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City Council Amends, Delays Vote on MOE Ordinance

Havre de Grace City Council met Monday night at City Hall.

Havre de Grace City Council amended a zoning ordinance Monday night that would allow for Upper Chesapeake to develop a new hospital near Interstate 95.

Council delayed its final vote on the ordinance until the Aug. 6 meeting. Upper Chesapeake is planning an informative meeting for the public on July 24, and Councilman Bill Martin made a motion to table a vote until after that meeting.

Find the proposed ordinance—without Monday's amendments—attached in PDF form.

The most noteworthy amendment called for the ordinance to maintain original language the provided the city a 300-square-foot office space in the mixed office employment center. The office would be used by the tourism office to boost traffic to downtown businesses.

The amendments also called for more stringent regulations on permitted use, buffer areas, and light and noise coming from the development.

See the meeting recap below for more on those amendments.

A RAD Appointee

City Council unanimously approved the reappointment of Thomas Lofland to the RAD Loan Committee.

Building Permits Increased in 2011-2012

Director of Planning Neal Mills said the city granted 87 building permits in 2012.

That's in comparison to 65 in 2011, and more than 100 in 2010.

"A small sample that we’re drawing from, but it looks like we went through a valley in 2011 and we’re starting to crawl out," Mills said.

Public Comment

Resident Herbert Treslow, who lives on Bloomsbury Avenue, raises issues with a water main break under the street on Sunday. He asks if the street will have to collapse before the city fixes the street.

"The problem was identified. We're not going to repave that street until the line is replaced. It is on a capital project list, but I don't have a timeline for that," Mayor Wayne Dougherty said.

Resident and business owner George Wagner presents a petition from locals asking for provisional parking stickers for residents and businesses on the 400 block of Franklin Street.

Wagner said his water bill dated July 2 reflected the new rates set forth on July 1. The billed period, though, pre-dates July 1. He said the meter was read on June 6.

Mayor Dougherty asked Mr. Wagner to leave his bill with city staff for review.

Resident Lori Maslin asked for her water bill to be reviewed as well. The Mayor responds by saying he'll need to review his own water bills.

Residents Rodney Gaston and Curtis Coon gave praise to city staff and City Council—particularly Council President Randy Craig—for their handling of the MOE ordinance.

Dean Castor, a representative of Upper Chesapeake, said: "It took a lot of give-and-take by a lot of individuals in a lot of parts of the city. We’re looking forward to getting more feedback from the community on the 24th. A project like this has a long future in front of it. There will be a lot of opportunities for dialogue with neighbors and within the city organization. We’re just getting started, and we’re excited for how this project can develop."

Live Blog

Below is a recap of the meeting in the form of the live blog reported during the meeting Monday:

8:58 p.m.: The meeting adjourns.

City Council moves into a closed session, with city attorney Paul Ishak and acting Director of Administration Jim Newby in attendance.

8:56 p.m.: Citizen comment is underway.

Resident Herbert Treslow, who lives on Bloomsbury Avenue, raises issues with a water main break under the street on Sunday. He asks if the street will have to collapse before the city fixes the street.

"The problem was identified. We're not going to repave that street until the line is replaced. It is on a capital project list, but I don't have a timeline for that," Mayor Dougherty said.

Resident and business owner George Wagner presents a petition from locals asking for provisional parking stickers for residents and businesses on the 400 block of Franklin Street.

Wagner said his water bill dated July 2 reflected the new rates set forth on July 1. The billed period, though, pre-dates July 1. He said the meter was read on June 6.

Mayor Dougherty asked Mr. Wagner to leave his bill with city staff for review.

Resident Lori Maslin asked for her water bill to be reviewed as well. The Mayor responds by saying he'll need to review his own water bills.

Rodney Gaston speaks and gives praise to city staff and City Council for their handling of the MOE ordinance.

Curtis Coon gives thanks to the City Council, particularly Council President Craig, for their handling of the MOE ordinance.

Dean Castor, a representative of Upper Chesapeake, said: "It took a lot of give-and-take by a lot of individuals in a lot of parts of the city. We’re looking forward to getting more feedback from the community on the 24th. A project like this has a long future in front of it. There will be a lot of opportunities for dialogue with neighbors and within the city organization. We’re just getting started, and we’re excited for how this project can develop."

8:46 p.m.: Council President Randy Craig praised the turnout for Pirate Fest weekend.

In particular, he said many of those individuals who participated in Friday's bar crawl were new faces in the community.

8:43 p.m.: Councilman Martin spoke highlight of the Pirate Fest weekend.

Martin said the War of 1812 commission held its first meeting last week. He said the commission is looking for houses and descendents of families from the 1812 era.

Martin added that the commission plans for a ballpark budget for the event to be presented by the end of August.

8:38 p.m.: Councilman Glenn said the ad-hoc traffic committee for Route 40 access will meet at 6:30 p.m. on July 19 at the Havre de Grace police station. The public safety committee will meet at 6 p.m. on July 24 at the police station.

Glenn congratulates the senior girls all-star softball team, which is playing in the state tournament tonight at Stancill Field.

8:36 p.m.: Councilman John Correri said the water and sewer commission meets at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

He also welcomed home troops who have arrived back in the U.S. recently, including a family friend and the son of Jim Newby.

8:34 p.m.: Councilmember Wagner begins her address by noting how much fun she had at the .

"Some of these fellas up here [on the dais] looked a litle different there than they do here," Wagner said of her fellow council members.

Wagner speaks about how the city can improve recycling. She said the city hosted its first Green Drinks meeting at recently. Plans for the August meeting will be announced soon.

Wagner raves about the and said another garden could be created in 2013.

8:27 p.m.: Councilman Smith speaks about zoning codes in the city. regarding those codes Monday afternoon.

Smith also requests a correction be made regarding an editorial recently published regarding the city's vote on a tourism position. The position in question was in the economic development department.

8:19 p.m.: Mayor Wayne Dougherty shares an email forwarded to him from Councilman Glenn, offering a picture of the life of troops, and urging residents to remember those troops when they return home.

8:18 p.m.: Capt. Wayne Young said National Night Out will be Aug. 7. will be out on foot in the community, building on its rapport with residents.

8:17 p.m.: Director of Planning Neal Mills said the city granted 87 building permits in 2012.

That's in comparison to 65 in 2011, and more than 100 in 2010.

"A small sample that we’re drawing from, but it looks like we went through a valley in 2011 and we’re starting to crawl out," Mills said.

8:16 p.m.: Council votes unanimously to approve the Jamboree and Oktoberfest event to be held from 2 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 20 in Bradford Green. 

8:15 p.m.: Councilman Bill Martin moves to hold the final vote on the ordinance until the first City Council meeting in August, which will follow an informational session held by Upper Chesapeake on July 24.

Council votes unanimously to approve Martin's motion.

8:13 p.m.: Council votes 5-1 to adopt an amendment proposed by Council President Craig that allows for the planning commission to review both the site plan and the concept plan.

Councilmember Smith was the lone vote against.

8:05 p.m.: Council votes unanimously to approve Council President Craig's amendment calling for light manufacturing to become a special exception in the MOE district, rather than a permitted use.

8:01 p.m.: Council votes, 4-2, to amend the ordinance to allow for a 300-square-foot office space for the city to use to promote the city and its downtown businesses.

Councilman Bill Martin proposes the ordinance be amended to allow for space in the retail center for Havre de Grace to have a tourism hub.

Martin asks that the ordinance be edited back to the original language, stating:

E. Civic uses: The developer shall also provide at no cost to the City the following:

(1) A minimum of 300 square feet of enclosed office space within one of the buildings in the retail hub of the development for use by the City for promotion of tourism, special events and economic development.

Council President Randy Craig and Councilman David Glenn support the space. Councilman Joseph Smith raises a series of questions, particularly surrounding the budget impact the space may have on the city.

Council votes 4-2 to approve the amendment, with Councilmembers Smith and Wagner voting against.

7:54 p.m.: Council is discussing the second reading of Ordinance No. 943.

Councilwoman Barbara Wagner suggests a series of amendments to the ordinance, including:

  • A buffer of 100 feet from a residential property line in which no building will be constructed in the MOE zone.
  • Dumpsters in the zone will be contained within enclosures, not visible to streets and pedestrian walkways

Councilman David Glenn asks that the dumpsters also be out of sight from residential property.

Wagner also proposes an amendment reducing light below the proposed 0.5 foot candles as measured at residential property lines. Wagner added a series of editorial changes, which she credited to former City Councilman Joe Kochenderfer.

Council unanimously passes those amendments.

7:30 p.m.: A female resident of The Paddocks, who did not give her name, said she appreciates the efforts from council members to work with the residents.

She noted, "I’m real concerned about the execution of the plan."

She closed by saying it is difficult for some residents to be involved in City Council matters, that she barely made the meeting Monday following work, and that information from the city website is often outdated.

Public comment period closed following her statements.

7:26 p.m.: Resident Jim Barry begins to address the MOE ordinance.

Barry said he and neighbors are trying to be patient and that they've been asked to trust the process. He said: "I don’t believe it’s anyone’s intention to mislead."

Barry said his primary worry is that the MOE development project is laid out over four phases in a 10-to-15-year period.

“My concern is, for example, there’s nothing preventing—I believe—the hospital being built in the Phase 4 area. There’s no restrictions in the language to prevent that,” he said.

“I’d like you to picture yourself as a resident of Moncarchos Drive,” Barry said. “When you deliberate … consider yourself as someone who lives there in a home that neighbors that property.”

7:20 p.m.: Resident Rodney Gaston speaks on behalf of about 18 of his neighbors in The Paddocks neighborhood that will adjoin the property where the hospital will be built.

Gaston said he and his neighbors do not oppose the hospital, but have concerns regarding noise, light and sight.

He said, primarily, the proposed development allows for "five times brighter than normal moonlight shining onto my backyard. If there’s a purpose for it, let us know."

Gaston said the HOA for The Paddocks prohibits residents from shining light in a neighbor's yard.

Gaston said some property owners have lost 30 percent value in their homes due to the economy, and are seeking to protect the remaining value of their properties.

Gaston said the neighboring residents approve of the proposed buffer zone and setbacks. He calls for the hospital to plan evergreens along the edge of the proposed development.

Outdoor speakers and sound emanating from any structure within the MOE should be limited to within the property of the development, Gaston said.

“No one on my street wants to listen to a circular saw, a power drill, an airgun,” Gaston said.

7:12 p.m.: The period for public comment on agenda items opens.

Resident Curtis Coon, the chairman of the planning commission, speaks on the MOE zoning ordinance on Monday's agenda.

Among his statements, Coon said the planning commission called for allowances for flexibility in front, side and rear setbacks. The proposed setbacks are at 25 feet on all sides. Coon said the commission felt that flexibility is necessary for an as-needed basis. The proposed changes are for five feet in front and rear, and zero feet on the side.

Coon also said the planning commission asks that the site plan include landscaping and elevation data.

7:05 p.m.: City Council unanimously approves the reappointment of Thomas Lofland to the RAD Loan Committee.

7:04 p.m.: Council tables the approval of the closed session minutes from the previous meeting. 

Councilman Bill Martin raised a question about the final paragraph of the meeting minutes. As the minutes were from a closed session, further discussion will be held for the proposed closed session to follow Monday's meeting.

City Council has held a series of closed sessions following recent meetings to discuss a potential acquisition of property.

7:02 p.m.: Pastor Norman Obenshain delivers the opening prayer.

7 p.m.: The meeting begins.

All elected officials are in attendance.

Three department directors are out tonight. Capt. Wayne Young is in attendance in place of Chief Teresa Walter, Tracy Conoway is in attendance in place of Director of Finance George DeHority and Jim Newby is in attendance in place of Director of Administration Carol Mathis.

6:55 p.m.: Conversations in the council chambers indicated the is in the midst of a scoreless tie at in a state tournament game.

6:50 p.m.: Decent citizen turnout already. Plenty of officials and staff buzzing around the back hallways here at City Hall.

I'll update as frequently as possible once we get started.

6:45 p.m.: Welcome to our City Council live blog, where we will be updating the news coming from City Hall at it happens.

Check back regularly. We will be adding nuggets of news immediately. Feel free to email sean.welsh@patch.com with any questions.

For the full agenda—including a printable PDF file—for tonight's meeting, .

NOTE: Lulls in reporting are a result of a lack of wireless internet connection inside council chambers.

Angela Mergler July 17, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Maybe they should review all the water bills.
Jill Singleton July 17, 2012 at 01:36 AM
I agree!!! The rate hike is crazy!!
ronald g. browning July 18, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Councilman Smith and Council woman Wagner should carefully reconsider their votes about the tourism office /kiosks in the MOE district. As they were advised by both the Historical Preservation Commission and Tourism Commission (by unanimous votes on those commissions, upon which I sit), this tourism link in the MOE/hospital site is crucial to attract these visitors to the downtown business district and "other" parts of Havre de Grace. As both of these individuals are involved with businesses in the downtown area, it is beyond me why they would vote to NOT encourage visitation to the downtown HDG areas. As a businessman with a B&B in the downtown area, I want communication via a visitor center/kiosk in the MOE/hospital area to encourage visitors in that area to visit also the downtown area.where my business is located. I cannot fathom why Smith/Wagner do NOT. Ron Browning

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