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Board of County Commissioners

January 8, 2002

The Honorable Board of License Commissioners met today with the following present: Larry B. Beck, W. Michael Newnam, and Ronald H. Fithian, presiding.

T. Edward Robinson, County Administrator, was also in attendance.

Minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

W. Roger Williams, Treasurer, reported a balance of $7,961,860.00


The Commissioners received Quarterly Status Reports for the four Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) funded activities as prepared by Kay Pinder-Almen, Administrative Aide, Housing and Community Development. The active projects are: 1) Fairlee manor Improvements Projects, 2) Chestertown Foods Project, 3) Phase Two Housing Improvement Project, and 4) Phase Three Housing Improvement Project.


Carter Stanton, Director, Public Works, advised that as requested by Emergency Management, County Roads crews worked 4.5 hours overtime on the evening of January 7 to address slippery road conditions.


In follow-up from the December 18 meeting relating to discussion with Circuit Court Judge Fred Price on Court House security, the Commissioners received correspondence advising that the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee will have a briefing on January 16 at 3:00 p.m. in Annapolis to discuss the costs of County security efforts.

Carter Stanton, Director, Public Works, reported on the status of renovations of the Court House basement for use by the Orphans Court and Master. He advised that the project was near completion. Commissioner Fithian requested a tour when the project was completed. Commissioner Beck requested that they view the new District Court courtroom renovations as well.


Wayne Morris, Director, Water and Wastewater Services, appeared to report on the following issues:

Worton Well Project - Mr. Morris provided a copy of correspondence dated December 31, 2001, received from Walid Saffouri, Chief, Water Quality Infrastructure Program, Water Management Administration, Maryland Department of the Environment, advising that $16,818.43, of the $19,106.43 total project cost, is eligible for grant participation. Per Mr. Morris' recommendation, the Commissioners approved for consultants, Earth Data, to resume work on the project. Commissioner Beck inquired as to the estimated completion time of the project. Mr. Morris estimated the well to be completed by March, weather permitting.

Millington Water and Wastewater Expansion Project - Mr. Morris provided a copy of correspondence from Mayor Dennis Hager, Mayor, Millington, advising that after reviewing sites for the placement of water storage tanks and treatment plants, the area adjacent to the Millington Elementary School was recommended as a proposed site. He requested discussion relating to the transfer of land to the owner of the water treatment plant and water storage towers, specifically to the town of Millington.

Correspondence will go forth to the Board of Education apprising them of the need to discuss Board of Education property near the Millington Elementary School to propose the construction for a water storage tank.

Millington Water Project - The Commissioners approved and executed a Resolution of the Board of County Commissioners of Kent County for the purpose of making a declaration of official intent pursuant to U.S. Treasury Regulation Section 1.150.2 regarding the Board of County Commissioners of Kent County's intention to reimburse prior expenditures made in connection with the acquisition, construction, improvement, installation, furnishing and equipping of components of a water system, which may include, without limitation, water storage tanks, a water treatment facility, supply lines, hydrants, meters and related improvements and appurtenances, together with related costs, from the proceeds of one or more obligations to be issued by the County Commissioners of Kent County.

Tolchester Nike Site - Mr. Morris advised that he had been contacted by the contractors retained by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, performing demolition at the former Nike Site in Tolchester, to address the disposal of accumulated rainwater in the silos. Mr. Morris reported that he suggested the Department of the Environment be contacted to address this matter.


Gail Owings, Director, Planning and Zoning Administration, appeared to discuss the house numbering requirements relating to Emergency Management/911 registration. She advised that fire and rescue personnel had brought to her and Robert Rust, Director, Emergency Management, attention that house numbering requirements were not being followed. Fire and rescue personnel expressed concern that improper or lack of visible house numbers may result in unnecessary tragedy. She and Mr. Rust proposed to place an advertisement in the newspaper and other media requesting proper posting of house numbers. Mrs. Owings also proposed that if proper house identifying numbers were not displayed, correspondence would be forwarded and eventually followed by a fine. The Commissioners concurred.


Carter Stanton, Director, Public Works, inquired, on behalf of Schooner Sultana, Inc., if the County would accept their portion of the funding for the High Street Dredging project ($6,000) paid over one year's time in the amount of $1,000 every two months. The Commissioners approved this request.


At the invitation of the Commissioners, Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning Administration, and Carla Martin, Community Planner, appeared along with the following Planning Commission Members: Elizabeth H. Morris, Chairperson, William S. Sutton, Marjorie Brown, Wallace D. Miller and Jay Lancaster. Others in attendance were Mary Wick, Frank Hepbron, Robert Bryan, Don Reid, Ann Hoon, representing the League of Women Voters, and a member of the media. Commissioner Newnam was not in attendance at this meeting due to business commitment with his employer, Verizon.

Mrs. Owings reviewed her Memorandum dated December 30, 2001 as to issues to be addressed if Transfer Development Rights (TDR) are eliminated from the draft Land Use Ordinance .

Agricultural Zoning District - The proposed Ordinance limits development to one dwelling unit per thirty acres and limit farmettes by restricting development to 10% of the property. Development rights were allocated to be transferred at a rate of one development right per ten acres. Under the current Ordinance, the permitted density ranges from one dwelling unit per ten acres if meeting the enclave standard to one dwelling unit per thirty acres with no limit on lot size or restrictions on the percent of land that may be developed. Under the proposed Ordinance, the development rights ratio remained the same 1-10 to 1-30.

Mrs. Owings expressed concern if TDR's are omitted; it would not allow any trade off from the 1-10 to 1-30 ratio. Mrs. Morris feels the agricultural community will be on the losing end if the TDR's are removed. The farming community does not feel the 1-10 ratio will help their needs. Ms. Brown feel the farmers need a buffer between high residential areas and agricultural areas. Commissioner Fithian stated that he has a problem with the proposed TDR Program since they have failed in other areas in the State and nation. There is no test run that can be initiated to make sure it would work in Kent County. He feels the current Ordinance has proven effective due to the continued rural agricultural character of the County. He feels the initiation of TDR's is a drastic step to take without there being a tremendous threat of development at this time. Mr. Sutton stated the proposed TDR Program was not mandatory and feels that growth in the County is close in being a problem in the near future. Commissioner Fithian commended the many Kent County property owners who have volunteered to place their property in agricultural land preservation districts without having any requirement in place. Commissioner Beck also expressed concern as to the proposed TDR Program due to it causing increased costs in property and making a hardship on the consumer. If buffers are necessary, it should be done by zoning as to maximum growth. Mrs. Owings concurred buffers can be provided by zoning, however, the incentives would not be there as with the TDR Program.

Ms. Brown stated that the Comprehensive Plan specifically states the County will create TDR Programs, and questioned the necessity for the County to take steps for compliance with the Comprehensive Plan or have it amended. If TDR Programs are not proposed at this time, consideration should be given to create a committee to address pros and cons.

Commissioner Fithian reiterated his hestitancy to endorse a TDR Program with potential of realizing years later it did not work in Kent County and that it created more problems than what originally existed. He wants to feel comfortable with whatever Ordinance is adopted, will be right for Kent County. Mr. Miller concurred with Commissioner Fithian and is pleased with the rural character of the County as a result of the current Ordinance. Mr. Lancaster expressed concerns as to the potential of fraud and abuse of TDR Programs.

Resource Conservation - Under the draft Land Use Ordinance, the Resource Conservation District (RCD) was a receiving area for the TDR for the limited purpose of the expansion of existing dwellings in the Critical Area Buffer. The Planning staff feels it is doubtful that the Critical Area Commission would approve this provision, so little change is needed except to remove the provision for expansion of existing dwellings in the buffer. Expansion in RCD would consider to require a variance.

TDR's were also required to increase the density of housing associated with resorts. Without TDR's, it is believed this issue should remain as in the current Zoning Ordinance; the density cannot exceed the required density of one dwelling unit per twenty acres unless growth allocation is granted by the County Commissioners.

Rural Character - This is a new proposed district for purpose to provide for the market demand for rural lots including large estate lots. The removal of farmettes from this district will require a major revision of this section and a review of all of the properties which were proposed to be zoned RC. Issues include density, minimum and maximum lot size. Options were provided for consideration.

Rural Residential - Under the draft proposal, this district was to be generally limited to those areas of existing development. Adjacent undeveloped areas would be RC. After receiving public comment, this proposal does not appear acceptable. The staff has prepared a buildout scenario for the northern portion of the County to assist with decisions concerning the proposed density of this area. Proposed design standards were provided for consideration.

Critical Area Residential - At this time, applications in this district must go before the Board of Zoning Appeals for a variance. The Village District, Intense Village District and Intense Village Critical Area District were designated receiving areas for TDR's for the purpose of increasing density. Mrs. Owings believes that without the TDR, the base density should remain as proposed - four dwelling units per acre in Village and eight dwelling units per acre in Intense Village and Intense Village Critical Area. Due to requirements adopted by the Maryland General Assembly concerning smart growth, the County will need to add language to these sections concerning Infill and Mixed Use Development.

Commercial District - Big Box Options - The Planning Staff suggests that the US 301 corridor continue to have no size restrictions. They also feel that permitted building size should be restricted to 60,000 square feet and that retail businesses over 60,000 square feet should be allowed as a special exception. Other options include restricting the size of the footprint of the building to 60,000 square foot but allowing a two story building. Conditions were provided for consideration.

Signs - To meet constitutional requirements, sign regulations must be content neutral meaning to permit neon "open" signs in a business window, other types of neon signs must be permitted. If permitted, Planning staff believes these signs should be small window signs.

Commissioner Fithian suggested that the Planning Commission and Commissioners continue to review the proposals submitted by Mrs. Owings and to schedule a meeting at a future date whenever the Planning Commission is ready to do so. In the meantime, Mrs. Owings suggested that the Commissioners discuss infrastructure issues with the Talbot County Council.


At 10:30 a.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Beck, seconded by Commissioner Fithian and passed by the majority of the Board to go into executive session with Ernest S. Cookerly, County Attorney, for legal counsel in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Items of discussion included Housing Rehabilitation Program, CDBG Grant Agreement and tax sale property.

The executive session adjourned at 10:45 a.m.


In follow-up from December 18, 2001, Anne Wilmer Hoon and Davey McCall representing the League of Women Voters appeared to report that Senator Baker advised all findings from the formation of a committee to evaluate the procedure for electing County Commissioners would be needed by mid-February in order to be on the next voter's ballot.

Commissioner Newnam advised that the present government had been in place for eighty years and there was no need to accelerate the process by rushing the not yet advertised or formed committee, to assess the will of Kent County residents. Commissioners Fithian and Beck concurred with the process as discussed on December 18. Commissioner Beck advised that if the deadline were not met for allowing this issue to be on the ballot, a referendum could be slated for the ballot in two years. Mrs. Hoon insisted that according to Senator Baker, it would be another four years before the matter could be considered. Commissioner Newnam advised that there would be an opportunity in two years.

Mrs. Hoon inquired if the committee could be formed in the next week and to have recommendation submitted to the Commissioners by early February. Commissioner Fithian advised that per her request on December 18 to seek public interest in serving on such a committee be advertised in both the Kent County News as well as the Tidewater Trader, the committee could not be formed next week. Commissioner Beck reiterated the need for citizens to have an opportunity for input. Commissioner Newnam advised the committee would be formed after media publication, sufficient response time and should not be confined or restrained in gathering data. An interest form was approved to be advertised having a response request on or before February 7.


Correspondence went forth to local legislators updating Kent County's request of legislative initiatives for consideration and sponsorship in the upcoming 2002 Session of the General Assembly. The initiatives are as follows: 1) Enabling legislation to provide a salary increase for the Kent County Sheriff, 2) Enabling legislation to provide a salary increase for the Kent County Treasurer, 3) Enabling legislation to provide a salary increase for the Kent County State's Attorney, 4) Legislative amendment to Article 2B to increase alcoholic beverage violation fines and providing flexibility to local penalties imposed, 5) Enabling legislation to Article 27 empowering the Kent County Alcoholic Beverages Inspector to act as an enforcement officer for tobacco violations, 6) Enabling legislation to allow a Special Theatre Beer, Wine and Liquor License under Article 2B, and 7) seeking State sponsorship of a $750,000 bond bill for a Kent County Community Center.


At 9:53 a.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Beck, seconded by Commissioner Newnam and made unanimous by Commissioner Fithian to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

The executive session adjourned at 10:00 a.m.


Carter Stanton, Public Works Director, appeared later in the day to advise of meeting just held at the Detention Center as it relates to a Prisoner Booking Facility. In addition to himself, William Ingersoll, Town Manager, Chief Walter Coryell, Chestertown Police Department, and Sheriff Price were in attendance. The proposed area in the back of the Detention Center was reviewed for possible placement of a Prisoner Booking Facility as previous recommended. Mr. Ingersoll felt there would be problems with water and sewer hookup to the proposed structure. While on the premises, the facility used by the Detention Center for storage of the tractor, etc. was considered. This facility is within the caged area and already is equipped with utilities. Sheriff Price and Chief Coryell agreed if acceptable with the Warden, this facility would meet the needs of a prisoner booking facility. The Commissioners agreed to make a site visit to the Detention Center next week and discuss this proposal with Warden Darling.


Reverend Mae Etta Moore appeared to receive a proclamation in recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King, and the celebration of his birthday, January 15. Mickey Elsberg, representing Chester Valley Ministries was also in attendance. Rev. Moore stated that it was her privilege to lead Kent County in the celebration of the legacy of Dr. King. She stressed the importance of continuing to teach a peaceful method to reach goals and solve problems. Commissioner Fithian read the proclamation and presented it to Reverend Moore.


Carter Stanton, Director, Public Works, advised that the Public Landing and Facilities Board held a special meeting on December 18 to address group mooring buoy applications in compliance with local law. All applications were approved. He reported that the Worton Creek Marina application was approved pending action on the application submitted by Herschell B. Claggett for six mooring buoys.


Gail Owings, Director, Planning and Zoning Administration, advised that the Planning Commission met January 3 and reported that the County sand shed project permit was denied due to set-back requirements. It was felt there was sufficient area available for the structure to be located elsewhere on this property.


The Commissioners approved and executed a contract by and between the Commissioners and Dissen & Juhn Corporation for the construction and installation of a timber bulkhead at Shipyard Public Landing in the amount $67,770.00.


The Commissioners received a copy of correspondence dated January 4 directed to Robert Strong, Jr., State's Attorney, from J. Frederick Price, Circuit Court Judge, advising that although he supports the teen court program concept, he does not want teen court conducted in the Kent County Courtrooms. Judge Price advised that the courtroom is available for trials conducted by the court, not trials for minor offenses conducted by the State's Attorney's Office. He also cited security reasons making the Court House facilities unavailable for the Teen Court program.


Carter Stanton, Public Works Director, advised of need for storage for all county offices and proposed it be investigated for placement of storage lockers at Nicholson Transfer Site for use of County offices. The Commissioners requested Mr. Stanton to obtain cost estimates which will be reviewed during the FY 03 budget process.



In follow-up from last week's correspondence relating to correspondence received from Al Collins, Chief of Staff, Governor's Office, advising of training offered for building managers of government facilities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a terrorist incident, the County Administrator recommended Lee Ann Myers, Safety Coordinator, to attend training. The Commissioners concurred.


The Commissioners received notification of the State Water Management Administration for a application to appropriate and use an average o f 11,000 gallons per day from 57 wells in the Aquia aquifer for the proposed Hunters Run subdivision. This project is located on the east side of Greggs Neck Road, one mile north of Galena. Comments or requests for an informational hearing must be received in writing by the Administration; all requests should be made to Matthew Pajerowski, Chief, Water Rights Division, Water Management Administration, 2500 Broening Highway, Baltimore, Maryland 21224.

There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, January 15, 2002


Please contact Joyce Laskey or Janice Fletcher at (410) 778-7435 or by e-mail with any questions or comments.

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