County Council Meeting Minutes
September 23, 2008
County Council of
Regular Meeting Minutes
September 23, 2008
The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on September 23, 2008 with the following members present: Present were William V. Nichols, President; Jay L. Newcomb, Vice President; Effie M. Elzey; Ricky Travers; and Rick Price. Also present were E. Thomas Merryweather,
The Council adjourned from a Regular Session and convened in a closed Executive Session pursuant to §10-508(A)(1) to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom it has jurisdiction and pursuant to §10-508(A)(7) to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice on a legal matter.
Voting in favor of the closed Executive Session were all Council members.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Councilman Nichols led the invocation and
CALL FOR ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO AGENDA
The Council approved the addition of an announcement regarding a telephone poll that was conducted in the interim between meetings.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES-SEPTEMBER 9, 2008
The Council approved the minutes for September 9, 2008 as presented.
APPROVAL OF DISBURSEMENTS
The Council approved vouchers as presented with Councilman Travers abstaining for payments made to Simmons Center Market. The Council asked for clarification on a payment made to Andrews, Miller & Associates for a survey.
FINANICAL REPORT: CASH AND INVESTMENTS
Councilman Nichols reported total cash and investments as $2,573,778.68.
EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on September 23, 2008 in a closed session at Room 110, County Office Building, 501 Court Lane, Cambridge, Maryland, pursuant to the State Government Article §10-508(A)(1) to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom it has jurisdiction and pursuant to §10-508(A)(7) to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice on a legal matter.
Motion made, seconded and carried to conduct a closed session pursuant to the above. All members of the Council voted in the affirmative to conduct the closed session for the purposes stated above and to discuss the topics listed above.
Action taken at the closed session: 1) approved a recommendation to hire individuals to fill four vacant Correctional Officer positions at the Detention Center by a 5 to 0 vote; 2)
approved a request to hire individuals to fill two Motor Equipment Operator III positions and two Motor Equipment Operator IV positions for the County Landfill by a 4 to 0 vote; 3) approved the reclassification for a Senior Tourism Clerk position; approved job description for the position; and an amended job description for the Assistant Tourism Director to include oversight responsibilities for the Senior Tourism Clerk by a 5 to 0 vote; 4) confirmed the hiring of an individual to fill a Deputy Sheriff position at the Sheriff’s Office by a 3 to 0 vote; 5) discussed with legal counsel potential acquisition of property to include granting of a conservation easement and a proposed management lease for the site.
The above information is being provided to the public pursuant to and in compliance with Section 10-509(b) and (c) of the State Government Article.
CAPITAL PAYMENT AUTHORIZATIONS-BOARD OF EDUCATION
The Council approved a capital payment authorization request from Dr. Frederic Hildenbrand, Superintendent of Schools, in the amount of $54,030.29 from 2007 General Funds/PAYGO for costs associated with the replacement of the
The Council approved a capital payment authorization request from Hildenbrand, Superintendent of Schools, in the amount of $5,284.50 from 2008 Excise Tax Fund/PAYGO for costs associated with the replacement of the
The Council approved a capital payment authorization request from Hildenbrand, Superintendent of Schools, in the amount of $66,881.48 from 2008 Transfer Tax Fund/PAYGO for windows/walls/floors and doors ($19,990); electrical system at the Cambridge South Dorchester ($37,265.40); two portable classroom units at South Dorchester School ($1,626.08) and the replacement of gym bleachers at North Dorchester High School ($8,000).
The Council approved a capital payment authorization request from Hildenbrand, Superintendent of Schools, in the amount of $216,640.94 from 2009 General Funds/PAYGO for year two of a computer lease ($143,293.44) and for mobile personal computer labs ($73,347.50).
The Council approved a capital payment authorization request from Hildenbrand, Superintendent of Schools, in the amount of $132,232.50 from 2009 Transfer Tax Fund/PAYGO for capital equipment ($125,519) and environmental costs ($6,713.50).
Commendation: Steve Garvin-Disaster Preparedness Training
The Council presented a commendation to Steve Garvin for being the first individual in the State of
Victor MacSorley, Board Member of the Richardson Museum, provided the Council with an update of the Richardson Maritime Heritage Center to be located on property at Maryland Avenue and Hayward Street in Cambridge, Maryland. He explained that the Brannock collection was housed in the warehouse located on the property as well as the Ruark Boatworks and discussed the plans for the construction of a new building to house the museum and the construction of a ship building facility and shed. He noted that they had purchased a 300 x 100 foot antique post and beam structure to be installed on the property as a new boat shop and had received a Community Legacy grant in the amount of $75,000 to construct the facility. He advised the Council that the Richardson Museum Board members were pursing the purchase of property for a waterside urban park through the Maryland Program Open Space’s State side funding program Mr. MacSorley introduced Jay Corvan, Architect and Board member.
Mr. Corvan provided the Council with an overview of the plans for a waterside urban park. He explained that there would be stations located throughout the property that note the history of the site as well as an interpretive walkway, an amphitheatre for water staged events and pavilions.
Mr. Corvan noted that on September 8, 2008 the City of Cambridge Commissioners agreed to submit a request to have the property on which the urban park would be developed placed into the State of Maryland Open Space program and had provided a letter of support. He noted that if the application is approved the State would purchase the property and then transfer ownership to the City of Cambridge. Mr. Corvan advised that, on behalf of the Board, he was requesting a letter of support from the County Council for the land acquisition project.
In response to questions from Councilman Travers, Mr. Corvan explained that there would be a network of trails that would run through the park property as well as the Richardson Maritime Heritage Center property and that the Richardson Museum would be responsible for maintenance.
Based on a question from Councilman Newcomb, Mr. Corvan stated that the request for Program Open Space funds was not from available property acquisition dollars allowed to the County but, rather, from funds set aside for statewide approval.
The Council agreed to execute a letter of support for the Richardson Museum’s request for acquisition of land for the establishment of an urban park through Maryland Program Open Space State side funding.
Bob Tenanty, Chief Engineer, introduced Ken Eaton from Andrews, Miller and Associates (AMA) and Don McCoy from Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Inc., the parent company of AMA, and noted that they would be providing information concerning the existing and pre-storm traffic patterns on section R-23 of Palmers Mill Road due to concerns expressed by constituents that a turn on the newly constructed road replaced as a result of storms in June 2006 was too narrow to allow two 38.5 foot tractor trailers to safely pass on these turns and Council’s request for more information.
Ken Eaton, Design Engineer and Contract Administrator, stated that after reviewing the design drawings and criteria received from County staff regarding the narrow roadway had determined that the project had been designed according to the project specifications and said that, he had asked Mr. McCoy to verify his conclusion.
Mr. McCoy advised the Council that he utilized a computer program to trace the travel pattern of the particular section of Palmers Mill Road and noted that the guardrails installed on that section were placed one foot back from the road. He explained that, as built, two 48 foot tractor trailers going opposite directions would collide while going around the curve and could also strike the guardrail. He noted that the road was not designed for trailers over 48 feet.
Mr. McCoy explained that they also created a computer model of the road design prior to the storm and advised that the road had been twenty feet wide with guardrails placed further off of the roadway. Mr. McCoy noted that, based on computer models, the road was previously built two 48 feet trailers would have still impacted on the curve and that the southbound truck might run off the edge of the road on the dirt shoulder. He noted that the truck would also travel off the road from the beginning of the curve until the end of the curve.
Mr. McCoy advised that after reviewing all documents and running computer simulations he developed a proposed plan to widen the paved road by widening the right side of the road by six feet to provide a two foot distance between two trucks traveling around the curve and moving the guardrail on that section of the road further back off the road. He noted that to complete such a project, the road would also have to be repaved and restriped and that rip rap would have to be relocated and new signage would have to be installed.
Mr. McCoy noted that he had observed traffic traveling on the road recently including a school bus which traveled down the road and around the curve while remaining completely in the correct lane. He explained that two buses could pass each other on the road. Councilwoman Elzey expressed concern that farm vehicles which travel the road may not be able to stay in the correct lane. Mr. McCoy advised that he also observed a dump truck being driven down the road at a high rate of speed (35 or 40 miles per hour) that crossed the yellow line on the road by two feet. He expressed his opinion that the truck driver could have stayed in one lane if he had obeyed the speed limit.
In response to a question from Mr. Eaton, Mr. McCoy explained that he had preliminary run simulations to the second narrow curve further down Palmers Mill road and advised that section of road was also too narrow for clearance if two tractor trailers met on the curve and further advised that portion of road had an uneven shoulder.
Based on a question from Councilman Newcomb, Mr. McCoy advised that he had not prepared a cost analysis by the recommended modifications to the roadway.
In response to a question from Councilman Price as to whether or not the center line could be moved, Mr. McCoy noted that both lanes were 10 feet wide and as such were inadequate for 48 feet trailers to travel on.
In response to a question from Councilman Travers as to whether or not a traffic simulation was run on the cuts was run before the repairs were designed, Mr. Eaton stated that they only ran traffic simulations for new road construction projects because road repair projects are intended to replace existing structures. He also explained that funds received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were used for the replacement of the road and that one of the requirements for that funding was that the road be replaced as it was previously constructed which meant that the road design could not have been substantially changed.
Warren Saunders, a Dorchester County resident, expressed his belief that the road was wider before the storm and questioned whether or not the County Engineer signed off on the design. Mr. Eaton advised that the County Engineer did sign off on the plans.
Mr. Saunders said that there were three other sets of guardrails on Palmers Mill Road between the two areas of the road that were washout during the storm event and that those are one foot off the road and on a good radius. He noted that they were 36 feet, 35 feet and 32 feet. Mr. Saunders expressed concern that, in his opinion, placing a sign on the road that the bridge was narrow and to yield to oncoming trucks was unsatisfactory and unacceptable.
Jim Spicer, a Dorchester County resident, expressed his opinion that two sections of guardrail on the road need to be replaced or moved to allow truck traffic to safely pass on the road.
Mr. Tenanty noted that any actions to widen the road would require a study to ensure wetlands are not disturbed.
Mr. Saunders stated that he had observed 53 foot trucks using the road, including tanker trailers. In response to a question from Councilman Newcomb as to whether or not the road was restricted, Mr. Eaton stated a provision on the Motor Carriers handbook specified that 53 foot trailers are not allowed on a County road unless they are making a delivery on that road.
The Council deferred any action regarding Palmers Mill Road and instructed Mr. Tenanty to prepare a cost analysis and proposed solutions to widen the surface on the two curves which has caused concern due to safety concerns for local residents.
Request to Purchase Sand Spreaders
The Council agreed to waive bids and approved a request from Roy Mills, Roads Supervisor, to purchase two sand spreaders at the cost of $10,594 from DeHart Great Dane/Truck Equipment, who submitted the lowest price, with funds from the FY09 Highway Division Capital Budget.
Request to Purchase Air Conditioner
The Council approved the request of Mr. Mills to purchase a central air conditioning unit for the Highway Division building from Dorchester Service Associates, who submitted the lowest price, at the cost of $5,920 from the FY09 Capital Highway budget.
Mr. Mills advised the Council that he had received a request via telephone from Donald Willey, a Dorchester County resident, inquiring as to whether or not he could remove and use the concrete debris from the Wallace Creek Bridge repairs given to the County by the State Highway and unloaded by George and Lynch, the contractor, at the Golden Hill Transfer property leased by the County but agreed to allow Mr. Willey to remove the concrete debris from the Golden Hill Transfer Station for use in the restoration of the cemetery in Hoopersville. The Council acknowledged that Mr. Willey would be responsible for loading and hauling the concrete to Hoopersville with removal before November 30, 2008 and provided a hold harmless agreement with the County Council before removing any material. The Council requested that E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney, prepare that agreement and asked Mr. Mills to provide to Mr. Merryweather any necessary information to assist him in preparing that agreement.
Based on a request from Wendell Foxwell, a Dorchester County resident, the Council asked Mr. Mills to view and, if necessary, have County staff cut the grass and weeds on the curb and in the gutter on Riverside Drive.
John Porcari, Secretary for the Maryland Department of Transportation advised the Council that he was present before Council to discuss the State Highway Annual Transportation Plan as it relates to Dorchester County. He introduced Neil Pedersen, Administrator of the State Highway Administration; Donnie Drewer, District Engineer; Virginia Colon, District Manager, Motor Vehicle Administration; and Diane Ratcliff, Director of Planning and Programs at the Maryland Transit Administration.
He explained that due to the national economic downturn over $1.1 billion in highway projects were deferred for a six period throughout the State but that funds do remain available for system preservation, surfacing, and bridge repair. Secretary Porcari advised the Council that although funds in the amount of $450 million were designated for the Maryland Department of Transportation as a result of the General Assembly Special Legislative Session in 2008 those funds were decreased due to loss of revenue based on decreasing title, sales and motor fuel tax revenues and higher material costs including steel and liquid asphalt. He explained that the formula for the distribution of local highway user funds for Maryland counties remained the same but that there would be decrease in those funds due to reduced revenues.
Secretary Porcari provided the Council with an update on the recent repairs to the Chesapeake
Senator Colburn expressed concern that the funding for the dualization of Route 404 and the replacement of the Dover Bridge had been deferred due to budget constraints. He noted that County residents who live in the North Dorchester and Hurlock areas use the Dover Bridge to travel to the Easton Memorial Hospital. Senator Colburn explained that he had previously spoken to Secretary Porcari in reference to the jersey barriers on the Malkus Bridge, the bridge in Sharptown and the bridge in Vienna and that Secretary Porcari had advised that the barriers were not the same type of structures as the ones on the Bay Bridge and that these walls were reinforced. Secretary Porcari noted that plans to continue with the dualization of Route 404 and the replacement of Dover Bridge would continue to the extent that engineering and other studies on those projects were still being undertaken despite a lack of funds for the construction of the projects at this time.
In response to a question from Councilman Newcomb as to whether or not there was discussions taking place in reference to the construction of a third Bay bridge, Secretary Porcari noted that discussions had taken place in the past three years regarding where the third bridge would be placed and that even after a panel reviewed options no acceptable site had been located.
Ms. Radcliff advised the Council that funding was available for maintenance of Maryland Transit Administration vehicles and system preservation fund and that some of the funds allocated to Dorchester County were being used to replace two public buses and purchase public bus shelters, equipment and parts. She noted that 100,000 trips last year had been provided to citizens in Dorchester County.
Jerome Stanley, Transportation Coordinator at Delmarva Community Services, thanked Ms. Ratcliff and the Maryland Transmit Administration for funding to purchase bus shelters for Dorchester County.
Mr. Pederson expressed his thanks to Governor Martin O’Malley and Secretary Porcari for maintaining funding for system preservation. He explained that 93% of all traffic crashes that occur, occur as a result of driver error and that a State level strategic highway safety plan to improve driver behavior, responsibility and seat belt use had been developed. He explained that Governor O’Malley had named a task force for to address driving under the influence of which he was the chair. He said that he believed part of the focus of that task force would be treatment rather than punishment and that State agencies should work with County health and law enforcement in addressing highway safety. Mr. Pederson noted that the demolition of the old Wallace Creek Bridge located on Route 335/Hoopers Island Road was started on August 17, 2008 and that the bridge should be open by November 4, 2008. He advised that the cost of the replacement of that bridge was $1.8 million.
Mr. Drewer advised the Council that the following resurfacing projects were completed in Fiscal Year 2008: 1) MD 313 Eldorado Road to Dog Kennel Road; 2)MD 331 East New Market Rhodesdale Road- Rhodesdale Vienna Road to Shiloh Church Hurlock Road ; and 3) MD 343 Hudson Road maintenance to Morris Neck Road. He explained that the community safety and enhancement project for FY 2008 was the completion of the East New Market streetscape project and that the environmental preservation project was removing and planting the plant material in the median of Route 50 with stone and stone mulch.
He noted that in FY09 the following roadways would be resurfaced/rehabilitated: 1) Maryland 14 from Secretary bridge to Creamery Road;2) MD 335 Golden Hill Road; MD 336 to structure 9010 over Blackwater River; 3) MD 335 Hooper Island Road; Beginning State maintenance to mile point 3.65 and structure 9013 to structure 9012; 4) MD 335 Golden Hill Road; South of structure 9018 over Birch Dam Creek to MD 16; 5) MD 335 Hooper Island Road- bridge over Honga River to MD 336; and 6) MD 336 Lakesville Road; MD 335 to end of state maintenance;
Mr. Drewer explained that the only funds designated in FY09 for community safety and enhancement projects was funding for preliminary engineering for the Church Creek streetscape project. He noted that there is congressional money earmarked to construct the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Center, trails and road improvements in the amount of $1.5 million that would be a pass-through of the State Highway Administration with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service taking care of the project.
Senator Richard Colburn expressed his concerns regarding the sinking of the opposite side of the roadway in front of Cambridge South Dorchester High School that was repaired several years ago. Mr. Drewer advised that he would review the roadway to determine if any repairs are necessary.
Delegate Adelaide Eckardt thanked Secretary Porcari and his staff on the East New Market Streetscape project. She questioned if a road maintenance schedule was maintained. Mr. Pederson noted that every roadway in the State is inventoried by the use of a van that is equipped with technology to take pictures of each mile of pavement which is used to determine which roads need repaving. He noted that the staff in each district is responsible for prioritizing highway needs in their district. Mr. Pederson noted that records were kept on each road that was repaired or paved.
Councilman Travers thanked Mr. Drewer and Mr. Merryweather for the replacement of mulch with stone along the median on Route 50.
The Council thanked Secretary Porcari and his staff for the actions taken on several projects in Dorchester County including improvements to Route 50 and Heron Boulevard by scheduling a transition to an exclusive left turn lane and his Department’s assistance with the many repairs to roads in the northern end of the County that were damaged during the 2006 rainstorms including his personal visit to review the progress of repairs. The Council members also thanked Secretary Porcari for his guidance and support in the County’s efforts to retain rail service to Cambridge when repairs to the Transquakin River Bridge jeopardized keeping that rail lines open. The Council members expressed their appreciation for the hard work and assistance provided by Mr. Drewer and Jay Meredith, Resident Engineer for the local State Highway office.
Ms. Baynard stated that, historically, the Council members meet with members of the State delegation to discuss proposed legislation the Council would like to be presented for introduction for the next Maryland General Assembly legislative session. She explained that the Council had one proposal for legislation for the 2009 legislative session which is to propose an amendment to the salary of the Dorchester County Sheriff from $65,500 to $85,000 to begin at the start of the next term of office for the Sheriff with increments in the amount of $1,500 until 2013. Ms. Baynard noted that the Board of License Commissioners may present recommendations to the Council in the near future that may be forwarded to the local legislators at a later date. In response to a question from Senator Colburn as to the vote on the proposed legislation, Councilman Nichols noted that the Council voted 4 to 1 to amend the Sheriff’s salary.
Senator Colburn stated that it was his understanding that the Council was considering possible amendments to the powers for the local Sanitary Commission. Councilman Nichols noted that there had been no final decision on the matter and that Mr. Merryweather was in the process of gathering information to provide to Council.
Delegate Eckardt suggested that the Council hold another meeting with local legislators before January 2009 if the Council agrees to request additional legislation.
Councilman Nichols advised that the Council had agreed to execute a letter of support for the Dorchester Bus Drivers Association’s request for legislation to remove the sunset of 2011 on legislation adopted in 2008 that extends the life of school buses from 12 to 15 years in Dorchester County.
Delegate Eckardt and Senator Colburn advised the Council that all proposed legislation requests need to be accompanied with a letter of support from the local council. Delegate Eckardt noted that the letter of support should be addressed to the delegation as well as the Committee Chairperson that the bill is assigned to.
The Council thanked the legislators for attending the meeting and for their support for the proposed legislation to amend the Sheriff’s salary.
Request-Letter of Support-Maryland Affordable Housing Trust Grant-Habitat for Humanity
The Council approved the request of Jaclyn A. Noller, Vice President of Habitat for Humanities for Talbot and Dorchester counties to execute a letter of support for its application for grant funding in the amount of $140,000 from the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust to cover capital expenditures to acquire, develop and construct 10 affordable homes using green design technologies on in-fill parcels in the bi-county region. The Council acknowledged that that there would be no local match.
Request-Resolution of Support-New Beginning Youth and Family Services
The Council approved the request of Charles Jones, Executive Director for New Beginnings Youth and Family Services, to execute a resolution in support of its grant application for $50,000 for Maryland Community Incentive Tax Credits to be sold by the Board of Directors to past investors and new businesses. The Council acknowledged that New Beginnings Youth and Family Services was the applicant and that there would be no local match.
Request-Letter of Support-Targeted Investment Zone Expansion-Town of
The Council approved the request of Valerie Mann on behalf of the Town of
ADDITIONAL COURT HOUSE PARKING DISCUSSION
The Council discussed a proposed alternative to provide additional parking at the Circuit Court House prepared by the City of Cambridge Planner when the original parking lot amendments were denied by the City’s Historical Preservation Committee. Ms. Baynard noted that the City of Cambridge reviewed the revised plans at its meeting on September 22, 2008 and had referred two issues to the City’s Traffic Safety Committee which included turning Gay Street into a one way street and providing permitted parking to the employees in the Circuit Court House for new street parking spaces on Gay Street. She noted that the review of the proposal was scheduled for the City’s Historical Preservation Committee’s October meeting. Ms. Baynard advised the Council members that they would have to conceptually approve the plans in order for the matter to move forward with the understanding that costs and funding allowances would be considered in the future if the design is approved.