Town of Emmitsburg
300A S. Seton Ave Emmitsburg, Maryland

 Emmitsburg Town Office
 December 6, 2004

Present: Mayor James Hoover; Commissioners Art Elder; Joyce Rosensteel and William O'Neil, President. Also present were Donna DesPres, Michael Lucas and Dave Haller, Town Manager. 

: Dianne Walbrecker, with prior notice

Call to Order, Pledge of Allegiance, Announcements

Commissioner William O'Neil, President of the Board of Commissioners, called the December 6, 2004 Town Meeting to order at 8:00 p.m. He announced the upcoming streets committee meeting set for December 21, 2004. Also in commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor anniversary, Mr. O'Neil stated that Emmitsburg has a very special citizen, James Adlesberger who is the town's last surviving citizen and veteran of Pearl Harbor. He would like to pay special tribute to Mr. Adlesberger for his service to our country and recognize all veterans for their selfless sacrifice on that day. MOTION: To denote December 7, 2004 as "James Adlesberger Day" and issue proclamation for same. The motion made by Commissioner O'Neil was seconded by Commissioner Elder. Vote: 3-0 in favor

Approval of Minutes

 The Minutes of the November 15, 2004 Town Meeting were before the Council for approval. President O'Neil added clarification to the study requested regarding the mountain rental properties that it should read an engineering report. The Minutes were approved as corrected by unanimous vote.

Commissioner Comments

Commissioner Elder inquired if, since only 2 members would be in attendance for the January town meeting, the meeting should be called off. Mayor Hoover explained that the Code states that the Board of Commissioners must meet Mayor and 2 members will constitute a quorum. It was added to plan to keep the agenda light. Commissioner O'Neil announced his concerns about the current ethics committee investigation. He stated concerns about officers' and staff's rights-- that interviews should be open, felt that matters could lead to legal action and made reference that it has been agreed previously by the Board of Commissioners that such staff or electorates who may be interviewed have the right to legal representation provided by the Town. The Mayor, in answer to Mr. O'Neil's inquiry, stated that he is not involved and concurred with him regarding representation. Mr. Brennan, chairman of the Ethics Commission, was present and proffered information: His commission is in consultation with the town attorney that procedures are legal and added that the town ordinance is vague, they're to look at complaints. The Commission acts publicly until interviews per legal counsel. They will be kept private to consider complaint, whereupon the commission will determine if the complaint(s) are valid and report their finding. It has no authority to pass judgment. It provides a forum to which citizens, staff, etc can make a complaint. Mr. O'Neil expressed his issue with the negativity that results from such interviews and commented that it becomes a "witch hunt". He also said that he is hoping that this official organ of the Emmitsburg government will not be used to malign people's reputations. Mr. Brennan reiterated that everyone will be called and spoken with. In serving on the un-American activities committee, Mr. O'Neil stated that he recalls the same thing happening with Federal Government.

Mayor's Comments

Announced the formation of a media contact, Pat Feeser, to field media inquiries. In results of a previous closed meeting regarding personnel/legal consultation issues, the Mayor informed that the issue regarding missing money was resolved. The Board agreed to handle it as a personnel matter with restitution from a former employee. He also announced that the legal opinion with Pembrook Woods concerning parking enforcement, street matters, plowing is that parking regulations should not be enforced and that the developer will continue do the snow- plowing. He has received a letter from representative Joe Bartlett to schedule attendance at a town meeting–hoping for the next meeting on December 20. Mr. O'Neil added re press relations that the Board will be available after this town meeting to field their questions.


Town Manager:  reported on the public works department monthly activities to include a water production and consumption analysis, discussed the problem with the slow paint cure related to the water storage tank rehab, and announced that demolition of the old water plant has begun. He also brought to the Board's attention that a few properties are landlocked. One property in particular is scheduled to be sold and the owner has requested access. He advised that uncontrolled use of those roads and access could lead to a legal acceptance of right-of-way. Mr. O'Neil stated that this should not be allowed and the Mayor added that no deed access is ever allowed. Mr. Elder answered to Mr. O'Neil's poll to "Carry on as we have been." MOTION: To not take action in granting an easement of right of way to landlocked properties. The motion made by Commissioner Elder was seconded by Commissioner Rosensteel. Vote: 3-0 in favor

Planner:  enumerated November planning department activity to include preparation of text amendments and meeting with MDHCD for a block grant application. He also reported the parking violation statistics and that 14 building permits were issued to include 3 new homes. He would like to present 3 text amendments for January: signage requirement for home occupation, allowance of home occupations in residential zones and home occupation in village zone. These will be advertised for the January town meeting. Treasurer's Report - Commissioner Art Elder. See attached report, Exhibit A. Police Report - Deputies Moxley and Venzin. 42 water checks, 41 traffic citations. Detailed October report at Exhibit B. Committee Reports - Chris Staiger reported that the Planning and Zoning Commission met November 29 and considered Southgate correction plat, text amendments recommendations, and free standing signs. Because of the holiday the next meeting is changed to December 28. Commissioner Joyce Rosensteel reported that the Parks Committee met November 16 to discuss summer shows and lighting at pavilion to be requested in the next budget. There was no Board of Appeals meeting needed.

Agenda Items

Community Guide Presentation and Funding Request

Mr. Haller presented the request for the town to cover copying costs of $200.90 for the Community Guide. Mayor Hoover added that the individuals are preparing a welcome package that includes this publication originally produced by the Council of Churches and the town previously paid copying costs for updates.

Motion: To fund the printing costs of $200.90 for the Welcome to Emmitsburg publication. The motion made by Commissioner Rosensteel was seconded by Commissioner Elder . Vote: 3-0 in favor

Silver Fancy Farm Package Sewer Plant Opposition Resolution

The Town Planner explained that the staff issues with the proposed package sewer treatment plant concerns property which was citizen-opposed (via referendum) for annexation. The Town concern is to protect the "growth boundary" which it feels is contrary to Maryland's "smart growth" planning goals and to guard against any future default responsibility for a possible failed private system. "Infrastructure planning should drive development rather than development driving infrastructure." The development would impact the town gravely without any received benefit. The Mayor added that the Town is now experiencing what was feared from the failed annexation. He concurred that the town should protect its interests. In answer to Board inquiry, Mr. Lucas responded that he does not know if the County mitigates failure statistics in their consideration of the independent system. PUBLIC COMMENT: Chris Staiger, 1230 Brookfield Drive; Betsy Forrence, 17247 Annandale Road; Harold Craig, 103 West Main; Ted Brennan, 313 East Main Street; and Sabrina Paxton-Daily, 12 Zanella Drive spoke in opposition of a package sewer treatment plant and support the resolution. 

To support Resolution 2004-10R opposing Frederick County's approval of a package sewage treatment plant. The motion made by Commissioner Elder was seconded by Commissioner O'Neil. Vote: 3-0 in favor

Charter Review Commission

Mr. O'Neil further explained that this concept is to set up a body to review and present at the annual election such matters, maybe politically sensitive, to be settled by the populace. Due to the text not being available, this agenda item will be put on agenda for the next meeting.

Executive Discretionary Fund

This was discussed as a fund for public relation-type issues such as the prior purchase of holiday decorations, banners, etc. without the necessity for Board approval for each expenditure. Commissioner O'Neil stated that his concern is that not to obviate legislative procurement but to get a handle on what can be considered and a mechanism in place is needed to allow this (example was Christmas bows). The plan is to have a certain amount set aside in the next budget. Mr. Haller suggested $2000 for the first year and go from there. 

Motion: To approve the creation of an executive discretionary fund in the amount of $2000. The motion made by Commissioner O'Neil was seconded by Commissioner Elder. Vote: 3-0 in favor

Election Rules

Revisions to Chapter 2.28 of Title 2 entitled Elections have been a work-in-progress for several meetings. Motion: To remove the poll watchers subsection from the ordinance draft for separate consideration. The motion made by Commissioner O'Neil was seconded by Commissioner Elder. Vote: 3-0 in favor

Public Comment

Chris Staiger, 1230 Brookfield Drive reiterated his opposition to a recall provision-- important to stand by the election results Ted Brennan, East Main Street - glad for this legislation, pointed out his disagreement with the recall language, "Nothing but disasters... always political tools." He suggested that, if approved, to help guard abuse: having a majority is too low a threshold, require that recallees must have last results plus one, prevents willy-nilly approach to recalls. Poll watchers are not necessary in this case, normally poll watchers are assigned to national elections by the political parties. Poll watchers need to be educated and must receive training. He added that poll watchers are intimidating to voters. Sister Eleanor, Provincial House expressed her second to Mr. Brennan's comments about poll watchers and mentioned that the proposed ordinance draft still has no provision for a provisional ballot.

The draft Ordinance 04-17 amending Chapter 2.28 entitled Elections was reviewed for corrections, additions and/or deletions. Each following change to this draft was singularly motioned and voted unanimously:

  • Add section in 2.28.080 to provide a procedure for tie votes to include a run-off election conducted in the same manner as other elections, within 14 days, and that if the tie vote includes an Incumbent, that person will automatically retain that office.
  • Section 2.28.040 replace the word "vacancy" with "office"
  • Section 2.28.060 add "of the polling place" after "At no more than 100 feet." • Section 2.28.060B first part regarding expense reporting, add provision of ineligibility/removal from ballot as penalty for noncompliance
  • Section 2.28.060B second part regarding addenda expense reporting, add fine of $500 for noncompliance
  • Section 2.28.060B regarding the "form to be determined by the mayor and council": - replace with "campaign expense reporting form" After voting it was mentioned to put this form review on the January 4 agenda
  • Section 2.28.060B in the sentence "Such less than 30 days prior to the special election"-- delete "to" replace with "of" and delete "special"
  • Discussion ensued regarding offering a provisional ballot: Motion: add section 2.28.010F to provide a provisional ballot for those residents claiming to be registered and desiring to vote to be issued a provisional ballot and that vote shall be counted pending verification from board of elections of their registration status, absent the verification, the vote will not be counted
  • Section 2.28.070 revise this section to correct that the town clerk will date stamp the outside of the sealed envelope containing the ballot (not the absentee ballot itself)
  • To remove the proposed Section 2.28.090 providing a provision for recall elections • Section 2.28.110C - remove this subsection C Typos were corrected and accepted without objection. Note that above section numbers are from the draft ordinance and may change upon codification of the accepted ordinance form.

Commissioner O'Neil proposed an amendment to Chapter 2.28 Elections to provide for poll watchers. In response to Commissioners Elder's inquiry, it was stated that a candidate does not have to provide a poll watcher if he does not want one. Commissioner Rosensteel and Mayor Hoover stated their opposition to poll watchers in Emmitsburg's nonpartisan elections. 

Motion: To adopt the poll watcher amendment as written. The motion by Commissioner O'Neil was seconded by Commissioner Elder. Vote: 2-1 in favor Commissioner Rosensteel opposed

Motion: To adopt the amended draft, with poll watcher amendment, as final Ordinance 04-17 amending Title 2, Administration and Personnel, Chapter 2.28, Elections. The motion by Commissioner O'Neil was seconded by Commissioner Elder. Vote: 3-0 in favor