Here are some community updates as well as information on our Monday Council meeting.
Parkeside Preserve – damage in Quiet Waters - emergency action AGAIN
As you may recall, around 6 months ago we had issues at this property with mud and sediment (pollution) illegally running off into Quiet Waters Park. Thanks to the watchful eye from our Ward 7 residents in Beechwood Hill, we were able to document this and get things mostly resolved. The site was mostly in compliance, the Council passed a Resolution with new inspection and enforcement procedures (based on current law), and the Department of Public Works (DPW) created new inspection schedules, protocols, and got a commitment from the developer to hire a 3rd party inspector.
Fast-forward to June, and after receiving more photographs of off-site pollution I decided to visit the site myself. I noticed upwards of 18 violations to our code, despite all of these “improvements” being made by DPW. When I dug into things at the last Environmental Matters Committee meeting (which I Chair), it was discovered that DPW had actually inspected the site the morning before I sent them my list of violations. DPW found ZERO violations and said everything was in order, where again, I found 18. DPW unfortunately had no answer for this, and were dead silent when I asked them what they were going to do to correct the issue with the poor City inspections. Mysteriously, after initially finding zero violations, DPW went out a few days after I sent my report and then found around half a dozen violations. So clearly I wasn’t wrong with my assertions. This has also since been confirmed by MDE, who visited the site and essentially verified everything I was alleging. What’s worse, I had discovered that the previous Resolution the Council passed in February was utterly ignored by DPW, partially due to the previous Director resigning from his position. Yes, you read that right, DPW ignored the will of the Council. I walked through most of the provisions of this Resolution and showed them how it was being ignored. I’m still working on getting them to comply with this Resolution and will be speaking with the new City manager and DPW director next month about it.
Fast-forward to this past week, and I put together another emergency Resolution. When I went out to the site in June, I also noticed that the volume of water being discharged from this project has been causing damage to the receiving stream in Quiet Waters Park, which is illegal per our Code. I have pictures of this stream from back in 2011, and back then it was an ephemeral stream that had standing water and in some areas only blackened leaves indicating where the water flowed. So back then, there wasn’t enough force/volume of water to even move the leaves, which is why they became blackened. But now there is such volume of water leaving this project site that it has washed all of the leaves away, washed away the topsoil, created large debris jams, and is causing active erosion in the stream bed. As a 20+ year professional in stream restoration and erosion control, I can say with certainty that this stream is now unraveling and will become an eroded gully in a few years if this is not addressed (such erosion runs counter to our Code purposes). Hence this Resolution. I organized a walkthru of the stream with City and County staff, as well as the developer and County Councilwoman Lisa Rodvien (who was incredibly helpful), to review the problems. After that, I finished drafting the Resolution. What the Resolution does is resolve that the Council wants immediate action taken to stabilize and protect this stream and to reduce the volume of runoff during construction, that DPW review the final stormwater permit and plans to determine if more water quantity needs to be managed post-construction, and that the $4 million bond be held for at least 2 years post-construction in case any work needs to be done after this project is built-out. We had an emergency Council session on Thursday to get this introduced, and final vote will be on Monday. If you support this I encourage you to come out and testify or submit public testimony!
Griscom Square – development at Tyler & Bay Ridge
The development at Tyler and Bay Ridge has started clearing the forest. This will be a 12-unit single family home development behind the existing homes on Tyler, between Tyler and Bethany Court and Cedar Ridge Court. This is, unfortunately, one of the “zombie” permits that lives on (see Rick Hutzell's article on this topic), despite having 2006 approval (along with the Rocky Gorge project off Aris T. Allen Blvd) that should have expired long ago. Unfortunately, Planning & Zoning decided to utilize their discretion over the years to grant extension after extension, and even cancel a cancellation of their permits oddly enough (when it comes to Rocky Gorge), which means these projects are being built to our 2006 standards rather than the most recent laws. This is rather frustrating, considering that we have worked incredibly hard to update our Forest Conservation, Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) program, adequate public facilities requirements, and our stormwater code, just to name a few. The Council feels ignored and bypassed by City staff. Over the next few months I’ll be introducing legislation to address/correct this underlying issue and speaking with the new City Manager.
But back to Griscom Square, I’ve secured a commitment from P&Z staff to reassess the property to determine if the forest has changed since their 2015 forest approvals, undertake a review of permit approvals and extensions, and they have committed to work with me to setup a community meeting with the developer. The purpose of this meeting will be to ensure everyone is aware of what this project entails, and to give you an opportunity to express any concerns or requests to the developer (a former local named John Pilli). I have spoken with Mr. Pilli and he is willing to meet. Once we have agreed upon a date and time I will let you know. I’m not yet sure if this will be virtual or in-person. If you have a preference, please let me know.
Carrs beach vote
We will be voting on SA-4-23, which authorizes the use of some of our Capital Reserve funds to help pay for the closing costs for acquiring the Carrs Beach property, which is a forested lot with wetlands next to BayWoods. This is the historic property that used to be an African American beach that had many famous musicians that would visit back in the day.
Police accountability board update on nominee
Our last nominee to the County Police Accountability Board ended up withdrawing his name from consideration, so we had to find a new candidate, which is now Ms. Sharron Elliott, who has an extensive background in criminal justice. I’m inclined to support her nomination, pending any comments from you.
FYI, the Council is in recess for the month of August. We will be having no meetings, which means I likely will not be sending out any email updates, unless something comes up that I feel you might want to be informed about. I’ll be trying to take a break myself, but I do have a lot of legislation to work on in between getting time with my family.
Stay healthy and stay safe,
Next Council meeting – 7/25/22 (agenda)
This Council meeting is starting at 10am and will be televised on local cable, YouTube, Facebook, and the City website. You can submit public testimony at http://www.annapolis.gov/testimony. This will be an in-person meeting.
- O-9-22 - The purpose of this ordinance is to reduce or eliminate the requirement for bars, taverns, delicatessens, restaurants and social clubs to provide off-street parking. I’m curious what your thoughts are on this ordinance. This would apply to the entire City and on the plus side, it would allow existing parking lots to be utilized for other beneficial purposes or even possibly re-development. On the negative side, this could lead to greater parking woes, but then again it might encourage people to seek other methods of traveling besides automobiles? That’s the idea, anyway. What do you think? I am open to the concept but I do fear it may impact certain parts of the City (such as Eastport) greater than others.
- O-42-22 - Business License, Taxes and Regulations - Street Cafe - For the purpose of clarifying the definition of street cafes
- O-43-22 - Issuance of General Obligation Bonds and Bond Anticipation Notes
Legislation being introduced on first reader
- O-27-22 - Public Services - Water Service - Billing - Waiving Late Penalties -- For the purpose of allowing the Finance Director to waive certain late utility penalties, and generally regarding City of Annapolis utility fees.
- O-44-22 - Subdivisions - Moderately Priced Dwelling Units - Rental Assistance Funding - for the purpose of adding rental assistance to the list of expenditures allowed from the affordable housing trust fund.
Legislation on second reader (i.e. final vote)
- O-6-22 - Medical Cannabis Dispensaries - For the purpose of allowing medical cannabis dispensaries in certain zoning districts within the City of Annapolis; adding a use subject to standards; adding certain definitions; and generally relating to medical cannabis dispensaries. This legislation is looking ahead to when/if the State expands the dispensary program by allowing them to be located in the City in existing business districts. The legislation includes a buffer requirement similar to the County’s, in that they can’t be located within 2000 feet of an existing dispensary and also 1,000 feet from a school. However, I support removing these restrictions. We have seen no data that indicates any correlation between crime and dispensaries, so I see no reason to place restrictions on them; restrictions that we don’t place on liquor stores or pharmacies, for example (remember, cannabis is a medicine). As you can probably tell, I’m inclined to support this legislation if it is amended to eliminate or reduce the buffer requirements, pending any comments from you.
- O-30-22 - Buildings and Construction- Fire Prevention Code - Sprinkler and Electrical Assistance Revolving Funds. - For the purpose of clarifying the Sprinkler Assistance Revolving Fund and other technical changes. I am inclined to support this legislation, pending any comments from you.
- R-36-22 - City Supported Special Events in Fiscal Year 2023 - For the purpose of identifying City Supported Special Events; and waiving certain related City Fees during Fiscal Year 2023. I’m inclined to support this legislation, pending any comments from you.
- R-38-22 - Non-Profit Vendors During Annapolis Songwriters Festival and Holiday Market - For the purpose of authorizing sales by certain vendors in the Susan Campbell Park of the Historic District during September and December of 2022. I’m inclined to support this legislation, pending any comments from you.
- R-45-22 - Compensation of Acting Director of Transportation Agyemang-Duah - For the purpose of expressly consenting to compensate an acting director when a directorship remains vacant for six-months. I’m inclined to support this legislation, pending any comments from you.
- R-46-22 - Director of Public Works - David A. Jarrell - For the purpose of expressly confirming the appointment of David A. Jarrell as the Director of Public Works; and consenting to compensate the Director. I’m inclined to support this legislation, pending any comments from you.
- R-49-22 - Parkeside Preserve Emergency Action for the purpose of addressing the development of Lennar at Parkeside Preserve and its impact on Quiet Waters Park. See my comments in my introductory remarks for more information on this. This is being introduced by me, so I’m quite inclined to support it.
Community & Political updates
Opportunity to Serve on the Annapolis Democratic Central Committee
There is an opportunity for a resident from Ward 7 to serve as an alternate on the Annapolis Democratic Central Committee (http://annapolisdems.org). In addition to fulfilling duties imposed by the Annapolis City Code, the ADCC supports a strong and viable Democratic Party. If you are interested in serving, please let me know and I will put you in touch with the Central Committee.