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KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND


Board of County Commissioners

December 30, 2003

The Honorable Board of County Commissioners met today with the following present: Scott D. Livie and William W. Pickrum, presiding. Commissioner Crow was away on a family vacation.

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

Minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

W. Roger Williams, Treasurer, reported a balance of $6,357,873.00.


AIRPORT

Electronic mail was received from John Baker, resident of Damascus, MD, expressing his support for a proposed airport in Kent County.


DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND WASTEWATER

Wayne Morris, Director of Water and Wastewater Services, appeared and reported on the following:

Edesville Service Area - Given the frequent occurrence of rain storms, the level of liquid in the lagoons is too high, creating an emergent situation. The County must address the level either by discharging it or by hauling it away. The funding of this project, Mr. Morris advised, will be problematic.

Commissioner Pickrum inquired as to the length of time required to incorporate the Edesville Service Area in the Rock Hall Service Area (as per the Memorandum of Agreement between the County and the Town of Rock Hall), to which Mr. Morris responded that it would take approximately 3 to 4 months, six months at the longest. Mr. Morris advised that the engineering feasibility study has already been conducted (by McCrone, Inc.) for the hook-up of the Edesville Service Area to the Rock Hall treatment plant, and indicated that he would research all of the pertinent information and provide it to the Commissioners at their next meeting.

He reported that the County currently maintains two lagoons in Kennedyville, 4 in Worton, and 2 in Edesville. He also stated that the technology which once supported the provision for lagoons no longer is considered effective for water treatment, given the current, more stringent environmental standards. As an example, he cited the ineffectiveness of lagoons given the required reduction of ammonia nitrate levels.

Water and Sewer Rates - Commissioner Livie announced that the Commissioners worked with Mr. Morris and Pat Merritt, Director of Budget and Accounting, in order to determine new water and sewer rates. He indicated that the Commissioners have acknowledged the comments presented by the public at the information meetings and Public Hearing and that they have striven towards determining a fair balance between the critical financial needs of the County and the "real life" issues with which the public is faced.

He advised that it is imperative that the water and sewer rates be increased; however, the increase will be 17.5% annually, until the rate figure meets the rates targeted by the Municipal and Financial Services Group, the consultants who provided the Water and Sewer Rates Study as presented to the public. In some service areas, the targeted rates will be met in just a couple of years; for other service areas, it will take approximately 6 years to meet the targeted rates.

In summary: the water and sewer rates of all service areas will be increased 17.5%, beginning January 1, 2004, with the same increase every July 1st in subsequent years until the rates cover the 85% of the expenditures of water and sewer services. Commissioner Livie expressed the Board's feeling that it is acceptable for the County to partially subsidize water and sewer services and that the County will thereby meet and maintain the standards required of the County by the State and federal governments environmental protection agencies. The County will continue to subsidize the water and sewer services until it reaches the point of subsidizing 15% of the cost of operations. This percentage represents a reduction of the current subsidy which is approximately 22%.

Summarizing: the water and sewer rates of all service areas will be increased 17.5%, beginning January 1, 2004, with the same increase every July 1st in subsequent years until the rates cover 85% of the expenditures of water and sewer services. Commissioner Livie stated that the Commissioners are trying to implement the rate increases in such a way as to relieve some of the hardship the citizens will experience.

Commissioner Pickrum concurred, noting the hardships experienced by citizens who are retired from employment, of single-income households, and others. Commissioner Livie reported that the exact figures and rates will be presented at the next meeting of the Commissioners. Commissioner Pickrum added that eventually, in approximately 6 years, all citizens in the County's service areas will pay the same amount of money for water and sewer services.

Mr. Morris also concurred, indicating that he believes the new water and sewer rates to be presented at the next meeting will reflect a fair balance: the rates will be more manageable for citizens who are struggling financially for many reasons and for the County which will bear the cost of the subsidy.

Later in the day, Mr. Morris and Pat Merritt, Director of Budget and Accounting, appeared with the latest calculation from the consultant. After review and discussion, Commissioners Pickrum and Livie agreed to increase water consumption rates as follows: Edesville - 17.5% increase per fiscal year, beginning January 1, 2004, until Edesville's rates match those of the other service areas. All other service areas will be increased by 3% annually. Consumption levels will be increased to 12,000 gallons.


DRAYTON RETREAT CENTER

A copy of correspondence was received by Christine B. Smith, a resident of Worton, to Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, expressing her objection to an application submitted for a Special Exemption for property currently known as Drayton Manor. The exemption would allow the property to become a commercial spa and retreat center in "the middle of an area all around which is zoned as residential."

She also expressed her objection to the Growth Allocation and expressed her hope that the Planning Commission will not recommend either of the proposed changes as cited in her letter.


EARLY ACTION COMPACT (EAC)

Correspondence was received from Stephen L. Pattison, Assistant Secretary for Programs, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), which reported the Governor's receipt of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) initial response to the State's 8-hour ozone boundary recommendations. In their response, the EPA stated that Kent and Queen Anne's Counties did not meet the requirements for EAC areas and shall, therefore, be designated nonattainment for the 8-hour ozone standard.

Commissioner Pickrum expressed concern as to why the EPA is resistant to Kent and Queen Anne's Counties receipt of the 1-hour ozone boundary. Ms. Moredock assured the Commissioners that the County will continue to file for the 1-hour recommendation, indicating that the last filing was the County's second attempt, and that the County should continue to request the support of its Congressman and Delegates in the recommendation process.

The Kent and Queen Anne's Counties represent a 1-hour ozone nonattainment area that was classified as marginal in 1991. The State of Maryland indicated that it strongly disagrees with the decision of the EPA and will continue to pursue opportunities to provide technical and policy arguments to alter EPA's decision before final designations are issued on April 15, 2004.


ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

Correspondence was received from Dudley Reed, of Reed Builders, advising of his objections to the response he received from the County Health Department regarding his December 22, 2003 application for an on-site sewage disposal on Cloquet Road, Chesapeake Landing Lots 508-509. The correspondence was also forwarded to the Health Department.


FIRE CHIEFS ASSOCIATION

A copy of correspondence directed to John A. Grant, Health Officer, was received from Christopher A. Powell, Kent County Fire Chiefs' Association, addressing their concerns with the "illegal controlled burnings in Kent County." He expressed his opinion that as volunteers, the Fire Chiefs' Association does not feel it is their job to enforce controlled burning laws; they feel that it is the Health Department's responsibility to enforce said laws.

He, therefore, advises that the Health Department be the first to respond to calls concerning controlled burnings, unless the burning is the cause for immediate danger to life or property.

A copy of correspondence was received from Mr. Powell, on behalf of the Fire Chiefs' Association, sent to the Chiefs of the County's Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services, indicating that his intention is to notify the Chiefs of the County's standards and Standard Operating Guidelines, and to encourage each company's adherence to them.


HEALTH DEPARTMENT

Correspondence was received from Nelson J. Sabatini, Secretary, MD Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, appointing, as per the Commissioners' nomination, Dr. Chinnadurai Devadason as Acting Health Officer for Caroline and Kent Counties for the interim period January 1, 2004 through January 20, 2004.

Dr. Leland Spencer has been officially appointed as Health Officer for Kent and Caroline Counties on January 21, 2004.


HOUSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM (HIP)

Memorandum was received from Jack M. Canan, Housing and Community Development Coordinator, reporting that in preparation for the "Field Monitoring Visit" to be conducted by the MD Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) on February 11, 2004, he has written a modified "Citizen Participation Plan" for the HIP Project, requesting the Commissioners' adoption of it. The Commissioners did not feel it necessary to amend the Citizen Participation Plan at this time and, therefore, no action was taken on this request.

He also reported that he has written an "Anti-Displacement Plan" and has requested the Commissioners' adoption of it as well. No action was taken on this request.


HURRICANE ISABEL
PUBLIC LANDINGS

Carter Stanton, Director of Public Works, appeared and gave a report on the following:

Regarding the repair work to be done on Sharp Street Public Landing, Mr. Stanton indicated that the County has received one check from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which will be used to pay for the estimate, which is the same as the bid received from Deckelman's Pile Driving. Mr. Stanton indicated that FEMA will pay 75% of the total repair costs for the public landings at Sharp Street, Cliffs City, and Quaker's Neck (Bogle's Wharf). The County's share of the expenses will be just short of $30,000.00 for all three public landings.

Regarding the repair work to be done on Sharp Street Public Landing, he noted that total costs are unknown at this time. He also advised that $24,199.91 will be received by the County Roads Division from FEMA as reimbursement for its repair work.

Mr. Stanton was granted approval by the Commissioners to use the $24,199.91 towards the costs of repairs on the public landings; thereby, the balance of the County's expenses for said repairs would be between $5,000 and $10,000.

A motion was made by Commissioner Livie, seconded by Commissioner Pickrum, and passed by the majority of the Board, to accept the bid of $138,775.00 from Deckelman's Pile Driving for the repair work to be done on Sharp Street Public Landing.

Mr. Stanton reported that there is small repair project pending on a public landing in Fairlee, for which the paperwork from FEMA has not yet been received.

Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, appeared and gave a report on a recent meeting held in Rock Hall concerning the proposed grants to be given to property owners. Amy Moredock, Environmental Planner, was also in attendance.

Mrs. Owings indicated that the proposed grant monies would be for the projected expenses incurred from elevating homes and anchoring propane tanks as part of recovery and rebuilding efforts. For those property owners interested in elevating their homes, the grant money would cover 75%, the balance to be paid by the property owner. The Planning and Zoning Office sent forth 490 letters to property owners who suffered property damage in the wake of Hurricane Isabel, advising them of the application process for the grants, the deadline for applications, or Interest Forms, being January 15, 2004.

Mrs. Owings also advised that the County would be responsible for putting out bids and for determining the contractor for all the bids. She also indicated that property owners must complete three Interest Forms.


MID-SHORE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEMS (MSMHS)

Correspondence was received from Nancy T. Zinn, Executive Director, Mid-Shore Mental Health Systems, Inc. to inform that its Board of Directors revised the By-Laws of the organization, effective August 18, 2003. The revision of Article III, Section 2 changes the terms of the Board Members from three to four years.

As requested by Ms. Zinn, the Board approved to extend the terms of the following County representatives: Yasuo Takahashi, term expiring December 2004, and Lamonte Cooke, term expiring October 2005.

Correspondence was received from Nancy Zinn providing 2003 Comprehensive Needs Assessment. She reported that the MSMHS, the local health authority for Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's and Talbot Counties, contracted with Salisbury University's Center for Family and Community Life to complete a comprehensive assessment of the needs of all consumers in the Maryland Public Mental Health System, and that they have utilized the data from the needs assessment in the development of the Fiscal Year 2005 and 2006 Community Health Plan. Once approved by the Mental Hygiene Administration, Ms. Zinn stated that the plan will be available to the County.


PERSONNEL

At 8:30 a.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Livie, seconded by Commissioner Pickrum and passed by the majority of the Board 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 9:05 a.m.


SHORE EROSION CONTROL

The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Pickrum signed Shore Erosion Control Project Agreement with Richard C. and Mary K. Merriken for the Montana Avenue Shore Erosion Control District located in Tolchester Estates. The project design and construction cost has been estimated at $36,000 and that this amount is to be loaned to the County by the State acting through the Department of Natural Resources and to be administered by the County. The owners are to make payment for this loan without interest in twenty-five installments in addition to $1,550 for the County's administrative and technical services.

The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Pickrum signed Shore Erosion Control Project Agreement with Jerome M. Staller and Sandra M. Goldberg for the Montana Avenue Shore Erosion Control District located in Tolchester Estates.

The project design and construction cost has been estimated at $83,000 and that this amount is to be loaned to the County by the State acting through the Department of Natural Resources and to be administered by the County.
The owners are to make payment for this loan without interest in twenty-five installments in addition to $3,886. for the County's administrative and technical services.


SNOW REMOVAL

A copy of Fiscal Year 2004 Storm Costs for the period of December 5 through December 10, 2003 was received, indicating the total cost of the storm for that period at $29,794.77, with total out-of-pocket expenses for that period at $8,582.76.


U.S. CORPS OF ENGINEERS

Public Notice was received, issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers, that the Baltimore District has developed new draft Mitigation and Monitoring Guidelines as a result of the recommendations of the National Academy of Science, the "Compensating for Wetland Losses Under the Clean Water Act" report on wetland mitigation and the National Mitigation Plan.

The Guidelines are intended to: facilitate the understanding of policies and requirements associated with compensatory mitigation for aquatic resource impacts authorized by the Baltimore District's Regulatory Branch; to ensure predictability and consistency for the development, review, and approval of compensatory mitigation plans; and to improve upon and supplement existing interagency mitigation guidance papers.

The Public Notice adds that these Mitigation and Monitoring Guidelines will be periodically reviewed and modified as the National Mitigation Action Plan is implemented over the next 3-5 years and the knowledge base on mitigation increases. The purpose of the Public Notice is to request comments on these draft proposed Mitigation and Monitoring Guidelines. Comments will be received by the Baltimore District, US Army Corps of Engineers until January 20, 2004.


There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, January 6, 2004.


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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