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Meeting Announcements and Handouts
Next Lunch Meeting:  Thursday, May 3 at Fisherman's Inn, Kent Narrows (please RSVP by April 20) by  clicking here.

Our Spring meeting will, as in past years, be held at the Fisherman’s Inn on May 3. John Markovs, Deputy County Attorney for Montgomery County, will speak to us on systems that can build flexibility into our local procurement programs to ensure that we obtain the best prices and products through competitive bidding for purchases, effectively “riding” contracts issued by other local governments and the state and have sufficient flexibility to allow municipalities to consider other options as needed. Mr. Markovs has presented similar programs to IMLA and others.

The agenda will also include a brief review of highlights of the Maryland General Assembly session, the election of 2018-2019 officers (ballot has been provided to members per the bylaws, but is also available here), planning for a joint MACo County Attorney/MMAA meeting, perhaps in the fall, and as time permits a roundtable discussion on key issues we are facing in municipalities and input on future meeting topics

For lunch, we’ll follow the same menu as in the past; we’ll have crab cakes and other non-seafood options, including a vegetarian option.

There’s no cost for members, and guest attendance is $30.00.

Information from Thursday, February 8 MMAA meeting at Harry Browne's in Annapolis.

The Thursday, February 8, 2018 MMAA meeting was held at Harry Browne’s Restaurant on State Circle in Annapolis, Maryland. Lynn Board, Vice-President, standing in for President Brynja Booth, called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone at about 12:12 p.m. She first welcomed guests both from MML – Candace Donoho, Director, Government Relations; Jim Peck, Assistant for Research and Information Management (former Director but partially retired); Bill Jorge, Manager, Government Relations and Research; and Justin Fiore, Assistant, Government Relations and Research; and the Maryland Association of Counties – Les Knapp, Legal and Policy Counsel, and Natasha Mehu, Legislative Director.

Lynn noted Les and Natasha from MACo had attended to follow through on a prior discussion with MMAA officers regarding a possible joint annual meeting between MMAA and MACo’s County Attorney affiliate. The proposal was to consider a joint program, based on numerous similar concerns and issues, which would also be an opportunity to communicate further about issues of any disagreement. Members offered a consensus of support, and Lynn indicated officers would work with their County Attorney counterparts to arrange a joint meeting.

Minutes of the October 26, 2017 MMAA meeting were moved and seconded for approval, and unanimously approved.   Treasurer Jason DeLoach reported $4,579.44 in the MMAA checking account, not including any costs for today’s lunch. He noted that he would plan on sending annual invoices for FY 19 annual dues, in the amount of $50.00, unless members objected. Secretary Frank Johnson noted this would mean the $50.00 costs would remain static with billing for FY 19; there was no objection and members offered support both for the dues invoicing and for not changing the annual amount.  In other updates, member Linda Perlman noted the Maryland State Bar Association’s State and Local Government Law Section was hosting a networking event on February 22, 2018 at the Arundel Center in Annapolis, 44 Calvert Street, with a discussion by Cuynthia Peltzman, Senior Assistant County Solicitor, Howard County Office of Law, and Robert Drummer, Senior Legislative Attorney, Montgomery County Council, on the impact of the First Amendment on expanded uses of social media.

Lynn noted that Jim Peck, former Director of Research and Information Management for MML, had retired from full time work as of January 31, 2018, but Jim noted he had agreed to work 20 to 25 hours per week at least for the next few months. Members gave him a round of applause in recognition of his work to support MML and Maryland municipalities over his career.

For the MML Legislative Update, Candace Donoho noted that with Highway User Revenue (HUR) having been cut 8 years ago by the Board of Public Works, it seems possible some permanent restoration of those lost funds may be approved this year. She noted hearings will hopefully be set for February 14, next week, and that maximum attendance by municipal officials will be needed. On other issues, she noted the second MML priority, protecting personal data (including email addresses of residents) from PIA disclosure was also proceeding, in partnership with MACo which is supporting a similar bill. She noted Senate sponsor Senator Kagan had procured sponsorship from all Senators, and so Senate approval was expected, and that a House committee hearing is set for next week. Les Knapp from MACo noted their version of the bill also clarified that personal information such as social security numbers and dates of birth are not disclosable unless otherwise legally required, and would also clarify some exclusions based on privacy for police body-worn camera videos. Finally, she noted that while she’s advised that an industry bill on “small cells,” enhancing coverage for wireless devices with antennas on private and public property, but primarily in rights of way, will be introduced. It is expected to be sponsored by Sen. Middleton and Del. Derick Davis, but even so, passage isn’t expected this year. That said, she noted it will still be important to oppose the bill and for municipalities to take steps to enact ordinances and pass regulations which govern right of way and, as needed, other installations, such as on poles and buildings, of small cell or distributed-antenna systems. Bill Jorge from MML noted that municipalities should send ordinances and regulations to him. Natasha Mehu noted the industry is not necessary in unified support of the legislation, either.

After lunch, Lynn introduced the panel discussion on “small cell” or distributed-antenna systems, including Victor Tervala, Baltimore City Solicitor, on the overall background, herself as Gaithersburg City Attorney on steps in Maryland to address the issue, and Gerard Lederer of Best, Best and Krieger on FCC action.  Victor started by noting these are antennas and equipment which are intended to increase wireless coverage for the many smart phones, tablets and other wireless devices increasingly in use by businesses and residents. He noted this technology calls for more installations of relatively smaller devices which may provide only a few hundred feet of range, and that the goal is to broadly use rights of way wherever possible. While he noted there is general support for increasing wireless coverage, many residents oppose the installations as they are very plentiful and in many cases considered ugly. He noted limits on considering health efforts of radiation (RF), and that the FCC has issued a number of shotclocks requiring decisions from local governments approving or denying applications within a short time, ranging from 60 to 150 days, and that much work has been put into establishing proper fee arrangements both for franchise agreements and each permit for installation.

Lynn noted the City of Gaithersburg was facing similar pressure from installers and providers, and that after initial proposals for installations, information was presented to the Mayor and City Council in a public work session – especially as rights of way in the City are not subject to zoning restrictions. At that time, residents appeared and strongly opposed the proposals as they would place poles in residential areas which only had relatively small street lights now, and no above-the-ground utility poles. She noted 12 states have imposed laws limited local ability to control such small-cell and distributed-antenna system installations and that the Maryland bill, if introduced, would probably similarly limit local ability. She indicated the hope is to oppose the bill and perhaps at worst have a task force to consider the problem for the future, and in the meantime urged municipalities to adopt ordinances and regulations governing small cell and distributed-antenna system applications, so that we can demonstrate the issue is being addressed and that overall state legislation would not be needed.

Gerard Lederer noted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates these providers and installations, but case law generally supports local authority to control installations in their jurisdiction. He noted these antennas and equipment cover shorter ranges than large poles in the past, and there is much opposition from residents because they are numerous and often considered unattractive. He stated that fees can be percentage-based for overall franchise fees and then reasonable cost for each permit, and also that there are required FCC timelines for applications for these installations. He noted the various Federal legal sections applying these shotclocks for applications and other rules (such as Section 253, 332, and 6409 on co-locations), and that the shotclocks run from 60 days for a true co-location to 150 days for a new installation. He agreed that municipalities should enact ordinances and regulations to provide standards in place which can govern consideration of these applications.

Lynn thanked Victor and Gerard for helping to lay out the small-cell technology issues we’re facing across the board, and thanked everyone for attending. With no further issues for the good of the order, the meeting was adjourned at 2:10 p.m.

Information from Thursday, October 26, 2017 MMAA meeting at Clyde's in Columbia
Click here for approved minutes

The Thursday, October 26, 2017 MMAA meeting was held at Clyde’s Restaurant in Columbia.  Candace Donoho, MML Director of Government Relations noted the MML legislative priorities for the 2018 General Assembly session included restoration of Highway User Revenues and to amend the Public Information Act to provide clear authority to not release email addresses and phone numbers of residents, which may be provided for local newsletters or emergency alerts.  She also noted MML will work to protect the right to assert local control over the siting and installation of wireless poles and antennas, and to impose a fee for permit review and lease of right of way space. 
Brynja asked for any suggestions for future speakers, to allow us to plan ahead for future meetings.  After lunch, Brynja introduced Ann MacNeille, Assistant Attorney General with the Opinions and Advise Division and who serves as counsel to the Open Meetings Compliance Board.   Ann first noted a few recent changes to the Open Meetings Act, including adding a requirement that agendas be provided reasonably in advance, specifying closed meeting processes, and requiring more training.  As to training, Ann said boards and commissions all need to designate a member in order to have the option to close a meeting.

Information from the Monday, June 26, 2017 MMAA meeting at the MML Summer Convention.
Click here for approved minutes

The Monday, June 26, 2017 MMAA meeting was held at the MML Summer Convention, in Room 210 at the Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland.  Meredith Mishaga, Director of Foreclosure Administration with the State's Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation gave us an update on recent changes in Maryland law related to the registry.  Margaret Witherup, Member of Gordon Feinblatt, LLC which has represented local governments on stormwater and environmental issues, gave a presentation on Phase 2 of the MS 4 stormwater management permits which the Maryland Department of the Environment is now issuing.  As a brief legislative update, Lynn Board, MMAA’s Legislative Committee representative, noting that with changes to the State Ethics Law this year – which were targeted to General Assembly members – similar changes could be required to local ethics laws based on the “substantially equivalent” requirement.  She reported that MML and MACo provided letters to the State Ethics Commission asking that changes not be required, given the focus on the General Assembly, and several also attended the June 15, 2017 meeting of the State Ethics Commission where it did seem members will consider local concerns. 

Information from the Thursday, May 4, 2017 meeting at Fisherman's Inn at Kent Narrows.
Click here for approved minutes.

The Thursday, May 4, 2017 MMAA meeting was held at Fisherman’s Inn at Kent Narrows. We had a presentation on the Public Information Act, by Lisa Kershner, Ombudsman and Karen Federman-Henry, Assistant Attorney General who serves as the PIA Compliance Board counsel as well as counsel to the Ombudsman. Karen noted the Ombudsman had a broad ability to mediate disputes on request from the person asking for records or the custodian, and that the Ombudsman can mediate on any PIA issue. However, the Board’s jurisdiction is more limited to fees. Lisa as Public Access Ombudsman distributed a report for the first 12 months, from April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017, which is available here.  Karen has also made available a PowerPoint presentation she made on her work to the MSBA State and Local Government Section at their Law Day on May 5, 2017, and it is available here.   On MMAA issues, Bylaws amendments making a few clarifications were unanimously approved and will be presented to the MML Board of Directors for their review and final approval.  Also, members unanimously approved officers for 2017/2018:  Brynja Booth for President, Lynn Board for Vice President, Frank Johnson for Secretary and Jason DeLoach for Treasurer.   We also received an update on legislative issues from Candace Donoho, MML’s Director of Government Relations and Lynn Board, MMAA's Legislative Committee representative.   

Information from Thursday, February 9 meeting at Harry Browne’s in Annapolis.
Click here for approved minutes.

The Thursday, February 9, 2017 MMAA lunch meeting was held at Harry Browne’s, 66 State Circle in Annapolis.
The meeting included updates on legislation and MML priorities, as well as a report by Lynn Board on the creation of the Coalition on Small Cell Facilities regarding the FCC rulemaking proposal on small cell and wireless facility installations.  The meeting presentation was a discussion on transgender rights in Maryland by attorney Miriam Sievers of Silber, Perlman, Sigman & Tilev, P.A. and Patrick Paschall, Executive Director of Free State Justice in Maryland, with a focus on terminology, federal law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (employment), Title IX (schools), the Fair Housing Act, Affordable Care Act, the Prisoner’s Rape Elimination Act of 2012, and the Violence Against Women Act, and for Maryland, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014. 

Information from Thursday, September 15, 2016 Joint Meeting with the Municipal Clerks Association
At the Kentlands Mansion, 320 Kent Square Road, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878

Click here for approved minutes

The Thursday, September 15, 2016 MMAA meeting was held at the Kentlands Mansion in the City of Gaithersburg, 320 Kent Square Road, and was a joint meeting with the Maryland Municipal Clerks Association. The meeting was conducted under a joint agenda including introductions, a report from both the Clerks and Attorneys, and presentations by MMAA members. Several noted that they believe this may have been the first joint meeting, and expressed the hope that the groups would continue periodic joint meetings.

Frederick City Attorney Saundra Nichols and Assistant City Attorney Rachel Depo (also MMAA Vice-President) made a presentation on the Open Meetings Act. Their PowerPoint presentation can be accessed here

Information from Monday, June 27, 2016 MMAA Meeting at the MML Summer Convention in Ocean City.
Click here for approved minutes

Information from Thursday, May 5, 2016 MMAA Spring Meeting at Fisherman's Inn at Kent Narrows.  
Click here for approved minutes.

Judges Dale Cathell and Glenn Harrell of the Maryland Court of Appeals provided members with a review of several recent Court of Appeals decisions, as well as a 27-page summary of all decisions relevant to municipalities which was distributed and is available by clicking here.

Information from Wednesday, March 16, 2016 MMAA Telephone Conference on Small Cell and Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS).

A group of members joined in a telephone conference to discuss new changes in telecommunications, largely to accommodate the widespread use of smart phones and similar devices.  We thank Kimberly Min, MMAA member and Whiteford, Taylor and Preston for hosting the conference call.

The issue of telecommunications is now a major local issue, after changes in technology and the law.  Municipalities are increasing being approached by providers and infrastructure firms for permission to install small cell facilities and larger DAS facilities, often on rights of way.  Sometimes they will seek to install these items on buildings, on pole, on street lights, or next to other antennas.  These represent relatively new technological advances that broaden the wireless cell coverage.  And a relatively recent FCC order mandates, in most cases, that local governments allow installations that will expand coverage in this way.

During the discussion, led by Victor Tervala, Baltimore City Chief Solicitor, John Lyons, Anne Arundel County Cable Administrator, and Frank Johnson, Gaithersburg Assistant City Attorney, speakers pointed out how the new FCC "shot clocks" or permit deadlines of 60, 90 or 150 days apply, but also how these timelines do not apply until a completed application has been submitted.  Click here for more detailed notes on the discussion.  Generally, with changes in technology, municipalities should expect to hear from a provider or infrastructure provider.  Some can be aggressive, even though most are willing to work with municipalities -- but it is always important to know your rights. 

In most cases, a first step will be entering a contract, either a franchise agreement or right of way agreement - or both.  Part of that agreement will include allowable fees, and the municipalities preference for use of public land or public facilities, such as City or Town street lights.  Click here for a recent Baltimore City ordinance laying out franchise fee requirements for these facilities. 

Permit denials are in most cases limited, but safety, appearance and specific placement (if a workable alternative is offered) can all be considerations.  In addition to a contract or agreement, as discussed during the conference, municipalities do need to ensure they have zoning in place to allow these installations -- as well as impose reasonable restrictions.  Municipalities also need to have a permitting process in place to accommodate the deadlines and ensure applicants receive communication as quickly as possible.  Click here for a sample draft highlighting recent zoning ordinance and permitting changes for the City of Gaithersburg. 

We expect this will be an ongoing issue, especially as technology continues to change, and this conference and these materials highlight some key steps municipalities can and should take. 

Information from the Thursday, March 3, 2016 MMAA Meeting at Harry Browne's in Annapolis
Click here for approved minutes.

Tiffany Harvey, Deputy Counsel for Civil Rights and Legislative Affairs for the Office of the Attorney General, spoke about Attorney General Brian Frosh’s legislative initiatives but emphasized the August 2015 Guidance on preventing discriminatory profiling for law enforcement agencies. She said that the Attorney General took the initiative to develop uniform state standards as a guide for all police agencies in Maryland to follow – making Maryland the first state to follow similar guidance put in place by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in 2014. The Guidelines are on the Attorney General’s website but you can also click here for a copy.

Information from the Thursday, October 8, 2015 MMAA meeting at the Café Deluxe Restaurant in Gaithersburg,
Click here for approved minutes

Information from the June 29, 2015 MMAA Meeting at the MML Convention  Click here for approved minutes

The Monday, June 29, 2015 MMAA meeting was held at the Ocean City Convention Center in Room 210.  Meredith  Mishaga, Director of Foreclosure Administration with the Commissioner of Financial Regulation (part of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation/DLLR), gave us a powerpoint about the Maryland Foreclosed Property Registry, which was created by the General Assembly in 2012 to provide local jurisdictions with information on current ownership of foreclosed homes. 

Information from the May 21, 2015 MMAA Meeting

The Thursday, May 21, 2015 meeting was held at the Fisherman's Inn, Kent Narrows, and had several speakers.

Adam Snyder, Chief Council, Opinions and Advice for the Maryland Attorney General, spoke about several upcoming changes in the Public Information Act after the General Assembly.  Changes include creation of a Public Information Act Board, with limited jurisdiction (only to address fees in excess of $350) but broad power to order fee reductions; an Ombudsman in the Attorney General's office with broad oversight to address any issues of concern raised by either a person requesting records or the local government, but no formal authority to order any solution.  He also noted fees will be limited to actual costs, and that the requesting party's ability to pay can be a separate waiver consideration.  Other changes include the requirement of a 10-working-days response if responding takes longer, with an estimated time for completion and a cost estimate, and the need for local governments to identify a contact for all requests, which can also be divided by department.  Local governments also must note, at least on their website, which (if any) documents are available on demand.  Overall, Mr. Snyder advised reaching out to requestors with a response or update, as soon as possible.

Tim Ailsworth of LGIT also spoke on the impact of Local Government Tort Claims Act changes, in which awards and permitted claim times were all doubled (awards from $200,000 to $400,000, and each occurrence from $400,000 to $800,000, with the time allowed to file a claim increasing from 6 months from date of occurrence to one year).  He indicated this will result in an increase of costs by about 5% for municipalities self-ensured through LGIT. 

Tom Curtin, MML's Government Relations and Research Associate, also spoke about the General Assembly, noting two MML priorities were approved, including the Governor's proposal for Highway User Revenues , granting municipalities $19 million out of $25 million added by the budget and the land use bill clarifying that legislative bodies can amend Master Plan recommendations from their Planning Commissions, but must hold a public hearing if such changes are made.  He also noted the bill regarding double taxation was passed as a local bill for Frederick County rather than statewide, but would require a resolution and could serve as a sample for future statewide legislation.

Officer elections, to start with the new MML Board of Directors (at the MML Convention next month) were also held, and those nominated were unanimously approved.  Thus John Barr will continue serving as President; Brynja Booth will serve as Vice-President; Jason DeLoach will continue as Treasurer; and Frank Johnson will serve as Secretary.  Elissa Levan indicated she wished to continue serving as MMAA representative on the MML Board of Directors, and Lynn Board wishes to remain on the MML Legislative Committee, and members also unanimously supported their continuation.

Information from Winter/Early Spring 2015 MMAA Meeting

The Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 meeting was held in Annapolis.  Karen Kruger, partner with Funk and Bolton PA who also serves as counsel for the Maryland Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Association, spoke on the issues and impacts related to the use of police body-worn cameras.  She noted several bills had been filed in the General Assembly this year which would not mandate the use of such cameras but would impose a number of requirements on their use.   Issues with police body-worn cameras include privacy, safety and the costs of retaining the data.  Additionally, the costs of reviewing and organizing the data can also be substantial.  And in many cases, the cameras themselves are not always dependable, and even when they are, the actual recording can be difficult to follow.  LGIT has establishing a pilot testing project and several jurisdictions are making initial use of these cameras, so we will all have the chance to learn from their experience.  Even so, it's clear the privacy, safety and cost concerns will continue.

Click here for an article on police body-worn cameras entitled "Lessons from the Early Adopters," which Karen handed out at the meeting.

Lynn Board, MMAA's representative on the MML Legislative Committee, also updated members.  As to MML priorities, the $19 million of HUR funding for municipalities, which the Governor included in his budget proposal, is likely to be retained with approval from both houses; the land use bill clarifying legislative authority to approve and amend master plan recommendations appears likely to pass; and a financial disclosure bill was not favorably reported.  Otherwise, public information act amendments are likely to be approved, establishing a Public Information Compliance Board, requiring responses within 10 days and allowing Board review of fees over $350, after several amendments proposed by MML.

In MMAA business, no further nominations for 2015-2016 officers were received and membership voting will, per the Bylaws, be completed at the May meeting.  Persons nominated for each of the positions are John Barr for President, Brynja Booth for Vice President, Jason DeLoach for Treasurer, and Frank Johnson for Secretary.  Additionally, Elissa Levan has indicated she wishes to remain as the MML Board of Directors representative, and Lynn Board wishes to remain as the MML Legislative Committee representative.

Information from the MMAA 2014 Fall Meeting:

The December 4, 2014 meeting, held in Annapolis, included an update from Candace Donoho, MML's Government Relations Director, on MML's legislative priorities for the 2015 General Assembly session, including restoring Highway User Revenues (HUR), clarifying the approval process for municipal master plans and protecting some ethics disclosures (particularly involving spouses and dependent children) from public disclosure.   approval issue (as to whether legislative bodies have final approval authority and can amend a planning commission recommendation) and required ethics disclosures.   MML has adopted both as part of its legislative priorities for clarifications and/or corrections.

Lynn Board, MMAA’s representative on the MML legislative committee, Debra Daniel, City Attorney for Rockville, and Tom McCarron, Mt. Airy’s town attorney, who a few years ago filed a request for an AG opinion in 2012 on the master plan approval issue, discussed the question of whether Maryland's Land Use Article allows legislative bodies to amend or remand a master plan recommendation from the planning commission, or simply require either outright approval or rejection.  Click here for materials the Panel prepared, which includes:
* A copy of the relevant Maryland Annotated Code sections (both the current Land Use Article and prior Article 66B);
* The June 13, 2014 letter from the Department of Planning to the City of Rockville; and
* The November 18, 2014 Attorney General opinion to the Town of Mount Airy.

Information from the MMAA Spring 2014 Meeting:

At the May 8, 2014 MMAA Spring meeting at Fisherman's Inn at Kent Narrows, Judge Glenn T. Harrell, Jr. and returned Judge Dale R. Cathell joined us to discuss notable cases.  Click here for Judge Harrell's summary of recent decisions which he discussed at the meeting.  Court Summary for MMAA Spring Meeting