More development on Forest Dr? Ward 7 priorities

We had an excellent Town Hall meeting this past week. I’d like to thank everyone who came out to that, and thank everyone who helped distribute flyers (we distributed over 2,000 flyers across the Ward!). I’ll be sharing the results of all the brainstorming of 2019 priorities, including the point rating for each item (i.e. how many priority sticker votes each item received), once that information is compiled. I will likely present on this at a future Town Hall meeting, perhaps at the spring Town Hall meeting on April 3rd. Perhaps that would be a good meeting to invite the Mayor to as well.

Here is some information on the next Council meeting. There is an important items up for a public hearing, the Eastport-Forest Drive Sector Study that can potentially have widespread impacts to the Ward, for better or worse. I’ll explain more below.

Next Council meeting - 1/28/19 (agenda)

Public hearings

  • R-45-18 - 2018 Forest Drive/Eastport Sector Study - The role of a Sector Study is very similar to that of a Comprehensive Plan, except it’s a more targeted approach to guiding development and assessing needs in a particular “sector” of the City. The larger Comprehensive Plan seeks to do this, but also to create a collective vision and set of goals that is to guide all of our local policy. If this Sector Study is adopted, it will become a part of the 2009 Annapolis Comprehensive Plan, and will be used as a springboard to create the 2020 Annapolis Comprehensive Plan. That’s why we need to get this right. Furthermore, it will have large impacts, for better or worse, to Ward 7 and the entire Annapolis Neck Peninsula. While it has already gone through 5 or 6 public hearings (not associated with the City Council or specific legislation), I heard quite a number of comments from the last Town Hall that folks want to have more of a chance to comment and review this document. This Monday, at the public comment period before the City Council, is your next opportunity to comment. I am planning on requesting an extension of the public comment period, but this has to be agreed upon by the Mayor.

Sector Study Summary

What this Sector study proposes to do is essentially change the character of future development, aiming to make it less auto-centric by utilizing more pockets of commercial development and other mobility options up and down the corridor to reduce the need for more driving. As a part of this, it also identifies areas for greenway improvements, economic improvements, and other “neighborhood enhancements”. While this all may sound good, the concern is that the traffic analysis in this report, which doesn’t even look at a max “build out” scenario, already indicates that many of our intersections are failing. Many of the traffic improvements suggested rely upon the County’s agreement since Forest Drive is a County roadway. Some specific changes to Ward 7 that are proposed are “neighborhood enhancements” in Fairwinds (allowing for more connectivity and traffic calming), creating more of an urban center around the Giant and True Value Hardware store (with potentially more height, up to 8 stores around the Giant, converting the property with the church to “urban village center”), allowing for adaptive use on the homes at the end of Cypress near Forest Drive (residential to commercial, 1-story), just to name a few. Estimates range from 400 to 4,000 new residential units if this plan were carried forward; however, it’s important to note that even without this plan we may be facing that potential increase. In light of our current traffic issues, should we be calling for more commercial and residential development? While much of it will happen anyway, is there value in guiding future development in the direction we want it to go? Should we be improving infrastructure and assessing our capacity for new growth before proposing these changes? Should we be considering “down zoning” in certain areas where we can’t handle more growth and want greenways? These are the questions I’m struggling with. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Legislation up for a final vote

  • O-45-18 - Fair housing, unlawful housing practices - I am a co-sponsor of this legislation - This essentially makes it unlawful to discriminate based on lawful sources of income, such as section 8 housing vouchers.
  • O-40-18 - Vacant Nonresidential Buildings - Registration - For the purpose of requiring vacant or partially vacant nonresidential buildings to be registered with the Department of Planning and Zoning; requiring posting of vacant property signage on all such buildings; establishing a registry of vacant or partially vacant nonresidential buildings; and matters generally relating to registering vacant nonresidential buildings. The intention of this legislation is to do what we can to pressure owners to fill their vacant buildings, rather than allowing them to have their buildings sit vacant while they wait for the highest rent they can get. Pending any comments from you, I intend to support this legislation.
  • R-42-18 - This simply provides for fees for the aforementioned O-40-18.

Updates

Royal Farms & gas station @ Hilltop & Forest - Community Meeting

The Admiral Tire, at the corner of Forest Dr. & Tyler Ave. (and the lot next to it the ends on Marda Ln.) were purchased by the Royal Farms Corporation. They intend to build a 24hr gas station and convenience store. They are hosting a community meeting:

Wed. Jan. 30, 2019
6:00-8:00pm
At the Robinwood Community Center

This development could have traffic, environmental, and safety impacts to Ward 7. In order to build a gas station, they must get a Special Exception from the Board of Appeals to proceed, since this is not allowed under current zoning. Now is your first chance to speak up about this project.  

Spring Greenscape

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley and the City of Annapolis invite you to help make Maryland’s capital city a beautiful place during 2019. This year’s GreenScape will take place on Saturday, April 27.

GreenScape is a volunteer effort that encourages individuals and organizations to plant and maintain native flower and vegetable gardens in public spaces throughout the City. The City provides plant materials, mulch, trash bags and gloves, and in turn, members of the community volunteer to make a difference in Annapolis.

Organizational meetings will be held Wednesday, February 6 and Wednesday, March 6. Both meetings will be held at 6 p.m. at the “Pip” Moyer Recreation Center located at 273 Hilltop Lane in Annapolis.

If you are unable to attend the meeting on Wednesday, February 6, you can download the order form at www.annapolis.gov/GreenScape. Complete the form and e-mail it to Marisa Wittlinger at mdwittlinger@annapolis.gov. For more information, please visit www.annapolis.gov/GreenScape.

Capital Improvement 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.

Ward 7

  • Sidewalk inventory and expansion, including crosswalk identification
  • Traffic calming on edgewood and janwall St/Woods Rd
  • Dredging in Back Creek
  • Pedestrian bridge across Forest Drive

For City

  • Greenway plan
  • City-wide climate resiliency study
  • Maynard burgess house renovation - for Council offices
  • Hillman garage replacement

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  • Rob Savidge