City Council: Wall Stands, Fence Comes Down
Patch recaps the July 2 Havre de Grace City Council meeting.
Havre de Grace City Council voted unanimously Monday night to allow a landscaping wall in a city right-of-way, two weeks after declining to allow a fence in another city right-of-way.
Council also declined to reconsider the June 18 split vote on a fence in the right-of-way at 469 Commerce Street, upholding the ruling that a 24-foot section the fence must be removed.
The brick wall at 810 Market Street was deemed worthy of standing, councilmembers said, because the property owner, David Rimel, was told by city staff that he didn't need a permit.
“The city staff indicated that [Rimel] did not need a permit and gave him the green light to proceed. It was only after the work was done and completed that the city staff elevated potential concerns and keep in mind there were no drawings or documentation in writing as to what was discussed. In addition the dimensions of the wall were never discussed, so it was unbearably an oversight on the city's part," Councilman Dave Glenn said. "Given the applicant was given prior approval to proceed, I feel that we are almost compelled to approve that license agreement. However I would recommend that for all future request, if there is any gray area, that the city should require a drawing with dimensions to avoid any misinterpretation."
Rimel wasn't clear on why he even had to be at the meeting Monday to keep the wall that was already constructed.
“I was on vacation and I come back and everyone said I had to tear my wall down and I want to know why. I didn't think I did anything wrong. I went around and asked all the right people," Rimel said.
With discussion of Rimel's wall also brought discussion of the Commerce Street fence constructed by Joe Fiocchi, which included an additional 24 feet that was not approved in his permit. In a 2-2 vote, with Councilman Bill Martin recusing himself and Council President Randy Craig serving as acting mayor with Mayor Wayne Dougherty not in attendance at the June 18 meeting, council ruled the fence would have to come down.
On Monday, Councilwoman Barbara Wagner asked Councilmen John Correri and Glenn—who voted against allowing the fence to stand last week—to motion for a re-vote. A re-vote could only be put into motion for by one of the parties who voted against the original ruling.
"What I would like to reach out and ask my fellow council members, since the opportunity to ask for a motion to reconsider would be limited to Councilmember Glenn or Councilmember Correri—just putting it out there with the events in hand—I really would like to see a nice positive community, friendly, and treat everyone equal and a resolution of this matter," Wagner said. "It's not in my hands. I just hand it over and I hope everyone does what they feel like is right."
Correri and Glenn declined to motion for a re-vote.
Former City Councilman Fred Cullum questioned the fairness of the approval of the wall Monday versus the hard-line stance against Fiocchi's fence last month.
"[Fiocchi] should be treated the same as any other citizen. I just don't understand the difference and I wish you would think about it, consider it, and redo the mistake that I believe has been made. I think it was wrong and I think it needs to be reconsidered," Cullum said.
City staff told Patch in an email last week that Fiocchi has until July 21 to remove the 24-foot section of the fence in question.
That's not all that was on the agenda Monday night:
Resident: Hush The Overnight Train Whistle
Mark Kozak of St. James Terrace expressed concerns of the late night train whistles. He contacted CSX Railroad to discuss implementing a train horn ban between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. CSX explained that the only way anything could be done would be going through City Council.
“The way that intersection is lit with the arms, the audible alarm, there is no excuse for the abuse of the horn,” Kozak said.
Mayor Dougherty suggested setting up a meeting in the neighborhood with Kozak and the surrounding neighbors to find a solution on fixing this problem with the help of the CSX supervisor from the area.
"Let's come together and see if we can come up with a better solution than what they gave us last time and last time there was a price tag on it that was unheard of," Dougherty said.
Council Chimes In On Independence Celebration
All council members also commended those who participated in making the Fourth of July parade and events a huge success this year.
"It's just not a parade, it's the memories for family," Martin said.
Martin also thanked the Havre de Grace Department of Public Works on the great job the DPW employees did on returning the park back to operating condition.
Historic Preservation Commission Re-Appoinments
City Council approved the re-appointment of five members to the historic preservation commission.
- Mr. Ronald Browning
- Mr. Melvin Wolinski
- Ms. Kathy Keen
- Ms. Grace Dennis
- Ms. Judy Plitt
All council members were in favor of re-appointing the members because of their hard work, dedication, and accomplishments in Havre de Grace.
"These five individuals have served the Historic Preservation Commission well and faithfully over many years," Glenn said. "They truly take the history of our town to heart. They work hard and accomplish many things and have won several awards."
Event Changes Approved
City Council voted to approve changes to a pair of special event applications:
- Movies at the Park: date change from Aug. 24 to Sept. 7
- Friday Concerts at the Park: add Aug. 3 due to rain on June 22.
Council moved into a closed session at the end of the meeting for the purpose of discussing a potential property purchase.
City Council will hold its next meeting at 7 p.m. on July 16.
Editor's Note: Patch editor Sean Welsh contributed to this article.