MAYOR AND COUNCIL
FEBRUARY 16, 2021
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:31 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers David Foster, Thomas Herz, Ellsworth Tolliver and Meghan Efland, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Kees de Mooy (Zoning Administrator), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.
Ms. Mulligan stated that an Executive Session had been held at 6:30 p.m. on February 16, 2021 via Zoom. In attendance were Mayor Chris Cerino, Councilmembers David Foster, Thomas Herz, Ellsworth Tolliver and Meghan Efland, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Kees de Mooy (Zoning Administrator), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and Stewart Barroll, Esquire (Town Attorney). The topic of discussion were personnel issues and possible changes to employment, and potential litigation. No motions were made or passed. The statutory authority for the closed session fell under §3-305(b)(1) “to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom this public body has jurisdiction, or any other personnel affects one or more specific individuals.” Mr. Herz voted to close the meeting,whic h was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously. The meeting ended at 7:15p. m.
Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Mayor and Council Meeting of February 1, 2021. Rev. Tolliver moved to approve the minutes of the February 1, 2021 Mayor and Council Meeting, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that operating funds on hand was $2,139,380.59.
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 Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Mr. Larry Wilson and Mr. Phil Dutton were present on behalf of the James Taylor Justice Coalition. Mr. Wilson stated that the coalition was a project that came out of the Equal Justice Initiative. Mr. Dutton stated that mission of the project was to remember those who were lynched, including James Taylor who was lynched in Chestertown (at the Courthouse near the present Town Hall) in May of 1892. He said that people must be honest about the past to move on in the future. This Coalition remembers those people who were lynched and tells their story. He said that the goal was for justice through education and engagement with the community. On May 15th there will be a commemoration of James Taylor in Chestertown.
Mr. Dutton stated that a $5,000.00 scholarship fund has been established by the coalition and is awarded based upon essays and open to all 9th through 12th graders.
Mr. Dutton stated that the values of the Coalition are inclusion, respect, collaboration and accountability.
Mr. Dutton stated that the James Taylor Justice Coalition was a part of Sumner Hall, joined by many other community partners, and he hoped that the Town of Chestertown and the Equity Advisory Committee would join them.
Mayor Cerino stated that he fully supported the Coalition adding that this was a tragedy that needed to be acknowledged. Rev. Tolliver moved that the Mayor and Council and the Town support the James Taylor Justice Coalition and bring the issues to the County and Town, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino asked if there was a way the town could help with the dedication on May 15th. Mr. Dutton stated that details are being worked out and he would keep in contact with Mayor Cerino. Mayor Cerino stated that community dialogue was an initiative of the Equity Advisory Committee and they would like to help promote the event. Mr. Dutton said that there would be many events on this topic.
Ms. Darran Tilghman, Chair, was present on behalf of the Environmental Committee. Ms. Tilghman stated that their committee works in work groups focused on different areas of concern for the environment. She said that they have been able to get help for the oil spill, apply for electric charging stations, organize clean up and restoration at Carpenter Park and help to safely restore the Farmers Market and food security programs.
Ms. Tilghman stated that the Environmental Committee is happy to join the Town in creating cohesive resilient road map for Chestertown working with many other citizen and town groups to align goals and connect them to ordinances, action plans and funding streams.
Mayor Cerino stated that he would like the Committee to work on a rendering of the Heritage Trail showing how the waterfront walk is a broader vision for connectivity though the whole community. He said that he would like to have the trail network map by the end of the year. Ms. Efland agreed, stating that connectivity to different areas of Town would be a huge project and it would be great if many people were working on it together. Mayor Cerino stated that if there was a new trail plan formalized, the Planning Commission could adopt it as part of their Comprehensive Plan.
Mayor Cerino stated that working on the tree canopy was another project that had a large impact on Town.
Ms. Efland stated that continued work on recycling would be helpful so that people know what can and cannot be recycled.
Chief Dolgos presented the January 2021 police report. Two (2) officers took the CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) classes, and two (2) additional officers were taking the class in April. Mayor Cerino stated that CIT training was one of the actions items on the list as part of restorative justice training.
Rev. Tolliver asked what Beat 5 and Beat 6 entailed in the report as he thought they were new additions. Chief Dolgos stated that Beat 5 would be anything outside of Chestertown’s jurisdiction. Beat 6 is “at large” and he would have to investigate what occurred in that Beat as he said it was not used very often and said that he thought that it may have been miscoded activity.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the next item on the agenda was the adoption of Ordinance 01-2021 Amendment to Chapter 170 Zoning Making certain text change amendments to§170-87.C.(5) of the Chestertown Zoning Ordinance. He said that this allows wider lots in C-3 zoning to have larger signs (that they were permitted when they were in the C-1 zone, before it changed to C-3). A public hearing had been held on the matter just before the Mayor and Council meeting. Rev. Tolliver moved to adopt 01-2021, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll read Resolution 01-2021 into the record. The Resolution formally recognized the Chestertown Environmental Committee which had been originally created as the Green Team in 2013. Ms. Efland moved to approve Resolution 01-2021 as submitted in support of formally acknowledging the Environmental Committee, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he was in receipt of a request from the shop owners on Park Row for 2-hour parking zone on their side of the street only. He said that their letter pointed out difficulty for customers to get to their stores because of the construction on the block, the Farmer’s Market when it was there, and the practice of employees from other nearby businesses leaving their cars there all day. They also complained about curb and sidewalk conditions on the block. Mr. Ingersoll added that he would like to renovate the sidewalks on that block once the construction was finished.
Chief Dolgos stated that signs would have to be posted for 2-hour parking if that was the wish of the Council. He said that he would see that the matter was enforced. Rev. Tolliver asked if the police receive many calls to enforce 2-hour parking. Chief Dolgos stated that he seldom received calls about people remaining too long in a space, but when it happens, the law was enforced. He said it was more commonplace when the meters were enforced.
Mr. Herz asked where residents on that block would park. Mr. Ingersoll stated that residents would park on the Fountain Park side of the street and there was some shared parking in the rear of the buildings.
Mr. Herz moved for a 2-hour parking limit on Park Row (across from Fountain Park) during business hours, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he wanted to thank the Street Crew, who has been working at half staffing through the storms, while the other half has been out with Covid. He said that he was proud of the men for stepping up with all the bad weather. The Council agreed.
Mayor Cerino stated that he would like a motion to appoint Frank Rhodes to the Recreation Commission. Mr. Foster moved to appoint frank Rhodes to the Recreation Commission, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that a vacancy has come up on the Planning Commission and he would like to nominate Anthony D’Elia to that Commission. Mayor Cerino and Mr. Herz stated that Mr. D’Elia had experience serving on Planning Commissions in New Jersey in the past and would be a great fit. Mayor Cerino stated that he would ask for an appointment at the next meeting.
Mayor Cerino asked for ward reports.
Mr. Foster stated that the law firm of Bergeson & Campbell was an important asset, and he would like to involve them in the process of the oil spill and copy them on communications. He said that Ken Guttman, the new consultant hired by the Hospital, was keeping up with communications as he had promised to do.
Mr. Foster stated that he has complained repeatedly about the vaccination appointments, but he was finally able to get a vaccine last week. He said that Walgreen’s is now accepting vaccination appointments and he hoped for better communication from the Health Department, the Hospital and Walgreen’s on ways to secure a vaccine appointment. Mr. Herz stated that he was working on an update of vaccination information on the “Chestertown Responds” Facebook page.
Mr. Foster stated that he wanted to thank the organizations who are stepping up to help people secure appointments for the vaccine. Rev. Tolliver stated that people were interested in getting the vaccinations and he may do an update with the Mayor to try to reach the black community, adding that the Hispanic community is being underserved in their community with information on the vaccine.
Mr. Herz stated that he was proud of the Street Crew and said that they were working all hours of the day and night, but he did not realize some that they were not at full staffing.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he received complaints that the Equity Advisory Committee making decisions about what is brought forth to Council. He said that the Equity Advisory Committee is not a clearinghouse and should not be making decisions on behalf of the Council. Ms. Rosie Granillo of the Local Management Board stated that she found herself going through a difficult process trying to get on the Equity Advisory Committee’s agenda and did not feel that this was the in the spirit of their work. Rev. Tolliver stated that a person should not have to jump through hurdles to be heard. Mr. Foster agreed, stating that this was an advisory committee and not a gatekeeper. Ms. Granillo stated that she emailed with the Committee for over a week and then was not permitted on the agenda.
Rev. Tolliver stated that MML Hall of Fame is accepting applications and he said that he would like to nominate Marty Stetson for that honor. Mr. Foster stated that he thought that was a great idea as Mr. Stetson was a big part of Maryland Municipal League and the Council of Governments. Rev. Tolliver moved to nominate Marty Stetson for the MML Hall of Fame, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Ms. Efland stated that there was a lot of activity at the new YMCA construction site and she was looking forward to the day it was finished.
Ms. Efland stated that Mr. Owen Bailey would be at the next Mayor and Council meeting to discuss ideas for different projects to slow down traffic, adding bike paths and other ideas for pedestrian safety.
Mayor Cerino stated that there was an Open Meetings Complaint allegation and violation for the Special Meeting of the Mayor and Council held on November 20, 2020 with the Hospital and MDE. He said that although the public is not able to speak without approval of the Chair, a violation was found in that the meeting was not live-streamed in real time. He said that the meeting, in its entirety, is available to view at www.townofchestertown.com and that the oversite, however unintentional, was found to be a violation of the Act by the Open Meetings Compliance Board.
Mayor Cerino asked if there were any questions or comments from the audience.
Mr. John Queen was present and said that the Equity Advisory Committee knows that they are an extension of the Town and do not make decisions for the Council. He said that they are doing their best to vet organizations to see how they will help implement their plan. Mr. Queen stated that they know what the issues are they are trying to solve; their job is to report ways to implement the plan and he connected the Local Management Board with people who provide trainings. He said that he feels as though the Committee is doing their job. Mr. Queen stated that he needs to know about complaints to know if he was not helping someone who is coming before them.
Mayor Cerino stated that one criticism he had received in the past was that he, as Mayor, did not come to the community before making decisions. He said that the Equity Advisory Committee was doing their best to navigate the new Committee and said that everyone was trying to do the right thing and get to the same place.
Chief Dolgos stated that he found out that Beat 6 was for field training and how the officer logged their time.
Mr. Kevin Denice of the SGA at Washington College stated that he thought the Resolution for the Environmental Committee was nicely done and that it gives the environmental students who want to reach out and help with efforts in the community a place to go.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Ms. Efland moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:08 p.m., was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor