• 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 Public Hearing

October 20, 2014
The City Council met on Monday, October 20, 2014 in the Dorchester County Public Library for a public hearing on the Unified Development Code. 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, Cooke, Thomas, and Hanson.

Rob Collison suggested that the record be left open through October 30th to allow sufficient time to have the Unified Development Code formally introduced at the first meeting in November with a possible vote at the second meeting. The Planning and Zoning Commission will meet on Wednesday, November 5, 2014.

The public hearing was advertised in the Star Democrat on Sunday, October 12, and in the Dorchester Star on October 10, 2014. It was also advertised on the U.S. Chesapeake internet site.

Anne Roane reported that the process began with the Comprehensive Plan re-write. The City received a grant for re-writing our zoning ordinance. The Planning Commission did an outstanding job of listening to the community. The document was approved by the Planning Commission and presented to the City Council earlier this year. A work session was held on July 23, 2014. The comments from the work session have been noted in the document that is on-line.

Judd Vickers said he thinks a lot of the changes and requests were heard. He appreciates everyone's time and effort.

Jane Devlin, Chairperson for the Board of Zoning Appeals, said they have been watching the process as it went forward. They brought comments to the Planning and Zoning Commission in August. Since then, a number of the issues have been addressed. There are a few issues still outstanding that they still support to have more dialog on. She submitted written comments to the Council. In September she requested Rob Collison investigate a case in Maryland regarding a situation where you have a quorum of three of five members but only three members are at present at the meeting. Do you need a vote of three to pass something and can it be challenged? Rob Collison said he thinks it would be based on the majority of total commission members. He thinks that is the intent. Because our Board of Zoning Appeals has five members, you would need three voted for any motion to carry. Jane Devlin said right now, the Board of Zoning Appeals only has three members. There is no alternate. Mayor Stanley asked if Carlos Wilson has attended any meetings. Jane Devlin said she does not know him. Mayor Stanley said she will notify him of the meeting schedule. Jane Devlin said they still support that the majority of the members of the Board of Appeals are City residents because the decisions mainly reach the City residents. They fully support the document that brings the decisions to the Board of Appeals prior to court. For the Historic Preservation Commission, they support the language where there are different ways they can act to remand back so the policies that have been brought forward in the current draft are approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals. Rob Collison said the appeal language for the Board of Appeals from the HPC expressly states that it is a hearing based on the record from the HPC. State law requires that the appeal process for the HPC must mirror or match the appeal process for the Planning and Zoning Commission. Anne Roane will review the language with Rob Collison.

The submittal for the first meeting in November will be the entire code with all the changes incorporated.

Jane Devlin, West End Citizens Association, said they will submit formal written comments. A number of their concerns have been addressed; however, there are still some outstanding issues that they feel are significant and would like to have further conversation. Anne Roane will meet with Jane Devlin and Carroll Dail next week to discuss the issues.

Nobody else from the public asked to speak.

Rob Collison said with regard to the Waterfront Overlay District, he has some language proposing that as part of the development plan, there should be specific photographic or illustrative examples of the architectural and design elements that are to be used and that the Planning Commission would actually approve specific examples of that so that any changes subsequently produced could easily be identified.

Rob Collison said on the abandonment issue of non-conforming uses, there is one substantive change that he thinks needs Council's consideration. In the past, there has been an intent element of when a non-conforming use had been abandoned. An example would be what is currently a single-family residential unit you could have a pre-zoning code non-conforming use of six apartment units within the structure. There had been some element of intent of whether there had been action taken by the owner intended to abandon that use. They looked at various factors that were listed such as a lapse in the required rental registration fee or failure to maintain records of the electric or water meters. There is some case law that states that if you want to eliminate the intent element of it, the code should be worded that states in the event a non-conforming use ceases to exist for a period of ‘x' days (our code now states 120 days), then the non-confirming use shall be deemed abandoned and compliance with the zoning ordinance shall be required. It doesn't look at intent. It states that if the use has ceased for that period of time, it is deemed to be abandoned. They would then have to bring that structure back to the current code. Commissioner Cooke said he assumes not registering the apartment is an intent to abandon; however, removing the meters is a mechanism for saving the landlord some money. Anne Roane said there was a lot of concern from the community on this issue. Rob Collison asked if the intent is that if you have a six-unit building and only three units are leased, they maintain the continued use of all six units. Mayor Stanley said that seems to be the way this Council is thinking. Judd Vickers said a couple of houses with this issue have gone through a foreclosure process first and then a new owner tries to make the claim that it should still remain three or four units. He would make the argument that letting a property go through foreclosure is abandoning that use. Commissioner Thomas said foreclosure is financial; it does not change the use of the property. Oden Wheeler said there was a house on Race Street not too long ago that was foreclosed on which had two apartments. It was vacant for about a year and the City made them convert it back to a single-family house even though the new owner wanted to keep it two apartments. Jerry Burroughs asked about the interpretation of the nursing home on Glenburn Avenue. It has been abandoned for several years. Their purpose was to say the building has been abandoned-do what the law says.

Commissioner Hanson said at the presentation in August, it was brought up about regulations for homeless shelters. It was not placed in the draft. He will give Council the wording that the Planning Commission agreed to in August.

Jerry Burroughs said on behalf of his Planning Commission he hopes Council enjoyed reading all that they have done over the last three years. They enjoyed working on it and working with the citizens of Cambridge and hope that they presented to Council something that will last for a while and that their intent was to make the City of Cambridge better.

Nobody else offered input. The record will remain open until October 30, 2014.

With no further business, Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley adjourned the meeting at 6:48 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the public hearing on Monday, October 20, 2014, insofar as I personally am aware.



Edwin C. Kinnamon
Clerk & Treasurer