MAYOR AND COUNCIL
MARCH 2, 2015
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:34 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 17, 2015. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the Mayor and Council meeting minutes of February 17, 2015 as presented, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Mr. Stetson moved to pay the bills with the understanding that the fee for the Marina renderings be taken from the Washington College Donation, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried with four (4) in favor, Ms. Kuiper opposed.
Mayor Cerino stated that Four Winds (a potential provider of software) was going to present a virtual PowerPoint display and introduced Mr. Robert Pearson in Colorado. Mr. Pearson and his colleagues explained how their company could provide solutions to the problems that were occurring with the I-Sign (hard copy of PowerPoint presentation attached).
Mr. Pearson stated that the cost of the software would be $3,200.00 and there would be a $1,300.00 annual fee which covers 24/7 support as well as updates to the software. He stated that the first year would include the one-time fee, plus 18% for annual maintenance if the Town hosted the site. If Four Winds was hosting the site, there would be an annual fee. He said that the first year’s fees included the license and annual maintenance. Years two and three were annual maintenance only.
Mr. Shoge asked if the Town could manage their own content. Mr. Pearson stated that the Town could manage their own content and there was a training package available. He said that he would recommend the “bronze package” of training which cost $1,800.00 and taught a designated person how to build a display. He said that there were also SWI training videos available.
Ms. Gross asked if the software could link to Chestertown’s website. Mr. Pearson stated that linking was possible but the data would be pulled live from the website and not interactive.
Mr. Stetson asked if the Town would receive credit for the fact that the housing existed for the software and/or what the cost of the device would be if they had to purchase it from Four Winds. Mr. Pearson stated that the display itself costs anywhere between $30,000.00 to $45,000.00 and having the existing housing available was a large benefit.
Mr. Shoge asked if the problem the Town was having with the I-Sign was a hardware or software problem. Mr. Pearson stated that he was not familiar with the I-Sign but said it was not the software and thought it was a problem with the elements of the housing.
Mayor Cerino asked why Chestertown should invest in Four Winds and not invest in an app for mobile phones. Mr. Pearson stated that an app from the website would work, but his display had “Way Find” mapping that was cumbersome on an app, noting that hand-held devices work parallel with the I-Sign technology and was another tool available.
Ms. Bernadette Bowman, Kent County Tourism, stated that she was in favor of the sign when it was first introduced by the Downtown Chestertown Association and they found grant money to purchase the equipment and software. She said the investment made in the equipment was significant and to start from scratch would be quite expensive, but thought that the breakdown was in the software program. Ms. Bowman stated that using several device platforms is the way to market. The I-Sign another tool that could be used to drive business in Chestertown.
Mayor Cerino stated that he was concerned the problem was with the hardware and said that hardware becomes outdated quickly, this particular piece was purchased in 2011, and said that this had to be something the Council thought about. He said he did not want to throw money at something already outdated.
Ms. Barbara Jorgensen stated that when Four Winds was in Town they turned the screen on and it worked. She said that the sign has a computer, software, and an LED screen. She said Four Winds would provide a new computer and software, so updated technology would be shown on a 2011 LED screen.
Mr. Bob Ramsey stated that when Four Winds looked at the I-Sign, the touchscreen did not work and he thought that was a critical part of the sign. He said before any money was spent on the I-Sign that feature had to be fixed.
Mr. Shoge stated that training, both the cost and who on staff was going to be trained to use it, had to be discussed. He said that he did not like the idea of having to go to someone in Denver anytime Chestertown wanted to make an update to their signage.
Mayor Cerino stated that he thought the Council should take some time to reflect on the I-Sign and then make a decision at the March 16th meeting. He said that if the Town decides to move forward with the design, they would only pay a third of the cost. Ms. Bowman stated that Kent County Tourism has permission to pay a third of the $3,200 to get the system up and running, but not for any subsequent years. Mayor Cerino stated that the ultimate location of the I-Sign had to be decided as well.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Comprehensive Plan was forwarded to the Mayor and Council for approval and Mr. de Mooy was present to discuss the new Plan. Mr. de Mooy stated that the Planning Commission held its public hearing as required by law and public comments were received, noting that the public comment period was extended for 60-days at the request of Washington College. He said that every public comment was reviewed and some changes were made according to the consideration of the Planning Commission.
Mr. de Mooy stated that since the last Comprehensive Plan was adopted Phases I through III of the Gilchrest Rail-Trail have been built; Margo Bailey Park and Remembrance Park were constructed; the traffic circle envisions was completed; projects changing Kent Plaza, Washington Square (Redner’s) were launched; Coventry II was finished; the Village at Chestertown was restarted; the build out at Chester River Landing continued; the Gateway Park was purchased, funded and about to be built; and Washington College initiated a large waterfront plan.
Mr. de Mooy stated that Comprehensive Rezoning took place in 2012. There was a new Tier Map which helps determine future growth. The Municipal Growth Element and Water Resources Element were incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan and have not changed in this updated plan. New technology was used in the Plan as well, noting the GIS mapping, and pointing out that the maps were parcel-based now. He said that the State of Maryland dictates the elements included in the Comprehensive Plan and reviewed each element, noting that more may be added in future updates.
Mr. de Mooy stated that by law, the Council must act within 60-days or the Plan essentially adopts itself. He said that the Council can adopt the Plan in full, in part, or return it to the Commission if they thought the document required more work.
Mr. de Mooy stated that documents adopted by reference are the Waterfront Committee Report of 1995, Historic District Design Guidelines (revised 2012), the Chestertown Greenbelt and Comprehensive Plan (Eastern Shore Land Conservancy), and the 2014 Public Arts Master Plan.
Ms. Kuiper asked if the people who gave comments were provided a copy of the final draft. Mr. de Mooy stated that the public meeting is time for testimony to be received and all of the testimony was considered in the Planning Commission’s meetings after the deadline for comment, but that copies were not distributed to anyone making comments on the plan.
Mayor Cerino asked Mr. de Mooy to summarize the requests made by Washington College and the Washington Avenue Neighborhood Association. Mr. de Mooy stated that the Washington Avenue Neighborhood Association came before the Planning Commission with a series of concerns. They asked for text in the Comprehensive Plan to make that area of Washington Avenue a gateway and to address their concerns. He said that the Comprehensive Plan is a town-wide document and not written in a block by block fashion.
Mr. de Mooy stated that Washington College had concerns about the Stepne Farm and their Waterfront parcels and the College would conduct a master plan for that area, which the Commission agreed was a good idea. He said that the future Land Use Map and Public Arts Master Plan showed mapping for that area but it was not prescriptive in any way. Text changes were made to reflect their comments.
Mr. de Mooy stated that property the College owned at Rt. 213 and Rt. 291 had the request to change the land use mapping to commercial for that property. He said there was a long history associated with this parcel of land and the Mayor and Council changed the zoning to RB (Professional Office) in 2012. The Planning Commission agreed that RB zoning should remain at the LaMotte location.
Ms. Jorgensen stated that she was part of the Washington Avenue Association. She said that she would like to see language included as follows: “The section of Washington Avenue from Spring Street to Greenwood Avenue is a residential neighborhood that is part of the Chestertown Historic District. It is distinguished by being an avenue of turn-of-the-century Victorian houses that connects two major North-South gateways to Chestertown. It is also a state highway carrying increasing volumes of private and commercial traffic. Increasingly the viability of the residential character of the neighborhood is threatened. The town will seek ways to preserve and improve the residential character of the historic neighborhood and to enlist the state’s help in making improvements to pedestrian and traffic safety and control, sidewalks and pavements.”
Ms. Jorgensen stated that she was told by the representatives of the State Highway Administration that they look to a Town’s Comprehensive Plan when making decisions on projects. Mr. de Mooy stated that he did not agree that direct language for Washington Avenue had to be in the Comprehensive Plan as the plan was a Town wide plan, noting that the Town sent a letter on behalf of the Washington Avenue Neighborhood Association as well in an attempt to cure the problems.
Mr. Joe Holt of Washington College stated that they were pleased with one part of the outcome of the new draft of the Comprehensive Plan and disappointed with another. He said that he would like to see the inclusion of the “Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise Zones” as Priority Action Item in the plan.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Town should look into whether or not the RISE (Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise Zone) was actually required to be listed in the Comprehensive Plan or not. He felt that it may not be a requirement of the RISE program. Mr. de Mooy stated that he does not know anything about this designation and would also like time to review it.
Ms. Kuiper moved to send the Comprehensive Plan back to the Planning Commission with the recommendation that the Commission incorporates the verbiage suggested by the Washington Avenue Neighborhood Residents and the Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise Zone as a Priority Action Item, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the People’s Bank contacted him to see if they could continue their Summer Music Series in the Fountain Park this year (second year) and asked if the Council was in agreement. The Council agreed that the Summer Music Series by People’s Bank was a welcome event in the Fountain Park.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Council had been asked to sign a letter of support regarding Sultana Education’s 2015 Capital Grant Application to the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area and Maryland Heritage Areas Authority to support the construction and renovation of the education center at 200-204 South Cross Street. Mayor Cerino recused himself citing a conflict, as he is employed by Sultana, Inc. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the Letter of Support for the grant request for Sultana, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town received a response from the State Highway Administration regarding Chestertown’s request for traffic calming, landscaping, and other improvements to Washington Avenue. He read the letter into the record, which indicated that decisions will be made sometime this summer on what towns might receive funding.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Council initially decided to bag the parking meters for a 6-month trial run with the understanding that they would reevaluate the parking issues after that time. Ms. Kuiper stated that she surveyed the downtown business owners and the consensus was still for free parking.
Mr. Bob Ramsey, business owner, stated that there were people who abused the parking and said that he would like some way for people to understand that the purpose was to have turnover for parking. He said that people living downtown and working downtown should park in nearby parking spaces, leaving parking in front of the shops for visitors.
Ms. McGuire stated that someone should tell the downtown businesses that the new lot was for their employees. She said that businesses should have a sticker for their car or be told where exactly to park.
Mr. Stetson suggested keeping the meters bagged through the summer to see if there was a real parking problem when Chestertown was in the tourist season. The Council agreed. Mayor Cerino stated that they would address parking issues again in September.
Ms. Gross stated that she would like the Town to reexamine the handicap parking spots around Town, especially in front of Stam’s where a tree discourages the exit of any handicapped passengers from their vehicles. Mr. Ingersoll stated that handicap parking can be moved and was granted upon approval of the Mayor.
Mr. Stetson stated that the Town Crew is doing a great job keeping the streets clear after storms.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Farmers Market was going year round and asked that the community continue to support them.
Ms. Gross suggested that residents “adopt” a fire hydrant if they had one on or near their property. Keeping them clear of snow is necessary during bad weather.
Ms. Gross stated that the Acme Grand Re-Opening was scheduled for 9 a.m., Friday, March 13th.
Mr. Shoge stated that Ms. Bernadette Bowman (Kent County Tourism), Ms. Francoise Sullivan (Webmaster) and Mike O’Conner (Washington College Relations and Marketing Officer) have agreed to be on the Marketing Committee once it begins. He said that he sent drafts for the committee to the Mayor and Council.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Chester River Wine & Cheese Shop was opening on First Friday, March 6th.
Ms. Mary Handley from Delmarva Community Transit was present and asked if the Council had objections to having a bus stop in downtown Chestertown and suggested several different locations that could work for their buses, which run 5-days a week. She said that there are currently bus stops at Dollar General and the Kent Plaza Shopping Center.
Ms. Gross stated that a bus stop might be better on Cannon Street, just to space out the distance from Dollar General. Ms. Handley stated that where the stop was located did not particularly matter, just that a stop in the downtown would be helpful to people who wanted to get to the center of town.
Ms. Handley stated that the buses are wider than cars and would need space to either pull up to the sidewalk, or to pull forward into a space.
Ms. Handley stated that the general cost to ride the bus was $3.00 each way. Senior Citizens or disabled riders pay $1.50 each way. Children have a discounted rates and veterans traveling to and from any type of doctor appointment ride for free. Cars provide door-to-door service which has its own set costs.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that signage would have to go before the Historic District, but he would be happy to work with Ms. Handley to find and mark the bus stops, noting that having a stop at Washington College might be reviewed as well as the downtown area.
There being no further business, Mr. Shoge moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:40 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor