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Board of County Commissioners

September 7, 2004

The Honorable Board of County Commissioners met today with the following present: Roy W. Crow, Scott D. Livie, and William W. Pickrum, presiding.

Susanne Hayman, County Administrator, was also in attendance.

Minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

W. Roger Williams, Treasurer, reported a balance of $3,543,473.00.

Commissioner Pickrum requested a moment of silence to remember the men and women in uniform around the world who are in peril defending the United States' freedom and America's way of life.


An unsigned Memorandum, dated August 30, was received requesting the Commissioners to deny permission to Kenny Fletcher, owner of a commuter boating business, to install permanent pilings on the County pier in Betterton for his business purposes.

Upon a recommendation received from the Public Landings and Facilities Board, the Commissioners approved this request at their July 20 meeting. It was noted by the Commissioners that the application for the permit to install the pilings has been submitted to by the State for approval.


Discussion took place as to the importance of providing adequate lighting to the Kent County High School athletic playing field, especially as lighting would serve to encourage spectators' attendance at school games taking place at night. It was noted that currently Kent County is the only county on the Eastern Shore that does not have lighting on its high school football field.


The Commissioners approved and signed Resolution authorizing the execution and delivery of an agreement between the Mid-Shore Regional Council and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) for the purpose of conducting a feasibility study for broadband deployment on the Eastern Shore. Kent County has designated the Mid Shore Regional Council as the agent to apply and receive grant funds from the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund in the amount of $25,000 to be used to assist with the costs of a feasibility for deploying a next-generation broadband network on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.


Ms. Hayman, in follow-up to her report at the August 24 Commissioners' Meeting, in which she indicated that Dick Goodall, President, KRM, Inc., of Chestertown, had extended an invitation to the Board and to other County employees to participate in the Character Counts Program, requested confirmation from the Board about their commitment to participate in the program. She emphasized that the commitment would be weekly, for one-half hour, preferably in teams of two people.

The Commissioners confirmed their support provided that the dates and times of the program commitments do not conflict with their individual schedules.

Ms. Hayman will contact Sue Mishaw, the Character Counts Community Coordinator, to set up County participation, and will prepare a policy elucidating the County's commitment which will be distributed to all County employees after details are worked out and the policy is approved.

For the record, the Character Counts Program is a nation-wide program, the purpose of which is to instill in school-aged children and youth the "Seven Pillars of Character."


Mike Johnson, a concerned citizen, appeared and issued his objections to what he described as the insensitive attitude of the Commissioners toward issues about and efforts to increase the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay.

Commissioner Pickrum emphasized that the perceptions held by Mr. Johnson, based on Mr. Johnson's interpretation of information cited in the media, were not an accurate depiction of the Board's views. Citing Mr. Johnson's example of the "Flush Tax,"Commissioner Pickrum indicated that the Board did not oppose the Tax itself, but rather the inequitable implementation of the Flush Tax and no guarantee that once the systems identified to be addressed by this tax are upgraded, that other systems would then be addressed as well, especially in smaller counties.

Responding to Mr. Johnson's objections to what he described as Mr. Morris' alleged criticism of the MD Department of the Environment's proposed new annual report requiring detailed information on the status of water and wastewater treatment plants, Ms. Hayman clarified what Mr. Morris said in his earlier presentation. She explained that Mr. Morris' response to the State was a recommendation to reduce the duplication and the amount of administrative redundancy among the various reports, which would allow more time in the field for monitoring local water and wastewater treatment plants (cit "Minutes," Commissioners' Meeting, August 31, 2004).

Mr. Johnson emphasized that he is very passionate about the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the quality of its marine life, and the future of fishing in the Bay. The Board expressed its appreciation to Mr. Johnson for his advocacy on the Bay's behalf, an interest which they share.


A third reading of Code Home Rule Bill # 2-2004, Hotel Rental Tax, was held as follows:

An Act to repeal and re-enact with Amendments Section 152-16 of the Code of Public Local Laws of Kent County, Maryland, concerning the imposition of a Hotel Rental Tax and the rate thereof, and empowering the Board of County Commissioners for Kent County to impose by resolution a tax on a transient charge paid to a hotel located in Kent County, Maryland consistent with the provisions and authority of the Annotated Code of Maryland, Article 24, Title 9 (Revenue and Taxes), Subtitle 3 (Hotel Rental Tax), Part I (Definitions; General Provisions).

Commissioner Pickrum asked if there was any discussion on the Bill.

Danielle Hanscom, President of the Kent County Lodging Association, and owner of Brampton, a bed and breakfast establishment in Chestertown, referring to a letter that was sent by the Association to the Commissioners in March 2004, reiterated the opinion of the Association concerning the proposed increase in the Hotel Rental Tax. She reported that the members of the Association voted to support the Board's initiative, provided that the additional funds (i.e. the entire 2% increase of revenues generated) be dedicated solely to the promotion of tourism development in the County, especially in its advertising promotionals.

In response to Ms. Hanscom's question, Commissioner Livie explained that in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was accepted by the Town of Chestertown, it is specified that a portion of the increase in revenues attributable to the Town of Chestertown would be used to support staffing at the Chestertown Visitors' Center, the balance of which would be dedicated to the general development of tourism throughout the County.

Commissioner Pickrum responded that Rock Hall would have the opportunity to reverse its decision and support the Tax at a later time. Because Rock Hall chose not to participate in the MOU, the revenues from the proposed increase in the Hotel Tax would have to be paid generally to the Town of Rock Hall. The Mayor and Town Council of Rock Hall may spend the funds for any lawful purpose they choose. Commissioner Livie reiterated that the proposed bill gives to the Board authority to increase (or decrease) the tax; the proposed bill would not increase (or decrease) the tax.

Bob Lathroum, owner of the Widow's Walk Inn, of Chestertown, spoke against the proposed bill. He indicated he was in favor of the proposed bill when he first was informed about it, affirming his belief that tourism draws revenues into the County. He reported that his opinion changed during his attendance at the County's budget presentation noting that a significant increase was made in the County's budget for the development of tourism. He, therefore, expressed his opinion that there should not be an increase in the proposed tax given the funding available in the County's budget.

He added that the additional 2% increase would be perceived by his customers as a significant increase and a possible deterrent to their patronage.

Commissioner Livie suggested that the proposed bill would serve to encourage the continued dialogue about the need for identifying needed funding for the County's tourism development. It was also noted that the proposed increase in the Hotel Tax would fund the budgeted Fiscal Year 2005 tourism funds.

Given that there was no further discussion, ballots were distributed and, upon their return, all in favor of this legislative bill, which will become effective October 22.


A third reading of Code Home Rule # 3-2004, Zoning Text Amendment, Critical Areas, was held as follows:

Code Home Rule No. 3-2004 is an Act to repeal and re-enact with amendments Article V, Section 2.4B; Article IX, Section 2.2.5; Article XI, Section 2.98, Article XII, Section 4.5 of the Kent County Land Use Ordinance, and to add new Article IX, Sections 2.2.3H and 2.2.3J; Article XI, Section 2; and Note #4 to Article V, Section 2.5 of the Kent County Land Use Ordinance; complying with changes in the policies and criteria of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Program approved by the Maryland General Assembly in 2004; revising provisions governing "accessory uses" in the Resource Conservation District; adding provisions applicable to variance and waiver decisions and orders; adding a definition of "unwarranted hardship" within the Critical Area; revising the definition of "dwelling unit" within the Critical Area; revising penalties for violations of Critical Area provisions; adding considerations related to Critical Area variance requests; defining "unwarranted hardship" within the Critical Area; and making certain technical changes.

Commissioner Pickrum asked if there was any discussion on this Bill. Hearing none, ballots were distributed and, upon their return, all in favor of this legislative bill as amended, which will become effective October 22, 2004 contingent upon approval by the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Commission.


Commissioner Livie and Ms. Hayman attended the Community Center meeting on August 31 at the Board of Education. Discussions included the following:

- a draft governance plan was made, inclusive of consensus reached about a "community campus" concept, and to include the naming of an authority;

- initial funding from the State and the County should be considered Leadership Gifts which would help to launch the fund-raising campaign;

- that the Chester River Health System be approached as a viable partner with the project, and that representatives of the same be invited to a Commissioners' meeting.


In consideration that Tuesday, November 2, is a legal holiday (Election Day) the Commissioners decided not to meet that week.


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

The State's "Flush Tax" - Mr. Morris will be attending the Maryland Department of the Environment's meeting at Chesapeake College on September 8 at which representatives of Eastern Shore counties will receive instruction as to the implementation of the Flush Tax.

In response to Commissioner Livie's question, Mr. Morris reviewed the purpose of the Flush Tax, noting that the tax revenue will be spent for the upgrading of 66 of the State's largest water and wastewater treatment plants. The effective date of the Flush Tax is January 2005.

In response to the Commissioners' questions, Mr. Morris advised that as a member of the Inter-Agency Technical Advisory Committee of the State's Water Security Advisory Council, he described that among the issues that faces this Committee is the availability of grant funds and the challenge of funding the repair of failing septic systems which is prevalent in the smaller jurisdictions, such as Kent County.

Edesville Service Area - Mr. Morris reported that work to correct a problem with a leak in a line will begin this week.

Edesville/Rock Hall Water System - the work on this project will begin this week. Kennedyville Service Area - the work on the new Kennedyville water treatment plant will begin during the beginning of 2005.

Worton Service Area - Correspondence was received, dated August 25, from Mark Filar, Water Supply Program, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), directed to "Property Owner, Public Official, Interested Person or Applicant" reporting that on August 18, the Water Management Administration made a decision to issue Water Appropriation and Use Permit to the County to appropriate and use an annual average of 71,000 gallons of water per day and an average of 112,000 gallons per day during the month of maximum use.

The water is to be withdrawn from one well in the Magothy aquifer and will be used for a municipal supply for the Town of Worton. A copy of the Impact Analysis Summary, which is the basis for its decision, was attached. Mr. Filar also provided information about the required process to be taken by any citizen aggrieved by this decision and who wishes to request a formal contested case (adjudicatory) hearing on this matter.

The letter requesting the contested case hearing shall be addressed to Saeid Kasraei, Program Manager of the Water Supply Program, Water Management Administration, 1800 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, MD 2130 and must be received by September 8, 2004.

Requests for a temporary stay of the issuance of a permit should be addressed to Robert Summers, Director of the Water Management Administration, at the same address as above, and must be received by September 8, 2004.


Commissioner Pickrum noted correspondence dated August 25 that was received from Walter B. Ridley, Chair, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, extending the congratulations of his department for the attainment of 100% compliance with the Minimum Standards for Adult Detention Centers by the County's Detention Center. Mr. Ridley reported that Warden Ronnie Howell will be presented with the prestigious Recognition of Achievement award acknowledging the high level of operational excellence and professionalism exhibited by the staff of the facility.


John Hall, Extension Service Director, Beth Hill, Faculty Extension Assistant and Supervisor of 4-H and Youth programs, Jean Austin, Extension Educator and Family and Consumer Sciences were present and reported updates to their programs as follows:

4-H and Youth Programs - In Ms. Hill's outline of the highlights of the Kent County Fair, she noted the following: 103 of the County's 4-H members participated in the Fair; the largest product area represented was dairy, although the poultry area is growing very quickly; the 4-H Ambassador Program is represented in every County school; new bathroom facilities for exhibitors at the fair grounds; the theme of the Fair in 2004 has been "Christmas in July"; one of the 4-H participants, Parker Welch, was selected at the MD State Fair to be a judge.

She closed her report by expressing to the Commissioners her opinion that the Board should be very proud of the 4-H volunteers, and she expressed her appreciation to the Commissioners for their support.

Extension Education/Family & Consumer Sciences - Ms. Austin described what she considers to be a successful summer segment of the nutrition program, especially the programs conducted at the Judy Center. She cited the following programs in progress: the free lunch program which includes education about nutrition for children and their families; the "Lunch and Learn" program which is inclusive of financial counseling; the food stamp program with instruction at the senior citizen center.

Ms. Austin indicated that she will be expanding her programming network to include a partnership with social workers.

To Commissioner Pickrum's question, Ms. Austin responded that, although she has not as yet networked with the owners and employees of Angelica Nurseries, Ms. Austin indicated that she will make the necessary contacts.

Chesapeake Fields Institute/Chesapeake Fields Farmers - John Hall reported about the progress of Chesapeake Fields Institute/Chesapeake Fields Farmers, including that Chesapeake Fields has a new director of development, Deal Tompkins. In response to the Commissioners' questions, Mr. Hall indicated that there are strong markets for soybean flour and soybean products in Scandinavian and Asian countries.

Chesapeake Fields has already produced "Soy Crunch" a dry-roasted soy snack food; an agreement with co-packers for this snack has been completed. Mr. Hall reported that their goal this year is to have "Soy Crunch" distributed to 600 stores during the next year, inclusive of Wawa's, Food Lion, and Giant Foodstores

Mr. Hall, as per his request, will have an opportunity to present a more complete report to the Commissioners about Chesapeake Fields in the near future.


The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Pickrum signed SunGard HTE, Inc. Application Service Provider (ASP) Agreement to renew the ASP Agreement for a period of 36 months beginning July 1.


Appeals Board /Jerry Smith et al- A Motion to Intervene was filed by Alice S. Ritchie, Esq., County Attorney, dated August 30, 2004, requesting that the Circuit Court for Kent County pass an Order permitting the County Commissioners to intervene in the proceedings in the matter of Jerry Smith and the decision of the County Board of Appeals as they pertain to the proposed development of Drayton Manor as a spa and conference center.


Personnel Policy - Marcia L. Bozarth and her husband, Jason Bozarth, appeared. Mrs. Bozarth, referring to correspondence which she wrote along with Amy L. Dolgos, both of whom are County employees serving in the Treasurer's Office, read a prepared statement that expressed her support of the Commissioners' intention to review the parental leave policy.

She thanked the Commissioners for the opportunity to address her concerns and those of Mrs. Dolgos, specifically their hopes that the Board's review would be accomplished speedily.

Mrs. Bozarth distributed information about the parental/family leave policies of other counties which she prepared with the assistance of her husband. She emphasized, citing the circumstances of herself and Mrs. Dolgos, that not all pregnancies are uneventful, and therefore, once a County employee exhausts personal and sick leave benefits, for medical reasons related to a pregnancy, there are no other compensated benefits available.

Referring to the policies of other counties, Mrs. Bozarth noted that some counties have implemented a voluntary "sick leave donation" policy or a "sick-leave bank" policy in which employees may donate some of their sick leave "days" to a bank or specifically to another employee.

The Commissioners indicated that they will review Kent County's policy and expressed their appreciation to Mr. and Mrs. Bozarth for their report and for compiling the information distributed.

Later in the morning, the Commissioners discussed request made by Mrs. Bozarth. The Commissioners approved to amend the Personnel Policies and Procedures to include a parental leave policy providing for eligibility of ten days of paid leave to be effective as of today.

An amendment to the Personnel Policy will be prepared for the Board's signatures. Commissioner Livie also suggested that consideration be given to provide opportunity for employees to apply for short term disability insurance.

At 11:00 a.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Livie, seconded by Commissioner Pickrum and passed by the majority of the Board to go into closed session to discuss personnel matters in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 (a)(i)(ii) of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

The closed session adjourned at 11:55 a.m.


LEAD MD - Carla Martin, Community Planner, appeared and requested funding for her participation as a student of the LEAD (Leadership-Education-Action-Developing) Maryland Foundation which is a non-profit organization that seeks to develop the leadership skills of people involved in agriculture or rural development.

Ms. Martin explained that LEAD is a two-year fellowship program that consists of a series of eight seminars around the State. The Funding requested is $1,800, half of which must be paid on or before March 1, 2005, the remaining half to be paid on or before March 1, 2006.

In response to Commissioner Livie's question, Ms. Martin expressed her opinion that the fellowship program would provide the training and information that will help her to be more effective in her position as staff to the Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board and Agricultural Advisory Commission, specifically in the areas of agricultural economics, production and food technologies.

A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to approve Ms. Martin's participation in the LEAD MD Fellowship; $900.00 of which to be taken out of contingency for Fiscal Year 2005, and $900.00 of which to be budgeted in Planning and Zoning for Fiscal Year 2006.

Ms. Martin expressed her appreciation to the Board for their support and decision.

Rebuilding Together Kent County, Inc.- In response to the request made in correspondence dated September 3 from Stuart M. Elsberg, Member, Board of Directors, Rebuilding Together Kent County, Inc., a Chester Valley Ministers' Association project, the Commissioners approved of the waiver of a building permit fee for Rebuilding Together Kent County, Inc.'s first project which is the reconstruction of a disabled-access ramp and other miscellaneous minor repairs at the Somerville residence located at 11167 Oak Lane in Worton.


Commissioner Pickrum noted correspondence that was received dated August 27 from Pamela Metz Kasemeyer, Esq., of Schwartz and Metz Law Offices, Baltimore, representing her client, Synagro Mid-Atlantic, Inc. Ms. Kasemeyer requested the opportunity to meet with the Board, as she did in her correspondence received in May 2004, to propose to the Board the land application use of biosolids by farmers in Kent County.

The Commissioners expressed their opposition to encouraging the transport and delivery of sludge from other counties to Kent County for land application use of biosolids (a.k.a. "sludge"), noting that there is no guarantee of the content of the sludge, for example the presence of toxic materials. Commissioner Crow plans to meet with the Agricultural Advisory Commission to obtain their comments and input.


Correspondence was received from Bruce Mertz, Co-Chair, Upper Eastern Shore Tributary Team, with attached copy of Maryland's recently developed Tributary Strategy. Mr. Mertz described the Tributary Strategy as a roadmap that citizens can use to achieve the goals of the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement.

This strategy includes specific nutrient and sediment control actions necessary to reduce nutrient pollution from every source, including agricultural fields, urban and suburban lands, and waste water treatment plants. More information is available at www.dnr.maryland.gov/bay/tribstrat/executivesummary.pdf.


Carl Burke, Executive Director, USA, appeared and, as per his request, presented to the Commissioners' his report about the Area Agency on Aging - USA's Area Plan Update, Fiscal Year 2005. He began his comments by expressing the appreciation of USA for the County's financial appropriation to USA and for the County's approval of the continuation of USA's current role in the administration of the Home Weatherization grant for Kent County through June 2005, and for their signature of a multi-jurisdictional agreement to this effect, designating Kent County as lead jurisdiction for grant distribution purposes.

Mr. Burke explained that every four years, USA is required to prepare an Area Plan Update which, among other purposes, serves to increase the State's awareness of the changes that take place in each participating county, for example demographic and budgetary changes.

An example of the latter in Kent County are changes that have occurred in the Senior Care Plan.

Mr. Burke noted that the Area Agency on Aging will have to find sources of funding to expand its support of the "Meals on Wheels" Program, given the budgetary cuts by the State.

In response to Commissioner Crow's questions, Mr. Burke indicated that there is not much dialogue between USA and area/community foodbanks, the logistics of which would be challenging given that the food for the Meals on Wheels program is prepared and provided by a server located in Baltimore City.

In response to Commissioner Pickrum's request, Mr. Burke indicated that he will provide the County Administrator with the formula used by the State to determine the amount of funding allocated to Kent County.

To Commissioner Livie's question, Mr. Burke reported that USA has requested donated support from major food distributors, however, thus far, it has received no positive response. USA, he advised, will continue to make its requests.

Mr. Burke concluded his presentation about the Area Plan Update noting the inter-agency cooperation among USA and other agencies, such as the Health Department and the Department of Social Services.

The Commissioners approved and signed the Area Agency on Aging - USA's Area Plan Update, Fiscal Year 2005, as presented by Mr. Burke.

There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, September 14, 2004, at 6:00 p.m. in the Commissioners' Hearing Room, Chestertown.


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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