City Council Minutes
November 10, 2008
November 10, 2008
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, November 10, 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 Victoria Jackson-Stanley asked for a moment of silence to honor our past and present veterans. Commissioner Hanson led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the minutes of the October 27, 2008 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Thomas seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Public Hearing to Obtain the Views of Citizens and Offer Citizens the Opportunity to Review an Application for the Cambridge Economic Development Strategic Plan, which the City of Cambridge Proposes to Submit for a Community Development Block Grant-Mayor Stanley said it is important with the establishment of the Cambridge Economic Development Department to develop a strategic plan that will provide direction and systematically, through implementation, improve the general economic health and quality of life of our community. The plan shall identify challenges and opportunities for the City of Cambridge; provide a comprehensive overview of the economy; set policy direction for economic growth and identify strategies, programs, and projects to improve the economy. The 4 main elements of the plan will be analysis, vision, action plan, and evaluation. This plan will be developed in conjunction with the update of the Comprehensive Plan. It will take into consideration the outcomes of the RUDAT and Main Street Studies conducted over the last few years and will include public input. Commissioner Thomas said the City is requesting $25,000 from the Community Development Block Grant program.
Natalie Chabot said the Secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development and the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development agreed to co-fund this project which will cost approximately $50,000. It will not affect our applications during the annual grant ground. The grant application will be available for review in her office and at City Hall.
Jackie Noller asked about the project. Natalie Chabot said they would hire a consultant. An RFP would be sent out to develop an economic development strategic plan. It will give the City focus on their plans for the future. The work the City is doing on the comprehensive plan will help them do a more focused plan specifically on economic development.
Portia Johnson-Ennels said the Economic Development Department has 2 employees and the City is updating their Comprehensive Plan. It seems like the City is spending a lot of money planning things that the Economic Development Department should be able to do. This plan was not discussed in any of the Comprehensive Plan meetings that she attended. Commissioner Stout said he thinks this grant is an active motion of our Economic Development Department to solicit the expertise of consultants to utilize the City Comprehensive Plan. He thinks the City is taking an active role in soliciting these funds and finding the greatest expertise to make the best economic development decisions. Natalie Chabot said there is a difference between the Comprehensive Plan and an Economic Development Plan. This will be an action plan in determining what makes sense for them to spend their time and effort on. With a new Council, a new department, and with the economy the way it is, they need a very targeted approach on how they are going after creating jobs and enhancing our local economy. Commissioner Stout said he thinks this plan will more directly attack the idea what particular business enterprises to solicit. Portia Johnson-Ennels said during the discussion periods for the Comprehensive Plan, one of the questions put to the consultant was a strategic economic development piece about how we can bring jobs to Cambridge, keep jobs, and re-train employees. She understood that it was going to be written into the Comprehensive Plan. Commissioner Thomas said this plan will call for specific action steps to be taken. Commissioner Sydnor asked Natalie Chabot what low- and moderate-income benefits she foresees. Natalie Chabot said that will be part of the planning process. Consultants that have done strategic plans for other communities have been outside Cambridge and will be able to bring what has worked in other communities like ours to Cambridge. Commissioner Hanson said it will help bring employment and health care issues together.
Mayor Stanley said the plan will not cost the City any money. It will be all grant money. We are trying anything legal that will benefit the City as it relates to bringing economic development focus. Commissioner Sydnor asked about the local funds listed on the cover sheet. Natalie Chabot said the only commitment that the City has is in-kind services.
Sharon Wilson asked what wording was used to justify the national objective of benefiting low-moderate income citizens. Natalie Chabot said because of our high unemployment rate and the low average income, the plan will help us serve these people. The plan will help the City attract new businesses and create better-paying jobs within the City.
Commissioner Stout said he thinks there have been plenty of failed business ventures in the past and had they had more specific guidance and direction from something like this plan, they may have been successful. Natalie Chabot said the City has formed a steering committee but there will be public input. It is a process for the community and the community will be a part of it.
Troy Hill, Chamber of Commerce, to Introduce New Executive Director, Allen Nelson-Troy Hill said Allen Nelson served 8 years on the Chamber Board of Directors in various capacities including treasurer, vice-president, and president. Allen Nelson said it is a great honor to be part of the Chamber and support their members and the community.
Dee McDonald, Dorchester County Family YMCA, to Request Permission to Host a Half-Marathon on April 11, 2009-Dee McDonald said they would like to host a half-marathon as a pre-cursor to the EagleMan as a fundraiser to the YMCA to get outside money. She has spoken to City, County, and State law enforcement agencies. The 13.1-mile run will begin at the YMCA and have aid stations every mile. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the event. Commissioner Thomas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve Declaration of Intent Resolution for Tech Park Bond-Rob Collison said this was deferred from the last meeting because Council received information that potentially the water lines may have to be re-designed for the tech park which may increase the cost. The City's Bond Counsel advised that the Commissioners could always amend the resolution at a later date if they find that the costs are exceeding $3 million. It is his recommendation that Council proceeds and adopt the resolution of intent. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the declaration of intent. Commissioner Stout seconded the motion. Commissioner Thomas said because of the uncertainty of the water lines, the Council discussed it with the fire company, water company, and department of public works before the meeting. He would like more information on those costs and how they are going to finance them before he makes a decision. Commissioner Hanson agreed. Commissioner Sydnor said the document can be amended at a later time. Commissioner Knox voted no; Commissioner Sydnor voted yes; Commissioner Stout voted yes; Commissioner Thomas voted no; Commissioner Hanson voted no. The motion was denied 2:3.
Introduction and First Reading of Ordinance Making Park Lane One Way in a Westerly Direction from High Street to Leonard Lane-Commissioner Thomas said he thought there was some conversation about revising the wording of this ordinance. Portia Johnson-Ennels said years ago, Park Lane was a one way street. It was changed for safety reasons. There is a school bus stop at the intersection of Park Lane and Hubert Street. There is not curbing all the way on Park Lane. Children have to stand in the street. There has been a problem already with the bus stop and the Board of Education is not budging. Commissioner Hanson said they looked at it during the time the children were at the bus stop. Commissioner Stout said he spoke to Bill Fleming who is the Director of Transportation and he said if the change was enacted, it would have no effect on the current bus routes. There is no bus that turns off of Leonard Lane onto Park Lane headed east. Commissioner Sydnor said that even though there are sidewalks near the high-rise building, the children still walk in the street. Ed Kinnamon said he received a call from the Director of Parks and Recreation and he said he would like to see two-way traffic from Greenwood Avenue to Willis Street because of the size of trucks that come through Greenwood Avenue and turn right onto Park Lane and then left onto Willis Street. Jerome Stanley said due to the lack of sidewalks on the street, it may be a little safer with one-way traffic. Wendell Foxwell asked why this change was proposed. Commissioner Knox said citizens who work for the City made the recommendation because of safety factors and the children in the street.
Introduction and First Reading of Ordinance Making Gay Street One Way in a Northerly Direction from Spring Street to Court Lane-Rob Collison said this came about as a compromise to the parking situation at the courthouse. The entrance into the parking lot would be closed off on Gay Street to allow parking along that area. The entrance to the parking lot would be off of Court Lane. There would also be some additional parking on Court Lane. He received some contacts from some individuals at the courthouse and others. They are concerned about making it a one-way street. By making it one-way, it requires all traffic to pour out to Court Lane at 4:30 pm and the intersection of Court Lane and High Street does not have a light. He discussed with them possibly making the traffic flow in the opposite direction but that is problematic as well for a variety of reasons. He has asked George Hyde to see if they could keep it two-way. If they keep it two-way with parking on the courthouse side of Gay Street, you cannot get those cars coming in the southerly direction to parallel park. There were a total of 39 spots created. Commissioner Stout suggested reversing the traffic pattern. Sandy McAllister said the corner building would be most affected by the proposals. The parking lot is designed to funnel all of the tenants and guests of that building to the lighted intersection of Gay Street. If they were obligated to go in the direction proposed, they would have to go down Court Lane to an unlighted section of High Street and come back down. They would spend 4 to 5 minutes going to 3 intersections to get back 40 yards from where they started. Alternatively, even though their parking is directed that way to go to the light, people are going to try to come out on Academy Street which is not lighted. The parking will all be on the courthouse side. He said they should try to reduce traffic on High Street if possible. Rob Collison said the problem is that the parking is on the wrong side. To get the traffic to come back to park on the right side is the issue. If they could look at making the exit out of the County office building parking lot a left turn , it would allow cars to be able to get down to Gay Street so they could park on this side where the parking will be created. Commissioner Thomas said Court Lane is narrow with parking on one side. Rob Collison said you would not be able to do both. Terry Wheatley said the people in Mr. McAllister's building have a private parking lot to park in but the people who work in the courthouse have to run around looking for a parking space every day. She very few people come out of the condominium parking lot and turn left. They go up Court Lane. She does not see it being an inconvenience to them at all.
Introduction and First Reading of Ordinance Prohibiting Parking At All Times Along the Northeasterly Side of Church Street, Between High Street and Mill Street-Rob Collison said the congregation of Christ Church made this request.
Introduction and First Reading of Ordinance Prohibiting Parking At All Times Along the Westerly Side of Leonard Land, Between Glasgow Street and Park Lane-Commissioner Stout said he heard from Mr. Fleming of the Board of Education Transportation Department that he feels this would be something that would add to a safe situation for the buses that traverse Leonard Lane at that point. Mayor Stanley said one of her neighbors told her that this would possibly encourage more speeding on Leonard Lane. Wendell Foxwell asked if there will be enough parking places for the residents' vehicles. Mayor Stanley said her neighbor does not have a driveway. Jerome Stanley said several people in that neighborhood do not have driveways. It will cause another problem. Commissioner Sydnor said when cars are coming from both directions, one has to wait for the other to pass when cars are parked on both sides of the street.
Introduction and First Reading of Ordinance Limiting Weight Limit of Trucks on Bayly Avenue-Rob Collison said presently Section 11-9 of the Code prohibits vehicles in excess of 5,000 pounds from all streets except the 16 that are listed. The discussion at the last meeting was to prohibit vehicles in excess of 10 tons which would be 20,000 pounds on Bayly Avenue. Vehicles in excess of 5,000 pounds are prohibited by ordinance from Bayly Avenue. They are permitted to Bayly Road. No action is necessary.
Introduction and First Reading of Ordinance to Collect Home Builder Guaranty Fund Fee-Rob Collison said this is a mandate from the State as part of the Business Regulations Act of the Annotated Code. They have implemented a Home Builder Guaranty Fund. The City is required to collect a home guarantee builder fee when they issue building permits. Presently the fee is $50. It will be collected on any new home construction. There is an exemption to land owners who are constructing their own home on the property which they own with the intent to live in the home as their primary residence. The City will collect it as part of the building permit and forward it to the State. It becomes effective for new permits issued after January 1, 2009. Sharon Wilson asked if non-profits would be exempt. Rob Collison said he will inquire about that.
Approve Resolution for Community Development Block Grant Application-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the resolution. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Request to Go to Bid for Motor Oil and Hydraulic Fluid Delivery System-Commissioner Thomas made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Hanson seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve PO 91279- AutoCAD Land Desktop 2009 Software - $4,316.01-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Thomas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve PO 91281 - Telewire, Inc. - $3,693.47 - Wiring of Telephone and Computer Systems for Executive Dept. @ 410 Academy St. and PO 91282 - Telewire, Inc. - $5,306.62 - Hardware for Telephone System for Executive Dept. @ 410 Academy St.-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approve Holiday Schedule for 2009-Mayor Stanley said City Hall will be closed on all federal holidays. Commissioner Thomas made a motion to approve the holiday schedule. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Rob Collison announced that the waterfront development component of the Comprehensive Plan will be having work sessions on Friday and Saturday at Sailwinds Park.
Commissioner Knox made a motion that Council receives a copy of the Community Legacy grant application that was submitted last week for the 5 projects. Commissioner Stout seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Commissioner Stout said he is favor of seeing the proposals also.
Sharon Wilson, Visions America Community Development Corporation, requested a letter of support for a Home Initiatives Program grant application through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. This project will benefit Dorchester County. A piece of property has been donated to them at a very minimum cost. They are asking for Council's support of their efforts in what they are doing when it comes to low-income and affordable housing and the training and education enrichment that individuals need when they are looking at purchasing a home for the first time. There is no financial obligation on the part of the City of Cambridge. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the letter of support. Commissioner Thomas seconded the motion. Commissioner Knox suggested that Ms. Wilson present a business plan for Council to review. The motion passed 3:2 with Commissioners Knox and Hanson opposed.
Commissioner Thomas said Council received a memo from George Hyde concerning the 5% retainage the City is holding from the contractor of the public safety building until certain things were accomplished. George Hyde said they have taken care of most of the items so he is requesting that the City reduce the amount to 2.5%. There are still a couple of items they are waiting on. Commissioner Thomas asked for a copy of the list. Commissioner Thomas made a motion that DPW defer the reduction of the retainage figure. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Thomas said DPW added an additional handicapped parking space on Race Street by LMS and Cambridge Grill when they repaired the curbing. These spots need to be approved by City Council. He asked George Hyde to look into this.
Commissioner Hanson thanked the City Police and the Sheriff of Dorchester County for their patrols throughout the City on Halloween
Mayor Stanley said she was quoted in the Star-Democrat as saying that Cambridge is in its infancy as it relates to gangs. She did not get interviewed by the Star-Democrat. She had a conversation with the Attorney General but that statement about gangs in Cambridge was not made by her.
Mayor Stanley said she has received calls about police coverage during Second Saturday events. She asked for police presence during on these evenings.
Mayor Stanley said Cambridge will be 325 years old in 2009. She thinks it would behoove us to come up with a plan to celebrate our existence and all the changes we have come through.
Mayor Stanley said the first 100 days of this Council has been quite active. She has gotten compliments that they have been very low profile and not antagonistic at all. That is testimony to the professionalism of the Council.
David Harrington, President of the Dorchester County Historical Society, said they are looking for assistance from the City Council in applying for a grant with the Department of Natural Resources in the amount of roughly $5,000 for a boardwalk. This item will be discussed at the next meeting.
Wendell Foxwell suggested posting signs near ponds warning children to stay away-especially when the ponds freeze over. Commissioner Knox said the previous Council discussed lifesaving rings and fences around stormwater management ponds. Rob Collison said Planning and Zoning generally requires fencing. However, if someone is determined enough, they can get over the fence. They can look into signage and revise regulations for stepping down. Commissioner Knox said that is required now in all the ponds.
Mayor Stanley said fourth graders in the State of Maryland are going to be challenged in the month of April to participate in a contest called "If I Were Mayor, I Would...". The contest is being sponsored by the Maryland Municipal League. MML has challenged the Mayor and City Council to visit a fourth grade class in the month of November to discuss what municipal government is like and what it is like to be on City Council.
With no further business, Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley adjourned the meeting at 9:08 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, November 10, 2008, insofar as I personally am aware.
Edwin C. Kinnamon
Clerk & Treasurer