MAYOR AND COUNCIL
SEPTEMBER 19, 2016
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:38 p.m. In attendance were Council members Liz Gross, Linda Kuiper, Samuel T. Shoge and Mauritz Stetson, W. S. Ingersoll, Town Manager, Jennifer Mulligan, Town Clerk and guests.
Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of September 6, 2016. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the minutes as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that total operating cash on hand for unrestricted use is $792,839.69 and there was assigned funds for waterfront initiatives in the amount of $180,480.00 for total operating funds of $973,319.69.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Mr. Stetson moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that many months were spent negotiating with the Hospital to finally reach an agreement regarding the oil spill. Some Council meetings were held in closed sessions under Article 3-305(b)7 of the Open Meetings Act which defined the action as “meet with legal counsel to discuss legal matters”. At the final closed meeting a straw vote was taken to see if the Council was comfortable signing the Agreement. Mr. Divilio of the Kent County News lodged a formal complaint that the Council exceeded what should have been discussed by acting on a matter in the closed session. Mayor Cerino stated that the Compliance Board agreed with Mr. Divilio in that the closing statement cited 3-305(b)7, the legal advice exception, but did not cite 3-305(b)8 for pending litigation. The Board construed the exception strictly as required by 3-305(a) to mean that “once advice by an attorney has been provided, a public body must return to open session to discuss policy implications of the advice it had received. Here the closed session minutes show that most of the discussion fell easily into the legal advice exception as disclosed by the post session summary, however, the Council members strayed into a discussion about how each would act on the advice that they received from the attorneys present. That discussion was apparently brief, but it exceeded the scope of the exception and deprived the public of the opportunity to observe every phase of the Council’s deliberations on the matter”.
Mayor Cerino stated that he disagreed with the opinion, noting that it was an advisory opinion and there was no appealing it. He said he was required to announce the findings into the record and said that if there was an error at the end of the deliberations he wanted to apologize on behalf of the Council, although he believed this to be a technicality. Mayor Cerino stated that the Hospital agreement ultimately was signed and he thought everyone was satisfied with its protections.
Mayor Cerino introduced a representative of Washington College SGA. Mr. Thomas Brennan, Chief of Staff for the Student Government Association, stated that for the interim period Ms. Audrey Utchen will serve as liaison between the Town and student body as there was a result in change of leadership. The College was searching for a new Secretary of Student Services and Community Relations.
Mr. Brennan stated that a major goal for the SGA this year was to continue to educate the student body on the benefits of shopping locally.
Mr. Brennan stated that he was hoping to coordinate with the Town and conduct a community service project similar in scope to the turnout last year (or larger) with the Rail-Trail cleanup.
Mayor Cerino stated that he was happy to see students downtown and appreciated the cleanup last year and all of the students who participated. Mr. Shoge stated that he would like to hear from students as to what they would like to see in Town as well. Ms. MacIntosh stated that there were many students downtown for First Friday and she hoped that would continue.
Mr. Drew McMullen was present to give an update on the Chestertown Waterfront Coalition. Mr. McMullen stated that he was joined by Ms. Lani Seikaly, Ms. Loretta Lodge, Ms. Kristen Owen and Ms. Kay MacIntosh. Mr. McMullen stated that 372 letters of support for funding of the Marina have been received to date. Mr. McMullen said that this was a tremendous outpouring and wanted to thank everyone who took time to write a letter saying that they will make a difference.
Mr. McMullen stated that he was working to schedule meetings with key government officials, including people in the Governor’s Office, over the course of the fall to coincide with the capital budget process. He said that they should know if the Town received funding sometime in January.
Mr. McMullen stated that he would arrange the letters and insert them in a binder with an index for distribution.
Mayor Cerino next called forward representatives from Crossroads Community for a presentation. Mr. Daniel Rosendale, President of the Board of Crossroads Community and Mr. John Plaskon, Director of Crossroads presented. Mr. Rosendale stated that this was a non-profit organization providing a wide range of mental health services to approximately 1,000 people on the mid-shore, including Kent, Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester Counties. The organization has been in place for 30 years and there were 4 different sites in Chestertown offering different levels of assisted living for people transitioning into the community.
Mr. Rosendale stated that he was an attorney in Centreville and volunteered on the Board as mental health needed support, noting that Crossroads is an organization that teaches people to grow and transition until ultimately the person is transitioned out of the program as a successful citizen in the community. He said a wide range of services were provided such as clinics, assisted living homes with various levels of supervision, respite care, counseling and employment help.
Mr. Rosendale stated that some clients are homeless when they reach Crossroads and need everything imaginable to again function as human beings. He said that there were many things that their program funding does not cover, such as dental care. They now partnered with dentists who offered their services at a reduced rate and Crossroads was looking for assistance with charitable fundraising. In addition, there were maintenance issues on the houses and some of the fundraising costs would be used there as well.
Mr. Rosendale stated that he was asking the communities in which their clients reside to help with matching funds with a donation to their program. Mr. Rosendale stated that in Chestertown proper there are approximately 70 clients receiving services.
Ms. Kuiper asked questions regarding funding. Ms. Kuiper stated that she worked for a similar program and could not see taking local taxpayer dollars to help fund a State funded program. Mr. Rosendale stated that the donations they were requesting would be used for services that are not paid for by the State. Mr. Stetson agreed with Councilwoman Kuiper, stating that although this was a worthy cause not all of the residents would want to donate to it, noting that taxpayers would ultimately be funding this request.
Mr. Shoge stated that people are always saying that more mental health opportunities were needed in the community and this was an opportunity to help provide them. He said that basically this boiled down to a donation that amounted to prevention and would help someone in need. He said that he would vote in favor of the request.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Council had a policy where they did not decide on funding at the same meeting where a request was made if the amount exceeded $500.00. He said that this vote would be taken at the October 3rd meeting.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Kent County Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals would present at the next meeting.
Chief Baker gave the police report for August 2016. Chief Baker stated that at the last meeting there was a comment regarding cell phone violations. He said that in the period between January 1st and August 16th, there were 229 cell phone warnings and 31 cell phone violations issued.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Mr. Don Cooper of Think Big was present with a request to allow Think Big to hang placards on doors in Chestertown and for the Council to waive the peddling fee of $1,000.00 for 30 days. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Council was briefed on this request via email prior to the meeting. Mr. Cooper stated that this was all part of the Kent County fiber initiative providing high speed internet and said he was already receiving good feedback with their pilot community in Kentmore Park. Mr. Cooper stated that a store was being built for Think Big on Washington Avenue but they were trying to bring awareness to the Town of Chestertown. He said that the door hangers would be placed on the doors but nobody would knock on doors, try to sell, nor would any money trade place.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he thought the request could be exempted because Think Big was partnering with Kent County (under Article 130.11(c) Public or civic exemptions). Mr. Shoge agreed stating that he would like to see the final draft of the door hanger before it was distributed. Ms. Gross stated that she did not think that putting something on a door knob constituted the definition of a peddler as a peddler was actively taking orders and/or payments when going door to door.
Ms. Gross moved to approve exempting Think Big from the Peddlers’ permit (under Section 130-11(c) so they can distribute door hangers in the Town of Chestertown, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that a “High Street Mile” was being planned by Bryan Matthews to be run just before the Halloween Parade on October 29th while the streets were closed. He said that there was a permit request on record. The Council agreed to the permit request.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Ms. Jamie Miller, Kent County Economic Development, was present to give an update on the Maryland PACE Program. Ms. Miller stated that on September 6, 2016 the Kent County Commissioners approved Code Home Rule 5-2016 to amend Chapter 152, Taxation, to add Article 137 Clean Energy Loan Program, which would become effective on October 20th. The ordinance enables property and business owners to take advantage of Maryland’s property assessed clean energy (Maryland PACE), which is a program that is a partnership with Maryland Clean Energy Center and PACE financing services. She said that this financing program was offered to commercial properties in Kent County and tied into their real estate taxes. There would be a launch event with Energy Service Companies in order to teach everyone about what the program entails.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that a draft Resolution numbered 01-2016 for the Food Truck Pilot Program was forwarded to the media and the Council a couple weeks ago. He said that anything in the Resolution was subject to change, but a starting point was necessary to begin final discussion on the Pilot model. Mr. Ingersoll read some of the draft into the record. Mr. Ingersoll stated that in order to come up with a starting point for fees, he used fees comparable to those at the Farmer’s Market. He said food trucks are already allowed on private property in Town but were not yet allowed on public streets. This resolution would permit food trucks on public streets in specified locations.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that she supported the idea of bringing food trucks into specific strategic locations as she thought it would bring additional activity and would entice a younger crowd into Town, while providing an affordable food option for all. Ms. MacIntosh stated that she would like to see consistency from the vendors as that would be necessary for the program to work.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he thought a minimal background investigation should be required for food truck vendors. He said that this was in an effort to protect the community from vendors who are not known in the community, or may have felonies in their past. Ms. MacIntosh agreed, stating that it was impossible to know who may try to come to Town in the future.
Mayor Cerino asked for the Council members to again state how they stood on the issue of food trucks on public streets to make sure there was a consensus in moving forward. Mayor Cerino, Ms. Kuiper and Mr. Shoge were in favor. Ms. Gross and Mr. Stetson were opposed.
Mayor Cerino stated that he did not think that parking should be permanently reserved for food trucks. He suggested specific areas where food trucks could park if there parking space available. He suggested the Park Row side of Fountain Park and the northeast side of Memorial Plaza (in front of the courthouse). The trucks should park in such a way that the window they serve the food from would be facing the sidewalk. Ms. Gross stated that vendors should not park in front of the church and they should be mindful of the church if there were services on any particular day. Mr. Ingersoll stated that if the church knew they were having a funeral they might cone off or mark the parking the night before and the food truck vendors would know not to park there that day.
Mayor Cerino stated that flexibility should be allowed and suggested a daily fee. Mr. Shoge suggested an annual fee as it would be easier on the Town staff. The vendors could then decide when they wanted to set up in Town.
Mr. Kevin Miller of Papa Smurf’s BBQ asked why they could only park in the downtown. He suggested Talbot Boulevard or Speer Road as another location. Mr. Ingersoll stated that Speer Road and Talbot Boulevard would be good alternative locations for the food trucks and said those locations could be a separate location for the food vendors.
Mr. Roy Kirby stated that there were many people who only had a ½ hour for lunch and food trucks provided an affordable option without a wait.
Ms. Samantha Holloman said that she agreed with the notion of a policy where the food trucks could work days that best fit their schedule. She said that she was not certain that the background check aspect of the Resolution was necessary as it was not clear as to why one had to provide that information. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the background check was already a part of the Peddler’s Ordinance to which this was being added. Ms. Holloman added that she thought the option of fees either per diem, bi-annual or annually would likely be the best.
Mr. Al Cassinelli, owner of Cassinelli’s on High Street stated that he was in favor of the food trucks as long as they were not located on High Street.
Ms. Gross stated that she thought a good need for the background check was to make sure that someone had not been convicted of credit card fraud. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the background check will line up with what is required of the Peddler’s Permit.
Mayor Cerino stated that a ribbon cutting was held at the new playing fields at the Kent County Middle School on Monday, September 12th. He said that the campus looked fantastic and Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. de Mooy deserved the credit for the project.
Mr. Stetson stated that Bailey Park was getting an enlarged parking lot and work was underway for a sidewalk from the parking lot to the gates.
Mr. Stetson stated that he was happy to report that the Ravens, Orioles and the Townies Bocce Team were on a winning streak. He said that everyone in the bocce league seemed to be having a great time.
Mr. Shoge stated that there was a lot of work done to get the bulk trash pick-up and brush better understood by the residents and asked if there were other ways to get the word out and market the services offered by the Town. He said that there was trash out on High Street and he thought people were assuming that trash would be picked up. Ms. Mulligan stated that the fees were posted in the paper, online, and sent in a constant contact message. Mr. Shoge suggested direct mailing. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there were always some people who did not pay attention to the fees, knowing that they existing but not taking steps to pay the fees.
Mr. Shoge stated that he would like to see a spring cleaning event and asked if the County would help with the costs. Ms. Miller stated that the County has waived tipping fees for Rebuilding Together Kent County and a letter to the Commissioner’s may do the trick for County help.
Ms. Kuiper stated that the dedication of Cromwell Hall at 215 Washington Avenue will take place on Saturday, September 23rd at 10:30 a.m.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Ward 4 had a mural painted on the back of the Tractor Supply over the weekend by the HOYAS CPIP Program, Sandbox, Yerkes Construction and the Cordish Company. She said that the design was meant to symbolize water, organic growth and the moon. Ms. Kuiper stated that the residents and staff of the nursing home wanted to trim the landscaping in order to see the mural.
Ms. Kuiper stated that Mr. Alex Castro was leaving in January and said that he was going to try to help her have a mural painted at the other end of the Kent Plaza before he moved.
Ms. Gross stated that there was a student rental house on the corner of Byford Drive and North Kent Street. She asked Chief Baker to keep an eye on it as there were 9 cars out front last weekend. She said that she knew there had already been some problems on Washington Avenue this year.
Ms. Gross stated that there were several places in Town where large piles of garden trash were placed in the gutters. She said that when heavy rains comes all of that waste goes down the drains and asked that people leave it at the edge of their property but not in the gutter. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the street crew was working hard to get the brush packaged in a way that protected the storm drains.
Ms. MacIntosh stated that she wanted to remind everyone that RiverFest began this Friday evening and there would be lighted sculptures around Town. A full day of activities was scheduled for Saturday with a dance party on Saturday night on High Street.
There being no further business, Mr. Shoge moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:20 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor