MAYOR AND COUNCIL
NOVEMBER 1, 2021
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:55 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers Samuel Shoge, Tom Herz 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 Public Hearing on the Expansion of the Arts & Entertainment District and Mayor and Council Meeting of October 18, 2021. Mr. Herz moved to approve the minutes of the meetings of October 18, 2021, as presented, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that the operating funds on hand amount was $2,378,883.85.
Mayor Foster asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Mr. Efland moved to pay the bills as presented, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the following day was election day in Chestertown and said that the polls would be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Fire Hall, 211 Maple Avenue.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he signed the permit for Brewfest for November 6, 2021.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Halloween Parade went off without a hitch due to the cooperation between the Lion’s Club and the Farmer’s Market. He noted that Mayor Foster had talked to every vendor to make it happen. He said that the Lion’s Club would plan for a different time of day after this year’s parade.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Mr. Herz wanted to discuss the ARPA Task Force and said that he thought considerations had to be made beforehand by the Council on the basic categories of spending that would be pursued. Mr. Herz stated that he prepared a vision statement and mission statement which he read into the record. Mr. Ingersoll stated that a basic outline might be helpful before they did anything else. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the funding was based on revenue loss calculations made by the State of Maryland using Chestertown’s audit from two years before. One obvious use of the funds should be in the water plant where Mr. Sipes wants to bury the electric wires and replace the 30 year old generator.
Mr. Shoge asked if a task force was necessary as it can lead to more complications. He said that this was advisory in nature, and he wanted to make sure that any advisory group was following strict guidelines. Mr. Shoge stated that he believed in community engagement, but it was ultimately up to the Mayor and Council and there were already many things that the Town needed in ways of infrastructure. Mr. Shoge suggested discussing their priorities before naming candidates for the advisory board.
Mr. Ingersoll read a letter of support sent to the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area for the Chestertown Tea Party between meetings. The Council approved the letter.
Mayor Foster read of letter of support for the Historical Society to the Stories of the Chesapeake for window exhibits. The Council agreed to the letter of support.
Mayor Foster stated that it was an incredible weekend in Town with Downrigging and said that he was pleased that the Halloween Parade was able to work through the Farmers Market taking place on High Street.
Mayor Foster stated that the election was scheduled for the next day, November 2, 2021. He said that even though the Mayoral race was uncontested, it was still important to vote.
Mayor Foster asked for ward reports.
Mr. Shoge stated that Mayor Foster filled in for him at Heron Point’s anniversary.
Mr. Shoge stated that he listened to the candidate’s forum and wished them well. He said that the League of Women Voters did an excellent job hosting their forum.
Mr. Herz stated that he wanted to thank Mr. Ingersoll with a constituent problem today and said that it went well.
Mr. Herz thanked Sultana for a wonderful Downrigging Weekend.
Mr. Herz stated that he would encourage the Council to reach out to Annie Richards at Shore Rivers to see the scale of the projects at Bailey Park.
Mr. Herz stated that the hearing for the solar field on Morgnec Road was upcoming and suggested a unified statement be prepared. Mr. Foster stated that he was scheduled to speak on the matter on Thursday. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he could draft a resolution. Ms. Efland moved to compose a resolution for the county meeting on the solar field on Morgnec Road, opposing the location of the project, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll addressed the progress on the stormwater problems experienced by North Water Street residents a few weeks before. He said that all storm drainpipes were checked for impediments to drainage. All pipes were clear or had been cleared except for one pipe that crossed the 100 North block of Water Street laterally near High. It was discovered that this pipe was not level with the pipe that it entered parallel with the road and thus was only operating a fraction of its effectiveness. This allowed water from Queen Street to collect at the part of Water Street that was the subject of the complaints. He said that the water coming from High Street was also being studied on in how the wheels of parked cars redirected stormwater from the curb onto the sidewalk, where it then followed the terrain to the 100 block of North Water.
Ms. Efland stated that Meghan White from the Washington College SGA commented on dangerous sidewalks and crossing at the curbs on Washington Avenue especially at Morgnec Road. Mr. Ingersoll asked that Ms. Efland provide a list that he would work on to get the concrete repaired on unsafe sidewalks.
Mayor Foster stated that John Queen asked to be on the agenda. Mr. Queen stated that he wanted the Council to be aware of living conditions at some of the housing units in town. He said that HUD federal housing has discrimination at two complexes. He said that he had residents from Brookmeadow with him to discuss the lack of communication from the property manager. He said that he believes there is bending or possibly breaking of HUD housing policy rules. Mr. Queen stated that the residents feel as though they do not have a voice. He said there were several residents of Brookmeadow in attendance.
Ms. Neari Wilson, resident of Brookmeadow for 5 years, stated that the first 3 years at Brookmeadow were good and her partner Mr. Tiller stayed with her. Once her daughter was born, the management claimed that Mr. Tiller had to be on the lease, and they were told that he would not be approved to live in the apartment with her and the baby. She said that she was moved from a one bedroom to a two bedroom apartment that had an air conditioner leak into the living room rug causing eventual mold and mildew. For it to be fixed, management required a note from the doctor saying that her daughter had allergies and asthma. She said that she had visible mold in her two bedroom unit, including a leak that they were unaware existed which left them displaced and she was told that they did not have to pay rent. Ms. Wilson stated that now the manager was telling her that they would not fix it. Ms. Wilson stated that when anyone questions management, they ultimately find a reason for eviction.
Mr. Queen stated that everyone in the room has until December 31st to leave their apartment as they have all been evicted. Mr. Queen stated that in June 2020 they were told by management that renovations were about to take place. He said that he was told to move to Kent Crossing for a year in October and they did not know how long the process was going to take and he wanted to know how long he would be living out of boxes. Mr. Queen stated that HUD was difficult to contact because the managers were not providing any phone numbers and not leaving a paper trail.
Mr. Ingersoll asked if the project and units were funded by HUD. He said if it was then the first recourse to problems that they had with management would be to call HUD. If they received no help from HUD, they should contact their congressman about any failure of HUD to react to problems in their realm. Mr. Queen asked if the Mayor and Council could possibly write a letter to their congressman and HUD to tell them that there is a pattern of not caring. Mr. Queen stated that they are met with barriers at every turn.
Ms. Paula Reeder, resident of Kent County, stated that the discussion of a task force for the ARPA funding concerned her in that sometimes task forces fail in truly representing an entire community.
Ms. Reeder stated that she would like for the Council to consider withdrawing their opposition to the solar farm proposal on Morgnec Road. She said that Chestertown is already on the losing end of spectrum when it comes to allocation of resources in the State. Ms. Reeder stated that they have been asking for resources from the County for years and the Towns are fronting most tax dollars that go into County services. She said that the solar farm proposal has been out since 2016 and sits on over 400 acres. This property was zoned industrial originally and was an opportunity to bring $80 million into our community and add renewable energy resources to the community.
Ms. Meghan White, president of Washington College SGA, stated that she was going to photograph specific locations and do a safety walk with other students in reference to the crosswalks in Chestertown.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Mr. Herz moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:35 p.m. was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan David Foster
Town Clerk Mayor