• 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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City Council Minutes

April 7, 2014
The City Council met in special regular session on Monday, April 7, 2014 in Council Chambers. A quorum being present, Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Vickers, Sydnor (6:10 pm), Cooke, Thomas, and Hanson. Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley asked for a moment of silence. Commissioner Hanson led in the Pledge of Allegiance. A motion by Commissioner Thomas to adopt the agenda as presented was seconded and passed 4:0. A motion by Commissioner Hanson to approve the minutes of the March 24, 2014 Council meeting was seconded and passed 4:0.

Appointments

Jason Shorter, Cambridge Little League, to request permission to hold the annual Little League Opening Day Parade on Saturday, April 12 beginning at Long Wharf at 9:00 a.m. (line-up at 8:00 a.m.)-Nobody was present to speak. A motion by Commissioner Thomas to approve the request was seconded and approved unanimously.

Unfinished Business

Discussion and comments on Maryland Avenue renovations-After the meeting last week, Commissioner Hanson had the opportunity to discuss this project with just about everyone in the first block of Maryland Avenue. He asked the tenants to inform their landlords of the meeting tonight. There was some discussion about the bike lane and whether we needed it or not; however, there was not any opposition to the bike lane or to the overall plan. Commissioner Cooke said he had two issues. The City's Charter outlines precisely how the sidewalks have to be constructed-identifying a certain type of concrete. He does not think this is what is being proposed for the sidewalks. Oden Wheeler said he thinks it was adopted many years ago and it was probably State Highway standard at the time. If someone has to remove a section of sidewalk to make a repair, it has to be replaced to a certain standard. Rob Collison will research this issue. The other item Commissioner Cooke wanted to discuss was the $225,000 funding which was stated at the last meeting. He discussed this with the Economic Development office. He looked at the $75,000 grant with the Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund. It has nothing to do with Maryland Avenue improvements, sidewalks, gutters, bicycle lanes, or any such thing. It all has to do with the corner and the tearing down of the former Burger King property and replanting it with trees, etc. He thinks it would be inappropriate to use that money in a way it was not intended to be used. Anne Roane said when they applied for the grant, it was in anticipation of getting the former Burner King site. They have had discussions with the Chesapeake Bay Trust. It is her understanding that as long as it is going toward green infrastructure in the Gateway Area, the Trust would support a change in scope. It would still be providing water quality which is the whole purpose of the funding source. She will clarify it and get it in writing.

Amy Owsley, Deputy Director of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, said they are urging Council's support of the next steps of this project. This next block is a wonderful follow-through on the vision of the Gateway. It will be one of the first places on the Eastern Shore to have a green and complete street. She offered their help in any way that can push this forward.

Brian Roche pointed out that this project is not something that just came up. It is the result of a very extensive community engagement process. It is not the opinion of any one person. Experts have looked over the grants. Council should not look at things like the technicality of how thick the concrete is or exactly the monetary allocation knowing that the money is there. The Chesapeake Bay Trust's primary concern is stormwater management which is a big component of this. We should attempt to address those types of concerns. Bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian infrastructure, and green stormwater management is our future. He thinks it is rare that the City has this kind of community support particularly in front of people's homes.

Jane Devlin, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the West End Citizens Association, said this implementation of the Gateway plan is moving forward a concept that is currently in our Comprehensive Plan which was unanimously adopted a couple of years ago. They are very pleased to see the City Council moving forward. The Charter was adopted many years ago-probably before pervious concrete was available. It is available now. We should not be concerned because we will be using better products. This is a strong environmental step for the City to take. There is a local source for pervious concrete.

A motion by Commissioner Thomas to approve the Maryland Avenue renovation project as designed was seconded and approved unanimously.

New Business

Discussion and comments on the SGIF Gateway Project on Route 50 (exercising the option on the three parcels - 101, 103, and 105 Sunburst Highway)-Commissioner Cooke said the three parcels are the former Burger King, a former gas station, and the parking lot between them. The parcels are to be purchased for $1.1 million. Sailwinds Park Inc. has a grant in place for $750,000 for the purpose of acquiring the property. The remaining $350,000 will be held by a note by the current owner of the property. The City has a $25,000 option that expires on May 31, 2014. If the City walks away from the contract, the owner gets the $25,000. If the City goes through with the contract, the $25,000 is applied toward the purchase price. The plan is to remove the former Burger King building, the old gas station, and all of the blacktop. The area will be replanted with trees and shrubs. He has no idea what the cost will be. The City will be removing a piece of commercial property from the tax rolls. We are probably earning more than $20,000 a year in property taxes between the City, County, and State. That will be eliminated. We are also going to eliminate any potential job opportunities that could have taken place on that commercial site. His first question is whether it is a viable commercial site. In his investigation he learned that there was a leasee who wanted to rent the gas station portion of the site. They went away when they found out that the City had the option to purchase the property. In talking with a number of commercial real estate agents, he also learned that there are viable buyers out there. There is one actively looking for property on Route 50 in Cambridge. The City will get green space. It should look nice. He is hoping it will be attractive. The question is whether it will lead people off the highway into Cambridge. The other question is whether it is necessary. Can we have both? The Council just voted for a very nice entrance along Maryland Avenue.

Commissioner Vickers said she likes the possibilities of the way it will look, but her concern is what the property has been in the past and what environmental problems there may be underground. We have done a Stage 1 environmental review. The filling station repaired trucks. She would worry about what may be in the ground and what it may cost the City to remove it.

Commissioner Sydnor said over the last six years the City has received over $30 million in grants including the grants for the wastewater treatment plant. We are very thankful for the grants. If by some chance we should send this money back, think about when the next time would be that we would receive a grant.

Commissioner Thomas said it has been emphasized in our Comprehensive Plan that this is a key element to drawing people off the highway and downtown for economic development. He has to look past the one corner and maybe 20 employees that might be employed in whatever commercial business may go there and look at the bigger picture. It is more than just some trees and bushes. There could be some artwork and some things that may hopefully round the corner off and get people to slow down and come into Cambridge. Economic development is a key part of that decision. He thinks it is critical that we move forward. Sailwinds Park Inc. will go back for another SGIF to try to reduce the $350,000 even further. There will be other expenses, including demolition, etc.

Commissioner Hanson said the City has been looking at the property for a number of years. Cambridge is not trying to be Annapolis, St. Michaels, or Salisbury. We are trying to be Cambridge and live within ourselves. This is an opportunity to create some green space to welcome people into Cambridge. We verified that by what we did this evening with the Gateway project. We are not trying to outdo ourselves. There are concepts about what we can do with the green space. We are trying to make it a welcoming environment into Cambridge and bring in people who may not know about it and find this diamond in the rough.

Mayor Stanley said Commissioner Cooke referred to someone (commercial) who may be interested in the property. Over the last six years, she has contacted every property owner of vacant space on Route 50 and this is the first time she heard anyone say that there was an interest in that corner for something commercial. She is not saying it is not happening, but she has contacted everyone including the parcel that Popeye's built on. If there is someone who is interested in that property, why now vs. when she was asking for their support and their interest in what is going on in the community. This is a way to make Cambridge distinctive from other communities.

Rob Collison said if Council feels there is further investigation needed on the environmental aspect, there is a provision within the contract that allows the City to do further testing if they feel it is necessary. The City has to exercise the option by May 31, 2014.
Commissioner Vickers asked about the funds for demolishing the buildings. Natalie Chabot said Cambridge was invited to participate in a team that formulated the Strategic Demolition and Smart Growth Impact Fund. It was part of the early Sustainable Communities. There were representatives from all across Maryland-particularly rural areas. The State created this fund, in particular for communities like Cambridge, that had gray fields that needed to be redeveloped or turned into something that was more advantageous and an asset for the community. The City has been working with the State (Department of Housing and Community Development) on this and other gray fields on Route 50. The State created a program that is ideal for us. Cambridge received a significant award for the first round of the SGIF money. Cambridge will be able to submit applications in the future to SGIF for demolition. The City can also apply for Community Legacy money for demolition as well. While the City may be losing some revenues in the tax rolls (less than $10,000 for the City), it was leveraged against the Sailwinds project (approx. 12 acres) which will go on the tax rolls. The City will be getting a much bigger return on our investment by beautifying our gateway and making it green and attractive which is suitable to our Sailwinds project. The City has full support of the Hyatt on this project as well. The developer who the City is working with on Sailwinds insisted that the City look at our gateways and improve them so they are successes of investments that are being made and have already been made in Cambridge.

Commissioner Cooke said in the last few years, a new McDonalds was built on one of our gateways. It is an attractive building; it doesn't look like green space; and is generating revenue. He asked if Natalie Chabot is suggesting that if that building was not there and it was green space that more people would make the turn on Cedar Street. Natalie Chabot said she is not suggesting that at all. Commissioner Cooke asked why not have a big new commercial building on the corner of Maryland Avenue. Natalie Chabot said a lot of people have been putting a lot of effort into planning time and there is a consensus across the community, as shown in our Comprehensive Plan, that there are different levels of gateways. Route 50 is our main gateway. There are different applications for every gateway or thoroughfare in a community. The property we are talking about is very narrow and has very limited business opportunities. The City has been working with the property owner over the last seven years to try to find something that would be appropriate for this particular parcel.

Don Satterfield said the initial information they were given sounded like it would have included a new business right off the bridge-Riverview at the Point. Their concern is that parcel would be taken to create this gateway. Now they understand that the parcel is not currently being considered. This business has 29 employees is doing extremely well. Hopefully there will not be any consideration to remove that viable business. A friend of his came across the bridge and his first observation was a string of vacant buildings. He would like to see a decorated area of green space and those kinds of things that would lead him to make that turn rather than seeing abandoned buildings. You can pay today or you can pay tomorrow. That building on the corner has been vacant for a long time. Your first impression is what you believe of what leads you past that first impression or first view.

Donna Towers said she has limited knowledge of this project. She and her husband have travelled for the last three months. It is interesting what has gotten them into towns as they have been travelling. The first thing is food. Our McDonalds is situated in a place where it is needed. The second thing that gets them into towns, states, communities, and into resorts is the green space. Green spaces welcome visitors.

Brian Roche said Mr. Ed McMahon (a Senior Planner with the Urban Land Institute) made it very clear every time he gave a presentation he vehemently warns again cities becoming ‘Anywhere USA'. Joe Cortright, a leading economic development consultant, says the unique characteristics of a place may be the only truly defensible source of competitive advantage for cities. Cambridge is unique and this is an attempt to emphasize the uniqueness.

Frank Narr, a Board Member of Sailwinds Park, Inc. gave a history on why they started this project. This project is consistent with the waterfront vision for Sailwinds. They have been working on the vision for 20 years. They are ready and willing to continue to work with the City in identifying additional funding to support this project for its purchase, redevelopment, and incorporation into the entire waterfront.

Jeff Williamson said his family has owned "The Point" restaurant for 55 years. It wasn't until a week after he signed a lease with a tenant that he heard about the gateway project and Sailwinds and was made an offer. Nobody has ever come forward to talk to him or his family about the property. Their tenant is doing very well and they would like to see them continue but he has no idea what the plans are for their property.

Sarah Abel, a former consultant to the City on this project, said while their primary focus was Maryland Avenue, they took a look at these properties and worked very closely with Frank Narr and Sailwinds Park Inc. When the Gateway report was adopted, it was stressed that this is just a start. She is thrilled to see a local restaurant that is contributing more than just jobs. Acquiring the three properties is a start. It doesn't say that it is the only thing that can go there. This is a stepping stone. It would be great to see things layered in that contribute to the local economy. The community overwhelming said they wanted green space in this area. She encouraged Council to go with the community's vision.

Approve MOU for Strategic Demolition and Smart Growth Impact Fund (SGIF)-The MOU is between the City and Sailwinds Park Inc. and provides for the transfer of the SGIF grant funds and any subsequent related funds for this project that Sailwinds Park Inc. may acquire for the planning, purchase, and redevelopment of this site. A motion by Commissioner Sydnor to approve the MOU and to authorize the Mayor to execute the agreement was seconded and approved 4:1 with Commissioner Cooke opposed. A separate vote will be necessary to exercise the option to purchase the properties.

Introduction and first reading of ordinance to temporarily suspend the imposition and collection of impact fees (Ordinance 1035)-The second reading, public comment, and vote will be on April 14, 2014.

Approve Purchase Orders:

PO 2014-076 - Taser International - 2 cases of cartridges - CPD - $2,286.57-A motion by Commissioner Hanson to approve Purchase Order 2014-076 was seconded and approved unanimously.

PO 2014-077 - Jess Jr.'s & Sons - repair paint on C-2 - CPD - $2,150.00-A motion by Commissioner Thomas to approve Purchase Order 2014-077 was seconded and approved unanimously.

PO 2014-080 - Will Brown - diagnostic, parts, labor for 2001 Sterling Acterra Trash Truck #16 - DPW - $1,473.31-A motion by Commissioner Thomas to approve Purchase Order 2014-080 was seconded and approved unanimously.

PO 2014-081 - Nozz Teq - nozzle for jetting sewage and storm drains - DPW - $2,376.00-A motion by Commissioner Hanson to approve Purchase Order 2014-081 was seconded and approved unanimously.

PO 2014-082 - Grant-Brunnett Architects - architectural and engineering services for renovations of 307 Gay Street building - $210,000.00-A motion by Commissioner Hanson to approve Purchase Order 2014-082 was seconded and approved 4:1 with Commissioner Vickers opposed.

PO 2014-083 - Atlantic Emergency Solutions, Inc. - Sil-Vex Plus Class A Foam (5 gallon pails) - RFC - $2,597.00-A motion by Commissioner Hanson to defer action on this purchase order until next week was seconded and approved unanimously.

Mayor's and Commissioners' Comments

Closed Executive Session-A motion by Commissioner Thomas to meet in closed executive session immediately following this meeting for personnel with regard to retaining legal counsel for the Sailwinds master development plan was seconded and approved unanimously.

 

A motion by Commissioner Thomas to adjourn the meeting was seconded and approved unanimously.

With no further business, Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley adjourned the meeting at 7:30 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the special regular Council meeting Monday, April 7, 2014, insofar as I personally am aware.



Edwin C. Kinnamon
Clerk & Treasurer