MAYOR AND COUNCIL
AUGUST 2, 2021
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 7:06 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers Samuel Shoge, Tom Herz, Ellsworth Tolliver and Meghan Efland, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.
Mayor Foster asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Mayor and Council Meeting of July 19, 2021. Rev. Tolliver moved to approve the minutes of the meetings of July 19, 2021, as presented, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that the operating funds on hand amount was $1,486,181.80.
Mayor Foster asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Mr. Herz moved to pay the bills as presented, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Drew McMullen was present on behalf of the Sultana Education Foundation to discuss Downrigging Weekend. Mr. McMullen said that they were optimistic that there would still be a festival, but it would be reevaluated if new Covid regulations are put in place. Mr. Herz suggested that Mr. McMullen keep Mr. Ingersoll apprised of the process as they move forward and if any changes were necessary to the permit.
Ms. Elizabeth Watson was present on behalf of the Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance to discuss the industrial scale solar project that the County is considering for what is known as the Clark Farm on Rt. 291. She said that an extension was granted by the judge for the settlement and Kent County should be making a statement on the matter at their next meeting. Ms. Watson stated that she intended to stay firm in her opposition to the project. Mr. Herz stated that apparently the County had several different items that they wanted to have addressed before allowing the solar farm to move forward.
Ms. Watson stated that the Chestertown was a National Historic Landmark and there should not be an industrial scale solar field on the way into Town. She recommended that anyone who thought this solar facility would not be a mess should visit other similar facilities that have been up for a few years. Mr. Shoge stated that this could be a missed opportunity for the growth of Chestertown. Ms. Watson stated that they thought this site was where Harriett Shephard embarked from on her way to freedom from slavery.
Ms. Watson stated that the Alliance and the Town are already interveners in the case and can intervene at any time if they were not satisfied with the settlement made by Kent County. Ms. Watson stated that Kent County has zoning that allows for solar, but this is not a location where the zoning allows this type of activity.
Mayor Foster asked what Ms. Watson wanted from the Town. Ms. Watson stated that the questions posed by them to the applicant have not been answered and this area was designated by the Town as a growth area. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he did not think that the Town would be happy with the future infrastructure that would deliver power from the solar field to the grid (i.e., the poles and transformers) and those power the lines should be installed underground for as far as that is possible.
Mr. Shoge asked if annexing the property would put a wrench into the plans. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the property was not adjacent to the Town and therefore could not be annexed. Further, the owners had to agree to annexation if they were adjacent. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the issue here is that the State has taken away the zoning powers of the County to allow for the expansion of solar as a public energy priority.
Ms. Watson stated that all that was needed at this time is for Mayor Foster to change the names on former Mayor Cerino’s testimony in the intervention and adopt it as his own.
Mr. Owen Bailey stated that a charrette was performed of the Clark farm in 2008 and the community wanted to see multi-family housing in that area.
Mr. David Sobers asked why there were not quarterly meetings between the Town and County where common interests could be discussed. Mayor Foster stated that it was a great idea.
Mr. Shoge moved for Mayor Foster to re-sign the original testimony of Mayor Cerino reinforcing the testimony of Mayor Cerino, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll read the election schedule into the record. The election for Mayor, First and Third Wards would be held on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the MVA bus was back in Town (at 848 High Street) and was now by appointment only.
Mr. Herz asked about applicants for the Chief of Police position. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the panel in place had narrowed the field of applicants to five or six and was contacting those applicants to arrange for preliminary interviews.
Mr. Herz asked if there was an exit interview performed with Mr. Barroll. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he did not think that Mr. Barroll wanted to leave the Town as attorney, but he was excited for the new opportunity in Caroline County. He asked if Mayor Foster would like to give the exit interview. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he received some phone calls about the advertisement for a new attorney but had received no resumes applications to date.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Townies are back as a bocce team, ready to defend their title.
Mayor Foster stated that the Kent County Zoning Board of Appeals was again hosting a hearing (August 2) at the Commissioners’ office concerning Minary’s Dream Alliance’s request for a conditional use at the former American Legion facility..
Mayor Foster stated that Covid-19 was now a pandemic of the unvaccinated and he encouraged people to get vaccinated.
Mayor Foster stated that on August 14th the Special Olympics kayak events would be held on the Chester River at the Wilmer Park.
Mayor Foster stated that Ed Minch died recently of a heart attack while he was working on the latest Kent Attainable Housing project. He said that Ed had also served on the Chestertown Historic District Commission and his death was a loss for the entire community.
Mayor Foster asked for a motion to reappoint Mr. Steven Atkinson to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Ms. Efland moved to reappoint Steven Atkinson to the Zoning Board of Appeals was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried with 4 in favor, Mr. Shoge recused citing a conflict of interest.
Mr. Herz stated that he has been working on a plan to pinch the intersection of High and Queen Street for traffic calming and emailed drawings earlier in the day to the Council. He said that the first segment of work was the project delineation in a pop-up fashion to gather data and the second was communicating to constituents that this was a temporary display.
Mr. Herz stated that they had three previews where neighbors could see what was going to take place and said that about 40 people attended. He said that they would now begin fundraising to pay for the materials for the plan (which was close to $2,000.00) by way of grants and donations. He said that he wanted the Council to be aware that it was happening. Mr. Herz stated that they were looking to Philosophers Terrace for another area.
Mr. Shoge stated that he did not like plastic delineators that are being used for the demonstration project and said he thought they would be destroyed in no time. He suggested that they look for something stronger to use. Mr. Bailey stated that these were spring posts instead of aluminum ones.
Mr. Herz stated that the money received from ARPA should be used helping people to get vaccinated, especially since the Delta variant of the virus seems to transmit to easily.
Rev. Tolliver stated that Washington Park Day was fast approaching, and Coventry Community Day was holding their first event his year.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he would like to reach out to businesses on the Upper end of High Street to see if they could use of the ARPA funds to recover from the pandemic.
Ms. Efland stated that the Rail-Trail extension was moving forward with Bramble working on the signal equipment on Morgnec Road. She said that they were hopeful to begin construction this month.
Ms. Wanda Boyer was present and said that the uptown area needs assistance, proposing some type of community clean-up. Mr. Ingersoll stated that would be done soon through a free dumpster program that Kees DeMooy was spearheading.
Ms. Boyer stated that the speed bump on Prospect Street is now to the side of the road and the road is soft from the construction. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he was hoping to repave the whole street soon.
Ms. Boyer stated that the residents from her community would like to hold a block party on the 9th of October (with a rain date of October 16). Mr. Ingersoll stated that they could submit a permit for the event whenever they were ready.
Ms. Boyer asked if the Equity Advisory Committee could take over the maintenance of the street murals for the duration of said Committee. The Council stated that Ms. Boyer should make contact with the Equity Advisory Committee and submit that proposal to them.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Mr. Herz moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:55 p.m. was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan David Foster
Town Clerk Mayor