City Council Minutes
May 12, 2008
May 12, 2008
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, May 12, 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, Cephas, 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 28, 2008 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. Commissioner Sydnor said Council had discussed a motion that was in the previous meeting where they were discussing appropriations for the Department of Public Works and also job descriptions. Mayor Rippons said Mr. Collison has requested a meeting after Council to discuss it. Commissioner Sydnor requested that Council delay the vote on approving the minutes. Mayor Rippons asked what part of the April 28th minutes were wrong. Commissioner Sydnor said it should state that the motion did not pass. Although it was agreed to vote because it was an appropriation, as before, it had to be a super majority of 4 or more votes. Mayor Rippons said it did not require a budget amendment, therefore, it would not require a super majority. Commissioner Sydnor said it did require a budget amendment. Steve Johnson said it does not require a budget amendment. Commissioner Sydnor said some of those positions do not exist at the present time. Steve Johnson said that is correct but there are sufficient funds in the salary budgets for the Department of Public Works to support those positions. No budget amendment is required. Commissioner Sydnor disagreed because of the fact they are moving the funds from what it was designated for to a new area. Steve Johnson said according to the budget guidelines, as long as you stay within the same categories, it is not a budget amendment. There were no budget amendments required. None were requested; none were required. Commissioner Sydnor asked if that is in the City Charter. Steve Johnson said it is advice from counsel. Commissioner Sydnor said it is strange that they had that advice from him before when they were looking at the performance audit and in that particular situation, his law applied. We have the same situation as we had then. Steve Johnson said he thinks the situation is different. Commissioner Brooks said 'think' might not be strong enough. In the minutes it states that Rob Collison said it would require a super majority if it was a budget matter. Mr. Collison was not at the Council meeting at this time so Commissioner Brooks agreed with Commissioner Sydnor that Council not accept the minutes at this time. The motion failed to pass 2:3 (Sydnor, Cephas, Brooks).
CDBG Grant Applications-The notice for the public hearing was advertised in the Daily Banner of May 7, 2008. Anne Roane said the grant application is due on Friday, May 16th. They need Council to prioritize the grants they are applying for. The City is preparing 3 applications. The first application is the gap funding for the extension of water and sewer to the Christ Rock community. MDE has agreed to supply partial funding for that project. The CDBG application would be for approximately $575,000. They are also requesting $90,000 towards demolition in an effort to remove blight and approximately $150,000 toward an elevator in the renovated City Hall which would allow the second floor to be ADA accessible. Commissioner Sydnor said the Council requested that the County apply for part of the Christ Rock funds. He asked if they refused to do it. Anne Roane said they did not ask them to do it. When it came time to ask the County to apply for the money, they were asking why the City would need them to do it. The City did not have any other City projects in the pipeline to total the $800,000 cap. They did not refuse. Commissioner Brooks said at the last Council meeting, she made a motion that Council prioritize the grant requests that they had in front of them because there were more than just 3 organizations that were requesting grant money. The motion passed 4:0. Somehow they missed the part where Council sits down and prioritizes what they should be looking for. It is coming before Council, and Ms. Roane has already picked out the 3 applications that she wants prioritized. It is not the way the motion was made. It was made that they would put the grant requests in front of them and then they would prioritize what was the most important and then bring it back and vote on what seems to be the most beneficial to the City. They skipped one of the processes before they got to the process tonight. Anne Roane said she did not understand that was the process Council wanted to go through. She thought that this was the meeting they would vote on their priorities. It is a very tight timeframe from when they open the grant round to when it is closed. They do not have a lot of time. They do not have a lot of opportunity to have public hearings. It is really only about 2 months. She was not aware of the other 2 grants that Council had in mind. The 3 grants that she is speaking about tonight are the 3 grants that were introduced on April 14th.
Commissioner Brooks said she never gave a number on how many other grants there were. She thinks they need to look at all the applications that came before Council and then make a determination. Anne Roane said the grants are due on Friday and she and Mary Calloway thought they were following the protocol. She would hate to lose the opportunity to apply for those grants by tabling this. The communities will understand because she thinks they are present tonight if they do not apply for those grants this week. Commissioner Brooks said they may want to have a meeting Wednesday night so they can sit down and put them in front of them and then they would have time. They know they can apply for up to $800,000 and they need to make the best use of the grant money for the City of Cambridge. She would like to see all of the requests put in front of them. Anne Roane said tonight is the public hearing and they do not have time to advertise for a public hearing for the other grant applications.
Commissioner Knox said he thinks the citizens of Christ Rock have been waiting a long time to get the grant funds for water and sewer services that they desperately need. He thinks delaying this project could be catastrophic to those folks if we miss this deadline. He thinks Council should vote on this tonight because of the need that these folks have. Commissioner Brooks said we all know that the need is for Christ Rock. However, Ms. Roane only put 3 applications before them. They said at the last meeting that they wanted Christ Rock to be one of the applications. Anne Roane said they do not have time to advertise for a meeting on Wednesday. Commissioner Knox asked how long the folks would have to wait if they miss the deadline. Anne Roane said it would be at least another year. Commissioner Knox said he doesn't think the Christ Rock folks can wait another year. Commissioner Brooks said she doesn't think anybody is talking about having anybody wait because she is talking about prioritizing. There are probably more than just 3 applicants in the room tonight but only 3 applicants have been named. To be fair to everybody, they need to hear all of the applicants. She asked Anne Roane if she had information on the other 2 applications to be presented tonight. Anne Roane said she does not. The 3 applications she has tonight are the applications that are being put forward from the City which were advertised as part of the public hearing.
Commissioner Cephas said Rev. Penn had a request for grant funds. Commissioner Brooks said Visions of America was another one. Neither of these 2 applicants were listed in the public hearing notice. They were omitted. He doesn't think it would be necessary to advertise for another public hearing. If they just add the other 2 applicants on, that is appropriate. Anne Roane said it hasn't been advertised.
Octavene Saunders said having dealt with the department that the applications are presented to, if the Chief Operating Officer of the City was amendable to sending an e-mail or making some type of written request tomorrow to say there has been an administrative glitch somewhere along the way on a local department's handling of the issues, and they request at least another 10 days to submit their applications and it is sent directly to the Secretary of that department, the City will get those 10 days. There is no sense saying they are locked in. If the City is honest with them and let them know that there has been a misunderstanding in communications and Cambridge has a worthwhile project and has to get things in order at the local level, she guarantees they will get at least a 10-day extension. If they cannot do that, she suggests that they do not move forward until all are considered. If 5 applications were submitted, she does not think a department has the right to pick out 3 applications. She thinks it is up to the Mayor and Commissioners. She thinks if they ask for a brief extension with an explanation, that they will get it. Anne Roane said if they do not get it, they cannot apply this year. Octavene Saunders said that would be on whoever stumbled at the City.
Rev. Yvonne Penn, St. Luke United Methodist Church, said she came before the Mayor and Council and asked them to apply for funds. She is happy that Christ Rock is included because she knows that they have been waiting for such a long time. St. Luke's would not want to be a stumbling block for Christ Rock's application. She spoke with the Mayor, unofficially, and he said that St. Luke's was not qualified or something of that nature. He told her he spoke to someone at CDBG. She, in turn, called the Director of CDBG, not the person who is in charge for Cambridge. The Director told her that this is not quite how it goes. She is waiting for an official word from the City. On Friday, she got official word from the City saying to them that the City is not going to let them apply this round but they can go to the County. When she told the Mayor she was going to write the application anyway, he told her to hold up until she heard from the City. The way the Church sees it, the City did not want St. Luke's to be included. That is o.k. with them. The City should go ahead with Christ Rock. She will make sure that she makes contact with the Governor's office. She sees some things happening that are not correct. She asked the City to move forward for the sake of Christ Rock. She thinks it is wrong what the Mayor and City Officials have done to them. Mayor Rippons said he did not tell Rev. Penn that. Rev. Penn said Ms. Roane represented the City when she called her. That is the way she is looking at it.
Commissioner Sydnor asked Ed Kinnamon when the notice for the public hearing went out. Anne Roane said it came out of her office. She believes it was last Friday. It was within the 5 days. Mayor Rippons said he related to Rev. Penn that CDBG is gap funding. A requirement is to have all funding in place. He said Rev. Penn had called him earlier in the week asking him to sign a letter of support which he told her should go before Council before he signs it. At that time, he asked her what it was for. He said she told him it was to get the funding. That indicates that the gap funding cannot be there because the major portion of the funding has not even been applied for. That is what he related to her-not that the Mayor said it would not go through. He said he related to her that CDBG is gap financing. When he looked through her proposal, it talked about HUD and a lot of other agencies. The Christ Rock community has already applied for other funding. Everything is in the pipeline. St. Luke is in the initial phases. He said that is what he related to her. He did not say that any City official was not willing to go forward.
Rev. Penn said when Mayor Rippons related that to her, he said that he spoke to someone and they talked about gap funding. She said she worked with CDBG. She wrote millions of dollars of grants for Snow Hill. She remembers how that money worked. She called the Director of CDBG and shared the same thing she shared with Council. He told her it is not quite how it is because St. Luke's could write it to do what they needed to get done. What they want to do is to serve the entire community. The location is in one of the places that CDBG is looking for the City to work. They are in an impoverished area. She thought it was a winning combination because of the area the development would be in and because of the need for the funds. It is not just for a portion of the City-it is for the entire City. They did not have enough time to go before the County to do the same kind of presentation. It means that the County would not have enough time to advertise for them. That is where the breakdown comes in and that is where she felt it was unfair. They were not officially informed until this past Friday that the City was not going to include them. This was after the public hearing notice was sent out.
Commissioner Sydnor said he understands what Rev. Penn was saying. Council was not informed that it would just be 3 applications that are going to be proposed for this round of grants. Their consideration was to look at all 5 applications. One component of that was that the City was to go to the County and ask them to fund a portion of Christ Rock. That would have freed up possibly $200,000 to $300,000 that the City could have used on other projects. Because the City withdrew themselves from the meeting with the County, the County did not fund any of that at all. It is his understanding that the City had requested $400,000 for the renovation for City Hall and that is what they wanted to use the grant for. He received this information from someone in the County. They were prepared to do half of this for the City until the City withdrew that request and stated that they had all of the funds to fund all of this altogether for the City without having the County involved. This was not due to anything that Mrs. Roane has spoken of. This came from other areas in the City. Rev. Penn said she does not think that Mrs. Roane made this decision on her own because she is an employee of the City. For the sake of Christ Rock, after speaking to the Director of CDBG, and she will call again, she thinks there is another funding round coming up in October. She hopes that the grant is written in such a way and there is proof that some of the impoverished areas are going to be assisted so that Christ Rock will be able to move ahead because that is one of the criteria for CDBG. If you are not including a portion of the impoverished community, you will not get the grant. She hopes the grant application is written in such a way that Christ Rock will get their funding.
Commissioner Brooks said she can go along with allowing Christ Rock to go through because Christ Rock was here last year thinking it was going to go through only to find out that it never went through for a very long period of time. She agrees with Christ Rock. She suggested that they ask for an extension for the remainder of the funds that they have. Anne Roane said she will ask for it, but if the City is not granted an extension, she asked Council's pleasure. Commissioner Brooks said the first priority would be Christ Rock. Commissioner Sydnor said the other applications are for an elevator for the City Hall building and demolition. Commissioner Sydnor asked the estimated cost for the elevator. Anne Roane said she thinks it will be around $150,000. Commissioner Brooks asked where it says that we have to spend all $800,000 now. Anne Roane said nobody said that. Commissioner Brooks proposed that the City moves ahead with Christ Rock because there is another round coming up in October. Anne Roane said we do not know there is another round in October; we think there is. Commissioner Brooks asked Anne Roane to find out. She said Mr. Kinnamon has done telephone votes before. They can move forward with Christ Rock because they were sitting in this seat last year and it has been a very long process. They thought that they were going to get this. They did not get it.
Portia Johnson-Ennels said it seems like every year when it comes down to the CDBG period of time, this problem comes up a few days before it is due and they do not advertise. There is a span of time over a year that they know when these block grants are due. All applicants should have their applications into the City 60 days before the due date. Last year Christ Rock came here and put everything out and got shuffled down the line. There are 2 things on today's priority list that she does not approve of. She feels like the Department of Public Works should find other funding for demolition. As far as the elevator goes, all the years that the fire company was there and they had the train station up there, nobody even thought about putting in an elevator. Even when the gentleman with ADA was campaigning out here, it never came up. Those are not top priority things. Things in our community that are needed are housing, especially for our seniors; water and other problems at Christ Rock; those are our top priorities. We hired a Director of Public Works and hired a Grants Writer. Let them find other places to go and find that money and use block grant money for the needs of the impoverishment of the City of Cambridge-not the department or long standing buildings.
Octavene Saunders said she has been here before. This is not just the second time that Christ Rock has come before Council. Christ Rock has been strung along over 5 years. It is time to vote and give them what they need. She asked why they are talking about spending tax dollars to put an elevator in a building when they already renovated a building to move people to. They have people in a new building. She asked why they would take $150,000 to put an elevator in a building that is going to need a lot of renovation. She disagreed with Mrs. Ennels on the demolition. She thinks they need demolition money to help with the substandard housing problems; to help with the tipping fees; to help with what they should be trying to move forward to with urban renewal in the blighted areas. She disagrees with putting that $150,000 into an elevator. She wholeheartedly supports Christ Rock who has been coming before a Council for more than 5 years trying to get their water system straight. She doesn't know if the community knows about the 5 requests. She asked if they are a top secret. Commissioner Brooks said 1 person just stood before Council. Octavene Saunders said she totally agrees with Rev. Penn's project. Commissioner Brooks said the other minutes state that Visions of America came before Council 2 weeks ago and discussed CDBG funding for their project.
Octavene Saunders asked who at the City had the power to withdraw the request from the County. She asked if Council met and did it as a majority vote, a 3:2 vote, or if 1 person did it. As a taxpayer, she would like to know who had the power to cancel a County meeting that could have helped the whole community. Commissioner Sydnor said it was not him; Commissioner Cephas said it was not him; Commissioner Brooks said she did not vote. Commissioner Brooks said it never came before Council. There was never a vote taken before Council to cancel a meeting with the County. It was their understanding that they would have a meeting with the County and that is the way they left it 2 weeks ago. That is the way they thought it was going to proceed. She asked Mayor Rippons if he could tell them who cancelled it. Mayor Rippons asked Anne Roane to speak. Anne Roane said they discussed it and talked about the budget and made a decision to withdraw it. Rev. Penn said it was the Public Works Department. Octavene Saunders asked who at the Public Works Department has the power to cancel this meeting. Steve Johnson said he did not cancel the meeting. Octavene Saunders said the Mayor and Ms. Roane discussed it. She asked why they cannot know who cancelled that important meeting. Commissioner Brooks said that Ms. Roane said she and someone else made the decision. Commissioner Cephas said that Ms. Roane said she and the Mayor had a discussion on it. Mayor Rippons asked if he told her to continue with the meeting. He said he told her that he wishes she would continue to entertain that meeting, submit it to them, and allow it to work its course. Anne Roane said that is what he said. Commissioner Sydnor said Ms. Roane did not make that decision. Octavene Saunders said it is important to know who cancelled the meeting. Commissioner Brooks said she is 100% sure that Commissioner Travers, Commissioner Brooks, Commissioner Cephas, and Commissioner Sydnor did not cancel the meeting. Commissioner Knox said they should not forget him. Commissioner Cephas said it is obvious that 5 people did not make that decision. He thinks they should move on.
Commissioner Brooks made a motion that they move forward with the Christ Rock CDBG application. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Mayor Rippons said if CDBG grants the City a grace period, they would still have time to go before the County. Anne Roane said she will call them in the morning.
Rev. Penn said she asked for a letter of support from the City to apply for funds from HUD. She left a sample at City Hall but has not received a letter yet. All the other elected officials have submitted letters. She asked if the City is going to support their project. Mayor Rippons said he told Rev. Penn when he spoke to her on the phone that it must come from a vote of Council. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to submit a letter of support. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Amendments to Zoning Map 302 to Correction Omissions and Drafting Errors of Comprehensive Rezoning of 2003-Anne Roane said the P&Z Staff has been trying to correct problems they found with the mapping that was adopted in 2003. In the past, they were doing it as issues came up. They are now taking one map at a time. Map 302 seemed to have the highest concentration of mistakes, omissions, or drafting errors. They compared the old maps with the new maps, talked to the consultant who prepared the maps, and talked to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission has unanimously agreed that these were mistakes and omissions. It was a mapping mistake. Commissioner Sydnor asked how many maps there are. Anne Roane said there are 12 maps. They did this map first because it had the highest concentration of problems. They will proceed with the rest of the maps starting in June. She is not sure if they will do the rest of them all together or half at a time. When the maps were adopted and prepared in 2003, a lot of the mistakes came from where the maps connected. We have come a lot farther with technology and GIS capabilities. At that time, there was no staff reviewing these maps for accuracy based on the old maps and testimony from the public. She thinks it was truly mistakes and they are trying to correct those mistakes.
Gage Thomas asked if all affected property owners were notified. Anne Roane said they were. Gage Thomas asked if the public was given a chance to review the maps. Anne Roane said they were notified twice-once at the Planning Commission level and once for the Council meeting. Commissioner Brooks asked if they were notified by a certified letter. Anne Roane said they were sent letters but she is not sure if they were certified letters. Commissioner Brooks asked if we can be 100% sure that the people received their mail. Anne Roane said they have not heard any comments at the Planning Commission level or at this level. Commissioner Cephas asked Commissioner Knox if he was aware of any opposition at the Planning Commission. Commissioner Knox said he was not.
Commissioner Knox made a motion to accept the reclassifications. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Constant Yield Tax Rate for FY 2009-Ed Kinnamon said this public hearing is on the constant yield tax rate. This wording is exactly how the State makes him put it in the paper. The City Commissioners of Cambridge, Maryland proposes to increase real property taxes.
1. For the tax year beginning July 1, 2008, the estimated real property assessable base will increase by 6.8%, from $707,120,691 to $755,265,129.
2. If the City of Cambridge maintains the current tax rate of $0.676 per $100 of assessment, real property tax revenues will increase by 6.8% resulting in $325,456 of new real property tax revenues.
3. In order to fully offset the effect of increasing assessments, the real property tax rate should be reduced to $0.633, the constant yield tax rate.
4. The City is considering not reducing its real property tax rate enough to fully offset increasing assessments. The City proposes to adopt a real property tax rate of $0.676 per $100 of assessment. This tax rate is 6.8% higher than the constant yield tax rate and will generate $325,456 in additional property tax revenues.
Ed Kinnamon said it sounds like the Council is raising taxes. It is actually not reducing the tax rate to offset the increased assessments. Commissioner Brooks said a while back they had asked for an audit that would see whether the City was effectively and efficiently spending their funding. While the City of Cambridge may not be increasing the taxes, the taxes will go up because you live in the City of Cambridge and Dorchester County. This ultimately means that the City of Cambridge will make more money by the constant yield rate that is set by the State of Maryland. Her problem is that the City of Cambridge and Dorchester County is one of the highest property tax rates in the State. She finds that to be a problem. There are a lot of new homes being built in the area. A lot of homes are being lost to foreclosure because of the economy. Even though we may not have increased taxes, it is still new revenue coming into the City. She thinks that the City of Cambridge needs to be looked at under a microscope to see why we cannot go down some to help our taxpaying people. We are in a crisis in the United States. Homes are being foreclosed on everywhere. She would like to see if there is any way the City of Cambridge can help. At least we can say we tried.
Gage Thomas said he knows the budget is not finalized yet, but asked what percentage increase Council sees in that. He asked if it is about 6.7% or more. Mayor Rippons said the budget, as it has been presented at this time, is considerable more. Mayor Rippons said he believes the consideration of the high taxation rests within the confines of the County taxation. The County is granting City residents 4.6¢ this year so they will have a substantial reduction on the County taxes as the County begins to realize the services that are unique that the City is offering.
Robert Aaron said he as the tax rate of every City in the State and Cambridge is high on the list. Octavene Saunders asked if the City residents' real estate taxes are going to be increased. Mayor Rippons said they will be increased commiserate with the new appraisal values. The tax rate itself will remain constant. Commissioner Brooks said the City of Cambridge will not increase anything. Commissioner Knox said they lowered them when they came in and they are going to leave them when they go out.
Gage Thomas asked if they are going to vote on it tonight or wait until they adopt the budget. Commissioner Brooks said they do not need to vote on it tonight. Ed Kinnamon said typically it is adopted when the City adopts the budget.
Proclamation Designation May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the Week of May 11th through May 17th as Police Week-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation and presented it to Chief Malik. Chief Malik thanked the Mayor and Council for recognizing the police officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their Nation, City, State, or County. On behalf of the Cambridge Police Department, he thanks them for the continual support every year.
Proclamation for Safe Boating Week-Ed Kinnamon read the proclamation. Bob Hammerton thanked the Mayor and Council for issuing the proclamation. They have conducted several training sessions for the community. On May 18th at Great Marsh Park, Cambridge Sail and Power Squadron will conduct a flare and fire extinguisher demonstration. Flares are required by law to be on all boats.
Willie Beasley to Request a Noise Variance for a Backyard Party on May 19th from 5:00 pm Until 8:30 pm at 642 Robbins Street-Willie Beasley said the party will be a birthday party for his nephew. They are having it on a Monday because his mom works on the weekends. There will not be any drinking. He is a certified DJ. Chief Malik asked if Mr. Beasley has checked with the neighbors. That would be a big concern. Mr. Beasley said he has checked with all the neighbors. He also talked with Officer Fernandez who told him as long as the music is not real loud. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to grant the variance. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Deborah Johnson to Give Update on Current Lead Paint Reduction Program and to Request a Letter of Support-Deborah Johnson said they have made some relatively good progress with the program. She showed some photos from Healthy Homes Week. The Corporation for Health Homes visited Maple Elementary School, Choptank Elementary School and conducted educational outreach informing child of the dangers of lead and mold hazards. They have found that by reaching the children, it will help them recognize, see, and avoid lead exposure in the event that resources are not quickly getting to their residences. The children were very informed and interested. They were also at Ace Hardware and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart donated a clean-air filter that a resident of Cambridge won. A lot of people asked a lot of questions. They have reached over 100 households during that 1 week.
With the current lead abatement program, 4 units require clearance and they are in progress. She gave Mr. Kinnamon an invoice for monitoring. The letter of support will enable them to write a grant to HUD for additional funding to keep the program going. The program that they started was a demonstration program. The need to deal with lead, educational outreach, and remediation of lead is still in Cambridge. They would like to move forward and are requesting a letter of support. Steve Johnson said he would like to take a look at what Deborah Johnson envisions in moving forward with. He has no knowledge at this moment. Mayor Rippons asked if there was a timeframe consideration. Deborah Johnson said she has about 2 months. Mayor Rippons asked her to submit something to Steve Johnson with a copy to Ed Kinnamon for the Council so they can ascertain if they have any questions.
Commissioner Cephas asked how many units have been completed. Deborah Johnson said they have completed 10 or 11 units. They are moving a little slow because they only had 1 qualified contractor in the City. Some of the units had occupants in them and they were required to move out. Relocation became an issue. Mayor Rippons said multiple units did not have water or electric so the contractor was forced to use generators. Deborah Johnson said according to the program, the owners were required to provide utilities to the units so that the contractor could get the work done. At least 50% of them did not have utilities on. The units are rental units and most of the landlords live out of town.
Octavene Saunders, Representing New Jerusalem Church, to Request Permission to Close Pine Street from Bethel Street to Wells Street and a Noise Variance on June 28th from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm for a Community Church Program-Octavene Saunders said she and Portia Johnson-Ennels are not representing any community group. They were asked by Bishop Cornish as citizens of Cambridge and people who cared to bring something to the other end of Pine Street. He wants to bring faith and unity to our community. It is his responsibility to gather all of the entertainment. Mrs. Johnson-Ennels will work with the advertising. Mrs. Saunders said she will be a speaker; help with the coordination; and will help with publicity. The hours will be 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. She is also asking for Public Works to sweep the street that morning and provide trash cans.
Bishop Cornish said Cambridge has been his home for 77 years. He has been a pastor for 50 years. Even since he has been of age, he has been trying to do something to better his home. They have a small outreach in the area that it is needed. They want to have a unity service. He asked everybody to come out.
Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request for close Pine Street from Bethel to Wells Streets and a noise variance on June 28th from 11:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Open Bids for 410 Academy Street Roof Repairs-Ed Kinnamon said he received 3 bids:
- Atlantic Roofing Systems (Royal Oak, MD) - a time and material basis not to exceed $1,000
- Sampson Siding & Roofing (Cambridge) - $3,800
- USA Construction Services (Hyattsville) - $3,225
Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to refer the bids to the Department of Public Works for their review and recommendation. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Open Bids for Pre-Engineered Metal Building (DPW)-Ed Kinnamon said he received bids from:
- Willow Construction (Easton) - $492,900
- Southern Builders Inc. (Salisbury) - $465,746
- Evans Builders Inc. (Salisbury) - $433,530
- American Contracting Inc. - $417,369.32
- Regional Builders, Inc. (Seaford) - $438,932.43
Ed Kinnamon said he received another bid at 6:50 pm this evening. It is possible it is late. If it is late, Council will have to rule on it.
- Harper & Sons, Inc. (Easton) - $359,350
Commissioner Travers made a motion to refer the bids to the Department of Public Works for their review and recommendation. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. Commissioner Brooks said the motion that was made would include the last bid that was opened if it was not received late. Steve Johnson said the building is approximately 150-ft x 40-ft (approx. 6,000 sq.ft.). He could not remember how much was budgeted for it. The motion passed unanimously.
Open Bids for RFP for IT Consultant Services-Ed Kinnamon said he received 3 bids:
- Tech Solutions (Salisbury) - "Approximately $13,500"
- Avrio Group, Inc. (Salisbury) -- $13,500
- Inacon Information Systems (Salisbury) -- $18,750
Commissioner Brooks made a motion to refer the bids to the Department of Public Works for their review and recommendation. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Recommendation of DPW for Additional Streets to be Striped-Steve Johnson provided Council with a list of the streets. He said they are paving Cedar Street from Race Street to Dorchester Avenue. He proposed adding striping on Cedar Street from Race Street to Pine Street and then from Dorchester Avenue to Route 50. At 20¢ a foot, it will be approximately $1600. They are well under the budgeted amount of $9000. Commissioner Cephas said he understands that from Race Street to Pine Street the utility company that did the work will take care of that. He asked if they will compensate the City for any of it. Steve Johnson said those portions of the streets are not lined right now. He is proposed to put lines on streets that do not have lines yet. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the recommendations of DPW. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
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-Mayor Rippons said Rob Collison has provided Council with the additional considerations. Rob Collison said Subsection D clarifies that since we are going out 6 years or more, it is giving the City the ability to update the costs for future infrastructure. The concerns that were raised at the last meeting were really not as much toward the phasing of bonds or toward the ordinance but towards the type of bonds that will be acceptable. There is a treasury list of bonding companies which they will utilize. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the ordinance. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Request from Wal-Mart to Reserve Great Marsh Park for a Company Picnic on Sunday, July 13th from 12:00 Noon Until 5:00 pm-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Wal-Mart's letter states that no loud music will be permitted.
Request from Dorchester County Department of Social Services to Reserve Great Marsh Park on Friday, July 11th from Noon Until 6:00 pm for Their Annual Summer Cook Out-Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the request and included a noise variance. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Request from Hyatt for Skeet Shooting on 17th Hole of Golf Course on Thursday, May 15th from Noon Until 4:30 pm-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Recommendation for Proposal of Actuarial Services for Other Post Employment Benefits-Mayor Rippons asked for additional time on this item.
Order of Demolition of Building at 711 Pine Street-Commissioner Sydnor asked what funds this will come from. Steve Johnson said he is talking to Ed Kinnamon about using the funds that they have collected from various abatements. Any money that the City spends will be charged to the property owner. If they do not pay the bill, that money will become a tax lien against that property. After 2 years, the City can sell the property in a tax sale. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the demolition. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Cephas asked if the property owner indicated they were going to do the demolition themselves. Mayor Rippons said they were cited several times over the last several years. Commissioner Cephas asked when the last time a notice was sent to them. Steve Johnson said it was on March 31st. They had 20 days to make the appeal to the Housing Board of Review and 30 days to get a demolition permit. They have failed to do either one. Commissioner Brooks asked who owned the property. Steve Johnson said it is owned by the Cambridge Institute for Excellence. Commissioner Brooks asked if the City sent certified letters. Steve Johnson said they did and they were signed for. Commissioner Brooks said she has a problem but not with demolition. We need to demolish homes if they are not going to be fixed up. There is a complaint by citizens in the community that feel that properties are being demolished when individuals do not have the money to make the repairs. If the individuals do not have the money to make the repairs, you might as well do what the rest of the nation is doing, and foreclose. Then the property is going to be sold. If they didn't have money to tear it down, they will not have money to repay the City which means there will be a lien put on their property and we will have another open space in the City of Cambridge and another home gone. With this home, the notices date back to 1997 but she has a feeling they are going to be seeing a lot more of these coming up. She thinks it needs to be stated that when you bring these forward, she would like a little more history if there is any to be given whatsoever such as if the person came forward and made any statements whatsoever. On this property, everything that has gone out is summed up in 2 paragraphs made up of about 7 lines and 2 more paragraphs made up of 3 lines. For a detailed history from 1997, that is not a lot of information being given out.
Portia Johnson-Ennels asked that if demolition is accomplished, that they make sure the property is cleared and not a lot of rubble left on it like on the property on High Street.
The motion passed to approve the order of demolition for the property at 711 Pine Street passed unanimously.
Approve Resolution for Community Development Block Grant Application-Mayor Rippons said this item was already done.
Approve Budget Amendment for Executive Department-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve Budget Amendment for Department of Public Works-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the budget amendment. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve PO 91159 - Charles Rideout, Sr. - Emergency Demolition of 519 High Street - $5,000-Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Commissioner Sydnor asked where the funds were coming from. Steve Johnson said these funds are in the budget for FY2008. These funds are just about depleted. That is why he asked Ed Kinnamon about using the fees collected from the various abatements to pay for continued demolition. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve PO 4802 - Teltronic - Motorola Minitor V Receiver - RFC - $11,375 (Sole Source Supplier)-Commissioner Brooks made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve PO 4803 - Motorola - XTL Consolette & Associated Equipment - $5,747.49-Commissioner Cephas made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. Ed Kinnamon talked to Chief Pepper about this item. This is hardware that goes in the radio room. It is a sole source supplier.
Approve PO 4804 - Specialty Rescue - ART Intermediate Vehicle Stabilization Kit - RFC - $6,128.04-Ed Kinnamon said this kit can be used to stabilize anything. This is a sole source supplier.
Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve Purchase Orders 4803 and 4804. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve PO 91160 - In-Building RF Enhancement System in the Public Safety Building - $42,597.21-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Rob Collison provided Council with the PILOT document for the Foxtail project on Route 343. This is regarding the 46 townhouse units that they are planning to provide for moderate income families as rental units. Council approved the PILOT in September 2007. They will receive a credit of $200 per unit from real property taxes for 10 years. They plan to have the project completed by 2009. The PILOT program will expire in 2019. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the document. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Sydnor asked that the Council meet on Monday, May 19th to begin looking at the budget and determine what they want to leave in and what they want to come out. He asked Council to review their documents to see what changes could be made. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to hold a budget meeting on Monday, May 19th at 6:00 pm. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Cephas thanked everyone for their kindness when he was ill.
Commissioner Brooks said she received a complaint from a candidate for office. The complaint stated that this individual had brought in some absentee ballot requests. They were about to be opened at City Hall. They indicated that they had taped them up and put marked them confidential for them to go to Mr. Gootee. She asked Rob Collison to check to see if the City of Cambridge should be opening the packets when they come in or whether it should remain sealed and go straight to Mr. Gootee. Rob Collison asked if they were ballots. Commissioner Brooks said they were requests for ballots.
Steve Johnson said he received a letter from the Clifton Woods Homeowners' Association requesting deer crossing signs. He recommended that the Traffic & Safety Committee review this request. Commissioner Cephas made a motion that the Traffic & Safety Committee review this request. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Steve Johnson said they are trying to work with Delmarva Power to get the power poles upgraded on Pine Street so they can have a volunteer organization mount Christmas decorations on them. They are making good progress. Originally they thought they would be able to do 5 poles; now he thinks they may be able to double that number.
Rev. Yvonne Penn, St. Luke United Methodist Church, said she has been deeply disturbed for the citizens of Cambridge about the Community Development Block Grant application that the City would wait until Friday, 8 days before the due date, to inform citizens that the City will not include them in the grant application. If they had known that in advance, they would have sought other resources. She approached the City about CDBG and took the time to take 3 staffers with her to the CDBG workshops to learn more about the grant after she did all her work. She thinks the City owes them more than a couple days' notice that they would not be included. She is concerned for the citizen of Cambridge because this is not a developer who is coming in to build an apartment complex. These are citizens of Cambridge. These people work every day. They are trying to do a good thing to help the City. Their church's vision statement and mission statement is to be a resource to the greater community. It really bothered her that the City did not support their project. She feels like weeping. She thought they had a good relationship with the City but this had led her to believe that there are still a whole lot of problems in Cambridge. She wants to do something to help those problems along. This is a great setback. She brought the request for a letter of support but then was told that Mayor Rippons was going to ask the Commissioners about it, but it wasn't even included on the agenda. She asked the Commissioners to rethink how some of the citizens are treated. She thinks it is totally unfair.
Commissioner Cephas said he feels wounded himself to hear what happened. It gives the public the impression that we are all being painted with the same brush. He thinks it was narrowed down earlier to 2 people who were involved in this. He doesn't want the reporters to paint everybody with the same brush when Rev. Penn made reference to the City. We know what this was. He is as wounded as Rev. Penn is when he learned of this tonight. Rev. Penn said they were told that they would receive help from the City but they have not received anything. Commissioner Cephas said he believes in calling names and telling it like it is. He doesn't want to paint everybody with that same brush. There were 5 members of Council who said they did not have any knowledge of it. There were 2 people involved. Commissioner Brooks asked for a copy of the letter Rev. Penn submitted. It is not in Council's packet. Commissioner Sydnor said for the effort that St. Luke's congregation put in the grant application, and the time and effort that they put in, that this will not be a setback. He thinks they deserve an apology. Rev. Penn said they have just learned another lesson that where you think you can fall on, sometimes you have to go elsewhere. She was told they would get assistance from the City, but they have not gotten any help at all. Commissioner Sydnor asked her not to feel that the City is going to give them any support. They want to support the efforts that St. Luke's is doing. Rev. Penn said it is the people who want to do this. She thinks the City would want to grab hold of this and want to help. They have letters from Senators and Congress persons who are excited about the project and the City sits still. Commissioner Sydnor said several people have asked to make sure they get on the list when these homes come up. He thanked Rev. Penn for the efforts she and her congregation have put into this. It is a very worthwhile effort. Hopefully the City will step up to the plate the next time. Commissioner Brooks said that Commissioner Sydnor speaks on behalf of the entire Council.
Portia Johnson-Ennels said at the last Council meeting, Steve Johnson made a recommendation to the City Council about the Housing Task Force. If the City has decided to disband the Task Force, she would like an official letter be sent to all persons who where involved in the Task Force. The letter should thank them for their service and time and energy that they put forth in helping the City with a problem that they did not have the staff or the money to pay a staff to take care of. She doesn't think the people who gave up their time and energy should be left hanging and not knowing if it is going to be officially disbanded. Before the City gets involved in any project with lead and/or Deborah Johnson, she hopes they do it the right way. Commissioner Brooks said the Housing Task Force has not been disbanded. Mr. Johnson made a recommendation and that is all it was. Council has not disbanded it. There is no notice to go out to anybody. Portia Johnson-Ennels said they are not meeting because they have no direction. Commissioner Brooks said Portia Johnson-Ennels is still the acting president. They still should be meeting. Portia Johnson-Ennels said they need guidance. Commissioner Brooks said she will be at the next meeting.
James Cornish said there is a new street near Robbins Street and Maces Lane that is not paved and they cannot get to a house. He asked what was going to be done about it. Commissioner Brooks said she thinks it is called Ames Court. It is off of Maces Lane. She thought that all streets had to be paved before houses were built. Steve Johnson said that is his understanding. He does not have any knowledge of this particular situation. Commissioner Brooks said you cannot miss it. On Maces Lane there are 3 houses that are being built. The street is not paved. It is stones, dirt, and mud. It looks like 3 more houses may be built. It is a cul-de-sac off Maces Lane. Steve Johnson said he will check into it.
Wendell Foxwell said the light on Cambridge Creek on the left side going east is still out. There is a house on Cedar Street (it may be 307) that was boarded up. Now it is partly boarded up and it is partly open. He asked the status on it. Steve Johnson said if there is no door open, you still cannot go inside. He will look at. If there is a board-up notice on it, he will make sure it is complied with. Wendell Foxwell said across the street from that house there is an empty lot with grass that is 2 to 3 feet tall. The grass should be cut. Steve Johnson said he will look at it.
Portia Johnson-Ennels said the City's property on the corner of Cedar and Academy Streets is now being used as a parking lot. That should be looked at also.
Mayor Rippons requested a brief executive session to discuss personnel. Commissioner Travers made a motion to go into executive session after the meeting. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, May 12, 2008, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon
Clerk & Treasurer