Board of County Commissioners' Actions: Commissioners Hold Public Hearings, Approve Contracts

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners Hold Public Hearings, Approve Contracts

In its regular meeting on January 19th, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners held two Public Hearings were on Text Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance.
RZ-09-007 dealt with expedition of non-controversial zoning variances. Buffers or setbacks of less than 20 percent, parking space or aisle widths, some distance requirements, or building height limits would be approved by the Zoning Administrator, and no longer would require public hearings, speeding up the process. No one commented either in favor of or against the amendment, and it was approved by 3-1 vote.
RZ-09-007 dealt with elimination of time requirements on election signs erected on private property. Previous limits had been ruled unconstitutional in federal court cases elsewhere in Maryland. Other portions of the Ordinance would remain, including the provision banning such signs from public rights of way. No one commented either in favor of or against the amendment, and the measure was passed by 4-0 vote.
In other actions, Benjamin Hainke, a Construction Inspector in the Division of Public Works, was honored with a Commissioners Certificate of Merit for his recent graduation from Frostburg State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a grade point average of 3.6. The certificate lauded Hainke for "a notable achievement requiring dedication and perseverance while also performing your full time duties...for the Division of Public Works."
Under Citizens Participation, the Commissioners heard from Lou Thomas, of the Restaurant and Beverage Association, who called previous statements by the County Liquor Board regarding limits on pouring licenses, "a misunderstanding". Commissioner Barr suggested the WCRBA meet with the Liquor Board to discuss the issues. Smithsburg resident Bob Maginnis commented to the Board on energy issues.
Commissioners approved the Bid Award for resurfacing and rehabilitating various federal aid roads in Washington County, to C. William Hetzer of Hagerstown in the amount of $2.05 million. The project is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) administered by the State Highway Administration. Original ARRA funds for the project totaled $2.3 million. Two prioritized lists were presented, with 14 roads in the Priority 1 list, totaling 8.31 miles. The second listing would be completed if funding is available, affecting 4 roads with a total of 2.02 miles.
The Board approved reallocation of $25,000 to the Tri-County Council for use as matching funds for federal grants. The funds had already been allocated to the TCC for a different purpose in FY 2009 but were not spent. The approval came with the stipulation that the funds would be a one-time only allocation.
The Board heard a report from the Director of the Division of Public Works, Joe Kroboth, that a CSX railroad crossing on East Oak Ridge Drive will be repaired in the month of April, necessitating closure of the road. Negotiations have taken place with the railroad with the County's desire to limit the closure to two days, and have the repair take place over a weekend. Freight delivery trucks from several firms and all other traffic on East Oak Ridge Drive would have to be diverted through Funkstown if the closure was longer and occurred during the work week. Kroboth told the Board that the railroad has agreed to modification of its plans after viewing the volume of truck traffic there.
The Board approved a change order to URS Corporation, in the amount of $34,332 and 45 additional days for Eastern Boulevard Widening Phase I engineering services in order to complete the design of Eastern Boulevard widening between Maryland Route 64 (Jefferson Boulevard) and Security Road. The request compensates the consultant for services to be provided beyond the original scope of work. Those services include additional survey, design, and permitting for offsite stormwater management.
The Board heard a report on the list of items to be introduced in the Maryland Legislature by the Local Delegation. The list was compiled by the Commissioners and submitted to the Delegation for review. The resulting draft was presented to the Board for further review.
That list includes a measure to allow Community Action Council's transportation fleet to be part of the County's insurance pool; a measure allowing applicants for Emergency Communications technicians to submit to polygraph tests; removal of an obsolete passage in the code of local laws relating to Aid to Manufactories; raising the amount that the County can contribute to cooperative public improvement projects from $50,000 to $100,000; addition of language giving additional authority and responsibility to the County Attorney's Office; changes to the state mandated salary study process that would remove the State's Attorney position citing salary fixed by elected office, and replacing the defunct Washington County Council of PTA's with the Retired Teachers Association in the list of members to the Salary Study Commission; changes to the process by which the School Design Advisory Committee conducts its work; and addressing several issues within the Forest Conservation Ordinance. A further revised draft will be presented to the Board for review prior to its annual meeting with the Delegation in Annapolis on January 27th.
The Board approved Change Order #79, valued at $210,731.48 for the Courthouse Annex Renovation Project, and approved a budget transfer from the Courthouse Security Improvement Contract to the Courthouse Annex Renovation Project in the amount of $77,000 to cover a budget shortfall.
The Division of Public Works was requested to provide additional information to clarify the presentation on January 12, 2010. During construction of the courthouse renovation a decision was made to modify the contract to include the construction of a separate prisoner transport elevator. Additionally, the secure prisoner entrance ramp required modification due to the presence of underground utilities and insufficient information of the plan sheets to adequately reflect the scope of work needed to complete the ramp.
County staff, architect and Contractor attempted to agree on a change order price to complete these items and after numerous attempts could not come to agreement on the change order value. As such, under the terms and conditions of the contract, the Owner can direct the Contractor to complete the work under a time and materials accounting. The action was taken and the Contractor was paid the amount in which the County believed was reasonable. Under the same terms, if the Contractor documented expenses beyond the value initially awarded by the Owner, he can submit a request for compensation. The Contractor submitted his request on August 31, 2009. The County staff and Architect reviewed the information and concurred with the Contractor's request.