Mayor and Council Meeting Minutes – November 19, 2018

MAYOR AND COUNCIL

NOVEMBER 19, 2018

Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:31 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers David Foster, Linda C. Kuiper, Rev. Ellsworth Tolliver and Mauritz Stetson, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.

Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Mayor and Council Meeting of November 5, 2018. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the minutes as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.

Mayor Cerino stated that total operating cash on hand for unrestricted use is $1,311,837.57. Restricted funds for the Marina project totaled $254,553.53.

Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Mr. Foster moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.

Ms. Jamie Williams gave a presentation updating the Council on the Kent County Economic Development Department. She said that she has a new full-time employee and a Washington College intern on a part-time basis. Ms. Williams stated that she was planning on giving a provide updates on her work to the County incorporated Towns at 6-month intervals.

Ms. Williams stated that the Eastern Shore Delegation visited in early October and they visited the Chestertown Marina, Dixon Distribution Center, Eastern Neck Island, Molly’s, toured through the County by van and ended with lunch in Rock Hall.

Ms. Williams stated that her office now has a Business to Business initiative, listing all businesses in the area at www.kentcounty.com/business. There were other website improvements making information more readily available, such as tax charts and tax incentives available in Kent County. A realtors meeting was held to update agents on all the new and exciting things happening in Kent County.

Ms. Williams stated that free Wi-Fi in the form of “hotspots” is available throughout the County at www.kenthotspots.com. There were 13 hot spot areas and it was hoped that the free public Wi-Fi for students leveled the playing field for those who cannot afford internet service at home. Ms. Williams stated that “Welcome Students” signs are being posted in businesses that allow students use of their Wi-Fi.

Ms. Williams stated that she was working on two (2) videos with Andover Media of Galena for website and social media in the hopes of bringing people to Kent County. They will begin running in January 2019. A video was produced at the Kent County Learning Center in Rock Hall and it is on the Facebook page for Kent County Economic Development.

Ms. Williams stated that new and expanded businesses in Kent County were: Dixon’s existing warehouse on Talbot Boulevard; KRM Development Corporation’s Headquarter Building; a proposed100,000 sq. ft. manufacturing building by Dixon Valve in the new business park; LaMotte Chemical addition of 8,700 sq. ft.; Creafill Fiber is building additions to three (3) of their existing buildings; Gillespie’s 6,000 sq. ft. building on Morgnec Road and a 16,000 sq. ft. expansion building; Shore Distributers 4,300 sq. ft. addition; WCTR added additional frequency to reach more listeners and those that advertise with them to reach more customers; and Bad Alfred’s Distillery’s addition of a micro-brewery and event space. Ms. Williams stated that these expansions are using local contractors and professional services.

Ms. Williams stated that businesses that have closed are Pizza Hut and Olympia Sports. New businesses in Kent County or businesses scheduled to open are Limited Time Offering (which will close in January for a complete renovation), Zelda’s Luncheonette and Ice Cream Parlor in the former Stams Drug Store, Eastern Shore Food Lab, Kitty Knight House, Sarah’s Garden, The Pearl on Main, Wheelhouse Restaurant, Confidence Beauty Lounge, Elbe Massage, Madison Burlen Photography, and El Jefe.

Ms. Williams stated that the Economic Commission meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at 3:00 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

Ms. Kuiper asked why the tower was removed at the courthouse. Ms. Williams stated that she heard the decision was made to remove the tower because it was deemed unsafe.

Mayor Cerino stated that Kent County made a multi-million-dollar investment in a fiber optic network promoted as an economic engine. He asked when returns were expected on that investment. Ms. Williams stated that no businesses have come to Kent County for that specific reason, but she did have a meeting scheduled with the State of Maryland in early December about companies looking to put data centers in Maryland. She said that KRM is trying to recruit companies to Kent County as well.

Mayor Cerino stated that each year he requested that the County Commissioners reinstate either a tax rebate or a tax differential, whereby the citizens of Chestertown pay a lower tax to the County because services are duplicated in Chestertown. He said that he would strongly argue that it was an economic development issue, as Chestertown was a significant hub for the County. If the tax rate was lowered for the Town it would further incentive companies to set up shop. He said that Chestertown is in a tough spot with flat revenues and rising costs. Mr. Foster stated that most development takes place in Chestertown. Ms. Williams stated that she hears what the Council is saying but she is not the person to make this type of decision and she was focused on the things over which she had control.

Mayor Cerino called forward Main Street for their report. Mr. Paul Heckles, president of Main Street Chestertown was present along with Ms. Kay MacIntosh, Main Street manager.

Mr. Heckles stated that Main Street was restarted by the Mayor and Council in 2016. He said that this was a national program through the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980 to preserve historic buildings and restore economic vitality in downtown areas. There were 1,600 programs across the country, 28 of which are in Maryland. The program was based on promotion, economic vitality, design, and organization. Mr. Heckles stated that Chestertown was one of 13 Main Streets surrounding the Chesapeake Bay and said that Chestertown used those models for Chestertown.

Mr. Heckles stated that the first workshop to organize the Main Street Group was in December 2016 with a speaker from the national program focusing on authenticity of the community, partnerships, complimenting other towns, engaging with the community, leverage potential, and walkability.

Mr. Heckles stated that Main Street was a 501(C3) non-profit. The staff was Ms. Kay MacIntosh, Manager of Main Street and a part-time employee that they are looking to hire. Volunteers are vital to the success of the program. He said that most of the projects they work on were funded by grants. Other sources of funding are from private donations, fundraising events, and a partnership with the Town of Chestertown. Mr. Heckles stated that Main Street had a limited focus on the downtown area by design of the program.

Mr. Heckles stated that their logo is “Eastern Shore Life at its best”. Main Street’s vision reads, “Historic Downtown Chestertown is a welcoming, vibrant community where people of all ages are drawn to live, work, shop, and enjoy recreational and cultural activities in a beautiful setting”. The mission for Main Street is to foster an inviting, diverse and prosperous downtown. He said that Main Street works to enhance the Chestertown experience in every way possible.

Mr. Heckles stated that goals of Main Street are to have a variety of businesses, educational arenas, cultural arenas, entertainment and recreational activities, streetscapes and waterfront, and residents in the downtown area.

Ms. MacIntosh stated that there were certain requirements of the programs, such as attending the Maryland Municipal League Convention and the National Conference each year. Ms. MacIntosh stated that the Town paid for the coursework and registration fees of the National Conference, but she and the board members paid their own airfare, lodging and food costs for the conferences.

Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street received $53,000.00 in grant funding in 2016 and began the Façade Improvement Program with $40,000.00 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and $10,000.00 for strategic planning. A small grant was received from Keep Maryland Beautiful in the amount of $3,385.00 for high quality planters and plantings which volunteers have been tending. She said that the plantings helped with a dead-spot left by PNC Bank when they closed. Façade improvements grants were given to Taylor Loughry Construction on Spring Avenue, Jeff Maguire’s building on South Cross Street, and Bad Alfred’s on High Street.

Ms. MacIntosh stated that this year Main Street was rewarded a grant for $100,000.00 to create a wayfinding system for Chestertown. Façade improvement grants were awarded at $50,000.00. Ms. MacIntosh stated that she received a $15,000.00 grant for a part-time assistant. She said that community tax credits were awarded to allow for high-powered fundraising.

Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street created a map with a calendar of events and social media sites, such as Chestertown Life on Facebook. Main Street was also working to improve the Main Street Chestertown website. She said that she worked with Washington College to allow the sale of swag in the downtown shops. Dickens of a Christmas was a well-attended festival in the winter as was Cars on High which runs from April through October on the third Thursday of each month. Planters were added along the downtown and art was incorporated into the Tea Party Festival with the creation of tea bags hung around town. Trash barrels that were donated from Dixon and LaMotte which were painted to add a fun element to festivals. Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street’s newest effort was the fountain turned into the “Hebe Tree” for the holidays.

Ms. MacIntosh stated that Dickens of a Christmas was the weekend of December and she and her volunteers were working diligently to be ready. She said that the entertainment scheduled is fabulous and she hopes that the festival is the best yet. There were some ticketed events, but most of the festival was free and open to the public.

Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street was involved in discussions for a boutique hotel. Mr. Garrett Glover, who is with the small business center with the State of Maryland worked one-on-one with nine (9) proprietors to provide initial assessments and discussion of sustainability for small business. He will return to continue that work once funding is received.

Ms. MacIntosh stated that Main Street was looking toward the future with discussions about performance venues, additional restaurants, a walking path for the waterfront, additional activities to take place by the water, public art at gateways into Town, burying wires and adding new decorative lamps downtown.

Mayor Cerino stated that he asked Main Street to appear before the Council since the Town has been paying into it for three (3) years and said that it great to see the return on investment. He said that this was money coming directly to Chestertown and the tangible results are visible in Town.

Chief Baker gave the police report for the month of October 2018. Chief Baker stated that during the month there were eight (8) separate instances of burglary and reminded residents to lock their houses and cars. Chief Baker stated that in all eight (8) instances, the houses and cars were unlocked.

Mr. Stetson asked if the speed camera was down in October as the Redspeed tickets seemed low. Chief Baker stated that there was a new housing installed for the Redspeed camera and the transfer from the box to the pole resulted in downtime for the camera.

Chief Baker called forward a new hire, Officer Stacy Shockley. Officer Shockley is a native of Kent County, graduate of Kent County High School and Salisbury University. Ms. Shockley was employed by Salisbury University’s police department and recently moved back to Kent County. Mayor Cerino swore Officer Shockley into her position as a police officer for Chestertown.

Chief Baker stated that there was still an opening in the police department and there may be another in a couple weeks. He said that hoped to have at least one new officer before the end of the year.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that at the last meeting he introduced an Ordinance declaring certain real property surplus and asked if the Council would like to pass the Ordinance. Ms. Kuiper moved to approve Ordinance 05-2018 Declaring Certain Real Property in Chestertown to be Surplus and Authorizing the Sale Thereof, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a public hearing immediately before the regular Council meeting for zoning ordinance text changes where LI-1 incorporated some uses from C-3 to create a mixed-use zone and RB zoning (outside of the Historic District) was allowed larger signage. He said that the mixed-use zoning was approved during the annexation process, noting that the zoning was similar to Kent County’s “Cross Roads Commercial” which was how the annexed land was zoned before annexation. He said that this Ordinance was introduced at the last meeting and could be adopted tonight. Ms. Kuiper moved to adopt Ordinance 06-2018 Amendment to Chapter 170 Zoning: Text Amendments to Sec. 170-46 and Sec. 170-87 of the Chestertown Zoning Ordinance, was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that USDA provided the Town with financing in the amount of $598,000.00, and a grant of $700,000.00 for the marina project. The $598,000.00 loan is scheduled to close on April 16, 2019 at 1.375% interest for 40 years.  He said that this agreement was entered into two (2) years ago and there was an Ordinance approved at that time, but there are resolutions to finalize the signing of the closing documents.  He asked for the Council to pass 03-2018/USDA Loan Resolution.  Mr. Foster moved to approve 03-2018/USDA Loan Resolution authorizing and providing for the incurrence of indebtedness for the purpose of providing a portion of the cost of acquiring, constructing, enlarging, improving, and/or extending its stormwater facility to serve an area lawfully within its jurisdiction, was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried unanimously.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was no prepayment penalty on the USDA Loan.

Mayor Cerino stated that he would like to see the Farmers Market Regulations addressed at the December 3rd meeting as the farmers had provided their feedback. Ms. Kuiper stated that was working on a revised draft.

Mayor Cerino asked for ward reports.

Mr. Foster stated that all was well in the First Ward.

Ms. Kuiper stated that she attended the electric car charger ribbon-cutting at East Coast Storage last week, noting that East Coast Storage gave all in attendance a tour of their facility afterward.

Ms. Kuiper stated that the movie theater did not have a marquee displaying the movies that are currently playing. She asked if the sign ordinance did not allow for a marquee. She said that there were electric boards that showed coming attractions which she thought were in violation the sign ordinance and suggested that someone contact the theater. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the movie theater was permitted a marquee by an act of the Town Council, but they did not file a permit for one. Ms. Kuiper stated that it was brought to her attention through a letter to the editor in the Kent County News. Mayor Cerino stated that the shopping center also needed to trim some trees in that area as overgrowth may be a reason people aren’t noticing the theater.

Ms. Kuiper stated that she and Ms. Mulligan took all suggestions received from the farmers and incorporated them into a new draft. She said that the word “nonprofit” was changed to “community organizations”. The word “non-commercial” was removed. She said that farmers complained about having to shovel if it snowed, so an addition that there will be no market held on any Saturday during a snowstorm due to the insurance liability issues on the part of the Town of Chestertown. Mr. Ingersoll stated that an active snow storm is not the time to set up a Farmers Market. Ms. Kuiper stated that vendors from Kent, Queen Anne, and Cecil Counties were permitted. There were issues with cars parking in vendor spaces which was addressed through fines.

Ms. Kuiper asked if the Council would like to see farmers market vendors on High Street. She said that the Garden Club would like to begin work on the interior of the Fountain Park where there is no grass. Mayor Cerino stated that he thought the farmers on the interior of the park would like to go to High Street because they complained that they had to move their wares and they did not have parking, but the comments from the farmers said differently. Mr. Foster stated that he did not hear any objections about High Street being an option for farmers.

Mr. Stetson asked how many farmers were on a waiting list. Ms. Kuiper stated that there were four (4) farmers who want to gain access to the market. Mr. Stetson stated that new vendors could set up on High Street if the existing vendors did not wish to move there first.

Ms. Kuiper stated that the Lapp Family was moving to Pennsylvania and Mr. Lapp asked if he could still be part of the Market. The Council agreed to grandfather the Lapp Family into the Market.

Rev. Tolliver stated that he was busy talking to businesses in his ward about the possibility of developing a Third Ward Business Council. He said that Confidence Beauty Salon on High Street had their grand opening this past weekend.

Mr. Stetson stated that he wanted to give kudos to the Kent County Library, specifically Ms. Jackie Adams for her work. He said that Ms. Adams is an asset to the library and does a fantastic job.

Mayor Cerino stated that Santa was coming to Town on Friday, November 23rd. Activities begin at 6 p.m. and Santa arrives at 7 p.m. The Christmas Parade will be held on Saturday, November 24th at 10 a.m.

There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Mr. Foster moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:10 p.m., was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.

 Submitted by:                                                             Approved by:

Jennifer Mulligan                                                 Chris Cerino

Town Clerk                                                            Mayor

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