Final short term rental vote, holiday update, and Council meeting Monday

Happy new year! I hope you had a pleasant holiday season. As we kick off the new year, I’ll be identifying legislative and other priorities for the coming year. If there’s anything you’d like me to focus on, please let me know.

We have our first meeting of the year coming up on Monday. Here are some details on that meeting.

Updates

Here’s some information that I said I’d send out:

Trash pickup concerns

If you have trash pickup concerns, you can either fill out this online form, call Public Works at 410-263-7949, or you can always send me a message. 

Downtown resiliency/sea level rise information/reports

Here is information on some previous sea level rise work done by the City: 2011 studies and the Weather It Together initiative. We will also be receiving a presentation on a new report this Monday.

Previous Council meeting update

I wanted to note one piece of legislation from our previous meeting. O-31-19  reduces public speaking time to 3 minutes (down from 5). Originally I supported this effort because I’ve seen people leave meetings that drag on too late, but after hearing from the public I decided to vote against it. Some have raised the point that if we are more disciplined and more effectively chairing the meetings we can save time in that regard.  I have requested legislation that will restructure our meetings where the first meeting of the month is where we actually vote on legislation and deliberate, and the second meeting of each month is where we have the public hearings and ceremonial items. I feel this would help to prevent the all too often occurrence where the meetings drag on and we are deliberating on legislation late into the night. Such late discussions do not foster good decision making. Despite my vote against it, this change to the speaking times passed, so please keep this in mind if you decide to offer testimony. 

Next Council meeting - 1/13/20 (agenda)

Council meetings are held at 160 Duke of Gloucester St (2nd floor) at 7pm and are televised on local cable, Facebook, and the City website (www.annapolis.gov)

Special presentation

We will be receiving a “Briefing from the Resiliency Team”, presumably about the work we have been having done for us on contract to develop a resiliency plan and a resiliency finance authority. 

Public hearings

  • O-27-19 - Critical Area update - This ordinance simply updates our Critical Area laws to meet the State standards, and as amended brings it up to the same standards as our updated Forest Conservation laws. 
  • O-39-19 - Accessory Dwelling Units - For the purpose of allowing accessory dwelling units in all zoning districts that allow single-family detached dwellings. This legislation would basically allow residents to rent out their accessory units, such as separate garages or “in-law suites”, as long as they are no larger than 1,000 square feet. The intention is to increase the availability of more affordable housing. 
  • O-40-19 - This modifies the budget to allow for the City to purchase property on Hudson Street, so that we can construct our new Public Works building there. As you may recall, the Mayor decided to halt the re-construction of the DPW buildings on Spa Rd. He was hoping to do a “land swap” with a private developer at the intersection of Spa and Forest Drive, but the sites were different sizes and there was community opposition. Now he has zeroed in on a property off of Hudson street. The good part about this site is it is already graded and it’s located within an industrial zone (no impacts to residential neighborhoods). The part I still have concerns about is where we will be finding the money. The cost of the property is $2.2 million, and the Mayor has already put in an offer (without speaking to the entire Council). From what I gather they will take that money from the already appropriated money (I think it’s 4 or 5 million) for the DPW building. They are claiming that there will be cost savings/reductions to the budgeted construction amount, if constructed on Hudson Street, because the site is already graded and they can alter the design as it doesn’t have to blend in with a residential neighborhood. This sounds reasonable, but I’d like to see the numbers to ensure we can find those cost savings. I’m skeptical given that the new Truxtun Pool and reportedly the downtown pump projects have both gone over cost. If the administration is planning on balancing the costs by surplussing the Spa Road properties, I’d like to see the numbers on that as well. We know the southern Spa Rd site is contaminated, and I’m concerned that either we will need to pay for the remediation, or if a buyer has to worry about it then it would reduce the amount of money we get from the property. Furthermore, I’m not so certain we should sell those properties. They provide a great opportunity for us to turn this area into a stormwater management center, wetland restoration area, and forest mitigation bank, that would create a central park for the City connecting Truxtun Park to the greenspace near South Cherry Grove.

Given that this is the public hearing, do you have all the information you need to comment on this proposal? 

Legislation up for a final vote

  • O-26-19, R-30-19, R-31-19 - Short term rental code adjustment - At our previous meeting, I requested that one of my colleagues who voted in favor of this on 2nd reader to make a motion to reconsider, so that we could all discuss a compromise to this legislation. Unfortunately it failed. My main issue with this legislation is that it does not address the main problem we are experiencing in certain sectors of the City: an overabundance of vacant, owner un-occupied, short term rentals that have no primary residence. This has lead to some blocks having 1 in every 2, and 1 in every 4 homes being vacant. This is a huge problem. It is a wholesale change of our neighborhoods from residential into commercial districts, with no say by the community. This legislation would do nothing to address this problem. Hence, despite the fact that it does make improvements to our current code, I’m inclined to vote no, pending any comments from you. 
  • O-27-19 -  Updates to our Critical Area laws - As I stated previously, this ordinance simply updates our Critical Area laws to meet the State standards, and as amended brings it up to the same standards as our updated Forest Conservation laws. Pending any comments from you, I intend to support this legislation.
  • O-35-19 - For the purpose of allowing the uses Seafood Industrial and Food Service Marts in the Waterfront Maritime Conservation District. I’m inclined to support my Wards 1 and 8 colleagues on this, pending any input from you. 
  • O-37-19 - This modifies the City Council Rules of Procedure to prohibit certain items in Council Chambers without prior approval; identifies certain unacceptable behavior in Council Chambers that would warrant removal of an individual; and is generally related to maintaining order and decorum at City Council meetings. I have a few amendments I’ve proposed through the Rules and Government Committee that I would like passed before I support this legislation. While I do want to maintain decorum, I also want to ensure that the public has a right of free speech and expression at our meetings. So my amendments would allow non-disruptive signs so that you could still show support or opposition to legislation, and it would specifically allow the Council to overrule the Chair if we felt someone was removed inappropriately or for political reasons. 
  • R-44-19 - Adoption of the Transit Development Plan - I’ll likely be supporting this, pending any comments from you. 
  • R-51-19 - For the purpose of recognizing and honoring Chief Joseph S. Johnson; and dedicating and approving the installation of a commemorative marker on the Annapolis Police Department building in his honor. I’m not sure how I’m going to vote on this, as we have been contacted by another previous police chief’s family who say that we have already named the police HQ after their father, and they are upset about this proposal to rename it in someone else’s honor

New Community updates 

City dock action committee

The City Dock Action Committee (CDAC) will report their findings to the Annapolis City Council on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 from 3 to 5 p.m. The 100-person effort spent eight months collaborating with residents and businesses to make recommendations on the future of City Dock. The hearing will be televised on City of Annapolis TV (Comcast and Verizon), Facebook LIVE and YouTube from 3 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, January 14, 2020. 

Mayor Invites Public to a Community Engagement Session

The City of Annapolis, Office of the Mayor is hosting a Community Engagement Session in January. The public is invited and encouraged to attend. The evening forum will be an opportunity for residents to learn about city priorities, city programs and One Annapolis initiatives.

WHAT: Community Engagement Session

WHEN: January 30th, from 6 to 8 p.m.

WHERE: City Council Chamber, 160 Duke of Gloucester, Annapolis, MD

The evening is planned as a two-way listening session where City officials, including department heads and project leads, will be available to talk about City priorities. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Please park at Hillman Garage (behind City Hall) and request a two-hour waiver card at the event.

RSVP to the event here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/new-event-date-one-annapolis-community-engagement-session-tickets-80580391119

Re-entry Community Resource Fair

CITY OF ANNAPOLIS SPRING GREENSCAPE SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 25

Work session on City Dock Action Committee report - January 14th, 3pm, City Council chambers

Work session on Forest Drive task force final report and a briefing from the resiliency team - January 16th, 3pm, City Council Chambers

Are you the president of a community association? 

If so, the Department of Planning and Zoning is working on the Comprehensive Plan—an aspirational document that looks 20 years out and helps guide goals and policies for City leaders in the next 20 years. The acting director would like to meet with you on January 23, 2020, 7:00 pm, at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center, located at 273 Hilltop Lane. The meeting will give you more information about the plan and how your association can participate in the planning process.  For more information, visit: https://www.annapolis.gov/1446/2020-Comprehensive-Plan or call 410.260.2200 ext, 7792 or email snash@annapolis.gov with questions. 

New Weekly Email List/News Flash for 2020 Comprehensive Plan

Planning and Zoning has started a new email list/News Flash for the 2020 Comprehensive Plan.  Sign up to receive weekly updates about our progress on Annapolis Ahead, the plan we are working on now.  

To subscribe, go to: https://www.annapolis.gov/list.aspx

Scroll down to "News Flash" and click on the envelope icon to subscribe to "Annapolis Ahead: Weekly Comprehensive Plan Progress Update"

Annapolis Maritime Museum Winter Lecture Series

Continuing community announcements

Annapolis 2020 Comprehensive Plan survey

Take a few minutes of your time to complete this survey for the 2020 Annapolis Comprehensive Plan update and share where your priorities lie for the next 20 years in the City. The questions regarding planning priorities are informed by meetings with stakeholders over the last two months and the first public meeting that was held on May 7th.

Take the survey here: https://forms.gle/uYdq7sCX2ihF96dq8


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  • Rob Savidge