Mayor and Council Minutes – October 17, 2016

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MAYOR AND COUNCIL

OCTOBER 17, 2016

Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council members Liz Gross, Linda Kuiper, Samuel T. Shoge and Mauritz Stetson, W. S. Ingersoll, Town Manager and guests.

Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of October 3, 2016. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the Mayor and Council minutes of October 3, 2016 as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried unanimously.

Mayor Cerino stated that total operating cash on hand for unrestricted use is $2,058,931.20 and there was assigned funds for waterfront initiatives in the amount of $180,480.00 included in those funds.

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. Audrey Utchen was present on behalf of the Washington College SGA. Ms. Utchen stated that she was acting as the President of the Student Government Association as Mr. Taylor Frey had recently resigned. Ms. Utchen stated that since the beginning of the academic year, 4 members of the SGA Board have resigned and replacements have been made for all positions.

Ms. Utchen stated that she understood that the Council was interested in another service event with the College and said that she was proud to announce that the College would host another Rail-Trail cleanup on Sunday, November 13th from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. She would be reaching out to the public in the hopes of attracting a large amount of attendees. She said that she was trying to get freshman on campus involved in Town and there would be a competition between freshmen during this clean-up.

Ms. Utchen stated that Washington College was partnering with the Chestertown Lions Club for the annual Halloween Parade scheduled for October 29th.

Ms. Gross stated that she was speaking at the monthly Heron Point Town Hall Meeting in the a.m. and said that she would announce the Rail-Trail Clean-up.

Chief Baker stated that he would like to thank the students, the College and the community organizations for addressing the neighborhood concerns regarding parties off-campus.

Chief Baker presented the September 2016 Police Report. Chief Baker stated that there were a couple people who have come in to the Police Department having received phone calls from someone claiming to be relative and needing money because they had been arrested. He said this is a scam and he hoped that people would know not to send money overseas. If anyone had questions they should call the police department at 410-778-1800.

Ms. Gross asked if the Police Department was working at full staff. Chief Baker stated that he had an authorized strength of 14 (including him) sworn law enforcers. There was 1 full-time and 1 part time administrative assistant. There was 1 officer on active duty in the military who should be oversees for a least the next couple months. There is 1 officer on a long-extended sick leave whose ultimate status was unknown. Chief Baker stated that he enacted a light-duty status for short periods which are reevaluated frequently.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that he met with Mr. de Mooy this afternoon and reviewed the rezoning requests. He noted that the first 2 changes recommended by the Planning Commission are what would appear to be the same parcel on the corner of Flatland Road and Cromwell Clark Road. The parcel on Talbot Boulevard would have a portion of R-4 and Light Industrial.

Ms. Gross stated that there were beautiful woods on the Cromwell Clark property and asked if it would be protected wetlands. Mr. Ingersoll stated that it was hard to take a forested area and develop it to any extent due to the afforestation and reforestation laws. He did not know if R-4 would be useful in the wooded area, but would be useful on the farm portion of the property which had open land. He said that another part of the property was a County landfill in the 1940s and 1950s. All land issues will have to be addressed in any development process regardless of underlying zoning.

Mr. Shoge asked who made the requests for the zoning changes. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the property owners of each parcel requested the zoning changes through the Planning Commission process.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would not be in favor of the Talbot Boulevard rezoning request if the Town hadn’t just annexed so much industrial area near major highways. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the annexation that took place earlier in the year was zoned industrial and professional office.

Mr. Shoge moved to approve the following zoning changes:

  • 25255 Cromwell Clark Road (8acres, +/-) Tax Map 37, Parcel 289 – R3 to R4;
  • 329 Flatland Road (9.19 acres +/-) Tax Map 37 Parcel 202 – R3 to R4; and
  • 201 Talbot Boulevard (23 acres +/-) Tax Map 204, Parcel 245 Lot 8 LI1 to LI1 and R4.

 

Mr. Shoge stated that the zoning changes may incentivize development and he noted that character of light industrial had changed, in part due to the development of Radcliffe Creek School. Mayor Cerino added that the construction of the Rail-Trail would also make this particular area more suitable to residential development and the zoning changes were also consistent with the Town’s desires to grow within Town boundaries adjacent to existing infrastructure for water and sewer. The motion was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried with four in favor, Mr. Stetson opposed.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that an easement for the road connecting the new R-4 Residential land to Talbot Boulevard should be granted and conveyed by the present owner while still in his power to do so.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a donation request at the last meeting for the Kent County Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals and asked if the Council had a response to their request for $500.00. Mr. Ingersoll suggested waiving the fee for the pavilion use and loaning the organization $300.00 (to be returned if the event is a success) in the hopes of forging a future partnership with the Young Professionals.

Ms. Gross stated that she was opposed to giving money for a Beer Festival, although she appreciated the mission of the organization and the positive impact on the community. She said she would prefer to sponsor the organization itself and not the event by giving them start-up funds.

Ms. Kuiper asked if the Young Professionals had a charter and paid dues. Mr. Shoge stated that at this time the Young Professionals had By-Laws and did not charge dues, they were officially under the umbrella of the Chamber of Commerce but acting independently and self-financing.

Mr. Shoge stated that in terms of the request itself, the Kent County Economic Development Office came through with a significant sponsorship and there was enough start-up money to have the event. He said that he would like to withdraw the request for funds but would appreciate the Council waiving the fees for the pavilion rental. The Council agreed.

Mr. Shoge stated that the Beer Fest would be held on Saturday, November 5th from noon to 4 p.m.

Mayor Cerino announced that the Chestertown Recreation Commission was hosting the Annual Family Fallfest from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 22nd along Memorial Plaza and submitted a permit request for street closures.

Mayor Cerino stated that the Annual Halloween Parade will be held on Saturday, October 29th at 10 a.m. Lineup for the parade begins at 8:30 a.m. at Dixon Valve.

Mayor Cerino stated that he delivered copies of all the support letters to the lobbyist assisting the Town acquire funds for the Marina. He said that the Chestertown Waterfront Coalition consisting of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Chestertown Association, Greater Chestertown Initiative and Drew McMullen of Sultana Education Foundation worked together to solicit those letters of support. Mayor Cerino stated that there were over 400 letters of support received.

Mayor Cerino read his cover letter into the record as follows:

Dear Governor Hogan:

In 2012, faced with losing the only public access to the Chester River, the Mayor and Council of Chestertown purchased 2 acres of waterfront property that includes the community’s last working marina. The purpose of this acquisition was to:

  1. Restore the marina facility which is an urgent need of redevelopment after decades of deferred maintenance in the private sector;
  2. To preserve water access for residents, pedestrians and transient boaters;
  3. To promote heritage and eco-tourism to Chestertown and Kent County;
  4. To stimulate economic development in downtown Chestertown;
  5. To support over 100 existing jobs tied directly to commercial activity on the waterfront;
  6. To preserve Chestertown’s 310 year history as a Royal Port of entry to the Chesapeake Bay;
  7. To galvanize the revitalization of Chestertown’s National Landmark Historic District.

Since the marina property was purchased the Town has worked tirelessly to bring this project to fruition. In the past 4 years, the Mayor and Council have solicited community input for the design of the property through a series of public charrettes, hired the engineering firm of McCrone, Inc. to create build-to plans for the facility, obtained permits from the Maryland Department of the Environment, secured grants for dredging from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to apply for funds to pay for storm water retention elements on the site. The importance of this project to Chestertown’s history, culture and economy cannot be overstated. When completed, the newly renovated marina will be a landmark destination for boaters from around the region generating $1.7 to $2.2 million dollars in direct spending to the local economy and supporting the creation of 30 plus jobs in Chestertown and Kent County. The facility will also support annual waterfront festivals including Sultana’s Downrigging Weekend, Riverfest and the Chestertown Tea Party Festival that bring hundreds of thousands of tourism dollars to the region each year. Now that we are shovel-ready, the Town of Chestertown requests $1.5 million dollars from the miscellaneous projects category of the Governor’s capital budget to help us complete this initiative. To show that there is broad-based bipartisan support for the project, I have enclosed a binder containing over 400 letters from business owners, elected officials, non-profit organizations, the president of Washington College as well as board and faculty members, residents, visitors and transient boaters. Please note that there is not a single form letter in this entire collection. For a Town of only 5,000 people this outpouring of support is truly remarkable.

To solicit a capital budget allocation for the revitalization of the waterfront, the Town is working closely with an advocacy group of concerned citizens known as the Chestertown Waterfront Coalition. This group, consisting of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Chestertown Association, Greater Chestertown Initiative and the Sultana Education Foundation represents over 350 businesses that employ over 5,000 people in Kent County. The involvement of so many key stakeholders clearly demonstrates how critical this project is for economic development in Chestertown, Kent County and the upper Eastern Shore.

We are aware that there are many funding priorities to consider when formulating the capital budget. That said, this is a worthy project that is vital to the future of Chestertown, one of the crown jewels of the Chesapeake Bay and the best preserved colonial seaport in the mid-Atlantic region. On the inside pocket of this binder, please find a two page summary of this initiative. Also enclosed is a four page summary of excerpts taken from the 400 letters of support highlighting the many reasons why this project is worthy of funding from the State of Maryland.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of our request and please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions.”

Mayor Cerino stated that he could not express how much work went into this letter writing campaign, noting that the index alone was 20 pages long with categories separated by elected officials, local government officials, Washington College, business owners, organizations, residents, students and non-resident visitors. Mayor Cerino stated that he did not know what else to do to show the wide spread support for this project.

Mayor Cerino stated that our lobbyist will get this document to the person who puts the budget together and his deputies. Mayor Cerino stated that his staff at Sultana was putting an additional 6 copies together. Mayor Cerino stated that decisions are made over the winter during the session running from early December through February and if Chestertown gets in, he said he will have to go testify in Annapolis. However, nothing was guaranteed until the budget was finalized.

Mayor Cerino asked for ward reports.

Ms. Gross stated that there were missing street signs and an erroneous sign was removed reading “South Kent Street” on North Kent but it was never replaced. She said that the sign has been ordered and will be replaced. There was a missing sign at the corner of North Kent and Waldo Drive. There was a meaningless “No Trucks” sign at Richard Drive that should be removed.

Ms. Gross stated that the new bridge on Byford Court was a tremendous improvement and thanked Tom Sappington and his crew for the work.

Ms. Gross stated that several incidents addressed in the Police Report were misaddressed and should be revised.

Ms. Kuiper stated that she wanted to thank the Lions Club in advance for the Halloween Parade because it was always such a wonderful event. Ms. Kuiper stated that Downrigging Weekend was the same weekend and said she hoped the weather cooperated.

Ms. Kuiper stated that Heron Point celebrated 25 years this past week with fireworks on Wednesday evening.

Mr. Shoge asked if there was lighting at the Gateway Park. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there are plans to have lighting installed along the sidewalk and road but the park was open dawn to dusk only.

Mr. Stetson stated that the additional parking at Bailey Park was already being used. He thanked the Town Crew for their work.

Mr. Menefee stated that he received some emails about the Black Burro not being in the correct street position and Papa Smurf’s generator being too loud and asked if that has been addressed. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was some small misunderstandings with the vendors and the problems have been addressed. He said that overall, the issue seemed to be that the vendors had to get into Town early enough to reserve their chosen spot.

There being no further business, Ms. Gross moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:30 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.

 Submitted by:                                                 Approved by:

Jennifer Mulligan                                            Chris Cerino

Town Clerk                                                     Mayor

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