Council Meeting Highlights, August 22, 2023
The Talbot County Council held their regular meeting on August 22nd at 5 p.m.; all Council members were present.
Proclamation: National Preparedness Month
Brian LeCates, Director of Emergency Services and Geneva Schaffle, Division Chief, Emergency Management, accepted a proclamation recognizing September as National Preparedness Month. The proclamation encourages Americans to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and schools, and aims to increase public awareness concerning the importance of preparing for emergencies.
“We are approaching hurricane season, and this week has been very active, so we thought it was a great time to remind the community the importance of preparedness,” mentioned Schaffle. “Our county works really hard with all of our stakeholders to prepare all year long…but there are a couple of things people can do to be prepared.”
The Department of Emergency Services (DES) reminds citizens to visit ready.gov for a list of resources related to manmade and natural hazards, to sign up for weather and other local emergency alerts at talbotalerts.com, and to check out the DES website for preparedness materials.
In addition, Planning and Zoning maintains the Community Rating System (CRS), which provides residents discount premium insurance rates on flood insurance. “This is also the time to pull out your insurance policies, know what is in your insurance policy and make sure you are prepared for our storm season as we come to a peak here in September,” said Schaffle.
DES will also host a seven-week Community Disaster Response Course. Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) provides basic emergency response training, preparedness education, and strategies to help you and your community become more resilient in the event of a disaster. Schaffle noted that there are three spots left in the upcoming course.
“An informed community is a strong community,” said Clay Stamp, County Manager. “The key is to connect with Emergency Services today, on a sunny day, so that when the storm clouds come in, you are connected and get timely information and we can respond to help.”
Presentation and Request by “Elgin’s Army”
On August 18, 2021, Elgin Hawley was at Easton High School field hockey tryouts when she suffered a rare medical emergency, a ruptured aneurysm, forever altering her life. During her presentation to the Council, Elgin described her experience in detail, explaining her challenges and successes in the recovery process.
In May 2023, Elgin qualified for the Make a Wish Foundation. With a little brainstorming of her own, along with her parents, she decided to make her wish a turf field for Easton High School.
“I thought the aneurysm had only given me pain and hurt, but it gave me something else: a new perspective,” said Elgin during her speech. “As a goalkeeper, I was just there to block shots. But now, I see I am part of the bigger picture. I was destined to do something greater than myself. My friends, my teammates, deserve something more than a simple thank you.”
Jen Hawley, Elgin’s mother, also spoke to the Council about Elgin’s character and her wish to secure a turf field. “The motivation behind Elgin’s wish completely lies in her love for sport, her fellow athletes, and the recognition that to be competitive within our region, we need to practice and play on turf,” mentioned Hawley. “The truth is, the state of our fields does not allow for extra playing time, nor to have the ability to host regional tournament games, etc.”
Hawley mentioned that other counties on the Eastern Shore have installed turf fields, such as Queen Anne’s County, and asked the Council if they could follow a similar model to secure funding and support.
“Elgin, first thank you, for sharing your story again, and continuing that [with the public]. It’s courageous,” noted Council Member Dave Stepp. “This would come across [our desk] for Fiscal Year 2025, and I hope that TCPS brings this to us, which I know I will be in full support of. I couldn’t agree more with everything you said about where [this project] would put us as an athletic program in Talbot County…it will be nothing but a great thing for Talbot County, and you will have my full support when it comes time.”
Reconsideration of Decision Regarding MDE Letters
Council Member Lynn Mielke brought forth a motion to reconsider the Council’s decision made during their August 8, 2023 meeting, regarding how to proceed with the requests from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) set forth in its July 21, 2023, correspondence with the County pertaining to the water and sewer maps for the Town of Trappe and the EDUs for each phase of the Lakeside Development.
In the last Council meeting, the Council agreed to include the changes requested by MDE in the draft Report of the Review. That decision was reconsidered with support from Mr. Lesher, Ms. Mielke, and Ms. Haythe.
The Council then considered a motion by Mr. Lesher to address MDE’s requests in standalone resolutions rather than as part of the draft 2023 Report of the Review. The vote for that decision was 3-2, with President Callahan and Council Member Stepp dissenting. The resolutions are intended to be formally introduced at the next Council meeting on September 12, 2023.
- A public hearing was held for St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP)’s FY24 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Project. The original request for $465,000 in FY24 CDBG funding to expand the SVDP facility located at 29533 Canvasback Drive in Easton has been approved. After consulting with various engineering firms, SVDP is increasing the addition from 1,920 square feet to 2,400 square feet and enlarging the parking lot. The County will be requesting an additional $160,000 in CDBG funds for this modification.
- Kevin Shafer, Director of Operations for Talbot County Public Schools, and representatives from Whiting-Turner and Hord, Coplan and Macht provided an update on the schematic design for the Chapel District Elementary School renovation and addition project.
The current Chapel District Elementary School was built in 1952, with renovations in 1994, and additions in 2000 and 2001. The project scope includes a full renovation with design capacity for 431 students, and building additions that include additional pre-K classrooms, larger kindergarten classrooms, expanded space for Critchlow-Adkins Children’s Center, additional special needs space, and expanded Mechanical Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) spaces. The project also includes site improvements.
The project estimate is currently set at $22,130,000. Shafer requested a letter of support to submit the schematic design to the State. The Council approved the request unanimously.
- A bill to amend Chapter 11, Alcoholic Beverages, of the Talbot County Code was introduced by Callahan, Stepp, and Haythe as Bill No. 1547. The proposed amendments are being requested by Blue Point Hospitality to allow for expanded hours and seating in the Ward Room and if approved, will apply to all Class 1 alcohol dispensary bistros license holders. The public hearing will be held on Tuesday, September 12th at 5:30 p.m.
- Council unanimously approved Bill No. 1545, with one amendment. Amendment #1, which was unanimously approved, provides that an application for review of the Short Term Rental Review Board’s issuance of a new short-term rental license stays the effectiveness of the license pending the Board of Appeals’ decision.
Amendment #2, which failed by a 1-4 vote with only Mielke voting in favor, provides that the Board of Appeals must engage an attorney not affiliated with the County’s Office of Law in the event of an appeal concerning a decision of the Planning Commission or the Short Term Rental Review Board where an attorney affiliated with the Office of Law represented the Planning Commission or the Short Term Rental Review Board in the decision being appealed.
- The County Manager presented the following board nominations for the Council’s consideration:
- Economic Development Commission – Council approved the appointment of David Montgomery as the Town of Easton’s representative on the Economic Development Commission. The vote was 4-1, with Haythe dissenting.
- Parks and Recreation Advisory Board – Council unanimously approved the reappointment of Tom Klein as the Town of Easton’s representative on the Talbot County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
- Talbot County Tourism Board – County unanimously approved the appointment of Maureen Curry as the Town of Easton’s representative on the Tourism Board.
- Department of Parks and Recreation requested support to manage the installation of fencing at the County owned Perry Cabin Park located in St. Michaels, Maryland. The Town of St. Michaels received grant funding for the project, which will be reimbursed to the County upon completion of the project. The request was unanimously approved.
- Department of Emergency Services requested procurement of 18 public safety mobile radios at the cost of $78,300.16. Funding for the procurement will be provided by the 2020 State Homeland Security Program Grant; no County dollars are required. The request was unanimously approved.
The Council’s next legislative meeting will be held on September 12, 2023 beginning at 5:00 p.m. in the Bradley Meeting Room located in the South Wing, Talbot County Courthouse, 11 North Washington Street, Easton. The meeting open to the public.Return
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