KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND
Board of County Commissioners
September 23, 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.
W. Roger Williams, Treasurer, reported a balance of $5,251,342.00.
Gail Owings, Director, Planning and Zoning Administration, reported on meeting of the Board of Appeals which met on 9/22/03.
BOARD OF ELECTION SUPERVISORS
The Commissioners received a copy of a letter sent to Florence L. Sutton, Election Director, Kent County Board of Elections, from Thomas J. Feehan, Jr., Warehouse and Inventory Manager, Diebold Elections Systems, Inc., in which Mr. Feehan requests a copy of the lease for the Board of Election Supervisors location on Dixon Drive, Chestertown, in order to have the facility in place to receive the AccuVote Touch Screens voting units. The draft lease agreement will be reviewed by the County Attorney.
BOARD OF HOUSING APPEALS
The Commissioners reappointed Dorothy Plummer, Nancy Dick and Peter Newlin as members of the Board of Housing Appeals for a three year term ending September 6, 2006.
BUDGET & ACCOUNTING
A memorandum was received from Pat Merritt, Director of Budget and Accounting, reporting that as part of the process of implementing a new payroll system for the County, the purchase of a new server will be required which Shawn Mathiesen, Information Systems Manager, has included in her FY'04 budget. However, Ms. Merritt, as per Ms. Mathiesen, also reports that the price of the Microsoft operating system for this server will cost $700 more than what was the projected budget line for this item. Both Ms. Merritt and Ms. Mathiesen request the County's approval of $700 out of the contingency fund for this item.
A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to approve this $700.00 expenditure out of the contingency fund.
CABLE TV ATLANTIC BROADBAND
Correspondence was received from David J. Keefe, Chief Executive Officer, and Edward T. Holleran, Jr., President and Chief Operating Officer, Atlantic Broadband (Delmar), L.L.C., announcing the pending acquisition of the County's cable system currently operated by Charter Communications to Atlantic Broadband, with enclosed an original Federal Communications Commission Form 394, "Application for Consent to Assignment of Cable Television Franchise." The County Attorney will be requested to review the application.
CHESTERTOWN WILDLIFE SHOW
Correspondence was received by the Commissioners from Shirley B. Susen, President of the Chestertown Wildlife Exhibition and Sale, scheduled for October 18, 2003, requesting the use of the Courthouse lawn for two events of the Show. Ms. Susen reports that her organization has been in contact with Carter Stanton, Director of Public Works, about the details. The Commissioners approved this request.
DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT
The Commissioners received a Joint Public Notice issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, and the Maryland Department of the Environment for application made by Sterling Design Group, Ltd. to construct a 20 slip private marina and a 20 unit townhouse development with shoreline erosion protection on the Chester River near Chestertown in Kent County.
DEPARTMENT OF WATER & WASTEWATER
Wayne Morris appeared (Susanne Hayman, County Attorney, was also in attendance), and reported on the following issues:
Edesville Service Area - At 9:15 a.m., a bid opening was held on sealed bids for Project Number WWS 04-02 of the Department of Public Works, for supplying a portable generator system to the County Department of Water & Wastewater. The proposal shall include all the necessary equipment, material and labor to provide and implement a portable standby generation system for the emergency operation of the Edesville Water Treatment Plant and miscellaneous sewage pump stations. Jim Wright, Public Works Engineer, and Wayne Morris, Department of Water & Wastewater, were present. Commissioner Pickrum read the notice advertised. Two bids were received as follows:
BIDDER/ BID AMOUNT
Chesapeake Diesel, Inc. $ 33,800.00
Hartwell Engineering, Inc. $ 40,003.00
Commissioner Crow expressed his belief that a portable generator system would have been helpful for the shelters in Rock Hall during and after Hurricane Isabel, and that the County should look into more hook-ups to the generator for potential need for shelters in the future.
Mr. Morris reported that the funding from the Maryland Department of the Environment for the connection of the Edesville Wastewater System to the Wesley Chapel force main was put in the FY'05 budget. He noted that he had contacted Rural Utility Service (RUS) and learned from them that they could possibly fund the project in FY'04. The feasibility study has been completed by McCrone, Inc. However, RUS will require of the County a completed Environmental Report. McCrone, Inc. Submitted a proposal to the Department of Water & Wastewater agreeing to complete the Environmental Report at the cost of $2,500.
A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to accept the proposal from McCrone, Inc. to prepare the Environmental Report for the Edesville Wastewater Project to pump wastewater from the existing lagoon/disposal site to the Rock Hall wastewater collection system.
Quaker Neck Service Area - A Memorandum of Agreement between the Town of Chestertown and the Kent County Commissioners (4th Addendum to Sewer Agreement of 8/18/82) was received by Mr. Morris regarding a wastewater collection system and pump station in the Quaker Neck-County Club Estates-Heatherview sewer service area and summarized the memorandum from Susanne Hayman regarding the upgrade cost for Quaker Neck Pump Station #2, and other specifics.
Ms. Hayman described the specifics of the MOA as straight forward.
Mr. Morris advised the Commissioners that it will take some time to review the draft.
Hurricane Isabel - Commenting on the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel, Commissioner Pickrum expressed his dismay that Connectiv Service Delivery seems to have placed their Kent County clients low on their response- and- repair-priorities.
Mr. Morris reported that he telephoned Connectiv many times during the days following the Hurricane and was finally advised that, unless the client's call concerned a life-threatening emergency, the client would not be moved up in priority. Mr. Morris also indicated that he was very concerned about the lack of potable water in Edesville due to the outage which affected this area.
Commissioner Livie inquired as to whether or not the County can arrange for future potable water access sites for emergency management.
Mr. Morris indicated that, given the current emergency situation, the County could provide bottled water for domestic use. However, the use of a tanker to haul water would provide water for sanitary uses only, not for consumption. The County does not have the time to test water for its safe consumption.
Commissioner Crow expressed his opinion that the Connectiv utility should determine its priorities using a more just standard. Commissioner Pickrum concurred, indicating that an important aspect of emergency preparedness, including that of utility companies, is having just and fair priorities already set in place.
Millington Service Area - Mr. Morris reported that Mr. Stoltzfus is proposing to expand his restaurant and convenience store, and add a 40-room hotel at his site located at the Route 301 and Route 291 overpass in Millington. Mr. Morris' department has received a letter from Mr. Stoltzfus requesting an additional allocation of 2,220 gallons of water and sewer allocation. Mr. Morris advised the Commissioners that he recommends approval of this allocation.
Commissioner Pickrum inquired whether or not there were enough EDU's for the Food Lion located in Millington, to which Mr. Morris replied that there are enough EDU's.
Commissioner Crow inquired as to the total number of allocations the Stoltzfus Restaurant has presently, to which Mr. Morris responded a total of 21 allocations.
A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to approve an additional nine EDU's allocation to Mr. Stoltzfus' restaurant, convenience store and hotel.
Tolchester Service Site - Mr. Morris noted that he has received a letter from Mrs. Dorothea McSorley requesting sewer allocations for four parcels and asked for some direction from the Commissioners as to the best way to handle future requests until the public information meeting on October 11th with the Tolchester Community Association.
In response to questions raised by the Commissioners, Mr. Morris stated that each parcel would require an extension and that the cost would be borne by the customer. He further advised that two parcels are located outside the outlined area, one parcel is within the area, and one parcel is on the border. Commissioner Pickrum asked if a line extension was needed to serve these properties.
Commissioner Livie confirmed that it is the policy of the Commissioners to promote development in areas where the County already has water and sewer available. Mr. Morris indicated that he would check the properties and report on their status at the next Commissioners' meeting.
Commissioner Crow advised that it is important that the County be certain to communicate to all Tolchester residents the scheduled public information meeting of the Commissioners and Tolchester residents on October 11, 2003. Commissioner Crow suggested that the designated location of the October 11th meeting should be changed, and that it be held instead at the Agricultural Center in Tolchester, a facility which will accommodate more people.
P.A.M. Schaller, Director, Economic Development, appeared and presented a report containing accomplishments during her first six months as Director and are as follows:
- the setting up of a new office, a volunteer staff, an establishing a presence at State and regional meetings; the creation of a list of contacts;
- the activation of the Economic Development Advisory Board towards promotion of economic development in Kent County, and to create a committee to develop an Action Plan for Economic Development in Kent County, MD;
- the establishment of marketing and promotional efforts, such as a Kent County Chamber of Commerce Directory, presentations to local agencies, etc;
- the CD/ROM Project ( a presentation tool and forum for promoting businesses to the County's citizens;
- the publication of the Economic Development Business Brochure;
- "Celebrate Kent County Businesses" breakfast series;
- the partial update of Economic Development Website, with branding banner;
- hiring of two, part-time assistants for project work;
- the creation of an inventory of County businesses (727) and a database;
- the creation of Tours of Kent County for State and regional agencies;
- continued development of the Kent County Business Park; Action Plan for Economic Improvement for Kent County, and final phase of Airport Study Committee;
- participation in the Task Force for Sustainable Agriculture and Kent County Chamber of Commerce Hurricane Isabel Task Force.
Ms. Schaller reported her interest in the creation of signage for farms in the County which will assist the public's awareness of the names and locations of farms involved with the Chesapeake Fields Institute initiative. She would like the signage to include a plexiglass box (similar to those used by Realtors) which would contain brochures, for the public, about the Identity Preservations Program. Commissioner Crow suggested that Ms. Schaller's office apply for grants for the signage, and that the signs be temporary (easily moved), a feature that would be attractive to farmers.
Commissioner Crow inquired as to whether Ms. Schaller's office is associated with the County's art community, to which Ms. Schaller responded that her office is participating in the "Arts Zone". She also reported that there are 58 organizations involving the arts in the County.
Ms. Schaller reported that the Drayton Manor property may be sold, that it is anticipated that an application will be submitted for developing this property into a retreat center, and that the Rock Hall FallFest will take place as scheduled for the coming weekend.
The Commissioners thanked Ms. Schaller for her presentation and report.
Bob Rust, Emergency Management Director, and Carter Stanton, Public Works Director, appeared and updated information on the County's recovery process in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel due to a seven and one-half foot surge. Even though the total amount of rainfall was less than 3 inches, much flooding was realized in low-lying areas around the Bay and the Chester River, especially in Rock Hall and Water Street in Chestertown. It has been noted that Hurricane Isabel surpassed the flooding experienced in August 1933 (which surpassed flooding in August 1893).
- The initial assessment of damage in Rock Hall will be accomplished by the end of the week.
- Electricity is finally available through-out the County as of the time of this report
. -Requests for dry ice have ceased.
- The County has been very fortunate in that there were no fatalities or severe injuries reported.
Mr. Rust expressed his concern that County residents will attempt to take care of recovery themselves, and he is encouraging residents to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He reported that the media has been informed of emergency contact names and phone numbers, and that there is an individual assistant team and a public assistant team.
Commissioner Pickrum inquired as to whether or not an evaluation will be made of the emergency management efforts during and after Hurricane Isabel, advising that an evaluation would determine and expedite needed improvements in the emergency management efforts. Mr. Rust responded that an evaluation will be made later.
Mr. Stanton distributed copies of his written report giving a breakdown concerning the current status of all County roads, indicating that the County will require $3,000 above-budget for repair work.
Commissioner Crow inquired whether or not the County is helping Rock Hall with their removal of debris, etc., to which Mr. Stanton responded that debris removal will be contracted-out. Concerning the same in Chestertown: two dumpsters have been installed on Water Street; 91 tons of yard waste have thus far been collected; 150 trucks were employed to remove debris on the Saturday after the Hurricane, 85 vehicles were used on that Sunday.
Concerning the status of public landings in the County: Mr. Stanton reported that at least $200,000 worth of damage was incurred. His department set up barricades where needed to prevent the crossing of vehicles over damaged bridges, etc. His hope is that damaged landings, etc. can be repaired; the cost to replace the same would be, projected, one-quarter of a million dollars.
Mr. Stanton reported that a significant amount of damage has been incurred by the piers at Cliffs City, Sharp Street and Quaker Neck Landings.
Commissioner Pickrum inquired as to the condition of the Court House basement, to which Mr. Stanton replied that there is no damage, no water present.
In response to an inquiry raised by Commissioner Livie, Mr. Rust replied that FEMA will open an office in the Rock Hall Municipal Building and that its inspectors are expected to tour the entire County in the near future.
Mr. Robinson reported that the Governor is currently touring the State and that he is not certain when the Governor is scheduled to inspect the Eastern Shore. He reported that the Senators will tour the State by helicopter on Monday, September 29th.
A facsimile was received today advising of a Governor's Eastern Shore Summit for Local Elected Officials scheduled for September 24 at 1:30 p.m. in Cambridge. An Executive Summary Briefing for local elected officials on the FEMA/MEMA recovery process sponsored by the Governor's Office will be given. Commissioner Crow will plan to attend.
At 11:40 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 Susanne Hayman, County Attorney, for legal counsel in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
Items of discussion included land title, mooring buoy regulations and Memorandum of Agreement with the Town of Chestertown.
The executive adjourned at 11:50 a.m.
LOCAL MANAGEMENT BOARD
The Commissioners reappointed Hanson Meikle, Jr. and Leon Frison as members of the Local Management Board for a three year term ending June 30, 2006.
PARKS AND RECREATION
A memorandum was received by Ed Robinson, County Administrator, from Jeffrey Troester, Director of Parks and Recreation, regarding an infestation of sawflies on the white pines in Worton Park, almost completely defoliating the trees. Likewise, the Worton Elementary School is experiencing the same type of infestation on its campus. Mr. Troester reported that he has contacted Tony Cucina, Kent County Board of Education, who advised Mr. Troester that Parks and Recreation would be allowed to piggyback onto the Board of Education's arrangement to spray the infested trees. Mr. Troester indicates that the cost of spraying is an unexpected expense to be absorbed into his budget, anticipating the cost at $800.00.
Mr. Troester also referred to a conversation with Mr. Robinson about a broken paint spraying machine. Mr. Troester was able to have the machine repaired for $600.00 within budget.
At 12:00 noon, a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie 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. Susanne Hayman, Human Resources Director, was also in attendance.
The executive session adjourned at 12:30 p.m.
Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning Administration, and Amy Moredock, Environmental Planner, reported on the following issues:
Maryland Department of Planning (MDP): an Agency Review Request was received from the Maryland State Clearinghouse which indicated that the MD Department of Budget and Management has made application for the construction of a 330-foot self-supporting Microwave/Radio Tower and equipment shelter, to replace the existing 75 foot monopole tower at the Chestertown SHA Maintenance Facility (Morgnec Road, Chestertown, NAD 83 Tower).
The Board of Appeals is concerned with the height of the tower under consideration. Commissioner Livie inquired as to how the County would benefit from such a tower. Ed Robinson, County Administrator, indicated that the proposed tower would replace the tower located at the Kent and Queen Anne's Hospital which functions as part of the Emergency Management System. Commissioner Livie inquired as to its potential use for a wireless system. Commissioner Pickrum expressed his desire for the State to discuss their plans for erecting communications towers first with the counties affected.
Ms. Owings expressed her concern that, given the significant increase in the height of the proposed tower, it may prove to be an interference with other users. Commissioner Livie would like to see the County invited to partner with the State and that the County should insist upon such a partnership in planning for the site and erection of towers. Commissioner Crow discussed his belief that microwave towers have an adverse effect on the health of people. Ms. Owings indicated that the federal government has looked at this issue and does not consider it to be an issue. Commissioner Crow indicated that he believes that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that microwave towers be 8 feet above the ground. Ms. Owings said that the Planning Office will check into the FCC's regulations.
Agricultural Transfer Tax/Matching Funds - Ms. Owings referred to a memorandum submitted to the County Commissioners from Carla Martin, Community Planner, as to the history of the local matching funds program of the MD Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation: that in 1997, Kent County became a certified county whereby it may retain 75% of their collected agricultural transfer tax and must commit at least 9% of the total collected agricultural transfer tax from sources other than the transfer tax. Since 1997, the County has committed the required funds from the contingency fund.
In FY'02, the Commissioners agreed to commit $11,230.34 from general funds. However, this commitment was not clearly recorded and funds were never moved into the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) account. In addition, another $6,027.21 needed to be committed from the general funds to cover the FY'03 requirement. A total of $17,257.55 must be committed to agricultural land preservation in order for the County to remain certified.
Ms. Owings continued to report that an insufficient funds offer was made to a landowner and the State asked if the County had any funds available to help make up the shortfall. The landowner was told that the County would investigate using the available agricultural transfer tax, that as much as $50,000 might be available with the approval of the Commissioners for the commitment of the funds.
Ms. Owings advised that it is the recommendation of the Planning Office staff that $40,000 be committed to the insufficient funds offer, which is about 25% of the shortfall, and that the staff feels it is important to withhold some funding ($10,000) in the event that the State bills the County for "three-year-monies" or that the County have something in reserve for next year's easement acquisition program.
Herschell Claggett appeared and identified himself as the "landowner" indicated in Ms. Owings' report He indicated that the $50,000 would make up a portion of the State's insufficient funds offer, and that he had only 30 days to accept that amount.
Commissioner Crow asked for confirmation from Ms. Owings that the $10,000 must remain in reserve, to which Ms. Owings reiterated that it is good to have money in reserve as per her experience with working with the State.
Commissioner Livie asked that once money has been committed, is it possible for the State to take it back. Ms. Owings responded that her office has been researching this question for the past three months and has, thus far, received no answer from the State.
Commissioner Pickrum advised that the Planning Office should follow-up that research with a letter in order to encourage a prompt and direct answer.
The Commissioners approved to transfer $17,257.55 from the General Fund to the Agricultural Preservation Fund making a total of $50,000.
Zoning Enforcement Procedures - Memorandum was received by the Commissioners from Gail Owings outlining zoning enforcement procedures with attached copy of a letter and agreement to abate used by the Planning Department during the enforcement of zoning violations, indicating that before sending the first letter, her department's staff inspects each site of an alleged violation to determine the appropriate means of enforcement (e.g. Zoning Ordinance, House Numbering, Sediment or Storm Water Management, or reference to another agency such as the Health Department or Environmental Crimes Unit).
The staff sends the letter to the property owner after the site inspection, inclusive of a civil citation for certain types of violations. A fine is assessed or the case is forwarded to the attorney for the Planning Commission. Frequently, a property owner will request an extension of time to correct the violation and, in that case, the owner is required to sign the agreement to abate, given then 30 to 45 days to correct the violation. The Commissioners concurred with the form letter used in notifying property owners as to zoning violations.
Building Permits for Structures Damaged/Hurricane Isabel - Memorandum was received by the Commissioners from Gail Owings outlining the legal parameters qualifying structures, which were damaged by Hurricane Isabel, for replacement, repair, or reconstruction, given receipt of a permit for same. Recommendations by the Planning Office staff are listed in this memorandum, such as: limiting permit fees to the minimum MDIA charge for replacement building permits; and that the location for the permit application process and required permit information be published on the County website.
Ms. Owings reported that her staff recommends that a site be selected where FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Assessment) and the County can locate together in Rock Hall. At this location, the Planning Department, Health Department, and Middle Department Inspection Agency MDIA will be available to take, review, and, where possible, issue residential building permits and assist with commercial permit applications. It is Ms. Owings' recommendation to use the auditorium in the Rock Hall Municipal Building because the auditorium will afford more privacy during the in-take and application process. Commissioner Crow advised that the County take action on site selection.
A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to propose the auditorium at the Rock Hall Municipal Building as the site for the issuance of building permits.
Ed Robinson inquired as to whether re-building a commercial structure on its original site is less complicated than building on another site, to which Ms. Owings responded that building on the original site is not less complicated, and that such re-building will still require an architect's seal. For example, a building may be reconstructed at its original site but now must be elevated to meet current regulations.
The Commissioners received correspondence from Jim and Carol Orange (more letters received) expressing their thankfulness for the letter of support and endorsement which the Commissioners sent to Dave Wilson of Resource Conservation and Development for submission to the Army Corps of Engineers regarding efforts to restore Swantown Creek.
UPPER-SHORE REGIONAL COUNCIL
The County Administrator reported of plans to meet with regional county administrators on September 24 to develop draft bylaws for the newly formed Upper-Shore Regional Council. The Commissioners would like for this Council to prioritize issues the Counties deem important and to draft a mission statement.
There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, September 30, 2003.
THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND
Janice F. Fletcher
Please contact Ileana Lindstrom or Janice Fletcher at (410) 778-7435 or by e-mail with any questions or comments.