Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes
posted: 01/09/13

County Council Meeting Minutes


December 18, 2012

County Council of Dorchester County

Regular Meeting Minutes

December 18, 2012

 

The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on December 18, 2012 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 and Donna Lane, Executive Administrative Specialist.

 

REGULAR SESSION

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

The Council adjourned from a Regular Session and convened in a closed Executive Session pursuant to 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.               

 

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

 

REGULAR SESSION

 

INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

A moment of silence was held for the victims of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  Councilman Bradshaw led the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.

 

Councilman Newcomb announced that Jane Baynard, County Manager, is still out on sick leave.

 

CALL FOR ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO AGENDA

 

The Council approved the following additions to the agenda: a request to advertise an Administrative Associate, Advanced position in the Economic Development Department, a request to advertise for proposals for wrecker service and a legislative request from the Board of License Commissioners. 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES- DECEMBER 4, 2012

The Council approved the minutes of December 4, 2012. 

APPROVAL OF DISBURSEMENTS

The Council approved vouchers as presented.  

FINANICAL REPORT: CASH AND INVESTMENTS

 

Councilman Newcomb reported total cash and investments as $17,379,848.01.

EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY

The County Council of Dorchester County convened in an Executive Session at 5:00 p.m. on December 18, 2012 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 the request submitted by the Emergency Medical Services Manager to hire individuals to fill two vacant Paramedic positions and to fill three vacant Emergency Medical Technician I positions by a 5 to 0 vote; 2) discussed personnel concerns relating to a County Department; 3) confirmed the hiring of an individual by the Circuit Court Judge to fill a vacant Jury Commissioner position by a 5 to 0 vote; 4) agreed to discuss a request to advertise an Administrative Associate, Advanced position in the Economic Development Office in open session; 5) discussed a personnel matter relating to the Economic Development Department; and 6) discussed with legal counsel a matter regarding the Circuit Court House-requested that legal counsel prepare correspondence.

 

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.

 

REGULAR SESSION

MANAGERS COMMENTS

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT AWARD-SHELTER RENOVATION-SALVATION ARMY         

 

The Council approved a request submitted by Cindy Smith, Grants Monitor, on behalf of the Salvation Army, to accept a Community Development Block Grant award of $70,000 for the renovation of the existing Salvation Army homeless shelter facility to expand its capacity. The Council also agreed to execute a sub-recipient agreement with the Salvation Army.  The Council acknowledged that there is no local match and that the grant period is December 5, 2012 to December 31, 2013.  

 

REQUEST TO ADVERTISE FOR PROPOSALS-PROPERTY MAINTENANCE-PLANNING AND ZONING               

 

The Council approved the request of Gene Harper, Zoning Inspector, to advertise a request for proposals for contractual services for property clean-up under the County’s Property Maintenance Ordinance.    

 

TRAFFIC SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS               

 

The Council approved the Traffic Safety Committee members’ recommendation, based on a request submitted by Mr. and Mrs. Francis Davis, to install one “No Parking Sign” on West Haven Road if the Davis’ pay 50% of the cost of the sign ($37.50).

 

BID AWARD-DUMP BODY LIGHT TRUCK-PUBLIC WORKS            

 

The Council approved the request of Tom Moore, Public Works Director, to award a bid to Preston Ford for a Dump Body Light Truck at the cost of $53,950 to be paid from the FY2013 Public Works Capital Budget.

 

MARYLAND ROUTE 50 CROSSOVER DISCUSSION-PUBLIC WORKS

 

The Council acknowledged that at its December 4, 2012 meeting, Councilman Price advised that several constituents had expressed concern about the lack of deceleration lanes for some of the crossovers on Route 50 and questioned whether a request can be made to the State Highway Administration regarding possible placement of no left turn signs in those areas.   The Council further acknowledged its December 4th request that Mr. Moore provide additional information regarding those crossovers on Route 50.  The Council, after reviewing the information Mr. Moore provided, agreed to send correspondence to Donnie Drewer, District Engineer, State Highway Administration requesting that he consider the placement of no left turn signs prior to the crossover for east bound Route 50 exiting to Whitehall Road and prior to the crossover for west bound Route 50 exiting to Austin Road. 

 

MANAGERS COMMENTS

REQUEST TO AWARD ELECTRIC SERVICE REPAIR AT ELLIOTT’S ISLAND MARINA-PUBLIC WORKS

 

The Council approved the request of Mr. Moore to sole source with Travers Enterprises, Inc. to perform electric service repairs at the Elliott Island Dock, which was damaged during Hurricane Sandy, at the cost of $3,597.30.  The Council acknowledged that Mr. Moore will seek the reimbursement of 75% of that cost through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with the remaining 25% being provided from the dock and marine maintenance line items of the Public Works Budget. 

 

In response to a question from Councilman Travers, Mr. Moore explained that although he has not filed for reimbursement through FEMA for the infrastructure damaged during Hurricane Sandy, it is his understanding, after meeting with FEMA representatives recently, that funding will be available for the electric repair work at the Elliott’s Island Dock and repairs to Linkwood Road, Maple Dam Road and the Galestown Causeway.  He said he will also apply for funding to cover County labor costs during the hurricane as well as debris removal.

 

REGULAR SESSION

PUBLIC HEARING-PROGRESS REPORTS-COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANTS-DELMARVA COMMUNITY SERVICES, SANITARY DISTRICT              

 

E. Thomas Merryweather, County Attorney, explained that pursuant to Community Development Block Grant requirements a public hearing is required to be held on all grants prior to the end of the grant period during which the grantee/sub-recipient must provide a progress report.

 

Cindy Smith, Grant Monitor, explained that Michelle Nichols, Delmarva Community Services Action Center Director, will present the progress reports for three Housing Rehabilitation grants and one Foreclosure Counseling grant which were completed over a three year period.  She said Robert Tieder, Sanitary Commission Chair, will present a progress report for the Madison-Woolford Sewer System project.  

 

Ms. Nichols provided progress reports on the following: 1) a 2006 grant, Grant No. MD-06-CD-31, for housing rehabilitation funds of $255,000 which included $25,000 for project administration funds for Delmarva Community Services, under which13 houses were rehabbed in the following areas: Cambridge; Toddville; Fishing Creek; Hurlock; Secretary; and Rhodesdale; 2) a 2009 grant, Grant No. MD-09-CD37, for housing rehabilitation funds of $250,000 which included $5,000 for inspections and $15,000 in project administrative funds for Delmarva Community Services under which 16 houses were rehabbed in the following areas: Hurlock; Cambridge; Rhodesdale; Vienna; Church Creek; 3) a 2011 grant, Grant No. MD-11-CD-1, for foreclosure housing funds of $60,000 which included $50,000 for Delmarva Community Services and $10,000 for Dorchester County as an administrative fee, under which 37 households were served with foreclosure counseling activities ranging from budgeting classes to mediation with mortgage lenders and referrals to legal services as needed; and 4) a 2011 grant, Grant No. MD-11-CD24, for housing rehabilitation funds of $300,000 which included $25,000 in project administration funds to Delmarva Community Services under which 11 homes were rehabbed in the following locations: Hurlock, Cambridge, Rhodesdale and Vienna. 

 

There was no public comment.  Ms. Nichols thanked the Council for its partnership with Delmarva Community Services.

 

Mr. Tieder presented the progress report for the Madison-Woolford Sewer System project, noting that all of the $700,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds that were received for the construction of the Madison-Woolford-Susquehanna sewer system have been expended.    He explained that a sanitary survey conducted by the Dorchester County Health Department determined that 43% of improved properties in the Madison, Woolford, and Susquehanna area were experiencing problems with failing septic systems.  He noted that the project included the construction of a low pressure sewer system, consisting of individual grinder pumps at each house connected by a main line.  He said the grinder pumps were installed during between April 11, 2011 and the end of August 2011.  He stated that a total of 341 properties were connected; existing septic tanks were abandoned; a new pump station at Woolford was constructed; and that the existing Church Creek pump station was reconstructed.    Mr. Tieder explained that additional funds were obtained through a United States Department of Agriculture Loan ($2,044,000) and Grant ($3,858,721) as well as a Maryland Department of Environment Grant ($3,239,385) for a total project cost of $9,842,106.

 

Mr. Tieder thanked the Council for its support of the project and its good working relationship with the Sanitary District.

 

Councilman Newcomb questioned what percentage of the customers for the new sewer line were satisfied with the project.  Mr. Tieder said to his knowledge only three individuals expressed dissatisfaction and that Sanitary District staff are working with them to resolve any issues they may have.

 

In response to a question from Wendell Foxwell, a Dorchester County resident, Mr. Tieder said there are only six property owners that are eligible to hook up to the new sewer line based on a survey that was conducted pursuant to grant requirements.  Based on additional questions from Mr. Foxwell, Mr. Tieder said each user pays a $500 annual user fee, a $125 quarterly fee and a bond indebtedness of $225 to cover $2 million of the project cost for which grant funds were not received. He further explained that it is a 40 year bond and that residents will not be responsible for the bond indebtedness once it has been paid.

 

TIER MAP DISCUSSION-PLANNING COMMISSION

 

Joy Loeffler, Planning Commission Chair, explained that she was present on behalf of the Commission members to discuss their concerns that the Council agreed not to adopt the Tier Map that was established for Dorchester County pursuant to the requirements set forth Senate Bill 236, the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act (adopted during the 2012 legislative session) at its November 20, 2012 meeting.

 

She said the Commission members have the following concerns: 1) by not adopting a tier map, effective January 1, 2013, major subdivisions cannot be undertaken in approximately 97% of County on property that is served by a septic system; 2) the landowners whose properties are outlined in the County’s adopted 1996 Comprehensive Plan and which were to be designated as Tier 3 will lose their major subdivision rights; 3) effective January 1, 2013 a comprehensive plan amendment will be required in order to adopt a map which includes a State Clearinghouse review and a public hearing process; and 4) that the Maryland General Assembly may attempt to strengthen the requirements in Senate Bill 236 to pursue corrective measures to ensure compliance during the next legislative session if a tier map is not adopted by each jurisdiction.   

 

Steve Dodd, Planning and Zoning Director, echoed his comments from the November 20th hearing on the Tier Map, noting his concern that the Maryland General Assembly may take action to tighten the requirements set forth in Senate Bill 236 for tier maps or give the Maryland Department of Planning the authority to approve these maps.  He explained that currently the Maryland Department of Planning staff only have the opportunity to provide comments on the tier maps that are prepared by local jurisdictions.   He said he is also concerned that the property owners of the 15,000 acres mapped as Tier 3 will lose their right to undertake a major subdivision even though those properties are referenced in the County’s Comprehensive Plan as future growth areas.   

 

Councilman Travers expressed concern that the proposed map places 92% of the property in the County in a Tier IV designation which severely limits the use of those properties.  He said Maryland Department of Planning staff have already expressed their belief, via correspondence to the Council, that more property should be moved from Tier III into Tier IV.  

 

Councilman Travers said he is concerned about certain actions taken by the State representatives, including the creation of non-regulatory commissions, which shift responsibility for complying with certain State mandates to local jurisdictions which in turn usurp local authority and limit property owners’ rights.   He noted that after local officials and residents expressed opposition to the Mid Atlantic Power Pathway project, the application for the project was withdrawn and that, in his opinion, a similar action needs to be taken in order to ensure that property owners’ rights are preserved.

                                                                               

Mr. Dodd stressed that the proposed Tier Map is consistent with the regulations set forth in Senate Bill 236 and that he is not in favor of redrawing map unless those regulations are amended.   

 

Councilman Bradshaw also expressed concern about the State usurping local land use authority, citing his opinion that certain State mandates, including Senate Bill 236, PlanMaryland and Total Maximum Daily Load/Watershed Implementation Plan requirements, have had a disproportionate impact on Dorchester County.  He said he is opposed to regulatory actions that reduce a property owner’s rights.   He commended the Planning and Zoning staff and the Planning Commission members for their hard work in preparing a draft Tier Map but expressed his opposition to adopting the map because it limits property owners’ rights.

 

In response a question from Councilman Travers, Mr. Dodd clarified that if a tier map is not adopted property owners will lose their right to undertake a major subdivision (eight or more lots) on their property if it is served by septic system effective January 1, 2013. 

Councilman Price echoed Councilmen Travers’ and Bradshaw’s concerns about State actions that usurp local land use authority and restrict a property owner’s rights, noting that several constituents have expressed their opinion that the Tier Map should not be adopted particularly in light of the current downward building trend.   

 

In response to a question from Councilman Nichols, Mr. Dodd explained that residents whose properties are served by septic systems will still be able to apply for authorization to undertake a minor subdivision of seven or less lots.

 

Ms. Loeffler noted that the Planning Commission members believe that complying with the requirements set forth in Senate Bill 236 would be beneficial to the County.

 

Councilman Nichols noted his understanding that the Council has until December 28, 2012 to adopt a tier map.   Councilman Newcomb noted that the Council is not scheduled to meet until January 2013.

 

In response to an inquiry from Les Simering, resident, Councilman Newcomb expressed his belief that the State should not usurp local land use authority, citing his understanding that Maryland Department of Planning staff have already expressed opposition to the proposed tier map that will restrict the use of 92% of the property in the County. 

 

Based on a question from Mr. Simering, Councilman Newcomb noted that if a property is located near a municipality a property owner can seek authorization to connect to a municipal sewage system in order to undertake a major subdivision.

 

The Council took no action other than to acknowledge its November 20, 2012 decision to not adopt the proposed Tier Map based on concerns that it will restrict property owners’ rights and that Senate Bill 236 usurps local land use authority. 

 

PROPOSED PROGRAM OPEN SPACE EXPENDITURES

 

Replacement Of Pool Cover-Recreation And Parks

 

The Council approved the request of Scott Eberspacher, Recreation and Parks Director, to waive bids and sole source with Clearwater Pool & Spa Company, Inc. for the purchase and installation of a pool cover at the cost of $31,680 contingent upon approval of the project by the Maryland Board of Public Works under the FY 2013 Program Open Space program.   The Council recognized that Clearwater currently provides supplies and maintenance for the Dorchester County pool.   The Council acknowledged that there are funds in the FY13 Recreation and Parks budget to cover the 10% local match and that the cover will be installed during the winterization process in September 2013. 

 

Purchase of Handrails-Dorchester County Pool

 

The Council approved the request of Mr. Eberspacher to waive bids and sole source with C&K Lord for the construction and installation of four stainless steel handrails at the cost of $6,322, in order to remain complaint with newly updated Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements that there must be two separate ADA entrances into the pool by 2013.   The Council acknowledged that approval has been obtained from the State of Maryland to use unspent Program Open Space funds that were originally designated for the main drain line replacement in 2011.  The Council recognized that the two sets of handrails will be marked as Entrance A and Entrance B. 

 

Fitness Park Contribution/Joint Use Agreement-Cambridge South Dorchester High School

 

The Council approved the request submitted by Mr. Eberspacher on behalf of the Dorchester County Recreation and Parks Board to partner with the Board of Education to construct a fitness park on the Cambridge South Dorchester High School property and to utilize $31,500 from the County’s unobligated Program Open Space funding (currently $357,000) for the $35,000 project.  The Council acknowledged that the Cambridge South Dorchester High School athletic boosters will pay the 10% local share ($3,500).

The Council also agreed to enter into a joint use agreement with the Board of Education, who will be responsible for lifetime maintenance of the park upon completion.  The Council recognized that approval must be obtained from the Maryland Board of Public Works for this expenditure.  

 

Councilman Price noted that he recently spoke to Mr. Eberspacher regarding the possible installation of a fitness park in the northern part of the County.  Mr. Eberspacher confirmed that conversation, noting that future consideration may be given to the placement of a fitness park in that area.   He explained that as of January 2013 correspondence will be sent to the municipalities within the County on an annual basis to inquire as to whether they have any projects that may be Program Open Space eligible which will then be submitted to the Recreation and Parks Board members for their review and consideration.

 

REQUEST TO PURCHASE OUTDOOR SIGNAGE REGARDING VIDEO CAMERAS-INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY/MAINTENANCE

 

The Council approved the request submitted by Becky Dennis, Human Resource Director, to sole source and purchase from the vendor who provided the lowest quote, Stop Signs and More, two “Notice All Activities are Monitored by Video Camera” signs regarding the use of video cameras in the Dorchester County Office Building at the cost of $14.95 each to be paid through the Maintenance Department budget.  The Council recognized that the signs will be placed at the end of the hall doors since they are the two main public entrances.

 

SURPLUS PROPERTY DECLARATION REQUEST/REQUEST TO SELL PROPERTY AND PURCHASE NEW EQUIPMENT-EMS

 

The Council approved the request of Pete Brelia, Emergency Medical Services Manager, to declare five stretchers as surplus property and to waive bids and sell the equipment to Dr. Ever Luizaga at the cost of $700 each for a total of $3,500.  The Council took no action on Mr. Brelia’s request to use the $3,500 to purchase a new stair chair and agreed to discuss the use of those funds during the FY2014 budget process.  

 

MARYLAND HERITAGE AREAS AUTHORITY MULTI HERITAGE MARKETING GRANT APPLICATION-HARRIET TUBMAN 2013 INITATIVE-TOURISM

 

The Council approved the request of Amanda Fenstermaker, Tourism Director, to accept a Maryland Heritage Areas Authority Multi Heritage Marketing Grant application to promote the Harriet Tubman Centennial Commemoration in 2013 for $50,000 with a match of $50,000 from the Dorchester County Tourism’s Marketing budget for a total project cost of $100,000.  The Council acknowledged that the funds will be used to market the event at travel expositions, in tour group publications and to host familiarization tours for writers and group tour operators.

 

BOARD APPOINTMENTS              

 

The Council agreed to reappoint James Spicer to the Agriculture Reconciliation Committee and acknowledged that his term will expire on August 31, 2015.

 

The Council also agreed to reappoint Jimmy Travers, Jr., to the Electrical Examiners Board for a term to expire on March 17, 2015 and to reappoint the following individuals to the Seafood Reconciliation Committee: Roger Morris with a term expiration date of November 8, 2015; Harold Robinson with a term expiration date of October 29, 2015; and Radcliffe Wheatley with a termination date of October 29, 2015.

 

Based on the recommendation of Councilman Nichols, the Council agreed to reappoint Dwight Cromwell to the Council for Senior Citizen Services as the District 2 representative and acknowledged that his term will expire on December 31, 2015.

 

The Council acknowledged that Ronald Jones was recently appointed as the County’s representative on the Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board and therefore the alternate member position he previously held on that Board needs to be filled.  

                               

TELEPHONE POLL CONFIRMATIONS

 

Councilman Newcomb announced that in the interim between meetings Council, by means of a poll, took the following actions: 1) approved FY 2013-2014 Capital Budget Project Request Instructions as recommended by Finance staff and agreed to cancel the December 12, 2012 budget work session by a 4 to 1 vote (1 no answer); and 2) agreed to send correspondence to accept the offer of the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners to participate in a meeting with them and the Caroline County Commissioners during the Maryland Association of Counties Winter Conference regarding 2013 legislative initiatives relating to Chesapeake College with the understanding that any associated conference room charges will be at the expense of Queen Anne’s County Commissioners.

 

The Council also acknowledged its telephone poll decision to approve the request of Tom Moore, Public Works Director, to expend an additional $15,000 to pave a section of Hip Roof Road with the understanding that funds to cover this expenditure will be from the tar and chip account by a 5 to 0 vote.   The Council acknowledged that Mr. Moore has advised that the paving contractor, American Infrastructure, has reviewed the recent paving of Smithville Road and has agreed with his assessment that some of the work was unacceptable and therefore the contractor has offered to either accept a $10,000 reduction in payment for this work or come back in the spring and mill and repave this section.    Council discussed the possible use of the $10,000 credit towards the $15,000 additional paving for Hip Roof Rd and acknowledged that Smithville Rd. was paved under State Aid and Hip Roof was paved using general fund monies and that the movement of the credit would not be so straightforward.  Councilman Newcomb suggested that no action be taken until spring at which time the condition of the Smithville overlay can be reevaluated. The Council recognized that only $5,000 of these funds have been expended and that Mr. Moore will hold back the remaining $10,000 payment due the contractor until this matter is resolved in the Spring of 2013 because repairs to this newly paved section of roadway need to be made.

 

REQUEST TO ADVERTISE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSOCIATE ADVANCED POSITION-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

 

The Council agreed to advertise a vacant Administrative Associate Advanced position in the Economic Development Department pursuant to County policy.

 

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS-WRECKER SERVICE

 

The Council approved Mr. Moore’s request to advertise for proposals for qualified wrecker services to provide emergency towing services on an as needed basis.

 

LEGISLATIVE REQUEST-BOARD OF LICENSE COMMISSIONERS

 

Councilman Nichols noted that the Council, at its December 4th meeting, agreed to submit a request to amend Section 2-208 (b)(3) to add a new paragraph (iv) and to amend (f)(1) to add new paragraph (iii) to establish a micro brewery license which will allow a license holder to open a micro brewery without being required to also sell food, with an effective date of July 1, 2013 upon passage.  He explained that Chris Brohawn, who was one of the individuals who requested this legislation, submitted a request to the Board of License Commissioners to change the effective date to June 1, 2013.  He said the Board of License Commissioners, at its December 17th meeting, agreed to submit a recommendation to the Council to approve his request.    The Council agreed to change the effective date for the micro brewery license legislation from June 1, 2013 to July 1, 2013 and to forward a request to the local delegation to incorporate this change in the proposed legislation.  Councilman Newcomb abstained. 

PUBLIC COMMENTS

Mr. Simering said it is his understanding that the Council has allocated $40,000 in matching funds for the dredging of Hurst Creek and asked the Council to continue to dedicate those funds for that purpose.

 

Mr. Foxwell questioned whether the Council has spoken to State representatives regarding a possible compromise to develop a tier map more conducive to Dorchester County.  Councilman Newcomb noted that Mr. Dodd spoke with Maryland Department of Planning representatives who expressed their belief that the proposed map should be revised by placing more land into the most restrictive tier. 

COUNCIL’S COMMENTS/ADJOURNMENT

Councilman Nichols noted that in the last six years State legislation has been adopted that has adversely and disproportionately affected Dorchester County, particularly since there are more critical areas in the County than in any other local jurisdiction in the State.  He said this legislation includes reductions in seafood harvesting limits, the placement of productive oyster bars into sanctuaries and the establishment of new critical area and septic regulations.   He expressed his concern that the State is usurping local land use authority and placing unfunded mandates and restrictions on counties throughout the State which negatively affect residents and the local economy. 

 

Councilman Newcomb expressed his belief that State legislators should represent Dorchester County and oppose these regulatory actions on behalf of residents.

 

Councilman Travers commended all of those individuals, including County employees, emergency responders, Dorchester General Hospital staff, local volunteer fire fighters and the City of Cambridge Police, who assisted residents during a recent fire on Race Street.  

 

Based on concerns Councilman Price expressed on behalf of residents, the Council requested that Mr. Moore have staff view Mission Hill Road, outside of the Town of Hurlock, to determine if brush and/or trees are obstructing that roadway.

 

Councilman Bradshaw referenced the Chesapeake Bay Nitrogen Reduction Act of 2009, which requires nutrient reduction systems to be installed for all newly constructed homes located in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.   He noted that grant funds are available through the Bay Restoration Fund Program to upgrade onsite sewage disposal systems to install the nutrient reduction technology and to pay the annual maintenance and operation fee for the unit for the first five years.   He explained that the property owner will then be required to pay that fee which is approximately $1,500.  Councilman Bradshaw expressed concern that property owner may not have the funds available to continue that service.   He expressed his understanding that the grant will be based on income, effective January 1, 2013.  He said he spoke to William Forlifer, Environmental Health Officer, regarding his concerns that the State will place additional regulations on the use of the nutrient reduction systems, which act as mini waste water treatment plants which will increase residents’ costs.

 

Councilman Bradshaw noted that there is over 40,000 acres of State owned land in Dorchester County, which are tax exempt and result in the loss of approximately $.5 million in real property taxes.  He expressed concern about actions taken by the State which usurp local land use authority which reduce property values.

 

He announced that TMDL coalition members will be meeting at the Maryland Association of Counties Winter Conference with Special Legal Counsel.  Councilman Bradshaw noted that he and Special Legal Counsel recently met with Resource, Conservation and Development members and discussed low impact ways to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay in lieu of State and Federal mandates.

 

The Council wished the public a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

Based on a motion made by Councilman Newcomb, the Council agreed to send a letter to Governor Martin O’Malley and John R. Griffin, Secretary, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, to encourage continued dredging which the Council and local watermen believe has contributed significantly to the increase in the oyster population.

 

Councilman Newcomb announced that the next Council meeting is scheduled for January 8, 2013.

 

With no further business to discuss, the Council adjourned.

 

 

ATTEST:                                                                               DORCHESTER COUNTY COUNCIL:

 

______________________________          ____________________________________

Jane Baynard, County Manager                      Jay L. Newcomb, President