous for the children. Mayor Rippons said the Health Department has been notified. Crystal Camper asked if the property owner could rebuild after a property is demolished. Mayor Rippons said they can rebuild.
Commissioner Sydnor asked that people look at the boundaries of the Second Ward. He thinks that their comments would be different. Many people think they live in the Second Ward but they do not. They may find it has not deteriorated to the point that they think it has.
Commissioner Knox said this is not targeted to one particular ward. It will benefit the entire City. When the houses are demolished, it is a great opportunity for some infill that the City needs.
Monroe Smith said the City, County, and State are receiving revenue from these properties. It is easy for people to tell someone to do something when they know nothing about the situation. They are destroying someone's property.
Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to table the vote until the next Council meeting. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:1 with Commissioner Knox opposed.
Recommendation to Award Contract for Street Line Striping-Commissioner Knox made a motion to award the contract to Midlantic Marketing of Gaithersburg, Maryland in the amount of $2,830. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Mayor Rippons suggested that because the bid came in below the budgeted amount, Council may wish to suggest to Steve Johnson other streets that should be striped. The motion passed 4:0.
Approve Financing for Communications System at Public Safety Building-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. Ed Kinnamon said Council already approved the work but they were trying to find the funds. Half of the $42,000 will come from unused police salaries. He was planning to take $10,000 from a capital item in the CEMS budget. In talking with Chief Watkins since the memo was written, he is moving towards being over budget on his salaries. Therefore, he no longer has the additional $10,000 that was referenced in the memo. At this point, they only have one-half of the money. Chief Malik said he thought $10,000 was already approved by the Council and that CPD would pay half of the remaining $32,000. The remaining half of the $32,000 would be paid by a combination of RFC and CEMS. Apparently they do not have any excess money. The majority of the problem is on the fire and ems side. They should be able to come up with some money to match what CPD is giving. Commissioner Knox said he understands this is time-sensitive because he witnessed the problems first-hand. He asked that this item be tabled until the next meeting. He does not want to spend money they do not have. Commissioner Brooks said the money may have to come out of the general fund. Commissioner Knox said they will give the Treasurer time to possibly find the other funds. RFC and CEMS should try to find the money in their budgets.
Request from Hill's Point Gang Racing Association to Use Great Marsh Park on June 20th, 21st, and 22nd for a Vintage Boat Exhibition, Use of Electric, Water, Trash Removal, and a Waiver for Alcohol to be Sold-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Rob Collison asked if they are requesting exclusive use of the park or will it be shared use. Mayor Rippons suggested that a noise variance be included; however, no times were stated. Commissioner Brooks suggested that the noise be stopped by 10:00 pm. The Dorchester County Liquor Board would supply the permit for the alcohol. Council would have to give them permission to serve alcohol in the park. Commissioner Sydnor said their letter also states that they would like to have camping overnight for out-of-town participants. Commissioner Knox amended his motion to include a noise variance from 9:00 am until 8:00 pm and to allow overnight camping. The Hills Point Gang will be required to clean-up the area. Commissioner Travers seconded the amended motion. Portia Johnson-Ennels said her concern is the alcohol. She asked who will be policing them since the City is going to allow them to stay overnight in the park. There are new laws concerning alcohol for Dorchester County. She asked who will be making sure they do not sell the alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. Mayor Rippons said all compliance features must go through the County. Portia Johnson-Ennels said it seems like the City is willing to waive the alcohol regulation for some groups yet for other groups they will not waive it. Great Marsh is supposed to be an open City park. When it was created, one of the first things that was said was that there would never be any alcohol consumption in the park. There are a lot of problems with underage drinking. Mayor Rippons said this group has been down there for countless number of years. He always asked Chief Malik if there have been any trouble with the event in previous years. That is what Council goes by. The motion passed 4:0.
Request from the Cambridge Sail and Power Squadron to Demonstrate Nautical Emergency Flares and Fire Extinguishers on May 18th from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm at Great Marsh Park-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request if the park is available that day. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0. Rob Collison requested that DPW designate the area in the park that this event is to be held.
Request from the Junior Class of Cambridge South Dorchester High School for a Noise Variance for the Junior-Senior Prom at Sailwinds Park on May 10th from 8:00 pm Until 12:00 am (outside in a tent)-Mayor Rippons said the after prom party will be held inside Governor's Hall. Commissioner Knox said the DJ will be playing outside in a residential area with a hospital on the next property. Commissioner Sydnor said a possible reason for having the tent is that it is easier to decorate the tent than it is to decorate inside the building. He thinks they need more information. Commissioner Brooks said there have been bands that have played outside until 11:00 pm or 12 midnight. Mayor Rippons suggested that they have a representative present at the next meeting for further clarification. Portia Johnson-Ennels said the reason they are having the prom in the tent is because they did not want the young people to travel to the after-prom party. They will have one-half hour to get inside the building after the prom ends. Once they are in the building, they cannot leave. There will be school administrators there. It will be well chaperoned. Mayor Rippons asked Ed Kinnamon to contact the school to have a representative at the next meeting.
Request from Allure Nightclub & Lounge for Permission to Close Chesapeake Court to Traffic on July 4th from 10:00 am Until 7:00 pm for Their Friends and Family Day-Chief Malik said this event was held last year for the first time. They did not have any problems. It went well. They had their own security as well. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. Rachell Rich asked that a noise variance be included from 2:00 pm until 6:00 pm. Commissioner Sydnor amended his motion to include a noise variance from 2:00 pm until 6:00 pm. The motion passed 4:0.
Request from The Salvation Army for a Noise Variance for Their Picnic at Great Marsh Park on Wednesday, May 21st from 5:00 pm Until 8:00 pm-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request if the park is available that day. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Request from the Dorchester Arts Center to Close High Street from Poplar Street to Long Wharf for Dorchester Showcase on Sunday, September 28th from 11:00 am Until 6:00 pm -Mayor Rippons said they are extending their area this year because they want to be inclusive of where the new Art Center is. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. Commissioner Knox asked if they were planning to fill the entire street with vendors. Mayor Rippons said they will have different opportunities on different parts of the street. There will be live entertainment on the section of High Street from Poplar Street to the post office. The motion passed 4:0.
First Reading on Ordinance to Amend Section 408 Subsection 17-38 of the City Zoning Ordinance to Provide for the Posting of Bonds for Large Subdivisions in Phases-Rob Collison said this will particularly be for subdivisions over 200 lots so it can be done in phases. In the event that the infrastructure is not complete within 8 or 10 years and the subdivision regulations change, they would then have to comply with the new subdivision regulations. Other jurisdictions have this bond phasing provision in place. The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended that it be adopted. There will be a public hearing at the April 28th meeting.
Adoption of ASOP to Authorize Exemptions from Impact Fees for Properties Where Structures Have Been Demolished-Rob Collison said the practice has been that the fees would be waived if a property owner can show that there was demolition of a property within the past 3 years. This has been a problem. With this new ASOP, if a property owner could prove to the satisfaction of the Director of Public Works that a structure was previously on the property and actually connected to the water and sewer, they would then be exempted from the impact fee. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to adopt the ASOP. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Council to Appoint Representative to the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area Management Board-Ed Kinnamon said Mary Calloway said she would be pleased to fill the position. Commissioner Knox made a motion to appoint Mary Calloway as the City's representative to the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area Management Board. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Discuss Public Safety Building Time Capsule-Mayor Rippons said Steve Johnson provided a list of items to be put in the capsule. Commissioner Knox said he likes what is listed from the various departments. He suggested adding something that would represent our historical value as well. Mayor Rippons asked Council to provide the information for the next meeting.
Results of the April 5th Community Clean-Up-Steve Johnson said the City spent roughly $10,000 on the clean-up over the last 2 weekends. They had about 11½ tons each weekend. They collected 7 tires one weekend and 101 tires the other weekend. They spent $8,000 in labor. Adding the disposal fees and all the other expenses it was just shy of $10,000.
Discuss USDA Program for Home Improvement and Repair Loans and Grants-Steve Johnson said they have the stick approach with repair notices, condemnations, and demolition notices. They recently found a carrot that they can offer to folks to help them apply for low interest loans and even grants that would enable them to fix up their properties depending on their income status. This is now available. He will have a person at Public Works who can help people fill out the application because it is a little bit lengthy. He sees this as a compliment to the program. The City will be able to help people make the improvements. It is for owner-occupied homes.
Request to Issue RFP for IT Consultant Services-Steve Johnson said the City has grown and there have been various suggestions that we should have consistency with the IT services provided in each of our buildings. The City does not have the expertise in-house to figure out what that should be. This contract would be a consultant service to help the City put together an RFP where they could go out and ask for those services. He thinks it would cost in the vicinity of $3,000. The consultant will not be able to bid on the contract. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to go to bid for IT consultant services. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Request to Go to Bid for Camper Street Improvements-Commissioner Travers made a motion to allow DPW to go to bid for the Camper Street improvements. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Discuss Storm Water Management Pond Fence at the Public Safety Complex-Steve Johnson provided Council with background information in a memo. Commissioner Sydnor said it sounds like a good deal. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to move forward with the request to award the contract to Anderson Fence Company in the amount of $5,076. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Request from Gage Thomas for 61-Day Extension on Settlement Date for 312-314 High Street Building-Commissioner Sydnor said he understands the situation that Mr. Thomas has but questioned who has insurance on that building. Ed Kinnamon said the City has insurance on it until it transfers ownership. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0. Gage Thomas said the gas company has started to install a gas line under the parking lot without anyone's knowledge or permission. Rob Collison said they put it on hold. They were trying to get ahead of the paving schedule. They will coordinate it through the Department of Public Works.
Approve Budget Amendments for CPD, DPW, and RFC-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the three budget amendments. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Approve the Following Purchase Orders:
- PO 4700 - Motorola - 5 Portable Radios & Associated Equipment - $15,400.10 - RFC
- PO 1142 - Conservation Solutions, Inc. - Long Wharf Fountain Engineering Investigations - $8,000
- PO 91154 - Midlantic Marking -- Street Striping -- $2,830.00
- PO 4718 - Rescue Fire Company, Inc. - Reimbursement for Annual Banquet - $5,100
Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the purchase orders. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Approve PO 4714 - Automotive Resources, Inc. - Heavy Truck Lift - RFC - $62,413.10 (sole source - GSA pricing)-Commissioner Knox said he does not understand the purpose of the lift. It is his understanding that in order to work on the trucks, you have to be certified. He asked if any mechanics at DPW are certified to work on fire company vehicles. Steve Johnson said he does not think they are. Commissioner Knox asked why the City would want a $62,000 heavy truck lift if we have nobody to work on the trucks. Mayor Rippons said there would be times when they would have to pay for a hour or two for someone to drive and then go back. If they only had one way to come, they could do that. If over the years that would quantify for a cost savings, he does not know. Council agreed to table the vote until they can talk to Chief Hurley.
Approve Financial Statement for February 2008-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the financial statement for February 2008. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Brooks said she could barely read the financial statement so she is going to abstain from voting until Mr. Kinnamon can give her a darker copy. The motion passed 3:0 with Commissioner Brooks abstaining.
Approve Revised Organizational Structure for Department of Public Works-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the revised structure. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Sydnor asked if this was the one that would include $28,000 for this year and the budget for the next fiscal year would reflect the change. Steve Johnson said it would. Commissioner Brooks said she still has problems with the new organizational structure. Commissioner Knox and Travers voted for the motion. Commissioner Brooks and Sydnor voted against the motion. To break the tie vote, Mayor Rippons voted to approve the revised structure. The motion passed 3:2.
Gage Thomas asked the Commissioners if they could tell him what they were opposed to. Commissioner Brooks said it does not appear to be fair the way that some individuals are given raises; the way some job descriptions have been changed so that some people get raises and other do not. She thinks when they do something like that, it needs to be across the board and it needs to be justified. She does not see the justification if everything is within that revised organizational structure. She is not accusing Mr. Johnson of maybe picking key individuals but that is the way it appears. Commissioner Sydnor said he has spoken to Mr. Johnson and looked at this. Some other concerns have come to his attention talking with Commissioner Cephas who also has some concerns which is why he voted against it for the present time until he can issues resolved.
Mayor Rippons said Mr. Johnson has had enough time to look at the structure as it was and is making a recommendation in this matter about structuring. He has re-vamped some jobs from what they were. He has given some positions titles to be more in-line with what he deems to be commiserate with the job.
Commissioner Sydnor said in approving this, they are approving something that they do not have job descriptions for. Steve Johnson said he provided job descriptions last week. Commissioner Sydnor said they have never been approved. Commissioner Brooks said the job descriptions have not been approved and there are already people picked out for these new jobs. There are names on there. Steve Johnson said that was part of the reorganization brief last week. Commissioner Brooks said with the passing of it, she has to put Council on notice that she plans to ask for this to be rescinded. She thinks it needs more work. She is not saying it is not a good idea. She thinks they need to be extremely fair. She is not seeing that right now.
Mayor Rippons asked if the new job descriptions that have been provided to Council need to be formally adopted for the validity of the new organization. Rob Collison said if they have jobs specified without a job description, you will not be able to fill that position until they have the job description. Steve Johnson said that is the next item on the agenda. Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if the changes would be made public. Mayor Rippons said they would.
Approve Various Job Classifications for Department of Public Works-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the job descriptions for DPW. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Brooks said she does not feel that some of the job descriptions are fair. Some have been reduced; some have been enhanced to meet the salaries that were put with the job descriptions. If this is passed, she is giving Council notice that she will make a motion next week to rescind it. She feels we need to table these until Council can sit down and work out all the problems that we have. Commissioner Sydnor asked if she would like to meet with Mr. Johnson or with Council individually to go over the concerns that she has. Commissioner Brooks said she told Mr. Johnson what her problems were and she did not see any changes with anything except one area with one or two individuals. She voiced her concerns and the concerns of Commissioner Cephas who could not attend the meeting tonight. He also has major concerns and Mr. Johnson is well aware of them. The majority of the Council has problems with the organizational structure and well the job classifications.
Enez Grubb asked if she understood correctly that some jobs are not eligible for salary increases and others are eligible. Commissioner Brooks said at the present time, the job descriptions have been changed so that some people would not be eligible for the same pay rate that others are being enhanced. Some job duties have been reduced while others have been enhanced. With the enhancements, they would be eligible for a larger pay raise while others will not. Enez Grubb asked if some jobs already have names besides them. Commissioner Brooks said they do. Steve Johnson said in consulting with the Human Resources Director, he was told that it was a totally acceptable method when you are doing a massive reorganization of an organization that has no organization. Enez Grubb said as a former union person and president of a local, she would challenge that even if she had to take it to court.
Commissioners Knox and Travers voted for the motion. Commissioner Brooks and Sydnor were opposed. Mayor Rippons voted to approve the motion. Commissioner Brooks gave notice that she will rescind that motion as well.
Commissioner Sydnor asked when Council could meet again before the next Council meeting. At that time they will hopefully have some of the input from income that they will have for the year. They can then talk about economic development because they have not discussed that at this particular time. That might possibly be a good time for Mr. Johnson to come in and answer the questions that Council has concerning this reorganization. He suggested that Council meet on Monday, April 21st at 6:00 pm. Commissioner Brooks said that Commissioner Cephas is ill and she is not sure if he will be back by April 21st. Ed Kinnamon said Commissioner Cephas indicated to him that he may not be. Commissioner Sydnor said if he is not back by April 21st, they will move the meeting to April 28th and start it earlier. Ed Kinnamon said he will check with him.
Frank Clark said he has lived in Cambridge since 1993. He loves Cambridge but he was buying a home on Bayly Road and he lost it in court. He was working at Coldwater. He was evicted from the home and they put his belongings out. He got a bill from the City for $230. The lady told him there were 2 bills for $230. He is out of work and doing his best to get by. He does not have money to pay this bill. He believes the bill should belong to the people who put him out. He called them and they said everything is still in his name because of the transaction in the paper going through. Rob Collison said he will review it and contact Mr. Clark directly by phone.
Portia Johnson-Ennels said with all the changes that are taking place at DPW, she asked if it will include the days when the City is not in operation and which departments will be working or not working. On the Martin Luther King holiday, the City was closed down except the Sanitation Department. She feels like when Martin Luther King was killed, he was protesting for the Sanitation Workers. If a City is going to shut down and say it is a holiday, it should be that all departments are shut down-not just a few. She is hoping for 2009, when it is time for his birthday celebration to come around again, and if the City is closed down as a legal holiday that all departments in the City have that same right. Mayor Rippons said it is noted.
Wendell Foxwell said Mr. Johnson was talking about Phase 2 which is boarded up property. He thinks they need to eliminate it or put a time on it that the person has to fix it up or sell it. Boarded up houses have been there for 5 years. It is still an eyesore. The law needs some teeth in it after you hit Phase 2.
Wendell Foxwell said there is a light out on the East Cambridge Bridge. He asked who is responsible for the bridge. Mayor Rippons said the State is responsible for the bridge. Wendell Foxwell said the bridge should be fixed. Steve Johnson said he will contact Mr. Meredith.
Wendell Foxwell congratulated the City on getting Norris Taylor's property fixed up on Washington Street. The City should look at the house at 307-309 Cedar Street.
Enez Stafford Grubb said she would like to piggyback on Ms. Johnson-Ennels statement regarding the Sanitation Workers working on the Martin Luther King holiday. We have to be very careful in how we perceive the decisions that we make. On that particular day the Sanitation Workers were the only ones who had to work as required by the City. That is equivalent to the names already being placed beside job descriptions. Actions speak louder than words.
Monroe Smith said Mr. Johnson just made a statement that when houses are boarded up, people vandalize them and take the plywood off. He asked what the property owners can do about it if they do not know it has been removed. He asked why they should be fined when they do not even know about it. They have complied with the rules and regulations. He asked if it is right for the City to fine an individual for something that is no fault of their own. The person could be on vacation and when they return, they find the citation.
Gage Thomas said you cannot watch every property, every day. He gets a notice to correct the situation before he gets a fine. Monroe Smith said what applies to Mr. Thomas probably does not apply to everyone.
Wendell Foxwell said if you condemn something, you can eliminate what Mr. Smith was talking about. They should forget about boarding a house up. If it is condemned, they should tear it down. Monroe Smith said nobody would like it if the City torn down something that they had worked all their life for.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned the meeting at 9:38 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, April 14, 2008, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon
Clerk & Treasurer