MAYOR AND COUNCIL
FEBRUARY 18, 2020
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers David Foster, Thomas Herz, Ellsworth Tolliver and Meghan Efland,
- 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 3, 2020. Rev. Tolliver moved to approve the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of February 3, 2020 as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that total operating funds on hand for unrestricted use was $1,483,966.55.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Mr. Herz moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Chief Dolgos presented the police report for January 2020.
Chief Dolgos presented the 2019 Annual Police Report. He said that there was a total of 3,935 calls for service which averaged just shy of 11 calls per service per day. Chief Dolgos stated that 10% of the police time was spent community policing and he hopes to increase that number in 2020. There were 154 adult arrests made with 338 separate charges, which did not include arrests by the Kent County Narcotics Task Force. There were only 9 juvenile arrests with 10 separate charges. A total of 24 civil citations were issued. There were 21 DWI arrests and 11 CDS arrests.
Chief Dolgos stated that in 2019 there were 94 reported Part I offenses, which was 14 more than 2018. There were 168 Part II crimes reported. A total of 3,344 photo enforcement violations were issued. The Narcotics Task Force reported 7 fatal overdoses and 18 non-fatal overdoses in Kent County. Chief Dolgos stated that this was a difficult year for the Chestertown Officers, and he commended them for their service.
Mr. Foster asked if the annual report data was shared with any other agencies. Chief Dolgos stated that there was no direct communication with other towns on their statistics unless it was specifically requested.
Mr. Herz asked what happens to assets seized by the Kent County Narcotics Task Force. Chief Dolgos stated that funds go into an account and if something is disputed it goes to the court. Monies collected are turned back to the Narcotics Task Force as well as do the cars and other seized property in order to cover the cost of the Task Force.
Rev. Tolliver asked what Chief Dolgos thought a pressing policing issue in Town was. Chief Dolgos stated that the heroin epidemic was a big concern and one in which people had to remain vigilant. He said that if anyone has a friend or family member in need, they should call the Police or go the Emergency Room for help.
Mr. Tim Trumbauer, Chair of the Chestertown Environmental Committee, was present to give a report on the committee’s activities over the last few months. Mr. Trumbauer stated that the Energy and Transport team has been working on a comprehensive plan for electric vehicles including recommending Town sites for electric charging stations. The Water and Habitat team, through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Grant obtained by Shore Rivers and in partnership with Washington College, was working on a comprehensive stormwater management plan for Chestertown. He said that the Waste Management Team is working on recycling and ways to increase recycling in public areas of Town;
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Town could use more recycling containers, especially for public events. Mr. Ingersoll stated that providing information to the elementary schools was a good way to increase recycling because the children always carry the information home to their parents who may not recycle already.
Mayor Cerino asked about the NFWF grant for stormwater practices and asked what the grant was going to do for Chestertown. Mr. Trumbauer stated that the funding would be used to come up with a plan and recommend strategies and areas for stormwater installations throughout Town. Mayor Cerino stated that it would be helpful if the committee could also supply cost estimates and research potential funding sources. Mr. Trumbauer stated that information would be part of the recommendations that would be submitted to the Mayor and Council.
Mayor Cerino stated that he is becoming increasingly concerned with the northeast corner of the Wilmer Park as it was underwater once or twice a month and there appeared to be a fault in the ground due to the tides. He asked if this issue could be part of the study. Mr. Trumbauer stated that that this area has already been identified as part of the study but there may be some things that they can do in the interim to remedy the fault.
Mr. Foster stated that in the past Shore Rivers has volunteered for trash collection of estuaries and asked if that would be something that they would do again when the weather improves. Mr. Trumbauer stated that Shore Rivers runs a program called “Project Clean Stream at Shore Rivers” and would be cleaning several sites through the Chester River watershed in Town in the spring.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Mr. Drew McMullen was present to give an overview of the 2020 Sultana Downrigging permit request. Mayor Cerino recused himself from the conversation. Mr. McMullen stated that the event was like last year’s event with the only change being that the fireworks will be shot on Friday night so that they did not interfere with Halloween. He said that they also asked for one additional day of setup and a small amount of extra space and a different plan for the travel lift. Mr. McMullen stated that he is coming before the Council early because it is time to book bands for the weekend and deposits were due and non-refundable.
Mr. Foster asked how many people were in Town for the 2019 Downrigging Festival. Mr. McMullen stated that there were over 3,700 ticket holders (with only 27% from the Eastern Shore) but he did not have a firm headcount. Mr. Foster stated that it was a wonderful event each year.
Mr. Herz moved to approve Sultana’s 2020 Downrigging Weekend permit request as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried with four (4) in favor, Mayor Cerino recused.
Mr. McMullen stated that the Sultana Education Foundation was requesting a grant for the Lawrence Wetland Preserve through the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area and asked if the Town would provide a letter of support for funding. Mr. Herz moved to approve a letter of support for the Sultana Education Foundation to the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area for the Lawrence Wetland Preserve project, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried with four (4) in favor, Mayor Cerino recused.
Ms. Claire Hansen, president of PFLAG, was present with the permit request for the Second Annual PRIDE Festival which was scheduled for May 2nd. She said that the format and requests for the event are the same as last year. Mr. Foster moved to approve the permit request for PRIDE Festival on May 2, 2020, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that there were administrative changes that must be incorporated into the Critical Area Ordinance and have been submitted as separate Ordinances for introduction tonight. Ordinance 02-2020 An Ordinance to Update the Critical Area Ordinance 01-2019 and Ordinance 03-2020 An Ordinance to Adopt the Critical Area Map for Chestertown could be adopted at the next meeting.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Ordinance 01-2020 Amendment and Additions to Section 145: Streets and Sidewalks Article: Construction or Alteration, was introduced at the last meeting but he was going to suggest that the Council hold off on adopting it at this meeting. Mr. Ingersoll stated that Chestertown did not have franchise agreement for fiber, as they did for cable tv, and they were at a place where there are two (2) fiber companies that want to wire the same neighborhoods in Town twice. One of the companies has now threatened suit. He said that both companies were at the meeting and the Council would listen to what each had to say but he wanted to put off the enactment of the Ordinance until they hear further from the Town’s attorney.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that nobody ever expected two (2) different fiber companies to come to Chestertown, especially now since the Town was told by Kent County that by 2016 the entire County would be wired and everyone residence would have one-gigabit of service. He said that right now there is really very little available fiber but there has been considerable destruction of underground water and sewer utilities. It now it appears as though there could be double the mess. He said that that Town attorney is looking into the suit.
Mayor Cerino stated that everyone agreed that fiber had the potential to drive economic growth in the Town, but the installation has been a headache. He said he was concerned from the beginning of about disruption of pre-existing underground infrastructure but a federal law allowing utility companies to work in the rights-of-way might be making it difficult to protect the Town. Mayor Cerino stated that are residents in Town who had no idea who was digging in their yard, infrastructure has been damaged, and permits requirements of depth were not being followed. Mayor Cerino stated that any time work takes place in Town like this it is the town staff that takes the brunt of the phone calls and complaints and the Town is blamed for an issue created by someone in the private sector.
Mr. Andrew De Mattia and Mr. Andre DiMattia of Talkie Communications were present and stated that they were limited in what they could say due to the ongoing litigation with the Town. He said that Talkie has committed itself to Chestertown, $7-million dollars in private funds to the Town and hired twenty-two (22) employees. He said that they are spending monies in local businesses and are going out of their way to restore problems to better than what they were before they began. He said that nobody likes construction but in Coventry Farms they seeded over and over again and even sodded people’s properties to the point where people indicated they hoped the company messed up more of their lawn because it was the best the grass had grown. Mr. DiMattia stated that he can’t fix problems that he does not know exist. He said that he would speak privately with the Council regarding issues with individual properties but if there was a problem, they would deal with the contractor without any hassle to the Town or homeowner.
Mayor Cerino stated that was not true because the Chestertown Utilities Department get called first to come and fix the problems when a water main is damaged. Mr. DiMattia asked if anyone ever came to him to ask him how he intended to fix the problem. He said that there was also someone who complained that equipment was parked on their private property and Mr. Ingersoll received a call rather than him, but he had the equipment removed within 30 minutes and saw that their lawn was restored.
Mr. DiMattia stated that their contractor was present this evening to discuss the issues that needed to be addressed. Mr. DiMattia stated that he lives in Chestertown and wants to please his neighbors because they will come knocking on his door if there is a problem. Mr. DiMattia stated that it was not Talkie’s responsibility to fix errors of the contractor, but they were taking responsibility for those errors.
Rev. Tolliver asked about the situation with Mr. Jones’ property in Coventry Farms. Mr. DiMattia stated that he tried twice to fix the situation and their plumber (Ward’s Plumbing) could not find a crack with their camera. He said that upon Mr. Jones insistence that the line was still broken he told him that Talkie would pay the bill for whatever plumber Mr. Jones hired to fix the problem. He said that Mr. Jones declined that offer and when Talkie sent their contractor over to look at the problem, Mr. Jones called the police. He said that Mr. Jones called his insurance company to remedy the situation and that Talkie offered him $2,000.00 worth of free internet which was also declined. Mr. DiMattia stated that many of the stories that the Town is hearing are one-sided.
Mr. DiMattia stated that they were spending their own money to make this venture work and they were one of the larger employers in Chestertown with the average pay to each employee at $50,000.00 per year. Mr. DiMattia stated again it was not Talkie’s responsibility to fix damages; that was the responsibility of the contractor.
Rev. Tolliver asked about the $28,000.00 that was owed to the Town for the problem in College Heights. Mr. DiMattia stated that the contractor worked out a payment plan with Mr. Sipes and was present to answer questions. Rev. Tolliver stated that Talkie was not then taking responsibility for the work that went wrong, it was being blamed on the contractor. Mr. Ingersoll stated that Mr. Vasquez of JC Contracting, Inc. was paying the Utilities Commission on a payment plan of $5,000.00 for the damages to the water main in College Heights.
Mr. DiMattia stated that Talkie has $5-million dollars in insurance and the Town and Chestertown Utilities is listed on the insurance. He said that a claim can be filed at any given time. He said that JC Contracting has $3-million dollars in insurance and that Talkie was listed on that insurance. Mr. DiMattio said that if JC Contracting did not pay the bill than they could charge Talkie and Talkie would charge him so the Town would not lose any money. Mr. DiMattia stated that Talkie feels as though they had a bad shake and the Town was against them.
Mayor Cerino asked for clarification on how the Town was against Talkie. Mr. DiMattia stated that when their engineering company (Yates) called in to Town to talk about permits, the first statement was that the Town didn’t need fiber as they already had Think Big, Maryland Broadband and ABB and that they didn’t want anyone else in Town. He said that since then there have been permits granted and revoked and he said that they applied for a door knocking permit which was not yet received. He said that the Town is slandering him by using terms such as “the wild wild west” when referring to their business, and it has, in his opinion, financially hurt their company.
Mayor Cerino stated that he did not think the Mayor and Council has been bad-mouthing Talkie or any other company. He said that maybe people feel as though that Talkie is intruding on their property and they see water lines being broken. Mr. DiMattia stated that he was told that the statements in the Chestertown Spy made by the Council was damaging their company.
Mr. DiMattia stated that their door knocker explains the construction process and that they will be in the area. He said that they came into this Town offering no contracts, $50.00 internet, no install charge, and are not charging for hardware. He said that their company does whatever it takes to do the job right. He said that the Town was giving them the shaft and articles are being written speaking badly about them. He said that everyone hates construction, and nobody wanted their lawns dug up but once that was finished the service was good. Mayor Cerino stated that a problem was the construction. Mr. DiMattia stated that was why they handed out the door knockers, but people threw them away thinking they were advertisements. Mayor Cerino stated that it was advertisement. Mr. DiMattia stated that it did not have any pricing on it. Mayor Cerino stated that the doorknockers described their business and how the homeowner would be benefitted by their service. Mr. DiMattia stated that they were trying to inform the community about what was taking place in Town.
Rev. Tolliver asked what type of communication Talkie had with their contractor when the contractor is not following through on the conditions of the permit, such as the depth at which the fiber should be installed. Mr. DeMattia stated that they speak with their contractor daily and that they were not paying the contractor until the fiber is inspected. He said that the contractor is also replacing the fiber that had been improperly installed. Mayor Cerino stated that there are instances where the correct depth was not followed and the Town was told to work with the sub-contractor, not Talkie, then becoming the Town’s problem to handle.
Rev. Tolliver asked what incentive the contractor must do the right thing. Mr. DiMattia stated that getting paid was the incentive. Rev. Tolliver asked why then the contractor wasn’t doing the right it. Mr. DiMattia stated that the contractor was present to speak for himself. Mayor Cerino stated that the key part of the problem was that the correct depth had not been adhered to. Mr. DiMattia stated that they fired their first contractor. Mayor Cerino stated that an answer that was given to them at times was to talk to the sub-contractor and the Town is the entity that ends up dealing with a problem when protocol was not followed and now the Town and its residents are stuck in the middle dealing with a long and messy construction process. Mayor Cerino stated that was where the bad press was coming from.
Mr. DiMattio stated that they are invested in the community and moved here. Mayor Cerino stated that he thought it was odd that they chose Chestertown from a P&L standpoint because there was already another fiber network that the County, with great fanfare, was putting in the ground. Mr. DiMattia stated that the County initiative was for the private backbone for the County and there was no fiber in other areas for the community and no last mile fiber.
Mr. Herz asked why an entire new run had to be built when there was already a backbone in place. Mr. DiMattia stated that one piece of fiber supplies 32 houses. He said that they attempted to use the backbone, but the price model was not affordable, and they see it as a conflict of interest to use a competitor’s fiber. Mr. DiMattia stated that Kent County got what they paid for and had their anchor sites in place and are now saving money because they do not have to pay an internet provider for services.
Mr. Herz asked what permits had been revoked by the Town. Mr. DiMattia stated that he did not wish to speak to that due to pending litigation.
Mr. Foster stated that Tuckahoe Contracting was on his Byford Court. Mr. DiMattia stated that Tuckahoe was not working for them. Mr. Foster stated that Tuckahoe is going to run a line and asked if Talkie was then then going to come in and run a second line. Mr. DiMattia stated that their permit was approved in August and they should be on Byford Court first, not their competitor, He said that they would consider rental of their conduit to other entities but they would not rent conduit from another company as they can’t afford their rates. He said he would not comment further on this due to ongoing litigation.
Mr. Herz asked if an engineer or someone from the Town accompanied them to verify that the project was completed according to the permit. Mr. DiMattia stated that he would give the Town permission to inspect the work but could not say if the Town had performed inspections or not.
Mr. Gabriel Vasquez of JC Contracting was present. He said that the existing infrastructure is fragile and that the waterlines and prints are not 100% correct. He said that he has a relationship now with Mr. Sipes to solve issues. He said that there are valves leaking on East Campus, but they were not valves his company damaged, although JC Contracting was being blamed for the problems. He said that they were not working in that area when the problem started. He said that JC Contracting is digging to the depth that they were supposed to be, and he was on top of any problem that took place.
Rev. Tolliver asked how effective Talkie was in relaying to him their level of expectation for work. Mr. Vasquez stated that Talkie is his boss and they have fired the contractor before him. He said that he is working for both Talkie and Think Big and he does what they tell him to do. He said that he was in the middle of this and he was just trying to continue to work. Mayor Cerino stated that he felt the Town was also put in the middle of two (2) companies who were in a race to get fiber in the ground, but the Town had to protect their infrastructure and required more detail than has been submitted.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he has noted that he would prefer the small handholds rather than the larger ones and asked if they were going to be brought down to the residential scale as he requested. Mr. Vasquez stated that Talkie and Think Big tell him which size handholds to use but it would be better for him to use the smaller handholds. Mr. Ingersoll asked where the handholds were placed on Philosopher’s Terrace. Mr. Vasquez stated that they were installed in the hill.
Ms. Dee Anna Sobczak, COO of Think Big Networks was present. She said that fiber deployment was expensive and an investment to last a lifetime. She described their company and said that they were committed to investing the revenue from their company in their growth. She said that once fiber was in place it was there forever and that they had a diverse investor pool, a Board of Directors, and long-term standing as a business. She said that their collective net worth is north of $200-million dollars.
Ms. Sobczak stated that Kent County and Chestertown does not have the population to sustain two (2) fiber companies. She said that overbuilding of fiber is not the norm in this business and it is well-known within the industry that fiber companies do not overbuild one other because it clutters the rights-of-way. She said that Think Big is a company that will be in existence for the long-term.
Ms. Sobczak stated that she would like Chestertown to take the time to research and make decisions on their rights-of-ways and choose the business model that has the financial stability to build and then continue to operate this state of the art technology that will help the Town and County grow.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town is being told that fiber utilities companies have a right to be in the rights-of-way. He said that it was not his job to pick one company over another, but this overbuild was creating a mess in the Town and if both companies suffered as a result, so be it. He said that his job as Mayor was to protect the Town’s infrastructure, and that was what he was going to do. He said that he would love to see the Town lit up with fiber, but he was more concerned with protecting the pre-existing infrastructure. Mayor Cerino stated that the Town was being put in the middle of a problem between two providers and the rights-of-way in Town.
Ms. Sobczak stated that it would be up to the subscriber which company to use as their provider. Rev. Tolliver asked how they worked with their contractor. Ms. Sobczak stated that when their contractor hit to a water line or made a mistake, Think Big paid the Town up front and then worked it out with the contractor.
Mr. Mark Wagner stated that he has been in this business for 19-years it was not unusual for municipalities to come up with right-of-way policies and said that he disagreed that a utility company had the absolute right to the right-of-way. He said that there was a host of reasonable requirements that a Town can put in place for companies to work in their right-of-way and he would suggest that they stop the project and take time to talk to professionals and other Towns and return to them with the rules which Think Big would not exceed.
Mayor Cerino stated that what was unclear to the Town is what rules, if any, they should be following because they were not given any. Mayor Cerino stated that if there are Federal or State laws that mandate fiber utilities to be in the rights-of-way and then he was waiting on a legal opinion. He said that the Town has been put into a situation they did not ask for. Mr. Ingersoll stated that when the County came up with the plan for fiber for Kent County they should have gone a step further to figure out how the denser towns were going to be wired and if they needed ordinances or franchise agreements. Mayor Cerino stated that as a result the Town is mired in a mess. Mr. Wagner stated that he agreed it was a ridiculous situation.
Mayor Cerino stated that tonight he was looking for the nominations from Councilmembers for the Redistricting Committee and a motion to create the committee. Ms. Efland moved to create a Ward Districting Committee for Chestertown, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
The nominations were as follows:
- Ward 1: Vic Pfeiffer and Sam Shoge
- Ward 2: Linda Dawson and Charles Taylor
- Ward 3: Rebeccah Murphy
- Ward 4: Bill Maloney and Kitty Maynard.
Mr. Herz moved to approve the committee members as recommended, noting there is one vacancy from the Third Ward to be named later, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would put together some guidelines and goals for the Committee, including when and where meetings will take place. Mayor Cerino stated that he would like to have Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. de Mooy work with the members and have a goal to finish the map by the end of the calendar year and incorporate the new census numbers once they become available.
Mayor Cerino stated there will be a C-2 Business Forum held on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. on the 2nd floor of Town Hall which was open to the public. He said that he would like to brainstorm ways to strengthen the connection between boaters and the downtown shopping district. Ms. Branham, Marina Manager, would be present to give an overview of the Marina and answer any questions.
Mayor Cerino read Resolution 01-2020 Town of Chestertown Real Property Tax Credit for KRM Manufacturing Building (Lot 3) into the record and asked for a motion to approve. Mr. Foster moved to approve Resolution 01-2020 Real Property Tax Credit for KRM Manufacturing Building (Lot 3) as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that there would be an Economic Development Strategic Planning meeting on Wednesday, February 26 from 2 p.m. to 2:30 and on Wednesday, March 11th from 6-7:30 p.m. at 400 High Street. Mr. Foster stated that this is another opportunity to bring up the tax differential and how it is a threat to our economic development.
Mayor Cerino asked for Ward Reports.
Ms. Efland stated that the problems resulting from a damaged fire hydrant on Campus Avenue was fixed by Mr. Sipes. She said that there was some misinformation on the origin of the leak and said that it was not related to the installation of fiber and said that she did her best to quell the rumor that it had been.
Ms. Efland stated that Chester Gras was taking place on Saturday, February 22, 2020 and an Art Crawl would begin at the Kohl Gallery where there will be a list of other art studios and restaurants participating in the event.
Ms. Efland stated that Bayside Hoyas was having a Poetry Slam Workshop at the Kent County Public Library beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, February 21st.
Rev. Tolliver stated that Carpenter Park would have their dedication on May 9th from noon to 4 p.m. and said he was working with the Washington Park Neighborhood Group on the details.
Mr. Herz stated that Town employees continue to impress him, noting that Tom Sappington was an All-Star in his book. He said that Mr. Ingersoll has been great as well.
Mr. Foster stated that the Council of Governments meeting was in Chestertown the following day and said that he was encouraging the invitation of government officials from neighboring counties and towns to learn how things worked in other areas. He said that he invited people from Queen Anne’s County this month to discuss how they achieved the tax differential in their county.
Mr. Foster stated that Mayor Cerino made a wonderful presentation at the meeting with the Kent County Commissioners and said that the Town needed help if they were going to be successful in receiving a tax differential. He proposed establishing a committee for the effort. He said that there were many people in Chestertown who still did not understand what a tax differential was. He said that there had to be fair taxation in Kent County.
Mayor Cerino asked what Mr. Foster envisioned for the committee. Mr. Foster stated that he would like to have the committee members attend Kent County Commissioners’ meetings. He said that he still does not have an answer as to why Kent County is one of only three counties that does not provide a differential or abatement to their municipalities. Mayor Cerino stated that the Commissioners gave them a list of money that they spend in Chestertown and that the $330,000.00 worth of money spent in Chestertown appeared to be their idea of a fair differential. He said that he did not think that the County was going to help. Mr. Foster disagreed and said that he thought the members of the committee should be people who could get the word out such as writers, editors, speakers, etc.
Ms. Efland stated that if a tax differential was ever received there should also be discussion of ways for the Town and County to work better together long-term.
Mayor Cerino stated he thought that the Town could continue to work toward this and wind up with a small gesture from the Kent County Commissioners and nothing else. He said that he thought adding pressure might just annoy them. Mayor Cerino stated that the Town was going to have to raise tax rates or make a lot of cuts to the budget. Mr. Foster stated that if the Town was going to continue the services they were offering they needed help from the County. Mr. Foster stated that he would like to pursue legal and legislative options as well. Mayor Cerino stated that the citizens of the towns need to address the County Commissioners as they are not being taxed fairly.
Mr. Foster stated that a property tax is the most regressive of the taxes. He said that as a taxpayer, if the Town taxes were going to be raised, it would be appreciated if the County taxes were offset. Mayor Cerino stated that he did not see the Commissioners being receptive to the idea of an offset.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Kent County Commissioners have not raised property taxes, they have raised income tax to the maximum percentage allowed claiming that it would help the Towns. He said that this will provide Chestertown with more money, but it also provided the County with four times the amount that Chestertown will receive, which would be a large windfall for them.
Mr. Foster stated that he would like to nominate members for the committee at the next meeting with two (2) representatives from each ward. Mayor Cerino asked Mr. Foster to follow up with an email to the Council reminding them to find representatives for the committee.
Mr. Foster moved to establish a Tax Fairness and Efficiency Committee for purposes of shepherding a tax differential, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino asked if there were any questions or comments from the audience.
Mr. Menefee asked if the map provided by the ACLU in December would be used by the Redistricting Committee. Mayor Cerino stated that the map was not off the table, but he didn’t think the ACLU should make the map for them. He said it could be a template for the committee to review, adding that the committee may even want to have a representative from the ACLU and NAACP at the meetings.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the ACLU called the Town Attorney and are happy to help with methods to help get the Town on the same ballot as Presidential and Gubernatorial elections.
Ms. Nancy McGuire stated she sent out invitations to the businesses and residents about the Charrette the Mid-Cannon Group was planning to host. She said that an introduction meeting for the Charrette would be held on Thursday, March 19th at Occasions Catering at 6:00 p.m.
Ms. McGuire stated that she recently learned that an Airbnb was going in next to her house and said that she was not happy about not knowing who her neighbors were going to be from day to day. Ms. McGuire asked how Airbnb’s are regulated and she said that she was not informed about it at all. She said that after looking it up, she counted 37 Airbnb’s in the Historic District and asked if there were regulations on these establishments. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Town has been asking the County for 3 years to collect the Hotel Tax on these types of establishments. Mr. Ingersoll noted that there are sometimes zoning violations that go with this type of arrangement. He said that he sent a list of 29 Airbnb’s to Kent County and asked that letters regarding collecting the tax be mailed to them, but he doubted that anything was ever done. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the County has told the Town to require registration of the rental units like Airbnb’s and then tell the County who the registrants are.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he would begin to work on an Ordinance for registration of Airbnb’s in Chestertown and send the list to the County to make sure that they pay the hotel tax. Mr. Ingersoll stated that their rental units should have to register as a business as it was cutting into the livelihood of legitimate hotels and bed & breakfasts. Ms. McGuire stated that there were also privacy and safety issues that should be considered.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Mr. Herz moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:36 p.m., was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor