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Board of County Commissioners

May 25, 2004

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 $2,055,030.71.

Commissioner Pickrum requested a moment of silence to honor the memory of the life of Edward M. Athey of Chestertown, and in gratitude for Mr. Athey's many contributions and service to the County.


Correspondence was received from Elizabeth H. Morris, Chair, Planning Commission, and John K. Bergen, Chairman, Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board, advising of recommendations for approval for the following applications to create an agricultural land preservation district:

- Ed and Marian Fry on their 164-acre farm located on Augustine Herman Highway in the 3rd Election District near Chestertown;

- Langenfelder Family Limited Partnership on their 491-acre farm located on Still Pond Road between Big Woods and Kennedyville, in the 2nd Election District;

- Conrad and Patricia Langenfelder on their 56-acre parcel located on Blacks Station Road and a 210-acre parcel located on Augustine Herman Highway in the 2nd Election District;

- Herschell B. Claggett, Sr. on his 144.6-acre farm located on Rock Hall Road (Route 20) near Edesville, in the 5th Election District.

A Public Hearing has been scheduled for June 15.

Later in the day, Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, advised that there are two additional district applications pending which will be reviewed by the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board this week and by the Planning Commission on June 3. In an effort to speed the approval process, Mrs. Owings requested that consideration be given to include the application received from John C. Sutton, III, and Allen J. Hill in the same Public Hearing notice with the five applicants listed above in order to meet deadline for submission to the Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation prior to June 22. The Commissioners approved this request.


The Commissioners appointed James H. Smith on the Board of Building Appeals for a three year term ending July 1, 2007.


At 1:15 p.m., the Commissioners went into a budget work session. Ed Robinson, County Administrator, Susanne Hayman, Human Resources Director, and Pat Merritt, Budget and Accounting Director, were also in attendance

The Commissioners reported to the Department Heads that a Public Hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for June 8 and advised of proposed salary/COLA increase across the board for County employees as well as employees of the Kent County Public Schools. They also reported the intention of the Board to create a new payscale for the County's public safety employees, and that the Board projects a change in the payscale of exempt and non-exempt employees during the next one or two fiscal cycles.

Commissioner Pickrum underscored that the County is fiscally sound. He also reported that the Board proposes to raise the local income tax; however, the Board has no intention of raising the property tax rate this fiscal year.


The Commissioners denied the waiver requested by Ken Beatty, Director, Delmarva Space Training Center (DSTC), of County building permit fees.


A Public Notice was received issued jointly by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Applications Potentially Eligible for Authorization Under the Maryland State Programmatic General Permit.

Concerning Kent County, the Notice reports that Atlantic Broadband has applied to emplace 2006 linear feet of broadband cable by directional bore method across the Chester River. The project is located on the Chester River between Riverview Avenue and Cannon Street in Kent and Queen Anne's Counties. For more information, the public may contact Richard Ayella at 410.537.3835 or by e-mail at rayella@mde.state.md.us.


In follow up to correspondence received from the Chester Bridge Foundation, an invitation will go forth to Michael M. Thielke, Executive Director, Chester Bridge Foundation, Inc. for him and members of the CBF and the Chesapeake Marine Trades Career School Board to meet with the Commissioners to discuss the projects that have been initiated by the CBF, such as the Chesapeake Marine Trades Career School, the Community Center, etc., and to discuss the process for determining the leadership of said projects.


Mrs. Owings reported that the Planning Commission scheduled the first public meeting for discussion about the Comprehensive Plan on June 22, 2004 at the High School.


Commissioner Pickrum announced the following changes in staff positions, effective at the end of the current business day: Susanne Hayman, currently serving as County Attorney/Human Resources Director, was appointed to the position of County Administrator; T. Edward Robinson was appointed to the positions of Human Resources Director/Purchasing Agent/Legislative Liaison. Commissioner Pickrum indicated that the change reflected the Board's commitment to the importance of utilizing the strengths of County personnel in the most appropriate roles of service to the County, and that there may be other staff changes in the future.

At 3:00 p.m., the Commissioners requested the Department Heads to appear and advised them of the appointments made, effective at the end of the current business day. Commissioner Pickrum thanked everyone for attending, given the short notice.

Commissioner Livie, speaking on behalf of the entire Board, recognized Ed Robinson's contributions to the County as its Administrator and thanked him for his years of service as the same. He expressed the enthusiastic anticipation of the Board for Susanne Hayman's leadership strengths as the new County Administrator. Commissioner Crow expressed his appreciation for the work of all of the Departments.

Commissioner Pickrum concluded the meeting by expressing the opinion of the entire Board by indicating the pride of the Board in all of the County employees.


The Commissioners concurred that they will re-evaluate the current construction standards pertaining to County Roads Policy. Jim Wright, County Engineer, Carter Stanton, Public Works Director, and Ed Spray, County Roads Superintendent, have been requested to prepare draft amendments to the Policy.


The Commissioners approved the reappointment of Ruth Briscoe and Glenn W. Michael as members of the Social Services Board for a three year term ending June 30, 2007.


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

Edesville Service Area

Correspondence went forth from Mr. Morris directed to Ronald H. Fithian, Town Manager, Rock Hall, indicating the Commissioners' commitment to providing the residents of Edesville with an uninterrupted, quality water supply, and that he and the Commissioners verbally agreed that the most cost effective way to accomplish this would be to utilize the new water main on a full time basis, rather than just in an emergency,

Mr. Morris further reported that, as he and Mr. Fithian had previously discussed, the feasibility study will greatly benefit the Town of Rock Hall. Used as a planning tool beyond the Edesville corridor, it would provide a document that the Town could use to project the water infrastructure it would need for its current and future development.

He added that, arguably, the existing homes between the existing terminus point of the Town's water line and Edesville would, and should have, the opportunity to connect to the new line to be installed. This issue plus ownership, operations, maintenance, allocations, etc. are items that need to be resolved prior to conducting a study.

Mr. Morris reported that he is awaiting response from Mr. Fithian. No further action was taken at this time.

Memorandum was received from Jack Canan, Coordinator of Housing and Community Development, indicating that, as per the Commissioners' request, he responded to the correspondence received from Clementine Tilghman, of Rock Hall, dated May 4, 2004, in which she issued complaint that she cannot afford to pay the increase in water and sewer rates.

Mr. Canan reported that he and the Senior Services Coordinator of Upper Shore Aging, Inc. (USA) have inquired with the Department of Social Services (DSS) on Mrs. Tilghman's behalf to determine what, if any, services the DSS is or could be providing Mrs. Tilghman to assist with her financial status. Mr. Canan reported that he will continue to follow up on USA's attempt to research sources of additional assistance for Mrs. Tilghman.

Worton Service Area

Discussion ensued in reference to correspondence that was received from Kevin J. Shearon, of Davis, Moore, Shearon, and Associates, LLC, requesting, on behalf of his client, Charles D. Reed, Building Contractor, 20 water and sewer allocations for Reeds Meadow subdivision, Tax Map 20, Parcel # 71, near Worton.

According to Mr. Shearon, the proposed project is to be developed in two phases. The first phase consisted of four new lots fronting Smithville Road. Water and sewer allocations were purchased for five lots - the four fronting Smithville Road and one remaining open space lot. The concept plan proposes 21 new lots. Mr. Shearon explained that, as there will not be a remaining buildable open space lot after this proposed subdivision, his request is for 20 additional water and sewer allocations to serve the 21 new lots.

Responding to several questions posed by the Commissioners, Mr. Morris indicated that Mr. Reed described the housing as "affordable housing." He also indicated that new water and sewer lines and a water tower would be required for the proposed Reeds Meadows subdivision.

A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to grant the request of Kevin J. Shearon, on behalf of his client, Charles D. Reed, Building Contractor, 20 water and sewer allocations for Reeds Meadow subdivision, Tax Map 20, Parcel # 71, near Worton.

In response to Commissioner Livie's question, Mr. Morris indicated that, concerning the impact of the Reeds Meadow subdivision on the Kent County Business Park in Worton, businesses that purchase lots in the Business Park would be supported by the current water and sewer infrastructure. He added that a water tower would eventually have to be constructed in order to support any further development in that service area.

Tolchester Service Area

The Tolchester Wastewater Collection System Analysis was received from Barry Ebersole, Branch Manager, McCrone, Inc. (Engineering), providing an evaluation of the impact to the Tolchester Low Pressure Wastewater Collection System from connecting additional grinder pumps to the collection system built in 1996.

Responding to the Commissioners' inquiry as to whether 10 more connections can be made to the second subsystem, Tol-9 and its branches, Mr. Ebersole responded that, because the first subsystem Tol-1 is independent of Tol-9, short, and close to the pump station, 10 connections can be made to it in addition to the 10 connections to Tol-9 and its branches.

In his analysis, Mr. Ebersole explained in detail how the analysis was conducted as well as the results. He added that, if the County wants to connect more grinder pumps (in addition to the already authorized pumps) to Tol-49, then approximately 850 feet of existing 2-inch main in MD Route 21 must be upgraded to a 3-inch pipe. This would allow the wastewater in Tol-9 to flow into the 3-inch portion of Tol-49. If this upgrade is constructed, then up to 4 more connections can be added to Tol-49. If the upgrade to Tol-9 is completed, then all the grinder pumps connected to Tol-49 would operate against lower heads.


Referring to discussion that took place at the Commissioners' May 4 meeting, pertaining to the quality control issues of subcontractors of County projects, Mr. Morris reported that he will present his recommendation to the Commissioners at their next meeting.


Correspondence was received via electronic mail from Jerry M. Smith, a resident of Worton, on behalf of the Coopers Lane Group Steering Committee: Wally Gordon, Ray Richards, and Steve Russell of Kinnaird's Point Property Owners Association; Richard Feeney and John Jopling of Clearview Homeowners Association; and Jane Hukill and Mr. Smith representing independent residents along Coopers Lane.

Mr. Smith issued complaint that, in his opinion, the size, scale and scope of the proposed expansion of Drayton Manor will endanger the health and safety of the residents on Coopers Lane, as well as adversely effect the environmental, inclusive of the Bay. Further, Mr. Smith indicated his opinion that a thorough and proper analysis of the financial benefits and cost to the County of the proposed expansion will have a negative impact on the County's economy.


As per the invitation of the Commissioners, Bernadette Bowman, Director of Tourism Development, and Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, appeared and provided the Board with information about the County's financial support of ESHI. Amy Moredock, Environmental Planner, was also in attendance.

Mrs. Van Pelt explained to the Commissioners that ESHI is a project of Talbot, Queen Anne's, Caroline, and Kent Counties, and is the management entity of the "Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area." Funding for the latter comes from the Maryland Heritage Area Authority.

The County is in the process of writing the management plan for the Heritage Area that is necessary in order for the County to apply for certification. Upon certification as a Heritage Area, the member-Counties of ESHI, as well as their organizations and businesses, would then be eligible for grants, tax credits, and low-income loans.

Mrs. Van Pelt reported that ESHI has requested $15,000 from each of the member Counties from their Fiscal Year 2005 budgets, enabling, in turn, the Counties to proceed with the execution of their management plans.

Responding to Commissioner Crow's question, Mrs. Van Pelt and Mrs. Owings reported that, because of the extensive and detailed information that will be made available from ESHI, the County will benefit in many ways, such as landscape assessment, which will assist the process of formulating the County's Comprehensive Plan, and in its tourism development, whereby visitors will be attracted to the County, thereby stimulating its economy.


Correspondence was received from Robert B. Rust, Jr., Director, EMA, directed to Gary Harrity, Maryland EMA, conveying the interest of the County to partner with the State when it places four proposed towers in the County. The State is planning to construct a tower at the State Highway Complex in Chestertown in the near future.

Mr. Rust reported that, in order for the County to participate in this program at the site mentioned above, it would require the following: $100,000 from the County's Fiscal Year 2003 Phase II Homeland Security Grant for the County's share of the tower; $155,092 from the Upper Shore Regional Fiscal Year 2003 Grant Phase I & II.

Mr. Rust further reported that the Upper Shore Regional Council, at its meeting on January 30, 2004, approved the County's use of the $155,092 for the Chestertown State Highway tower, the County's primary site. Mr. Rust requested that the Maryland EMA confirm that this request as stated above is allowable under the terms of the grants.


In follow-up to inquiry made by the Commissioners, Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning appeared and reviewed her Memorandum, dated May 24, advising the Commissioners that during its 2004 session, the Maryland General Assembly approved legislation enabling the County Commissioners of an Eastern Shore code county to impose a development excise tax when a subdivision lot is initially sold or transferred. The development excise tax may not exceed $5,000 and shall be used for financing the capital cost of additional or expanded school facilities or improvements.

Mrs. Owings reported that this excise tax is in addition to the $750 development excise tax that may be imposed to finance the purchase of development rights on agriculture land. Major subdivisions submitted but not completed in 2003 total 67 lots in Development Areas and 2 lots in Agriculture land. Approximately 20 lots are proposed in minor subdivision applications submitted but not completed in 2003. The statistics do not reflect lots created in the incorporated towns. According to the statistics represented, there was a total of 11 major subdivision applications and 19 minor subdivisions applications submitted in 2003.

To Commissioner Pickrum's inquiry as to how the County could exempt "affordable housing" from the excise tax, Mrs. Owings responded that the County would have to determine a definition for "affordable housing" as a first step to that process. No further action was taken at this time.


The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Pickrum signed Subordination Agreement by and between the County Commissioners and Flagstar Bank for the County to subordinate the lien it holds on the land of Todd Gerald Barry of Rock Hall.

The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Pickrum signed Deferred Loan Agreement by and between the County Commissioners and Pamela Sue Hansen of Still Pond, and Bessie Mae Ortiz of Millington.

The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Pickrum signed Release of Mortgage which was executed by Robert S. and Miriam Fay Yerkie for Clara V. Boulter, deceased.


A public hearing has been scheduled for June 8 at 6:00 p.m. relating to proposal to increase the rate of the County income tax on an individual's Maryland taxable income from the present rate of 2.58% to a rate not to exceed 3%. For the record, if this proposed increase in the local income tax is approved, it would be the first time the County income tax was raised since May 19, 1970.


Jim Harkins, President, and Dave Bliden, Executive Director, of the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) hosted a breakfast meeting at 7:30 a.m. with Commissioners Pickrum, Crow and Livie, Ed Robinson, and Susanne Hayman. The breakfast meeting was part of MACo's annual tour of Maryland's counties.


Memorandum was received from Michael Sanderson, Legislative Director, soliciting proposals for MACo's 2002 General Assembly Session legislative initiatives, examples of which could be preserving or expanding local authority, creating or enhancing State assistance, or other issues of importance to County governments and operations. Proposals are due June 18, 2004.


Victim Witness Coordinator Position - A letter went forth to Robert H. Strong, Jr., State's Attorney, requesting clarification of the current position regarding the part-time victim witness coordinator and whether or not this position will be part of his office budget in Fiscal Year 2005.

Emergency Management

Memorandum was received from Robert B. Rust., Jr., Director, Emergency Management, with recommendations concerning the Emergency Medical Systems salary structure for consideration. Mr. Rust also recommended that 104 hours of over-time be built into the paramedics' schedule at an additional $2,808 per year, per full-time paramedic. This would require an additional 416 hours, or $11,232 in the Fiscal Year 2005 over-time budget. The Fiscal Year 2005 part-time budget could be decreased by 416 hours.

Mr. Robinson provided the Commissioners with a copy of the Factoring Committee Meeting recommendation as it relates to Mr. Rust's request to have an Emergency Communications Shift Supervisor. The position was factored at a Grade 8. Mr. Robinson was advised by Mr. Rust that there is available funding within current budget to cover this additional cost. This factored position will be considered during the budget process.

Public Safety Employees - Discussion took place with Sheriff John Price, Warden Ron Howell, and Sue Willits, Emergency Planning Coordinator, representing Robert B. Rust, Jr., Emergency Management Director, in attendance.

The Commissioners presented proposed Public Safety Grade and Step Scale for Fiscal Year 2005 for review and discussion. It was noted that each department needs to further review the proposal and to meet with the Budget and Accounting Director this week for suggested placement of positions/employees within this proposed scale.

Those present thanked the Board for their efforts in adjusting salaries accordingly for public safety employees. It was noted that it is the Commissioners' intention to reduce one deputy position in the Sheriff's Office, effective July 1.

Merit Increase Seminar - The Commissioners also advised of their interest in having a seminar scheduled for department heads as to guidance and instruction in recommending for merit increases.

At 12:15 p.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to go into closed session to discuss personnel matters in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

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

At 3:20 p.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to go into closed session to discuss personnel matters in accordance with State Government Article 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

The closed session adjourned at 5:30 p.m.


Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, appeared and outlined her response to the Town of Betterton's request for a project review by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). It was the consensus of the TAC members that the incorporated Towns of the County should have professional planning and zoning assistance, and that for very small towns, such as Betterton, assistance from the County is the most effective and cost efficient way to obtain the services of professional planners.

Mrs. Owings indicated that, provided the County's assistance to Betterton is limited to TAC review (and not inclusive of the entire process, e.g. the processing and review of building permits, plan and ordinance development and implementation, and zoning enforcement, which would cost $130 to $300 per lot), the County's cost to provide a project review for Betterton would not be expected to exceed $25.00 per lot, and that the staff of the Office of Planning and Zoning would assist as much as possible within said limitations.


The Commissioners reappointed William P. Gale as a member of the Public Landings and Facilities Board for a five year term ending July 1, 2009.


Memorandum was received from Warden Ronald Howell, Detention Center, reporting on the Regional Correctional Facility meeting that took place on May 11, 2004, at which a representative consultant and architect, jail authorities from Kent, Cecil, and Queen Anne's Counties, and a commissioner representing Queen Anne's County were present.

Warden Howell reported on the issues of concern pertaining to the impact on the regional facility that would need to be addressed should the County Detention Center be closed. Warden Howell also reported that the site location of the regional facility was discussed.

The Cecil County delegation were not in favor of any location that is not central to all three counties; this will be a deciding factor in their decision to participate. The necessary availability of utilities to the site location was also discussed. The Warden expressed his favorable opinion of the expertise of Messrs. Powell and Gill.


Correspondence was received from Pamela Metz Kasemeyer, Esq. on behalf of her client Synagro Mid-Atlantic, Inc. In her correspondence, Ms. Kasemeyer requested an opportunity to meet with the Commissioners to discuss biosolids land application in Kent County and the future management of the County wastewater treatment facilities and lagoons.

Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, indicated that she will present a report to the Board about biosolids land application in the near future. Commissioner Crow requested that he be included in the meetings held by the Agricultural Advisory Commission when this issue is discussed.

There was no further action taken at this time.

Memorandum was received from Carla Martin, Community Planner, summarizing a presentation by Lisa Williams, Brooke Henderson, and Jason Krankowski of Synagro to the Agricultural Advisory Commission in February 2004. It is the opinion of Synagro that the County's current special exception language is too restrictive, and therefore, it suggested that the County make changes to the law in order to make it easier for farmers to use biosolids if they are interested.

As a result of the presentation, the members of the Agricultural Advisory Commission were hesitant about loosening the current regulations, and requested that more information be provided.

For the record, the County adopted regulations concerning the application of sewage sludge around 1980, which was several years prior to the adoption of the State law preempting County sludge application laws. Over the past 25 years, two requests have been approved by the Board of Appeals; however, the landowner followed through with using biosolids.


As per the request of Jeff Troester, Director of Parks and Recreation, a letter went forth to Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Program Office, conveying the Commissioners' support of a grant proposal, submitted jointly by Turner's Creek County Park, Kent Museum, and Sassafras Natural Resources Management Area. Funding from the grant would be used to purchase information kiosks and wayside signs to help visitors navigate the area.


Election District 6 - Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning, appeared and reviewed the latest report of Nuisance Ordinance Violations in Election District 6. She reported that the report does not represent all of Election District 6; enforcement focused on Tolchester, Georgetown/Fairlee, and Chesapeake Landing.

Responding to Commissioner Pickrum, Mrs. Owings reviewed the process of how the County notifies property owners of their nuisance violations and, when no response is received, levies fines. She added that, given the Governor's signature today, there will be Maryland Legislation that will make it difficult for property owners to build without a building permit, and that there will be significant fines for violations conducted in environmental critical areas.

Mrs. Owings reported that additional inspections are still needed for the outlying areas of District 6, and that the Planning and Zoning Administration has identified the steps of the inspection process that require improvement and that it has begun to implement the changes.

Tolchester Estates - Mrs. Owings responded to the Commissioners' questions concerning correspondence that was received from Fred W. J. Kirchner, of Tolchester, in which he issued complaint that, in his opinion, there has been no County response to resolve what he believes to be nuisance ordinance violations in Tolchester Estates, such as the construction of buildings conducted by property owners without building permits.

Mrs. Owings explained of the time involved with enforcement process for zoning violations. There are also occasions in which the Appeals Board over-turn decisions made by the Planning Commission to grant approval of structures already in existence that were constructed without proper permits.

There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, June 1, 2004.


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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