City Council Minutes
September 8, 2008
September 8, 2008
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, September 8, 2008 in Council Chambers. A quorum being present, Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Knox, Sydnor, Stout, Thomas, and Hanson. Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked for a moment of silence. Commissioner Hanson led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the minutes of the August 25, 2008 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Representatives from the James B. Richardson Foundation, Inc. to Discuss Open Space Project at the Richardson Maritime Heritage Center - Land Acquisition Through State of Maryland Program Open Space-Victor MacSorley said they are hoping to get approval of an Open Space Project at the Richardson Maritime Museum on Hayward Street and Maryland Avenue to establish a permanent waterfront urban park. Dan Chada presented a proposal for land acquisition through Program Open Space. He made a Power Point presentation showing their master plan which includes both the urban park area as well as the maritime heritage center. It showed the phases of construction that they plan to go through in the next few years. A municipality must make the request to the State to get into Program Open Space. If the State agrees, they would purchase the property from the owner. They would transfer ownership of the property to the municipality. An agreement would be made between the Richardson Foundation and the City discussing the overall design, maintenance, access, etc. The City would start by preparing a letter to DNR to be included in Program Open Space. The State would survey the property and make a decision on the amount of POS funding. The Foundation has no problem with being responsible for portions of the maintenance. Victor MacSorley said the funding is called State-side money. It is not earmarked for a particular County and is available on a first-come/first-serve basis. Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley stated that several organizations and individuals have already submitted letters of support. Commissioner Knox made a motion to send a letter to DNR requesting a Project Open Space Program for Urban Park Application. Commissioner Hanson seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Jim Gscheidle to Discuss Sidewalks and Streets in the West End Section of Cambridge-Mr. Gscheidle said he appeared before Council 5 years ago to discuss High Street. At that time he was told there were plans to fix the street. It is being patched with asphalt. Over 40 households have been cited with sidewalk notices. They only have 14 days to fix the sidewalks but have waited over 10 years to get the street fixed. When they closed on their house 9 years ago, it was explained that they are responsible for the sidewalk however, they do not own them. His property line runs out to the sidewalk. They are in a partnership with the City on the sidewalks. He does not own it but he has to maintain it. George Brem is fixing most of the sidewalks and is booked through December. Commissioner Knox said he has had major discussions with the Director of Public Works. If there is any kind of problem meeting these deadlines, the homeowner should contact the Department of Public Works. They will be more than happy to give an extension. He has looked at some of the sidewalks also. Portions need more repair than others. He suggested a partnership with the City to do this work. If the City goes to bid to fix a street, they could include the price to fix the sidewalks. Chances are they would get a much better deal. Commissioner Sydnor said whatever decision that DPW makes, it will not just apply to one particular area. It will apply to all areas of the City. Some areas do not have sidewalks-they have ditches. Mr. Gscheidle said he does not see how they can all be fixed within a year. Commissioner Sydnor suggested he contact the Department of Public Works. Commissioner Thomas suggested homeowners get together and get a bid for the whole street. Kenneth Elliott said if High Street is going to get repaired, the sidewalks will be damaged or torn up. Mr. Gscheidle said there are plans to put the power lines underground which means they will be under the sidewalks. David Singelstad said the letter makes it looks like all the work must be done by September 8th or they will be fined $100/day. Don Keene of DPW assured them that was not the case. He suggested that the letter be changed. Don Keene told him about a 1/4" criteria which he said was an ADA standard. He checked the ADA website and it is 1/2". The standard said it could be corrected with bevel grinding. He thinks DPW should re-examine the standards. People cannot afford to fix their sidewalks. The $100/day fine will not work. Commissioner Knox said they will review the standards and the letter. Commissioner Sydnor said they will ask Mr. Johnson to give a report at the next meeting.
Jane Devlin said the $100/day fine applies to anyone who receives a violation and does not address it within the timeframe that is given. There is funding available at the State level through grants. The municipality will have to apply but it could assist homeowners with sidewalks. There may also be Federal funds available through USDA Rural. The timing for High Street may have to be a little bit different, because they will not want the homeowners to invest twice if there are plans to put the utilities under the sidewalks. Jerome Stanley suggested that Council address the issue first before any more letters are sent out. La-Shon Brooks asked if the fines can be appealed. Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley said anything can be appealed. Matthew Smith said in addition to the sidewalk, he was cited for 2 other violations. His 150-year-old tree has branches that are required to be 7-ft above the sidewalk and 12-ft above the street level. He is concerned about the timeframe and getting a contractor to make the repairs. He and other residents may not want the Dorchester Center for the Arts to host the Dorchester Showcase on their sidewalks because of these safety concerns. Commissioner Sydnor said the legality and liability of the safety concerns will be the homeowners' no matter what Mr. Johnson decides. He said the City wants to work with them.
Improvements for the 410 Academy Street Building-At the last Council meeting, Commissioner Sydnor requested that DPW identify a funding source. He is recommending temporary use of the funds that have been allocated for pavement resurfacing. The resurfacing is usually done in the spring. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to have Mr. Johnson submit the appropriate paperwork where Council can appropriate the money from streets paving to the Academy Street building renovations and then have it replenished later. Commissioner Thomas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Discuss Postponing Demolition of 711 Pine Street-Steve Johnson said this item has been largely resolved. During the process for demolition, a mortgage holder was discovered who asked for time to consider their options. He granted the extension. The mortgage holder no longer wants to oppose the demolition. He anticipates requesting that the bid be awarded at the next Council meeting.
Approve Ordinance to Amend the Official Zoning Map No. 30 for Parcel No. 12 and Ordinance to Amend the Official Zoning Map No. 302 for Parcel No. 1028-Rob Collison said the public hearings were held on August 25, 2008. There were mapping mistakes during the last comprehensive rezoning. They should have been zoned R3 (multi-family) but were zoned R1. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the amendments of the official zoning maps for Map 30 Parcel 12 and Map 302 Parcel 1028. Commissioner Stout seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Introduction of Ordinance to Prohibit Camping in the City Limits-Rob Collison said Commissioner Hanson requested he clarify the ordinance in light of some of the discussions concerning the Race and Cedar Streets property. There is a provision that addressed the uses of trailers for human habitation. Section 8-13 prohibits that. It is left open whether tents or other temporary structures are permitted. Issues have come to light about to what extent Council wishes to prohibit it; whether it is just on City-owned property or whether it is on publicly-used property such as public parking lots. If it is a City-wide prohibition, it would include people's backyards. Commissioner Sydnor said if it is City-wide, someone who has a trailer on wheels would not be able to have someone stay in it overnight. They would not be able to stay in a tent either. Rob Collison said generally it would state that it would be for any trailer, tent, or structure for habitation purposes. It would allow them for religious, commercial, or social purposes. Council may wish not to prohibit those uses on private property for any period of time or provided it does not exceed 5 or 7 days. Commissioner Thomas said he does not think the City's intent is to ban camping City-wide. They are certainly in their right to ban it on City property. The ordinance could grant exceptions for events like the Triathlon or the Power Boat Races. Rob Collison said with the way the ordinance is worded, they can grant it for up to 30 days provided the applicant comes to Council. Commissioner Thomas said he thinks the ordinance should be on City-owned property with a maximum of 14 days.
Introduction of Ordinance to Increase the Number of Members of the Municipal Utilities Commission from Five to Six-Rob Collison said this ordinance would amend Section 18-9. The Commission is currently made up of the Mayor and 4 other members. Council discussed making it 5 residents of the City who would be voting members with the Mayor as the 6th member who would preside at the meeting and have a vote only in the event of a tie. Portia Johnson-Ennels said things like this are usually kept at an odd number. She would rather see the number be 7 instead of 6. Rob Collison said the Mayor would only vote in the event of a tie. Mayor Jackson-Stanley said this was suggested to include more City involvement. Commissioner Knox suggested having each ward represented.
Approve Resolution for Main Street Improvement Program-Jim Duffy said Main Street applied to DHCD last spring for the Main Street Improvement Program and Maple Street Project. They have been awarded a grant that the previous Council gave them permission to seek. They are now in the process of completing the formal grant agreement with State. The State is requesting the resolution. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the resolution. Commissioner Thomas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Request from Dorchester Lodge #223 to Hold a Parade on Saturday, October 25th Beginning at 3:00 pm; a Noise Variance for That Day; Have Pine Street Closed from Cross Street to Cedar Street from 12:00 Noon to 6:00 pm on Saturday; and Allow Parking on the West Side of Pine Street on Saturday from 9:00 pm Until 2:00 am-Commissioner Sydnor said this is held every year. Captain Les Hutton said they have had a great working relationship with the Elks for many, many years on this parade. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the requests. Commissioner Stout seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Request for Street Light on Pole 32981-00714 on Edgewood Avenue-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to refer the request to the Street Lighting Committee. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Request from St. Luke United Methodist Church for a Noise Variance for Their Homecoming Activities on Friday, October 17th from 5:00 pm Until 9:00 pm and on Saturday, October 18th from 2:00 pm Until 8:00 pm at 712 Bradley Avenue-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Thomas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Appoint Members to City Committees-Mayor Jackson-Stanley announced the names of the people who were being appointed to serve on City Committees.
ADA Advisory Committee
Board of Zoning Appeals
Cornish Park Taskforce
Historic Preservation Commission
Housing Authority Board
Housing Board of Review
Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to make the Housing Task Force inactive. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Municipal Utilities Commission
Planning and Zoning Commission
The terms of the members of the Police Board will expire in February 2009. New appointments will be made after that date. Mayor Jackson-Stanley said all committee meetings are open to the public. She is inviting Ms. LaShon Brooks to accompany her to the Police Board meetings with the hope that she will serve on that committee in February.
Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if all the members of Planning and Zoning are residents of the City except Joy Loeffler. Mayor Jackson-Stanley said to her knowledge they are residents. Jane Devlin asked if staggered terms on Planning and Zoning still exist. Commissioner Sydnor said at the present time they are implementing staggered terms. Commissioner Hanson said they are still looking for letters of interest from the public so they can fill positions as terms end.
Commissioner Stout made a motion to approve the committee members named by Mayor Jackson-Stanley. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Recommendation for Economic Development Advisory Committee-Natalie Chabot made a recommendation after a discussion with the Mayor and Council. It will assist the department and further the goals of the City. She submitted a written list suggesting possible committee members. Mayor Jackson-Stanley recommended that Council discuss this further before naming any members.
USDA Application Amendment (Tech Park)-Ed Kinnamon said the City and County are working on this together. Until recent times, the City has been given the figure of $1.7 million. It has escalated to $2.987 million. It is the County's project, however, it is a requirement that the City has to own the infrastructure. The County and City will split the loan 76/24. Commissioner Sydnor said 3800 feet of the infrastructure are going to the airport at a cost of $400,000 which is a cost to the City of $92,000. That was left out in the original plan but it was their intent that the line be run to the airport. The City's share of the entire project will be $700,000 and the County will pay for the other part of it. The City will be obligated for the full loan and the County will pay them back. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the amendment to the USDA application to reflect the amount of $2,986,000 as was in the agreement for the tech park. Commissioner Hanson seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Discuss Revolving Loan Fund-Mindie Burgoyne, representing the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, said she is appointed to serve on behalf of the Department in Dorchester, Talbot, Caroline and Kent Counties in all matters that have to do with Economic Development. An offer for a revolving loan fund was one of the things that DBED offered to Cambridge in light of the difficulties after the Race Street fire. The loan can be used however the City wants it for economic development. The City can use the funds to leverage financial assistance to businesses. It is not a large job creation project tool. It is typically used for start-ups or local business expansion. Typically the local government sets up the fund with a local advisory board which would include a local review committee made up of local bankers and professionals who will be able to assess if it was a good or a bad loan. They are typically used for retention or expansion projects. The City previously had $29,000+ that they were willing to put forward. DBED will match that 2 to 1. Commissioner Sydnor asked if the City has any mechanism in place where they can recoup these funds. Rob Collison said the City would establish loan documents which would be promissory notes and guarantees. An outside vendor can manage the financial exchange. Mayor Jackson-Stanley said Council will take the information under advisement and get back to Natalie Chabot very shortly.
Cambridge Grant Program Administration Proposal-Natalie Chabot prepared a policy on how the Economic Development Department would handle the grants program for the City. Commissioner Hanson made a motion to move forward and approve the policy. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 4:0 with Commissioner Stout absent during the vote.
Approve Purchase Orders-
- PO 91239 - Harrington, Harrington & Nabb - Attorney Fees for Board of Appeals and Housing Board of Review (Jan. to June 2008) - $3,534.83
- PO 4977 - Maryland Municipal League - Fall Legislative Conference - $3,257
- PO 4863 - Physio Control, Inc. - Semi-Annual Maintenance Agreement/ Service and Battery Replacement for 4 Cardiac Monitors - CEMS - $1,425
- PO 4966 - Pelican Mobile - E-Citation Printer, Scanner, Paper - $9,920 (GOCCP E-Citation Grant/No Matching Funds)
- PO 4969 - Graves Uniforms - Patrol Winter Uniforms for CPD - $3,409.19
- PO 4920 - Will Brown's Truck Repair - Repairs to 502 - RFC - $576.98
- PO 4919 - Windstead's Fire Equipment - Repairs to Engine 1-3 - RFC - $591.32
- PO 4918 - Windstead's Fire Equipment - Repairs to Engine 1-2 - RFC - $1,938.19
- PO 4917 - Windstead's Fire Equipment - Repairs to Engine 1-4 - RFC - $1,623.14
- PO 4921 - Witmer Associates, Inc. - Firefighter Gloves -RFC - $670.37
- PO 4968 - Graves Uniforms - CPD Dispatcher Uniforms - $765.11
- PO 4862 - JG Parks & Son - Emergency Repairs of PM-101 - CEMS - $641.84
- PO 4982 - Teltronic - Repairs to 6 David Clark Headsets from Race Street Fire - RFC - $680.35
- PO 4983 - Jeffery Hurley - Administration Chief 1 - $10,000
- PO 4984 - Martin Pepper - Administration Chief 1-1 - $5,000
- PO 4985 - Robert Phillips - Administration 2nd Asst. Chief - $5,000
Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the above-listed purchase orders. Commissioner Thomas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Purchase Order 4970 - [Stalker Radar Applied Concepts - Radar Units & Speedboard - $10,180 (GOCCP Speed Control Initiative Grant Full Funding/No Matching Funds)]-Commissioner Sydnor said although there are no matching funds required, the City has to disperse the funds before they can receive the grant. The City will have to find an account to take the funds from to pay for these items. Once the grant is received, we can then put the funds back into the account. The Police Department will re-submit this item with the appropriate appropriation.
Approve Financial Statement for July 2008-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the financial statement. Commissioner Hanson seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Hanson made a motion to allow the department heads to approve purchase orders up to $2500 without coming before Council. Commissioner Thomas seconded the motion. Commissioner Thomas said he would like to have a list of the purchase orders between $500 and $2500. The motion passed unanimously.
Rob Collison reported that Council met in closed executive session at 6:00 pm to discuss a personnel matter and then in open executive session to receive the quarterly report from the Sailwinds Management Board.
J. M. Clayton sent the Mayor and Council a letter commending the Police Department on the recent apprehension of individuals that were burglarizing Clayton's and numerous homes in the area.
Commissioner Thomas asked about a company called CGI and a Cambridge website. Ed Kinnamon said it is a company that wanted to showcase the City. The Economic Development Department is working on it along with Mayor Jackson-Stanley. There will not be any cost to the City. Local advertising dollars will pay for it. Commissioner Thomas would like the City's website enhanced.
Commissioner Hanson asked if the law pertaining to vehicles parked on streets pertains to public alleys also. Rob Collison said he will look into it.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley reported that the City Council met with the Dorchester County Council last week and it was a start to a very good relationship between the City and the County. The City's legislative package was presented to them along with working out the details of the tech park agreement.
James Chaney, on behalf of the Landlords' Association, gave an update on his meeting with Gary Newcomb regarding putting water bills in the tenants' names. Ed James reported on a previous meeting concerning the bills. People live in houses without water or electric. The landlords do everything they can legally do to get the people out; however, there is no legislation to get them out. Steve Johnson said MUC informs DPW when a water meter is pulled. DPW then posts a property as 'condemned'. Nobody can live in the house until water is restored. James Chaney said Gary Newcomb assured him DPW will be contacted within 24 hours of water being shut off. He will also contact the landlord. He has asked Mr. Johnson to put 'no trespassing' put on the condemnation orders. Captain Hutton informed him it would not work due to the fact that the judge would not uphold it. The water company shuts the water off when it is 2 months' past due. After the cut-off notice, they get another couple of weeks. Then DPW gives them more time. The landlords are 2½ months out at this point. Mr. Johnson has also agreed to decrease the number of days DPW gives them to vacate the property from 7 days to 3 days. Rob Collison said his understanding is the District Court is saying that if there is a lease agreement, the tenants have certain rights and therefore, they are not technically trespassing. Ed James said to evict someone takes from 30 to 45 days. Commissioner Sydnor asked if the landlords could increase the deposit upfront to help cover some of these utilities if the tenants do not pay. Mr. Chaney said the people do not have the money upfront.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked if Mr. Chaney had an idea of what they want from the City. She also asked if the Health Department is contacted when the water is shut off. Mr. Chaney said the Health Department has no jurisdiction over it. He would like the condemnation to say that they cannot live in the house. Captain Hutton said a gentleman was living in a house that was condemned. He left the house; 2 days later he broke into the house to get something he left behind and was arrested for breaking and entering. The judge threw the case out because he said the gentleman had not been legally evicted yet. Mr. Chaney said the month's security deposit covers the rent the person does not pay. It does not cover the damage that is done when someone lives in a house without water. Tenants turn the water back on if the meter is not removed. Rob Collison said the City can address the trespassing when a house is condemned. The people will still have the availability to take it to court. It will still be 15 to 20 days to take it to court. He suggested drafting something about 'unfit for human habitation'. It could be enforced through DPW issuing citations. Steve Johnson said DPW's dealings are with the landlord-not the tenant. He asked if there was an avenue through the lease in that if the rent consists of both the payment for the privilege to live there plus the payment of utilities such as the water bill, then when the occupant has not paid a portion of the rent, they are in breach of the lease therefore they are no longer entitled to live there. Mr. Chaney said they would still have to get a court order. Rob Collison suggested calling other cities to see what they are doing to address the same issue. Mayor Jackson-Stanley said the Council will look to see how the City can help them but at this point, legally they cannot supercede the system.
Portia Johnson-Ennels said the system is staying on the side of the tenant. The health department says it is a municipality issue. La-Shon Brooks said when a condemnation notice is placed, the County Sheriff is responsible for setting them out-not the City. That comes from the State of Maryland. Tom Foxwell said the same issue arises when tenants do not pay electric bills. A fire destroyed a house when the tenant used candles because they did not have electric.
With no further business, Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley adjourned the meeting at 9:25 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, September 8, 2008, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon
Clerk & Treasurer