Agendas, 2024, Mayor and Council, Town Agendas & Minutes|

CHESTERTOWN MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING

FEBRUARY 20, 2024

 

Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.  In attendance were Councilmembers Tim O’Brien, Tom Herz (by Zoom), Jose Medrano (by Zoom), and Meghan Efland. Also in attendance were Larry DiRe (Town Manager), Lynda Thomas (Town Clerk) and guests.

Mayor Foster asked if there were any additions or corrections to the Mayor and Council minutes of February 5, 2024.  Councilwoman Efland moved to approve the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of February 5, 2024. The motion was seconded by Councilman O’Brien and carried unanimously.

Mayor Foster reported that the cash on hand was $3,255,673.56. Councilman O’Brien made a motion to pay the bills. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.

Public Hearing

Mayor and Council held a public hearing on the Maryland Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) to close out the 2021 project for Upper Shore Aging.

Councilman O’Brien made a motion to close the public hearing. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.

James Taylor Memorial Marker Presentation

Mr. Philip Dutton presented the James Taylor Justice Coalition presentation and recommended locations for the James Taylor Memorial Marker.

Police Report                                                       

Chief Ron Dixon presented the Chestertown Police Department (CPD) January 2024 monthly report.

Chief Dixon reported that for the month of January, total calls for service were down slightly, and criminal reports were up from December. There were 371 east bound red speed camera citations. The west bound red speed camera went live February 5th. There were 14 adults, and 2 juveniles arrested and no fatal overdoses to report.

Chief Dixon reviewed various functions he attended since his last presentation:

            Shore Regional Health Meeting

            Civil Disturbance Tabletop drill with Washington College

            Easter Shore Regional Law Enforcement Meeting

            Crisis Intervention Teen work group

            Leadership training for Department of Social Services (DSS)

            Alice Drill at Garnett Elementary School

            Local Alcohol and Abuse Council

            State Highway Administration (SHA) meeting

            Local Management Board Meeting

            Washington College monthly meeting

            PTSD seminar

            HOYAS presentation of Fredrick Douglas Day and the Day of Acknowledgement

            Polar Bear Plunge

Chief Ron Dixon presented the Chestertown Police Department (CPD) 2023 Annual Report.

Town Manager’s Report

Mr. DiRe gave an update on the Boards/Commissions/Committees’ activity report, Town Hall Fire Compliance, and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT)/State Highway Administration (SHA) Project.

Mr. O’Brien reviewed the need for more visible crosswalks. He referenced the fake brick crosswalks in Centreville.

Mayors Report

Mr. Foster reported that he attended the Maryland Economic Development Association meeting in Annapolis along with Jamie Williams, Kent County Economic Development Manager and Dick Story, Chair of the Economic Development and Tourism Commission.

Mr. Foster stated that the Eastern Shore Association of Municipalities (ESAM) has made a contract with the National Center of Smart Growth with the University of Maryland that is working on the tax differential study. He noted that there are three (3) counties on the Eastern Shore that have refused to provide any kind of tax set-off differential.

Mr. O’Brien reported that four (4) Queen Street residents are experiencing extreme run-off from the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company parking lot into their yards.  He noted that he and the Town Manager attended a meeting with the fire house and review the parking lot needs and issues.

Old Business

Mr. O’Brien reviewed a request from the Tree Committee & Washington College to start a GIS Tree Map project to map the town’s trees.

Mr. Jeffrey Coomer stated that the project would be a tree survey using the College’s software program. The Tree Committee would work with volunteers to map the trees, species, size, condition, potential hazards, and health of the tree and the college would maintain the data.

Mr. Coomer noted that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) states that it is $2000 to do the work with $1000 to initiate the process. The time frame to do the initial survey could take 4 to 6 months. After the first two (2) years, the College would charge $100 a year to host the data.

Councilman O’Brien made a motion to approve the Tree Committees request for immediate $1000 plus an additional $1000 within the year to support the GIS Tree Mapping program. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.

The following Ordinances were introduced:

Mr. DiRe noted that the Tree Committee will be holding a meeting to further review 01-2024 Tree Ordinance and 04-2024 Plastic Bag Ordinance is not complete.

Councilman O’Brien made a motion to table the introduction of the 01-2024 Tree Ordinance and 04-2024 Plastic Bag Ordinance until further clarification. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.

02-2024 Ethics, repeal Chapter 12 in its entirety and re-adopt to reflect changes made by the State of Maryland.

03-2024 Meadows, to add a new subsection 4 to section 54 of the Town code and renumber current section 54-4 to section 54-5 for the purpose of permitting and regulating the creation of meadows on private property within the town.

Mr. Marcus Goldman at 409 Greenwood Avenue, reviewed potential changes to the 03-2024 Meadows Ordinance.

Councilman O’Brien made a motion to introduce 02-2024 Ethics Ordinance and set the public hearing date for March 4. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.

Mr. DiRe reviewed the Website Request for Proposal (RFP).

New Business

Mr. DiRe reviewed the Town Congressionally Directed Spending Application.

Mr. O’Brien noted that ARPA money had been set aside for facilities and park upgrades.

Mr. DiRe reviewed the Nuisance Stormwater Plan.

Councilwoman Efland made a motion to adopt the Kent County Nuisance Storm Water Plan. The motion was seconded by Councilman O’Brien and passed unanimously.

Mr. DiRe reviewed the Town Grants – In Hand, Pending Apply and Decision.

Ms. Efland asked about having quarterly budget reviews to help with grant and budgeting decisions.

Mr. O’Brien noted that he advocated for a contracted grant writer as he feels town staff does well on small grants but does not have sufficient capacity to pursue or administer larger more complicated grants.

Mr. Foster stated he felt that grants could be sought out by both staff and outside contractors and asked if the Town had the staff capacity to go after grants and manage them.

Ms. Efland stated that she felt they should have another strategic planning session to gather priorities and get staff input. 

Mr. O’Brien stated that one of the principal applications and duties of the Planning Commission is to send large scale recommendations and projects to go after.

Mr. O’Brien introduced the Short-term Rental (STR) Ordinance that the Town of Millington had adopted. He noted that STR was a new business model that other towns are experiencing issues with. He stated that a lot of STR businesses are operated by owners that live out of the state. He noted that there have been nuisance complaints regarding Airbnb and Vrbo rentals and with the owners living out of the state makes it hard to contact the owners.

Mr. David Sobers, Byford Court, spoke regarding a STR in his area. He noted the trash and parking issues and stated there should be limits on how many people are allowed to stay in a STR, according to the number of bedrooms available. The extra number of renters are taking up parking area from the residents.

Mr. Daniel Saunders, Esquire, 14 Byford Court, stated that STR’s are a zoning/land use regulation issue. He reviewed several areas in the Town code and noted that in the code, Bed and Breakfast, boarding house, and rooming houses all require that the proprietor live on the premises.

Ms. Donna Saunders asked who residents should call if the website states sixteen (16) guests for six (6) bedrooms and there are twenty (20) cars on the street and cots are being brought in to accommodate extra guests. 

Mr. DiRe stated that fifteen (15) guests and above constitute a hotel which is considered a commercial operation and cannot exist in a residential district. Right now, the Town could inquire if the owners of STRs are paying enough taxes. 

Mr. O’Brien stated that under the current code, they do not have the teeth to do what needs to be done to regulate the offenders. He noted that is why he is introducing the ordinance.

Mr. Bob Sipes gave an update on the hospital ground contamination.  He reported that there have been concerns about contamination moving south of Brown Street and the numbers are increasing but have not reached the threshold set by MDE and has not shown up in any sentential wells. He noted that staff will continue to monitor the area.

Ward Reports

Ms. Efland reported:

  • Attended the Bayside HOYAS program.

Mr. Medrano reported:

  • Reported he had no update or correspondence for Ward 3.

Mr. Herz reported:

  • Attended the public Art Committee meeting and heard public comments regarding the Head sculpture.
  • was invited to speak at the Maryland Technical Assistance Program regarding the spending trends for projects relative to ARPA spending. He noted that he will be speaking about ARPA and the taskforce process.
  • Asked Mr. Foster to nominate Natalie Hagan to the IT Study Group.

Mr. O’Brien reported:

  • Attended the Fire House meeting with the Town Manager, and asked about current policies on renting the firehall and access to their commercial kitchen.
  • Had discussions with the Mayor regarding permission to confer with Mainstreet about funds made available for public restrooms.

Public Comment

Mr. Steven Mitchell gave public comment on a tree removal on Water Street.

There being no further business, Councilman O’Brien moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:57 pm. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and carried unanimously.

Submitted by:                                                             Approved by:

Lynda Thomas, Town Clerk                                       David Foster, Mayor

 

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CHESTERTOWN MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING

AGENDA

FEBRUARY 20, 2024

The Mayor and Council meetings are held in Town Hall, 118 N. Cross Street.  The livestream feed is available at www.townofchestertown.com.

If you would like to make a presentation to the Mayor and Council, contact the Town Clerk, office@chestertown.com, no later than noon the Wednesday prior to a scheduled meeting. Regularly scheduled meetings are held the first and third Mondays of the month, unless Monday is a holiday, then the meeting will be held the following Tuesday, unless otherwise announced. Presentations are to be no longer than ten (10) minutes in length.

 

6:00 p.m.

MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING

  1. Call meeting to Order
  2. Approval of February 5, 2024, Mayor and Council Meeting Minutes
  3. Operating funds on hand
  4. Payment of bills
  5. Consent Calendar
  6. Public Hearing
    1. Maryland Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG)
  7. Philip Dutton – James Taylor Memorial Marker Presentation
  8. Chief Ron Dixon police report
  9. Town Manager’s January Report  – 2023 Annual Report
    1. Town boards, commissions, committees’ activity report
    2. Town Hall Fire Compliance
    3. MDOT/SHA Project
  10. Mayor’s Report
  11. Old Business
    1. Tree Committee & Washington College GIS Tree Map
    2. Introduce Ordinances
      1. 01-2024 Trees
      2. 02-2024 Ethics
      3. 03-2024 Meadows
      4. 04-2024 Plastic Bags
    3. Website RFP 
  12. New Business
    1. Town Congressionally Directed Spending Application
    2. Nuisance Stormwater Plan
    3. Town Grants – In Hand, Pending Apply and Decision
    4. Short Term Rental Ordinance   
  13. Ward Reports
  14. Requests from the public to be on the agenda:
    1. Short Term Rental – Daniel Saunders handout
    2. Trees – Steven Mitchell comments
  15. Questions or comments
  16. Adjourn

(Meetings are conducted in Open Session unless otherwise indicated. All or part of Mayor and Council meetings can be held in closed session under the authority of the Maryland Open Meetings Law by vote of the Commissioners. Please note that the order of agenda items may change as time dictates or allows. Meetings are subject to audio and video recordings.)

 

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