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

Town Meeting Minutes
Emmitsburg Town Office
May 3rd, 2004


Among the items mentioned in Michael Lucas’ report were Codes Enforcement information which included parking tickets and related revenue, the issuance of one Stop Work Order and 17 permits (including one new home permit issued in February 2004 and not previously reported to this Board). An internship was established within the Town's Planning Department through the cooperation of Mount St. Mary’s College. Other items: the convening of a Farmer’s Market Committee for Emmitsburg and the researching of a Moderately Priced Development Unit Ordinance, both of which were initiated at the Mayor's direction. Staff met with representatives involved in the community pool contract/repairs and the retrofitting of the parking meter heads.

Due to the Town Inspector's recent surgery/recuperation, the Staff will continue to conduct Use and Occupancy inspections. A tentative offer has been made to Ms. Deborah Thompson to fill

the Planning and Zoning Tech position to replace Ms. Pat Feezer who vacated the position for an internal move within the Town Office. Planning and Zoning recommended the Board consider a

text amendment to the Town Sign Ordinance to allow a freestanding sign in the Village Zone. Lastly, the AT&T negotiations have been finalized for the proposal allowing AT&T an easement for their fiber optic cable. The proposed $103,641 permit fee paid by AT&T will cover the costs of moving the existing utility poles, any engineering costs and will also replace the fence for Mother Seton School. Staff is drafting the formal agreement, which will be presented for appropriate signature. Commissioner Elder offered his congratulations to Mr. Lucas on his efforts to bring in this revenue for the Town.


Commissioner Sweeney thanked all those who gave him support and assistance during the last 8 years, was gratified with the growth of the Town and has enjoyed his tenure as Commissioner, working with the Board and Staff. While this would be his last night to sit as Commissioner, he expressed the desire to help the new Board in any way possible. Commissioner Elder congratulated the new Council members. Commissioner Boyle thanked everyone for his or her help and service over the last six years. He learned a lot while serving with the Board and hoped the many projects that the Board had started would be completed by the new Board—namely, the new park and infrastructure projects and hoped that work toward establishing a bypass would continue. Commissioner Rosensteel thanked Commissioners Sweeney and Boyle for all their hard work and personal time devoted to the concerns of the Town and for all the assistance they had offered her over the years. She also wished to extend a warm welcome to the new incoming Commissioners.

MAYOR'S COMMENTS: Mayor Hoover also extended his appreciation to Commissioners Boyle and Sweeney for the enormous time and energy devoted to their work on the Town’s behalf and the difficulty balancing their civic duties and meetings with the demands of their family commitments. He extended his good wishes to both Commissioners and stated his appreciation for their willingness to remain active in community concerns.

Police Report: Deputy Moxley cited police activity for the month of March 2004 and added that a person who has terrorized the Town for four years and committed a variety of burglaries and other violations was sentenced to 10 years in jail last week.

Committee Reports -

Planning and Zoning Commission: Commissioner Sweeney reported that an application for a freestanding sign in the Village Zone was considered and then withdrawn after it was determined the sign would be prohibited based on the current ordinance. Mr. Lucas will investigate the matter and make his recommendations.

Streets & Transportation Committee: The committee met in April and Commissioner Boyle stated at their next meeting, a report listing the future street repairs will be given to the new Streets Commissioner. Progress was reported on adding the rear entrance into the Exxon station and on the Paul Street project.

Parks and Recreation Committee: Commissioner Rosensteel and the committee met with a gentleman who spoke about the happenings in Frederick County Parks. Brochures will be released, highlighting upcoming summer activities. Concerts are currently in the planning stages, with the first projected to be held June.


Outgoing commissioners were Clifford Sweeney and Patrick Boyle. Incoming Commissioners-elect William O’Neil, Jr. and Dianne Walbrecker took the oath of office administered by Mayor Hoover.



Mayor Hoover recommended the following appointments:

  • Commissioner Elder -- Water Committee and also serve as Town Treasurer.

  • Commissioner Rosensteel -- to serve on the Parks and Recreation Committee and the Board of Appeals.

  • Commissioner Walbrecker -- to serve on the Planning and Zoning Committee.

  • Commissioner O’Neil -- to serve on the Streets Committee and appointed as President of the Board.

A brief discussion ensued during which Commissioner Walbrecker questioned the Mayor’s reasons regarding his recommendation of Commissioner O’Neil as President of the Board. Mayor Hoover felt Commissioner O’Neil would do a good job, not to say that the other Board members could not do well in that position. Commissioner Walbrecker was of the opinion tradition held that the longest serving member of the Board was seated as President. The Mayor countered that, historically, no such tradition had been in place.

MOTION: To accept Mayor Hoover’s recommendation for the realignment of the Town Council and Council Members. VOTE: 4-0 in favor of the motion.


O’Neil: Regarding the previously approved positions for which the new Board is now being asked to approve the candidates proposed by Staff, Commissioner O’Neil wished that the Board be made aware that Roberts Rules states that anything may be reconsidered particularly when another body is in place.

Haller: These candidates have been informed that they will be offered these positions pending approval of the Council. The Financial & Accounting Tech would assist the Town Clerk, to help with the overwhelming workload as a result of the increased number of clients, quarterly billings for water and sewer, influx of new homes and buildings and subsequent residents moving into the Town and capital projects.

Mayor: Also cited the new accounting system required by the State, and the Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund has creating a totally separate and independent budget and accounting which have added to the Clerk’s duties.

Walbrecker: Inquired if an updated accounting system might make the job easier?

Despres: The system used is always kept updated. With this GASB34, it’s becoming apparent that it may not be able to handle it. The audit accountant has told staff that with the new requirements, it will increase the workload four-fold. Records for business must now be kept: all assets capitalized, all debts listed, and the infrastructure inventoried and evaluated. The software itself was not antiquated.

Walbrecker: Questioned the need for more advanced technology as opposed to adding another employee, thus possibly producing taxpayer savings. Also requested clarification on the relationship and duties of the previously discussed Mount St. Mary’s internship, which was proposed to assist the Planning Staff. Would the addition of a paid employee be necessary if the intern is in place?

Lucas: The Planning Intern would be doing research (10-12 hours weekly). The Planning Tech would perform administrative support duties, working with the Town Manager, as opposed to actual planning work. On the Planning & Zoning side, there has been a yearly increase in the regulatory environment and new compliance issues. The work has been more complex and asking Ms. Feeser to perform both of these areas of duties was often placing excess stress on staff’s ability to accomplish their goals. The Planning Tech would be more involved in the aspects of Planning & Zoning. This is an attempt to separate the functions of two jobs that are unrelated to each other.

Haller: Ms. Feeser would support Mr. Haller with reporting for various projects involving lending and regulatory agencies and simply fulfill the duties required to adequately support Planning and Zoning needs. To reiterate, these two positions are 30-hours weekly each, yielding a 75% benefit package, and a salary of $11.64. Staff must be able to not only meet its goals but to be proactive in its attempts to realistically deal with the economic development of the community. Mr. Lucas and the Planning Tech would be heavily involved with research required for the upcoming Comprehensive Plan, an adequate public facility ordinance, not to mention dealing with a more complex county permit system.

Lucas: Presented the qualifications of both candidates--Deborah Thompson as Planning Tech and Vickie Felix as Financial and Accounting Tech.

MOTION: To approve the hiring of Deborah Thompson in the position of Planning Tech and Vickie Felix in the position of Financial and Accounting Tech. VOTE: 4-0 in favor of the motion.


Haller: Presented the new refuse contract for approval by the Board. This is a yearly competitive bidding process, which involved Waste Management (present supplier) and Key Sanitation bidding on the basic contract with optional services offered. The bids were for a one-year contract: Waste Management. @ 8.75 per unit and Key Sanitation @ 6.99 for two-day weekly pick up/hauling and doesn't include a tipping fee. The pricing for the second year: Waste Management. @8.97 per unit and Key Sanitation @ 7.34 per unit. Requested the Board to make a motion to grant the basic contract and then other services can be reviewed and approved.
Commissioners O’Neil and Walbrecker asked several questions regarding the charges and services listed on the proposed contract, which prompted a vigorous discussion between the Board and Staff.

O’Neil: Interjected--in the future, there will probably be more heated discussions than a garbage contract. In the interest of fairness and equality, he thinks it would be better for people to be recognized to ask questions rather than to jump into a discussion with them. In this manner, when a topic becomes heated and contentious, everyone will be guaranteed that they will receive fair and equal time.

Walbrecker: Questioned why the Town must continue dumping in the Frederick County Landfill when the County then turns around and transfers their trash out of the landfill.

Haller: The Town has one more year remaining on a five-year contract with Frederick County. Frederick County agreed to this contract 4 years ago before it was learned the landfill allowed half the capacity they originally computed. At present, the Town pays $40 per ton, which is a reduced rate the county contracted with the Town and other municipalities. The lowest rate Staff could find four years ago was a landfill in Pennsylvania, which charged $35 per ton. At that time, the Council and Mayor decided to support Frederick County.

O’Neil: Requested that Mr. Haller expound on Key Sanitation. He was familiar with Waste Management.

Haller: They service all of Mt. Airy, Brunswick, Middletown and other surrounding towns.

Commissioner Walbrecker expressed concern that perhaps more research should be done before a decision could be reached on the contract and asked if a decision is required tonight. Commissioner O’Neil responded that this was a time to ask questions and gather information. Opinions and comments are best suited during a discussion following a motion and a second. Then he asked for a motion.

MOTION: To accept the basic contract proposed by Key Sanitation. VOTE: 3-1 in favor of the motion. Commissioner Walbrecker opposed.

Haller: The next question to address was whether or not the Board prefers to have a one-or two-year duration for the contract. Suggested that while the second-year increase is very small, Key may not be willing to haul to Pennsylvania. A one-year contract would allow the Board time to reassess the contract. He was unsure if the second year was optional or mandatory. However, it could still be approved as optional.

MOTION: To approve the one-year contract with Key Sanitation with an option for a second year. VOTE: 4-0 in favor of the motion.

Haller: Regarding bulk pick up mentioned by the Mayor, Key would perform a similar service as the Town has had in previous years—twice yearly which includes Christmas tree pickup and is done by the County.

Mayor: Recommended accepting a one-year contract without bulk rate. It will allow the Board to find out if the County will provide bulk pickup or not.

Haller: Proceed with the basic contract. If the County is unable to provide this service, negotiations may begin with either of the firms mentioned tonight.

O’Neil: Requested that Staff contact the County to ascertain their decision regarding the bulk pick up service.

MOTION: To exclude the bulk pick up option from the Key Sanitation contract. VOTE: 4-0 in favor of the motion.

Before addressing the next agenda item, Commissioner O’Neil noted the lack of copies of the Agenda supplemental available to the general public during Town Meetings. In the future, Commissioner O’Neil requested that all materials that are being considered by the Board should be posted on a bulletin board in the back of the meeting room and also posted on the Town’s website. Mr. Lucas was in agreement with the overall idea but, in regard to the Planning & Zoning Commissioners, he recommended that care should be taken to ensure that materials posted on the Internet be received by the committee members either before the posting or simultaneously with the posting. With the exclusion of sensitive materials regarding bidding and employment information, the consensus was that the public has the right to have access to complete and accurate information concerning the Board’s actions.


Haller: Requested that the Board approve an ordinance to borrow $600,000 for Little Run Sewer Line Rehabilitation at the subsidized rate through MDE. The Ordinance will allow the Town to borrow up to $600,000 at an interest rate of approximately 1.2% for the project, depending on the current rate. Earlier projections indicated the costs of this project would be approximately $300,000. However, Staff learned this project was more costly than previously envisioned.

The approval by the Commissioners in the form of an Ordinance is a formality, part of the process required by MDE in order for them to reserve the funds for their next bonding process. Mr. Haller also informed the Board that the first bids for this project were rejected. The rebids have been advertised and Staff is waiting for the offers.

Public Comments:

Catherine Forrence: 404 West Main Street – In 2002, the Town borrowed $500,000 with $350,000 allocated to the Mountainview Road Water Replacement and $250,000 for the sewer system at a rate of 1.1%. Why is the town thinking about borrowing another $600,000 without the rebids?

Haller: Explained this is the process required by MDE for subsidized money–they want the Board’s commitment now. He had no knowledge of the Town borrowing $500,000. Perhaps it was discussed but it didn't happen. This ordinance tonight will give the Town the ability to borrow but not necessarily committed to borrowing the entire amount. It only makes it available to the Town to use it.

Ms. Forrence: Responding to Mr. Haller, Ms. Forrence stated she got the information regarding the $500,000 from the Town Meeting minutes. The $500,000 was passed by another group of Commissioners to borrow that money.

Haller: He was unfamiliar with that and stated it wasn't borrowed.

Ms. Forrence: She understood it wasn't borrowed because you can't get the money until the work is actually done.

Haller: Reiterated that the Town did not need to borrow the entire amount. However, any remaining balance of these funds could not be diverted to another project. That would require a separate application and process.

O’Neil: Expressed desire to obtain a comprehensive inventory of damaged sewer lines, to analyze what the system will really need to operate properly. He requested to meet with Staff to review what is needed so that funds can be pursued in a number of ways to assist the town in completing these projects.

Haller: Concurred that it would be a good idea to name two or three target sites. It is his belief that the number of targets will greatly exceed the Town's ability to borrow money. Planning is advisable.

MOTION: To accept Ordinance 2004-02R to borrow $600,000 for the repair of the Little Run Sewer Line. VOTE: 4-0 in favor of the motion.


Since the original Agenda was switched, Commissioner Walbrecker requested an opportunity to mention a couple of things that she had planned on saying during Commissioner Comments. Commissioner O’Neil had heard another agenda item might be added regarding the Willow Rill. Mr. Haller responded, "Not that I know of… this matter." What were given to the Board were copies of the draft CIP Budget, the draft General Fund and Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund. Regarding the Budget, Mr. Haller suggested that the Commissioners schedule a budget workshop in the near future. However, Staff was not aware of a special addition to the agenda.

O’Neil: Commissioner Walbrecker was offered the opportunity to make her comments before proceeding to Public Comments.

Walbrecker: The Parks and Recreation Committee is working to orchestrate two pool parties the first one being set June 19, 2004. She inquired if any special action or approval is needed from the Board of Commissioners before proceeding with these plans. Their research shows there is money in the budget for these parties: Out of the current budget of $1,800, $400 would be needed for the first party and $300 for the second. These events will also be covered by donations from the Emmitsburg Coalition to Prevent Substance Abuse and by local citizens and businesses.

Mayor: Expressed concerns regarding the intentions of the parties, liability issues for the Town, that the money was actually in the budget and also that the weather around the time of the first party date would be warm enough for people to enjoy the pool.

Walbrecker: The first party was planned right after school to kickoff the summer season for teens and young adults.

Mr. Haller: Suggested that this issue be presented as an action item at this month’s meeting at which time it can debated, Staff could get confirmation that funds are in the budget, everyone would have a chance to ponder question, determine their position and decide that evening.

Walbrecker: The Emmitsburg Coalition to Prevent Substance Abuse had as a guest speaker, Scott Rolley, who spoke about Drug Corps, a very exciting program which is coming to Frederick County starting in November or December 2004 -- recommended the Board consider possibly sending an official representative from the Board to work with the group in Frederick County-- will answer questions later if need be.


Sister Carol Durkin: Asked for Council approval for the Riparian buffer along Willow Rill. She stated that all requirements requested by Council have now been met. They changed tall grasses to wildflowers. Their application for a 2nd grant has been accepted and approved. With the amendment passed, they thought they had the approval to move forward. The amendment was passed June 3, 2003. The amendment was never received and was requested last week. At that time, it was learned that they needed to seek approval from the Council to move forward with the Riparian buffer.

MOTION: To approve the completion of the Riparian Buffer as requested. VOTE: 4-0 in favor of the motion.

Chris Staiger: For the last several months, there has been a lot of discussion over the role of the Alternate on the Planning Commission. He asked that the Alternate be allowed to participate in all debate even if all the Commissioners are present. The previous council did not see it that way and made a motion to limit the Alternate’s participation. He requested that this Council revisit this issue and make a further determination to help guide him as Chairman of the Commission.

O’Neil: Has done some research and discussed Article 66.b. with a number of attorneys on the matter. He was told by everyone he questioned that once the Commissioners make their appointment, it's up to the Planning and Zoning Committee how to determine how it runs its business. Commissioner O’Neil compared the function of the Alternate P&Z member to the function of an alternate juror--party to the discussions and hearing all information, able to ask questions of their colleagues and taking information in such time and in case one of the members is not present, therefore, able to render a judicious opinion. He supported Mr. Staiger’s position and requested comments from the other Commissioners.

Walbrecker: 100% in support of this petitioner's request.

Lucas: Originally agreed with Mr. Staiger, that it should be a decision within the discretion of the Planning Commission under Article 66.b. He encouraged the Board to look at an opinion that he received from Staff's Attorney who says this is not the case.

O’Neil: Requested the opinion to be produced immediately for the Board. When Mr. Lucas returned with the letter dated March 26, 2004 from the Town Attorney, Commissioner O’Neil proceeded to read the passages pertaining to the issue in question.

Lucas: As far as doing research in terms of case law or seeking Attorney General’s opinion, that is something that is customarily referred to Mr. Clapp. As someone who is responsible for the Town’s codes and enforcing these codes, Mr. Lucas felt it's most important to be on point with the law. He suggested that he draft a letter on Town letterhead with the Mayor’s signature requesting information from Maryland Municipal League rather than Staff doing it.

The Commissioners and the Mayor all agreed with this action.

Public Comment:

Lisa Elder, Silver Spring – concerned about the cost of consultation with an attorney and obviously the Maryland Municipal League doesn't charge for their services. Suggested sending a letter to the Attorney General’s Office, which is supported by taxpayers and more cost effective rather than consulting with an attorney.

Mayor: Agreed with Commissioner O’Neil comments about the order of the Board, that one person at a time should speak out. Also allowing information to be made available to the public is good idea. His only concern is that, although the Riparian buffer issue is a good motion, this Board acted and made a vote on an item that was not part of the Agenda -- an item this Board had not reviewed at all. In fairness to keep the public properly informed, the Board should not be making final decisions on non-agenda items.

O’Neil: Felt the Mayor's point was well taken, however, the Riparian Buffer action was borne out of frustration more than anything. This Board is able to pass annexations within a week or two and the Sister have waited two years for this decision. It seemed the Sisters had made the changes that had met with Department of Natural Resources' approval and they had received two grants.

Mayor: Reiterated his point: he is opposed to a process that allows the Board to take on non-agenda items and make then make final decisions on those items.

O’Neil: Agreed with the Mayor but stated he doesn't like to waste time. He thanked the Mayor for his points.