Categories: 2005 Council Minutes Date: Mar 1, 2010 Title: City Council Minutes
The City Council met in regular session on Monday, March 14, 2005 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, Cephas, Watkins, Brooks, and Travers.
Ed Kinnamon led in the Lord's Prayer. Commissioner Travers led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the minutes of the February 28, 2005 Council meeting as distributed. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
CITY AUDITORS TO PRESENT FY04 AUDIT
Keith Novak of Clifton & Gunderson gave the City a good report on the FY04 audit. Two journal entries were made due to corrections in the audit. Revenues were understated in one area due to an increase in room tax revenue. Segregation of duties is an issue now as in the past. To correct this, the city would have to hire additional staff. This finding is not uncommon in small government offices. Mayor Rippons thanked Mr. Novak for his report.
CDBG Application for a Downtown Study and a Traffic Study-Rob Collison announced that this public hearing was advertised in The Daily Banner on Tuesday, March 8, 2005. Portia Johnson asked why the City was applying for funding for the downtown when earlier the Housing Authority asked for support and was denied support. Anne Roane reported that the City applied for a grant through the Community Legacy program. The Department of Housing and Community Development did not fund the projects through Community Legacy, however, they said they would fund $25,000 toward each of the two projects through their Community Development Block Grant program. Octavene Saunders commented that since this grant is for downtown Main Street, Pine Street should be included, not just downtown. Anne Roane stated that she recognizes that Pine Street is included in the Main Street area. The grant has to do with drainage and the City listed priority areas for the grant. Commissioner Brooks stated that certain streets in the Pine Street area of Main Street are important since water lies in the summertime causing mosquitoes and other bugs to collect which is a health issue. Anne Roane announced that copies of the grant application were available for the public to view at the Department of Public Works and the Main Street office.
Approval for Preliminary Master Development Plan for Blackwater Resort (fka Egypt Road)-Ann Roane said after the other presentations on this development, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to approve the preliminary master development plan as submitted stating it will have to meet the conditions of the staff report. A lot of the criteria are items that will be addressed during the design stage. This is not uncommon. Rob Collison said there was an issue raised at the Planning and Zoning Commission's meeting as to whether this project actually qualifies for PWRD because of a phrase of "water of the city". There is some phrasing in the PWRD zoning code that states it must be adjacent to water of the city. There is another section that says an applicable body of water. Each of the developers and some opponents have submitted their written opinions on that issue. They may elaborate more on that this evening.
Sandy McAllister said the city has had an active involvement in this project to date. The property was annexed in March 2004 and zoned Planned Water Resort District. The county entered into an agreement with the developer in June 2004 as a component of negotiation to modify the comprehensive plan at the county level. The city entered into an agreement with the developer dated May 10, 2004 which details the many donations and contributions and requirements imposed on the developer by the city. Tonight they are seeking preliminary master development plan approval. The preliminary master development plan submittal is dated January 17, 2005. They submitted a letter to Rob Collison dated March 11, 2005 responding to some of the legal issues raised by Mr. Worrell on behalf of his group including a detailed response to his issues related to the waters of the Little Blackwater. It is their strongly felt position that the preliminary language of the PWRD enabling statute deals with waters of the City of Cambridge in a broad generic sense. That same language makes is quite clear that the criteria is to be strictly applied. The criterion requires only the PWRD districts be bordering on navigatable water which in all cases is true in this submittal.
Sandy McAllister said for the community at large, he believes the project is truly a wonderful opportunity. The city's impact fees on this project will reach $14,400,000 at today's rates. The Dorchester County excise tax component will be $11,747,000 if they do not raise the fees. As you go down the litany of things this community needs badly, it has to find ways to increase its tax base and to collect the fees it will need to move forward. Otherwise we will continue to be one of the higher taxed communities in Maryland. Everybody wants better "everything" but it is very difficult to fund these things without growth. All infrastructure related to this project-that is everything that State Highway requires, everything that the city and county governments require, every road and pipe in this project-will be paid for by the developer. Not one penny will be paid by the city. The impact fee money will be spent elsewhere. It will not be spent on infrastructure related to this resort. The conservative estimate is that over $1 billion at the end of this build-out will be available on a taxable basis for the community.
Ken Usab, Morris & Ritchie Associates, said they are the engineer and planning firm representing the design team and the developer for this project. He presented an aerial photograph of the site which illustrates property boundaries. It also defines the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area, the 100-foot buffer, and the tidal and non-tidal wetlands. The property extends approximately 2½ miles from Maple Elementary School in a southerly direction towards the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge along the Little Blackwater River and the Maple Dam Branch of the Little Blackwater River. Approximately 330 acres of the site reside within the Critical Area. They have the Cambridge/Dorchester County school complex to the north. There is State open space land. They have existing agricultural lands that are in agricultural-preservation to the south. To the north they have Maryland Route 16 and Egypt Road Park. The developer is making a significant contribution of $350,000 towards upgrades to the park. The developer and applicant for this project is Egypt Road LLC. The property owner of the property is The Thomas Land Group LLC. The property was annexed in March 2004. The only areas that will remain in the county are several small out-parcels to the south.
Since they made their last presentation, they have continued to work with Anne Roane and George Hyde. They have made further refinements to each of the 13 land bays, or smaller communities, within the overall resort. They have completed a traffic study. Based on comments by Anne Roane and Bill Craig, they are modifying the plan to include a divided boulevard with a landscaped median that will extend initially to the entrance of the golf clubhouse which is directly across from an active adult community. The project starts with the densest development which is a mixture of condominiums and townhomes to the north adjacent to the county park and the city school complex. They have a large active adult component that comprises of between 600 and 1000 homes. They will also have several smaller communities, some of them on the golf course as you move toward the south. Anne Roane expressed an interest in incorporating some traditional neighborhood elements to the project. They have been able to work a number of them into the active adult portion of the project. They have been able to preserve and enhance the existing buffer along the Little Blackwater River in conjunction with the development of the golf course. They have worked hard to cluster the commercial elements of the project. The commercial area encompassed approximately 50,000 sq.ft. which will include a daycare center, cleaners, a small restaurant and also the maintenance complex. The developer is providing a 10-acre school site for expansion of the South Dorchester school complex as well as a 50-acre site off of Route 14 near Secretary that is being considered by the Board of Education for a potential high school.
Each individual community within the project will have a community center and similar type facilities for the residents in the context of a village green or park. The developer is very committed to moving forward with the recommendations of the traffic study that was prepared by The Traffic Group for this project. All of the improvements will need to be approved by the Department of Public Works (DPW) and Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA). The improvements will be phased-in over the life of the project and there will be intensive negotiations with DPW and SHA on how they are phased in. Some of the proposed plans include dualization of Route 16 between Egypt Road and Maple Dam Road; intersection improvements at Maple Dam Road; intersection improvements at US Route 50 and Maryland Route 16; and improvements to Woods Road and US Route 50.
The City has done an exceptional job implementing biological nutrient removal and they are looking at enhanced nutrient removal for the treatment plant which is maintaining the capacity of the plant and they will certainly be able to accommodate this project. They are conducting a study of the sewer infrastructure from the project site extending up to the plant including the pumping stations and collection system.
They are working closely with a golf course architect. They are doing an integrated nutrient pest management plan. It establishes a little bit higher threshold than the typical golf course for soil testing, determining when you would apply herbicides and fertilizer to the golf course to minimize the impact on the environment. It directs and prohibits use of certain pesticides in environmentally sensitive areas. They will treat the run-off from the developed areas in a series of ponds in the area they are requesting growth allocation for. There will be further treatment as the water flows through restored streams through the project. They will be providing significant pedestrian pathways and bicycle paths and connections to the park and school.
Mr. Zentgraf has established the Blackwater Foundation. Each condominium will provide $500 to the foundation; each townhouse will contribute $750 to the foundation; and each single-family resident will generate $1000 in revenue for the foundation. At the completion of the project, the foundation will have over $2,600,000 set aside to assist people in buying homes in the city and to do renovations and upgrades. They feel this is a meaningful way to recognize some of the needs of the community. The foundation will not give money or grants to folks to buy homes in this particular project. It is for investment elsewhere in the city. Commissioner Brooks asked if they could buy a home in the project. She was told they could move anywhere if they meet all the other criteria.
There will be substantial job creation. They expect to create between 150 and 200 permanent jobs in different service-related industries upon completion of the project, with the restaurants, golf course facilities, executive conference center, and all of the other infrastructure within the development. During construction they would fully anticipate a minimum of 500 full-time jobs similar to what was done during the construction of the Hyatt. With the total costs for the construction related to the project, they will be adding that many jobs for a period of 10 to 12 years which will generate a lot more opportunities. Octavene Saunders said when the Hyatt was being constructed, the city had a hard time running out there to make sure that local people got the construction jobs. They brought in foreign workers and said they were union so they could only hire union people. These constructions job may not necessarily give our workers a lot of jobs. Sandy McAllister said one of the challenges with the Hyatt was that if they couldn't get local workers to work on the State Hospital or the Hyatt, they could bring in people, finish a project, and be out. From the inception of the resort community at Egypt Road, they have talked about a 12‑ to 15‑year build-out. It is just not economical for these national builders to swing in crews for 6 or 8 months, stick them in a hotel room, and move on to the next big project. The only way to staff this kind of project will be to hire local people or hire people who then move locally. The types of housing that will be constructed are the kinds of construction projects that over a long period of time will encourage local hires.
Sandy McAllister then reviewed the criteria necessary to be established last year when the PWRD No. 3 was established. (1) At least 50 percent of separate parcels comprising the total land area proposed for inclusion in the PWRD are bounded by a navigatable body of water. (2) The land area proposed for inclusion in the PWRD is at least 20 acres in overall size with all of the land or parcels proposed for inclusion in the PWRD being contiguous to one another or separated only by a public right-of-way. The land area in this project is closer to 1061 acres. (3) A preliminary master development plan is submitted showing generally the area to be included in the PWRD and the location of those permitted uses as defined in the section. (4) All the land area proposed for inclusion in the PWRD is served, or will be served, at the time of physical development by public sewer and water systems. (5) 80 percent of the land area proposed for inclusion in the PWRD is privately owned. They more than met all the criteria at the time the original PWRD No. 3 was created last year.
The golf course will be longer than the one at the Hyatt and eligible to attract tour events. It will bring people to town. The resort course will is an important component. Every amenity (golf course, spa, public pedestrian walkways, bike paths, resort and conference center) you could include is included, except one-a marina. They are trying to maintain the pristine Little Blackwater. There will be public access in controlled areas for kayaks, canoes, etc. They tried to push all the housing away from the river in order to maintain, to the greatest extent possible, its environmentally pristine condition. The school will have access to the river for educational and environmental purposes. That is why the land was donated.
Commissioner Brooks asked if they explored the idea of an overhead crosswalk for children once Route 16 is made a dual highway. Sandy McAllister said it has been discussed and hopefully in the next month or so they will meet again with State Highway because that will be a decision of Donny Drewer, the Executive Director of the State Highway Administration.
Commissioner Knox said the developer was supposed to be doing a soil conservation analysis. Sandy McAllister said the developer agreed to participate in the payment. County Commissioner Glenn Bramble said it is part of the MOU and has to be done before the project can be completed. Commissioner Knox made a motion to send a letter to the county requesting a timeframe that they may have to give the city an idea of when it could be started. Commissioner Travers seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Knox said there were some issues with adjacent farms about restrictions on Egypt Road that would hinder their day-to-day activities. There were also neighboring issues with hunting, etc. Sandy McAllister said the city, in its MOU last year, requested and got included a commitment that the developer would in no way, under no circumstances, do anything at any time to interfere at all with farm traffic. It was also included in the county MOU and it is a statutory right as well. With regard to the neighbor concerns, two different families have continued throughout the process to express concerns about preserving their rights related to hunting and trespassing on farmland. There has been no resolution but there continues to be much discussion between the developer and these two families which he hopes will be successful.
Commissioner Knox said he read that the sewer lines will be run to our Stone Boundary pumping station. He asked if any lines would be tied into the Sanitary District. Ken Usab said they would not.
Commissioner Cephas asked for the projected timeframe for completion of the entire project. Sandy McAllister said it could be at a minimum 12 years, more likely 15 years. It could be 20 years.
Sandy McAllister submitted three letters for the record. One is his March 11, 2005 letter to the City Council. The other is a letter dated March 2, 2005 from the Mayor of Hurlock. The third is a letter from the Heart of Chesapeake County which they asked him to submit.
Gail Collins, President of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce, thanked all the members of the Council who have been so dedicated and given their time and attention to the Dorchester County business community. The Chamber of Commerce is supporting the project which will have a significant major positive impact on the continued economic growth of our county. At their December 15 Board meeting, they spent considerable time learning about and discussing this development. After considering the pros and cons of the proposed development, the Board concluded that the project is well conceived and researched and thoroughly planned with the input of many local people and groups. It will be sensitive to environmental considerations as well as to other needs such as education, research, traffic and esthetics. Based on the many positive Board member comments regarding this project, she is voicing their support.
Gerry Boyle said he supports this project and would love to see it move ahead as quickly as possible. When he hears what the developer has done over the last year to accommodate many of the concerns and criticisms since its inception, the project has grown in quality. Improvements which were not considered in the very beginning have now been addressed. The developer is in a position to make certain civic grants and donations which will benefit people immediately.
Dorchester County Councilman Tom Flowers said several years ago he started attending every meeting he could go to about planning. It is a tremendously complicated and tedious process. In his work with the developer and his people, he has found that it is the finest project, the most environmentally sound project, the most people-oriented project, and he feels it will be a tremendous value to our area. It is a great project and he hopes the city will give it strong consideration.
Rich Loeffler said he is speaking as a private citizen and as an employee of the Small Business Development Center. He read a statement from the Cambridge Main Street Board of Directors stating that Blackwater Resort Communities increases the number of residents in Cambridge thus creating more foot traffic downtown which benefits the downtown merchants. As a private citizen he has been involved in planning in a number of areas in the past 30 years. There are a number of jobs that ultimately follow the construction project particularly with a residential community. The number of jobs increases substantially for the service industry, the retail, and the restaurant business. The new residents will be spending money here and will need services. As a private citizen, he sees this as an opportunity for our residents to get additional jobs and to increase their own businesses if they have them. As an employee of the Small Business Development Center, he said that statistically, when they see something like this come in and see the growth in an area, they know they will see a very significant number of jobs. He encourages this project.
Dorchester County Councilman Glenn Bramble said most of this project is locating in his District. Being in the construction business, he said most of his subcontractors today have to import labor. There is a very limited amount of blue collar workers talented now. Most contractors in this county will tell you they are overwhelmed with work. There are just not enough people in the county to do the work. People will relocate here and they will stay here and jobs will continue on. We need to enhance the vo-tech end. In regards to the stormwater management plan, there is a part in this process that has to be in place before this will be initiated. It will be done to the county's and the citizen's likings. The county holds the growth allocation. He said he also serves on the Critical Areas Commission. There is some discussion on whether the golf course will be part of the growth allocation. Dorchester County is the largest county in Maryland-not just land-wise but as far as critical areas. He feels this project equals, if not surpasses, any project that he has seen for the year he was on the Critical Areas Commission. He is in support of the project because he believes it will bring this county forward in many ways on a positive side. There are a lot of issues that will be addressed.
Jim Reilly, Superintendent of Schools, said he has to be very much concerned with developments and housing projects that are on the books. This developer has been very gracious in coming to him and going to the Council and working with them very collaboratively to ask them what they need and what he can provide for them. They have provided some land options at two critical areas where they envision they will have to build some schools. Along with developments, come children. It is a good thing but it also means overcrowding and a need for new construction. They have been very cooperative in working toward that end. He supports this development 100 percent and wishes that Council would give it a favorable consideration.
Jerry Burroughs, Vice Chair of the City's Planning and Zoning Commission, has been reviewing this project for almost two years. They voted on it favorably and they hope the City Council will support it because it is a project that is well-needed in the city.
Phil Feldman said one of the most important things in his mind is infrastructure and how it is planned and how the developer feels about the community and how the developer is going to treat Dorchester County. With this particular project, the developer lives in Dorchester County. He is willing to start a foundation to help the people of Cambridge. He expressed his support for the project. It is a first class project that we can't let get away.
Sonny Robbins said he has know Mr. Zentgraf since he moved to Cambridge. He is nothing but a first class individual and he would personally like to add his support of this project and hopes Council gives it a favorable treatment.
Doug Worrell said he is amused about being beaten up on as anti-growth. He spent his career representing developers, architects, engineers, contractors, and has done his own subdivision. He is representing a group called Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth. They are not opposed to growth or a development occurring on Egypt Road. Their difficulty is with some of the aspects of the project. The golf course is where it is located because that is where the Critical Areas are located. They have asked for 150 acres which is almost 15 percent of the growth allocation this county has left. The Planning Board did not approve this plan; they recommended it. It is up to the Council to approve the preliminary plan. Tonight is the last time Council will have an opportunity to impose any requirements on this project. In December the Court of Appeals, in the decision The City of Bowie vs. Prince George's County, held as a matter of law, that the final plat which is the only other plat Council is ever going to see, has to be approved on a ministerial basis. That is to say, Council has no input. When Council votes tonight, they are voting forever and they will have no more input. Nobody is suggesting that the developer is anything less than an honest, honorable, and forthright and intends to do everything he says.
Doug Worrell said the ordinance that was adopted last year has several parts. He has a feeling that when the previous Council adopted it, they meant what they said. The ordinance requires a water resort adjacent to the waters of the City of Cambridge and oriented to and compatible with the waters. This is a large subdivision with a golf course attached. The resort is a word presumably that was used because they intended it to mean something. What it means in the singular case that the courts of Maryland have addressed and what the dictionary says is not what you see in the developer's drawings. It is something different. It could be a judgment call and it is Council's obligation to make judgment. They can disagree with him but they can't disagree that there are any waters of the city. Sandy McAllister has not had a chance to give him his submission. He did not hear Mr. McAllister argue that the Little Blackwater is indeed waters of the city. This is an issue which is clear. It is also an opportunity for Council to take a deep breath. Nobody is suggesting that this development should not occur is some fashion. They are suggesting that this is an opportunity to ask the developer to re-think this. They have heard of the wonderful benefits that this project will bring to the city. The foundation they are speaking about is not a legal requirement. It isn't even formed yet. It doesn't exist. If Council does not make it a requirement on this and other issues tonight, they will forever forego the chance. The traffic study said that Route 16 has to be dualized. Based on the SHA estimate manual, there are 8 things that have to happen to dualize a road. Under SHA guidelines, the road will cost somewhere between $2.9 and $5 million. The developer has represented that he will work with SHA. He asked why the City Council did not impose an obligation on him to post a bond for the estimated cost of this.
A significant issue is the water quality of the Little Choptank. He believes Mr. Giese will speak to this. This project has substantial implications. Mr. Bramble spoke to this. There will be no more opportunities to impose restrictions.
Doug Worrell said traffic studies are estimates at best. If you have an independent traffic study, you will be in a much better position to determine how good and how important the roads improvements must be. The same goes for the water run-off with the Little Blackwater. There is a study under way. Why not get it done before Council makes an irrevocable decision as to what is going to happen?
Doug Worrell said there is an issue that is very important. He respects and admires public servants. They really try to do a good job. He learned that a public servant of the City of Cambridge tried to intercede and preclude Council and the city from learning some very relevant facts. The wastewater treatment plant meets all criteria. It operates at 50 percent capacity or some lower capacity. It has more than enough capacity to nominally take this subdivision. The information that somebody tried to stop Council from hearing is to be presented by Dr. Tom Fisher, a scientist. He is not being paid and is not supporting the group. This is a unique opportunity to learn real facts. There is a monitoring device by the Route 50 bridge. It is teaching us that the Choptank River is heading for dead. This subdivision will exacerbate that problem.
Octavene Saunders is not speaking for or against the project. She asked what tax amenities, if any, this developer is receiving from the city. Mayor Rippons said there are no tax breaks associated with anything. In addition to the normal taxes on the project, they will pay full impact fees with no abatement and full excise taxes to the county. In addition, there is a contemplation of $2 million upfront payment for consideration of the new public safety building.
Tom Fisher, a professor at Horn Point Laboratory, said he has been working on the Chesapeake Bay for the last 25 years. He presented a summary of data that has been gathered by various monitoring agencies. The issue of water quality in the Choptank is a larger issue than this development. Basically the water quality in the Choptank is headed in the wrong direction. We have some serious degradation occurring in the river. If you look at non-tidal streams in uplands above Cambridge, you can see the concentration of nitrate, which is a major pollutant that comes primarily from agriculture and septic systems. There is also an increase in phosphorus. In addition to agriculture, wastewater treatments plants flowing into the Choptank (Cambridge is the largest) have a history of increasing flow. The increasing flow is due to added population in these towns. The plants have attempted to minimize the impact by treating their waste as much as possible. The concentrations were coming down. Good management of the plant has minimized the impact. With flow going up and concentrations going down, you have essentially little net change. There is a constant number of pounds of nitrogen and phosphorus that are still going into the river from the wastewater treatment plant. The water quality at the Route 50 bridge monitoring station has shown a steady increase in coryphaei since 1985. It has doubled. The water is greener than it was 20 years ago. The water is becoming less and less transparent. The concentrations of oxygen in bottom waters, which is what affects oysters and fish, have been decreasing over time. There are some serious problems in the Choptank. The sources of these problems are agriculture and wastewater treatment plants. The relevance of this information for this hearing is that increasing in flow from the wastewater treatment plants are making a contribution to this problem. At some point, the EPA's TMDL process is going to kick in and there will be load limits introduced for the wastewater treatment plants and upon agriculture. The caps that the wastewater treatment plants current have are going to be lowered. Developments will make the problem a lot worse. The water quality problems will be harder to deal with in the future. We have a decade before we start to lose the fish and oysters out of the bottom of the Choptank River. Any additional inflow to the wastewater treatment plants will shorten the time before the oxygen problems become even more severe.
Rob Collison asked if Dr. Fisher's report takes into account the on-going upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant. Dr. Fisher said his understanding is that the BNR has been online for about a year. They have had very good success with it and reduced the concentrations from about 7 down to about 5. There is another process called ENR which can get the concentrations down to 3 mg/l. His understanding is that State funds will pay for essentially 100 percent of that cost if you apply for it. He would strongly urge the city to consider going to ENR to reduce this concentration. Mayor Rippons said the city has completed BNR. We have sustained levels at the low 3 level which is equivalent to what Mr. Fisher is demanding. There is also a consideration that we are moving forward with a grant that will do all of this planning aspect. It is forthcoming. Mr. Fisher said he doesn't have data past 2001 but he is delighted to hear it. The point he is trying to make is that currently we are headed in the wrong direction for water quality in the Choptank. Decisions like this cumulatively have brought things to where they are now. In the future we are going to have some serious water quality issues unless we turn some of these around and reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous going into the river from all sources.
Doug Worrell said he hasn't criticized the work that Mr. Pritchett has done out there. He was quite satisfied with the permit review. If Council approves this today, whatever they approve is what they are going to get. It is his request that they disapprove it, not because it is a bad idea in the sense of a good development for work, but it is his request that they disapprove it with the understanding that they are going to try to bring it down to a more rational development size. He represents two companies-one is a developer and one is a developer's consultant. Both of them have said that they do not understand the development. It is way beyond anything they would touch. They are people working on the Eastern Shore doing large developments. It has no sense.
Catherine McCulley said she is fairly sure she read in the paper a year or more ago that there was a 5-year wait before they had to pay the impact fees. Mayor Rippons said that is no longer correct. Rob Collison the impact fees will be due when the building permit is applied for. However, if they want to pre-pay them, if they are approved for 3000 units and they build 1000, before the end of 5 years, they could pre-pay the other 2000 units in advance.
Fred Pomeroy said he is a member of Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth and is opposing this development as it is currently configured. In the 1970s a nuclear power plant in Church Creek was going to be the salvation of Dorchester County. The city and county commissioners said the tax revenue from a nuclear power plant would solve all of Dorchester County's problems for the conceivable future. A ballot initiative said the citizens of the county really didn't want a nuclear power plant in Church Creek. About 2 years later the accident occurred at Three Mile Island. Since that time, not one nuclear power plant has been built in the United States. About 10 years later a developer came to Cambridge and said if the whole Cambridge Creek was given to him, he would keep a 60-ft channel open, but the creek on both sides would belong to him. He would have a floating marina. That was going to be the salvation of Cambridge. The Cambridge Creek is a Federal waterway. Things slowed down and the developer left town. Not only did he not pay his own local consultant, he never paid the person who cut the grass on the lot he had an option on where he was going to build a hotel. He is not saying the people from Blackwater LLC are these kinds of people. As presently configured, this is a bad idea because of the location. The city has gerrymandered its boundaries. It has gone out into the countryside two miles and usurped farmland when there are places inside town that could be better built on. It is bad because of its size. Studies show that communities that grow faster than 3 percent a year cannot manage the growth. If you take an average of the 12 years they want this project to happen and the 20 years it might take it to happen, that one development will grow Cambridge about 6 percent a year over 15 years. This is a bad idea for Cambridge. He would like the citizens of Cambridge and the whole county to vote on this. Because of this development and other giant developments, we aren't going to recognize the place where a number of us grew up. Mayor Rippons said 11,000 people at 6 percent equates to 660. If they build 3200 homes over 15 years, that equates to about 200. We have a population of 11,000. In his calculation he only sees less than a 2 percent factor. Mr. Pomeroy said he was figuring on about 9000 additional people in 3200 homes. That is less than 3 persons to a home. He figured 9000 people over 15 years at about 90 percent which comes to about 6 percent per year.
Tim Rzepecki (10 years old) said he doest not want Council to approve this development. He swims in the Choptank in the summer and fishes too. If this development is approved, the research shows that the fish and oysters will be gone in about 10 years. The development could kill the river. He implores them to vote against this master plan.
Helen Malkus said she owns the farm that is directly adjacent to the proposed development. Cheryl Giese, her granddaughter, spoke in behalf of Mrs. Malkus. They have raised their concerns in the past about this project's impact on their farm. They have gone on record on numerous occasions that this project, as proposed, will result in the loss of a significant amount of Mrs. Malkus' income due to the loss of hunting income and future crop damage due to deer and geese caused by their inability to protect their agricultural crops resulting from a 150‑yard "no hunting zone" from the adjacent houses. They have expressed additional concerns regarding increased stormwater encroaching on their property resulting in crop damage, flooding, etc. They are very concerned about future trespassing onto their property by future residents in the ATVs, motorbikes, and dogs. They have proposed that these issues can be minimized by requiring some type of physical barrier, such as a large berm, ditch, or berm and fence along with adequate buffering with trees and shrubs. Their family has no interest in developing their property and maintaining their income is essential. Without proper buffering, future conflicts may threaten their right to farm as mandated by county and state law. She thanked the Planning and Zoning Commission and members of the City Council who visited their farm and who have recognized the validity of their issues. They are currently in discussions with Mr. Zentgraf to try to resolve their issues. A draft agreement is currently being reviewed by their attorney. They urge the Council to continue to support the efforts to minimize the impacts to their land, income, and their way of life by conditioning any approval of this project to a resolution of their issues.
Steve Edgar said he spoke to Mr. Zentgraf today and no agreement has been made on their issues of hunting and crop damage.
Barbara Edgar said Sandy McAllister stated that some families adjoining the property are not happy with the development. She is happy with it if it is done correctly. She sees their loss of income. They are all saying it will bring income. She cannot be happy when she is loosing hunting income. Agriculture is the number one industry in Dorchester County and Maryland but it is going out the door.
Bill Giese said he is speaking tonight as Chairman of the Soil Conservation District and believe it or not, he is not speaking in opposition or in favor of this project. He appreciates the concern expressed earlier about the stormwater management issue. That has been a topic that the District has been pushing since all this development started taking place around the headwaters of the Blackwater. He thinks both the city, county, and many other officials recognize this as potentially a tremendous problem and they have been working very actively trying to generate interest and trying to deal with this issue so they can gather information to get accurate numbers so they can work with the city and the county so they can make good decisions. They have secured enough funds for a water monitoring station in the Little Blackwater and despite what Mr. Bramble said tonight, they think it is imperative that the hydrologic study that the county has proposed really gets pushed along. He thinks personally it's essential before we go too far along this process. Again, I'm not saying that this development is good or bad. He is just saying they know they have problems and they don't want to make those problems worse. The Little Blackwater is an asset to this community because it is one of the major water sources for Blackwater Refuge and they are working hard to maintain the Refuge and its role as a viable part of this community so, again, they need to protect that asset. He commended Council for the interest they have shown tonight. They would be glad to make a presentation to Council and the District very much would like to continue to work with the City Council and certainly the Planning and Zoning, so they can get some answers to these questions. He wants to go on record as saying that they look forward to working with the city.
Onnie Edwards stated she was not in favor of having a firehouse built next to her house on Egypt Road. It was explained that no firehouse was scheduled to be built.
Sandy McAllister said the data that Dr. Fisher was talking about was from 2001. With regard to the official findings of the Department of Natural Resources, they are looking pretty good. With regard to the comments made by Mr. Worrell, the foundation was formed many months ago. They continue to solicit interest in individuals within Dorchester County and the City of Cambridge. Mr. Worrell's idea that this is Council's last chance is very interesting. He is going to hold Mr. Worrell to that because he is pretty comfortable that Mr. Worrell will be here at the next public hearing. The case he cited deals with a final plat approval being ministerial. That is true because once you get done all the final approvals, the actual approval of the plat itself is ministerial. The approval of the final master development plan, however, is anything but; not only with regard to the current memorandum of understanding, but with regard to developers' rights and responsibilities agreements and with the plain fact that without Council's final approval, they cannot push an ounce of dirt. They will be coming back for a long time. He doesn't want anyone to misunderstand what they are asking for. The reason the statute calls this preliminary approval is because it is preliminary. It is not final. With regard to State Highway, they will do what State Highway tells them to do. If it requires $2.5 million a mile or $5 million a mile, they will be a problem for the development, not a problem for the city. The annexation agreement requires the developer to do all this. It has already been agreed to. State Highway will require all sorts of bonds to be posted before permits are issued.
Sandy McAllister said the first message he got from the Malkus' attorney was when he was out of town on Friday and he call him back today. He thinks they had a positive discussion. Regarding the loss of income to Mrs. Malkus, he thinks it has been made crystal clear that they are as concerned as she is. He has been lead to believe that she has approximately $5000 a year in hunting revenue and has been currently offered, and has been offered for some time, a guarantee of $5000 a year for the next 20 years (see further correction later in minutes). In addition, family members are entitled to continue to hunt that farm, if they wish. They haven't accepted the offer. He doesn't want there to be any misunderstanding. He has used their numbers. He wants to ensure that it is not impacted whatsoever. They have also offered, as well, to ensure that any crop damage, which seems unlikely, because one of the design features has been to go with significant water features along the boundary between their farm and this project. Between berms, fences, shields and, in fact, a significant water feature, the developer has a significant expense taken into consideration trying to impede the casual trespass across the boundary lines into their farm. He hopes they will continue to consider the offer. The PWRD density is 15 dwelling units per acre. This is roughly 1000 acres. Under the code, they are entitled to build up to 15,000 units. Half of that number (7500) is over double what they are proposing. They are at a fraction of the density called for in the PWRD statute. He said they have repeatedly asked Mr. Worrell and others what they wanted and were basically told that he wasn't a planner and he didn't know, which leaves the developer at a difficult crossroad. They will continue to be as sensitive as they possibly can. With over 50 percent open space and public access throughout the project, they think they have done a pretty sensitive job. They have addressed Mr. Worrell's points in their letter. He is confident they are sufficient. He corrected his early statement by saying the offer they made to the Giese/Malkus family was for 10 years-not 20. The developer will be back in front of the Planning Commission at the interim approval level and back in front of the Planning Commission for the final approval recommendation. They will be back in front of City Council at the final master development plan approval. They are required to take public input at each of these steps.
Octavene Saunders said she was at a meeting Monday at the County office building and two people on the committee said a gentleman had taken a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission to lunch and then another lady said she was going to have breakfast with him. They said another person on the Planning and Zoning Commission had lunch with the gentlemen and is asking to be on the Foundation. She asked if it was kosher. Sandy McAllister said one of the concerns they had is whether or not to have political representation on the board and concluded that it would be a bad idea. They didn't think elected officials ought to be in a position to award grants. Nobody has been selected to be on the board yet. Its going to be quite a while before significant funding comes in so there would be nothing for the foundation to do. Octavene Saunders said the people are on the Planning and Zoning Commission, voted in favor of the project, and have been asked to serve on the board. Sandy McAllister said he is not sure what Mrs. Saunders is referring to. It would appear to him that many, many members of various boards in town also wear lots of hats. Mr. Giese said there have been a lot of finer points in this agreement that have been proposed. He wants it to be very clear that there has been a deliberate attempt on a number of occasions, to pass on that his family has resolved these issues with the developers. He takes exception to this. Sandy McAllister said he apologizes if anything he said suggested that there was an agreement. They have never formally or informally suggested that an agreement has been reached.
Rob Collison said the Council may proceed this evening. It will not be official until there is an adoption of a formal Findings of Fact which will be at the next meeting. Commissioner Brooks asked if this plan was to be approved tonight, what guarantee Council has that the developer would continue to work with the people in opposition that have been promised financial payments. She said she has heard Mrs. Malkus talk about crop damage from deer. Even if the developer gave her $5000 a year for the hunting income, she asked what they would give her for the crop damage from not being able to hunt on her property. Duane Zentgraf said he has talked to Mr. Giese on a number of occasions, and with the Edgars and he has told them that regardless of what the City does or imposes, he will live by his word in the agreement. He will make sure their crop damage is taken care of, their hunting rights are taken care of, and the trespassing on the Giese property is taken care of, regardless of what requirements are put on him. He doesn't want anybody to loose money because of what he does or doesn't do. He also doesn't want anybody stopping him from what he has the right to do with his property. Commissioner Brooks asked if it was put in writing. Mr. Zentgraf said they have a written agreement. Commissioner Cephas said there has never been a development this size in Cambridge. He visited a site near Annapolis with a similar number of units. He met with the Planning and Zoning and City Planner for that area. The developer was even there. The developer was planning to do the project and then leave. An association was formed that encouraged the developer to stay. He is still there after 15 years. The property owners seem to be happy with the project. If he had a farm, he would be concerned about loss of income and nothing in writing to assure him that his income would be protected. He is concerned about the health of the Choptank. He has heard that the buffer is not in writing. Both parties agree that the project is not that bad. It needs to be fine-tuned. He said he is leaning to a continuation of this at the next meeting. Anne Roane said everything that was required for the preliminary master development plan submittal has been met. Her comments were about things that need to be met in the subsequent submittals. Their staff and their department recommended approval for the Planning and Zoning Commission. The developer has met the checklist and they have no reason to recommend denial. Commissioner Watkins made a motion to approve the preliminary master development plan pending final comments. The motion died due to lack of a second. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to defer the decision to the next meeting. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Octavene Saunders to Give Pine Street Committee Annual Report and Funding Request for Two Projects-Octavene Saunders thanked Commissioner Brooks for finding them a volunteer, Janice Banks, who not only supplies her own cleaning supplies to help them at the Empowerment Center, but she is scrubbing and waxing floors and carrying out trash.
Mrs. Saunders submitted a written yearly report. If Council still desires a quarterly report, she will do it but it is an awful lot of extra work. They are operating solely by unpaid volunteers and do not receive any government or foundation funding. They have been in existence for over 5 years. Their organization provides numerous services for the local community. They have a 13-member board of local citizens. The majority of their human resources and community-related services are provided to the citizens of Cambridge. In the past 12 months, over 640 individuals have visited the Empowerment Center. At least 31 groups and organizations have utilized the center. They have provided many no-cost services to local citizens through networking with community groups and agencies.
The Pine Street Committee is trying to implement a youth empowerment advanced resource session called YEARS. They are looking for 50 participants (ages 6 through 12) who live on Carlton Court, Moores Avenue, Robbins Street, South Pine Street, Park Lane, Camper Street, Douglas Street, Choptank Avenue, Willis Street and West End Avenue. The purpose of the program is to empower participants to acknowledge their strengths, to assist with developing their educational and social skills, community volunteer contributions and realize their entrepreneurial potentials. Thus far, the Pine Street Committee has raised $3000 to pay any person who will help them administer the program. They are requesting program operation funds. She understands that the FY2006 budget has not been made up so Council cannot say yes tonight. Commissioner Cephas said he wants to give it to them. Mrs. Saunders said the $5000 will go toward program operations-not staff, not utilities. She listed several organizations that they will be networking with. Although a targeted residential location has been established, any youth ages 6 through 12 in the City of Cambridge will be welcomed.
Commissioner Cephas asked when they would like to start this project. Octavene Saunders said she would like to start it at the close of school. This program was initiated because Commissioner Brooks was concerned about the families in her ward. Commissioner Watkins said he wants to give them all the help he can. Commissioner Cephas said he has reviewed the proposal, goals, and funding. Despite what you may read in the newspapers, he is not the guy who opposed funding. He was an advocate of it. Waiting for budgeted funding in July will be too late. He would like to see some commitment from the City tonight. They have done certain things for some groups that have come before City Council. Commissioner Cephas made a motion to give the Pine Street Committee $1200 as seed money to get the program started and come budget time, he hopes they can give the committee the balance, if possible. He hopes the check will be cut tomorrow. Commissioner Brooks seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Octavene Saunders asked if the Pine Street Committee could submit their report every six months instead of every three months. Mayor Rippons said he is not adverse to it, but he will have to check the grant that funded the project. He said they also require for a financial statement. Octavene Saunders said she gave the last required reports for the grants. They never provided a financial statement because the city never gave them any money. Separate from the two grants, Council did not ask them for a financial statement. They do not operate under anything from the State or Annapolis. All they have is a contract that they were sort of forced into that was put together by the previous Council. This is a contract that they are living up to. It is very stringent. Commissioner Cephas said if they don't have a contract that says three months, it is not a problem to receive it every six months. Rob Collison said he will check the lease agreement. He said the lease agreement could be amended. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to amend the contract for a financial report every six months. Commissioner Cephas seconded the motion. Octavene Saunders said it is not a financial report. Mayor Rippons said that Mrs. Saunders said there's no confines of a financial report. There may be a report to update activities. Mrs. Saunders said when the city starts giving them money, they have no problem with it. Mayor Rippons said they are giving the Pine Street Committee money now. Commissioner Brooks amended her motion to require an activity report every six months. Commissioner Cephas seconded the amended motion. The motion passed unanimously. Octavene Saunders said this is an activities report. Because the city will be giving them money, if they ask for a financial report, she has no problem giving them a financial report on the city's money. She thanked Council for letting her speak. Mayor Rippons said if there are any other projects that the community might be able to help them with, she should let Council know. Octavene Saunders said they have some people who want to do some computer literacy. They have a beautiful computer room with donated equipment but they are in need of volunteers to help people get comfortable with computers. They also need volunteers to help with literacy reading. They cannot charge rent because of the bond bill. They do assess utility and janitorial fees. Right now they charge $10 per hour. Starting July 1, they are going to start charging $25 an hour. They had a heating bill for $1,000+. Last month their electric bill was $1,009. This is money they raised. Nobody is giving them money. They have a tax business that is using the place. Tomeka Brooks has a tax business and is contributing a certain amount per month to help them toward their utilities. She has offered Liddy Garcia (Main Street) an office at no charge. She would just have to run her own phone line.
Representative from St. John's Holiness Church to Discuss Neighborhood Concerns-Prophet John Cornish said they have been doing a lot of cleaning up on Edgewood Avenue, Park Lane, and around the neighborhood. They have run into a problem. They are accumulating a lot of youth. As the mothers get out of their cars to come into to church, the residents speed very fast. On Thursdays, they have after school tutoring programs. They don't stop their vehicles and kids are running everywhere. They would like a patrol car on Sundays and Thursdays. They are using foul language to older ladies coming into the church. Edgewood Avenue has made a 360-degree turn since they have been down there. When things are going on at other churches, there are officers present at those locations. Chief Malik said they don't assign officers to churches. If a church is having a special event, they will call ahead of time. If an officer is available, he will be present. He said they will do the same thing for Prophet Cornish. If there is a speeding problem, he will have a patrol car down there. Prophet Cornish requested "slow down" signs. Mayor Rippons said he will refer the request for additional signage to the Traffic and Safety Committee. Octavene Saunders suggested speed bumps. David Pritchett said the State Highway Administration has several ordinances now. Speed bumps are not prohibited; they are discouraged. He will look into it further. Portia Johnson-Ennels said the city receives funding to help with Community Policing through CSafe and they should patrol out there. Jane Devlin said the West End Citizens Association is hosting a forum with the CSafe Safety Group. Anyone who is living in one of those three areas or has an interest in it, can go to the meeting at the Dorchester County Public Library at 7:00 pm.
Open Proposals for Traffic Study-Ed Kinnamon reported that they received the following proposals:
Commissioner Watkins made a motion to refer the proposals to the Department of Public Works for their review and recommendation. Commissioner Knox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approval of Plans for Marina Expansion-Mayor Rippons said there was a massive discussion on this item. Commissioner Travers made a motion to approve the plans for the marina expansion. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. Commissioner Cephas said he was opposed to the additional slips blocking the view from High Street. He asked what the person was driving who took the picture given to Council. George Hyde said the photographer was standing in the middle of the street. Mayor Rippons said there will be no slips on the pier. Commissioner Brooks said it is her understanding that there will be no boat slips on the floating pier. Mayor Rippons said at this time there are none. Council would have to go back and indicate the necessity of adding those slips if they so desire. Tom Johnson (Beech Street) asked if the additional piers that are going to be adjacent to the Yacht Club will be Yacht Club slips. If they are, the taxpayers will be paying for them. Mayor Rippons said those slips that are assigned to the Yacht Club will be paid for solely by the Yacht Club. Mr. Johnson said if they take the expansion and put it to the left, you will put it behind Hambrooks Bar and then they won't have a problem with wave out. George Hyde said there would be a lot more dredging involved. David Pritchett said there will be a solid breakwater. Gordon Hill asked if the Department of Public Works worked with the Council to come up with new drawings and did they have input on the way this thing was going to go. Commissioner Cephas said not when the drawing was done but last week he did. He saw the drawing for the first time tonight. The motion passed unanimously.
Request from the Raging Unstoppables to Request Noise Variance at New Beginnings, on Wednesdays Beginning at 4:30 pm and on Fridays Beginning at 6:00 pm-Commissioner Cephas said from a previous conversation, it was suggested that they start at 4:30 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. Mayor Rippons requested that a representative attend the next meeting.
Fourth Ward Appointment for the Dorchester County Housing Task Force-Commissioner Brooks said she honestly thought that we had already made this appointment a while back when we made the appointment to the Housing Review Board. Her appointment at that time was Ms. Portia Johnson-Ennels and remains Ms. Portia Johnson-Ennels. Commissioner Brooks made a motion to appoint Portia Johnson-Ennels to the task force. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Request to Award Bid for Engineering Tabloid Laser Printer (or equivalent)-David Pritchett recommended awarding the bid to the low bidder, Zones, Inc. from Auburn, Washington in the amount of $3,444. Commissioner Travers made a motion to accept the recommendation. Commissioner Watkins seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Quit Claim Deed Requests (208 Smith Street and End of Truman Street)-Alice Wongus asked to obtain ownership of the piece of ground at the end of Truman Street. She has been taking care of it for 47 years. David Pritchett said giving a quit claim deed to the resident will remove the option of the city to ever improve that street at the end. It is a very small piece of land. They are also concerned that it doesn't become used for any type of storage. Looking at the city map, there may be potential to go through to the vacant land that could be developed. Commissioner Watkins said it is a one-way street and you cannot turn around back there. It is causing a problem. It should be cut through or a cul-de-sac made. David Pritchett requested that this be deferred for further study. Mrs. Wongus said her property is the end of Truman Street. That little piece of land is about 4' x 4'. David Pritchett said it gives the city the legal right-of-way. It is depicted as a street going all the way through to Styles Circle. There is also land at the end between Styles and Truman. He has not had a chance to talk to the property owner to see what their intensions are. Mrs. Wongus said it belongs to Bernard Johnson and you cannot go into his land.
Mayor Rippons said the owner of 208 Smith Street also requested a quit claim deed. Dave Pritchett said that land is a private alley. It