Agendas, Mayor and Council, Town Agendas & Minutes, 2022|

CHESTERTOWN MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING

SEPTEMBER 18, 2023

Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.  In attendance were Councilmembers Tim O’Brien, Tom Herz, Jose Medrano and Meghan Efland, 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 September 5, 2023.  Councilman Herz moved to approve the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of September 5, 2023. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and carried unanimously.

Mayor Foster reported that the cash on hand was $1,954,875.71. Councilwoman Efland made a motion to pay the bills. The motion was seconded by Councilman Herz and passed unanimously.

Police Report

Chief Dixon recognized Patrolman First Class Brandon McGinnis with the Chestertown Police Department (CPD), Trooper First Class Austin Emerson with Maryland State Police assigned to Centreville Barrack, Deputy First Class Aquil Freeman with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and presented certificates and lifesaving metals.  They were awarded for saving the life of a 7-11 store clerk that was found unresponsive. 

Chief Ron Dixon presented the CPD August monthly report.  He noted that Juvenile arrests were up with 6 arrests. Chief Dixon stated that unfortunately, with the juvenile reform that came out in June of 2022, it has not been very friendly towards citizens or law enforcement. It’s given way to too many opportunities for youth to believe that they won’t get held accountable and we’re going to prove that wrong. When juveniles commit certain crimes, we’re going to act on it and not turn a blind eye. Unfortunately, CPD had quite a few more juvenile referrals in the month of September. CPD has dealt with everything from burglaries to theft to bicycles to serious assaults. CPD will not allow our citizens and visitors to be tormented and terrorized by groups of children that think the law doesn’t apply to them.

Chief Dixon reported there were 578 red speed camera violations. He noted that this is the highest number he has seen since he has been in Chestertown. Speeds of 60 mph in a 30 are being recorded. 

Chief reviewed various functions he attended over the past month:

  • Maryland Chief’s and Chair’s Professional Development Seminar in Ocean City
  • Local Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council meeting
  • Several Farmers Markets
  • Chestertown Jazz Festival
  • Security Committee Meeting at Heron Point
  • 1st Annual Latina Festival

Chief Dixon gave an overview of the red speed cameras set up on Maple Avenue.

Chief Dixon noted that CPD would be receiving $2500-$3000 in grant funding to pay for half of the department’s bulletproof vests.

Intersection of high and queen – safety issues

Steve McWilliams reviewed the safety issues at the intersection of High and Queen.  He noted that this intersection has a high number of pedestrians. He reported that Doug at Evergrain told him that they are processing 5000 people a week at their establishment during the high part of the season.

Mr. McWilliams reviewed the Maryland transportation section of the Maryland Code, which states, “a person may not stand or park a vehicle within 30 feet on the approach to any flashing signal, stop sign, yield sign, or traffic control signal located at the side of a roadway”. He reviewed statistics of pedestrian fatalities in similar areas. He noted that painting the curb yellow would discourage parking too close to the stop sign and would allow for better visibility of pedestrians using the crosswalks and oncoming traffic.

Chief Dixon noted there are no accidents or incidents reported for that intersection but painting the curb would benefit the safety of pedestrians. He stated that he is in favor of anything that will keep citizens safe.  He suggested painting the curbs and freshening up the paint on crosswalks as well.

Mr. Herz noted that 30-foot yellow curb will eliminate possibly 50 parking spaces around town. 

Ms. Efland stated that if it’s a law, and we all acknowledge that it’s the law, I can’t see how we go forward without attempting to do something that makes that clearer. 

Mr. O’Brien agreed with Ms. Efland and stated that there’s no reason why we should hesitate to just go ahead and make yellow curbs at those two intersections, because we are a pedestrian town.

Councilman O’Brien made a motion to paint the curbs at Queen and High to the recommended distance, as well as the intersection of Cross and Cannon with a follow-up investigation of other intersections, in accordance with state law. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland.

Mr. Herz noted that this change will reduce parking and may inconvenience residents in their neighborhoods. He noted that they will be receiving a lot of calls and emails. He asked to postpone the vote until the October 2 meeting.

Councilman Herz made a motion to postpone the motion until the October 2 meeting. The motion failed to get a seconded and failed. The Mayor called for a vote on the first motion and passed with Councilman Herz opposed.

Mr. DiRe reviewed section 160-13.1 of the Chestertown Town Code entitled: Establishment of Residential-Only Parking Districts; Penalty.

  • Restriction Established. It shall be unlawful for owners of commercial property, employers and employees at the downtown commercial district to park their vehicles between the hours of 6am to 6pm daily, on the following residential only parking districts:
  • 100 block of High Street on both sides;
  • 100 block North Queen Street on the west side; and
  • 100 block South Queen Street on the west side.

 10 Years of Bocce Proclamation

Bruce Hartwig, League Treasurer, presented the history of the Chestertown Bocce league. October marks the tenth anniversary of the Ye Old Town Bocce League. 

Mr. Foster signed a proclamation to Frank Hurst, proclaiming October 21, 2023, as Frank Hurst Day.  The proclamation will be presented at the Bocce Fest event.

Constitution Week Proclamation

Rebecca Taylor, Daughter of the Revolution, the Old Kent Chapter, presented the history of Constitution week. She noted that on Sunday, September 17 the bells in Chestertown rang for the 236th anniversary of the signing of the constitution.

Mr. Foster read and signed the proclamation for Constitution week.

Chestertown Wastewater Plant Conversion Presentation

Darren White Tilghman, Director of Community Engagement at Shore Rivers and Dan Small, Director of the Natural Land Project at Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society reviewed the Chestertown Wastewater Plant Conversion partnership opportunity.

Ms. Tilghman noted that this project would be a great opportunity to use the land around the Chestertown wastewater treatment plant that is already a habitat for native and migratory birds. To enhance the area as a passive recreation habitat would combine native species for water quality and enhance quality of life for citizens by including walking trails. Shore Rivers and the Natural Land Project would use existing resources to activate the project, so that it is revenue neutral or even revenue positive for the town.

Mr. Small noted that this project is a 10-year commitment, not a permanent nature easement.  He reviewed that the grant funds will cover all the habitat installation and an incentive payment to the Town to offset the loss of farming income, a onetime payment of $650 per acre for the meadow portion of the project. He noted that the granting agencies that are funding these projects want to see some longevity to the projects and require a 10-year commitment.

Mr. Small noted that during that 10-year period, he would be working with the Town to oversee the management of the project to insure the area stays in prime condition for both the wildlife and visitors.

Ms. Tilghman noted that Shore Rivers commitment is in-kind design or concept services from their team of landscape architect and environmental engineer and a commitment to help grant fund the implementation and maintenance of this practice.

Lawrence Preserve Project Update and Opening

Drew McMullen invited the Mayor and Council to the Lawrence Preserve Project ribbon cutting.

Town Manager’s Report

Mr. DiRe reviewed the Town boards, commissions, committees’ activity update.

Mr. DiRe reviewed the Town email and social media practices update.

Mayors Report

Mr. Foster stated that he attended the bus load of books presentation at Washington College.

Mr. Foster stated that he attended the Maryland Municipal League (MML) held in Chestertown at the Cerino Center.

Mr. Foster noted that he met with Governor Moore and spoke about town county relationships and tax equity.

Old Business

Councilwoman Efland made a motion that we move forward with the signing of the MOU with the Friends of the Dog Park, Inc. The motion was seconded by Councilman Medrano and passed.  Mr. O’Brien recused himself from the vote. 

Mr. DiRe reviewed the management of bathroom trailer. The trailer and visitor center will be open for scheduled and permitted events to provide a place where people can access a bathroom.    

Ms. Efland reviewed the reinstatement of 01-2011 Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance and possible change to the term plastic bag to single use plastic bags. Ms. Efland asked for suggestions to update and/or write a new ordinance. 

Mr. Foster reviewed the history and gave an update on 98 Cannon. The town would like to demolish the structure however, the owner is not in favor of demolition.

Councilman O’Brien made a motion to appoint Elizabeth Watson to the Planning Commission to finish the term of Jeffery Grotsky. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Efland and passed unanimously.

New Business

Councilman Herz made a motion to re-appoint Loretta Lodge and Bob Ortiz to the Board of Supervisors of Elections. The motion was seconded by Councilman O’Brien and passed unanimously.

Ward Reports

Mr. O’Brien reported:

  • Had a follow-up meeting with hospital representatives regarding Bailey Park property to review the agreement. There being no formal agreement, the hospital will inquire if they can allow the Town to negotiate to own the property.
  • Attended the Recreation and Park Planning meeting.
  • Attended the Latina Festival.
  • Forwarded several text amendments to the Auxiliary Dwelling Unit (ADU) Zoning Ordinance, that he had suggested, to the State of Maryland.

Mr. Herz reported:

  • Kent County will hold a housing study symposium.
  • The next Council of Governments (COG) meeting will be in Galena.
  • Gave an update on the Chester River Trail legislative bond initiative. The County will publish public notices and guidelines for submissions.

Mr. Medrano reported:

  • There is a need to have lights at the crosswalk on Rt 20/Flatland Road intersection for the safety of the pedestrians, especially for the children using the park.
  • The front of the Subway shop has been cleaned up. Nina Fleegle noted that the property recently went up for auction and has a new owner. 

Ms. Efland reported:

  • Gave an update on the Board of Education Middle School project.
  • On the possible demolition of the Old Dixon Valve Property on High Street.  She read a statement made by Vic Sensenig at Washington College: “Our Advancement office was able to obtain demolition money from the state of Maryland, and now our Finance and Administration office is looking at zoning requirements and readying an environmental assessment. The current plan is to keep both the old Y and the warehouse next to it, but to demolish the remainder of the structures. President Sosulski reminded me that there is work being done to memorialize the cultural and historical significance of the space, largely through the Chesapeake Heartland initiative. Another positive story from the project will be the opportunity to recycle the granite for use at the bird banding station on the River and Field Campus. There is not a firm timeline for demolition, but the first quarter of 2024 would seem to be the earliest. The future use of the space is not yet determined, but it will be most immediately converted into a multifunctional green space.”
  • Attended the Fiesta Latina and ArtWalk events.
  • Highlighted the Kent County Chamber of Commerce upcoming Fall Funfest.

Dwight Zilinskas, Recreation Commission, spoke about the new kayak program.

There being no further business, Councilman Herz moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:45 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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AGENDA

SEPTEMBER 18, 2023

 

The Mayor and Council meeting will resume in person meetings at Town Hall.  A livestream feed is available at www.townofchestertown.com.

 

6:00 p.m.

MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING

  1. Call meeting to order
  2. Minutes of September 5, 2023, Mayor and Council meetings
  3. Operating funds on hand
  4. Payment of bills
  5. Consent Calendar
  6. Bruce Hartwig – 10 years of Bocce Ball Proclamation
  7. Rebecca Taylor, Proclamation for Constitution Week
  8. Shore Rivers Chestertown Wastewater Plant Conversion Presentation
  9. Drew McMullen, Lawrence Preserve Project Update and Opening
  10. Chief Ron Dixon police report
  11. Town Manager’s report
    1. Town boards, commissions, committees’ activity update
    2. Town email and social media practices update
  12. Mayor’s Report
  13. Old Business
    1. Signing of the MOU with Friends of Chestertown Dog Park, Inc.
    2. Management of Bathroom Trailer
    3. Reinstatement of 01-2011 Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance
    4. 98 Cannon Update
    5. Appoint of Elizabeth Watson to the Planning Commission to finish the term of Jeffery Grotsky
  14. New Business
    1. Re-appointment of Loretta Lodge and Bob Ortiz to the Board of Supervisors of Elections
  15. Ward Reports
  16. Requests from the public to be on the agenda:
    1. Steve McWilliams – Intersection of High and Queen – Safety Issues
  17. Questions or comments
  18. Adjourn
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