Public hearings on short term rental adj & gas leaf blower ban, Wells cove vote

Please note that our Council meeting is on Tuesday this week, NOT Monday. Here is information on our next meeting:

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New legislation on Short term rentals, noise (leaf blowers), Forest conservation act

Monday is our first City Council meeting after our August recess, so it’s a bit of a packed agenda with a number of new pieces of legislation being introduced. Here are a few highlights:

Short term rental licensing

I am introducing legislation that seeks to close a few loopholes with our short term rental licensing. We had an issue with some outside investors with shared financial interests who were buying up property and using different names or business entity names on their applications, in an effort to get around our 1 STR per owner rules. I am also seeking to clarify language around suspension and revocation of permits in an effort to deal with nuisance properties.

Noise ordinance updates

The second piece of legislation I worked on with of a few of my colleagues, that’s being introduced, seeks to update our noise restrictions in three ways: 1. Essentially bans gas-powered leaf blowers due to their noise and emissions, 2. Creates noise restrictions for the new party boats (and general boats) that are on our creeks, and 3. Bans the use of high-frequency sound emitters due to impacts to pets and some people.

Forest conservation – update to appeals

The third piece of legislation I’m introducing is a tweak to our forest conservation laws. It would require that P&Z place a stay (halt) on any forest clearing if there is an appeal to a local appeal board, empower them to stay clearing on state appeals, move appeals to the Zoning Board of Appeals rather than the Building Board of Appeals (makes it more consistent with code), and closes an old loophole where Planned Development projects approved before a certain date received a blanket exemption to the laws.

Wells Cove water access public hearing

There is a public hearing on my legislation dealing with the Wells Cove public water access easement. If you support this access and want it fully unimpeded and fully enacted and signed by the City, please come out and support this legislation to submit comments.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Rec fee issue, public safety update, Wells Cove access

Here is some information regarding our Monday Council meeting. This will be our final meeting before our August recess. Please note that during August, my responses may be even more delayed than usual (sorry!), as I plan on spending time with family and taking a break from Council work (though I do aim to get some legislation finalized regarding short term rentals).

Of note this week, I'm introducing a Resolution with Alderman Arnett to ensure we allow immediate public access to the Wells Cove public water access easement. In case you didn't know, this was in question due to the property owner, and citizens had to take them (and the City) to court to get them to enforce this easement, as well as comply with the Council's Resolution from back in the 80's. Long story short, citizens won, yet city still dragging its feet pending appeal, even though the judge said there was no stay on appeal, hence my Resolution below.

There's also an issue with some Rec & Parks fees, similar to what happened with the Penguins, where they are charging high fees to non-profits without any advanced notice, changing decades old practices of waiving such fees, and are even trying to charge City fees for County fields. You can't make this stuff up... Aren't we supposed to be serving the public?

You can still comment on the draft 2040 Comprehensive Plan. I encourage you to take a look and review this plan as this will have impacts on our Ward for the next 10 years. Once your comments are received, the plan will go to the Planning Commission for review, and then it will come to the City Council for a final vote, remand, disproval, or amendments.

Public Safety Update: Our police department has put together a summer response plan to address the crime we have been having lately. While I do think this is good, I’m still waiting on them (it has been 2 weeks) to send me a list of all the incidents of gunfire and homicides for the past two years, indicating their causes and including any policy recommendations they may have. My goal is to get the data on the causes of these shootings to see what we, the Council, may be able to do to address the gun violence. This will help us determine if we need to try to hire more police officers, increase our social worker presence, pay for more recreational opportunities, or fund more conflict resolution.

 Stay healthy and stay safe,

 Rob

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Ward7 townhall on Comp Plan Wed

Town Hall meeting on 2040 Comprehensive Plan

This Wednesday there will be a public meeting on the 2040 Comprehensive Plan draft. I encourage you to take a look and review this plan as this will have impacts on our Ward for the next 15 years, guiding what type of development (or preservation) happens where. Once your comments are received, the plan will go to the Planning Commission for review, and then it will come to the City Council for a final vote, remand, disproval, or amendments. The meeting will be this Wednesday (July 12th) at 6pm at the Eastport-Annapolis Neck Library. This will be a joint Wards 7 & 8 meeting.

Public Safety Update

I have submitted a request to our Police Department to send me a list of all the incidents of gunfire for the past two years, indicating their causes and including any policy recommendations they may have. I’ve also done the same as far as all of the homicides for the past two years. My goal is to get the data on the causes of these shootings to see what we, the Council, may be able to do to address the gun violence. This will help us determine if we need to try to hire more police officers, increase our social worker presence, pay for more recreational opportunities, or fund more conflict resolution.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Fundraiser for Paddington Place victims

I wanted to let you know about a fundraiser this evening for the victims of the tragic June 11th shooting on Paddington Place. 

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Tragedy in Ward, briefing by APD

Due to today being the Juneteenth holiday, our Council meeting is scheduled for tomorrow evening  (not tonight) at the usual time (7pm).

Tragedy in our Ward

As you have likely seen, we had an absolutely tragic shooting in our Ward, killing three of our neighbors. My thoughts and sympathies go out to the victims’ families. I am appalled at the propensity of some to escalate disputes to the point where gun violence is perpetuated. We are still gathering information as to the exact causes of this event, as well as determining what we on the City Council may or may not be able to do to help prevent anything like this from happening again.

There are two Go Fund Me pages set up to help meet funeral costs for the families involved:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/funeral-arrangement-for-mario-nicolas-mireles

https://www.gofundme.com/f/rkx9f-for-my-nephew

Briefing by Annapolis Police Department

The Chief of the Annapolis Police Department will be giving us a briefing at our 7pm meeting tomorrow, speaking to this tragedy in our Ward, as well as to the other incidents we have had lately involving gun violence. I hope to emerge from this meeting with a better understanding of what the drivers are, as we figure out what we might be able to do locally to help. If there are any questions you would like me to ask, please let me know.

Edgewood Rd speeding

The Patrol squads have been given notice to increase traffic enforcement on Edgewood from a previous complaint, and the VMS sign has been requested again once the Juneteenth festival is over. The sign should be placed the Monday or Tuesday after the Festival.

Previous meeting summary

We passed the FY24 budget, as amended. We also passed O-55-22, which is my legislation that overhauls our sediment control inspections to help avoid contractor-driven pollution incidents like we had at Parkeside preserve.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Final City budget vote – no tax increase

This Monday we will be our final vote on the proposed FY24 budget, as we amended it this past Monday. I’ll provide a summary on this below. The budget includes a number of things for Ward 7, which I mentioned previously, and I managed to get a few more added for this year. There is no proposed increase to our tax rate, though you may see your taxes increase naturally if our property values go up.

Update on Budget

Update on the budget amendments I proposed (final vote on budget upcoming):

  1. $7,000 in one-time-use money for an Urban Tree Canopy assessment. - PASSED
  2. $100,000 of one-time-use money to expand a climate change/resilience/sea level rise vulnerability study to include Wards 2, 3, & 6 (7 & 8 will already be included and most of the study should be funded by the new Resilience Authority). - PASSED
  3. Potential adjustments of the Recreation & Parks fees, delaying the implementation of some newly proposed fees until we have time to discuss our approach with them. In particular, we are finding that some of our recreational fees for using facilities, such as the pool or athletic fees, can be rather burdensome for the non-profits and may be counterproductive in that they may drive registration fees up (an accessibility issue). - PASSED
  4. ~$75,000 in COVID relief money to add a legislative aide for the Council. We need help. Especially those of us with full time jobs. - FAILED
  5. $50,000 of one-time-use money to put together a feasibility/conceptual study regarding a hiker/biker trail between Bay Ridge Ave and Tyler Ave, to see if it’s even feasible to do such a project and to determine what the benefits/risks may be to doing such a thing. - PASSED

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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local budget impacts, my budget proposals

Rob --

Please see below for the normal briefing on our Monday Council meeting. Not too much going on.

Update on Budget

I do want to provide you with a few updates on the budget. Here are a few things relevant to Ward 7 that are in the budget as proposed:

  1. Edgewood sidewalk improvements: A Capital Improvement Project is in the budget to continue putting together a plan to add an improved sidewalk and lighting along Edgewood Rd in front of/along the Ellen Moyer Back Creek Park/Maritime Museum campus. I added this to the budget last year via amendment but it has not been completed yet.
  2. Bay Ridge sidewalk improvements: A Capital Improvement Project is in the budget to continue putting together a plan to add a sidewalk along Bay Ridge Ave in front of the Shell gas station and nearby church. I added this to the budget last year via amendment but it has not been completed yet.
  3. There is funding for improving/adding a crosswalk on Edgewood Rd across from Yachtsman Way. I believe I was told this should be completed by the end of summer.

Amendments to the budget that I am planning on moving forward with:

  1. $7,000 in one-time-use money for an Urban Tree Canopy assessment.
  2. $100,000 of one-time-use money to expand a climate change/resilience/sea level rise vulnerability assessment with recommendations to include Wards 2 & 4 (7 & 8 will already be included and most of the study should be funded by the new Resilience Authority).
  3. Potential adjustments of the Recreation & Parks fees, delaying the implementation of some newly proposed fees until we have time to discuss our approach with them. In particular, we are finding that some of our recreational fees for using facilities, such as the pool or athletic fields, can be rather burdensome for the non-profits and may be counterproductive in that they may drive registration fees up (an accessibility issue). Furthermore, if we have to keep entertaining requests to waive the fees, that is telling me the fees may be too high and need to be changed. 
  4. ~$75,000 in COVID relief money to add a legislative aide for the Council. We need help. Especially those of us with full time jobs.
  5. $50,000 of one-time-use money to put together a feasibility/conceptual study regarding a hiker/biker trail between Bay Ridge Ave and Tyler Ave, to see if it’s even feasible to do such a project and to determine what the benefits/risks may be to doing such a thing.

If you have thoughts on these please let me know. We will be discussing all of our proposed budget amendments next week, but they won’t be voted on for a another few weeks.

Recap of previous meeting

There was no legislation up for a final vote so not much to summarize from our last meeting.                 

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Penguins saved, Mayor ignores rules of order

There isn’t too much happening at the next Council meeting. The meeting will be focused on public hearings regarding the proposed budget, and then a number of first reader (introductions) votes.

Recap of previous meeting

As a recap of our previous meeting, my Resolution supporting the Penguins swim team passed, with a bit of a struggle. Though I’m happy to report that an agreement has been reached between the Penguins and Recreation & Parks. It’s actually one of the compromises I brought up earlier in the process, but apparently it took a Resolution for it to be considered.

As the newspaper reported, there was a disagreement between the Mayor and I, over rules of procedure. He had called on me (giving me the floor), and I asked the Penguins leadership be brought forward to answer questions, as we just did so with Recreation & Parks. Unfortunately, the Mayor refused to do so. I proceeded to make a motion to “Appeal from decision of Chair” (any decision of the chair can be overruled with a majority vote of Council), as allowed in City Code 2.16.110, which was seconded by Alderman Gay, which means that my motion was valid and needed to be voted on. The Mayor refused to allow a vote on my motion, as required in Robert’s Rules and our City Code. He eventually allowed a Call the Question vote which he used to skirt past my motion, despite me persisting for about 15 minutes or so. Procedurally this is not allowed. Neither our City Clerk nor our City Attorney spoke up during the matter. Our City Attorney, whom is appointed by the Mayor, has now told me they can provide no clarifications on how such a procedure should function or be handled by the Council/Mayor/Chair in the future. I’m exploring other options but this really has exposed a flaw/weakness in our form of local governance, if the Mayor can unilaterally ignore something in our City Code. More on this as I evaluate ways forward.                     

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Penguin team update, Policing requirements

Rob --

Sorry about getting this out late, busy Earth Day weekend and, more importantly, my wife’s birthday weekend!

Penguin Swim team update

As I mentioned in my last email, Recreation & Parks is only offering the Penguins swim team 4 lanes this year for their practices. The issues with this is that it leads to very crowded swim lanes, which is a safety issue as well as makes circle swimming very difficult. Recreation & Parks started negotiating with the team, regarding a contract for this summer, back in October, and they had a draft contract in February (for 5 lanes) that the City had agreed to. However, they put it on hold and then abruptly backed out of that draft contract in March, upending the team plans. Changing things at this last minute makes it difficult for everyone, the team and Rec & Parks, and I maintain that it would be much better for all to simply honor the contract for this summer and work out a solution for next year in the fall. The Resolution is an attempt to bring some solution to the table, as the City Manager’s office was unable to do so on their own.

If you have had kids who have gone through this program, or if you yourself have gone through it, please consider showing up to testify on Monday (7pm at 160 Duke of Gloucester St) or submit your testimony at www.Annapolis.gov/testimony                

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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