City Council: Wall Stands, Fence Comes Down

Patch recaps the July 2 Havre de Grace City Council meeting.

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 , 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 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 recusing himself and Council President 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 asked Councilmen 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 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 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.

Closed Session

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.

Sandra Hash July 03, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I really like this format for relaying the events of the City Council meetings. Much easier to read.
Sean Welsh July 03, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Sandra — Thanks for the feedback. I know we have a lot of folks who read the live blog when I'm there in person, but I'll look into a way that we can better accomplish both. Sean
Katie July 03, 2012 at 05:22 PM
It... was a freaking fence.
Andrew July 03, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Clearly what needs to happen is the City Hall employee who gave "permission" for this wall to be erected needs to be fired - TODAY. If the person has enough stature within the administration to be able to issue opinions for the City, then their error should have repercussions. To be a person with authority and not know the process does not bode well for future actions. Best to eliminate the employee right this minute and not expose the taxpayers to their incompetence any further.
Fred Cullum July 03, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Andrew, You need to have the background information and know what actually occurred and not just bits and pieces of hearsay to make a decision like that. I believe in this case the brick wall that the city employee told the property owner that no permit was required for, was to replace the siding on the front wall of the residence with brick. The brick wall with entrance columns that was built next to the side walk was supposed to be simply some type of retaining structure to eliminate the slope of the front yard which would not have required a license agreement. Once the brick structure was erected on city property then there was the requirement as all others have been to obtain a license agreement approved by the city council. It always helps to know the whole story.
Barbara Wagner July 03, 2012 at 09:27 PM
For the record - the only party I have any personal or professional relationship with regarding this fense issue is Mary Martin and it has always been positive. I have enjoyed food and drink and conversation with her on many social occasions. All positive experiences. Every day in our store we send business to her business, even going so far a to provide the customer a written rack card we produced at our own expense that includes her business name and address. We also provide our customerss a map and we had write on that nap her business location as a business friendly gesture. As for my relationship with mr Fiocchi -his wife has been kind enough to bring her out of town visitors into our store to shop. I have never had the oportunity to be in a social situation with then, never enjoyed shacks, a drink or a meal. I have never entered their property beyond the public sidewalk. I was grateful when mr Fiocchi offered his float to include our Bahoukas banners (went well with his antique car) as well as la cuchinas banners (to support mr Fiocchi's itailian heritage). Mr Fiocchi reminds me very much of my husband George with his feisty manner and his very tender unfairness button.
Biller's Bikes July 03, 2012 at 10:45 PM
If I were Mr. Fiocchi I'd remove the fence planks carefully, remove the posts, and re-apply for the permit when the political winds shift away from the current regime. The prevailing council members had no problems with the fence; their problems were with Mr. Fiocchi's criticism of neighbor Mary Martin's previous activities. It's so simple to understand when you realize that good judgment and good citizenry have nothing to do with it, it's all politics. Save the fence--for another day.
James P. Miller July 04, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Too bad the audio was missing from the HCN broadcast for the first hour and then rebroadcast with the sound a little after only to cut off while Councilmember Wagner was trying to make her point. Hopefully the meeting will be rebroadcast without the glitches.
Brittany July 04, 2012 at 12:08 PM
This is so silly! I am proud to have been raised in a beautiful town where people treated one another with respect and cared for their neighbors and friends like family. This entire ordeal certainly is not indicitive of the community that I grew up in.
Wendy McNally July 04, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I'm grateful to Mr. Fiocchi for tilling the land for the community garden; it is one of the best projects ever to be brought to fruition, and it was spearheaded by Barbara Wagner and the HdG Green Team. The bottom line in the fence issue is that policy is written for a reason, and should be followed in every instance with fairness and consistency. If the fence was approved for a certain number of feet, then that length is what should have been built. If the brick wall on Market St. was built differently than was originally presented for approval, then it should be amended or removed. However, from what I understand, that homeowner was told he didn't need prior approval. That's a flaw in policy execution for sure. The Fence Wars of 2012 are ridiculous, but I think they are happening for the sole purpose of making the City become ever more diligent in writing and following policies, without playing favoritism to anyone, even if they have funded the mayor's campaigns or own businesses in town. Mr. Fiocchi, like me, is a relative newcomer to town, but we pay taxes and promote the City just like native HdG citizens. Let's hope this issue is about flawed policy execution and not about favoritism, but in either case, improvement is necessary.
James P. Miller July 04, 2012 at 01:45 PM
In case you missed the meeting or the fabulous showing on HCN. I can't wait for the Awards Ceremony at the next City Council meeting. There will be many more awards that we have not seen before. City Award for Best Actor, City Award for Best Actress, City Award for Best Supporting Actor, City Award for Best Supporting Actress, City Award for Best Sound Editing, City Award for Best Story. The best part is you don't need a Tux to attend the show.
Andrew July 04, 2012 at 02:09 PM
So it went like this? Homeowner - I want to replace the siding on the front of my house, do I need a permit? HdeG employee - no permit needed H/O-I want to build a retaining wall in the front yard, do I need a permit? HdeG -Is it over four feet tall? H/O - no HdeG - then you don't need a permit Where in there is any kind of permission for a private landowner to build a structure on City property?
Wendy McNally July 04, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Where can I find the minutes for Monday night's meeting? And what is the broadcast schedule for the meeting?
SHAWN HURST July 04, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Jimmy, don't forget the clown of the year award.......it goes to one who loses the last election and had the most shenanigans while on council in years past......
Fred Cullum July 04, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Andrew, That is my point! there was no permission for the fence or the brick wall so they were actually the same and should have been treated the same. Again, needing and permit to do something and needing a license agreement to use city property are two totally separate issues. I don't know where you got the question "Is it over four feet tall" from.
Wendy McNally July 04, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Shawn, I know this is off topic, but I just wanted to thank you so very very much for providing water for our community garden. It just amazes me how wonderful you and your crew have been, and how quickly the empty barrels get filled. I had no idea how terrific this project could be, and your efforts are a huge part of its success. Please thank everyone who has been involved in helping us; not a day goes by that we plot-adopters don't thank the fire department and your involvement. God bless you all.
Sean Welsh July 04, 2012 at 10:30 PM
I've shut off comments on this article because the conversation has gone off-topic. Thanks, Sean
Sean Welsh July 04, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Comments from user Hans-Adam III, Prince of Liechtenstein have been deleted or violation of Patch's terms of use. Sean


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