• City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
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BZA Minutes

June 25, 2013

Board of Zoning Appeals
June 25th, 2013

The Board of Zoning Appeals for the City of Cambridge met at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 in the City Council Chambers located at 305 Gay Street, Cambridge, Maryland.

Mr. Jane Devlin, Vice Chair, called the meeting to order. She took the roll call of officers.

Board Members in Attendance: Jane Devlin-Vice Chair, Brian Manning, Wendell Foxwell, Frank Cooke (was not present for the initial roll called but joined the Board at approximately 9:15p.m.); Board Members Absent: Ted Brooks

Other representatives in Attendance: Dan Brandewie, City Planner II.

Ms. Devlin asked if there were any changes to the agenda. There were no changes. She reviewed the public hearing procedures for the benefit of the public. She administered the oath for those individuals desiring to present testimony.


February 26th, 2013: Ms. Devlin asked if there any changes to the minutes. Hearing none, Brian Manning moved to approve the minutes; second by Mr. Foxwell. Motion carried.

March 26th, 2013: Ms. Devlin noted that there were some minor corrections and asked that they be moved to the back of the agenda.


BZA# 06 FY 12/13, 606 William Street, Tax Map 301, Parcel 39, Ann Damianos homeowner/applicant requests a variance to construct an accessory building in excess of 15 feet in height as required per Section 232 (1) (d). In addition, to request for Special Exception (SE) to construct an accessory dwelling unit per Section 231 of the City of Cambridge, Zoning Ordinance. The property is zoned NC-3.

Mr. Brandewie noted that this case is being carried forward from the March 26th BZA Public Hearing. The minutes reflect the fact the BZA tabled the case. Questions were asked at that meeting about the drainage pipe that may be affecting the building site and drainage problems associated with the area. He reviewed additional drawings provided by the City showing the storm water pipe and provided a history of the pipe. It is a privately owned storm water pipe that runs to Williams Street. Sketches have been provided showing the approximate location of the pipe with the existing and proposed accessory building. Staff has recommended approval of the variance and Special Exception request and noted that the proposed zoning code may allow a height limit of 18 feet. The Planning and Commission had recommended approval of the Special Exception at a previous meeting.

Mr. Manning asked when the pipe was installed and are there any collection drains. Mr. Brandewie stated that there were indications on the map showing some storm drains and it had been constructed years ago. Mr. Manning noted that the pipe may not have been designed for additional run-off related to development in the area. And has the line been unplugged? Mr. Foxwell noted that apparently the problem with drainage has not been solved. Mr. Brandewie noted that on-site drainage basins have been installed near the cemetery but the pipe may not be helping solve the drainage problem.

Anne Damianos presented additional pictures to the Board for the record of the drainage problems on her lot as it affects the shed. She noted that the photos' were taken on a recent Friday before a heavy rainfall. Discussion followed about the nature of the drainage improvements constructed as part of the Church's cemetery project. She testified that it is a private pipe; that it runs through her property and it is not adequate to drain the amount of storm water. It is her preference therefore to construct the building higher. Discussion followed about exactly how high the structure will be with an elevated block foundation. The variance would be essentially for 7' in height. Mr. Manning noted that while it is being discussed that the height for accessory buildings in the new draft zoning code should go to 18 feet; that has not been adopted. The variance is almost 50% more than what is allowed. His property floods too but that is somewhat a fact of life around here. If we make a decision like this, will everyone be asking for 22 feet?

Ms. Devlin asked for clarification in that we do have to put a limitation on it. The proposal is then for 22 feet. Mr. Foxwell noted that he had looked at the site; a lot of the accessory buildings in the neighborhood including on High Street are constructed higher. He believed 22 feet would still be in line with other nearby accessory buildings. Mr. Brandewie noted that by not allowing the building to go up with the height, the roof pitch ends up lower and the shape of the building has to be spread out. This produces an accessory building that is less compatible to existing conditions in the neighborhood.

Tony Thomas, 603 William Street spoke in favor of the project. It will be more compatible with the neighborhood which has carriage style houses. It will be a help to the area by taking down the existing building and be a positive improvement.

David Adams, 600 William Street, spoke in favor of the request. Ms. Daminanos has a large lot and this proposed structure will be compatible with other improvements in the neighborhood. There were no additional public comments.

Mr. Brandewie reminded the Board that it will be a requirement to have a deed recorded against the property certifying that at least one of the buildings will have to be occupied by an owner occupant and that this deed restriction should be brought back to the Board for verification. Hearing that, the Board moved to close public discussion and enter into deliberations.

Jane Devlin agreed with the raising of the foundation. As you look at the massing of the building, it seems to be a reasonable expectation. Mr. Manning questioned whether the lot is buildable if there is no plan to fix the drainage problem. Ms. Devlin said that could be a building permit problem. Mr. Foxwell advised that the City further look into the problems with the drainage pipe. BZA members acted to close the deliberations. Ms. Devlin asked if there should be separate motions on the height issue.

Mr. Foxwell moved to approve the application with the further condition as recommended by staff regarding the recording of the deed restriction for the accessory dwelling unit and that the accessory building is allowed to be constructed to 22 feet in height. Brian Manning seconded the motion. Roll Call: Mr. Manning-No; Mr. Foxwell-Yes; Ms. Devlin-Yes. Motion carried 2-1 in favor. Ms. Devlin advised staff to further have DPW evaluate the drainage and condition of the pipe prior to the building permit being issued. Staff further advised that the recorded deed restriction be brought back to the Board as further evidence of compliance with the zoning requirements and action tonight.

BZA# 08 FY 12/13, 601 Chesapeake Ct., (Club Envy) filed by Brian Rich, Cambridge, MD, Tax Map 302, Parcel 2579, request for a variance to construct a fence in excess of a 6 ft. height requirement per Section 272, Section 7 of the Zoning Ordinance (AFTER THE FACT INSTALLATION).

Mr. Brandewie reviewed the staff report. This was an after-the-fact installation of a fence constructed in the rear of a business in excess of the 6 foot height limitation. He reviewed the various attachments included with staff report. Staff is supportive of the variance request; their opinion was that it appeared to be a minor variance request to promote security as it is located in the rear of the property and does not affect neighboring properties. Staff also stated that individual adjacent property owners were not notified however all advertisements including running an ad and the posting of the property were fulfilled. Staff otherwise has had no public comments on the matter. Ms. Devlin asked if staff had actually measured the fence. Staff did not and did not know if the enforcement officer measured it. Ms. Devlin noted she rode by last night and observed the fence's construction.

Rachel Rich, 601 Chesapeake Ct., spoke next and noted that the Club's name is Club Envy. She proceeded to explain that the need for the higher fence was due to an incident in 2010 where a gun was brought into the facility and there was a shooting incident. This is a smoking area for the club. The original fence was too short and people were passing weapons or running in and out; people jumping the fence who were barred or weren't following the rules. The reason we added the fence was to address this in a proactive manner. We didn't know we had to have a permit if it was installed inside the fence. Since then they have obtained a permit and paid the permit fees.

Brian Rich, 601 Chesapeake Court, Apt. F spoke next. He commented on the incident in 2010. That's when we put the lattice work on top. It was estimated that the piece of lattice was in 4 foot sheets. The fence height is now approximately 9 feet. The vinyl fence was installed in 2004; the additional fence was installed in December 2010. The original fence was about 5 feet in height.

Rachel Rich stated that the fence has been there for three years now. Mr. Manning asked if people were climbing over a 5 foot fence. Brian Rich noted that young people were climbing this 5 foot fence. Miss Rich explained why they installed it. Mr. Manning asked if there were any other incidents. The applicants stated there were no further incidents and no neighbors have complained. Mr. Manning noted that one of the problems with the 9 foot fence was that police also cannot see inside the area. Ms. Rich noted that the police are allowed to enter at any time and they fully cooperate with the police. Mr. Manning further stated that he has heard of no other testimony on the nature of the operation that you run. It was noted that one probably can't see the fence when you drive by. The police were unable to see through the five foot fence because there were no slats. There were no further questions from the Board members, staff and from the audience in favor or against the application. The Board acted to close the discussion and enter into deliberations.

Ms. Devlin stated that this is a variance request for a section of fence that is already installed for three feet over code. Mr. Manning stated he was in favor of keeping it to six feet by allowing the ad-on to the existing fence. He noted that there was one incident and that it was a very serious incident, but only one with a five foot fence. They could throw a gun over it at eight feet. He believes that six feet is adequate and we should hold to the City code.

Mr. Foxwell stated there was another former application where we held to a six foot fence but a six fence is easier to climb and pass things over; that it seemed mainly for security and they have had no incidents since 2010 and that perhaps the additional fence has been a deterrent; he is inclined to support the variance to keep it at nine feet. Mr. Manning noted that he reviewed Article 5 regarding the section on criteria for granting variances. There appears to be one or two references that may support a variance in this case; but the majority of the criteria seem to indicate that no justification was warranted. It is hard to go against that. What reasons are we going to use? Mr. Foxwell thought that safety was the main thing and to prevent unwelcome intrusions; the fence was a deterrent to this. Ms. Devlin agreed with Mr. Manning's reasoning. She stated she has a hard time, upon going through the code to justify the variance. Mr. Foxwell stated that the residents upstairs, as they are rental units, could benefit from this. Ms. Devlin stated that information was not presented on this as an issue.

Mr. Manning asked if this was turned down, could they further enclose the patio in some manner. Staff responded that yes, that building walls (and adding a ceiling) could also be an option; staff noted that staff has authorized variances to the type of fencing for security. Discussion followed about the fact that this was a nonconforming use and that the code does not support the expansion of a nonconforming use. Staff noted that there is some language in the code that allows expansion of a nonconforming structure, such as an addition, if it were not to go beyond the original footprint or existing setbacks. Whether an expansion over the patio would be consistent with this, staff would have to further evaluate this issue. The Board elected to call back the applicant for further dialogue. Mr. Manning asked if the applicants were willing to put a flat roof over the patio, such as a corrugated roof, built to code, to accomplish more security. Discussion followed about whether this would be an enclosed space and whether there could be other building code requirements that would come into play, or smoking is now an issue in an enclosed space; or whether you are expanding a non-conforming use.

The Board acted to again close deliberations. Mr. Manning moved to deny the variance. Ms. Devlin seconded the motion. Roll call: Mr. Manning-aye; Ms. Devlin aye; Mr. Foxwell-no. Motion carried 2-1. Variance request is denied. Discussion followed about the timing of enforcement.


Ms. Devlin asked for action on the minutes of March 26th, 2013 and noted some minor corrections. Mr. Manning moved to approve the minutes with corrections as noted; seconded by Mr. Foxwell. Motion carried.

BZA# 07 FY 12/13, 705 Church St., Jamie Richardson, Cambridge, MD Tax Map 301, Parcel 259; Special Exception request to allow for duplex or two-family unit in an NC-3 Zoning District. RESUBMISSION OF PREVIOUS APPLICATION FOR ALTERNATIVE USE-NO NEW INFORMATION. RECOMMEND TABLING FOR NEW ADVERTISMENT AND PUBLIC NOTICE.

Ms. Devlin asked for an update for the Case No. O7 at 705 Church Street. Mr. Brandewie stated that he has not heard back from Mr. Richardson and there is some debate as to whether he is intending to resubmit back for a Special Exception appeal for either a duplex or if he can file an Appeal for a two-family unit. Discussion followed. It was recommended that if he does file for an alternative use that proper public notice be provided by staff.


1. UPDATE ON ZONING ORDINANCE-discussion of Final Draft Unified Development Code.
Ms. Devlin noted that the Unified Development Code is on the City's website and commented on the future public hearing dates. Discussion followed about the appeals process related to HPC and Circuit Court versus the Board of Zoning Appeals. It was recommended by Ms. Devlin that Frank Cooke and Brian Manning are appointed as a subcommittee to review the zoning code and that a work session is established to review the findings of the subcommittee. Frank Cooke then joined the Board of Zoning Appeals at approximately 9:15p.m. Ms. Devlin and Mr. Brooks will review the by-laws. It was recommended that the BZA workshop be moved to July 30th, given the Planning and Commission's meeting on July 23rd, if the meeting room is available. Mr. Brandewie will provide copies of the UDC to members.

Ms. Devlin stated that the Mayor has accepted the resignation of Mr. Rufus Sampson. The City has not acted to fill the position of Mr. Sampson but is asking Mr. Brooks if he is willing to serve as full time member. It was recommended that a decision on election of officers be delayed until a decision is made by Council on filling the Board opening. Ms. Devlin will send an email to the Mayor regarding a letter of appreciation for Ms. Sampson's service to the Board.

Mr. Foxwell moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:30p.m. Mr. Manning seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,

Daniel L. Brandewie
City Planner II

Signature: ____________________ Date: _________________
Chairman, Board of Zoning Appeals

Note: These minutes were approved at the BZA meeting conducted on August 27th, 2013.