County Council Meeting Minutes
October 11, 2011
County Council of
Regular Meeting Minutes
October 11, 2011
The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on October 11, 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,
The Council adjourned from a Regular Session and convened in a closed Executive Session pursuant to 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.
Voting in favor of the closed Executive Session were all Council members.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
A moment of silence was held for Bob Caldwell, a member of Wicomico County Council, who recently passed away. Councilman Nichols 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 DISBURSEMENTS
The Council approved vouchers as presented and requested clarification regarding an expenditure for the Smithville Tower.
FINANICAL REPORT: CASH AND INVESTMENTS
Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $4,252,105.58.
EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 5:30 p.m. on October 11, 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)(3) to consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto.
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: Discussed issues regarding the Dorchester Regional Technology Park – agreed to send correspondence to the City of Cambridge.
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.
MEETING WITH LEGISLATORS-2012 MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Senator Richard Colburn, Delegates Adelaide Eckardt, Jeanne Haddaway-Riccio and Delegate Rudolph Cane joined the meeting to discuss Council’s requested legislative initiatives for the 2012 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session.
Senator Colburn advised that, pursuant to the legislative pack he received from Council, he has requested a bill be drafted to amend Article 2B, Alcoholic Beverages, Section 6-301(k)(8) entitled “Beer, Wine Liquor License-Clubs” to amend obsolete language by changing “County Commissioners to “County Council” and “Treasurer” to “Finance Department.” He encouraged Delegates Eckardt, Cane and Haddaway-Riccio to file a companion bill.
He requested clarification regarding the Council and the Board of License Commissioners’ request that Article 2B, Alcoholic Beverages, Section 13-101 entitled “Alcohol Awareness Programs” be amended to add a new subsection (h) to limit the use of an Alcohol Awareness Certificate to only one licensed establishment. Councilman Travers noted that the Board of License Commissioners are concerned some individuals work in multiple establishments and use a single alcohol awareness certificate at each of those locations. He explained that the Board of License Commissioners believes multiple staff members in each establishment should have alcohol awareness training in order to ensure that employees at each location are properly trained and to reduce sales of alcohol to underage individuals.
Portia Ennals, a resident, explained that she is a member of the Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol (CMCA) and that its members are working on a proposal to provide funds to each liquor license holder for their staff to attend alcohol awareness classes. She said the members’ goal is to reduce underage drinking in Dorchester County and that once the proposal has been fully developed it will be presented to the Council.
Councilman Newcomb noted that Council is requesting that the legislation that established the Bay Restoration Fee be amended to allow the County’s Finance Office to invoice and collect the fee on behalf of the Dorchester County Sanitary Commission. In response to a question from Senator Colburn, Michael Spears, Finance Director, said his office is willing and able to assume that billing and collection process. In response to questions from Senator Colburn and Delegate Eckardt, Councilman Newcomb explained that the fee for Sanitary Commission customers will then be included on the County’s tax bill, which will provide a mechanism for the collection of any unpaid fees by means of becoming a lien on the tax bill if unpaid. Senator Colburn noted that other legislation was passed during the 2011 legislative session that authorized Somerset County’s Sanitary Commission to charge a late fee for unpaid water and sewer charges and questioned whether the Dorchester County Sanitary Commission is interested in amending that legislation to include Dorchester County. Senator Colburn said he spoke with some of the Dorchester County Sanitary Commissioners prior to this meeting and they indicated their willingness to be added in the legislation. He advised that he will provide the Council with a copy of the legislation for its review and consideration. In response to a question from Councilman Travers, Senator Colburn expressed his understanding that the Sanitary Commission will be able to retain any late fees collected.
Councilman Newcomb stated that the Council remains interesting in pursuing legislation to amend Article 24, Political Subdivisions, Miscellaneous in the Annotated Code of Maryland to create a new subtitle entitled “Privilege Tax” to authorize the Council to impose by ordinance a privilege tax on certain public utilities, persons or corporations engaged in the business of transmitting electricity through one or more long distance, extra-high voltage electric transmission lines located in Dorchester County. Senator Colburn said he submitted the proposed legislation during both the 2010 and 2011 legislative sessions. He explained that the bill failed both times and expressed his concern that the Delegates have not pursued similar legislation in the House. He said it his understanding that the MAPP project is postponed until 2019 but that he supports the Council’s efforts in seeking the underground installation of all of the transmission lines to be placed in Dorchester County. He stated that he does not want to submit the legislation in the Senate during the 2012 legislative session if Delegates Eckardt, Cane and Haddaway-Riccio are not willing to introduce the legislation in the House.
Delegate Haddaway-Riccio said the Attorney General has determined that the tax will violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. She also expressed concern that taxpayers may be faced with increased electric rates if the legislation passes. Councilman Bradshaw expressed his understanding that the cost for the MAPP project incurred to date is already being added to residents’ electrical bills. Councilman Travers noted that the need for the MAPP project has not been established at the Public Service Commission.
Delegate Haddaway-Riccio explained that in 2012 or 2013 residents in regions that do not have adequate electrical generation sources will pay more for electric. Delegate Haddaway-Riccio expressed her understanding that the difference in cost is to provide both a penalty for not having enough generation and an incentive for companies to increase generation on the Eastern Shore. She explained that while she supports the Council’s efforts to encourage Pepco Holdings (Pepco) to install the electrical transmission lines underground in Dorchester County she cannot support legislation that violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Delegate Haddaway-Riccio and Delegate Eckardt expressed their opinions that the legislation needs to be modified. Senator Colburn said it is his understanding that the legal opinion of Charles MacLeod, the County’s Special Legal Counsel, differs from the Attorney General in that he believes the legislation does not violate the U.S. Constitution and its residents.
In response to a question from Delegate Eckardt, Councilman Newcomb explained that on several occasions Council has spoken with Pepco representatives regarding their concerns about the project as well as exchanged written correspondence. He advised that those representatives have stated it is too cost prohibitive to install lines underground. Councilmen Travers and Newcomb noted that a portion of the revenue from the privilege tax will be used for tourism and economic development purposes to mitigate any losses the impact of the MAPP project may have on the County and its residents.
Councilman Travers expressed his concern that electrical costs will increase on the Eastern Shore due to lack of electrical generation, particularly since an existing generation plant in Vienna can be retooled and used to produce more electricity for the Eastern Shore. Delegate Haddaway-Riccio explained that the increased rates are separate from the MAPP project and will be assessed against businesses that purchase electricity at public auction and will not apply to local co-operatives. Delegate Haddaway-Riccio and Eckardt noted that the increased rates are the result of the 1999 de-regulation of electricity. Delegate Cane noted that he, along with 23 other Delegates, voted against de-regulation in 1999. He explained that as a result of deregulation the company that owned the Vienna Plant was able to take it offline and use it only for peak times without any consideration on how the loss of generation affected Dorchester County. Delegate Haddaway-Riccio expressed her understanding that NRG Energy is considering retrofitting the Vienna Plant to run the facility on a full time basis and encouraged the Council to support this endeavor. She said the company is having difficulty obtaining funding in the current economic climate in order to make improvements to the plant. Councilman Travers noted that the Council has already expressed support of NRG Energy’s proposal to utilize the Vienna plant at full capacity.
Delegate Cane expressed his support of the burning of chicken mature to generate green electricity and that Perdue, Tyson and Mountaire have recently expressed support for this initiative.
Based on an inquiry from Councilman Newcomb, Delegate Eckardt said she is in support of drafting of legislation to define the governance structure for the Statewide 700 MHz Communications System with the inclusion of local government representation on that governing body. She explained that the local delegation was provided information in both Talbot County and in Caroline County regarding the proposal. In response to a question from Councilman Price, Delegate Eckardt stated that Clay Stamp, Director of the Talbot County Department of Emergency Services, will provide proposed language for the legislation which will then be distributed to all local jurisdictions for review.
Councilman Newcomb noted that Council, based on concerns expressed by the County’s Local Watershed Implementation Plan Phase II Team, is requesting that the legislation be submitted to provide funding for the implementation of the County’s Watershed Implementation Plan. Delegate Eckardt advised that a number of rural delegation members are requesting that a meeting be held during the upcoming Maryland General Assembly special session to review the Environmental Protection Agency’s requirement that these plans be developed both locally and statewide. Senator Colburn noted that there is also a State initiative to seek funding for the State’s Watershed Implementation Plan which he does not believe will pass due to budget concerns. He also expressed his belief that the deadlines for the implementation of the local and State Watershed Implementation Plans are not achievable.
Councilman Travers expressed concern that unfunded mandates by the State are being placed on local jurisdictions. Senator Colburn said the new Critical Area buffer regulations are having a negative and disproportionate impact on Dorchester County residents. Councilman Bradshaw noted that a public meeting with the Critical Area Commission was held on September 27, 2011 at which time residents expressed concern about their limited use of their property based on the new regulations. In response to a question from Senator Colburn, Councilman Newcomb advised that at that meeting Critical Area Commission staff said they are working on modification to the regulations as they pertain to Dorchester County. Delegate Eckardt expressed her opinion that Steve Dodd, Planning and Zoning Director, and Michael Bonsteel, Environmental Planner, have been instrumental in working with the Critical Area Commission staff on proposed amendments regarding the buffers on behalf of Dorchester County property owners. Councilman Travers expressed concern that the Critical Area Commission no longer has to obtain legislative approval before establishing and implementing new regulations.
Councilman Newcomb expressed concern about the County’s loss in approximately $4 million in highway user revenue funds since 2009 and said the Council is asking that those funds to be restored, particularly in light of the amount of roads that need to be repaired in the County. Delegate Haddaway-Riccio expressed her opinion that those funds should have been distributed to local jurisdictions instead of being used toward the State’s structural deficit. Councilman Price noted that municipal representatives in the County have also expressed their desire for these funds to be restored. Councilman Travers expressed concern that new public transportation projects, including the new capital projects for the Metro line’s in more urban areas, are being funded in lieu of existing projects that have been placed on hold due to lack of funding, particularly in rural areas.
Councilman Newcomb noted that the Council is concerned about the possible passage of teachers’ retirement costs to local jurisdictions. Delegate Haddaway-Riccio said she is opposed to the shifting of these costs.
Senator Colburn said he voted against the implementation of the new Critical Area buffer regulations and expressed his belief that highway user revenues should be restored to local jurisdictions. He noted that the Maryland Association of Counties and the Maryland Municipal League are working together on an initiative for the restoration of those funds. He expressed his opinion that local jurisdictions are not able to absorb the costs for teachers’ retirement which are projected to be $954 million next year. Senator Colburn said his main focus during the 2012 legislative session is the elimination of the State’s structural deficit and increasing the State’s “Rainy Day Fund” from 5% to 7.5% to maintain the State’s bond rating. He cautioned his understanding that during the 2012 legislative session Senator Thomas Michael Miller will pursue legislation to pass 50% of the costs of teachers’ retirement to local jurisdictions. He expressed concern regarding the PlanMaryland document supported by Governor Martin O’Malley and the Governor’s initiative to limit the number of septic systems which he believes will remove zoning authority from local jurisdictions. He also expressed his opinion that the Rural Prosperity Fund and the Mid Shore Council’s State funding should be fully funded.
Delegate Eckardt advised that she will propose to the rural caucus that the 2020 deadline for the implementation of a State Watershed Implementation Plan be changed to 2030 to coincide with the federal deadline.
In response to a question from Mr. Spears, Senator Colburn said the special legislative session scheduled for October is intended to be for consideration of congressional redistricting only but noted that the Governor has spoken in the last couple of weeks regarding the possibility of entering a jobs bill during that session. He said although the Governor had not officially announced the special session, he believes it will commence on Monday, October 17, 2011.
Senator Colburn said it is his intention to schedule a meeting with the Critical Area Commission in Annapolis to discuss the new buffer regulations particularly since they severely limit property owners’ use of their property. He said he will provide the Council the date of that meeting once confirmed in case they want to attend or send representatives to that meeting.
Councilman Bradshaw said it is his understanding that the construction of poultry houses has decreased substantially due to the additional regulations that have been placed on agriculture. Senator Colburn expressed his belief that the 2.5 billion poultry industry in Maryland may cease to exist if additional regulations are placed on poultry farmers.
Councilman Bradshaw noted that many private companies have frozen retirement benefits for new hires and are offering a 401k with no company match. Senator Colburn noted that he the Teachers’ Union testified against a bill he submitted during the 2011 legislative session to require that effective July 1 all newly hired teachers will not be eligible for retirement benefits but instead will be able to contribute to a 401k plan.
Councilman Price noted that local watermen have expressed their concerns about the new oyster season and potential regulations that may be established. Senator Colburn said it is his understanding that a new mandatory tracking system may be established by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the next couple of years. He noted that despite repeated requests DNR staff has not released the results from the investigation they conducted nine months ago nor have they divulged which Judge issued the order to place tracking devices on nine work boats. In response to a question from Councilman Travers, Senator Colburn noted that boats on which the systems were installed were owned by Dorchester County watermen.
Councilman Newcomb noted that the local waterman’s association recently agreed to send a request to the Governor for a one week extension of crab harvesting due to Hurricane Irene and suggested Council consider sending a letter of support at its next meeting on October 18, 2011.
The Council thanked Senator Colburn and Delegates Eckardt, Cane and Haddaway-Riccio for attending the meeting to discuss legislative initiatives and proposals for the 2012 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session.
ANNUAL TRANSPORTATION MEETING-MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Donnie Drewer, District Engineer, acknowledged that the following individuals from the Maryland Department of Transportation were present to provide information to the Council regarding proposed projects for FY12: Darrell B. Mobley, Deputy Transportation Secretary and Acting State Highway Administrator; Douglas Simmons, Deputy Administrator/Chief Engineer for Planning, Engineering, Real Estate & Environment; and Paul Keller, Maryland Transit Administrator. He noted that the following individuals are in the audience: Virginia Colon, Motor Vehicle Administration District Manager; Frank Hamons, Maryland Port Administration’s Deputy Director for Harbor Development; and Ashish Solanki, Director, Office of Regional Aviation Assistance. Mr. Mobley advised that Beverly K. Swaim-Staley, Secretary, was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.
Mr. Mobley noted that Congress recently passed the eighth extension to fund the State’s Transportation Fund as of March 31, 2012 at current levels. He advised that both the House and Senate are proposing legislation to authorize the continuation of this program. He explained that he is most concerned about the House proposal which is to fund the program for six years at levels approximately one-third less than current spending which will result in a reduction of funding of $90 million to $115 million for highway projects and $53 million for the Maryland Transit Administration. He further explained that the Senate proposal is to authorize a two year program consistent with current spending. Mr. Mobley noted that President Obama’s job bill, if passed, will offer an immediate infusion of funds of which $625 million has been identified for the Maryland Department of Transportation. He expressed his understanding that these funds will be allocated similar to the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds and will require that the projects commence one year after enactment of the proposed legislation with funding being available for the next two to three years. Mr. Mobley noted that the priorities listed as most urgent for each of the counties in the State total $12 billion over a six year period and he said there is only $9 billion in funding available. He said Dorchester County’s priorities total $275 million.
Mr. Keller said the Maryland Transit Administration remains committed to supporting locally operated transit programs. He noted that Delmarva Community Transit, a subsidiary of Delmarva Community Services and the regional transit provider for Dorchester County received $187,000 in FY 12 State and Federal funding for preventive maintenance services and to purchase two small buses. Mr. Keller advised that the Dorchester Commission in Aging will also receive $44,000 in capital funding to purchase a minivan. He commended the Council’s partnership with the Maryland Transit Administration and local transportation providers to benefit local residents.
Mr. Simmons noted that the top priority for the State Highway Administration is safety, with a continued focus on pedestrian safety particularly since pedestrian fatalities remained constant. He said there is $70 million in statewide funding designated for transportation safety projects including engineering, sidewalks, ADA accessibility, pedestrian crosswalks and signals. He said SHA staff are currently upgrading sidewalks on Washington Street in Cambridge including the installation of a pedestrian signal at the Pine Street intersection. He stated that the proposed FY 2012 plan includes the upgrading of sidewalks on Maryland Route 14 through the Town of Secretary. Mr. Simmons explained the second top priority is system preservation of existing pavements, bridges, signs, guardrail and drainage facilities. Mr. Simmons said the Maryland Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration, is partnering with the Department of Natural Resources in the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center project by providing funding of $8.5 million for the Center. Mr. Simmons noted that the replacement of the Dover Bridge is recognized as a priority for the Mid-Shore. He said the bridge is not structurally deficient but is functionally obsolete and there are ongoing operation and maintenance issues. He noted that funding for the engineering phase of the project has been reallocated and is currently underway which should be completed by the beginning of 2013. Mr. Simmons advised that identifying funds for this $49 million construction project will be difficult.
Mr. Drewer stated that resurfacing/rehabilitation of Maryland Route 335 from Golden Hill Road, south of the structure over Birch Dam Creek to Maryland 16, was completed in May 2011. He said FY12 and FY13 resurfacing/rehabilitation projects include resurfacing various locations in the County including Route 335 from 500 feet north of Spicer Creek to mile .5.2 to build up the roadway based on information Rufus Todd, a Dorchester County resident, provided at the prior years’ Annual Transportation meeting. He noted that State Highway Administrative staff will complete the concrete work on the paving project on Route 343 from Route 50 to Leonard Lane by the end of the year. He said resurfacing projects for FY13 include U.S. Route 50 eastbound from Austin Road to Chateau Road and Route 335 from North Wallace Creek Bridge to the structure over Blackwater River. He noted that after the safety improvements have been completed Washington Street from Route 50 to Leonard Lane will be repaved. He explained that funding has been identified for preliminary engineering for the Church Creek streetscape project but the project will be revisited again only when funds become available.
In response to comments from Councilmen Newcomb and Bradshaw, Jay Meredith, Resident Engineer said he will view Route 335 from Blackwater River to North Wallace Creek Bridge and Route 335, Gum Swamp and the South Dorchester School to determine if cross pipes are needed.
Gerry Grindle, a Church Creek resident, expressed concern that the Church Creek Streetscape project is on hold. He also expressed his opinion that the road through Church Creek from Brannocks Neck Road to the Post Office needs to be paved. He noted that there are a lot of trucks, particularly dump trucks that use that road.
Councilman Newcomb provided Mr. Mobley with a copy of a letter to Secretary Swaim-Staley which notes Council’s support of the replacement of Dover Bridge. Councilman Bradshaw expressed his understanding that there are potholes under the overpasses of the exits on and off Route 331 to U.S. Route 50 that need to be repaired as well as drainage issues that need to be addressed.
Councilman Newcomb asked that Mr. Drewer include the resurfacing of Church Creek Road on a future highway project list. Senator Colburn also expressed support for the resurfacing of that roadway.
Councilman Travers expressed concern that two new transit projects, the construction of a Metro “Purple” line, a proposed 16 mile east-west light operate between Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County and the Baltimore “Red” Line and Corridor Cities “Red” Line are being funded while projects, including the replacement of Dover Bridge, have been placed on hold for several years due to funding constraints.
Councilman Newcomb noted that residents have expressed concern that the double left turns at the intersection at Maryland Route 16 and U.S. Route 50 and at Woods Road and U.S. Route 50 need to be delineated because vehicles are not staying in their designated lanes.
Councilman Bradshaw noted that at Route 331 in front of Reids Grove Store the roadway dips and as a result water pools near the exits on Route 331 near Maiden Forest Road. Mr. Drewer said he will staff view that area. Councilman Bradshaw advised that the Council had previously requested that a traffic study be conducted on Route 331 regarding concerns about motorists traveling above the speed limit on that roadway. Mr. Drewer said he will check the status of that study.
Councilman Price noted that Town of East New Market representatives have questioned whether Harvey Road is a State or a Town maintained roadway. Mr. Meredith and Mr. Drewer confirmed it is not a State road and, at Councilman Price’s request, Mr. Drewer said he will contact Mayor Caroline Cline to advise her of the Town’s ownership. Councilman Price stated that residents have also expressed concern regarding limited visibility for traffic coming from Preston at the intersection of Route 16 at Cabin Creek Road. Mr. Drewer said he will have staff view the area as to whether any improvements can be made.
Councilman Price echoed Councilman Travers’s concerns regarding the commencement of new projects versus moving forward with existing projects. He noted that there are a number of roads in the Dorchester County that need repair and that most of those projects have been placed on hold due to the County’s loss of approximately $4 million in highway user revenues. He questioned whether State Highway staff can assist County staff in addressing some of the necessary repairs. Mr. Drewer said he is unable to do so due to limited funding. Councilman Bradshaw echoed Councilman Travers’ concerns about commencing new projects while others have been reprioritized and expressed concern about using Federal Highway Trust funds for the proposed Harriett Tubman Visitors Center/Park when bridges in the County are in dire need of replacement.
Councilman Price expressed his support for the replacement of Dover Bridge, particularly which is used by north Dorchester County residents, emergency responders, businesses and farmers to access Talbot County and Easton Memorial Hospital. Councilman Bradshaw expressed his opinion that Marshyhope Bridge on Route 14 at Eldorado Brookview needs repair due to missing concrete and rusting iron work. Mr. Simmons said staff will view the bridge. In response to a question from Senator Colburn, Mr. Simmons said bridges are inspected every two years with manual inspections being conducted once a bridge has been determined to be structurally deficient. Councilman Bradshaw noted that individuals use that bridge to travel to and from Delaware, even though it is narrow. Delegate Eckardt noted that truckers also use that bridge.
Councilman Nichols thanked State Highway Administration staff for the improvements being made to Washington Street, including the installation of sidewalks.
Delegate Eckardt expressed her appreciation for improvements being made to Washington Street and said she is concerned out the condition of the road through Church Creek and from Golden Hill Road to Gootees, which is used frequently by bicyclists. She echoed the County Council’s support for the replacement of the Dover Bridge.
Delegate Haddaway-Riccio expressed her disappointment that the Mid Bay Island Restoration Project has been delayed, particularly because once James and Barren Islands have been restored, they can be used as a staging area to shore up the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge to halt the lost of wildlife habitat. She advised that she has been speaking with the Federal delegation regarding possible ways to move that project forward. Mr. Hamons said the Federal Water Resource Act needs to be reauthorized before the project can commence.
Senator Colburn noted that the State of Maryland’s initiative to move toward a statewide state of the art 700 MHz radio system and questioned whether the State Highway Administration will use the system. Mr. Drewer said the State Highway Administration currently uses an 800 MHz system. Mr. Meredith explained that they coordinate their system with the local Emergency Management Division. Senator Colburn expressed his support for the replacement of Dover Bridge which is utilized by Dorchester, Talbot and Caroline County residents. He expressed concerns about using $121 million in funding to construct a new Metro “Purple Line” instead of using funds for existing projects like the Dover Bridge that have been placed on hold due to funding constraints. Senator Colburn requested that State Highway Administration staff make a commitment to repave Brannocks Neck Road to Route 335. Mr. Meredith clarified the installation of a new sewer line to Madison Woolford has increased truck traffic which has caused the road to deteriorate. Ms. Joan Grindle concurred. In response to a question from Senator Colburn, Councilman Newcomb stated that that project is approximately 90% complete and should be finished by the end of October 2011. Mr. Mobley noted that staff will view the road but cannot make any commitment at this time.
Jerome Stanley, Delmarva Community Services Transportation Operations Manager, thanked the Maryland Transit Administrative staff for funding to purchase new vehicles to benefit County residents. He noted that ridership has increased by over 7%.
Roy Mills, Highway Division Manager, expressed support for the restoration of highway user revenue funding to local jurisdictions. Councilman Newcomb said that residents had expressed concern about the condition of Shorters Wharf Road, and noted that the local road program includes the resurfacing of that roadway. He expressed appreciation for the assistance Mr. Drewer and Mr. Meredith provide to the County Council and County residents.
Mr. Todd thanked State Highway Administration staff for raising a section of Great Marsh Road and the road near Spicer’s Bridge. He noted that the west side of Great Marsh Road needs repairs as the roadway dips and is often flooded. Thomas Gootee, a resident, also expressed concern about the condition of that road. Mr. Todd and Mr. Gootee showed the Council and State Highway Administration staff pictures of the road when it was recently flooded. Mr. Gootee expressed his concern that motorists who travel on Great Marsh Road may lose control of their vehicle if the road is flooded. Mr. Todd also expressed his concern that the road to Sandy Island Cemetery needs to be raised.
In response to a question from Councilman Newcomb, Mr. Mobley said State Highway Administration staff maintain Old Route 50 in Vienna. Councilman Bradshaw noted that there are potholes on that roadway, at the entrance of Market Street.
Councilman Newcomb noted that as the result of the installation of a sewer line at Christ Rock the bicycle lane is in need of repair. Mr. Meredith said it is his intention to hold the contractor accountable for those repairs.
Ms. Ennals thanked Mr. Drewer and State Highway Administration staff for the installation of pedestrian crosswalks on Washington Street.
In response to a question from George Ames, a resident, Councilman Newcomb expressed his understanding that work will begin on Shorters Wharf Road next week.
Mr. Mobley thanked the Council for their input and providing their concerns regarding projects within the State. He also thanked the State delegation for their attendance and comments.
Mr. Drewer advised Council that prior to the end of the calendar year State Highway Administration staff will be removing light poles from the Choptank River Bridge and the Vienna Bridge in a zipper pattern in order to save energy. Based on an inquiry from Delegate Eckardt, Mr. Drewer noted that light poles will also be removed on the Talbot County side of the bridge. Councilman Travers questioned the reason for removing the poles when a savings can be achieved by removing the light bulbs or replacing them with a reduced energy bulb. Mr. Drewer said he believed there will be sufficient light on the bridges if the poles are removed. He noted the light poles were also removed from the Pocomoke Bridge in the same manner. He said the State has contracted with a company to install LED lights in signals, on signs and in buildings.
Councilman Price expressed appreciation for the installation of a light under the Warwick Bridge in Secretary. The Council thanked the Maryland Department of Transportation representatives for meeting with them to discuss issues relating to the infrastructure in Dorchester County.
Councilman Newcomb noted that the main entrance to the County Office Building will be closed from October 17 to Oct 13, 2011 so repairs can be made to the steps.
With no further business to discuss, the Council adjourned.
William V. Nichols, Vice President