City Council Minutes
April 28, 2008
April 28, 2008
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, April 28, 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 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 April 14, 2008 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Sydnor said he had a question on Page 2057 concerning the topic of approving the revised organizational structure of the Department of Public Works. It states that the motion passed 3:2. Because it was an appropriation, they had to have 4 votes in order for it to pass and they did not have 4 votes. This needs to be corrected to reflect that the motion did not pass. Rob Collison said it would require a super majority if it was a budget matter. Commissioner Sydnor said it would also possibly apply to the job descriptions because they were contingent upon money being appropriated for some of these positions. This issue will have to be re-addressed. Rob Collison said technically you could have the approval of the job descriptions. They just have not funded them. Commissioner Sydnor said some of them are for the present year. Rob Collison will get clarification on this. Commissioner Travers revised his motion to include the stated corrections. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion was passed 4:0.
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 notice of the public hearing was advertised in the Daily Banner on April 11, and April 18, 2008. The proposed text amendment would amend Section 408, Subsection 17-38 of the Zoning Ordinance. It would provide for the phasing of bonding requirements. Generally when a subdivision is approved, before construction can commence, the developer would need to post bond sufficient to cover all the public infrastructure in that entire subdivision. This proposal was submitted at the request of a developer/property owner. The Planning and Zoning Commission gave Mr. Johnson a report with regard to their recommendations. If a development consists of 200 or more building lots, the proposed ordinance would permit the public infrastructure to be bonded in phases. The first phase would have to be a minimum of 100 of the 200 or more lots. All the infrastructure for that first phase would have to be bonded. It would have to be completed before they could begin any subsequent phases. Some jurisdictions do permit this; others do not. Cambridge has not permitted it up to this date.
Steve Johnson said the Planning and Zoning Commission recommends approval of the ordinance as submitted. For subdivisions with more than 200 units, the developer would be allowed to post bond in groups of 100. The bond would be good for 6 years. If after 6 years they haven't constructed the required infrastructure, then the approval would be null and void. Rob Collison said an example of this would be a large subdivision and the developer wants to have a uniform plan throughout 3 phases. They like to have the entire subdivision approved at one time but if the market is slow, as it is now, they know they will not sell all 300 lots within the next 3 or 4 years. With this ordinance, they could then post a bond for Phase 1. If the entire subdivision is not completed within 6 years, their approval of that entire subdivision expires and they would then need to complete it based upon it the subdivision development regulations in effect at that time. It would include streets, water, sewer, and stormwater management, but not privately-owned amenities. Commissioner Sydnor said he would not like the City to get involved with bonding privately-owned amenities such as clubhouses and pools because if they should fail, then the City would have to make sure they are built. Rob Collison said what has happened in the past on that issue is that the Planning and Zoning Commission has made it a condition of approval that certain community amenities be completed in a certain phase but it would not be within the bonding requirements. The City engineering staff would develop the amount of bond that is necessary and adequate to cover the cost of the infrastructure. He will be looking at the bonding forms which they will be submitting to make sure they are to the City's standards.
Douglas Worrell spoke on behalf of Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth. He has practiced law for 40 years. He handled the construction industry. He represented bonding companies, contractors, developers, municipalities, other people, and he has also been involved in public works bonds. He asked the Council to give this further consideration and not vote today. He thinks they need more input. Public works bonds and public works agreements are very technical nuanced documents, which most people do not fully understand. It is the job of the City Council to protect the taxpayers of the community. That is the purpose of a public works bond. The typical project is sponsored by a single purpose entity. The developer typically owns only the project. It is not untypical that the project is financed through the first, second, or third mortgage. This means that it is typical that the entity has very little in the way of equity in the project itself. The community was told that the Blackwater project was a billion dollar project. The owner sold two-thirds of that project for $10 million. That tells him that the owner valued that project for $15 million which hardly covers the cost of the land, attorneys, experts, and engineers' fees. This is not untypical. There is no fault to be laid on anybody's side because of that. He passed two subdivisions on Washington Street where nothing is happening. Somebody is carrying the cost of them. Somebody has to maintain the erosion sediment control. His point is that most of the projects have no real equity which means you must depend on bonding companies to fulfill the tasks. The bonding companies have 1 of 3 options. They can pay the penalty amount of the bond. That never happens. The second thing they can do is take over and perform. Usually nothing happens. The bonding company usually tells the City to take care of it and send them the bill. The bonding company is perfectly within its rights to do nothing. All they have to do is pay a final judgment. There will be a battle in court. The taxpayers have to front the bill. The cost of a bond is three quarters of one percent. They can put up letters of credit, CDs, or securities. That seldom happens. The real issue is how to secure the City. He knows Sandy McAllister drafted the ordinance. He represents his clients well; however, the City is not his client. His purpose is to provide his clients with the greatest advantage. There are problems in the ordinance. There are a lot of typographical errors. He asked who the Director is that the ordinance refers to. Letters of credit have a 1 year life. They can be renewed. The ordinance talks about 6 years. A project could consist of a series of houses and roads. The next one could have public facilities. As often as not, those public facilities are not in Phase 1. He said Paragraph 4b does not make any sense. Performance bonds are not subject to renewal. Letters of credit are for 1 year. It goes on to require that the City give notice. All City employees try to do the right thing. If you have 2 bonds out there, and you have 6 years to go, this says that the City has to be aware enough to give 21 days' notice. Otherwise, the developer is off the hook. It further talks about the owner's receipt of written notice. The owner is not otherwise identified in the provision. They are really talking about the developer. The ordinance is not well written. It has errors in it. In the Star Democrat on April 28th there is an article that talks about the sinking housing market and unfinished projects. He will be very happy to work with Rob Collison or anybody else to come up with a scheme that works and protects the people. He asked Council to postpone a vote on this ordinance.
Rob Collison asked if Mr. Worrell came across problems with phasing of bonding. Mr. Worrell said what we are experiencing in the housing market today is simply a repeat. It is a real problem that should be addressed more carefully than having a developer's attorney, who is doing a very good job for the developer, drafting the document. The City should get some input from people who are knowledgeable.
Rob Collison said this issue arose about 4 or 5 years ago before the Planning Commission. When they first looked into it, Baltimore County was one of the few jurisdictions that permitted phasing. When it came up another 4 months ago, Steve Johnson's staff looked into other jurisdictions. He thinks they found another municipality on the shore. Currently, he does not think the vast majority of the municipalities permit any phases. They have to do it all at one time or they only get approval on a phase-by-phase basis. He has not researched the exact working on Baltimore County's ordinance.
Steve Johnson said Planning and Zoning looked at protecting the citizens by having the 6-year limitation. They thought it would encourage development by allowing bonding in phases for very large projects. It was a back-and-forth negotiation with the attorneys for the developer. Baltimore County's timeframe is longer. Rob Collison said the bond forms will be very critical. The developers will have to accept our bond forms or they will not get the approval.
Commissioner Knox said it was quite a deliberation but he feels we have to be protected from these large developments. The smaller developers will be bonded because there is no mention of them not being bonded. It is a risk we are going to take. He likes the bonding idea. There are other mechanisms we can incorporate to make sure we are protected before the occupancy permits are granted. Rob Collison said the bonding has to be done before the building permits are issued. He said they can take testimony this evening and defer the vote to the next meeting. He would be glad to meet with Mr. Worrell to see what suggestions he may be making to the ordinance as well as developing the actual bonding form.
Commissioner Sydnor asked Rob Collison if he was comfortable with the ordinance. Rob Collison said he has nothing to compare it to. He knows it is similar to what Baltimore County has. He does not think it is time sensitive in the next 2 weeks.
Commissioner Knox said with the current economic situation in our county, we want to be extremely careful because we have development project now sitting idle and we have projects where the infrastructure has not been completed.
Sandy McAllister testified in favor of the ordinance. He said he did not write one syllable of the ordinance. He is familiar with it. Condemning the process by which bond companies pay out is not going to change whether you phase the bonding or you require 100% bonding up front. If Mr. Worrell's presentation was to be taken at face value, you would ask why they should do the 100% bond either, because they will never get it out of anybody. The point in planned growth was that they want people to be encouraged to bring developments before City Council and before the Planning Commission that provide long-range planning. If you take a project that is described as taking 15 to 20 years to build, you would be asking Mr. Johnson to predict what a road will cost to build decades in advance. That is why they could do it 100 units at a time. Not only does not one dime of the infrastructure necessary for that construction of 100 units in a phase have to be posted in a form satisfactory to the City, you are as protected as you ever are in the context of bonding for infrastructure. He thinks the Planning Commission wisely recommended that all off-site improvements be required to be bonded in the first phase. If the project is not successful in Phases 2 or 3 and the subdivision approval lapses in 6 years, the bond that is posted in the first phase covers all of the infrastructure that would benefit the public. The deals made for large projects do not have the public's benefits postponed or never built. A lot of thought has gone into this. If they want to plan ahead, it is very difficult to tell somebody who will not sell a house for 15 or 20 years that he needs to write the check today. A billion dollar project done in phases over 15 or 20 years permits it to be successful. Nobody can front the expense for 20+ years of infrastructure. You would not want them to because you want them to be successful. If you cannot pull a permit for any of the houses in a 100-unit Phase 1 until 100% of the infrastructure is bonded to the satisfaction of the City and 100% of the off-site benefits to the community are bonded to the satisfaction of the City, he thinks it very clearly address Commissioner Knox's concerns that the citizens of Cambridge not be exposed. That is what it is designed to accomplish. He hopes Council takes the very thoughtful recommendation of the Planning Commission and the Department Head of the Department of Public Works and move ahead.
Nobody else asked to speak; therefore, the public hearing was closed.
Gail Skinner to Receive Proclamation and Request Noise Variance for Relay for Life (May 16 and 17)-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve a noise variance for May 16th and 17th for Relay for Life. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0. Gail Skinner thanked the Mayor and Council for their continued support of Relay for Life. The event will be held at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School on May 16th and 17th. They have about 30 teams with close to 400 participants. This year their theme is "Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back". They will be celebrating the advances in cancer research and the lives that have been saved; they will be remembering those who have lost the battle to cancer; and will be honoring people that are fighting back in the battle against cancer. This year during their opening ceremony at 6:00 pm, they will also be honoring children who are or have fought the battle with cancer. Mayor Rippons thanked Mrs. Skinner for the efforts of her committee.
Proclamation for the 2008 Maryland Chiefs' Challenge Campaign to Designate May 2008 as Click It or Ticket Month-A representative from the Sheriff's Office thanked the Mayor and Council for their support of this campaign. It is important to all citizens. Those involved in law enforcement see the results every time they investigate a fatal or serious injury that a lot of time could have been prevented with use of the seatbelt. They appreciate the support of the Council and look forward to working with the City Police on these efforts.
Al Gellene, Marine Trawler Owners Association, to Request to Erect a 40' x 90' Tent and a 15' x 15' Tent on the Grass Area of Long Wharf During Their MTOA Rendezvos from September 22 to September 29; Noise Variances on Wednesday, Sept. 24 from 7:00 pm until 9:00 pm; Thursday, Sept. 25 from 7:00 pm Until 10:30 pm; Friday, Sept. 25 from 7:00 pm Until 11:00 pm; and Saturday, Sept. 26 from 7:00 pm until 10:00 pm and Permission for Participants to Consume Liquor in This Area-Chief Malik asked about the liquor. Al Gellene said it will be beer and wine and only served in the area of the tent. They know they have to speak to the Liquor Board. They are not selling the liquor to the public. It is strictly for the members. They are expecting approximately 155 people. Rob Collision said he spoke with the applicant. He advised them to speak to Steve Johnson and Oden Wheeler. They will be posting the necessary insurance. The group will be leaving the area in the same condition as they found it as far as clean-up, etc. They must secure the tent area to the satisfaction of the City with regard to the alcohol. Members of the public cannot go out and members of the public cannot go into the tent. Steve Johnson said as long as they have staff, they can handle the cleaning that they requested in their letter. The dumpsters are emptied twice a week. If they want the dumpsters emptied other times, they will have to pay for it. If the City provides additional staff time, they will be billed for it also. Commissioner Brooks said the noise variances requested are during the week and go until 10:30 pm one night and 11:00 pm the other night. There are some residences in that area. She suggested that the noise variances not go beyond what they give to other people which is 10:00 pm. Commissioner Knox asked how many vessels they anticipate. Mr. Gellene said they expect between 40 and 55 vessels. One of the reasons they are coming to Cambridge is because of the investment that the municipality made in the marina. Commissioner Brooks asked Mr. Gellene about the noise variances. Mr. Gellene said they typically have some dancing on Friday night with a DJ and music. They just wanted a little bit of flexibility. Commissioner Brooks said if they would like the noise variance to be until 10:30 pm on Thursday night and 11:00 pm on Friday night, they should lay the question on the table until they get some response from the residents in that area. Mr. Gellene said 10:00 pm on Thursday and 11:00 pm on Friday would be fine. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the requests. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Mayor Rippons said they are voting to approve the considerations outlined with the noise variance as specified except that Thursday be limited to 10:00 pm. The motion passed 4:0.
Deborah Johnson, The Corporation for Healthy Homes & Economic Development, to Give Update on the Lead Hazard Control Program-Mayor Rippons said Deborah Johnson will give a report at a later meeting.
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)-Shawn Reincke said the prom will be held outside this year. The hours are from 8:30 pm until 11:30 pm. Because they are having a DJ, they were told they would need a noise variance from the City in order to do that. Commissioner Sydnor asked approximately how many chaperons will be present. Mr. Reincke said there will be at least 25 chaperons on site that night. There will also be 3 officers on site. The tent is 60‑ft x 120-ft. Only 40-ft of the perimeter will be open. The rest will be sided. The open side will be toward the Sailwinds building. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the noise variance. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
John Seward to Discuss Hanging a Banner for the Farmers' Market-John Seward requested permission to hang the Farmers' Market banner on Race Street for two 2-week periods. The first will be May 16th through June 1st. The second will be from September 29th to October 16th. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Sharon Wilson, Visions America, to Discuss CDBG Funding-Sharon Wilson asked for support of a letter of resolution so they can apply for the CDBG funding. They write their own grants. Commissioner Sydnor asked the results of Planning and Zoning going before the County on the City's other CDBG application. Steve Johnson said they have been talking to the County and depending on what answer they get, they will be doing a presentation at a County Council meeting. It has not been resolved yet. Mayor Rippons said a municipality is only allowed to apply for up to $800,000. The City itself has a request for $400,000. Ms. Wilson has asked for a resolution. In his opinion, it does not work that way. Only municipalities can apply for CDBG funds. Visions America would have to be a sub-recipient of the City. Sharon Wilson agreed. Mayor Rippons said in addition to the $400,000 that the City will be requesting, there is a request from a community group for gap funding that relates to roughly $560,000. That is a question that the City is bringing before the County. If the City applies for the City's projects, they will only have $400,000 left and the other group has already requested $560,000. That project could easily be broken down into two facets of the infrastructure-one being the water and one being the wastewater. They are asking the County to submit one part of the request. In addition, at the last Council meeting, there was a community group that brought up a request for $200,000 for a project they are doing. They are relegated not to overstep their boundaries and apply for more than $800,000. The Council will have to consider what, within those confines, is the project they will be requesting funds for. Commissioner Sydnor asked if Ms. Wilson was going to submit her grant through the City. Ms. Wilson said she was. Mayor Rippons said they could also submit it through the County. Ms. Wilson said she sent them a letter as well.
Commissioner Brooks made a motion to prioritize what they have in front of them since they have several grant requests. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. He said that would give them time to see what the County is going to do. The motion passed 4:0.
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 this ordinance was introduced on March 24, 2008. Presently the City's only option when a property owner does not adhere or comply with a demolition order is to undertake the demolition itself and then attach the cost of that demolition as a lien on the property. The proposed ordinance would give the City the additional option of assessing the property owner an amount of $100 per day for each day that the demolition is not completed. Commissioner Brooks said there have been 2 complaints registered that they feel that with the way this is stated and the way that the demolition orders are being carried out within the City, it is unfair and certain individuals are being look at vs. City-wide and being done in a fair sequence. There are individual who feel they are being picked-on more than other landlords within the City. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the ordinance as written. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Second Reading and Vote 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 Council held a public hearing on this ordinance this evening. Commissioner Sydnor said he was at several of the Planning and Zoning meetings. When this came up, they had questions about it and refined the ordinance several times to get an acceptable form. He assumes Rob Collison read it. Rob Collison said he read it; he did not draft it. Sandy McAllister said a number of people worked on it collectively and it was modified extensively after the Planning Commission meeting based on their input. Rob Collison said Planning and Zoning held a public hearing. Commissioner Sydnor asked how many responses they had to the public hearing. Commissioner Knox said it might have been two. There was hardly any opposition at all. He does not believe there was any opposition at the time. Commissioner Brooks suggested they could postpone the vote to give Rob Collison an opportunity to look at the ordinance and to give Council some more advice. Rob Collison said they could postpone the vote until the next meeting and in that time see where it stands with the other jurisdictions and how it is working for those that actually have it. Commissioner Sydnor asked why it was not done before tonight. Commissioner Brooks said that is the purpose of the public hearing. Rob Collison said the Planning and Zoning Commission looked at it. He thinks that is why they amended it from the 8 to 10 years down to 6 years. Steve Johnson said Planning and Zoning recommends that this ordinance be approved as proposed. They looked at it thoroughly and they feel this is the best thing for the City. Rob Collison said Mr. Worrell may have some valid concerns that could be addressed. This is the first time he heard that input. Mr. Worrell said he was not aware of the matter when it was before the Planning Commission. Had he been aware of it, he would have addressed it there. Commissioner Knox said it is not a time sensitive issue. He thinks Planning and Zoning did a good job on the ordinance. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to lay the question on the table to give Rob Collison an opportunity to review it further. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Sydnor said he does not have a problem with it but asked why it was not done before. He said Rob Collison should have looked over the document. Rob Collison said he looked at the document. The Director referred to in the document is the Director of Public Works. What he got from Mr. Worrell's comments is that you have certain problems when a developer stops a project and you have to exercise your rights under either the bonding or the letter of credit. What he is saying is that if you do it in phases, the taxpayer could possibly be on the hook for more than if it wasn't done if phases. Hearing that tonight for the first time, maybe there is a way by which you can add some language that could address how that could be minimized. Rather than the City being on the hook for doing the actual work, there may be some language that could be added to it that could minimize the risk. Commissioner Sydnor asked Steve Johnson if he was aware of any language that could have been added to it. Steve Johnson said no. Planning and Zoning did a thorough job of looking at it and this is what they recommend that the City adopt. New questions have come up tonight that were not raised previously. It is not time sensitive. It would be a good idea to take another look at it. Commissioner Brooks said there were some questions about the 1 year or 6 years and they need to be clarified. Rob Collison said the purpose of the public hearing is to hear concerns that they may not know about. It is hard to anticipate them in advance if you do not know what they are. There may be some valid concerns. They may come back in 2 weeks and say it appears to be valid. He thinks what is going to be critical is the specific bond form that the applicants will submit. Commissioner Brooks said no matter how thorough a job Planning and Zoning did, they are not law experts. She thanked Mr. Worrell for coming before Council tonight and bringing these point out which gives Council an opportunity to go back and take a look at it. Rob Collison said a lot of his concerns will be addressed in the actual bond document that will be submitted as part of the public works agreement. The motion to table the vote to allow Mr. Collison to review the concerns passed 4:0.
Approve Financing for Communications System at Public Safety Building-Ed Kinnamon said he talked to Commissioner Sydnor about this last week. This is affecting 3 departments at the public safety building. It was suggested that all 3 departments share in the expense. They came up with RFC and CEMS contributing $15,000 each and CPD contributing $12,000. He has notified the 3 Department Heads about it. Chief Bill Watkins said he thinks it is a necessity that it goes through. They cannot get calls in their office. Their communication devices do not work without this work being done. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the financing. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Discuss Public Safety Building Time Capsule-In addition to the items listed on the memo from Steve Johnson, Commissioner Knox suggested an aerial photograph of the City. Mayor Rippons asked Steve Johnson to get the photo.
Discussion of MIEMSS Grant; Educational Mentoring of Perspective Employees; and Charging for Request for Stand-By Ambulance and Crew-Chief Bill Watkins said CEMS was awarded a MIEMSS grant of $10,300 several months ago. He sent out RFIs for the equipment they need. He received 2 responses. His budget has dried up some with capital expenses, overhead, fuel, and maintenance. Unexpected salary expenses have gone up and the budget is getting tight. He would like to defer this grant until FY09 if possible. He has to spend this grant with the State this year. The vendors have agreed that they could purchase the equipment now but they will not have to pay for it until FY09 if the Council approves it. Commissioner Sydnor said when they were looking at an amount for the ambulance of $170,000 in which it costs $145,000 and they were looking at the difference, part of it was going to be used to fix the problem with the communications at the public safety building. If Chief Watkins wants to defer it, that would be his choice. Chief Watkins said he would rather defer it because they have had some unexpected salary expenses with injuries and sickness. It puts his plan to upgrade their equipment back by a year but he thinks it would be better to wait until they can do it. It is at no cost to the City one way or the other. To spread it out a little longer would be more beneficial. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the utilization of City funds to match the grant to be allocated for FY09. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Chief Bill Watkins said during the budget hearings they have talked about the 'grow your own' concept of growing our own EMS personnel within our City and keeping our people for a number of years. They would put them under contract, if that is possible, similar to what the police do. He researched the amount of money it would take per year to do this. The course is a 1-year course and it would be under $12,000 to do it for the entire year. The benefits would be that it would keep the employee hopefully for 3 years after that. The graduates would receive 11 college credits plus they would be an EMT-I which is one step below a paramedic. It would benefit the City in the long run. There is a severe lack of paramedics and ALS providers in the region. He thinks this is the way to go for the future. Mayor Rippons said part of the $12,000 is for time worked. Chief Watkins said they would be paid to go to class. It would be $1,500 tuition; about $500 for books; and $10,000 for salary based on a $14.29 wage per hour which is our basic EMT wage when we start a new EMT. Commissioner Sydnor asked if they would be utilized as part time employees. Mayor Rippons said the $10,000 will pay for their time in class. Commissioner Knox said he thinks it is a terrific opportunity. Chief Watkins said they have to work out a contract. Commissioner Knox said it is an opportunity for people coming out of high school to have a career opportunity in Cambridge. Commissioner Brooks said it would be, provided that they stay here and do not go to Annapolis after they get out of training. The contract would have to have a 1 year or 2 year commitment. Chief Watkins said he was thinking of 3 years. You can buy your way out if you choose to. It would be similar to CPD. Commissioner Sydnor said in a previous conversation, he thought Chief Watkins said it was something like $2,000 that the City would have to pay and that they would actually be working in order to get the other portion of that; not that they would be sitting in a classroom. Chief Watkins said he does not recall that part of the conversation. Commissioner Knox asked if some of this funding could be reimbursed through the State. Chief Watkins said he will look into it. Commissioner Knox said there are training grants. Chief Watkins said the Maryland State Firemen's Association does reimburse to some degree. This is in its infant stage right now. He will research it further and get back to Council to fine tune it more.
Chief Watkins said Pleasant Day Adult Day Care requested a stand-by ambulance for Senior Celebration. They normally send their second crew there during the day to staff. This year Jackie Vickers is talking about having 1000 to 2000 people. During the stand-by of their second crew, they normally answer calls as they are needed. With this number of people, he cannot see them leaving. He thinks somebody should be there the whole time which means they have to pay another crew to come in take care of this affair. Based on his tight budget, he asked if Council will agree for him to call in another crew. It is happening more and more. Commissioner Sydnor asked the approximate cost. Chief Watkins said for this event it would be about $300. Ed Kinnamon said the City does not have a policy on this. He and Chief Watkins talked about it and he suggested that Chief Watkins bring it before Council. They charge for certain events like the Triathlon. In the past, they have not charged for this event. Money is tight and they want to watch what they spend. He suggested they adopt a policy of some kind. He asked Chief Watkins to formulate a policy for Council to review.
Request from Snappers Waterfront Café for a Noise Variance for Their Cinco De Mayo Weekend on Saturday, May 3rd from 8:00 pm until 12:00 am (music inside building with doors open); Request for a Noise Variance for May 31st from 9:00 pm until 11:00 pm; and Noise Variances for Their Sunday Deck Parties from 6:00 pm until 10:00 pm Every Sunday May 4th Through September 28th -Chief Malik said they have not had any trouble during the last couple of years. A few years ago they did have problems. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the noise variances for these dates and times. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Request from the Dorchester Fishing Club for Permission to Allow Beer to be Brought to Great Marsh During Their Fishing Tournament on Saturday, June 28th from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm-Clint Waters, President of the Dorchester County Chapter of the MSSA, said they are a fishing club with 300 members in Dorchester County and 8000 member State-wide. This is the first time they are having this fishing tournament. There will probably be about 40 members present. He is sure someone will want to bring beer. They will not be selling it. Steve Johnson said the date has been reserved for this club. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Request to go to Bid for 410 Academy Street Roof Repairs-Commissioner Brooks said she is surprised that Chief Malik never said anything about the problem with the roof. Steve Johnson said with the way roof leaks occur, there may not have been problems previously; however, the roof is leaking now and it needs to be repaired. Commissioner Brooks asked if they are talking about patches or a whole new roof. Steve Johnson said they are talking about 2 patches. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Discuss Street Opening Repair Costs-Steve Johnson said when someone opens a street, they have to put fill material on it. The City puts asphalt on top of it. The cost of asphalt has gone up tremendously. They have been charging $5.50 a square foot and they need to raise it to $7.70 per square foot. Commissioner Knox made a motion to raise the fee for street opening repairs to $7.70. Commissioner Sydnor suggested $8.00. Steve Johnson said he calculated it exactly and $7.70 will cover the costs. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve Resolution to Adopt ASOP Regarding Exemption of Impact Fees for Properties Previously Served by Water and Sewer-Rob Collison said the ASOP will state that if a property owner can prove to the satisfaction of the Director of Public Works that a structure was previously on the property; that the structure was once occupied; was connected to, used, and paid for City water and sewer services; and paid municipal real property taxes, then that property would be exempt from the impact fees. As proposed, there is no time frame in this resolution. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the resolution as worded. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0.
Approve PO 91155 - George, Miles & Buhr - Engineering Services for Enhanced Nutrient Removal Study - $9,500.00-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0. Mayor Rippons said this will be reimbursed from the State.
Approve PO 91156 - Anderson Fence Co. - 4-Ft High Chain Link Fence for Public Safety Building Pond - $5,076.00-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the purchase order. 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 Sydnor made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion for the purpose of discussion. Commissioner Brooks asked who would be doing the work on the trucks. Chief Martin Pepper said they presently have work done by outside organizations as well as some members depending on the repairs that are necessary and their abilities. Sometimes the trucks have to leave and be transported to the shop. Typically they use the shop in Easton. There were 2 shops in Easton; however, 1 moved to Middletown, Delaware. Commissioner Brooks asked if it is cheaper to have the repairman come to the station to do work than to send the trucks out for the work. Chief Pepper said that is correct. Commissioner Brooks asked if the City would be able to utilize this lift for any other heavy equipment the City has such as ambulances, police cars, etc. Chief Pepper said it would belong to the City and he does not see an issue with that. Commissioner Sydnor said he had a discussion with Chief Hurley today. Each of them thinks that he meant that it can be utilized by all of our other departments. In lieu of a City garage which would be very nice to have, he thinks we can use this to enhance, not only RFC, but CEMS and even CPD. It would be much cheaper to have a mechanic come in rather than to look at the truck and then carry the truck out. Commissioner Knox said most of the service-oriented personnel charge from the time they leave their parking lot to come to your place of business. Commissioner Sydnor said as far as the fire truck itself, if you have to carry it over there to them, there will be an initial charge. If you have to carry it to them, they will incur additional charges. Commissioner Knox said if the service personnel come to the fire house, they are going to charge from the time they leave their facility to drive to Cambridge. He asked if there is a heavy equipment lift at DPW. Steve Johnson said they do not have one. Commissioner Knox asked how the mechanics work on the trucks at DPW. Steve Johnson said it is with great difficulty. They jack them up. Commissioner Knox said he was told at one time that to work on a fire truck they have to be certified mechanics. Chief Hurley said that is not correct. Commissioner Knox asked how many people within the fire department are qualified to work on the trucks. Chief Hurley said probably 15 people. Commissioner Knox said he would like to see their certification. He asked how often they lift the fire trucks up to work on them. He asked if it is more than the department of public works, who probably work on their trucks on a daily basis. Chief Hurley said he cannot answer that because he does not know how much they pick their trucks up. Commissioner Knox said he believes they are picked-up more at DPW than they are at RFC. With the current budget restraints that we are under, he thinks $62,000 is a waste of taxpayers' money. It is not cost-effective to have a $62,000 truck lift and have paid personnel from other facilities come over for service and then they have to go back to their shop and get something else. Now they may have another hour of driving time to go back to their facility. This is not a good thing. It will not work and will be a big burden on the taxpayers.
Commissioner Brooks said before they say it is not cost-effective with 100% certainty, she would like to see a cost analysis so they can see where they would save the most money. Right now, all they have is the cost of the lift. They do not know if it will be cheaper to send it out or have someone come in. She is hearing from Chief Watkins, Mr. Johnson, and possibly Chief Malik that someone else in our City may be able to utilize the lift. She said they should have a cost analysis done. Commissioner Knox said if DPW has to work on a garbage truck, RFC will not let them use their tools so that means DPW will have to pack up their tools and carry them over there or the City is going to have to buy additional tools for every department. Commissioner Sydnor said Commissioner Knox is making an assumption there. Commissioner Brooks said if it is approved, the lift will be housed in the public safety building. RFC is requesting it but that does not mean that it belongs solely to them and the rest of the City has to get their approval. As long as it is in the City, it ultimately belongs to the City of Cambridge along with the tools that belong to the City unless the fire department has gone out and gotten grants without the help of the City of Cambridge. Commissioner Knox said any liability that may occur from an uncertified mechanic working on the equipment will be held against the City of Cambridge as well. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to a lay the question on the table for the purpose of getting a cost analysis. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. Mayor Rippons said this motion will take priority over the previous motion. Commissioner Knox asked who will do the cost analysis. Commissioner Brooks said Chief Hurley will find someone to do the cost analysis.
Chief Hurley said he is tired of getting beat on by Commissioner Knox. It may be his opinion that it is not cost effective but it would be to his advantage if he would get some correct information before he forms his opinion. He is talking about people who are not certified. Most of these people are very well certified and more certified than a lot of the mechanics at the current repair companies that work on the apparatus. There are certain things on that apparatus that have to be done by certified people. People come in once a month now to review problems with the trucks. When a piece of equipment is sitting in Easton, Baltimore, or Middletown it is out of service for what may be a minor repair that could have been done in the station. You can't put a value on it when it is needed for a large fire. Before they do their cost analysis, it will be to their best interest to get all the information first. The fire department has never put anything out to the public that is not cost effective and is a waste of money to the taxpayers. You have to look at all the people, including the people who work on the ambulances every day, for free. If he is looking for certifications and liabilities, he should look at some of the certifications and liabilities of the other areas that they ought to be concerned with within the City and within other things that go on within the City. Commissioner Brooks called for a vote. Mayor Rippons said the vote is to table the discussion to allow for consideration of cost effectiveness of the project. The motion passed 4:0.
Rob Collison announced that the Planning and Zoning Commission will be meeting on Tuesday at 7:00 pm to hold a work session for the revised Comprehensive Plan. Commissioner Sydnor asked if the consultant will be at the meeting. Rob Collison said it is his understanding that he will be there.
Commissioner Brooks said they have been getting a lot of complaints from residents in the Greenwood Avenue area. The Cambridge Police Department is doing an outstanding job in that particular area. However, they feel the pulse should not solely rest on the City of Cambridge and the problem should not solely rest on the City of Cambridge. Housing developments such as Park East Apartments and the Cambridge Housing Authority should come together to come up with some solutions and even apply for federal grants so that maybe they can get cameras out there. The City does not have enough police officers to stand on every block 24 hours a day. They need help from the public and from the federal government. They need the citizens to come together. They need the ones who are getting a lot of money from the federal government to provide protection in that area to come together and help with this problem. Mayor Rippons asked Chief Malik to outline the areas in the community where he thinks we might endeavor to go out there and then contact his office and they will contact the different authorities. Chief Malik said they have been in constant contact with the people almost on a weekly basis. They certainly would like to see some security cameras out there. It is cost prohibitive for the City and for the police department. They spend a lot of money out there for overtime and will continue to do it. He believes they do a good job out there. Cameras are not the catch-all everyone thinks they are but they certainly would be a help in that area. It is not only the cost of the camera, but the cost of people to monitor the cameras 24 hours a day. It is almost cost prohibitive for the City. It would take at least 5 to 7 additional people if they want the cameras watched 24 hours a day for 7 days a week. In his mind, it is not something that is feasible for the City at this time. If it is possible for the Bay Country Apartments and for Cambridge's Housing Authority to get some grants to fund those cameras, that would be great. They also have to come up with the funding to monitor those cameras. You could also go back and get the tape after the fact and see who is causing the problem if you can identify them and then make an arrest based on the video cameras. It certainly is a deterrent for crime. Commissioner Brooks said she and Commissioner Sydnor had an opportunity to go and see these cameras in action where the murder rate was extremely high and how there is a drop in crime because of these video cameras. Because there are shootings taking place in areas that are heavily populated with children and a bullet knows no one, any stray bullet at any given time could kill a child or somebody's mother. She does not want to be reactive. She would rather be proactive. She is not going to put a price tag on protecting children. Chief Malik said he does not have a problem with. If the City wants to budget for these cameras, they can do so. Getting grants would be great. Mayor Rippons asked Chief Malik to outline the neighborhoods that would benefit from these cameras so they can begin deliberations on the issue. Commissioner Sydnor suggested looking into the cost of the cameras. Some can be tied into the phone lines so it can run directly back to the public safety building where somebody can monitor them. They may not want to have them monitored 24 hours a day, but they are aware of various times when the crowds gather out there and maybe they can monitor them during those times. If they are gathering at this time of year, we can only imagine what it is going to be like in June, July, and August. Chief Malik said this is not a new problem. Commissioner Sydnor said they want to do anything they can possible do.
Portia Johnson-Ennels said the area they are talking about is in the C-Safe area. They have overtime money allotted for policemen that does not have to come out of CPD's budget. They just put in a new grant for money for overtime in the C-Safe area. The area they are having the most problems in is their initial C-Safe area which is Greenwood Avenue. It has filtered down to the Housing Authority of Cambridge. They have been trying for years to get a curfew. Bay Country Apartments is privately owned and they do not want to spend any money for any type of protection. They have been trying for years to have that organization work with them to do something. The Housing Authority was never asked to participate in this. The area having problems is Wood Street, Camelia Street, Cornish Drive, Greenwood Avenue and Leonard Lane. It is the want-to-be gang members. They are not true gangs but are causing a lot of problems. A lot of the people do not live in the area. The Cambridge Police have been working with the neighbors. Chief Malik said the overtime is coming from the C-Safe grant. They just got approved for an additional $10,000 from another grant that they need to spend by the end of July.
Ed Kinnamon said Thursday, May 1st is the National Day of Prayer. The event will take place at 12 noon at the corner of Gay and Spring Streets.
Ed Kinnamon reported that the Council met in open session at 6:00 pm to 6:40 pm to discuss the budget.
Steve Johnson said at the last meeting, someone asked about the status of the bridge repairs on the Cambridge Creek Bridge. He talked to a representative from the State Highway Administration who said they are studying the issue and will do some temporary repairs. They have requested money in their new budget to do major paving on the bridge. They do not know if they will get the money.
Steve Johnson said another issue that came up at the last meeting was garbage pick-up on holidays. In February 1999, Council voted that the City would pick up trash on a holiday if the County landfill was open. They have been doing it since 1999.
Steve Johnson said he was asked to make a recommendation on the Housing Task Force. His recommendation is that the task force be dissolved.
Jane Devlin, on behalf of the Public Involvement Committee for the Cambridge City Plan, gave the public a meeting timeline which will carry them through all of the expected meetings as the process goes forward. The meetings will be held in City Council Chambers. If there is a lot of participation, they will move the venue. Press releases will be given to the newspapers. The subcommittees are still open for members. The public is invited to all meetings.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned the meeting at 8:53 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, April 28, 2008, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon
Clerk & Treasurer