KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND
Board of County Commissioners
January 28, 2003
The Honorable Board of County Commissioners met today with the following present: Roy W. Crow, Scott D. Livie, and William W. Pickrum, presiding.
T. Edward Robinson, County Administrator, was also in attendance.
Minutes of the previous meeting were approved as amended.
W. Roger Williams, Treasurer, reported a balance of $ 6,082,634.00.
Commissioner Pickrum reported that he had requested Mr. Canan to investigate various strategies to provide more affordable housing in Kent County. He expressed concern of the critical shortage of lower/middle income housing.
AGRICULTURAL LAND PRESERVATION
Carla Martin, Environmental Planner, forwarded the Task Force to Study the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation Interim Report, 2003 Session of the General Assembly January 2003. The Task Force, created by the General Assembly, provided draft legislation to be introduced by the 2003 General Assembly. A presentation is scheduled for the Department of Planning as well as the Maryland Department of Agriculture at Chesapeake College on January 31. Ms. Martin will plan to attend. Commissioner Crow advised that he was familiar with the presentation as it was discussed at a recent Maryland Farm Bureau meeting, and he believed that the recommendations would benefit Kent County.
The Commissioners received correspondence from Edwin C. and Lorraine Fry, Fair Hill Farms, Inc., stating their opposition to the sale of their property for a public airport. They advised that by selling a significant portion of their real estate for an airport would change financial and farming dynamics that will make future farming on this site less attractive.
Correspondence was received from Rodney Strong, Evadale Texas, expressing the need for an airport in Kent County. He advised that he flies to Chestertown to visit family every month and felt the opportunity to additional tourism revenue was as of yet untapped due to the lack of an airport.
BOARD OF EDUCATION
A copy of correspondence from Senator E.J. Pipkin, directed to Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr., Michael Steele, Lt. Governor, Nancy Kopp, Treasurer of Maryland and William D. Schaefer, Comptroller, urging the Board of Public Works to reconsider its decision rejecting
funds for Kent County's Chestertown Middle School Boiler and Underground Fuel Storage Tank Replacement Project.
It was reported that Governor Erhlich's proposed budget will decrease Kent County Board of Education funding by $265,000 based on declining enrollment. If passed, Kent County will be the only County in the State that will receive a decrease in State funding.
At 11:10 a.m., the Commissioners went into a budget workshop with Pat Merritt, Budget and Accounting Director, to review financial projections for Fiscal Year 2003.
Susanne Hayman, Human Resources Director, and Mrs. Merritt also provided a status report on the Commissioners' request as to set up of electronic payroll. Several meetings have been held with ADP but there is no cost estimate determined to date. There will be up front equipment and software costs involved and it needs to be determined to see what type of equipment would be applicable. The Commissioners requested that Mrs. Merritt and Ms. Hayman proceed with this project.
The Commissioners also expressed their concern as to the proposed assessment to be imposed by the Local Government Insurance Trust. They feel it will create a financial burden and plan to discuss this issue at the next Upper Shore Association of Counties Meeting.
CHESTER RIVER ASSOCIATION
In follow-up from last week's press conference relating to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to dramatically roll back water quality standards on the Chester River, Commissioner Pickrum advised that Congressman Wayne Gilchrest will host a public hearing on February 20 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Commissioners' Hearing Room, Kent County Government Center, 400 High Street, Chestertown, to invite public comment on the matter.
In follow-up from December 31, the Commissioners received correspondence from Donald Welsh, Regional Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) advising that the EPA is unable to be a signatory on the Early Action Compact for Kent and Queen Anne's Counties at this time as all criteria has not been met.
The County Administrator advised that the Law Clerk for J. Frederick Price, Judge, Circuit Court, requested approval to purchase a computer for the Law Library for the amount of $160.00. The Law Clerk reported that the expenditure can be funded from their current budget. This request was approved by the Board.
CORE SERVICE AGENCY
In follow-up from January 14 presentation by Nancy Zinn, M.S., R.N., Executive Director, and Dana Pate, MA., Program Director, of Mid-Shore Mental Health Systems, Inc., correspondence was received from Gary B. Fry, Deputy Health Officer, clarifying funding from the Regional Mid-Shore Mental Health Services. He provided an accounting of the allocation of funds.
The Commissioners announced Susanne Hayman as the newly appointed County Attorney effective March 1, 2003. In addition, Ms. Hayman will continue with her current duties as Human Resources Director. The Commissioners also introduced Alexander P. Rasin, III and Eugenia C. Wootton, appointed as the affiliate legal team, to assist mainly in real estate and water/wastewater matters. The Commissioners feel this selection will provide the County with a broad, accessible complement of skills and experience.
COUNTY ROADS DIVISION
Ed Spray, Superintendent, County Roads, provided a summary of Kent County road painting activity for 2002.
DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND WASTEWATER SERVICES
Wayne Morris, Director, Department of Water and Wastewater Services, appeared to report on the following issues:
Fairlee Service Area - Mr. Morris provided previous minutes delineating the home occupation use as it relates to user fees and allocations.
General - Mr. Morris distributed copies of both the Worton and Edesville feasibility studies prepared by McCrone's Engineering, and previously distributed in 2001 and 2002.
Mr. Morris advised of his investigation to lower power costs (the Department of Water and Wastewater Services has 35 separate accounts) by having a power audit performed by Constellation Energy. He reported that Constellation Energy is economically serving several local entities such as Kent and Queen Anne's County Hospital, Chestertown Foods, and Velsicol Chemical Company. He advised that he would report with a recommendation after the evaluation is completed.
Quaker Neck Service Area/Chestertown Annexation -An informational meeting was held by the Board of Commissioners on Thursday, January 23, 2003, at in the County Commissioners' Hearing Room in Chestertown, Maryland with the Mayor and Town Council of Chestertown to discuss the proposed Quaker Neck annexation (property located on the Chester River near property owned by Tri Gas and Oil, Company Inc. and D & R Supply Co. near the existing Radcliffe Landing Condominiums). Those in attendance were: William W. Pickrum, Roy W. Crow, Scott D. Livie, T. Edward Robinson, County Administrator, Mayor Margo Bailey, Council members Mabel R. Mumford-Pautz and W. Whaland Clark, III, Bill Ingersoll, Chestertown Town Manager, Ed Birkmire, Director, Environmental Health, Noni Howell, Sanitarian, Wayne Morris, Director, Department of Water and Wastewater Services, and three interested persons were in attendance.
Commissioner Pickrum stated that the purpose of this meeting is to discuss direction of Town and County as to future plans. Commissioner Pickrum advised that this Board is supportive of the proposed annexation. He advised that the Board's main concern was the amount of EDU's left for County allocation. Mayor Bailey stated that she believed the proposed townhouse project on the Tri-Gas and Oil Co. and D & R Supply Co. property would be good for both Chestertown and the County.
Mr. Ingersoll reported of past tenuous relations between Chestertown and the former Sanitary District. He advised that he has documented history of dealings with the Sanitary District and the County had 14 available EDU's. Mr. Ingersoll reported of giving the County additional EDU's and was appalled that now the County requested more. Commissioner Pickrum stated that he believed the project was sound and all of the issues could be worked out; if the pipe needs to be upgraded, the County will do its part. Commissioner Crow questioned what can the Town and County do together to move forward without revisiting a past history of disputes. If Chestertown was not amenable to jointly addressing wastewater issues then the County needs to plan accordingly. Commissioner Pickrum stated that he did not want to review past history; his objective was to move forward with this project. Commissioner Livie stated that it makes sense for County growth to be located around the incorporated towns. Mr. Ingersoll advised that he wished the Commissioners would decide where the County will use the 23 EDU's. He stated that the Town cannot do anything without Health Department approval. Mayor Bailey advised of the Chestertown Charter that prohibited sewer projects outside of the incorporated town limits. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the window of opportunity closed in 1997 with Charter amendment.
Mayor Bailey suggested that a committee of both the Chestertown Planning Commission as well as the Kent County Planning Commission be formed to review matters as this proposed development. Councilman Clark advised that approximately 6 years ago, Kent County Planning Commission met with Chestertown Planning Commission to review issues affecting the area. The Commissioners requested the County Administrator to investigate reinstating the practice of the two planning commissions meeting to exchange information and review projects pursuant to each jurisdiction.
Mr. Birkmire advised that two issues need to be addressed; growth allocations and existing dwellings in the area, some of which have failing septic systems. He stated that until now, no plan has been in place to address issues, all allocations appeared to be reactive rather than proactive. Commissioner Pickrum stressed the importance of the Land Use Ordinance to designate and plan growth areas. In reference to annexation, Mr. Birkmire noted that in order to proceed with annexation, the residents must agree to the proposal. He stated that not all residents are in favor. Mr. Ingersoll concurred and confirmed that in 1982 annexation was not approved due to residents' objection. Mr. Birkmire advised that development should be around existing facilities, yet Chestertown's Charter advises against any additional extension of sewer service. Commissioner Pickrum expressed his hopes that the State would assist with failing septic systems. Mr. Birkmire advised that State assistance would not be enough to fund a capital project as a new sewer service area. Mr. Ingersoll advised that impact fees may need to be addressed in the future. It was noted that Heather Heights has failing septic systems which may need to be annexed.
Mr. Birkmire noted that the 24 additional allocations were not enough to warrant a capital project. He stated the need for Kent Lawrence and Associate's request for development be addressed along with failing septic systems in the area. Mr. Ingersoll advised that 194 of the 236 allocations had been used and requested all allocations be used before the County requested more. Mr. Birkmire expressed concern that if the Town refuses to accept additional allocations, it would require the Commissioners to build its own treatment plant. Mr Ingersoll stated the Town could amend the Charter to extend the line if needed. He suggested the County consider imposing an impact fee.
Mayor Bailey expressed her appreciation of the Board of Commissioners support for the proposed annexation.
In other matters, Mayor Bailey requested assistance in addressing traffic issues with the State Highway Administration concerning MD Route 20 and MD Route 291. She wishes to again seek approval for a "round about" at this intersection. The Commissioners concurred to provide assistance in the matter. Commissioner Pickrum expressed the County's support for a Chestertown bypass, however, support is also needed by Queen Anne's County in order for the project to move forward. The Commissioners agreed to express support of this proposal to the State Highway Administration. Mayor Bailey also advised of desire to have a flashing light installed in front of the Rescue Squad on MD Route 291. The Commissioners will also seek assistance on this proposal.
Mayor Bailey advised of problem as to lost revenue due to dogs not being licensed. She would like a meeting be scheduled with the Town, County and Kent County Humane Society to further discuss concerns.
Mr. Ingersoll commented on the benefits of the community beautification projects by the State Highway Administration such as sidewalks in Betterton. Commissioner Livie inquired if any beautification could be initiated on Scheeler Drive as it relates to dumpsters by the road at Kent Plaza.
Mayor Bailey expressed concern as to the Environmental Protection Agency regulations in the Chester River. It was noted that Congressman Gilchrest will be requesting a two year extension.
Mr. Ingersoll expressed appreciation of County support for the Visitor's Center.
Councilman Clark expressed his appreciation for the Commissioners initiating this meeting.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ADVISORY BOARD
The Commissioners appointed Stuart "Mickey" Elsberg as a member of the Economic Development Advisory Board for a five year term ending January 5, 2008 and C. Breckenridge Debnam to fill an unexpired term ending January 5, 2004.
HOUSING AND COMMUNITY
DEVELOPMENT ( SECTION 8 PROGRAM)
As presented by Jack Canan, Housing and Community Development Coordinator, the Commissioners approved and Commissioner Pickrum signed Third Contract Amendment of the Section 8 Voucher Program and Termination of Contract Agreement for the administration of the Section 8 Certificate Program.
HOUSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Pickrum executed the signature payment form authorizing Commissioner Pickrum to request payment from the Community Development Block Grant Program, Housing Improvement Program, as prepared by Kay Pinder-Almen, Administrative Aide, Housing and Community Development.
LAND USE ORDINANCE
Commissioner Livie inquired of Gail Owings, Director, Planning and Zoning Administration, of the number of requests relating to zoning enclaves. She advised that she has had one inquiry from a non-County resident. He inquired as to the difference between enclave and cluster housing. Mrs. Owings advised that cluster housing had additional design standards. Commissioner Livie requested he be apprised of activity/inquiries relating to enclaves.
At 10:05 a.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum 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 special tax district and litigation.
The executive session adjourned at 11:10 a.m.
LOCAL MANAGEMENT BOARD
Correspondence was received from Dr. John Grant, Health Officer, appointing Gary B. Fry, Deputy Health Officer, as the Kent County Health Department member of the Local Management Board, Board of Directors, to replace Corrine (Gail) Vucci.
MARYLAND HISTORICAL TRUST
In follow-up from last week, the Commissioners approved and executed a letter of support to accompany the grant application for the Maryland Historical Trust for the 2004 Smithsonian Folklife Festival's "Mid-Atlantic Maritime Culture" program.
At 9:45 a.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to go into executive session with Warden Ronald Howell and Lieutenant Sharon Glenn to discuss personnel matters in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
The executive session adjourned at 10:05 a.m.
At 12:10 p.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Livie, seconded by Commissioner Crow, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum 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 12:12 p.m.
The Commissioners signed a proclamation celebrating Dorothy Bantum in honor of her 90th Birthday on February 9.
STILL POND COAST GUARD STATION
An informational meeting was held at 1:00 p.m. to garner public input relating to County's application to obtain Federal surplus property at the U.S. Coast Guard Station. Jeff Troester, Director, Parks and Recreation, Gail Owings, Director, Planning and Zoning Administration and Jack Canan, Housing and Community Development Coordinator, were in attendance as well as 26 interested persons.
Mr. Troester provided an update on the status of the property. He reported that the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board was formulating a vision for the property's use and recommended it be a seasonal passive park, limiting public access given the sensitive environmental conditions. Mr. Troester reported of intentions to use the park as an Environmental Education Center. He advised of potential partners such as the local Department of Agriculture, Echo Hill Outdoor School, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, have expressed interest in sharing the facility. The facility could be operated as an environmental education center and possibly a retreat for groups on a professional level. Mr. Troester approximated the operational costs to be $24,000 -$27,000 per year and the assessed value to be $1.4 Million. Commissioner Crow inquired if projected revenues offset maintenance and operating costs. Mr. Troester stated that he did not know the costs to bring the building up to code, however, he believed partnership usage revenues would cover operating/maintenance costs. Shore erosion control costs would also need to be addressed.
Mrs. Owings reported on the possible uses for the property as it relates to current zoning regulations. She advised that the property is zoned as Resource Conservation District in the Critical Area and could be used for private dwelling, however, commercial and multi-dwelling uses need a zoning change. She reported that government had more latitude with the property and that any construction would need the approval of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission. Mrs. Owings confirmed Commissioner Livie's inquiry that the property could possibly be used as a camp.
Charles Ross inquired as to any acquisition costs to purchase the property. Commissioner Crow advised that the acquisition was a transfer not a purchase. Commissioner Pickrum advised that if no government entity acquired the property, it would be offered for sale to the public.
Ingrid Coar, adjacent property owner, inquired as to the use of the access road. Commissioner Pickrum advised that the road would come under the County Road System. He advised that the Coast Guard will maintain a seasonal presence for the foreseeable future and are maintaining channel and dock. Commissioner Pickrum stated that the transfer of the property presented an opportunity for County to obtain a valuable piece of property for County use, however, he stressed the need for the property to be self sustaining.
Wally Gordon inquired that if park use would be supervised. Commissioner Pickrum stated the intent to lease the property to partners who would be responsible for supervision. Mr. Gordon inquired if electricity and pubic restrooms would be accessible. Commissioner Crow advised that those answers would depend on the tenant, however, he did not envision accessible public restrooms for boaters, etc.
Commissioner Pickrum advised of the time constraint (February 9) to submit the application to the General Services Administration to express interest in the property. He advised that they had no intent of acquiring the property unless it was self sustaining.
Mr. Troester advised that Coast Guard would be retaining 1.03 of the 13.45 acres. He reiterated that the road would be included in the County Road System.
Bernard Finneson noted that if the property went public the County would receive tax revenue. If it were a park, the tax revenue would be lost. Commissioner Crow advised that the property was assessed at $1.4 Million.
Peter Rice, Executive Director, Echo Hill Outdoor School. advised of the school's relationship with the Coast Guard in using the pier to dock their classroom boats. He stated it was very important to them to keep access to the property. Mr. Rice advised his preference for the property to be acquired by the County and used as an environmental education center and nature preserve. If all proposed groups formed a consortium for developing a curriculum for the public. Mr. Rice agreed that swimming should not be allowed due to dangerous currents. He expressed his desire for the County to assume the property as it is a unique property and wonderful education opportunity. He also suggested the hours of operation be posted and programs provided be listed and the property be closed at night.
A representative of YMCA Camp Tockwogh offered their assistance in developing an environmental education camp.
Albert Nickerson, adjacent property owner, expressed many concerns including increased traffic and budgetary considerations for taxpayer. Commissioner Pickrum stated the meeting was to listen to the concerns and if the property could not be self sustaining they would not proceed.
An attendee expressed her opposition to the property being publically sold. A representative of the Kinnaird's Point Resident's Association expressed traffic and increased activity concerns and stated that they are in favor of privatizing the property.
An attendee inquired if the County would be able to keep the public off the property, being a popular boating destination. Mr. Troester advised that increased activity was not expected given the limited use of the park. There is no public ramp facility.
Karen Willis expressed her preference of the County to own the property and to have supervised access to nature to provide an opportunity for school children, etc. to experience nature rather than it going to one private owner. Commissioner Pickrum stressed limited access to the property if they proceeded with the project.
Ed Athey inquired if the property could be acquired and sold by the County at a later time. Mr. Troester advised that the property can only revert back to the Federal Government if the County chose to decline usage.
Pat Langenfelder, whose family farms adjacent property, inquired if the area were made into an educational facility, would new zoning requirements affecting the farming process be imposed. Mrs. Owings advised that if the County acquired the property, the Critical Area Committee would review use and make recommendations. Mrs. Owings advised that the County would not impose any additional regulations such as buffers etc. and the Right to Farm Ordinance would be honored.
Kristen Nickerson requested a further definition of seasonal passive park. Mr. Troester advised that it would be closed October through April. Commissioner Livie stated that he expected the building to be open during that time, however, tenants would have a key.
Brad Morris, President, Kent County Farm Bureau, expressing various concerns that the Farm Bureau has as to the acquisition of this property and provided correspondence directed to the Commissioners expressing opposition to the planned use of the property.
Sue Nickerson, questioned the need for an additional environmental education facility in the County and given the programs offered by Echo Hill Outdoor School and Parks and Recreation. Commissioner Pickrum stated that the entities interested in using the property were not all focused on environmental studies.
Joe Hickman, representing Durham Point Farm, presented their preference of the County taking ownership of the property. He advised that Echo Hill are good neighbors and hoped for additional low impact tenants.
One attendee expressed concern that boaters would use the facility and swim off the beach. Commissioner Pickrum advised that the Coast Guard will have a seasonal presence and, like local residents, the tenant will not want trespassers either.
Mr. Nickerson speculated about long term usage and may be made unlimited public access if a different Board of Commissioners took office in the future. Commissioner Crow posed the same question should the property be sold to the private sector and of possible zoning changes. Commissioner Livie advised that if the property were privately owned local residents would not be afforded the input happening here today.
Mr. Rice noted that when the property was in full operation and a permanent Coast Guard staff, activity and noise were apparent, however, not disturbing. He anticipates the same level of activity or less with a seasonal park/educational facility.
An attendee inquired about the cost to improve the road. Mr. Troester stated that he did not have cost information relating to road improvements. Commissioner Pickrum speculated that improvements would be needed to bring the road to County standards.
Inquiries were made as to the application deadline. Mr. Troester advised that application was required by February 9. Commissioner Pickrum reiterated that the application was a place holder and the project would not go forth unless it was self sustaining and unintrusive to neighbors.
Mrs. Nickerson inquired as to the next step after the application. Mr. Troester advised that the General Services Administration would review the application. Commissioner Crow assured the audience that he would not support the project unless it is deemed self sustaining.
An attendee inquired if the park would close at night. Mr. Troester advised all County parks close at night. Commissioner Livie gave assurance that if the park had to remain open all the time, the project would not go forth.
Commissioner Pickrum thanked all for their input and participation.
The meeting adjourned at 2:25 p.m.
Correspondence was received from Martha Langenfelder, Still Pond, expressing her opinion that the Still Pond Coast Guard Station, identified as Federal surplus property would not be best served as a public access park.
Correspondence was received from Patricia and Conrad Langenfelder, Grand View Farm, Kennedyville, requesting the acquisition of the Still Pond Coast Guard Station project be abandoned as the County does need another public owned entity and fiscal responsibility.
Gail Owings, Director, Planning and Zoning Administration, provided zoning information and permitted uses relating to the Still Pond Coast Guard Station. The property is zoned Resource Conservation District.
Correspondence was received from Ken Beatty, Director, Delmarva Space Training Center, requesting to lease the Still Pond U.S. Coast Guard Station, property identified as Federal surplus property, for a space training center.
The Commissioners will meet with the Mayors and Councils of the incorporated towns tonight for a discussion of mutual interests and tax differential.
Correspondence was received from Pat Merritt, Director, Budget and Accounting, requested approval for software upgrade expenditure provided by HTE (government software) for tax billing software (excluded from the maintenance contract) for the amount of $2,400. This was not a budgeted item. A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to approve the expenditure from the Contingency fund.
Correspondence was received from Carl Burke, Upper Shore Aging, Inc., Executive Director, requesting one half of the supplemental funding ($10,766.50) approved for USTAR on July 30, 2002. The County Administrator advised that the previous Board of Commissioners approved the expenditure from the Contingency Fund.
Commissioner Livie inquired as to how the County obtained wireless connections for internet services. He stated that since the County and Board of Education has wireless connections, he inquired if other businesses/residents would have the same opportunity. Commissioner Crow suggested Steve Wilson, Supervisor of Technology, Board of Education, meet with the Board to provide information on this issue.
Correspondence was received from Ed Spray, Superintendent, County Roads, advising that State Highway Administration has deleted Worton Park Road from the County Roads inventory, resulting in the loss of approximately $5,568. Since the rehabilitation of the Worton park ballfields, a cable has been placed across the entrance at night to prevent vandalism to the ballfields, however, one criteria to receive Highway User Funds as well as surface treatment/patching funding is " open unrestricted public travel...". Mr. Spray requested direction as to the continuation of the road closure or try to get Worton Park reinstated as a County Road per the State Highway's definition.
Commissioner Crow expressed concern of losing Highway User funds. The Commissioners concurred to have the sign removed and Highway User Funds reinstated.
There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, February 4, 2003.
Please contact Joyce Laskey or Janice Fletcher at (410) 778-7435 or by e-mail with any questions or comments.