County Council Meeting Minutes
October 5, 2010
County Council of
Regular Meeting Minutes
October 5, 2010
The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on October 5, 2010 with the following members present: Present were Jay L. Newcomb, President; Effie M. Elzey Vice President; William V. Nichols; 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 the State Government Article pursuant to §10-508(A) (3) to consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto; §10-508(A)(4) To consider a preliminary matter that concerns the proposal for a business or industrial organization to locate, expand, or remain in the State; §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 §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 Travers led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.
CALL FOR ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO AGENDA
There were no additions or deletions to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES- SEPTEMBER 21, 2010
The Council approved the minutes of September 21, 2010.
APPROVAL OF DISBURSEMENTS
The Council approved vouchers as presented with Councilman Travers abstaining for payments made to Simmons Center Market.
FINANICAL REPORT: CASH AND INVESTMENTS
Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $7,043,892.08.
The Council denied the written request of Michael D. Kilgus, Vice President for Administrative Services,
The Council acknowledged that the original budget for the furniture, fixtures and equipment was $540,000 of which $405,000 was from the State and $135,000 from support counties and that the actual expenditures were $356,815 ($268,000 from State and $88,815 from County).
FY 2012 CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN RECONSIDERATION
Ms. Baynard noted that a revised Capital Improvement Plan has been provided to the Council by the Board of Education which removes the two systemic projects identified for next year to include planning dollars for renovations to South Dorchester K-8 and Warwick Elementary. She noted that funding for both had been deferred for consideration in FY2013. The Council accepted the amended Capital Improvement Plan with regard to systemic projects and approved the FY 2012 Capital Improvement Plan for planning purposes only. The Council did not approve funds for maintenance and repair and technology projects for FY 2012 and agreed to take those requests under advisement during upcoming budget deliberations.
EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on October 5, 2010 in a closed session at Room 110, County Office Building, 501 Court Lane, Cambridge, Maryland, pursuant to the State Government Article to §10-508(A) (3) to consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto; §10-508(A)(4) To consider a preliminary matter that concerns the proposal for a business or industrial organization to locate, expand, or remain in the State; §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 §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.
Councilman Newcomb noted that after its September 21, 2010 Regular Session meeting, the Dorchester County Council re-adjourned into Executive Session and received information regarding a personnel matter relating to special event coverage but took no action.
Councilman Newcomb advised that the Council convened in an Executive Session at 4:00 p.m. on October 5, 2010 for a personnel hearing. He further noted that the Council convened into an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on October 5, 2010. Action taken in closed session: 1) received information relating to an economic development proposal-took no action; 2) received an update from staff on a possible economic development project-took no action; 3) reconsidered and approved a request for a commitment of a local match to a State program contingent upon a State conditional loan being offered and accepted by a local business by a 3 to 1vote; 4) discussed a matter relating to the Technology Park- took no action; 5) denied an Emergency Medical Service employee’s request for a demotion from a paramedic to an emergency medical technician by a 4-0 vote with one abstention; 6) continued discussions regarding an Emergency Services Director position-took no action; 7) discussed with legal counsel a matter regarding property maintenance concerns-agreed to add a discussion in open session on October 19, 2010 meeting; and 8) discussed with legal counsel a request to use a County owned dock for an event-took no action.
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.
PROCLAMATION-DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH-OCTOBER
The Council presented a proclamation declaring October 2010 Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Jeanne Yeager and Carrie White, Law Enforcement Coordinator of the Mid Shore Council on Family Violence accepted the proclamation.
PROCLAMATION-WHITE CANE SAFETY DAY
The Council presented a proclamation declaring October 15, 2010 as National White Cane Safety Day. Ray Jackson and Frances Cooper accepted the proclamation on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind.
The Council presented a proclamation declaring October 3 to October 9, 2010 as 4-H week. Conrad Arnold, Director, Cooperative Extension, accepted the proclamation.
Council adjourned into Legislative Session.
Bill No. 2010-17 - AN ACT OF THE COUNTY COUNCIL OF DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY OF ARTICLE 25A, SECTION 5(T) OF THE ANNOTATED CODE OF MARYLAND ADDING NEW ARTICLE V, SECTION 40-21 TO CHAPTER 40 OF THE PUBLIC LOCAL LAWS OF DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND, BEING ARTICLE IV OF THE CODE OF PUBLIC LOCAL LAWS OF MARYLAND, ENTITLED SNOW EMERGENCY PARKING ON COUNTY STREETS AND ROADS; REGULATING THE USE, OPERATION AND DRIVING OF VEHICLES ON COUNTY ROADS AND STREETS WHILE A SNOW EMERGENCY IS IN EFFECT PROVIDING FOR VIOLATIONS AND PENALTIES, ALL TO PROMOTE AND MAINTAIN THE PEACE, HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELFARE OF THE CITIZENS OF DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND.
E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney, advised that a public hearing is being held on Bill No. 2010-17 which will add a new Article V, Section 40-21 to Chapter 40 of the Public Local Laws of Dorchester County entitled “Snow Emergency Parking on County Streets and Roads” to regulate the use, operation and driving of vehicles on County roads and streets while a snow emergency is in effect. He explained that the legislation is being proposed to address problems during the snow events that occurred in late 2009 and early 2010. Councilman Newcomb noted that during those snow events several vehicles were abandoned on County roadways which then became obstructions for snow plows and a hindrance to the efforts to remove snow from those County roads.
There were no public comments.
The roll call on the enactment of Bill No. 2010-17 was as follows: Newcomb-aye; Elzey-aye; Nichols-aye; Price-aye; Travers-aye.
BILL NO. 2010-18 - AN ACT OF THE COUNTY COUNCIL OF DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND FOR THE PURPOSE OF CLARIFYING THE APPLICABILITY OF THE BUILDING EXCISE TAX TO ADDITIONAL CONSTRUCTION OF RESIDENTIAL AND NONRESIDENTIAL STRUCTURES IN DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND BY AMENDING CHAPTER 144 (TAXATION), ARTICLE X (BUILDING EXCISE TAX), SECTION 144-30 (DEFINITIONS) TO MODIFY THE TERM “ADDITION CONSTRUCTION” AND ADD THE TERM “DWELLING UNIT”.
Mr. Merryweather said a public hearing is being held on Bill No. 2010-18 which clarifies the applicability of the County’s Building Excise Tax to additional construction of residential and nonresidential structures in Dorchester County by amending Chapter 144 entitled “Taxation”, Article X entitled Building Excise Tax and Section 144-30 “Definitions” to modify the term “addition construction” to include the rehabilitation, renovation or alteration of a building or structure where the work requires a Dorchester County or municipality building permit and where the addition increases the number of dwelling units intended for occupancy of an existing structure, or converting a nonresidential structure to a residential structure. He said that the legislation also clarifies that a “dwelling unit” is a single unit providing complete, independent living facilities for at least one person, including permanent provisions for sanitation, cooking, eating, sleeping and other activities routinely association with daily life and includes the living quarters for a domestic or other employee or tenant, an in-law or accessory apartment, a guest house or a caretaker residence which unit shall be located in a structure containing a minimum gross floor area of six hundred square feet. Jane Baynard,
Shelby Clendaniel, a
Councilwoman Elzey and Councilman Nichols said the amendment was being made to clarify that excise tax must be paid when the number of apartments in a building are modified.
Frank Stout, a Dorchester County resident, concurred with Mr. Clendaniel’s suggestion to define “dwelling units” based on the number of bedrooms and shared his opinion that community growth should be encouraged.
Councilman Price said several residents have expressed concern that the amendments will result in them having to pay additional excise fees when they add decks onto their homes.
Portia Johnson Ennels, a
Councilman Travers said he believes that instead of placing additional financial requirements on developers and/or landlords, the focus should be on placing properties on tax rolls and making affordable housing more readily available.
The roll call on the enactment of Bill No. 2010-18 was as follows: Nichols-aye; Newcomb-aye, Elzey-aye, Price-nay, Travers-nay.
BILL NO. 2010-19 - AN ACT OF THE COUNTY COUNCIL OF DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND PURSUANT TO SECTION 40-20 OF CHAPTER 40 OF THE DORCHESTER COUNTY CODE CLOSING AND ABANDONING APPROXIMATELY 1,450 LINEAR FEET (1.553 ACRES, MORE OR LESS) OF COUNTY PUBLIC ROAD RIGHT-OF-WAY KNOWN AS “HORNS POINT ROAD” SITUATE IN THE SEVENTH ELECTION DISTRICT OF DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND, CROSSING THE LAND OF CAG LITTLE HORNS POINT, LLC, CAMBRIDGE, MARYLAND 21613, WHICH RIGHT-OF-WAY IS DEPICTED BY A PLAT RECORDED AMONG THE PLAT RECORDS OF DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND IN PLAT CABINET MLB 52, PAGE 34.
Mr. Merryweather stated that a public hearing is being held on Bill No. 2010-19 pursuant to Section 40-20 of Chapter 40 of the Dorchester County Code to close and abandon approximately 1,450 linear feet (1.553 acres, more or less) of County public road right-of-way known as “Horns Point Road” situate in the Seventh Election District Of Dorchester County, Maryland, crossing the land of CAG Little Horns Point, LLC, Cambridge, Maryland 21613, which right-of-way is depicted by a plat recorded among the plat records of Dorchester County, Maryland in Plat Cabinet MLB 52, page 34.
Ryan Showalter, Attorney for CAG Little Horns Point, LLC, noted that the Planning Commission and Public Works staff support his clients’ request to close and abandon the road. In response to a question from Councilman Nichols, Mr. Showalter advised that 1,450 feet of the road is tar and chipped. Rodney Banks, Assistant Planning and Zoning Director, provided the Council with a diagram of the roadway and advised that the road was built to County standards with a 50 foot right-of-way. Based on a question from Councilman Nichols, Mr. Showalter explained that the member(s) of CAG Little Horns Point, LLC, the owner of the three properties on the left side of
He said that if the Council agrees to abandon and close the roadway and allow it to become a private road, the owner will place a gate at the entrance of the road.
Mr. Merryweather noted that a letter has been submitted by Mrs. Koski in which she notes her support for the abandonment of the road because she believes that a potential safety hazard exists because individuals are parking on the road.
The roll call on the enactment of Bill No. 2010-19 was as follows: Nichols-aye; Newcomb-aye; Elzey-aye; Price-aye; Travers-aye.
REQUEST FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXCISE TAX-THE MEADOWS OF
Councilman Newcomb noted that Rick Beavers who submitted a request on behalf of the owners of the Meadows of Cambridge apartment complex for reimbursement of excise tax was not present. Ms. Baynard explained that Mr. Beavers provided a written request for the reimbursement of excise tax on a 24 apartment addition to the complex in order to offset costs to install an elevator in the building so that the senior citizens and the elderly will be able to access the second and third floor apartments. She cautioned that the Council does not have the authority to waive an individual or entity for the payment of excise tax pursuant to the County’s Excise Tax Ordinance. She said that the only option available is for the Council to agree to pay the tax on the entity’s behalf. Ms. Baynard noted that she asked Mr. Banks for verification as to whether excise tax was paid for the Meadows of Cambridge apartment addition. Mr. Banks said that in April 2009 the company paid excise tax for a 12 unit building and a 14 unit building but that he cannot verify whether those payments represent the amount that Mr. Beavers is requesting to be reimbursed.
The Council denied the written request of Mr. Beavers, on behalf of the owner of the Meadows of Cambridge apartment complex, to reimburse excise tax for a 24 unit addition to the facility.
PUBLIC HEARING-AMENDMENT TO TOWN OF
Mr. Merryweather said a public hearing is being held on an amendment to the Resolution for the Town of
At Councilman Newcomb’s request, Ms. Baynard explained that at its April 13, 2010 meeting, Council agreed to execute a Resolution consenting to and making application for 837 acres within the Town of
The Council agreed to execute an amended resolution consenting to add the 41.24 acres on Nealson Street to the existing Enterprise Zone application for the Town of Hurlock.
ANNUAL TRANSPORTATION MEETING-MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Harold M. Bartlett, Deputy Secretary, Maryland Department of Transportation, advised the Council that he was present before Council on behalf of Beverly K. Swain-Staley, Secretary for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) 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; Diane Ratcliff, Planning Director for the Maryland Transit Administration; Frank Hamons, Deputy Director for Harbor Development, Maryland Port Administration; Ashish Solanki, Director, Office of Regional Aviation Assistance; Maryland Aviation Administration; Sean Adgerson, Director of Operations, Motor Vehicle Administration; and Jeannie Fazio, Manager, Rail Freight Assets.
Mr. Bartlett explained that although the Maryland Department of Transportation’s budget is smaller than it was four years ago, there are positive signs of economic recovery. He noted that $2.5 billion in road and transit projects in 2010 were deferred but that no projects in the current MDOT capital program are being deferred. He advised that Governor Martin O’Malley set aside $1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for local jurisdictions and that $165,000 of those funds was awarded to Delmarva Community Services for replacement buses for the local transit system in the County. Mr. Bartlett said that one of the goals of MDOT is to pursue transit oriented development and to that end a new website, www.todmaryland.com, has been developed.
Mr. Bartlett noted that the State Highway Administration staff is responsible for issuing highway access permits and the process to obtain those permits has been streamlined. He said that manuals are being developed and tailored to each County on the revised process. He explained that the State legislators during the 2010 Maryland General Assembly approved legislation that created a Blue Ribbon Commission charged with identifying reasonable solutions to supplement revenue generated from fuel consumption and vehicle purchases.
Mr. Drewer advised that in FY 2010 the Maryland Route 335,
Mr. Drewer noted that the Church Creek Streetscape project remains on hold and that there is only funding available for preliminary engineering purposes for that project. He explained that funding in the amount of $1.5 million has been provided to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for improvements to the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center, trails and roads.
Mr. Drewer said the Cambridge Creek Bridge should be open November 1, 2010. He noted that the entire bridge deck has been replaced and due to the recent inclement weather there has been a delay in painting the structure.
He explained that a traffic study was completed on the Route 392/Route 331 intersection in the Town Hurlock and that it was determined that a traffic signal is not warranted at that location partly due to the fact that there have only been five accidents over the last four years at that intersection. He said that he is willing to install two more stop signs on Route 331 and to create a four-way stop if the County Council and Town Council approve the change.
Councilman Price said that Mayor Spratt and the Town Council members are very concerned about the intersection and feel a traffic light should be installed. He said that they have records that indicate there have been 12 accidents at that intersection. Mr. Drewer asked Councilman Price to have Town staff provide him that information.
Mr. Drewer noted that sidewalks will be installed along Maryland Route 343 from
In response to a question from Councilman Newcomb, Mr. Pederson said that there is no funding available for streetscape projects. Delegate Eckardt suggested that the project be divided into several phases to take advantage of any funding that may become available in the near future. Mr. Pederson said he will inquire as to whether the work for that project can be divided into phases.
The Council, Senator Colburn and Delegate Eckardt expressed support for the Dover Bridge replacement project. Senator Colburn noted that for the past two years MDOT representatives have been saying that the project will commence once funding is received. He stressed the need for the replacement of the bridge particularly in light of individuals in southern Caroline County and North Dorchester using the bridge to travel to Memorial Hospital during emergency and non-emergency situations. Mr. Pederson recognized that a new bridge is needed and that it is utilized by Talbot, Caroline and Dorchester County residents. In response to a question from Senator Colburn, Mr. Pederson said that the engineering phase of the project is 70% complete but will be stopped until funding for the project is identified.
Delegate Eckardt noted that she and other individuals toured Dorchester County by bicycle in August 2010 and that they did not ride through Golden Hill because there are no shoulders on the road through that area. She stressed the need to continue providing local jurisdictions with highway user revenue so that local roads can be maintained. Councilman Newcomb said a shoulder area is needed for bicyclists to use from Gootees Marina to the Blackwater bridge. Delegate Eckardt said County residents have expressed concern about the lack of shoulders on South Dorchester roads. Mr. Drewer said that environmental issues need to be addressed before shoulders can be constructed.
Councilman Newcomb noted that Roy Mills, Highway Division Manager, and Jerome Stanley, Dorchester County Transportation Operations Manager, Delmarva Community Services, are present. Mr. Stanley thanked the Maryland Transit Administration for providing funding for local transit.
Ms. Ratcliff said that the Maryland Transit Administration provided approximately $600,000 in operating funds to Delmarva Community Services for local transit and $165,000 in ARRA funding to purchase three small replacement buses.
Mr. Pederson said that a new traffic safety strategic plan is being developed which will focus on impaired driving, aggressive driving, distracted driving, occupant protection and infrastructure improvement. He noted that on October 1, 2010 legislation became effective that bans cell phone use while driving. Mr. Pederson thanked the staff at the Dorchester County Highway Division for working with the State Highway Administration in using ARRA funds for line striping and widening and surfacing projects in four locations throughout the County.
Councilman Price shared residents concerns about the lack of visibility at the Route 392/Route 14 intersection at Dockins Service Station in East New Market and asked about the possibility of installing a traffic signal at that location. He also noted that a fatal accident recently occurred on Route 14 between Palmers Mill Road and the Town of Eldorado at the “S” turn in the 4900 block of Rhodesale-Eldorado Road and that residents have questioned whether a guardrail can be placed at that location or if crusher run can be applied to the shoulder of the road. Mr. Drewer said he will have staff view those two locations for possible solutions.
Councilman Price questioned whether funding is available to assist in the replacement of the Backlanding bridge which is located between North Dorchester County and Caroline County. He noted that both the Sheriff’s Office deputies and the local fire company members in that area have expressed concern that emergency vehicles have to travel around the bridge in order to respond to emergency calls.
In response to a request from Councilman Newcomb, Mr. Hamons provided an update on the James and Barren Island restoration project. He said that a favorable Chief’s Report has been issued and that once funding is identified the project will commence. He explained that the project must be included in a Water Resources Development Act and if such an act passed in FY 2011 construction can commence in 2012 and should be completed by 2015.
Councilman Travers requested that a meeting be scheduled between the County’s Public Work staff and State Highway Administration staff to discuss the possible use of State equipment for snow removal. Mr. Pederson said a meeting will be scheduled.
The Council members expressed the need for the restoration of highway user revenue funds to local governments. The Council members acknowledged that funding had to be redirected to the Highway Division from other sources in the County’s budget in order to maintain minimal services to our residents and that even after funds were transferred into that Division’s budget road projects in FY 2010 and FY 2011 had to be deferred. The Council members further expressed their belief that it is critical that highway user funds be restored in order to avoid further delays in those projects and the continued deterioration of the County’s roadways.
Councilman Newcomb noted that residents have expressed concern about the customer service they receive at the Easton Motor Vehicle Administration office versus the Salisbury Motor Vehicle Administration office and asked Mr. Adgerson to review citing concerns that staff at the Salisbury office may be more responsive and customer service oriented than staff at the Easton office.