Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you were able to spend some quality time with your family.
We don’t have too much action to take at Monday’s Council meeting, but I did want to brief you on some important issues before us.
Apartments and hotels coming to our residential neighborhoods?
First of all is O-40-22, which is titled “workforce housing” but in reality, what it seeks to allow is below market rate (BMR) housing in virtually all of our zoning Districts. I wholeheartedly support encouraging more BMR housing (as I’ve done for years with our Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit program), but the way this legislation would accomplish that goal undermines and seeks to avoid our typical process for what amounts to re-zoning, in that it would allow “apartment hotels” and “multi-family dwelling units” in every single zoning district (except maritime and industrial) in the City without the normal robust community dialog and notification. It does this by making “workforce housing” a permitted use in all districts subject to the standards of the B-4 district, which allows the apartments and hotels I mentioned. What this means is, a developer could buy up a few lots/houses in an R1-R3 residential neighborhood and build a dense multi-family housing complex like an apartment or hotel. I’m not opposed to increasing density in areas where it makes sense, and as long as it’s done in a deliberate way with actual planning following a robust public process. You can look to Ward 7 for ways in which this has been done well, with single family homes next to duplexes, next to town homes, next to apartments. But this legislation, if passed, would take the planning, and much of the public transparency/participation, out of the process, given that I’m not clear on if such re-development would be considered a major site design that would need to go to the Planning Commission for a public hearing, and which the neighbors would need to be notified. We have also been told by our Planning & Zoning Department that this legislation is aimed at encouraging workforce housing with 60+ units, but there doesn’t appear to be any “guard rails” or constraints on this legislation to prevent such dense development from happening on smaller lots in a residential districts. I’ll be working to create such “guard rails” as I dig into this legislation.
I know in my neighborhood, we have an issue with one non-owner occupied short term rental contributing considerable traffic, noise, and general disruption to our quality of life (more on this below). Now imagine if we have to worry about an apartment complex being built in the middle of our neighborhood?! Dense housing should be deliberately planned where the infrastructure can support it and where the neighbors have been consulted. Not done in this haphazard way proposed with this legislation.
If you have thoughts on this legislation, the public hearing has not yet been scheduled before the Council; however, it is currently before the Planning Commission, who is holding a virtual meeting on December 1st at 7pm. You can sign up to provide live testimony or submit written here.
Short Term rental legislation
I mentioned my neighborhood is having an issue with what was an unlicensed short term rental (STR) that is NOT occupied by the owner (non-owner occupied), which is contributing more noise and traffic than we are used to. They finally got a license but then it was found that there are three owners of the property who also own two other STRs in the City, who are clearly trying to find ways around our existing STR regulations, which prohibit any one person or entity from owning more than one short term rental. The intention of that provision is to prevent circumstances like this, where out-of-City (or out-of-state in this instance) investors buy up residential properties and convert them to STRs, and to ensure that there is local ownership and more importantly local accountability (i.e. we can speak to our neighbors directly about issues). I’m working on legislation to address this immediate attempt to skirt our laws, to be followed by another piece of legislation that will essentially be making non-owner occupied STRs be considered businesses. When you look at it, STRs without the owners are hotels/inns. Such properties do not serve the community or residential neighborhood, but instead support tourists visiting our town, which then makes it a business. My planned legislation would have non-owner occupied STRs needing to apply for a special exception (with a public hearing/notification process) if they want to locate in a residential neighborhood. I’m still working on the details of both pieces of legislation with our law office but I hope to get something introduced before the new year.
Ward 7 Town Hall meeting
I’d like to discuss some of these issues with you on December 5st at a Ward 7 Town Hall meeting at the Eastport-Annapolis Neck Library from 6:30 to 8:30pm.
Stay healthy and stay safe,
Next Council meeting – 11/28/22 (agenda)
This Council meeting is starting at 7pm 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-52-22 - Turtle-friendly Curbs – This is legislation I’m introducing that would require “turtle-friendly” rounded/rolled curbs on non-arterial streets within the Critical area. This would apply to new construction and require the Department of Public Works to establish a policy as far how and when to replace existing curbing. I’m introducing this because I’ve seen, especially in my neighborhood, various species and ages of turtles migrating across our streets and yards, with some even nesting in our front yards. This is made easier in our neighborhood because of the rolled curbs.
Legislation being introduced on first reader
- O-33-22 - City of Annapolis Public Ethics Law - For the purpose of compliance with the requirements of Subtitle 8 Local Government Provisions of the Public Ethics Law or Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 19A.04. These are tweaks coming out of State legislation but don’t represent any significant changes.
- O-50-22 - Rent Guidelines - For the purpose of developing rent guidelines; creating a Rent Stabilization Board to create and oversee the guidelines; setting rent increase notice requirements; generally concerning rents and landlord-tenant relations.
- O-54-22 - Sign Regulations - Shopping Center Sign Requirements - For the purpose of expanding sign requirement exceptions regarding front-lit signage for shopping centers in B2 Community Shopping zoning districts; and generally dealing with sign regulations in the City of Annapolis.
- O-51-22 - Floodplain Management - Amending the Floodplain Management Code - For the purpose of improving compliance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) model floodplain management code; and generally related to floodplain management.
- R-60-22 - Updated Annapolis Transit Agency Safety Plan - For the purpose of updating the Annapolis Transit Agency Safety Plan; and generally dealing with Maryland Transit Administration requirements.
Legislation on second reader (i.e. final vote)
- O-11-22 - Standard Restaurants - B1 District Special Exceptions - For the purpose of modifying additional standards for food and beverage-related uses in the B1 District that are subject to special exception. I’m inclined to support this, pending any input from you. It would essentially allow for restaurants in the B1 district to apply for special exceptions to more than just a seat limit, to include things such as roof-top dining or live entertainment. Ald. Arnett has an amendment that would limit the hours of operation for outdoor dining to be no later than 11pm.
Community & Political updates
City Hall Holiday Open House
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.