Happy New Year!
Here is some information on the first City Council meeting for the new year, our next Town Hall meeting where we will be identifying Ward 7 priorities, an update on how the Crystal Spring Community Meeting went, and a list of some potential Ward 7 Capital projects that I would like your feedback on.
Next Council meeting - 1/14/19 (agenda)
- CA-2-18 Aldermanic Titles - Charter Updates - This is to add Alderwoman wherever Alderman appears in the Charter.
- O-47-18 Special Events - This is to improve the current Code description of the term “city Sponsored Event.
Legislation up for a final vote
- O-34-18 Demolition by Neglect - This ordinance proposes to amend the Historic Preservation District Overlay district by revising the definition of “demolition by neglect” and modifying the process for investigating and reviewing reports on structures meeting the definition of demolition by neglect. The proposed legislation provides additional authorities for investigating, including limited entry into the interior of a structure, solely if it is necessary to assess the exterior condition of the property and requires a public hearing on the reporting of any structures to the Historic Preservation Commission that have been investigated. The proposed legislation removes the Mayor’s participation in the demolition by neglect process and requires the Director of Planning and Zoning to investigate whenever he/she has been made aware of an allegation of demolition by neglect. At this point, this legislation affects the Ward One Historic District only. The Rules & Government Committee (which I serve on) incorporated various amendments from the Planning Commission and Historic Preservation Commission and I intend to support the legislation as amended, pending any input from you to the contrary.
- O-43-18 Supplemental Allocations - This ordinance reinstates the provisions of Section 6.16.020 of the City Code regarding supplemental allocations. The provisions in this ordinance are identical to those in Ordinance 30-16, which included a sunset clause that caused the provisions to expire by operation of law on June 30, 2018. This ordinance reinstates the previous provisions and has no sunset clause. Our finance committee has given this a favorable recommendation. Pending input from you to the contrary, I plan to vote yes.
- R-46-18 Application of the City of Annapolis Stormwater Regulations - I am a sponsor of this Resolution. In light of our federal pollution reduction targets that must be met by 2025 in order to clean up our waterways, an obvious question is how we will pay for this cleanup, and a follow-up question is how we will prevent further damage or degradation of our waterways. Should taxpayers pay or the actual polluters pay to accomplish this? I believe the latter, which is why I introduced this legislation with the co-sponsors. This can be done without any change to our law. Our current City code allows the Director of Public Works to require that development projects treat more than the minimum amount of stormwater if there are certain conditions met, including if hydrologic or topographic conditions, flooding, stream channel erosion, or water quality problems exist downstream from a proposed project. Any treatment over the State minimum can be claimed as credits towards our cleanup. This resolution simply expresses the City Council's desire that the City exercise its ability under Section 17.10.080.A.3 to require more than the minimum requirements. This is an effort to get our staff to enforce our laws to the advantage of the taxpayers and our environment. I plan on following this up later in the year with some more substantive changes to our stormwater laws. Pending any concerns from you, I plan on supporting this legislation.
- R-49-18 Forest Conservation - No Net Loss - Fees - This resolution would weaken our Forest Conservation program. Under the State (and City) Forest Conservation Act, if a developer feels they cannot meet the mitigation (i.e. forest replacement) requirement, they can pay a “fee-in-lieu” into a “forest restoration fund.” It is then up to the City to determine how to spend that money to do the actual mitigation; mitigation that isn’t an adequate replacement to the established forest that was removed. Developers in the City have never utilized our fee-in-lieu, which was only about $12,000 per acre, because they utilized other loopholes that negated all of their required mitigation. With passage of the recent “no net loss of forests” ordinance, we removed that loophole. The previous Council also closed some loopholes in 2016 when they passed other improvements that raised this fee up to $400,000 per acre (or $10 per square foot). Their rationale with that high fee-in-lieu is to discourage forest clearing, place an economic value on the forest, factoring in how much land actual costs in the city and how much forest we have left. Many jurisdictions have actually removed this fee-in-lieu entirely. What this resolution would do is take us backwards and reduce our fee-in-lieu to $1 per square foot (or about $40,000 per acre). Pending any comments from you, I am currently in strong opposition to this resolution.
R-50-18 City of Annapolis Police and Fire Retirement Plan - This resolution amends the provisions of the Police and Fire Pension Plan to reflect the changes agreed to in the collective bargaining agreements with Local 1926 (Fire) and Local 400 (Police). The substantive changes to the plan's benefits are:
- Change normal retirement from 25 years to 20 years.
- Increase in the maximum pension benefit from 70% to 75% after 30 years of service.
- Modify the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) to make it cost neutral. Participants must remain in the DROP for four years and contribute 4% of their pay during the DROP period. The investment rate of return on their DROP balances is set at 3.25%.
The other changes to the plan are administrative in nature. Pending input from you to the contrary, I plan to vote yes to these negotiated agreements.
Next Town Hall Meeting
I will hold my next Ward 7 Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, January 23rd, from 6-8 PM at the Eastport-Annapolis Neck Library. Rather than have the meetings just be me giving you updates, I am going to try to have more special guests and other discussions. So for our first meeting of the new year, I’m going to have it be a discussion and ranking of Ward 7 priorities for 2019, to help give me an idea of what you would like me to work on for you. I am hoping to have various topic areas where you can list and then rank ideas. I’ll still try to have an open format either before or after this exercise (probably after) to address any lingering concerns or questions folks may have. Please let me know if you would be willing to help distribute flyers or help with the event itself.
Crystal Spring Community Meeting
The Village at Providence Point (aka Crystal Spring) development project is a proposed continuing care center that would clear over 30 acres of forest along Forest Drive. They held a Community Meeting on January 3rd. The purpose of the Community Meeting is to hear public input and comments for the developers to factor in and respond to. This was our first such Community Meeting as this is a new requirement. Unfortunately, this first meeting didn’t turn out too well. The developers held it at a church and there was insufficient parking, insufficient signage, insufficient space and chairs in the meeting room, and they ended it before everyone had a chance to log their comments. I have since requested that the City tell the developer this meeting did not meet our requirements, but this is still something I’m working on.
Capital projects for Ward 7
In each City budget, we have a list of Capital expenditures for the Capital Improvement program (CIP). I have generated a list of projects I’d like to see funded, including some from Ward 7. If you have any other ideas for Ward 7 (or City wide) projects you would like to see funded, please send them my way.
- Sidewalk inventory and expansion, including crosswalk identification
- Traffic calming on edgewood and janwall St/Woods Rd
- Dredging in Back Creek
- Greenway plan
- City-wide climate resiliency study
- Maynard burgess house renovation - for Council offices
Hillman garage replacement