August 1, 2006
The County Council of Wicomico County, Maryland met in
Executive Session on Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. in Council Chambers,
Charles R. Dashiell, Jr., Edward T. Taylor, Stevie Prettyman, Gail M. Bartkovich,
Marvin R. Long and Larry W. Dodd.
President Sarbanes called the meeting to order. On motion of Mrs. Bartkovich, second by Mrs. Prettyman, Council unanimously approved the Minutes of July 18, 2006.
Theodore E. Shea, II, submitted the following items of business:
Echostar DBS Corporation has applied for an enterprise zone
designation. The City of
On motion of Mrs. Prettyman, second by Mr. Long, Council unanimously approved the reappointment of Mr. Frank Hamilton to a full term as a member of the Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Board.
On motion of Mr. Dodd, second by Mrs. Bartkovich, Council unanimously approved the appointment of Dr. Emmanual C. Onyeozili as a member of the Social Services Advisory Board.
On motion of Mrs. Prettyman, second by Mr. Dashiell, Council unanimously approved the following appointments to the Local Management Board:
Public Sector Representatives: Dept. of Juvenile Services – Veron Johnson;
Dept. of Social Services – Paula Erdie;
Wicomico Public Schools – Tom Field;
State’s Attorney’s Office – Franzella Starkey.
Private Sector Representatives: Business Sector – Jay Pearce;
Private Citizens – Veronica Correa and
Wanda Mitchener – Colston
In addition, on motion of Mr. Long, second by Mrs. Prettyman, Council unanimously approved an amendment to the LMB Bylaws by Resolution.
Request for Waiver of Impact Fee: Mr. Shea informed Council of a request for waiver of the Education Impact Fee submitted by Beth Gismondi and Brunori Homes.
Ms. Beth Gismondi presented a comprehensive explanation and
time line to explain extenuating circumstances that prompted her request. Council posed questions and following
discussion, Mr. Dodd stated that after having spoken with Ms. Gismondi
previously, as well as another citizen who wished to complain about the length
of time it took to receive Health Department approval, he would recommend that
Council waive the impact fee as requested.
Mr. Dodd responded that Council needs to look after citizens and he believes
Ms. Gismondi made every effort to obtain the well permit well
in advance of the deadline; if there are others citizens with similar
situations, Council might want to look at those situations also. Mrs. Bartkovich commented that she too,
is concerned about setting a precedent.
Questions from Council continued. Mr. Sarbanes stated that he would like
to discuss the issue with Health Department representatives, since no
representative was here today.
There was general concurrence among Council members. Mr.
Mr. Dodd then motioned to grant the waiver as requested; Mr. Taylor provided a second and a roll call vote was taken, as follows: Mrs. Bartkovich, no; Mr. Long, no;
Mr. Dodd, yes; Mr. Dashiell, no; Mrs. Prettyman, no; Mr. Taylor, yes; Mr. Sarbanes, no.
The motioned failed.
Mrs. Bartkovich moved to meet with the Health Department during the next meeting; Mrs. Prettyman provided a second and Council unanimously approved the motion.
Emergency Management Request: Mr. Bill Nutter came before Council to
explain a situation whereby Nextel has been purchasing radio frequencies over
the years, resulting in interference with public safety radio communications
across the country. The Federal government and Nextel have entered into an
agreement to change and/or reassign frequencies to solve the problem. Mr. Nutter stated that the Federal
government has provided a Transition Administrator to assist affected agencies;
if this is unsuccessful, the negotiations are handled by a mediator. Mr. Nutter believes that unless a
consultant is obtained to accomplish the re-banding, the County will lose the
use of 20 radios. He did note, however, that any costs incurred to resolve the
issues will be paid by Nextel, not the County. He recommends using CTO Consultants,
since the company is providing the same service to many
Mr. Dashiell, Council unanimously approved the request.
Manufacturing Tax Exemption: Mr. Shea has received a request to transfer an existing manufacturer’s tax exemption from Lorch Microwave, LLC to Lorch Microwave, Inc., as the result of change in ownership. On motion of Mr. Taylor, second by Mrs. Bartkovich, Council unanimously approved the request as submitted.
Burial Assistance: Bennie Smith Funeral Home is requesting
financial assistance to help defray the burial costs for the late Vivian I.
Mr. Taylor motioned to approve the request in the amount of $400. The Finance Director asked that the motion include the source of funds. Mr. Long restated the motion; to approve $400 to be transferred from the Contingency Fund. Council then unanimously approved the motion.
Requests – Sassafras Meadows Senior Housing Project: Mr. Shea introduced
Mr. Andrew Hanson and Mr. Brian Lopez, Osprey Property Company, to join Council to discuss their requests of: 1) a letter of support from Council for the proposed project;
2) waiver of education impact fee; and 3) a ten year tax deferral. Mr. Hanson gave an overview of the proposed 80 unit senior housing development; 100% of these units would be available to persons 62 years and older, earning between 30% and 60% of mean income. Mr. Taylor stated that the original developer for phase one of Sassafras Meadows said another developer should be sought for the senior housing portion
Mr. Taylor is very interested in seeing the senior housing
portion become a reality and it is his opinion that certain circumstances might
justify amending the recently imposed impact fee. He reminded all that this particular
location is located in a HUD area.
“non-profit organizations” be deleted, resulting in the exemption based upon “affordable housing”only. This would require an amendment to the existing ordinance.
Messrs. Hanson and Lopez answered many questions posed by Council which included, but not limited to, the structure of the project’s financing, the manner and amount of profit the company would realize, adherence to age and income qualifiers, tax deferral benefits and the required local contribution. Discussion of the local contribution focused on Council’s preference to find an alternative other than of waiver of the impact fees.
Mr. Lopez also confirmed that the location falls within a qualified census tract as designated by HUD.
Mr. Dashiell then moved to authorize a letter of support; however, the requests for a tax deferral and waiver of impact fees required more discussion with Council. Mr. Dodd stated that Council should have been notified earlier regarding this request and that he is not prepared to agree with a letter of support at this time. Mr. Sarbanes expressed his support for senior housing. Mrs. Prettyman then provided a second to the motion.
Mr. Long and Mr. Taylor expressed their support. Mrs. Bartkovich voiced her concern for the number of units provided for tenants in the 30-40% below median income, questioning how affordable that would actually be. With comments concluded,
Mr. Sarbanes called for a vote on the motion. The motion was duly carried with six in favor and Mr. Dodd voting in opposition.
Soil Conservation Service: The Agency has scheduled 3 planning workshops for improvement of services and is requesting a Council member to participate.
Mrs. Bartkovich volunteered to attend if there is no conflict with jury duty.
Sheriff’s Office: Major Doris Schonbrunner introduced newly hired Deputies
Ted McLaughlin and Tom Brennan. Council members welcomed the officers.
CSAFE Initiative: Capt. Mike Elliott, Sheriff’s Office and Sheree Sample-Hughes, Wicomico Partnership, wished to announce National Night Out event, which will take place this evening. Ms. Hughes also invited Council and the general public to take part in the event.
Patricia B. Petersen, Director of Finance, submitted the following items of business:
Contingency Report: After taking into consideration the $400 transfer today, the Report reflects a balance of $1 million.
Close Out of Old Bonds: Mrs. Petersen provided Council with a list of projects up to 2003 bond with existing bond balances. She requested Council’s authorization to move the project balances to the appropriate bond contingency account. On motion of Mr. Long, second by Mrs. Bartkovich, Council unanimously approved the request as submitted. At the request of Mrs. Prettyman and Mrs. Bartkovich, the Finance Director will provide a list identifying each bond account.
Permits to Operate: Mrs. Petersen advised that Thrift Travel Inn and Traveler Hotel have met all County criteria to issue a Permit to Operate. On motion of Mr. Long, second by
Mr. Dashiell, Council authorized the permits to both entities.
Nuisance Abatement: Council was advised that the County has paid two invoices, $150 and $125, for grass cutting services. These amounts are within Mrs. Petersen’s authority to automatically pay; however, two other citations in the amounts of $1,150 and $656.98, require Council’s approval to pay. On motion of Mr. Dashiell, second by
Mrs. Bartkovich, Council unanimously approved payment.
Volunteer Fire Department Requests: Sharptown VFD is requesting its budgeted EMT funds; on motion of Mrs. Prettyman, Council unanimously approved the request.
In addition, Pittsville VFD is requesting its EMT funds, also. On motion of
Mrs. Bartkovich, Council unanimously approved the request.
Impact Fee Revenue: Mrs. Petersen reported that impact fees collected this fiscal year, totals $57,541. Mrs. Bartkovich then asked for a total amount, rather than fiscal year to date figures.
Miscellaneous: Mrs. Prettyman requested copies of all budget letters generated for the current fiscal year (2006-07).
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
Subdivision Plat No 22-06, entitled Deer Creek Estates, has been postponed until the August 15, 2006 Council meeting.
John Redden, Deputy Director, reviewed the following sketch plat.
Subdivision: Layfield Woods DPW No. 21-06
Applicant: Becker Morgan Group
Owner(s): Wayne and Betty Layfield Timothy Ramey Construction
Applicant is proposing to subdivide 21 lots from an existing parcel. A 20-acre remnant will be created for the existing farm house and agriculture operations, in addition to a
32-acre common area.
The remnant will front and have access on
Mr. Redden stated that during the initial review, the Planning Commission showed concern about the “cluster development”; subsequently, the Developer changed lot sizes, location of the lots and access to the lots, in an attempt to meet the Planning Commission’s requirements. A future street will not be used and it is recommended that it be incorporated into the two existing minor lots or the common area.
Mrs. Bartkovich asked Mr. Redden to confirm that the revisions by the developer have not yet gone before the Planning Commission; Mr. Redden did confirm the statement, adding that the Planning Commission would ultimately decide if this subdivision is a
“cluster development.” Mr. Lenox stated the issue is the level of discretion the Commission has when reviewing cluster developments; the current criteria remains open for discussion. Guidance is provided for in the Comprehensive Plan, subdivision regulations and zoning code; while the minimum and maximum densities are stated; beyond that, however it can be more subjective. Mr. Lenox stated he believes the Developer has made efforts to address the concerns expressed, but ultimately, during the preliminary review, the decision will rest with the Planning Commission.
Mrs. Prettyman questioned what other criteria must be met beyond the density criteria.
Mr. Lenox stated lots must be accessed from an internal road network, 50% density for open space and density no more than 1 per 3 acres. Mr. Lenox further explained the purpose of reducing the lot sizes to accomplish maximum open space, stating currently, each lot has open space behind it. Mrs. Prettyman asked if this is how it’s been done since 1998. Mr. Lenox replied “no”. Mrs. Prettyman asked why this has changed.
Mr. Lenox stated it has been interpreted now, that the Planning Commission has more latitude than originally thought; that if a developer meets certain design criteria of a more subjective nature, the Commission has the authority to withhold approval of a cluster.
Mrs. Prettyman emphasized that Council should instruct the
Planning Commission to continue review of sketch plats in the same manner it has
since 1998, until Council changes the regulations legislatively; she considers
this unfair. There should be
consistency and predictability for developers, landowners and Planning Commision board members. Mrs. Prettyman then asked for the
Mr. Baker responded he was not aware of the change in interpretation until recently and would research the issue. Mr. Lenox will take Mrs. Prettyman’s comments to the Planning Commission. This concluded discussion of the subdivision plat review.
Mrs. Prettyman attended a public meeting with the residents
In response to questions posed by Mrs. Bartkovich and Mr.
Long, Mr. Sharma stated that the road would not be widened in the process;
neither is the road on the current list of roads to be improved this fiscal
year. Mr. Sharma also stated that
he could not determine at this time whether
Mrs. Prettyman emphasized the need to improve the integrity of the road in the interest of safety for the residents. She asked Council to approve the funds for the first application as quoted by Mr. Sharma. Mrs. Prettyman also identified two possible sources of funds and asked the Director of Finance to confirm that they are non-designated and could be considered for this project. Mrs. Prettyman then moved to approve funding in the amount of $257,620, based upon availability of the referenced funds; Mr. Dodd provided a second. Mr. Sarbanes, Mr. Dashiell and Mr. Taylor agreed with Mr. Long’s assessment that Council should continue to look to the Department of Public Works’ priority list of road improvements submitted each year. A roll call vote ensued, as follows: Mrs. Bartkovich, no; Mr. Long, no; Mr. Dodd, yes; Mr. Dashiell, no; Mrs. Prettyman, yes;
Mr. Taylor, no; Mr. Sarbanes, no. The motion failed.
Railroad Crossings: Mr. Sharma advised that the department
has received the agreement from
Trenching is planned for the subdivision at
Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Frisk,
There has been a request for a speed limit reduction on
PLANNING, ZONING & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
John F. Lenox, Director, submitted a request for the following appointments:
Planning & Zoning Commission: reappointment of Donald Bounds and Elder Glen Robinson for five year terms. On motion of Mr. Long, second by Mr. Taylor, Council unanimously approved the reappointments as submitted.
Agricultural Reconciliation Committee: On motion of Mrs. Prettyman, second by
Mr. Dodd, Council unanimously approved the appointment of Mr. George R. White for a one-year alternate position of “Municipal Representative;” and the appointment of Dr. E. Eugene Williams for one year as the “Homeowners Association” representative.
Edgar A. Baker, Jr., has received a request from the East Side Men’s Club regarding its existing tax exemption. The Club is now merged into the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, and will retain title to real estate, allowing the retention of the existing real estate tax exemption. Personal property has been transferred to the Fraternal Order of the Eagles and would require the F.O.E. file for exemption with the State. On motion of Mr. Long, second by Mr. Taylor, Council unanimously agreed to grant the real estate tax exemption as in the past.
Mr. Baker asked Council to approve and execute Resolution 611, Official Intent, to forward funding for the J. M. Bennett project, in the reduced amount of $1, 027,391. This is required by Federal law. On motion of Mr. Long, second by Mr. Dashiell, Council gave unanimous approval.
Dr. Augustine DiGiovanna shared his comments regarding the recent municipal-county meeting, zoning code regulations as they apply to specific subdivisions, goals and objectives of House Bill 1141 and the County Comprehensive Plan and Mrs. Prettyman’s comments regarding fairness, stating changes in the decision making process should evolve over time; one should not repeat mistakes of the past.
Ms. Karen Basile expressed appreciation for Council’s decision not to waive the impact fee as requested today; she also addressed “affordable housing” and the importance of deed restrictions; stated that “doing what’s best for our citizens” also includes teachers in classrooms of inadequate size and not air conditioned.
Mr. Greg Olinde thanked Council for hosting the recent Municipal-County work session as a good step forward in addressing development issues and working together.
Mr. Olinde requested another session before the General Election. Council concurred.
Mrs. Prettyman referred to a copy of a letter to the City of
Business was then concluded. Mr. Dodd motioned to authorize a closed work session for the purpose of discussing contract negotiations. Mr. Long seconded and Council unanimously approved the motion.
Anthony Sarbanes, President
Charles R. Dashiell, Jr. Vice Pres.
Edward T. Taylor, District 1
Stevie Prettyman, District 2
Gail M. Bartkovich, District 3
Marvin R. Long, District 4
Larry W. Dodd, District 5
Theodore E. Shea, II