last council meeting for this term, update on parkside pollution

This Monday will be our last Council meeting for this term. I want to say how much of an honor and privilege it has been to serve you these past 4 years. I’m even more honored and humbled (and appreciative of my family’s support!)  to be able to continue serving as your Alderman for another 4 years. I hope you have been happy with how I’ve been performing my duty to represent you, and respectfully ask for your vote on November 2nd.

Stay tuned to your email as I plan on holding a Ward 7 social gathering at the Maritime Museum’s Moyer park campus in early November. Since I haven’t had a town hall in a while, I will also be there to answer any questions folks may have and likely give a number of updates for what we may have in store for next year.

I’ll also include an update on the Parkside Preserve pollution at the end of this email.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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March to stop pollution in Quiet Waters park tomorrow 7AM & other Council updates

Given that there isn’t too much on this second-to-last council meeting of this term, the big news I wanted to lead off with is the pollution in Quiet Waters Park. I’ve been sent numerous pictures over the past few weeks of this muddy water illegally entering into the park from the adjacent development project, ironically named Parkside Preserve, which is actually a new ~130 home residential development. I want to assure you that I’ve been working tirelessly to address this situation (my family has seen me for only a few hours this week). I went out to the site (without entering) and observed 12 different violations on the work site (remember, I used to do environmental inspections for the City, prior to getting elected), and promptly sent that to the City Manager. After a slow response from staff, I proceeded to contact the Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment.

I’m happy to say that the site is now mostly in compliance, after 7 long days. Keep in mind that the developer is required to keep their site in compliance every single day. So the fact that they were out of compliance for weeks, and the City gave them another entire week is a problem. It’s also a problem that the department in charge of the inspections, Public Works, failed to notice these violations for weeks, despite their thrice-weekly inspections. It’s also a problem that after 12 violations, and 13 out-of-compliance inspection results, the developer is allowed to get away with this with zero dollars in fines for sending this pollution into our park. To top it off, the permit for this work actually expires at the end of today, and once this was brought to the City's attention, they quickly extended the contractor's permit (in violation of our laws); much more quickly than it took them to respond to our citizen complaints. The fact that this violates our laws is something I will need to figure out how to address.

In anycase, this is why our neighbors in Beechwood hill and surrounding communities organized a brand new coalition, called Annapolis Stand Up! They are organizing a march and rally for TOMORROW AT 7AM starting at the entrance of Quiet Waters park and heading over to the project. The early time is due to that being the time that workers get to the site. I will post their flyer down below.

In other news, I’m withdrawing O-12-21, the Police Enhancement And Community Engagement (PEACE) ordinance. I will be bringing this back next term, but it simply proved to be too complex to be passed this session, especially since we made major revisions to it after meeting with the Police Department, law office, and ACLU, which need to be brought back to the public.

Lastly, I respectfully ask for your vote when you receive your ballot. I have thoroughly enjoyed serving you and look forward to continuing to do so for another 4 years.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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ADU vote, hearings on development review change, maritime zoning change, and forest loophole ord

This Monday you will have an opportunity to testify on some important legislation that is before the City Council, including:

  1. a proposal to shift away from the Planning Commission model where they approve and review development projects, and shifting to a model with a single hearing officer filling that role, and
  2. the proposed changes to our maritime zones from the maritime advisory task force, and
  3. legislation I’m proposing to close two loopholes in our forest conservation act.

Furthermore, we will be holding a final vote on the Accessory Dwelling Unit legislation, so if you have any comments on that, please send them my way.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Council re-convenes, City elections update

Hello again! It has been a while! I took a nice long break during the August recess of the Council, took some much-needed family time, but now it’s time to get back into the Council work. We have 4 meetings left in this term until our “sine die”. I have a number of pieces of legislation on the docket that I’ll be hoping to bring to a positive conclusion:

  • Police Enhancement And Community Engagement (PEACE) ordinance, which would transition more towards community policing, enacts common sense reforms, adopts recommendations from the AA County gun violence task force, and much more;
  • Forest Conservation tweak – closing two loopholes; and
  • Requiring permits when removing trees over 23” anywhere in City.

I’ll include a few election updates below, but I do want to note that you will NOT be receiving a primary election ballot since there are no contested primary races in our Ward. You WILL receive a general election ballot. I also want to say a big THANK YOU, and say that I look forward to representing you for another 4-years. I hope to organize a town hall in October at an outdoor venue.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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ward 7 environmental emergency - legislative update

I’d like to fill you in on an environmental emergency out at ironically named Parkside Preserve (aka Reserve at Quiet Waters), which instead of preserving our newest park instead has polluted it. I’ll provide details below in the updates section. But if it outrages you that developers polluted public lands, sensitive non-tidal wetlands that form the headwaters of Quiet Waters Park, and broke the law to do so, then please read on.

Also, this is our last Council meeting before our August break, and it’s our last meeting for us to introduce Ordinances before the end of our terms (unless we suspend the rules); hence, we have quite a bit of legislation on the agenda.

In case you didn’t notice from the last meeting, we postponed the Short Term Rental legislation vote until this Monday, we voted down the medical cannabis legislation after it was weakened with some poison amendments, and we passed the legislation that allows the proposed Lidl grocery store to connect to our sewer and water.

Also, at the start of our Monday meeting, at 6pm, we will be having a closed door meeting speaking about the Hillman parking garage replacement project. Our regular meeting starts at 7pm.

Lastly, I’m introducing two pieces of legislation to address some loopholes in the City regarding tree/forest protection that we uncovered recently. More information on these below.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

 

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cannabis dispensaries, short term rentals vote

I hope you had a pleasant 4th of July. It’s so nice to see our City start to look like normal again, and I’m very excited that our outdoor concerts are resuming at the Maritime Museum and Quiet Waters Park. But down to business…

We have a few upcoming votes I wanted to draw to your attention. The first is on legislation that would allow medical cannabis dispensaries to be located in certain areas in the City, and the second is a final vote on legislation that would require non-owner occupied short term rentals to get special exceptions (e.g. have to go before a board for final approval). I’ll give you my thoughts on these below.

Also, we will be voting on the two pieces of legislation that would allow the proposed Lidl (redevelopment at the old C&C liquors site) to connect to our utilities.

Details on that and more below.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Lidl update, Council meeting details

Campaign kick-off a success

For those who were able to make it out to the campaign kick-off this past Thursday, thank you! It was a very successful event and it was indeed a pleasure to see everyone again. If you were unable to make it, I'll look forward to catching you at the next fundraiser or town hall meeting. 

Lidl grocery store & C&C liquors site

As you’ll see below, I’m introducing two pieces of legislation that will allow the proposed Lidl grocery store, to be located at the old C&C liquors site in the County, to connect to our City utilities. Now that they have committed to honoring our comprehensive plan and working with the adjacent lot to make a parking lot connection (for the proposed Bay Village Drive connection), I no longer have any reservations about this project.

Previous meeting

At our previous meeting we voted in favor of CA-1-21, which created an Office of Community Services, located under the City Manager's Office.

Read on for a full break-down of our upcoming Council meeting, as well as for details on the latest draft of the Annapolis Comprehensive Plan.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Public hearings, July 4th details, re-election kick-off party

There is quite a bit of legislation up for a public hearing at Monday’s City Council meeting. This includes an adjustment to our chicken permitting and the short term rental legislation proposed by Alderwoman Tierney. Also, we have some legislation being introduced that would institute non-partisan elections in Annapolis. I’m open to the idea, if done right, but this legislation would not do it right and it’s also not something that should be introduced this close to an actual election, before our Charter Review Commission even releases their recommendations. Read on for more on my thinking on this.

Towards the end of this email I have a number of community updates for you, including a City-wide youth town hall and details on our fourth of July celebrations.

Party on the beach! Re-election campaign kick-off

I have been honored to have had the opportunity to serve you for the past 4 years, and I hope you will give me an opportunity to do so for another 4 years. I am holding a re-election kick-off party on Bembe Beach, overlooking the Severn River, at the Annapolis Sailing school on June 24th, complete with food from Main & Market and bossa nova from local musician Jonathan Stone. I hope we can reconnect and catch up at this event (from 6 to 9pm). You can get tickets at https://www.robsavidge.com/campaign_kick_off_21

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Budget vote tomorrow, re-election kick-off

Voting on proposed City budget tomorrow

We do have a Council meeting tomorrow, starting at 10am. The entire day/meeting will be dedicated to discussing amendments to the budget, with a final vote on the budget later in the day. In general, I think this budget is very responsible, in that we are not utilizing all of our bailout money this year (half is being saved for next year), most of the department cuts from last year remain in place, and there is a very slight decrease in the total number of employees. That said, my biggest concern about our budget is the same as last year: we still have a structural deficit that is being driven primarily to staff costs, in particular pensions and salaries. As I’ve mentioned before, our expenditures grew by 12% and our revenue only grew 2% (9% after the bailout). Some of this is from the staff pay increases that were negotiated 3-4 years ago when we made the mistake of shifting to 4-year union contracts, rather than single year. We unfortunately listened to the previous City Manager who recommended this shift, and low and behold it was a complete failure as it prevented us from being able to negotiate a new contract when we had the pandemic crisis. The other large component of expenses are pensions, and in particular the fire/police pensions, which are separate from the rest of the city employees. We eventually need to shift the Fire and Police to the State pension system. Related to this, previous Mayors underfunded the pensions so we are paying catch-up now.  The typical City employee is on the State pension system and the City contributes roughly 7% of employee salaries to these pensions, but for fire/police we gave them pensions run by the City and the City contributes roughly 34% of salaries, if my memory serves. All that said, the good news is that our current City Manager has made addressing this deficit his number 1 goal for the next fiscal year.

I do have one budget amendment which would freeze all conversions of contractual staff to civil servant (fully benefitted) staff. My original thought was that a pandemic recovery year is not necessarily the best time to make such conversions while we also have a structural deficit we haven’t yet resolved. However, after I discovered that we actually have slightly (3) less positions than last year, and that at least two of the conversions are grant funded, I’m reconsidering this amendment.

Sidewalks in Ward 7

I am working to get three new sections of sidewalk in Ward 7. I’ve asked the City Manager to start the project initiation process to gather the necessary information to add a sidewalk on Bembe Beach Road from BayWoods down to the Annapolis Sailing School, improving./adding the sidewalk on Edgewood Road in front of or across from the Ellen Moyer park, and adding sidewalk on the west side of Bay Ridge Ave in front of the Shell gas station all the way down to Forest Hills Ave. Once the studies are completed in 4-6 months, the deliverable will be three separate capital project sheets, one for each area, that can be added to the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) either later this year or for the next fiscal year.

Party on the beach! Re-election campaign kick-off

I have been honored to have had the opportunity to serve you for the past 4 years, and I hope you will give me an opportunity to do so for another 4 years. I am holding a re-election kick-off party on Bembe Beach, overlooking the Severn River, at the Annapolis Sailing school on June 24th, complete with food from Main & Market and bossa nova from local musician Jonathan Stone. I hope we can reconnect and catch up at this event (from 6 to 9pm). You can get tickets at https://www.robsavidge.com/campaign_kick_off_21

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Rob

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Campaign kick-off: beach, food, music

This past year has been….something else, and we all deserve a party! Join us for beautiful views from Bembe Beach, breezy Brazilian bossa nova from Jonathan Stone, and light fare from Main & Market, as we launch my campaign for re-election and re-connect after what has been a very long year. I would be honored to continue serving as your Alderman for Ward 7, but I will need your support to do so. We have a short 3 months until the primary election and 5 until the general election, and we have much to do to get to the finish line. We will have various campaign materials on hand for people to take home with them as well as sign-ups for door-knocking, phone banking, and house (back yard?) parties. I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone!

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