Carroll Report Sykesville

Sykesville: Councilmembers Express Concern in Regard to the Enclave at Parkside Development and it’s Impact on School Populations

Citizen Report: Sykesville Town Council Meeting  August 14, 2023

Public Comment

Sykesville & Patapsco Railroad (S&P) club’s Tom Hay (Vice President) and Wally Thompson (member) provided an update and request for help in repairing stairs to the Pullman car.  The Pullman car and Caboose behind the Post Office are owned by the Town.  The S&P has been in operation since 1996.  Annually, they receive 2-4,000 visitors/year.  In 2022, they received $1450 in donations and $500 in club dues.  These funds have been invested in refurbishing the Pullman and Caboose exteriors. The S&P worked 1000+ volunteer hours. In 2020, volunteers refinished the Pullman exterior and in 2023 are refurbishing the caboose exterior. In Spring 2023, Mark Franz stressed to the Council the urgency repairs needed to the stairs into the car.  It is a matter of public safety.  In addition, the brick sidewalk is uneven and some brick coming up causing a tripping concern.  The S&P provided this update and request for repairs to be sure to keep these issues in the forefront.

New Business

Public Hearing and Determination of Adequate Public Facilities (APF)

This current determination is for the Enclave at Parkside development which is 47-unit townhomes. No one from the public came forward for comment on this APF.  

The Town Planning Commission obtains adequacy certifications from various agencies (Carroll County Board of Education, Public Works, Health Department, Transportation, and Sykesville Police, Public Works, Parks and rec, local fire department and the State Highway Agency) in regard to a developer’s preliminary plan.  The Town Council is tasked with making the final determination of APF. 

Councilmembers expressed concern in regard to the impact of an increase in population, specifically on Piney Ridge Elementary and Sykesville Middle School this development as well as other planned developments could cause. Also the Blueprint will be a great impact on our teachers, students, and schools.  The Council proposed a letter to the BOE and Commissioners be drafted to express the Town’s concerns especially with the lack of control over funding for building/expanding schools.

The CCPS did indicate facilities will be adequate in their certification letter and that an addition to Sykesville Middle School will be able to accommodate the residents in this development.  

The Council approved the APF determination for the Enclave at Parkside development in a 5-2 vote with Mayor Link and Councilmember Guroff opposed.

Town Energy Contract – CQI Associates Energy Co-op 

CQI broker provided a presentation on the proposed new contract as the Town’s current energy contract is set to expire. Outside of the street lights (new LEDs), the Town only uses 108 kw/year which is very low.  CQI explained that the next 3 years are forecasted at 5-6% increase each year for which they provided 3 reasons: the Ukranian war (Putin shutting down the pipeline), the weather (possibly a cold winter), and the economy (the U.S. Presidential election). The lowest risk contract is the 24-month rate at .09376. 

The Mayor asked for an additional “Green” option which was provided to the Council for the first time at this meeting.  The 24-month Freepoint Energy 100% Green contract was given as the best option.  The renewable energy estimate is a little more expensive (under $400) due to the generation of energy from various sources and getting it into the grid.  The rate for this 100% Green option for this 24-month contract is .09676.  The Council approved the Freepoint Energy 100% Green plan in a 6-1 with Councilman Grasley opposed.

Additionally, the Council mentioned they would like to have further discussions in regard to the potential for using green space in Town for a solar array.

Treasurer’s Reports 

Craig Weaver provided reports for June 2023 and July 2023 which is the year end and first month of the Town’s fiscal years.  As of now for FY2022/2023, the revenue exceeds expenses by $263,000.  Still not in are the State Income Tax and Highway User Revenue which is projected to be $150,000 and $45,000, respectively. Expenses were also lower than expected by $95,000.  The Town estimates both revenues and expenses conservatively.  The Townhouse salaries were a little more than expected, as the Town Manager transitions to merit-based salary increases.

The Council is still planning to have a discussion of tax cuts for residents in September 2023 and will be looking to the Treasurer for analysis.  

FY2023/2024 insurance rates have increased which is a countrywide issue.  The Townhouse has had a new telephone system was purchased installed that was to be installed in FY2022/2023 which is now in FY2023/2024.  The Police’s ammunition has been purchased for the year.

Public Safety Report

Lieutenant Shawn Kilgore provided the safety report for the time period July 4-August 7 in which there were 1013 events.  

There have been a rash of thefts Jennifer Way and Village Road of items in unlocked cars as well as catalytic converters.  Due to the plate cams in apartments, the police know that individuals from DC and Virginia scoped out the area and then returned to steal the converters. The thefts were completed within 3 minutes.

On August 2, 2023, both the Police force and Auxiliary participated in the National Night Out.

Auxiliary Police Report 

Three new auxiliary officers have been hired raising the auxiliary to nine on board.  One is entering the Academy soon and the hope is that he will join the Police force upon graduation.  With over 1000 volunteer hours, this is a 50% increase in hours to support the Police.  Training continues to increase.

Secretary Jake Day, Maryland Department of Housing and Development

The mayor provided a briefing on the August 10, 2023 visit from the Secretary of 

Housing and Development.  Main Street benefits from decisions made in regard to grants approved by the Department.  The Mayor and the President of the Downtown Sykesville Connection provided the Secretary and his staff a tour of Main Street.  

They visited Warfield to see two of the improved buildings and heard from the business owner of G building.

Cannabis Summer Symposium

Councilperson Al Grasley provided a briefing on the Summer Symposium – Cannabis he attended in Annapolis on August 10, 2023.  Grasley provided notes to the Council.  This symposium was in regard to the new Cannabis legislation.  Next year’s bill will be consolidated into one bill. The current bill provides for 300 licenses for dispensaries, cultivators, and processors to be issued in January and May 2024.  For reference, there are currently around 9,000 licenses for alcohol sales. All medical dispensaries have converted to recreational, so they will sell both medical and recreational cannabis.  There were speakers from inside the industry who discussed the challenges of getting businesses up and running. Maryland will be the most regulated state in regard to cannabis. 

The Council asked Lt. Kilgore about the current effects of cannabis on the police force.  Marijuana in Maryland is “non-criminal” as the FBI considers it a schedule 1 drug.  Since the Hemp Bill, Maryland has taken a hands off approach as far as charging. The possession and transportation of cannabis is allowed.  The only way to determine the difference between hemp and marijuana THC is to have it tested which is a cost of $10,000.  There is no testing in Maryland, so it would have to be tested in New Jersey.  Between the cost and sending it away for testing, the State’s Attorney’s office doesn’t want to test.  With medical marijuana, if a driver has no card, the police can seize and destroy.  Also, new regulations prohibit police from searching or stopping based on the odor of marijuana because of prima facie (presumed to be true) evidence.  There is no test to determine marijuana use in a person’s system like an alcohol breath test. 

Closed Session 

The meeting proposed to be closed pursuant to the General Provisions Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, Section 3-305(b): (4) To consider a preliminary matter that concerns the proposal for a business or industrial organization to locate, expand, or remain in the State. The closed session was in regard to Businesses on Town Owned Property.

Volunteer Opportunities 

The Town has volunteer opportunities available on the Historic District Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, and Police Auxiliary.  Email for more information about volunteering with the Town. The next meeting is Monday, September 11, 2023 

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.


Subscribe to the Informed Carroll newsletter and stay updated.