MAYOR AND COUNCIL
FEBRUARY 16, 2016
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:38 p.m. In attendance were Council members Liz Gross, Linda 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 February 1, 2016. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the minutes of Febuary1, 2016 as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that operating funds on hand for the Town of Chestertown for unrestricted use was $1,659,625.74 and restricted funds in the amount of $192,740.00 for total funds of $1,852,365.74.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Ms. Gross moved to pay the bills as presented, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Chief Baker presented the police report for January 2016. Chief Baker stated that Mr. Shoge asked him to show how the report would look if calls for service were included in patrol checks and presented that information. There was also a graph showing several years of statistics for the Red Speed camera and Chief Baker stated that the drop in numbers for 2013 was due to the fact that the camera was not operational for a couple months.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Ordinance 01-2016 Energy Conservation Code could be enacted this evening. He said that this ordinance substituted the BOCA Energy Conservation Codes with the International Energy Conservation Code as modified by the State of Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Mr. Shoge moved to enacted Ordinance 01-2016 Energy Conservation Code, was seconded Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that dredging was completed at the main basin of the Marina. The finger piers were removed using dredging funds (100% grant) and bulkheading specifications were being prepared.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he emailed the Council referencing the College’s boat house dredging project near the Leila Hynson Pavilion. He said that the College would like to angle their ramp in order to launch their shells more easily. Mr. Ingersoll stated that as a result of the proximity of the ramp to the extended property line a letter from the Town supporting the project had to be sent with their permit application. The Council agreed that Mayor Cerino could sign a letter approving the College ramp relocation and dredging plan.
Mayor Cerino gave a PowerPoint presentation updating the Council on the funding currently available for the Marina, work that has taken place, and work that he hoped would be performed in 2016.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Marina was purchased by the Town in order to preserve public access to the river, preserve our culture as a port of entry and because it was a large economic development driver. The marina itself was not a large employer, but it drove business to other businesses in Chestertown.
Mayor Cerino stated that no private owner would be able to purchase this marina and invest the funds required to rehabilitate it, while keeping it operational at the same time. He said that if the Town had not stepped in to purchase the land the most viable alternative was to develop this land as condominiums, which would not be good long-term for Chestertown.
Mayor Cerino showed photos of existing conditions at the Marina and noted the Charrettes held by the Town and the conversations with neighboring property owners. To date, permits were obtained, dredging has occurred, and the finger piers were removed.
Mayor Cerino stated the Town’s capital request to the Legislature was not written into the capital budget for the State, noting that he thought there was a late start for the campaign. He said if a third attempt was made to be written into the budget he thought it was important to hire a lobbyist.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town did have some money to be used for the project. He said once dredging permits were granted, the Town received $500,000.00 through Maryland DNR, half of which was already spent for dredging. The Town applied to the Maryland Waterway Improvement Project and received three $200,000.00 grants requiring a one-to-one match. Mayor Cerino stated that the money received from the Armory purchase would be used as a match for the first $200,000.00 grant, giving the Town $400,000.00 to be used this year, possibly for bulkheading, new finger piers and a boat ramp. Mr. Ingersoll was working on specifications for these projects.
Mayor Cerino stated that a grant from the USDA and matching grant from Maryland Heritage Areas Authority totaling $55,000.00 was received for architectural work for the interpretive center.
Mayor Cerino stated that the best shot for funding now was from USDA as they had funds for economic development in rural areas and, more specifically, a fund for stormwater management improvements. Mayor Cerino stated that all landside improvements at the Marina could be written into a grant as stormwater improvements, including raising the bulkheads. He said this would be a $1.5 million dollar part grant/part loan (low or no interest), some of which could be used to match State grants.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Maryland Heritage Authority had grants that may help for the build out of the interpretive center. Sustainable Communities grant funding will also be sought through the Department of Housing and Community Development.
Mayor Cerino stated that he was hoping the Marina basin would be a harbinger of what was possible at the site by Spring.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town needed agreements with the Fish Whistle in order for both parties to deal with flooding and the raising of the land on the site. Mayor Cerino showed the property lines for both the Town and the Fish Whistle restaurant.
Mayor Cerino stated that the possible solutions to remedy the flooding were as follows:
- Do not work with the Fish Whistle and replace the bulkheads at their current height with a raised boardwalk around the Fish Whistle property. Flooding issues would continue;
- Raise the bulkheads around the Fish Whistle, creating a 12’ raised walkway around the perimeter and engineer stormwater exit drains in the event of a large storm;
- Find a solution that benefits both the Town of Chestertown and the Fish Whistle property owners.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town was asking the Fish Whistle to partner in an effort to addressed flooding. He said that in return for working with the Town there were some concessions that the Fish Whistle was interested in acquiring from the Town. He said that the Fish Whistle was mainly interested in receiving an easement from the Town that would allow the restaurant to expand their outdoor seating. Mayor Cerino stated that the easement would be between 6’ and 8’ towards the dock and adding a deck (approximately 12’) on the downriver side. Mayor Cerino stated that these areas had never been attractive and were mainly gravel spaces or alleys. Photos were shown of the area.
Mayor Cerino stated that if there was a public-private partnership created it would allow the Town to go “big” with funding requests to USDA for grants for landside improvements, and would address the flooding issues in a comprehensive way.
Mayor Cerino stated that improvements to the only waterfront restaurant in Chestertown and the marina would be a win for the entire town as boaters would spend their money in Chestertown at all businesses.
Mr. Matt Weir was present and stated that if the Fish Whistle did not fill their land to the same grade as the Town their land would become trapped in a pond, which would interfere with the business and would not be aesthetically pleasing.
Mr. Weir stated that his portion of raising the grade would cost approximately $100,000.00. In return, he would like approval for an easement so he could expand the Fish Whistle decks.
Mr. Weir stated that currently there is no place in Town to get steamed crab and visitors are going to other towns and spending their money elsewhere when they get there. He said that he would like to have a covered deck in order to be able to use it for three seasons out of the year. Mr. Weir stated that Chestertown took a gamble on the Marina and he would like to do the same for the future of the Fish Whistle meanwhile driving economic activity to ensure the success of the marina and the entire Chestertown economy.
Mr. Max Ruehrmund, architect, reviewed plans for the deck addition on the south, east, and northeast corner of the Fish Whistle. He said that the deck area on the south side would extend 12’ (4’ more than currently exists) from the existing building and would be covered with a flat roof. The roof would wrap around the east side of the new deck area. The northeast corner of the building would include an uncovered portion of the deck for use as a crab deck and would include an outdoor bar area that would be covered. The mechanicals for the building would be located on the roof of the north east side of the building. Screening walls would be erected on the north side to block the loading area. Mr. Ruehrmund stated that the propane tanks would be relocated to the northwest corner of the property and buried. The existing grease traps would be raised.
Mr. Ruehrmund showed diagrams of the decks and how they would appear on the building showing the retaining walls at proposed raised grade. Mr. Ruehrmund stated that at one corner, the deck would extend 9’6” over the property line and at another 1’7”. The south side deck would extend 8’ across the property line at one end and 9’9” at the other.
Mayor Cerino stated that these drawings were what ultimately would be proposed to the Planning Commission. He said that the question for the Council this evening was whether or not they would grant the easements required to move forward with the plan.
Mr. Jeff Carroll was present and stated that May 2016 will be his 8th anniversary in Chestertown at the Fish Whistle and said that they were open for business 363 days a year. The business he loses due to flooding at high tide is anywhere from $50,000.00 to $60,000.00 per year in gross sales. Mr. Carroll stated that he thought repairing the bulkhead and raising the grade would not only help his bottom line, but Chestertown’s as a whole.
Mr. J.R. Alfree, owner of the Lemon Leaf Café and J.R.’s Pub, stated that he agreed that all the businesses had to work together for the betterment of the community so they can grow as a destination where all of the businesses are patronized. He said that he supported the project.
Mr. Marty Hale asked about parking on site. Mr. Ingersoll stated that part of the agreement would likely be to continue to share parking with the Marina and the Planning Commission would review parking as it exists now versus that anticipated for the future.
Ms. Gross asked if what has been presented this evening are the exact renderings that will be presented to the Planning Commission. Mr. Ruehrmund stated that the numbers and plans presented are accurate and would be used for submittal.
Ms. Kuiper moved to approve conceptual approval for the easements allowing the applicants to proceed to the Planning Commission for the Fish Whistle deck improvements as presented, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to appoint Mr. Ted Gallo the Historic District Commission. Mr. Stetson moved to appoint Mr. Ted Gallo to the Historic District Commission, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Chester Gras was a nice event and the food and music was outstanding. She said that People’s Bank should be commended for their efforts in the community.
Ms. Kuiper stated that a company has been selected as a vendor in Kent County that would allow 99.99% of homes in Kent County to have high-speed internet connection. Ms. Kuiper stated that this could bring new businesses to the community as internet access was vital. A public meeting would be held by the Kent County Commissioners on Thursday, February 18th at 10:00 a.m. where the owners of the company would be present to discuss the project. The meeting would be held in the Commissioners Hearing Room at 400 High Street.
Mr. Shoge asked if there was a timetable on the SHA Task Force Report. Mayor Cerino stated that a Town letter of support was submitted to SHA with an emphasis that sidewalks were needed on Flatland Road.
Mr. Shoge stated that he attended the Kent County Commissioner’s meeting this evening and said that he did not think that there was anything else available that would come close to the internet speed this company was offering. He said that this would be great for any future businesses in the area.
Mr. Stetson stated that the entire Council went before the County Commissioners at their last meeting to discuss reimbursement of the Hotel Tax. He said that he hoped the Commissioners would rule favorably on the request.
Mr. Stetson stated that the committee formed to try to save Hospital was asking for donations. Donations could be made through www.chesapeakecharities.org under “Save Our Hospital”. Ms. MacIntosh stated that buses were being hired to take interested people to Annapolis on Wednesday, February 24th for the 1:00 p.m. hearing scheduled to take place.
Ms. Gross stated that the group leading the charge to save the Hospital should be commended. She said that individuals interested in helping could fill out a pre-stamped, addressed post card to the Governor and return it to a member of the Hospital group. A petition was also being circulated around Town.
Ms. Gross stated that she attended the African American History Month Luncheon, sponsored by Janes Church and Mr. Shoge was the keynote speaker. She said that his speech was well-received and it was inspiring to all in the room.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Ms. Lani Seikely received the Kenny Award and there was a nice reception for her afterwards.
There being no further business, Mr. Stetson moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:50 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor