October 7, 2014
Commissioners in Attendance: Jerry Burroughs, Chairman; Hubert Trego, Chantey Nelson, Eugene Lauer and Mary Losty
Others in attendance included: Anne Roane, City Planner; Robert S. Collison, City Attorney;
Commissioner Frank Cooke, City Liaison and Gage Thomas
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Mr. Burroughs. This meeting tonight will be like a work session on several items: UDC Code, solar fields, leasing private homes for special events and vacation rentals.
Ms. Roane started with a few items of discussion with help of Mr. Collison on the Port Property Redevelopment. The City Council has put together a committee, led by Commissioner Sydnor and other agencies being represented like Planning, Engineering and Economic Development. Our charge as the Planning & Zoning Commission is to negotiate with the developer and their representatives on the master development agreement. The State has conveyed the property to the City, which we have clear title of. The City has signed an exclusive to the negotiating privilege. The City has inherited this property from the State of Maryland. The State transferred it over to the City and now we are realizing why. We have exclusive negotiating privilege with The Parks Group until December 31st. The negotiations have been extended twice now.
Discussion on this topic proceeded with:
• One of the multiple drafts of the transfer agreements with the State and the City, it was indicated that if we did not come to an MDA agreement with this developer we had to go back to the State to extend it. But in the last version of it, there was a major revision by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, who wanted to modify it extensively and that privilege was taken out. So, as it appears now if we want to extend the exclusive negotiations privilege with The Parks Group, we can do it between us and The Parks Group.
• Having a clear title, there should be no reason to have the State to be further involved.
• Mr. Collison said that State kept a lot of conditions some being:
1. The City has 15 years to develop the property, not with this developer, often times that get twisted. The City can continue and have public use of it as a public form, but we have 15 years and after that time if we have not developed it, then there is an issue that it may go back to the State.
2. The State has come up with certain development guiding principles through their excess property process, which are imposed as a covenant on the property. They were mixed use, no big box development, public access, connecting to downtown.
3. Purchase price will be determined by the appraisals and must be renewed every three years. So if the developer does not purchase within three years, new appraisals have to be ordered.
• The State requires that the purchase price, whatever we get for the property cannot be used in their general fund; it must be reinvested on the property, either through demolition of Governor's Hall or waterfront development. It has to be something on the property.
• The City has hired an engineering firm to do the borings and testing and investigative work, to determine the extent of the construction needed to rebuild the wharf.
Ms. Roane address this Commission that we have seen the master development agreement and as part of the agreement there has to be a concept plan. It should outline the obligations from beginning and end on the City's part and the developer's part. It does cover the concept plan and the process, and what is going to be reviewed through that. The process was clearly defined in the Unified Development Code and it was why we created an overlay district, to take the place of the PUD. The developer would like to provide a concept plan and the City has requested that two of our Planning & Zoning Commissioners, could meet and sit down with the developer and their team and have a non-official, but preliminary conversation, to provide some guidance. We have offered to work with them. We need tonight to pick two Planning Commissioners to commit to working with them.
• The City has inherited this property from the State. We recommended and the City had agreed to hire a development consultant and have them go through that process and they received about six proposals and hired David Ore.
• A plan was submitted to the State a year and half ago. It showed a residential and retail with anticipated phasing.
• It has taken a lot of negotiating and they have agreed to provide a concept plan by the 15th or 16th of October.
• We need to have a couple of Planning & Zoning Commissioners to commit their time to do the preliminary review and this needs to be done by the middle of November.
This Commission usually gets a plan from the developer and then we critic the plan and etc.
• This is not bypassing that process.
• This is a City owned project and property and so it does change. It does not exempt it from going through its due process, which is outlined in the zoning ordinance and it has to go through the steps.
• In addition to your comments on review and approval the State imposed the requirement that prior to the initial submittals as well as any supplemental amendments, must first be submitted to the State Smart Growth subcabinet for their review and comments and then back to this Commission. They have no veto power, but must make the comments back to you.
• There are parameters built into this MDA and also in our review of the overlay district, that would trigger when and what would make it come back to the Planning Commission.
Ms. Roane said that we have previewed plans before with DCS, Cedar Grove, apartments on Baily Road and others. The initial feedback had been helpful. Ms. Losty commented that the developer had been interested and very grateful and took the input and some developers just do not like the feedback and just leave. This is just an informal testing on their concept.
• The idea of working with the developer about a concept is so the developer will come back to us as the Planning and Zoning Commission as a whole with a final plan.
Mr. Burroughs commented that a motion to except a team to sit with the developer on a preliminary concept plan with Mary Losty and Eugene Lauer. Mary made the motion and second by Gene. Vote on motion 4 yes and one no. Again 3 yes and 2 no
Mr. Collison said that we can have two man planning commissioners and up to three. Mr. Burroughs stated that we said up to three persons, but there is not a third person here. It will be Ms. Losty and Mr. Lauer.
Ms. Losty made another motion to add a third person to the team for the planning commissioners, to name a third person Marshall Rickert. And second by Gene Lauer. All in favor and approved.
Ms. Roane said that she emailed everyone the latest UDC updates and had some feedback from Mr. Lauer and Mr. Craig. The hearing for this will be on Oct. 20th at the Dorchester County Library at 6 pm and the ads have already been run. She thanked all for their comments; it was posted on the City's website around Sept. 19th. What is on the UDC in green is from the changes from the meeting in July and once it has gone through the public hearing, we have talked to a professional copy editor who will go through the document with a fine tooth comb and create an index and make sure all the cross references are correct and she is local to Cambridge.
Mr. Collison spoke to this Commission that the UDC has to be introduced at the next regular session of the City Council, then on their first meeting in November City Council can vote on the document if there are no major changes at their next regular session. Ms. Roane said that once the document has been adopted, it goes into effect 10 days after with the new maps. The work sessions have all worked out very well.
A lot of issues had been addressed from the comments from the public.
Mr. Collison commented about Spicer's, hearing date is on Oct. 30 at the Circuit Court. Their soul argument is the language of the UD Code about restoring it to the original condition as to be defined as the condition when they acquired the property. Ms. Losty asked if the sign was there when they acquired the property.
Mr. Collison responded that they purchased a going concern (Spicer's) and they continued it as Spicer's, so the acquisition was not of the property, because they kept it going as Spicer's and to take it to the original condition, you would have to go prior to Spicer's.
Mr. Burroughs said that he spoke to a person who ran the business for Spicer's when the sign was put up. Mr. Collison spoke that the owners did remove two of the three signs. The cost of the removal of the large pole sign in question, the UD Code does not help with hardship.
Ms. Roane said that as a City Planner she was working with a sign company on something else and asked them to give her a price to remove the Spicer's pole sign and it was estimated to be around $1,300.
Ms. Losty stated to Mr. Collison, that the argument was the condition when they acquired the property, they acquired a going concern and they kept it going. Mr. Lauer asked if it is open for business. The property has not been used as a restaurant for over 8 years.
Ms. Losty asked what is the language requiring the removal of a sign now?
Ms. Roane mentioned: Section 6.5.3 C-2 & 3 of the new UDC document
2. Any property owner within the corporate limits of the City of Cambridge where a
business has ceased or is terminated shall be responsible for the removal of all
signs, posts, and standards and the building and grounds shall be restored to their
original condition within thirty (30) days after notification by the Zoning Official of
the City of Cambridge. If the sign is in compliance to current zoning and is in good
condition, the property owner can petition to the Planning and Zoning Commission
to retain and refurbish the structure.
3. All expenses incurred by the Zoning Official in taking down or removing any sign
under this article shall be charged to the person responsible for such sign and shall
constituted a lien on the property upon which such sign was installed as well, which
shall be enforceable as a lien for taxes.
Some other questions asked were:
Is this the first chance that they have to litigate?
Is there room on the property to put a ground mounded sign?
Was one of the issue setbacks?
Ms. Roane said that no, there are no setback issues. Mr. Collison commented that the owners can put a sign at the same location, just not as high, under the new UD Code.
Ms. Roane said that the next meeting, Nov. 4th is Election Day and the next would be Nov. 11th which is Veteran's Day and another holiday. We can meet on Nov. 3rd or Wed. 5th to keep in the first week of November. Wed, Nov. 5th is a good day at 6 pm. At that meeting the agenda will be Cedar Grove, Delmarva Community Services multi-generational project that has been submitted. We could talk about other areas from the public like the solar fields, legislation from Queen Anne's County and Mr. Burroughs has a few that he has been working on, with the County.
The recent Iron Man event had a lot of people that were renting their homes out. The event was a great success and there was some conversations from the West End mentioned some language for the UDC dealing with vacation rentals. B&B's have to go through a process and we did not want to complicate temporal housing and this is something that needs to be thought about.
Mr. Burroughs said that the County has talked about it, after a two week period, it becomes a formal part of the property, the assessment changes and they start charging them for it. There is no formal agreement and the County office sent him a code for Talbot County for short term rentals. Mr. Collison asked if they charge a room tax?
Ms. Roane stated that she will be sending a model legislation to everyone for the next meeting.
Mr. Collison said that in Dorchester it may not apply to Talbot, but a good number of residents that do rent in Cambridge pay their landlords weekly. In the poorer neighborhoods the residents pay weekly versus monthly. To define this, it is a short term lease.
Discussed about the events of Ironman.
End of meeting and recording.