• 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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P&Z Minutes

May 21, 2013

The Planning and Zoning Commission for the City of Cambridge met on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 305 Gay Street, Cambridge, Maryland.

Commissioners in Attendance: Jerry Burroughs, Chairman; William Craig, Vice Chairman; Hubert Trego; Joy Loeffler, Dorchester County Liaison; Mary Losty; Marshall Rickert; Dwight Cromwell and Gage Thomas, Commissioner City Liaison

Others in attendance included: Anne Roane, City Planner; Robert S. Collison, City Attorney
Chris Jakubiak, Jackie Vickers, Ward 1 Commissioner and Jane Devlin

Mr. Jakubiak addressed the Commission that he was asked by Ms. Roane to give a presentation to the Economic Development Committee about the Ordinance and maps. So what he has left to do is to rewrite some major section of the Ordinance, which we have to rewrite to accommodate to putting some zones back in.

To make everything consistent throughout the document and the need to incorporate the language of the NC building compatibility standards that was adopted many years ago into the zoning reference. Those are the principle changes now that are waiting to be finished. Once they are finished the ordnance will before you for your approval to schedule a public hearing this should take about two weeks to organize this and get back to you.

Ms. Roane informed the group that we could have our first public hearing on June 18 & 19, 2013. The Planning Commission meeting can be an on June 4th and June 18th to schedule the public hearing and get into the newspaper. This committee has requested two meetings, one for the maps and one for the documentation. A possible third meeting may be needed after the feedback is received from the public.

Ms. Devlin spoke to the group about her concerns that were addressed in previous meetings about the Group Homes or Day Cares and High Street issues. She wanted to know if Mr. Jakubiak was going to do some revisions after tonight.

Mr. Jakubiak had a presentation in mind that I would be giving at a public hearing that would last about 45 minutes that would and will get the public excited. The issues that the public would be concern about with the maps change in uses and the new standards. After the presentation it is up to the public, the key is to have this Ordinance ready then the attorneys can have their say. We may not need to have two public hearings, one is a yes and then if there is a lot of public feedback then we can have another.

We have gotten some feedback from the Economic Development group, some of their comments we can't meet at this late stage of the game and that is what a public hearing is for. It is time to get this document finish something that the Planning Commission is reasonably sure is ready for the public formal process to take place to get comments on the records. The maps we have at this meeting are the old ones. Mr. Shores will have us the new ones for the presentation.

The Downtown Development Zone has been broken into sub-districts. Downtown Core, focus on Race Street and Poplar Street, Urban General District, is the bulk of the Zone, Historic District, Neighborhood Center, which is heavy pushed to commercial development. Each area has an impact on development. There will be some flexibility to the design.

Talking about corner stores in the West End Area with the map.

• If the stores have been turned into residential apartments and they have been for years, you can't zone them back to commercial?

• If you zone them back to commercial then those places have to be turned back. Hyser's for example. You have to use the proper language for the right issue.

• If you do not use it for a commercial, can you turn it into a home if it is zoned commercial?

Some negative effects on some commercial uses in the residential areas. Webster's Store, is in the NC 4 zone, these types of uses are okay by Special Exception. How do we treat these parcels as commercial in the residential areas?

• Highway commercial regulations will differ from residential commercial regulations.

• Is the map going to show the corner stores?
We would show them on the map. Use a Special Exception instead of just commercial.

Permitted through Special Exception some shops are allowed in NC-3 and 4 and not the NC-1 and 2 except for offices.

The language for these needs to be at that particular site and not just any resident can change to a commercial property.

• Would the presumption be, would the property be residential unless proven to have once been a commercial, then they could ask for a Special Exception? Is there a limit of time?

• So they will be classified as residential and tagged Special Exception. Can we just use the language that if it can be proven by the applicant and not the city, then we do not have to do all the work.
If that is the case, then there would be about 35 or more parcels that could have a Special Exception in the residential areas. There used to be a corner store for every few blocks when some of us were kids.

We could have list of standards for the Special Exception instead of deleting any area or neighborhoods. Be more descriptive about the commercial.

• The local stores were downstairs with apartment on the top floor.

• Section 237, talks about corner stores. Special exceptions for these stores and melt them into the liable land uses area.

There should be some proof that it was once a commercial establishment. They need to have something to get the Special Exception. That would be the case with a house built in the late 1970's and has never been a commercial establishment.

• What if someone wanted to convert a downstairs resident that was never a store into an antique store with living quarters in the upper floors?
If it was never a commercial establishment then it should not be given a special

If someone buys that property and it has not been used within some many days, can a person come in and turn it into a home. All buildings by right will be classified as residential and commercial with special exception with proof .........

What is a neighborhood corner store definition? We will have a list. To meet some non-residential uses in the Downtown Waterfront Neighborhood Sub-District this is a formed based area. Yellow area is a mixed use zone, residential and non-residential. In these areas, some non-residential uses, like professional office space, jewelry stores, book store, cafes and others.

The amount of square footage for each commercial, usually just the ground floor and not a tear it down and build an office building. This is for a walkable community.

• Does it have to keep a certain component of residents in the area? If only the first floor square footage for the store area?

They will still be in the historic regulations and has to be approved by HPC for signage or even building renovations.

To establish a small business into a neighborhood, they would need to keep the noise level down. Selling items is one thing, but fixing furniture or manufacturing items may make noise.

An antique shop could be in the neighborhood as long as they are selling and not rebuilding or refinishing the furniture.

To maintain the residential appearance will clearly apply to signs also. The buildings on Court Lane are very small and have small signs for their businesses. They want to keep the small town appearance and not install a neon sign.
Mr. Jakubiak spoke to the Commission about the purpose for the neighborhood districts and that is to see that the regulations preserve the neighborhood atmosphere and to promote the compatible in forming uses in these areas.

The last issue that we have is expiration of non-conforming apartment houses. We want to make sure that you want non-conforming apartments in residential zones to expire or to be expiring if the home is abandoned or 90 days.

The apartment house for four units and they have no lease on them, but the landlord has kept them as four units and the water meters are still there. If they go back in two years and want to rent the units, the owner can.

• There have been issues on Mill Street and were they removed the water meters, so they did abandoned.

Empty of tenants is not abandoned. They have to continue to try to rent the units as a property owner.

• Do they have to try to rent the apartments, showing some good faith effort, to maintain the property, or can they just walk away and keep the water meters on the walls?
They must continue to pay their rental registration fees and that shows that they can rent
to someone whom comes along.

Rental registration fee is a key component the City just raised the fee from $20 to $40 per unit. That is good evidence that you have the intent to try and rent all your units.

 We have forced conversions and they still had water meter there. The language is wrong. On Church Street, the owner bought it online and the meters were still at the property. We told him that it was abandoned and non-conforming use and so the owner contacted the Zoning Board of Appeals allegation of error with the zoning ordinance.

The Board of Appeals upheld the decision that it could not be restored into apartment building.
It was a foreclosure and they had not been paying the fee, and according to what I heard three water meters where still on the building and numbers one thru five were on the apartment doors. It appeared very clear the property was abandoned and it was upheld.

 Do you want the language to say that if the building is empty, and the finical characteristic stay multi-family, do you want it to stay empty for a year or two. It is defined as abandoned.

What is abandonment? An apartment that have not had tenants in them for months and landlord has kept their rental registration fee paid and there are no tenants, is there a time limit.

 It is clearly defined as the water meters are clearly active and rental registration fee is continuously paid.

You can't have them removed the water meter from the property, on Mill Street. They had MUC remove four out of five water meters. They kept up their rental registration fees for all five units paid up, then that is not abandonment. As long as the owner is paying the fees that maintains the status of intent to rent.

 What is the longs resident vacancy? Maybe the definition of abandonment should be non-payment of the rental registration fees, non-active water meter, not occupied as a multi-family resident for a period of one year or 18 month. Then the city can cover their entire basis.

 So if we have abandonment defined as completely vacant for six months or longer or rental registration fees not paid or non-active water meters.

So we want to make the code with the one year vacancies?

• Boarding Homes needs to be discussed again at the next meeting.

Mr. Burroughs asked if we need to brief the Mayor Council once everything is done.

Ms. Roane is the code stated about cars being parked in the front yard. They are not abandoned, the cars are tagged. They may have two cars in the driveway and then another in the front yard parked. Ms. Roane responded with it is not in the zoning ordinance, but it is in the city code, under the property maintenance code.

• A few instances where some people where their cars a completely filled with storage on Oakley Street. The cars are tagged but they are not moved.

Mr. Jakubiak continued within the NC zoning. There is a building capacity standard which the City Ordinance adopted years ago. It will appear in the new draft also and you required a builder to have compatibility survey. Then you have the staff and a variety of people to look at it and make a joint decision. If there is a tie between the variety of staff, the Director of Public Works brakes the tie and determines if the survey is adequate enough. Everywhere we state that the Zoning Officer shall administer the zoning ordinance and apply the standards, except for this one section and I would suggest that you fix that problem.

Mr. Burroughs spoke that Mr. Rickert made a motion to adjourn and second by ?

It was properly moved and seconded, to adjourn the meeting.

Note: These minutes were approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting on ????????????

______________________ _______________
Jerry Burroughs, Chairman Date