Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes
posted: 01/20/11

County Council Meeting Minutes

January 4, 2011

County Council of Dorchester County

Regular Meeting Minutes

January 4, 2011


The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on January 4, 2011 with the following members present: Present were Jay L. Newcomb, President; William V. Nichols, Vice President; Ricky Travers; Rick Price and Tom Bradshaw. Also present were E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney; Jane Baynard, County Manager and Donna Lane, Executive Administrative Specialist.





The Council adjourned from a Regular Session and convened in a closed Executive Session pursuant State Government Article 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.


Voting in favor of the closed Executive Session were all Council members.






Councilman Bradshaw led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.




The Council approved the addition of the appointment of a Council representative to the Local Emergency Planning Committee to the Board Appointments item under Manager’s Comments.




The Council approved the minutes of December 21, 2010.




The Council approved vouchers as presented with Councilman Travers abstaining for payments made to Simmons Center Market.




Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $10,214,862.40.



The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 4:30 p.m. on January 4, 2011 in a closed session at Room 110, County Office Building, 501 Court Lane, Cambridge, Maryland, pursuant to the State Government Article 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.


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) discussed personnel issues with Public Works staff-took no action; 2) discussed the implementation of a volunteer and rider observer program for Emergency Medical Services-agreed to implement program by a 5 to 0 vote; 3) approved a request from the State’s Attorney to restructure two attorney positions in the State’s Attorney office and redistribute duties by a 5 to 0 vote; 4) discussed a legislative initiative regarding Workers Compensation coverage-agreed to take no action; 5) received information from Human Resources regarding a personnel matter-agreed to take disciplinary action by a 5 to 0 vote; 6) discussed procedures followed by 911 Center personnel-requested additional information; 7) discussed with legal counsel EMS appropriations to volunteer fire companies-requested additional information.


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.






The Council presented a Proclamation declaring January 2011 as National Mentoring Month. Jessica Mimms, Eastern Shore Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Maryland Mentoring Partnership, accepted the proclamation.






Based on information presented by Chuck Weber, Public Works Director, the Council approved the Change Order #5 request of George & Lynch, Contractor, for the Dorchester County Technology Park Utility and Infrastructure Improvements Contract #2 at the cost of $3,389.32 due to the increased cost of fire hydrants as required by the City of Cambridge standards at a revised total contract amount of $3,390,649.87 which is within the funding limits agreed to by the Council in June 2010.  The Council recognized that the Economic Development Administration approved the change order.




Jane Baynard, County Manager, explained that at its December 21, 2010 meeting,  Council agreed to defer appointments to the Dorchester County Partnership for Children and Families, the Charter Review Commission and the Building Code of Appeals. 


Dorchester Community Partnership for Children and Families

The Council took no action regarding the appointment of a Council member to the Dorchester Community Partnership for Children and Families, formerly Local Management Board.  The Council acknowledged that the County Manager was reappointed as a Council representative on this Board at its December 21, 2010 meeting.


Charter Review Commission


Ms. Baynard noted that pursuant to Section 603 of the County Charter the Council shall appoint a Charter Review Commission no later than three months following Council’s installation after the 2010 General Election (March 7, 2010).  She said that the Commission shall consist of seven registered voters of the County, including at least one member from each Council district.   She noted that the Council had deferred making appointments to this Board at its December 21, 2010 meeting.


The Council, based on the recommendations of Councilmen Price and Bradshaw, agreed to appoint Norman Wesley Messick, III as the District 4 representative and Kele Turner as the District 5 representative to the Charter Review Committee.  The Council agreed to defer the remaining appointments to its January 18, 2011 meeting.


Ms. Baynard reminded Council of its action to defer appointments to the Building Code Appeals Board at its December 21st meeting noting that the terms of those Board members coincide with the terms of Council.   The Council requested the prior members be contacted to determine if they are willing to be reappointed on this board.


Redistricting Committee


Ms. Baynard advised that pursuant to Section 213 of the County’s Charter, “the Council shall, no later than April of the year after each decennial census date (April 1, 2011) appoint a Commission on redistricting”.  She explained that pursuant to charter requirements, the central committee of each political party that polled at least 25 percent of the total vote cast for all the candidates for Council at the last preceding general election shall nominate five persons to serve on the Commission, with the list including one person who resides in each district.    She further explained that it is the Council who appoints all nominees as members of the Commission as well as one additional member and the Chairperson of the Commission from among the appointed members. 

At Ms. Baynard’s recommendation, the Council instructed that a request be submitted to the appropriate central committees of each political party asking them to provide nominations for the Redistricting Committee by February 1, 2011. The Council acknowledged that Steve Dodd, Planning and Zoning Director, has confirmed that his department will provide staff support to the Committee.


Seafood Reconciliation Committee


The Council again deferred an appointment to the Seaford Reconciliation Committee and asked staff to contact Robert Jones, whose term expired on November 8, 2010, to determine if he is willing to accept reappointment to this Committee.  Ms. Baynard noted that, to-date, staff has been unable to reach Mr. Jones.   


Local Emergency Planning Committee –


Ms. Baynard asked for a Council member volunteer to replace Councilwoman Elzey on the Local Emergency Planning Committee.  She explained that the Committee partners with the Emergency Management Department staff and works with private industry and the community to identify potential hazards in the County and to develop plans to reduce risk as well as provide training activities for emergency response personnel and public outreach activities.  The Council took no action but recognized that Councilman Price will consider accepting this role.




Ms. Baynard explained that Donald Gray, a Dorchester County resident, has asked Council on several occasions, most recently at its October 19, 2010 meeting, to consider a possible amendment to the Property Maintenance ordinance to allow more untagged vehicles on private property without screening.  She said that to date Council has taken no action on this request.   She reminded Council that pursuant to the County’s Property Maintenance ordinance one untagged vehicle shall be permitted at any one time provided that the property owner or resident can demonstrate that the motor vehicle is: a) recently purchased and pending inspection for a period not to exceed 60 consecutive days; b) being advertised for sale not to exceed 90 consecutive days; c) actively being repaired to a permitted condition and being registered within a 90 day period or after an extension of up to six month from the Planning and Zoning Department staff; or d) being held pending settlement of insurance, estate or similar claims.   She advised that a property owner can have four untagged vehicles provided the property owner screens the vehicle and that the

ordinance allows an individual to use certain items for screening, including trees, shrubbery, masonry and vehicle covers.


Mr. Gray said it is his understanding that a property owner or resident in Talbot County and in Caroline County may keep two untagged vehicles on their property and that in Wicomico County property owners are allowed up to four untagged vehicles without screening.   Ms. Baynard noted that staff verified that property owners and residents in Wicomico County are not allowed to have any untagged vehicles on their property.  


Wendell Foxwell, a Dorchester County resident, questioned why an individual would want to keep an untagged vehicle in his or her front yard.


Mr. Gray expressed his opinion that Planning and Zoning staff are not being consistent in applying the Property Maintenance Ordinance provision regarding untagged vehicles to all County residents.   He noted that he previously submitted several complaints to the Council regarding possible property maintenance violations, including complaints that certain businesses are being operated on property that is not zoned for businesses.


Councilman Travers noted that the complaints Mr. Gray submitted were in reference to twelve properties and that Planning and Zoning staff have viewed those properties.  He said that staff determined that no violations existed on six of those properties and that three of the property owners were violating provisions set forth in the County’s Property Maintenance Ordinance.  He said that three referrals were made to other agencies on items that were not under the purview of the County.    The Council took no action on Mr. Gray’s request to amend the County’s Property Maintenance Ordinance to allow more untagged vehicles on property without screening.  Council further instructed Ms. Baynard to provide an update to Mr. Gray regarding his recent complaint filed with Planning and Zoning.




Mr. Gray noted that he called the Council’s Office and the Public Works Department to express his concerns about the condition of Sandy Hill Road after the recent snowfall which occurred during the weekend of December 25 - 26, 2010.  He stated that he spoke to staff who advised that material was not available to be applied to that roadway. Mr. Gray expressed his opinion that more sand should be purchased for roadway application during weather events.   In response to a question from Councilman Newcomb, Mr. Weber explained that they received a few complaints from residents about the condition of roadways in the County.  Mr. Weber explained that the main objective of County personnel during the recent snow was to keep roads open due to drifting snow and high winds.   Mr. Weber explained that the department does use sand conservatively and in an effective manner in order for the supply to last through the winter months.  In response to a question from Mr. Foxwell, Mr. Weber advised that the only snow plow that had rubber blades that was used during the snow storm was the vehicle was used in the Sandy Hill area.  Charlotte Hughes, a Dorchester County resident, questioned why Route 392 was cleared while other roads were not.  She also expressed her opinion that County roads should be marked so that in the event of snowfall County staff are able to determine where to plow without damaging resident’s property.   Councilman Newcomb noted that Route 392 is a State highway.   Mr. Gray expressed concern about County vehicles parked during the weather event in certain areas.  Mr. Weber advised that if the public believes a vehicle is in an inappropriate location, his office must be contacted at that time to allow him to appropriately follow up.  Ms. Hughes said she has also observed staff in County vehicles parked in various locations within the County.  Mr. Simering commended County staff for the work they performed during the recent snowfall. 


Dr. Gwen Handy from the Minority Achievement Task Force thanked the Council for recognizing January 2011 as National Mentoring Month.


Rufus Todd, a Dorchester County resident, expressed concern at the condition of the roadway to Sandy Island Cemetery.  He said that the road is low, only about nine or ten feet wide and has a grassy center.  Mr. Todd also expressed concern that Maple Dam Road was recently blacktopped even though he believes other roads within the County are in greater need of repair and maintenance.   He asked the Council to consider improving the road to Sandy Island Cemetery and other roads within the southern part of the County.    Mr. Weber explained that Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds were used to pave Maple Dam Road and that those funds can only be used on federally classified roads, of which  there are only three such roads within the County.    Mr. Todd expressed concern about the condition of one mile of roadway on Maple Dam Road before Shorters Wharf which is surrounded by the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge property owned by the federal government.  Mr. Weber said that he is working with Refuge staff to obtain funding to repair the roadway.


Ms. Hughes expressed her opinion that there are multiple roads within the County that need to be paved and noted that the road through the Towns of Secretary and East New Market are smoothly paved.  Councilman Newcomb noted that those roads are State maintained roads and that the State reduced its distribution of highway user revenues to Dorchester County which has resulted in funds not being available to repair and maintain roadways.


Floyd Allen, a Dorchester County resident employed by the County in the Highway Division, asked for the name of the Roads Board President.  Councilman Newcomb advised that the Roads Board is no longer a separate Board from the County Council.  Councilman Price noted that the Roads Board was dissolved when highway user revenue funds were substantially reduced which limited resources.  Mr. Allen suggested that the Council meet with employees in the Highway Division due to low morale.  In response to a question from Councilman Newcomb, Ms. Baynard said that there is a process in place for employees to file a grievance, including issues relating to working conditions, which is referenced in the County’s Rules and Regulations.


Ms. Hughes said it is her understanding that employment opportunities are not posted on the bulletin board in the Dorchester County Office Building.  Councilman Newcomb explained that jobs are posted on the County’s website, on the bulletin board in the County Office Building and are advertised in local news publications.


Mr. Allen noted that he has been employed with the County for over 22 years and that he believes Maple Dam Road has been blacktopped four to five times prior to the last paving job and the roads in the Golden Hill area, near Gootee’s Marina, have also been blacktopped several times while other roads are in need of repair and/or maintenance.  Councilman Travers noted that roads by Gootee’s Marina are State maintained roadways.




In response to questions from Councilman Price, Mr. Weber said the use of stakes along County roads assisted County employees in determining where the roadways begin and end in order to efficiently remove snow and that some will have to be replaced.  Based on an inquiry from Councilman Price, Ms. Baynard said that the Council received an update from the Maryland Department of Environment on the high bacteria count in Little Choptank River and the oyster harvesting closure in that area.  She noted that Council will be provided with a copy of that letter.


Councilman Bradshaw thanked Mr. Todd for bringing his concerns about the road to Sandy Island Cemetery to the Council’s attention and commended him for maintaining that graveyard.


Councilman Newcomb announced that the next scheduled County Council meeting is on January 18th, 2011.  He noted that Council members will be attending the Maryland Association of Counties Winter Conference, which is scheduled for January 5 to January 7, 2011.


With no further business to discuss, the Council adjourned.


ATTEST:                                                         DORCHESTER COUNTY COUNCIL:


______________________________            ____________________________________

Jane Baynard, County Manager                       Jay L. Newcomb, President



                                                                        William V. Nichols, Vice President



                                                                        Tom Bradshaw



                                                                        Rick Price



                                                                        Ricky Travers


Approved the ______day of _______________, 2011.