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KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND


Board of County Commissioners

December 2, 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 $8,294,872.00.


AGRICULTURAL LAND PRESERVATION

Mrs. Owings, Director of the Planning and Zoning Administration, appeared and reported that she attended a seminar at The Center for Agro-Ecology on December 1st, noting a presentation made about the impact of down-zoning on properties. Mrs. Owings indicated that there is in fact an impact, and that the report based on the presentation is forth coming. Another presentation that was made focused on ways in which local governments can encourage voluntary home-preservation among its citizens.

A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Pickrum and passed by the majority of the Board to approve the application filed by Edwin and Lorraine Fry to create an agricultural land preservation district on their 404-acre parcel, located on Augustine Herman Highway in the Third Election District. Commissioner Livie opposed this motion based on his interest to meet with the Fry's to make one more attempt to seek their interest in the sale of their property for the use of a County airport; if not, he would then support approval of their application for agricultural land preservation district.


AIRPORT

Thomas K. Beckett, Sr., Chairman of the Airport Study Committee, appeared for submission and presentation of the Committee's Final Report. Present also with Mr. Beckett, were the following members of the Committee: P.A.M. Schaller, Facilitator, Bill Knepshield, J. Tyler Campbell, John Caputo, Larry Cox, James F. Douglass, George E. McLaughlin, and Judge H. Thomas Sisk.

Mr. Beckett began his presentation by stating a request on behalf of the Study Committee: that the statement prepared and made by Tyler Campbell at the Public Hearing on November 18, 2003 concerning the application submitted by Edwin and Lorraine Fry for an agricultural land preservation district be recognized as that representing himself and not the Airport Study Committee.

Mr. Beckett also prefaced his presentation by stating that all but one of the Study Committee members have signed the Airport Study Report. The Study Committee Report begins with this statement of Mission: "Assess the feasibility of a public/private airport in Kent County. Should the committee conclude that an airport is desirable, the recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners is to include appropriate size, scope, and general location."

The Report indicates a total of 11 Committee meetings which took place between July 28ththrough November 21, 2003, including meetings with the following: Gail Owings, Director, Planning and Zoning, owners and managers of area airports, Bruce Mundie, Director, Regional Aviation Assistance of the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA), Terry Page, Manager, Washington Airports District Office, and others. The following are the conclusions reached by the Airport Study Committee:

- It is the Committee's opinion that an airport is a feasible option for the County based on its cost to the County and the probability of a high return on that investment in terms of economic enhancement. The airport will also benefit local businesses, aviators who need convenient access to general aviation facilities and other people who choose to use general aviation services. The airport will attract visitors and business-related flight activities, and should enhance the value of Kent County as a relocation site for some businesses. The airport is consistent with the goals of the Kent County Comprehensive Plan, zoning regulations and the Kent County Economic Improvement Plan.

- Once the airport is in operation, private funding should be obtainable to support some airport operations and reduce the risk of financial loss to the County. However, the Committee was not able to demonstrate the feasibility of attracting private investors to fund the capital costs of acquiring land and building the airport.

- The preferred location for the Kent County Airport is near the geographical center of the County where it will be convenient to all residents and businesses in the County. The airport should be located in an area convenient to nearby zoning for the Business Park and light industrial development and have access to existing or planned public sewer and water service. The airport needs to be located within five miles of a fire station.

- It was recommended that an airport be constructed with a minimum runway length of 4,200 feet at a site that will allow for a future expansion.

- It was also recommended that the Commissioners immediately establish an independent Airport Authority with appropriate oversight responsibilities and accountable to the Commissioners. This Authority should review all the current data on this project and make a determination as to the appropriate site for the new Kent County Airport and report this to the Commissioners.

- If the Board of Commissioners decides to pursue an airport as recommended by this Committee, the Committee believes that the Commissioners should approve a plan to provide immediate and sustained communications with the County residents to build a strong understanding and appreciation of the role and value of the airport as an economic asset.

Mr. Beckett continued with the following discussion based on the Study Committee's conclusions:

- The justification for the airport is its economic benefit to the County. The recommendations of the Study Committee reflect the conclusion of the majority of its members that the economic benefits of an airport are likely to far exceed the cost to the County.

Beginning with information submitted by Wilbur Smith Associates in 2001 for the Worton site, the Study Committee developed an estimate of the cost of starting over with a new site for the airport. The Study Committee estimated that the total cost to the County for an airport on a new site would be approximately $1.3 Million spread over a 6 to 10 year period. This assumes a cost of $1.762 Million to purchase a 150 acre site and related easements and approval of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reimbursement. The plan also assumes that Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) will not match 50% of Kent County's costs for non AIP-eligible expenses (e.g. airplane terminal, hangars, etc. - items not considered a requirement for safety) of $835,000.

The estimate further assumes that the new site would qualify for reimbursement of 90% of the costs of the Environmental Assessment and wildlife hazard assessment. According to Mr. Page (Washington Airports District Office), the FAA will fund these expenses after approval of the airport site, master plan and land acquisition.

In return for the investment of $1.3 Million, the County should expect to achieve an economic benefit of an average of $1,375,000 for each of the first five years of airport operations. This economic impact will increase to almost $4 Million per year by the 20th year of airport operations, according to estimates recently updated from the 1994 Master Plan prepared by Wilbur Smith Associates.

Mr. Beckett advised that the County tourism industry is estimated to contribute approximately $32 Million in revenues to the County economy each year, and farming about $60 Million. For a $1.3 Million long-term investment, the County economy would achieve an annual return of over $ 1 Million initially and as high as $ 4 Million in 20 years, thereby creating from 15 to 50 direct, indirect, and induced new jobs (jobs created and/or influenced by employment at the airport). From an economic point of view, Mr. Beckett reported that the Study Committee believes that an airport in the County is a worthwhile investment.

The discussion continued with the advisement that attracting private funding for an airport would be of limited feasibility. FAA funding for publically owned airports is provided through federal taxes on airline ticket sales and aviation fuel and is distributed by FAA to facilitate the construction and maintenance of safe aviation facilities for public use. The FAA will not fund any airport unless it is built on land owned by a public entity. MAA is limited for privately owned airports, if available at all.

Mr. Beckett addressed the issue of runway length: that it would be important to assure the safety and economic viability of airport operations. The Study Committee recommended that a runway be of a minimum 4,200 feet, and at a site suitable for future expansion.

The final discussion on the Airport Study Report conducted by Mr. Beckett cited the importance of beginning a prompt and sustained process of informing the citizenry about the benefits and advantages of having an airport. He advised that this program be one that is embraced by the Commissioners and the business community and made available to all organizations and individuals within the County. Businesses should understand the value derived from bringing new opportunities to the County, and the program should be a cooperative effort between a newly established Airport Authority, the Economic Development office and others as deemed necessary by the Board of Commissioners.

Commissioner Pickrum inquired as to the feasibility of establishing a transportation authority instead of an airport authority, for example an authority that would include representation of the bus system as well. Mr. Beckett responded that a transportation authority might be feasible so long as it would not have the effect of diffusing the airport system.

Commissioner Livie thanked the Study Committee for their efforts and the time spent towards preparing the study; that it was no small task. He added that the greater task will be to move forward, taking the Study Committee's presentation throughout the County. He further encouraged the presentation to be made promptly, given that public support for an airport in the County could erode quickly and diffuse the investment of time and research of the Study Committee.

Commissioner Crow concurred, stating that the Study Committee's report is concise and thorough. All the Commissioners extended their appreciation for the time and effort of the Study Committee and for their report. Commissioner Pickrum then opened the floor to discussion for all present.

To questions raised concerning the projected benefit of the airport as an economic enhancement for the County, Mr. Beckett indicated that the airport should not be seen as the cure-all for the County's economic needs; it could be expected to be one enhancement in addition to others, for example, a golf course. Mr. Beckett added that the County itself is the only entity that can qualify for FAA funding; no private individual or organization would be eligible.

A motion was made by Commissioner Crow and seconded by Commissioner Pickrum to re-open discussion on the application of Edwin and Lorraine Fry to create an agricultural land preservation district on their 404-acre parcel, located on Augustine Herman Highway in the Third Election District.

James F. Douglass, a member of the Airport Study Committee, read a letter into the record, identifying himself as a pilot and airport manager and owner. He recognized that there is a minority group represented on the Study Committee who would prefer to wait until a larger site than the Fry's property could be obtained, further adding that some members of the Study Committee are reluctant to re-consider the Fry property issue. Mr. Douglass stated his belief that a plan to construct an airport on the Fry property, other than some other site, would not only be in the Fry's best interest but also in the County's best interest. His reasons were given as follows: the special value of the MAA grant vis-a-vis the Fry property, the civic-mindedness of the Fry family, and the economic enhancements and incentives as reported by the Study Committee. He advised that the MAA grant would dramatically reduce the County's costs for an airport; the $1.5 Million grant will expire at the end of 2003.

Commissioner Livie raised a question, expressed by many others, as to whether or not there is merit for the Commissioners to meet with the Fry's with the purpose of presenting to them the report of Study Committee. In response to this question, the opinion was shared by a number of people present that, with all due respect to the Study Committee and the time and effort they put towards their report, the report should be presented to the Fry's for their consideration and review.

Commissioner Livie asked if there was a consensus among the Study Committee members that the Commissioners should return to the Fry's with the Study Committee's report, to which John Caputo responded that the Study Committee would not presume to put the Board of Commissioners in that position. Mr. Caputo emphasized that the only expectation of the Study Committee for the Commissioners is that they will conduct the County's business in the best interest of the County.

Commissioner Pickrum reiterated a number of times his belief that the County must respect private property ownership; that it represents one of the founding principles of the country. He continued by stating that the Fry's have made their decision: to create an agricultural land preservation district on their property and, therefore, that decision should be respected by the County without any further discussion or request for their re-consideration.

Commissioner Crow stated that the entire Board of Commissioners advocate an airport in the County; however, speaking on behalf of himself, he was adamant that the decision of the Fry's as property owners is a priority and must be respected. Commissioner Pickrum expressed his belief that subsequent, alternative sites for an airport may be difficult to acquire, but emphasized that there will be alternatives to consider.

James Douglass and several others present expressed their concern that should the Fry's property be eliminated as an option, the County would lose all potential FAA reimbursement. They referred to a letter written by Terry J. Page, Manager, Washington Airports District Office, in which Mr. Page indicated the "FAA concerns are that any other sites chosen in the County may ultimately require condemnation..." and that "the Worton site (Fry's property) could satisfy the aviation needs identified in earlier studies, and that significant investment has been made in the site selection, environmental analysis, and planning for the current site."

Commissioner Pickrum responded to the concern by, once again, emphasizing that there are other options other than the Fry's property and that he, therefore, disagrees with the urgency expressed by Mr. Page in his letter.

Commissioner Livie expressed his opinion that the County should present the report of the Study Committee to the Fry's one more time, that the County's owes it to the Fry's and to the County. He referred to the fact that the information that was originally presented to the Fry's was erroneous and that the current report is accurate.

Commissioner Pickrum stated that he would not hold the Fry's "hostage" until they see the presentation of the current report, indicating that this approach did not represent good public policy. Commissioner Livie stated that the County would be asking the Fry's to delay their decision for a week or two, disagreeing with Commissioner Pickrum's opinion, and asked for the vote to be called.

A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Pickrum and passed by the majority of the Board to approve the application filed by Edwin and Lorraine Fry to create an agricultural land preservation district on their 404-acre parcel, located on Augustine Herman Highway in the Third Election District. Commissioner Livie opposed this motion based on his interest to meet with the Fry's to make one more attempt to seek their interest in the sale of their property for the use of a County airport; if not, he would then support the approval of their application for agricultural land preservation district.


BOARD OF EDUCATION (BOE)

The Commissioners received correspondence from Bonnie C. Ward, Superintendent of Schools, with the intent to inform of the status of the renovation plans for Kent County High School. Dr. Ward indicated that the BOE recently received information that the Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) is recommending the BOE's Phase I project for KCHS. The total request was $1,110,000 (State share of $555,000 and local share of $555,000). The Board of Public Works will announce the approved projects in February, 2004.


BOARD OF ELECTION SUPERVISORS

The Commissioners and County Administrator attended luncheon and tour of the new offices of the Board of Election Supervisors at 135 Dixon Drive, Chestertown.


CHESAPEAKE MARINE TRADES CAREER SCHOOL

A reception was held on December 1, hosted by the Commissioners and the Economic Development Office, to launch the Chesapeake Marine Trades Career School. In follow-up, it was suggested that one-to-one meetings should take place between marine owners and County representatives to assist with communicating information about the school and to encourage the interest of marine owners.


CODE HOME RULE BORROWING AUTHORITY

First reading was held on Code Home Rule Bill No. 6-2003 which is an Act to add a Section 3-9.1 to Chapter 3, Administration of Government, of the Code of Public Local Laws of Kent County, Maryland to authorize and empower the County Commissioners of Kent County, from time to time, to borrow not more than Ten Million Dollars ($10,000.00) for the public purposes of financing or refinancing general operating expenses or capital improvements, all as more particularly described herein, and to evidence such borrowing by the issuance and sale at public or private sale, upon its full faith and credit, of one or more series of its general obligation bonds in like par amount, empowering and directing the County Commissioners of Kent County to adopt a resolution in accordance with Section 15(4) of Article 25B of the Annotated Code of Maryland, as amended from time to time, prior to issuing all or any part of the bonds; empowering and directing the County to levy ad valorem taxes in rate and amount sufficient to provide funds for the payment of the maturing principal of and interest on the bonds and pledging the County's full faith and credit and unlimited taxing power; exempting the bonds from the provisions of Sections 9 to 11, inclusive , of Article 31 of the Annotated Code of Maryland; authorizing the issuance of refunding bonds; expressing official intent to issue bonds to finance the acquisition of the LaMotte property; and relating generally to the issuance and sale of such bonds.

Public hearing has been scheduled for December 16 at 9:30 a.m. in the County Commissioners Hearing Room, Chestertown.


DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND WASTE WATER SERVICES

Wayne Morris, Director of the Department of Water and Waste Water Services, appeared and gave a report on the following:

Tolchester Service Area

- After further review of request submitted, the Commissioners approved application submitted by Susan Barnhardt for a sewer allocation.

- Mr. Morris indicated that he received a request for a sewer allocation from Robert W. Burrow regarding Parcel # 664 on Texas Avenue in Tolchester. Commissioner Livie advised that no further consideration be given to allocation requests until the Commissioners establish a policy to govern these considerations and decision-making. Mr. Morris concurred with this action. Susanne Hayman, County Attorney, recommended postponement of all considerations and decisions for one week to effect the appropriate moratorium. Ms. Hayman will draft a resolution for the Commissioners' consideration.

Discussion took place which reiterated the Commissioners' intention to concentrate construction growth around existing sewer systems and not to commence construction where systems do not exist. There are five allocations that remain available that were projected in the growth plan submitted to the State. Commissioner Pickrum underscored that this limit reflects this plan and is not related to an issue of capacity. Commissioner Crow concurred, indicating that the County encourages growth around existing infrastructure.

Edesville Service Area - regarding the request for a sewer and water allocation from William M. Crowding, Registered Surveyor, on behalf of Robert F. Miller, owner of Parcel # 23, Map 46, Grid 4c, which was tabled at the last Commissioners' meeting. Mr. Morris made the following clarification as requested by the Commissioners: this allocation request is, in fact, specific solely to Mr. Miller's interest in relocating to the said parcel from his current residence in Rock Hall and does not represent a first phase of Mr. Crowding's projected plans to develop the surrounding area.

A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to approve a sewer and water allocation for William M. Crowding, on behalf of Robert F. Miller, for Parcel # 23.


GAMING/RAFFLE PERMIT

The Commissioner approved a Raffle Permit for the Millington Lions Club to sell raffle tickets and conduct a drawing which will take place during their fund-raising event from December 2, 2003 through January 28, 2004. The drawing will take place at their meeting at the Howard Johnson Restaurant in Millington on January 28, 2004.


HERITAGE PRESERVATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Gail Owings, Director, Planning and Zoning, and Carla Martin, Community Planner, appeared and conveyed the following information:

- In January 2002, the County received a Preservation Incentives for Local Governments (PILG) Grant. The PILG Program is an initiative of the Maryland Historical Trust that assists local governments in developing or expanding their heritage preservation programs.

- One requirement of the grant was the establishment of a Heritage Advisory Committee.

- The Committee must have at least five members and one must be a local elected official.

Ms. Martin reports that, due to a resignation of one member of the Committee, the Commissioners may appoint a new member. She further indicated that an elected official is needed to be appointed and can, but need not be, a County Commissioner. The primary task of the Advisory Committee is to prepare a Heritage Resource Survey and Evaluation Plan for all heritage resource types.

The Commissioners concurred that postcards be sent to all elected officials in the County to query their interest in serving on the Advisory Committee.


HURRICANE ISABEL

Carter Stanton, Director, Public Works, appeared and gave a follow-up report on the following:

- There was more damage found on the Fairlee Creek pier than in the original assessment, the repair costs estimated at $3,000 to $5,000.

- He would be able to present three quotes to repair the damaged bulkhead at the next Commissioners' meeting.

- That, although not a result of the Hurricane, he has learned that the Maryland Department of the Environment requires from the County a permit to complete some of the necessary repairs on Bayside Landing: to remove the pilings, to take out the slips and re-align them, and to notify the adjacent neighbors prior to the start of the repair work.


LAMOTTE PROPERTY

It was reported that field inspection work has begun by Michael A. Scott, Inc. on this property.


LAND USE ORDINANCE
NUISANCE ORDINANCE

Commissioner Crow inquired as to the progress of enforcement of Nuisance/Land Use Ordinances in the 6th Election District, to which Mrs. Owings indicated that there are currently two violations which are to be addressed in court.


LEGAL COUNSEL

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 with Susanne Hayman, County Attorney, for legal counsel in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland. Charles Sommers and Jim Wright were also in attendance.

Items of discussion included board appointment and Worton Business Park.

The executive session adjourned at 12:20 p.m.

At 1:15 p.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 Tolchester growth issues.

The executive session adjourned at 1:30 p.m.


MARYLAND ENVIRONMENT TRUST

Correspondence was received from John Bernstein, Director, Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) advising of the proposal of Matt and Anne Weir (Boo, LLC) to donate a perpetual conervation easement on approximately 1,038 Acres in Kent County to the MET and the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Inc.(ESLC).


MARYLAND ROUTE 291

Correspondence was received from Richard K. Lindsay, District Engineer, State Highway Administration (SHA), in which he recommended that, based on a comparison of the collected data at the site to guidelines used within the State and across the country which acknowledge conditions requiring additional traffic controls, an emergency traffic signal at MD Route # 291 at the entrance to the Kent and Queen Anne's Rescue Squad is not justified at this time. The SHA will contact the Chestertown Police Department and the Maryland State Police to conduct enforcement in the area to insure compliance with the speed limit. The SHA will also replace the existing warning sign with a sign that has a more conspicuous color to alert motorists of the driveway to the Rescue Squad. Further, the SHA will continue to monitor the intersection in order to determine if and when conditions change.


PERSONNEL

At 12:20 p.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, Human Resoures Director, for legal counsel in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Pat Merritt, Director of Budget and Accounting, was also in attendance.

The executive session adjourned at 1:15 p.m.


SEDIMENT CONTROL

At the recommendation of Gail Owings, Director of the Planning and Zoning Administration, the Board approved release of Irrevocable Letters of Credit from the Peoples Bank of Kent County for the account of Petroleum Equipment a.k.a Poore's Propane in consideration of compliance to County regulations for burying propane tanks.


SHERIFF'S OFFICE

The Commissioners signed and sent forth a letter extending their congratulations to the Sheriff John F. Price, the Sheriff's Department, and to John Vail, Assistant to the County Administrator (and an employee of the Justice Management Division serving the County, assigned to the Sheriff's Office), for having achieved accreditation as a CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) agency.


SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT

A copy of correspondence was received from Jonas A. Jacobson, Director, Waste Management Administration, Maryland Department of the Environment, inviting "Directors of Public Works/Environmental Resources" to a meeting at which the Waste Management Administration will explain the need for the following proposals, seeking the input of those in attendance: The Waste Management Administration is considering a legislative proposal that would allow them to charge permitting and operating fees to support solid waste permitting, compliance, and monitoring activities only.

Also noted was the fact that unlike its neighboring states, Maryland's Solid Waste Program does not charge any fees and is completely dependent upon general funds. The current lack of funds is expected to worsen. The meeting was scheduled to take place on December 12, 2003. Carter Stanton, Public Works Director, and Marty Holden, Waste Management Coordinator, will plan to attend.


WORTON BUSINESS PARK

Request for Proposals (RFP) were accepted by Jim Wright, County Engineer, on November 14 for engineering and surveying services for the Worton Business Park. Proposals submitted by Michael A. Scott, Inc. and McCrone, Inc. were provided to the Board for review and discussion. As recommended by Mr. Wright, the Commissioners approved to accept proposal from McCrone, Inc., which was the most cost effective. The scope of work will be performed for the estimated fee of $16,465 which includes topographical survey and outline survey, final subdivision plat and staking of boundary corners plus hourly rate fee. This expenditure will be funded out of the Fiscal Year 2003 Economic Development budget.


There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, December 9, 2003.


THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OF KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND


Janice F. Fletcher Executive Assistant


Approved: William W. Pickrum, President

 

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




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