MAYOR AND COUNCIL
DECEMBER 21, 2015
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:40 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 7, 2015. Mr. Stetson moved to adopt the minutes as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that operating funds on hand for unrestricted use was $1,787,577.42. There were restricted funds in the amount of $192,740.00 for total funds of $1,980,317.42.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay the bills. Ms. Stetson moved to pay the bills as presented, was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried unanimously.
Chief Baker presented the police report for November 2015. Chief Baker stated that there are phone scams being reported and cautioned people about giving personal information over the phone.
Mayor Cerino stated that the SHA Task Force was present to discuss their findings and recommendations to the Council (attached to minutes). Mr. David Bowering presented the report in detail. He introduced the members of the Task Force, noting that there were representatives of each ward and a representative from Washington College. Members were David Bowering, Anne Vansant, Brandt Troup, Herb Friedman and Jerry Roderick. Mr. Tom Revelle and Jeff Wentz of the State Highway Administration worked with the Task Force to prepare the report.
Mr. Bowering stated that the Task Force was created out of a grassroots effort from Washington Avenue whose initial concern was traffic safety on the Rt. 213 corridor. He said that SHA could perform traffic studies of Washington Avenue and suggested the Town establish a Task Force to make recommendations to SHA for improvements to the Town on state roads.
Mr. Bowering stated that two recommendations stemming from the report were for a reduction of heavy traffic on Rt. 213, and traffic quieting. Enhancements of crosswalks, sidewalk, and improvement of pedestrian safety were needed on Rtes. 213, 514, 291 and 20. The Task Force thought that the ultimate solution was for a by-pass. The Task Force supports restrictions of heavy truck traffic along the Rt. 213 corridor from the Chester River Bridge to Morgnec Road, excluding farm, emergency vehicles and local delivery trucks. Sidewalks were in need of repair and have fallen below SHA standards. Pedestrian safety should be addressed, especially in the Flatland Road area.
Ms. Gross stated that this was exactly what the Mayor and Council needed and thanked the Task Force for their work. She asked Mr. Revelle if repairs and upgrades to the sidewalks would include depressions for handicap accessibility. Mr. Revelle stated that repairs to the curb and sidewalk would include handicap accessibility.
Mayor Cerino asked about next steps to insure that this report would not get lost at the State Highway Administration. Mr. Revelle stated that the Council would have sign a letter of support endorsing the SHA Task Force findings and then he would go after funding for existing and new sidewalk and Mr. Wentz would look for funding for lighting, signage, etc.
Mr. Shoge asked if there were funds available for new sidewalk to be built on Flatland Road. Mr. Revelle stated that there were funds available. Mr. Shoge stated that ranking sidewalks in terms of priority, Washington Avenue was listed but the area of Flatland Road seemed to be de-emphasized. He said that there was no sidewalk infrastructure at all in that area and people walking in the road.
Ms. Vansant stated that there were areas on Washington Avenue that did not have sidewalk and it seemed that it would be easier to finish those out so that pedestrians can walk downtown without interruption.
Mr. Bowering stated that the information used for the Flatland Road area was the Feasibility Study of 2013, which had been accepted in concept. Mayor Cerino stated that there seemed to be two (2) separate funds, one for existing sidewalk and one for creating new sidewalk, so possibly it was not an either/or scenario when it came to new sidewalk and upgrades to existing sidewalk.
Mr. Shoge stated that he endorsed the report and thanked the Task Force for their work, noting that he thought that the installation of the sidewalks on Flatland Road should be included as a priority. Mr. Stetson stated that the Mayor and Council could change the wording to include that Flatland Road was equally as important as work on Washington Avenue. Ms. Gross suggested a paragraph indicating the importance of work on Flatland Road might be helpful in strengthening the report.
Mr. Bowering stated that the Mayor and Council would submit the report to the State Highway Administration and it was in their purview to make changes. Mr. Vansant stated that the Task Force was asked to prioritize a list and they assessed a combination of issues in forming the report. She said that areas with the most accidents had the need for the most upgrade.
Mayor Cerino recommended that staff write a letter to SHA endorsing the report and adding additional language about Flatland Road.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that a funding request was made by the People’s Bank for Chester Gras in the amount of $1,500.00. Ms. Gross moved to approve the $1,500.00 request to People’s Bank for Chester Gras, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a fee discussed with McCrone for a preliminary engineering report for USDA funding that the Town was hoping to be awarded for the Marina upgrades. He said that the application to USDA required the engineering report and asked how the Council wanted to proceed. Mr. Stetson stated that the funding should come out of the restricted monies for the waterfront. Ms. Gross moved to approve $1,600.00 from the restricted funds for an engineering study required to apply for USDA funding, was seconded by Ms. Kuiper and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he began advertising for dredging the basin of the Marina (approximately 5,000 cubic yards). He said that the open dredging season ends on February 15th. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the license was expected any day and the bid opening was scheduled for December 30th. Subsequent to dredging, Mr. Ingersoll said that he was hoping to remove and replace the most southern pier with Waterway Improvement funds already in place.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a request for a zoning text amendment sent to the Planning Commission at the last meeting of the Mayor and Council. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Planning Commission met on December 16th and made a favorable recommendation to the Council for the zoning text amendment. Mr. Ingersoll stated that C-3 was designed to be small parcels with mixed uses. The property in question was the equivalent of three (3) or four (4) parcels, noting that at one point it was two (2) parcels, one zoned C1 and the other Light Industrial. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Mayor and Council was required to hold a public hearing on any zoning change request. After discussion, the Council decided to hold the Public Hearing on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Council received a copy of the proposed Enterprise Zone for Chestertown, including a map and booklet from DBED. This offered 10-year credits against local real estate property taxes on the value of a portion of the real property improvements. In the program, DBED returned set percentages of the tax breaks to the participating jurisdiction. Mayor Cerino stated that this was mainly a tax incentive for landowners of raw land to build. Ms. Jamie Miller, Kent County Economic Development, stated that this would likely be the last Enterprise Zone as the State was moving towards a tiered system for the future.
Ms. Miller stated that property owners apply for the tax credit and it must be approved by the Town in order to qualify for the credit. Ms. Miller stated that Chestertown was the only Town in Kent County that qualified for the Enterprise Zone. Federalsburg in Caroline County was the closest Town that has designated an Enterprise Zone to date.
Ms. Gross moved to endorse the concept of an Enterprise Zone Designation in Chestertown, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino announced the 2015 Holiday Decoration Contest winners as follows:
1st Ward: $50.00 George Nelson, 210 Byford Drive
$25.00 Robert and Lois Townsend, 12 Byford Court
2nd Ward: $50.00 Albert and Tammy Fauber, 127 Washington Avenue
$25.00 Leif and Marguerite Gulbrandsen, 110 Spring Street
3rd Ward: $50.00 Janet and Donald Wilkerson, 620 High Street
$25.00 Wayne and Christina Strayer, 208 Kennedy Drive
4th Ward: $50.00 William & Sheila Lepter, 201 Glen Street
$25.00 Thomas Walls, 409 Greenwood Avenue
Commercial Winners: Imperial Hotel – Imperial Hotel Management, 208 High Street Train Station at 400 S. Cross Street: KRM, 800 High Street
East Coast Storage, LLC – 848 High Street
Mayor Cerino stated that there was a request from a food truck owner to allow the truck to park at Fountain Park. He said that he received a letter from an attorney with suggested amended language, which he read into the record, to Chapter 130 of the Town ordinances entitled Peddling and Soliciting.
Mayor Cerino stated that he was in favor of food trucks because anything that would promote business and add foot traffic to the Downtown was good for Chestertown. He also added that the ordinance was difficult to enforce because trucks move around, making them difficult to track.
Mr. Stetson stated that he saw food trucks as an unfair advantage to restauranteurs who were paying taxes at brick and mortar locations.
Ms. Kuiper stated that there was a report from the League of Cities regarding permitting fees for food trucks, noting that they seemed to range from $150.00 to $400.00 per year. She said that the $35.00 fee Chestertown has in place was too little. She added that hours of operation for food trucks should be defined. Ms. Gross stated that if they were permitted there should be at least 150’ setback from a brick and mortar restaurant. Ms. Gross stated that she would not like food trucks to be parked along Memorial Row out of respect for the purpose of the Memorial Park.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Fountain Park was used as a market and he saw nothing wrong with a food truck on the Cross Street side of the park during the week and after Farmers Market hours. He said that the Cross Street side of Fountain Park was at least 150’ from any other restaurant in Town. Mayor Cerino stated that the area where food trucks could park should be limited and should not be able to park anywhere they please.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was a precedent for this in the Town Peddling and Soliciting Ordinance where a person selling freshly grown produce, fresh fish or other seafood was exempt from the provisions of Chapter 130-5 and had to pay $150.00 for a 30-day license. He suggested a redraft of the Ordinance by the Town that he would submit to the Council.
Mayor Cerino called Mr. Ron Abler forward and explained that he was present on behalf of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Mr. Abler stated that the vestry was celebrating their 250th anniversary on January 3, 2016. Mayor Cerino read a Proclamation from the Town of Chestertown declaring January 3, 2016 the sestercentennial of the vestry of Chester Parish.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town submitted a capital project request to Governor Hogan for $1.5 million for the revitalization of the Marina. He said that a letter writing campaign was started just 2 weeks ago and over a hundred letters submitted to the Town. He said that the project has broad-based support and that the letters would be sent to Governor Hogan and some of his top lieutenants. Mayor Cerino stated that any additional letters should be sent to the Town to forward to the Governor. There will be another round of letters sent to the Governor’s office after the holidays.
Mayor Cerino stated that an RFQ was sent out for the waterfront interpretive center, which was one portion of the Marina project. The center would include a marina store and history of the Town, restrooms, shower facilities, a conference room on the second floor, and possible other retail space on the first floor. He said that the Town received over $40,000.00 in grant funds to hire an architect to create a “build-to” rendering.
Mr. Stetson stated that Chestertown was recently ranked the second best place to retire in the State of Maryland.
Mr. Shoge stated that Gateway Park was coming along and should be finished before long. Mr. Ingersoll stated that landscaping was about to be installed.
Mr. Shoge stated that he has been serving on Kent County’s Renewable Energy Task Force representing Chestertown.
Ms. Kuiper reminded residents to shop downtown for the holidays.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Historical Society will be open the rest of the week, but will close from December 24th until January 6th.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Farmers Market will be open on Christmas Eve, December 24th, but not open on Wednesday, December 23rd.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the Volunteer Fire Department invited the Council to their annual awards dinner and said that it was a nice evening.
Ms. Kuiper stated that this meeting ended her first four (4) years on the Council. She said that it has been a pleasure to serve her ward and that she looked forward to the next four (4) years.
Ms. Gross stated that the Chestertown Environmental Committee has listed their 2016 Film and Lecture Series, which would kick off on January 7th with a talk by Ed Minch on how to protect your house from losing heat and conserving energy in your home. It will be held on the second floor of Town Hall at 6:30 p.m.
Ms. Gross stated that when she was looking at Christmas decorations, she noticed a fair number of homes where house numbers were not visible and asked homeowners to make sure that their house numbers could be seen for emergency purposes.
There being no further business, Ms. Kuiper moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:10 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor