Chesapeake Byways picks East New Market for Rosata mural

MD-enm meeting 2x-071515

Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
“In recognition of long and exemplary service rendered as an elected official in a member municipality” the Maryland Municipal League inducted East New Market Mayor Caroline Cline into the Maryland Municipal League’s Hall of Fame.

EAST NEW MARKET — Dorchester County Director of Tourism Amanda Fenstermaker was first on the agenda at the July 14 East New Market town meeting. The department’s Chesapeake Byways project uses murals in selected locations to “display a unique historical snapshot of the local area to engage travelers along the byway and enhance their appreciation of unique qualities of Chesapeake Country.” The murals include themes of agriculture, local/national history, natural history, and the Chesapeake Bay. A grant from the National Scenic Byway program helps defray costs.

Chosen as a mural site, East New Market’s municipal building will feature the town’s rich history as portrayed by artist Michael Rosato. His concept was reviewed and discussed by the town’s Historic District Commission, represented at the meeting by Chuck Hurley, Nicole Douglas, and Vanessa Sullivan. Mayor Cline said, “I am so happy and pleased that we were chosen as one of the venues for this.” The commission approved the concept and a final decision will be made after suggested changes are made.

Representing GE Solar, a General Electric business unit, Amol Kapur explained that the company develops solar systems and acts as a “business manager or project director.” He proposed building an off-site system for East New Market in Elkton to connect and feed Delmarva Power Company’s grid for a .057¢ a kilowatt hour (kWh) charge.

Billing charges include demand, distribution, and usage. The town currently pays, based on one utility bill, about 12¢/kWh. Mr. Kapur suggested a solar system would save the town about 50 percent on the usage charge and 32 percent on the total bill. A yearly increase of 2.5 percent plus a 20-year contract is recommended. Or, a contract could be based on a fixed rate of 7¢/kWh with no specified time limit. Mr. Kapur said he would like commitments by the end of September. It will take 9-12 months to construct the system.

Mr. Kapur said solar companies profit from tax credits. One is a “sustainable renewable energy tax credit.” Solar companies also rely on income tax credits (ITC) to offset construction costs using a 30 percent reduction in the income taxes a company claiming the credit would otherwise pay the federal government.
It is based on the amount of investment in solar property placed in service before Dec. 31, 2016. After this date the commercial credit will drop to 10 percent and a residential credit will drop to zero unless Congress extends the deadline or changes the “placed in service” component of the law.

Commissioner David Tolley said “We need to see the contract, see exactly what is included, and have the town attorney review it” before a decision is made. Mr. Tolley asked what the penalty would be if the town opts out of a contract. Mr. Kapur responded it would be the “net present value of what we were expecting” or finding another user known as an “off-taker.”

In her fiscal year wrap-up Mayor Cline reported that Phase I of Friendship Park is completed; there were no tax or water/sewer increases; the town office purchased a new computer system; two East New Market historic homes were featured on the state House & Garden Pilgrimage; energy saving lighting was installed in the Municipal Building and the adjacent parking lot was resurfaced; and for the first time a Mayor of East New Market was named to the Maryland Municipal League Hall of Fame.

The walking trail planned for Friendship Park has encountered a bump in the road. Another environmental study has to be done before the trail can be approved. “We thought we had this all covered,” said Ms. Cline. A study was done but the department responsible for approval was “not satisfied with the study. Nothing has changed,” she said, “so it’s a little bit of a puzzle.”

Public comments centered on three major issues: High water bills; speeding in the town limits; and crop dusters. Commissioner Mary Dennard-Turner noted that she has received complaints that the town’s water bills are excessively high. After the meeting ended, three citizens wished to register their complaints regarding water bills as well. Commissioner Tolley noted that the Water/Sewer budget must be self-sustaining. Costs must be paid for with revenue from within that budget.
Transferring effluent to the wastewater treatment plant plus digging new wells to satisfy regulated arsenic limits were higher than revenue.

Speeding has long been an issue for this small town. There are no municipal police officers and the state police and/or sheriff’s departments’ occasional presence only temporarily deters violators. The problem raises safety and security concerns as well. Solutions sought include hiring resident law enforcement officers to monitor town roads part-time, speaking to Sheriff James Phillips, re-examining speed bump possibilities, and conferring with State Highway Administration District Engineer Donnie Drewer.

Several people cited odd hours, noise, “dangerously” low flight paths, and potentially unhealthy emissions as problems with crop dusters. Mayor Cline asked County Councilman Rick Price to see if the county could establish a time frame for airborne spraying operations.

Town officials asked Mr. Price to liaison with the council regarding who is fiscally responsible for mowing grass at homes placed on the county tax sale rolls. Costs to the town would drain the coffers and officials want the county to bear the costs. Mr. Price reported that the issue will be raised at the next County Council meeting on July 21. He suggested that East New Market representatives either attend or send a letter prior to the meeting with their request.

Commissioner Mary Dennard-Turner announced that a Mary Kay cosmetic demonstration is slated for Friendship Park on Aug. 14, 5:30 p.m.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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