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

Town Meeting Minutes
Emmitsburg Town Office
 September 13, 2004

Korean Veterans Chapter present 2 pictures (and to other towns) to town and veterans on behalf of chapter 142 of Frederick County. Pictures of this presentation were taken.

Town Manager's Report

Reported on the public works department monthly activities to include a water production and consumption analysis. He reported on the completion of the old water storage tank rehab and announced the employment of a water/wastewater operator trainee. August meetings were synopsized. Walbrecker inquired regarding a modification of the contract in reference to the blasting.

Town Planner Report

Summarized the planning and zoning August department activity. Twenty-seven permits were issued to include 16 new homes (but denied). He also enumerated the parking violation statistics. August meetings were summarized to include attendance of zoning staff to a Smart Codes Seminar conducted by the State. Commissioner O'Neil congratulated the department in regards to their success in obtaining funds.

Commissioner Comments

Commissioner Rosensteel expressed thanks to NETC for the tour of their state-of-the-art facility. Received 2 calls from Pembrook Woods and inquired if parking situation has been resolved. She also would like to get input from the citizens of the Town as to what they would like to see in the park next summer. Commissioner Walbrecker announced that the Carroll Valley residential sprinkler requirement meeting will be held September 14. The planning and zoning meeting will be held on September 27. The NETC visit was very successful. Regarding the September 10 meeting, it would have been a good idea to speak with the BOA regarding their action. She has since spoken with Mr. Rosensteel who said he was not notified and should have been here to represent the BOA. Commissioner O'Neil wanted to thank Commissioner Walbrecker for organizing the NETC visit. He stated that he was quite amazed by their facilities and looking forward to an extended relationship with them. He added as to the BOA matter - that whether or not they were notified - that aside, it would behoove them to attend meetings that relate to matters that come before them, and look forward to their presence and comments this evening.

Mayor Comments

There is possibly some assistance available through MES, also some assistance being applied for the walking path. Pat Feeser is working on these. Emergency preparedness class to be held here September 23 but is limited to 15 residents per class. He is part of the planning committee for the Fallen Fighters committee and this year the "red helmet ride" will go through Town; it is very similar to the toys for tots drive. The BOA found in favor of Appletree Homes. He did not agree with the decision to refer the matter to the circuit court. He announced that he has vetoed that order. The Board is invited to revisit the matter.


Committees - Commissioner Walbrecker reported that the Planning and Zoning Commission discussed free standing signs in village zones, moderate-price development ordinance, on-street parking in Pembrook Woods, and comprehensive plan outreach. There was no Streets & Transportation Committee or Water Committee meetings scheduled for August. Commissioner Joyce Rosensteel stated that the Parks Committee met August 17 and discussion centered on increasing attendance and getting information out better. They also discussed the possibility of doing a Mason-Dixon revisiting and hope to plan tours and hikes. Mr. O'Neil asked Mr. Haller, "In light of trying to increase attendance, could the concerts be taped and aired on channel 99?" Management and Mrs. Rosensteel agreed. Commissioner Walbrecker reported that a free movie was presented in Baker Park and suggested that perhaps it could be considered here. Mr. O'Neil mentioned that he would be seeking a legal opinion as to whether tickets can be issued on streets that have not yet been formally accepted. Walbrecker stated that she understood that no tickets were issued to which O'Neil refuted that perhaps tickets were lost that he knows tickets were issued. He stated that he supplied copies of those tickets to the Dispatch.  Mayor Hoover expressed his concern that the planning and zoning board have not considered the issue of the moderately priced housing development. 

Commissioner O'Neil, responding to the Mayor's memorandum/veto of the Board action, stated that he was concerned with such brevity (reportedly approximately 8 minutes) of the BOA's action. He queried Mr. Haller if any detailed findings been reviewed yet to which Mr. Haller responded that he has not seen any detailed findings. Mr. Lucas relayed that the Minutes are on tape, not sure if they have been transcribed at this point. Mr. O'Neil stated finding a fact is more than Minutes review. Mr. Lucas stated that he did not receive any official notice from the Board of Appeals of how they arrived at their decision. Mr. O'Neil said since we have a member of the BOA here, he would like to give Chairman Rosensteel the opportunity to speak. Commissioner Walbrecker elucidated that in response to their statement that they haven't received any detail description, the Board of Appeals were not asked to provide any statement of reasoning. Commissioner O'Neil stated it would be helpful. Commissioner Walbrecker responded that they did review the state law and that her interpretation is that a BOA may hear and decide appeals but did not find the requirement to state the reasons. President O'Neil replied what really matters is the legal opinions. Mr. O'Neil to Mr. Clapp: is there anything you would like to say? Mr. Clapp: when the Board of Appeals makes a decision they're supposed to render findings with regards to the factual disputes that are before them, and also give their conclusions as to the legal basis as to why they're making the decision. It gives the public the opportunity to understand why the Board made their decision, but it also gives the appellate court an understanding what the Board did so they can decide if the BOA made any findings in error. Mr. O'Neil asked Mr. Clapp what his opinion was of the BOA findings. Mr. Clapp gave a brief statement of what he viewed the situation to be. Commissioner Walbrecker clarified that Mr. Clapp viewed there were not enough finding of facts. There was a discussion on how the circuit court works in regards to finding of facts. With advice from Attorney Clapp the Board opted not to hear BOA Chairman Rosensteel.

Mr. O'Neil commented that it is his understanding that if this matter were brought before the circuit court, the court can remand it back to the BOA in Emmitsburg for further consideration. Mr. Clapp responded that the circuit court would have the option to dismiss the appeal, affirm the BOA, reverse the BOA, or remand the case to the BOA for further decision. Commissioner O'Neil feels that it would be best if this matter be brought to the circuit court. Motion: to override the Mayor's veto and allow the Board to file an appeal in circuit court. Motion made by Commissioner O'Neil, seconded by Commissioner Elder.

Discussion on Motion: Commissioner Walbrecker will not vote for overriding the Mayor's veto on this action, strongly encourages the Board to reconsider this. She trusts the BOA judgment and their ability to find a finding even if it wasn't expressed in public. Commissioner O'Neil feels there needs to be sufficient documentation and a finding of fact on record.

Called the question those in favor of overriding the Mayor's veto. Vote: 2-1-1 Commissioner Rosensteel abstained, Commissioner Walbrecker opposed, motion failed.

Agenda Items:

Ordinance 2.04.02 "Organization of Commissioners

Mr.Haller reported that this is related to earlier conversations to hold 2 regular monthly meetings, making a short portion of each of those the agenda scheduling for the following meeting. Mayor Hoover added that by ordinance the meeting is required on the first Monday of the month, when there is a holiday on a Monday it puts it back a week and so recommended if it is a holiday to make the meeting on a Tuesday. It was also brought up to have two regular monthly meetings. All this can be tied together and have the meetings on the 1st and 3rd Monday as discussed before. Commissioner O'Neil agreed and presented the proposal for the meetings. Mr. Haller commented that staff supports having the meeting the following day when a holiday falls on a Monday instead of waiting. Motion: To draft an ordinance that outlines that the Town Meetings will occur on the 1st and 3rd Mondays and, in the event a holiday occurs, it would go from the 3rd Monday to the 3rd Wednesday and in the case of the 1st Monday it would go to the following Tuesday. The motion was made by Commissioner O'Neil and seconded by Commissioner Walbrecker. Vote: 4-0 in favor of the motion.

Public Comment: Patrick Boyle: glad to see it changed to 2 times a month instead of the Workshop. Workshop was really a Town meeting and not a workshop. Need to follow ordinance regarding policy.

At this time agenda item #11 moved up with no objection.

Silo Hill Carwash/MDE - discussion

Mr. Lucas: came to Town's attention when COPE requested that certain actions be taken against them for excessive noise. COPE is asking for limited hours, provide attendant and removal of sign on route 15. Provided copy of title 26. Mr. Lucas stated that MDE reported minor violations at the carwash with regards to noise level. The principal source of the violation noted in the report was the automated carwash dryer. Since receiving notice of this violation the owner has retrofitted for the door to remain closed during the drying process. There are currently no noise ordinance in the Town code that would give the Town any enforcement authority over this matter.

The sign on highway 15 is in compliance with size requirements for the B2 zone and the owners have secured a sign permit for the sign. The Town currently has no regulation to limit the business hours of the carwash or require to provide an attendant. When the carwashes site plan was approved and inspected by the Town it is noted on the plan that the applicant was to provide a sufficient buffer of trees, found that density is insufficient for the original site plan requirements. Commissioner O'Neil stated that if it does not meet Town approval, it is not something to be discussed, it should be complied. Commissioner Walbrecker asked if the buffer was for noise or visual quality. Mr. Lucas did not know. Mr. O'Neil had an understanding that the gas station was not allowed to be open 24/7 for reasons of sound abatement. Mr. Lucas stated that it may have been done voluntary, it is not part of the Town ordinance. Mayor Hoover interjected that the gas station operates 24 hour service with the pumps. Mayor Hoover asked if the site plan required it, Mr. Lucas did not know but he would have to go back and check the record. Mr. O'Neil feels that would be a good thing to check on. He also reported that a lot of the noise from the carwash is not the operation as much as the loitering and noise from the "big boom boxes" and that noise goes on as long as the business is open. He presented a suggestion that another carwash did with a similar problem, they constructed a earthen wall using timbers and pines which solved the problem. He stated that he mentioned this in the past hoping that it might be a requirement but it wasn't but maybe in the future. The Mayor stated that the residential developer should have also provided a buffer.

Commissioner Walbrecker expressed her concern, this is a group that is complaining, this is a letter to Mayor Hoover from COPE Inc. Apparently this is the second time MDE has been called in to investigate the carwash. She feels the letter is a little inflammatory ,concerned that the Town is spending a lot of time on these issues. She does believe there are some ways to abate the noise and MDE has suggested a couple things.

Public Comments: Nick Mullinix, 10 Robindale Dr.: when he sits on his deck you cannot hear someone 10ft away from you talking when the dryer from the carwash is going. Apparently that issued has been addressed, but it is not the only issue. The noise from the patrons, at times, even more of a problem. After 10 p.m. you can hear the beepers to put more money in the machines that actually sounds like a smoke alarm going off, even with the windows closed. He feels something needs to be done. Commissioner Walbrecker: lives on Main Street, gets awaken many times. What other steps were taken before contacting MDE? Mr. Mullinix was unable to answer on complaint. Mr. Harold Craig, 103 W. Main St.: not present.

Catherine Forrence, 404 W. Main: gave demonstration of decibel meter reading, expressed her views on behalf of COPE. She commented on Section 17 of the Code, B-2 General Business District, and Ordinance 9.04.010; Disturbing the Peace.

Betsey Forrence, 17247 Annandale: explained the difference of a decibel levels. Believes the Town could have a noise ordinance. She said when the homeowners in Silo Hill bought their properties the B-2 district did not include a carwash as a permitted use, it was added last year 2003. Feels things need to be done to abate the noise.

Carl Athey, 345 Hospital Rd, Gettysburg, Representing the Carwash: He grew up in Frederick County and understands the quietness of Frederick County. We were never contacted by the complainant. First contacted by MDE, he stated it was not his intention to cause problems for any of the neighbors. There are three others homes directly against that property, and this is the only complainant. He also found it interesting that COPE took this issue to the Board and never addressed that one of its members owns a carwash that they have never done noise testing on. He stated that he told MDE that he would love to talk with the complainant and discuss her concerns. We are local business people and invite any input from their neighbors. First concern, was this council going to enforce this, children playing will exceed the noise limit. Asking for reasonableness. Another topic, they also have another business that they were considering moving to Emmitsburg. After finding the power of the COPE organization of Emmitsburg, we are hesitant to move our business to Emmitsburg. They are good neighbors and have done repairs for the Town and doesn't understand why they have become a target of COPE, when all they had to do was talk to us. They are in compliance with MDE and what they found at the carwash. Commissioner O'Neil noted that citizens have the right to bring matters to their Commissioners and that is why this is on the agenda today.

Kirby Delauter, 109 Parklane, Thurmont, MD: Thanked Commissioner Walbrecker that she is willing to look at both sides of the issue. Believes it is unfair to try to limit a businesses hours. Second time contacted by MDE. Harassment is a strong word, but can't think of anything else. Anybody could have come and talked with them, as stated before, they are good neighbors. He stated Mrs. Forrence was incorrect about the lighting, the lighting was addressed and studies were done and approved. COPE also brought up in the letter that because of the carwash there would be increase traffic, increased pedestrian safety issues, and they would use all the Towns water resources, all of this is false. They recycle 90% of the water, there is no increase traffic, no increase safety issues for pedestrians. He is concerned that with 2 members of COPE on the Board, he doesn't know if he wants to move his other business to Emmitsburg. They have helped out the Town, Mother Seton School, and like Emmitsburg, but with COPE in charge he don't think it would be worth it to move his business here. At this time Commissioner O'Neil interjected to explain Roberts Rules of Orders, Commissioner Walbrecker read a quote that Robert's Rules were to be used to ensure fair discussion and were not intended to be applied so strictly that they stifled fair discussion. President O'Neil said he will give anyone named eight minutes to speak, Mr. Delauter continued his comments; good move by COPE to get on the council, his fear is that they will start using taxpayer money to harass businesses. Anybody with an open mind can see what's going on here. Thanked the Mayor, Commissioner Rosensteel, Commissioner Walbrecker for attempting to have an open mind about this issue. Lisa Elder; business owner of 107 S Seton Ave.; and Catherine Forrence spoke in rebuttal in regards to Mr. Delauter's comments. Commissioner Walbrecker responded to a comment that was made by Lisa Elder, stated she actually fought against the carwash in a B-2 district. Patrick Boyle; commented that the noise issue was brought up 3-4 years ago before the Board and the Town has looked into the noise ordinance. Whatever rules and regulations you put on this carwash will have to be put on the other carwash as well. Everybody in Town has noise, need to learn to live with it. Commissioner Elder stated to Mr. Boyle that people would understand about carwashes before they speak. Commissioner O'Neil stated that he spoke with the Town attorney in regards to when a member had to recuse himself. The member only has to recuse himself when he stands to make direct financial benefit. This issue is not about siding one business against another, this is about fairness. This is what the Town government is for and gives the people an opportunity to speak. Mayor Hoover stated that his concern is that the complaint came from one person which went to the State and was being handled by the State, this issue was brought to the Board not from the complainant but as Mrs. Walbrecker said another organization, and it should not have come to the Town at this point. The Town should allow it to follow through the State process. The agenda item was for public comment not council comment.

Resolution 2004-08 - to approve the 8th Amended and Restated Trust Agreement for LGIT 

Mr. Haller reported this is related to LGIT insurance trust of which the Town is a member as well has many municipalities. Every time they adjust their scope of services, the Town has to enter a resolution of participation, we're signing on that we understand that they are not carrying health and medical insurance and still what to be part of it. Motion: To approve Resolution 2004-08R. Motion approved under unanimous consent.

Ordinances 04-11, 04-12, 04-13 Amending Resident Qualifications for Streets, Water and Parks Committees, respectively 

Mr. Haller commented "en bloc" to allow one non resident to (not mandated) serve on the committees. Commissioner Walbrecker clarified that she suggested the water committee could have a non-resident member but wanted that person to be served by town water.

Public Comment:  Patrick Boyle, East Main Street - Is it mandatory? He would still like it to be a resident, someone who lives in the Town. With all the incoming residents, should be enough residents. Should define the area where this non resident lives. Mayor Hoover stated his concern on the language of the ordinance for the Parks Committee. Commissioner Walbrecker recalled that her original proposal was for the person to live within the 21727 area, how did the rest of the Board feel. They did not agree with that proposal.

Motion: to approve ordinance 04-11 amends resident qualification for streets committee; ordinance 04-12 amends resident qualifications for water committee as written to allow one non-member resident member to be adopted.  Vote: 4-0 in favor

Motion: to approve ordinance 04-13 Amends resident qualifications for Parks Committee to allow one non-resident member to be adopted, with the amendment of dropping the phrase "at least seven members must be a resident of the Town of Emmitsburg".   Vote: 4-0 in favor 

Employee Handbook Review  

Mayor Hoover reported what he was looking at is the Town of Emmitsburg Employee handbook versus the Town of Emmitsburg Town Code related to employee status, particularly what is a probationary period for new Town employee. In the code it says 6 months, in the employee handbook is says 3 months. This reflects when an employee would be eligible for a step increase and July 1 COLA increase. Would like to get with staff and prepare these housecleaning to Board in November. Commissioner O'Neil stated he likes the proposed changes in regards to personal leave and vacations and is surprised that the Town only has a 457k plan and not a pension plan. Donna reported that she does have information on a pension plan. Commissioner Walbrecker commented that she would still like to see a standard operating procedure for jobs.

Vandalism and Public Safety 

Commissioner O'Neil spoke with Sharon Hane and Jen Staiger and the both said that the police patrols have increased and with the onset of school it has died down a bit. They have asked that police patrol would pick up in the summer. Deputy Eyler commented that patrols have increased a bit and continuously increasing, have no personal knowledge of any vandalism. No calls, encourage to call, even if no report is necessary, it may relate to some other matter. A resident of Pembrook Woods asked what were the issues. Mr. O'Neil stated there were a number of issues which included loitering and late night noise.

Appointment to the Streets Committee

Mayor Hoover reported these are reappointments; Mary Topper and Larry Pavek are recommended for another two year term and Catherine Forrence as a new member. They are all in Town residents. Motion to approve as nominated by Mayor Hoover passed by unanimous consent.

Comprehensive Plan to Ordinance - discussion

Mr. Lucas received a letter from COPE Inc. requesting that the Town consider placing a special emphasis on getting current ordinances to reflect the objections of the comprehensive plan. Staff is currently looking at MPDU's and APFO's have been mentioned. In addition staff is trying to update the comprehensive plan as well as carry out daily duties. Once the Comprehensive plan is updated, then the ordinances and subdivision regulations can be looked at. Need to focus on plan then look at those regulations and try to get them updated. Comprehensive rewrite of zoning ordinance can often take a year, sometimes two years. When doing a comprehensive rewrite it needs to be done right. Would like to really focus on the "village zone", the comprehensive plan calls for replicating the type of development that's been the historic pattern in Emmitsburg. Often regulations do not promote that type of development outside of the village zone. As the Town expands it will try and replicate how the Town has been designed in the past.

Commissioner Walbrecker in response to this issue being brought up by COPE, she did some research on the web, and contacted Larry Smith from Frederick County Government, there was a planning process called "citizens zoning review panel" and they worked with the planning department providing input from taking the comprehensive plan and suggesting ordinance changes. She asked Mr. Lucas he was aware of anything about that? Mr. Lucas responded that he was not aware, but believes that is why the Town has a planning and zoning commission. Generally don't favor those outside. Mr. O'Neil stated that he provided an APFO draft to Mr. Lucas, also just finished writing an annual growth plan. Mr. Lucas said staff is anxious to have the regulations reflect what the citizens of the Town want and the way in which they want to see the Town developed. Again, its just a matter of having the time to get these things accomplished. The Comprehensive Plan needs to be updated first. Commissioner O'Neil feels the number one thing that he feels the Towns is going to continue to hear about in the future are items related to recreation. That is one of the things an APFO can do. Mr. Haller in support of Mr. Lucas stated our staff is stretched paper thin. The Town doesn't go a week without some reactionary issue that must be immediately dealt with. Mayor Hoover commented that the Town gets a lot of complaints that take staff time as well as his time. Mr. Lucas also interjected that planning and zoning complaints have increased in the last 6-8 months which require a lot of citizen contact and followup. Commissioner Walbrecker interjected that the Board needs to get on with strategic planning or else they will be spending the whole time putting out fires and dealing with the same issues again and again.

General Public Comments - none

At this time Mayor Hoover questioned in regard to staff proposing a text amendment for upcoming meetings, is the Board looking for the hours to be in the text. Mr. O'Neil responded no, he would rather leave it flexible.