MAYOR AND COUNCIL
OCTOBER 2, 2017
Mayor Chris Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:40 p.m. In attendance were Council members Liz Gross, Linda C. Kuiper, Samuel T. Shoge 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 September 18, 2017. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the Mayor and Council meeting of September 18, 2017 as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that total operating cash on hand for unrestricted use is $534,468.11. The donations for the Broadreach sculpture have a balance of $11,606.69. The Town was waiting on grant reimbursements in the amount of $38,313.60 for marina work.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Ms. Gross moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.
Ms. Lauren Ochinero, a health navigator for Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties was present to discuss open enrollment through the Maryland Health Connection. She said that she worked for a non-profit called Seedco on behalf of the Maryland Benefit Health Exchange providing the Eastern Shore free assistance with Maryland Health Benefit applications.
Ms. Ochinero stated that the Affordable Care Act was still a reliable and secure option for those looking for health insurance. People on Medicaid or eligible for Medicaid can enroll year-round through the Health Department or Social Services. Anyone enrolled in a qualified health plan through the Affordable Health Care Act had open enrollment dates from November 1, 2017 through December 15, 2017.
Ms. Ochinero stated that she can be reached by phone at 443-515-0084 or by email at email@example.com.
Mr. Ford Schuman was present on behalf of the Chestertown Environmental Committee to discuss recycling. Mr. Schumann owns Infinity Recycling and Chestertown contracts with Infinity for recycling needs. He said that there were 1,367 (58%) of households participating in the voluntary program.
Mr. Schuman stated that Infinity was a dual stream program which required recyclers to keep paper separate from containers in order to avoid contamination. He said that two (2) sorting crews have been hired, one from the Benedictine School and one from the Kent Center.
Mr. Schuman stated that the green bins that were originally used for recycling receptacles have run out. He said that Infinity will be introducing two (2) new color bins to those participating in the program.
Mr. Schuman stated that he would like the Town to make an effort to properly label all downtown recycling receptacles and to place recycling receptacles immediately adjacent to trash cans. He said that the universal color for recycling was blue, suggesting that volunteers may help to paint the existing cans blue. He added that all events should be required to recycle. Mr. Schuman stated that he was trying to recruit new people to recycling in Town with flyers and by speaking with people about the benefits of recycling.
Mr. Stetson stated that he has advocated for once weekly pickup of garbage in the hopes that more people would recycle. Mr. Schuman stated that he did not think cutting trash service in half would make a huge impact on recycling. He said that if Infinity picked up organics once weekly it might allow for the pickup of other household garbage once weekly.
Ms. Gross stated that 2½ years ago, Mr. Schuman reported to the Environmental Committee that the Town recycling program was at 50%. She said that she hoped to see much larger participation in the future.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Town budgeted close to $60,000 per year for the recycling pick-up and asked if the fee would change with an increase in enrollment to the program. Mr. Schuman stated that the fees were based per household at a monthly rate, so an increase in participants would come with an additional cost. He said if recycling became mandatory Infinity would discuss a rate based on the entire Town.
Mr. Ingersoll asked for an update on the election. Ms. Mulligan stated that he deadline for candidate filing and voter registration was Friday, October 6, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. The Board of Supervisors of Elections will review all new petitions for candidacy at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 6th. The Election would be held on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Ms. Mulligan stated that the Board of Supervisors of Elections for Chestertown had already approved three (3) petitions for candidacy. To date, official candidates were Owen Bailey and Bob Miller for First Ward, and Ellsworth Tolliver for the Third Ward.
Mr. Stetson stated that write-in candidates were not permitted. Ms. Mulligan stated that because of that fact there would not be a line for a write-in candidate on the official ballot.
Ms. Tess Hogans was present on behalf of the HP Festival, along with Ms. Kay MacIntosh. Ms. Gross stated that permit applications of this nature needed to be in place at least 30 days in advance as the larger events affect the shifts of the street crew and police department.
Ms. Hogans stated that there were some problems this year with copyright issues and it took a lot of time to work out how they would be allowed to market the festival. All promotions, sponsorship forms and other business forms had to be changed. Key volunteers have also had life-changing events that took precedence this year and apologized for the late notice. Ms. Hogans stated that there will be a tent erected in front of the Garfield on Friday night and High Street from Queen to Lawyer’s Row would be closed off. Saturday closures will be on High Street, Court Street to Spring Avenue and include Memorial Plaza. Cross Street will remain open at all times. All streets will be reopened on Sunday.
Ms. Gross asked how the event will interfere with the Farmers Market. Ms. Hogans stated that she has been speaking with Ms. Gorman and Mr. Owen regarding the market and said that some of the vendors signed up to be part of the Festival and designated areas in the Park. There will be some artisans on Memorial Row and the Farmers will remain on Park Row as usual.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the vendors in the Market were being asked to close their storefront for an event in which they are not invited to participate, noting that the Tea Party incorporates the vendors into their Festival rather than displacing them. Ms. Hogans stated that the vendors who did not choose to sign on to be part of the Festival were being given spaces on Memorial Park.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Cross Street was dangerous and asked that the people running the Festival make sure that the crossing signs were in place on Saturday morning.
Ms. Hogans stated that the point of the Festival was to bring business into Town. She said that the Farmers Market vendors will benefit just as much as the brick and mortar businesses.
Mayor Cerino stated that the HP Festival was great and the committee did a lot with very limited resources. He said that he did not want anyone to think that the Town did not appreciate the work put into this event. He said that he sensed the only pushback from the Council was because of the lateness of the application.
Ms. Gross moved to approve the permit application for the HP Festival as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that in past years the Town has been a “Bronze Level” sponsor for Homeports Health and Wellness Expo, which will be held at the high School this year on Thursday, October 19th from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The sponsorship is $250.00 and Mr. Ingersoll asked if the Council wanted to continue with the donation. Ms. Gross moved to support the Homeports Health and Wellness Expo as a “Bronze Level” sponsor for $250.00 was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Sultana Education Center moved their beautiful Schooner Sultana model that was in the Visitors Center to the new Sultana building. Mr. George Klien, who built a scale model of a train station that was on display at the Visitors Center, has also built model buy boats and fishing boats of local origin. Mr. Klien has generously donated these two models to the Visitors Center for permanent display.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the BroadReach sculpture was delivered to Wilmer Park this afternoon. He said that the sculpture is being welded into place and there would be 20 loads of dirt hauled over the next few days in to build the “waves” around the sail.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that the dedication of the BroadReach sculpture would be held on Saturday, October 14th at 4:00 p.m. at the site.
Mayor Cerino stated that the contractor is back on site at the Marina building the re-engineered boat ramp. He said that the pilings were driven already and the new ramp will be a much needed improvement. Once the ramp is completed, a floating pier will be installed adjacent to the ramp to act as handicapped access to the ramp and farther out will become floating finger piers.
Mayor Cerino stated that he was meeting with Mr. Ingersoll, Mr. de Mooy and representatives from Maryland DNR on Friday to talk about the matching funding already awarded that the Town had to spend. He said that the Town will know more about future plans after that meeting.
Mayor Cerino stated that on Tuesday, September 26th, The Kent County Commissioners invited the Mayor and Councils from all incorporated town to discuss the tax differential, which they are required to do by law at least once a year. Mayor Cerino stated that he met with the Commissioners in late spring to request that the tax rebate be restored. He said that in-town residents are being taxed for duplicate services and the County does not refund any of that money to Chestertown. He said that the County taxes paid by in-town residents are used to underwrite services for people that don’t live in Chestertown. Almost every County in the State of Maryland compensates the Towns directly with a rebate check or gives a tax offset to in-town residents on their County tax bill. Kent County is one of three counties in the State that does neither.
Mayor Cerino stated that he was the spokesperson for all of the incorporated Towns and though no commitments or promises were made, the Commissioners said that they will take the matter into consideration. He said that this issue was acute for Chestertown because Chestertown was the largest Town in the County. Mayor Cerino stated that Ms. Shelly Heller, County Administrator, said that what some counties do is negotiate with individual towns on a case-by-case basis, which he said he thought was fair. Mayor Cerino stated that Chestertown was basically providing services for a quarter of the County’s population on Town taxpayer dollars, saving the County a large amount of money.
Mr. Stetson stated that the Chestertown Police Department answers more calls than the Sheriff’s Office does throughout the year and said that a tax rebate was the right thing for the County Commissioners to do.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to reappoint Don Cantor to the Board of Election Supervisors as Chairman. Mr. Shoge moved to reappoint Don Cantor the Board of Elections as Chair, was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to reappoint Cheryl Hoopes to the Board of Election Supervisors. Mr. Stetson moved to reappoint Cheryl Hoopes to the Board of Election Supervisors, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to reappoint Loretta Lodge to the Board of Election Supervisors. Mr. Shoge moved to reappoint Loretta Lodge to the Board of Election Supervisors, was seconded by Liz Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino asked for ward reports.
Ms. Gross stated that there were three (3) candidates running for First Ward Councilmember and wanted to remind everyone that Friday, October 6th was the deadline to register to vote.
Ms. Kuiper stated that in addition to the HP Festival this weekend, the Historical Society had their 48th Annual Historic House Tour from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Advanced tickets were $25.00 before 11 a.m. on Saturday; after 11:00 a.m. the price goes to $35.00. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Historical Society at 410-778-3499 or at www.kentcountyhistory.org.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Friday, October 6th, was First Friday and Ghost Walks will begin at 6:00 p.m. and cost $12.00. Ghost Walks will be held on Friday and Saturday evenings through the month of October. Reservations were required through the Historical Society.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Kevin Hemstock would be speaking at Kent County’s Historical Society lecture on First Friday, October 6th beginning at 4:00 p.m.
Mr. Shoge asked for clarification on the topic of the cell phone tower from the last meeting. Ms. Gross stated that minutes from the DCA (since the last Mayor and Council meeting) referred to resistance from the Town to allow a cell tower to be built on the Washington College Campus, even though other emails said how helpful Mr. Ingersoll and Mayor Cerino had been to work with. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he read the DCA minutes of the meeting where the tower building company appeared at the DCA meeting and there seemed to be some statements reportedly made by the presenter that were not factual. He said that he had spent a good deal of time communicating with the tower building company (and representatives of the college), giving them free advice, but noted that he always advised people who asked about the requirements of the zoning ordinance that they could apply at any time for zoning decisions. However, no application for the cell tower was ever submitted.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he was sure that the owner of the property where the existing tower is located had changed their earlier stance on granting a long-term lease. He also said that when someone asks him for information he gives it as clearly as possible, but he could not change zoning himself. If a zoning change or variance was required, the application would go either to the Board of Appeals (variance) and or the Planning Commission (zoning change) where it would ultimately to the Mayor and Council. He asked that people understand that the person who spoke to the DCA sells towers and that is how their company makes its money.
He said that hooking into an existing tower in a lease with the underlying property owner should be the quickest answer to the downtown’s cell reception problem since the tower was already legal in the light industrial zone at its height. He said that decisions on zoning are not made based on a popular vote. Mayor Cerino stated that people with a profit margin is at stake people don’t always get the “big picture” when it comes to zoning. Mayor Cerino stated that it was not always appropriate in the long run to change zoning.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Verizon has never been in the same room with the Mayor and Council on the subject of cell reception in Chestertown. The individual who spoke with the DCA has no affiliation with Verizon and makes her living building towers. Verizon would go on the tower built by the company she represents and then pay rent to that company.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he worked with Verizon (dba Crown Castle) years ago in getting the approvals for the existing cell tower off of Scheeler Road. The tower was built on town-owned land that was in the County at the time and the tower had to be moved (easterly) to a part of the property that County had zoned that use. That tower allowed for the co-location of four cell providers and revenues to the Town are approximately $48,000.00 a year for ground rent. It is therefore fairly lucrative.
Mr. Stetson asked for a moment of silence for those involved in the mass shooting in Las Vegas. He said that he felt as though the people who commit these acts are glorified rather than vilified in the news. He said that the person who was responsible should not be glorified or become a household name as an act of this nature should cause only shame.
Mayor Cerino stated that there were no requests from the public to be on the agenda and asked if there were any questions or comments.
Mr. Bob Miller stated that he was a believer in “see something say something” and said that when he was walking around Ward One he noticed that there was high grass (over 8”) at a property for sale on Waldo Drive and East Campus which was a violation of Section 54.1 of the Code of the Town of Chestertown.
Mr. Miller said that there was a car parked for some time on the corner of East Campus and Barroll Drive with Maine license plates which was a violation of Code Section 159-3 Storing and Parking illegal vehicles. He said that it used to be the driveway but was put on the street a couple months ago and has not moved.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that Ms. Deborah Mizeur, co-chair of the Rural Health Care Study would be a speaker at 12:30 p.m. at the Homeports Health & Wellness Expo on October 19th. Ms. Lauren Ochinero stated that she would also be in attendance at the Homeports Health & Wellness Expo providing free assistance to those who have questions about their current health plans.
There being no further business, Ms. Gross moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:55 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor