Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:42 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 December 15, 2014 or the Special Meeting and Executive Session December 10, 2014. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the Mayor and Council meeting minutes of December 1, 2014, and Special Meeting and Executive Session of December 10, 2014 as presented, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino called the executive session to order at 9:27 p.m., November 17, 2014 in accordance with§3-305(b)(7) of the Open Meetings Act. The purpose of the meeting was to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice on a legal matter. In attendance at the meeting were Council members Liz Gross, Linda C. Kuiper, Samuel T. Shoge and Mauritz Stetson, W.S. Ingersoll, Town Manager, R. Stewart Barroll, Esquire and Jennifer Mulligan, Town Clerk. Two motions were made and passed. The first motion was to sign a Deed and Boundary Line Agreement with Stepne, LLC that would settle boundary and lot line issues. The second motion was to sign a Deed of Exchange for several feet of property located behind 321 High Street. The motions both passed unanimously. Other legal issues addressed at the meeting were 1) possible land acquisition; 2) threatened litigation on a Town-owned property, and; 3) possible memorandum of agreement to solve a legal issue. The meeting adjourned at 9:40 p.m. Minutes were taken and are part of the record.
Mayor Cerino called the executive session to order at 6:05 p.m., December 10, 2014 in accordance with§3-305(b)(1) of the Open Meetings Act. The purpose of the meeting was to interview three (3) finalists for the position of Director of Finance. In attendance at the meeting were Council members Liz Gross, Linda C. Kuiper and Mauritz Stetson, W.S. Ingersoll, Town Manager, Patricia Diver, Director of Finance and Jennifer Mulligan, Town Clerk. No motions were made or passed. The Council directed the Town Manager to offer the position of Director of Finance to one of the three (3) finalists and report the results back to the Council. The meeting adjourned at 7:40 p.m. Minutes were taken and are part of the record
Mayor Cerino stated that cash on hand and in the banks was $1,930,757.43. There were restricted funds in the amount of $196,740.00 for a total of $2,127,497.43.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Mr. Stetson moved to pay the bills as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Chief Baker presented the police report for November 2014. He expressed his thanks to the Mayor and Council securing the future police location at 601 High Street.
Mr. Shoge stated that Soap with Hope was on the agenda, but they were actually coming before the Council at the first meeting in February 2015.
Mr. David Bowman of People’s Bank was present to discuss Chester Gras which was planned for February 7th in Downtown Chestertown. He said that the event would be similar to last year with a party to follow at the Garfield Theatre. He said that he would like permission to close a portion of High Street for a tent and during the parade. The Council agreed to the request.
Mayor Cerino stated that People’s Bank, the Garfield Center and Washington College were tying their Mardi Gras themed events into the same weekend this coming year.
Mr. Bowman stated that he also filled out a request form for a donation from the Town for the event. Mayor Cerino stated that there was a procedure in place for donation requests so any donation could not be approved until the next Mayor and Council meeting on January 5, 2015.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she appreciated People’s Bank to the community. She said that the bank had donated $1,500.00 for band uniforms to Kent County Middle School over Winterfest Weekend when the band played at the bank.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a Resolution to adopt the Hazard Mitigation Plan at this meeting. Mayor Cerino read Resolution 04-2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan into the record. The Council agreed to and signed the Resolution.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a meeting with DHCD (Department of Housing and Community Development) on December 11th to discuss the Marina. He said that the meeting went well and some members of the community attended as well. He said that the agencies in attendance had given Chestertown grants in the past and expressed some ideas for future funding of the Marina project.
Mayor Cerino read a press release into the record regarding the purchase of 601 High Street for the future use of a Police Department location.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a bid opening for the NEA Our Town playscape. He said that twelve (12) bids were received and there was a jury that would decide the design entries and then the Mayor and Council would ratify the decision. The submittals would be available for the public to view for a month on the second floor at Town Hall.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Ms. Patricia Diver was retiring from her position as Director of Finance in January 2015 after seventeen (17) years of service. There were three (3) finalists interviewed for the position. The Council selected a finalist to be offered the job and Mr. Ingersoll said he was waiting on a commitment.
Mayor Cerino stated that the weather was uncooperative with Winterfest Weekend held from December 5th through December 7th. He said that First Friday was a wonderful night, but the rain kept people away on Saturday. This event had potential and he hoped to have it again next year with another person in charge and thought it would be fitting for the economic development position that would be created. There would be a wrap up-session with all agencies involved in Winterfest Weekend in the near future.
Mayor Cerino reminded each Council member to judge their wards for holiday decorations and have their winners turned in to Ms. Mulligan by December 29th.
Mayor Cerino stated that he would like to reappoint Ms. Anne Vansant to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a 3-year term. Mr. Stetson moved to reappoint Ms. Vansant to the Zoning Board of Appeals, was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried unanimously.
Mr. Shoge stated that he had a meeting with Ms. Sullivan of Moo Productions and the website was almost ready to launch. He said that he anticipated going live mid-January with a launch party on the First Friday in February 2015.
Mr. Shoge stated that after the website was launched he would like to put together a marketing committee to come up with branding for Chestertown. He said that directional signage should also be incorporated into that discussion.
Mayor Cerino stated that directional signage was important and he would like to have unified look in Town, adding that he would like to push the Council on action regarding the I-Sign. Mayor Cerino stated that the sign had to be fixed, moved, or disassembled altogether.
Ms. Kuiper asked if the leaf truck was in working order. Mr. Ingersoll stated that it was and the Town Crew was doing their best to keep up with the leaves with men working weekend overtime.
Ms. Kuiper wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Ms. Gross seconded wishes for the holidays and noted that the Chester River Chorale would be hosting the annual Messiah Sing-in at the Garfield Theatre on Thursday, December 18th at 8:00 p.m. with all donations going directly to the Chestertown Food Pantry.
Mayor Cerino stated that Mr. Bowering of Washington Avenue had asked to be placed on the agenda. Mr. Bowering stated that he and some other residents of Washington Avenue met with Mr. Jeffery Wentz and Mr. Larry Gredlein of the State Highway Administration to discuss traffic issues on Washington Avenue. As a result of the meeting, there was a 24/7 two (2) to three (3) week traffic study performed. He said that SHA questioned the data results of the first study and performed the study a second time. He was waiting for a report to be available in the New Year, adding that the study should show the weight of the vehicles and speed those vehicles were travelling on a daily basis.
Mr. Bowering stated that he was told by SHA that there was a streetscape program used in other Towns and thought Washington Avenue might be a good fit. He said that the streetscape program has proven effective in controlling speed limits as it emphasizes the residential nature of the streets. He asked if the Mayor and Council would submit a letter to Mr. Greg Holsey, District Engineer of SHA, to request Washington Avenue (from Greenwood to Spring Street) be included in a streetscape program.
Mayor Cerino stated that he would like to see the results of the study when they are available. He said that he was not convinced there was a speeding issue, although he agreed that there was a volume issue. Ms. Kuiper stated that there should also be a left turn light onto Campus Avenue, noting that school busses headed to the Middle School have traffic at a standstill most mornings.
Mr. Shoge stated that the traffic study may be beneficial when it comes to the bridge closing scheduled for 2015 for maintenance and to justify the argument of the need for a by-pass.
Mr. Bowering stated that the tractor-trailer trucks are travelling Rt. 213 mainly to avoid the weigh stations on Rt. 301.
Mr. Bowering stated that the SHA told him that the there was an agreement between the Town and the State that the State would not police Washington Avenue. Mr. Ingersoll stated that no such agreement existed and the revenues for any ticket written on a State road go to the State of Maryland. He said that the State has often been invited to help local police on Rt. 213 many times.
Mr. Bowering related that the SHA told him it was possible to ask the State Legislature to grant an exemption of the school zone speed camera laws to accept the College as meeting the primary and secondary school requirements. In their opinion, this would allow speed cameras on Washington Avenue.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Maryland law reads that any street within a half mile of a school can be made into a speed zone. He said that Washington Avenue was covered by two (2) schools but the SHA told the Town that they were prohibited from installing a speed camera on Rt. 213 without a school being on the actual road. He said that nothing can be installed on Rt. 213 without the State’s concurrence. Centreville has utilized speed cameras all over their Town without one-half mile of schools.
Ms. Gross stated that she thought the Council could draft a letter for the streetscape program along Washington Avenue, noting that the streetscape should go all the way to the Chester River Bridge. The Council agreed for a letter to be drafted in support of a streetscape examination on behalf of the State Highway Administration.
Mr. Joe Holt asked what would happen to the daycare center located at 601 High Street with the police department moving into the building. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he and the Chief were meeting with all of the current tenants on the next day to discuss the terms of their lease.
Mr. Holt asked how the Town financed the purchase and if there is a budget for retrofit and operating expenses. Mayor Cerino stated that the need for a police station has been known to the community for quite some time. He said that the Town could not have arranged a better deal for this property, even if they owned the land before construction. Mr. Stetson stated that the Town was also considering the sale of the current police building which would offset the cost of the building. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the proceeds from the rental of the two agencies renting space would exceed any debt service that the Town would take on in the future and there was already a great deal of equity in the building.
Mr. Shoge asked how the letter from President Griswald of Washington College regarding the Comprehensive Plan would be handled. Mayor Cerino stated that the Planning Commission would address the requests and comments and make changes where they see fit to the Comprehensive Plan and forward it to the Mayor and Council for approval.
There being no further business, Mr. Shoge moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:10 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor