• 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

January 8, 2007

Cambridge Maryland SealMINUTES

Council Meeting

January 8, 2007

 

The City Council met in regular session on Monday, January 8, 2007 in Council Chambers. A quorum being present, Mayor Cleveland L. Rippons called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Those Commissioners in attendance were Commissioners Knox, Sydnor, and Travers.

Oden Wheeler led in the Lord's Prayer. Kayla Wroten, a Junior Girl Scout from GSCB Troop 810, led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the minutes of the December 27, 2006 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

Proclamation

Proclamation for Girl Scout Cookie Sale Program Week-Oden Wheeler read the proclamation. Mayor Rippons signed it and presented it to Victoria Stanley, Service Unit Manager for Dorchester County. Ms. Stanley announced that the girls present were from Brownie Troop 1120, Junior Troop 810, and Cadette Troop 138. She thanked Council for proclaiming this week to be Girl Scout Cookie Week and for Council's support over the years. The girls will be using some of their profits to visit Washington DC for the 95th anniversary of Girl Scouting.

Public Hearing

Community Development Block Grant Application-Affordable Garden Apartment Community for Working Families-Rob Collison introduced Jeff Paxson from Shelter Development, LLC. He presented a certification that notice of tonight's public hearing was published in the Daily Banner on December 28, 2006. Mayor Rippons announced that Jeff Paxson had appeared several times before Council and the public to discuss this project. He asked for additional developments. Jeff Paxson said their project was awarded $1 million in low income housing tax credits from the State of Maryland's Community Development Association and $1,950,000 in rental housing funds which is a large amount of money that will enable them to fund roughly 90% of the project. It shows everyone how much the State recognizes the need for affordable housing in Cambridge and shows the amount of confidence the State has in their organization to provide that housing. Shelter Development appeared before Council on August 28, 2006 and Council voted unanimously to allow them to prepare an application for a Community Development Block Grant for the project. Drafts of the application were placed in City Hall and Council Chambers before the meeting for the public to review. In summary, Cambridge Commons is a 96‑unit affordable housing community to be developed on Bayly Road. It is a great location for families. They promise to provide a very high quality level of living for the citizens of Cambridge. There will be a mix of 2 bedroom/2 bath and 3 bedroom/2 bath units. The typical unit amenities will be balconies or patios, energy star appliances, in-unit washers and dryers, microwaves, high-speed internet access available in every unit, a club house with an exercise facility, a computer room with high-speed internet access and common space for the residents to use, and a tot-lot playground. Of the 21 acres on the site, they will only be using roughly 8 of them for development; therefore there will be roughly 13 acres of open space which is rare in today's development world. Ten percent of the units are targeted toward the physically disabled. All the units are affordable to residents earning 60% or less of our median income. They have several units targeted at 30%, 40%, and 50% of our median income. The rents range from $300 for a 2 bedroom/2 bath unit to $670 for their most expensive 2 bedroom/2 bath unit. The rents for their 3 bedroom/2 bath units range from $497 to $782. They anticipate starting construction in fall 2007 and they anticipate the first units will be on line in summer 2008.

Mayor Rippons said it is currently in between CDBG rounds so this project will be going in as a special project. Initially they were asking for $200,000 and now the application indicates $300,000. Jeff Paxson said it is very challenging to provide affordable housing. With rising construction costs and increased land costs and some of the site issues they have, it has been a hard project from them to pull the sources together. The addition $100,000 will go a long way towards making the project financially feasible. Typically you ask for as much money as you can ask for and they will give you what is available. This money will be a grant to the City. It will be loaned to the project and paid back to the City. Mayor Rippons asked about the repayment arrangements. Jeff Paxson said the money will be subordinated to their loan that they have with the State. Any cash flow available after payment of that loan will go directly to the City until the City's loan is paid off. Because their rents are low, the property will not generate a tremendous amount of cash flow to pay off debt. The trending they looked at in their models predicts they will start repaying the City in Year 10.

Nobody from the Council had any questions. Mayor Rippons asked for public questions and/or comments. There were approximately 20 people present. Nobody asked to speak. Mayor Rippons thanked Mr. Paxson for his presentation. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to close the public hearing. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.

Appointments

Jackie Noller, Habitat for Humanity, Request for Exemption from Payment of Utility Connection Fees for Habitat Homes and Abatement of Impact Fees for Two New Homes Planned for 2007-Ms. Noller said in 2006, Council abated impact fees for their first home on Phillips Street which is a precedence set by surrounding counties. They are very grateful for the almost $3500 of fees being waved. In the first year they were successful in acquiring three lots, building 98% of one home, and selecting three family partners. Their intent last August was to apply for some community incentive tax credits from the State. They were successful in gaining a partial amount that they requested. Council resolved at that time to support them to build a land bank of lots using these tax credits up to four lots, to buy building materials and to give towards a salaried position to oversee construction. They are doing well but are still looking at the main reason they exist. They are a non-profit homebuilding organization with a 30-year history in the United States. Every dollar they can save with a partnership with local governments in selected fees can go to more houses and help more deserving families. The precedence set by the county to the north and by Easton is that the impact fees are abated in their Code. They are willing to come every time they need to build a new house to ask for the abatement. These other jurisdictions also abate utility hook-up fees. Wicomico County and Salisbury do this also. They are facing a $942 bill from the City. The cost of the sewer tap is $750; water hook-up is $50; sewer hook-up is $50; and a plumbing permit costs $92. That is a utility hook-up fee-not digging into the street to connect to the infrastructure-these are just administrative fees that they feel could be put towards building more homes in the future if Council could see fit to exempt them. They are one or two weeks away from needing the hook-up. Mayor Rippons asked Ms. Noller to provide prototype documents from neighboring jurisdictions so Rob Collison can review them. Rob Collison said the City has an ASOP that applies to utility and permitting because they are a 501(c)3 organization. He recommends that they follow the ASOP. The impact fees would be at the discretion of the Council. Mayor Rippons said Council waived them for the first home. Instead of her having to come back, maybe legislatively Council will want to do something.

Jackie Noller asked if they could be exempt from the hook-up fees for the first house. Rob Collison said he doesn't believe the ASOP calls for a complete exemption. He believes it is a 50% reimbursement. Mayor Rippons said he believes the ASOP stipulates that 50% of the fee would be waived for non-profit organizations at the completion. He will have Kathy Foster contact Ms. Holler and provide her with a copy of the ASOP.

Jackie Noller said DPW also holds their application for the building permit for the second house. It has been verbally approved. They will pay the $750 permit fee but will also have to pay the impact fee at that time if it is not abated. Commissioner Travers made a motion to waive the impact fee for House No. 2. Commissioner Sydnor seconded the motion. Commissioner Knox asked if they could amend the Code to waive the impact fees. Mayor Rippons said this vote is for the second house only and then Ms. Noller will provide Council with documents from the other jurisdictions. Time is of the essence. Rob Collison said the Council could adopt a new ASOP for Habitat for Humanity projects. Portia Johnson-Ennels asked if they are going to waive the impact fees for any non-profit that goes into housing. Mayor Rippons said it has nothing to do with impact fees. Mayor Rippons said the ASOP would be specific to those items such as permitting fees such as Ms. Noller just outlined. Rob Collison clarified that the ASOP is for 501(c)3 organizations. You can have a non-profit organization that is not 501(c)3. Portia Johnson-Ennels said she doesn't agree with this because last summer non-profit groups came before Council and Council made the decision to give them funds one time only. If Habitat came to Council in 2006 and Council gave them something, it seems that each year that they build they will come back and ask for something again. She thinks Council needs to put a cap on how much can be asked from any non-profit. It should be done at a public hearing because they need public input on it. Mayor Rippons said there is a vast distinction between what Ms. Noller is asking for and the consideration of the other non-profits. For the most part, a lot of them were fully funded the first year. When they come back for the second year, they are asking for cash coming out of the City coffers. Ms. Noller is asking that in the scope of what Habitat does and in the interest of portraying and making affordable housing that much more affordable, it is not coming out of the City's coffers. Portia Johnson-Ennels said she understands that but under their policy and plans, Habitat tell their people they cannot go to the State and ask them for help with their housing but in reality that is exactly what they have done. The City is a government agency and they are coming and asking for something. The City should have a public meeting and let the public reply. Mayor Rippons said the City must hold a public hearing when they change the operating procedures.

Ms. Noller said Dale Price will provide the 9-1-1 address for the house. She believes it is 927A or perhaps 929 Phillips Street. The motion passed 3:0. Ms. Noller said Habitat received a resolution from Council in August 2006 in support of their efforts to get tax credits to build more of a land bank. She asked if Council could contact them if there were any City-owned in-fill lots where they could build more houses. Mayor Rippons said the Department of Planning would have this information. The State Office of Planning is almost demanding that each City, within the scope of their comprehensive plan and before they can ask for certain grant funds, must have in place that area outlined. Mayor Rippons asked that Anne Roane contact Ms. Noller to discuss City-owned lots or lots the City may have access to. Ms. Noller said she believes their first home will be dedicated on February 10th.

Unfinished Business

Second Reading and Vote on Charter Resolution CR-2006-01 to Provide for Special Elections-Rob Collison said this resolution has been discussed at the past several meeting. Commissioner Knox made a motion to approve Charter Resolution CR-2006-01. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 2:0 with Commissioner Sydnor abstained. Rob Collison said the Charter Resolution will become effective on the 50th day provided there is no petition for referendum as provided by State law.

Approve Demolition Contract to Lowest Qualified Bidder on Houses Located at 608 Schoolhouse Lane and 703/705 Wright Street (Bids to be opened Jan. 16th at 6:00 pm)-Mayor Rippons said they are asking that the bid be awarded before the next Council meeting because the houses must be demolished and the funds must be used before January 31, 2007 or the State will recapture them. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the request. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.

Discuss Disposition of 619 Schoolhouse Lane-Rob Collision said this issue has been discussed with Council at a previous meeting. This property has been donated to the City. A neighboring property owner wishes to utilize the property. It is a small, unimproved lot. If the City has no need for the lot, they can advertise for a public hearing. Mayor Rippons will confirm that this lot was not part of the Community Development Block Grant. Rob Collison said the last time the City discussed a City-owned lot, Council talked about having it appraised and the buyer would purchase it for the apprised value plus the cost of the appraisal. Mayor Rippons asked Rob Collison to write the advertisement that bids would be taken by the City and the lot would be sold to the highest bidder. Commissioner Travers said Mrs. Creighton donated the lot to the City. Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to allow Mr. Collison to advertise for the disposition of 619 Schoolhouse Lane. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0. Mayor Rippons asked Oden Wheeler to make sure this lot was not associated with the grant.

New Business

Request from Wal-Mart for Permission to Arrange Garden Center Corral in Parking Lot from February 15th Through July 30th-Mayor Rippons said historically the Council has allowed this but there are some parameters that involve fire safety, ingress, and egress. Usually this is referred to the Department of Public Works so they ascertain that all safety considerations are met. Wal-Mart is saying this corral will take up 30 parking spaces and there is a safety code that stipulates how many spaces they may use and where the corral may be. George Hyde said Anne Roane will look at this from a planning standpoint. A decision will be made at the next meeting.

PO 841 - Mid-Atlantic Salt, LLC - $4,256.87 for Road Salt-Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the purchase order. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.

Approve Resolution for Submission of Community Development Block Grant Application-Commissioner Sydnor made a motion to approve the resolution. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.

Additional Items

Rob Collison said that Mr. Kinnamon provided Council with a memo concerning the riverwalk agreement that Council had previously approved. It is for them to dedicate a permanent right-of-way easement for a public riverwalk near the County office building. They would like it amended from 15-ft to 10-ft. Apparently they have some improvements that would interfere with a 15-ft area. The City Code requires a minimum of 10-ft. Anne Roane is confident the City will receive grant funding to construct the riverwalk that would run from the foot of Gay Street across the entire County property up to Commerce Street near the Snappers property line. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the request from the County to reduce the width of the riverwalk from 15-ft to 10-ft. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed 3:0.

Rob Collison said the City's agreement with the Sanitary District provides that the City will permit a connection for sewer if it is a lot of record that existed within an existing Sanitary District. It does not mention water. He has confirmed with Mr. Forlifer at the Health Department that the State regulations provide that they do not authorize private well construction permits if it is within a central water system supply area. The City is granting someone permission to connect to the sewer-not the water, and they cannot get a well. The logical thing would be to allow the water connection as well. It would all be at the expense of the developer for an existing lot within an existing Sanitary District. They would pay impact fees plus the higher surcharge. He is asking Council to consider a modification to the agreement that would specify that for lots of record within an existing Sanitary District, they would be permitted water and sewer connection subject to payment of applicable impact fees. This will be discussed at a future meeting.

Rob Collison announced that Council met in closed executive session to discuss personnel at 5:30 pm.

Commissioner Knox discussed traffic coming from Route 50 and turning onto Maryland Avenue. Vehicles that then try to make a left turn into the BP Station cause traffic to back up into Route 50. He asked if the Traffic and Safety Committee would review this situation and suggested that possibly a "no left turn" sign be put in that general area.

Mayor Rippons said a couple of gentlemen came to City Hall to discuss the crosswalk on Race Street near Cannery Way. They would like proper signage placed there like they do in Easton. He suggested that the Traffic and Safety Committee look at this issue also. Rob Collison said this could be done throughout the downtown area.

Commissioner Knox asked if the stop sign at the end of Woods Road in front of the wastewater treatment plant could be replaced with a yield sign.

Commissioner Sydnor said the developer who is building affordable homes on Wright Street is having trouble with vandalism. He asked if the gate can be closed leading into the park. This will be a very nice community and when the residents get there, it will be a great benefit to them if they didn't have the foot traffic at that particular point. He asked the Traffic and Safety Committee review this matter.

Commissioner Sydnor asked when the traffic light on the corner of Gay and Poplar Streets would be fixed. George Hyde said they were supposed to fix it today; however they were delayed due to the rain. They will fix it tomorrow.

George Hyde announced that a new engineer started on December 27th. He is getting up to speed. It is good to have him.

Wendell Foxwell asked when the portable toilet would be put back at Great Marsh. George Hyde said the funding comes from DNR mainly for the boating public. They only fund eight months so it will be put back toward the end of March.

With no further business, Mayor Rippons adjourned this portion of the meeting at 7:53 p.m. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate account of the Council meeting Monday, January 8, 2007 insofar as I personally am aware.

                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                    Oden C. Wheeler

                                                                                    Administrative Coordinator