Monday is our first City Council meeting after our August recess, so it’s a bit of a packed agenda with a number of new pieces of legislation being introduced. Here are a few highlights:
Short term rental licensing
I am introducing legislation that seeks to close a few loopholes with our short term rental licensing. We had an issue with some outside investors with shared financial interests who were buying up property and using different names or business entity names on their applications, in an effort to get around our 1 STR per owner rules. I am also seeking to clarify language around suspension and revocation of permits in an effort to deal with nuisance properties.
Noise ordinance updates
The second piece of legislation I worked on with of a few of my colleagues, that’s being introduced, seeks to update our noise restrictions in three ways: 1. Essentially bans gas-powered leaf blowers due to their noise and emissions, 2. Creates noise restrictions for the new party boats (and general boats) that are on our creeks, and 3. Bans the use of high-frequency sound emitters due to impacts to pets and some people.
Forest conservation – update to appeals
The third piece of legislation I’m introducing is a tweak to our forest conservation laws. It would require that P&Z place a stay (halt) on any forest clearing if there is an appeal to a local appeal board, empower them to stay clearing on state appeals, move appeals to the Zoning Board of Appeals rather than the Building Board of Appeals (makes it more consistent with code), and closes an old loophole where Planned Development projects approved before a certain date received a blanket exemption to the laws.
Wells Cove water access public hearing
There is a public hearing on my legislation dealing with the Wells Cove public water access easement. If you support this access and want it fully unimpeded and fully enacted and signed by the City, please come out and support this legislation to submit comments.
Stay healthy and stay safe,
Next Council meeting – 9/11/23 (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-10-23 - Allowing Cigar Lounges to Serve Alcoholic Beverages
- O-22-23 - Creation of Art Establishment Beer and Wine License
- O-23-23 - Alcoholic Beverages Code Technical Corrections
- O-24-23 - Issuance of General Obligation Bonds and Bond Anticipation Notes
- R-43-23 - Public Water Access at the Wells Cove Inlet in Eastport - For the purpose of ensuring the public can walk along the Wells Cove waterfront and enter the water to use small watercraft such as kayaks and paddleboards at the Wells Cove inlet.
Legislation being introduced on first reader
- O-5-23 - Adequate Public Facilities - City Code Update – Our APF code is in place to ensure that we have adequate facilities before allowing new development to take place. This is a comprehensive re-write of our APF code. Unfortunately, this is a re-write that was undertaken by the administration, without Council input. They hired an outside third party to draft these (in other words, they excluded the policy-makers from the drafting process). I have a number of concerns with the legislation as written. It completely guts our stormwater APF, removes our traffic APF standards completely, makes it so even if a development fails the meet the APF they can still build if they just wait 5 years, makes it so they can get their certificate of APF even if there are not adequate facilities if they just refuse to agree to a mitigation plan, allows certificates of APF to last 15 years (no matter if the Council updates our standards – recall the zombie-permit issue we had last year?), and doesn’t include micro-transit in our transportation APF. Lots of concerns. Not sure if I’ll be supporting this on first reader or not as I don’t like how this was created without Council input, and actually caused a delay on our legislative work because our staff was taken up working on this instead of the Council’s legislation.
- O-25-23 - Exception to Allow Public Kayak Rack Pilot Program - For the purpose of creating a City of Annapolis pilot program to allow a public kayak rack in a street-end city park located on the City's waterfront;
- O-26-23 - Forest Conservation Plan Appeals - For the purpose of closing a loophole in the Forest Conservation Plan provisions of the City Code concerning forest clearing; changing the Forest Conservational Plan appeals body from the Building Board of Appeals to the Board of Appeals – This is my legislation. It would adjust the appeals process to require and allow P&Z to place a stay on forest clearing if there is an appeal pending. Appeals would be moved to the Zoning Board of Appeals rather than the Building Board of Appeals. Lastly, it removes an old loophole that exempted any projects that received planned development approval before the Chapter was adopted.
- O-28-23 - City Noise Prohibitions and Enforcement - For the purpose of updating the Annapolis City Code noise prohibition section by adding a ban on certain noise in residential areas; expanding enforcement; and generally related to noise prohibitions. This is legislation I worked on and am sponsoring. It combines three noise related issues into one: 1. It effectively bans gas-powered leaf blowers due to their incredible noise (not to mention their emissions), 2. It bans high-frequency sound emitters (due to impacts to pets and some humans), and 3. It sets standards for noise requirements for boats (i.e. party boats) on our creeks.
- O-30-23 - Updates and Corrections to Special Residential Parking Districts - For the purpose of moving Bloomsbury Square from Special Residential Parking District 1 and into District 4; updating the district descriptions and maps; and generally related to the City's special residential parking districts.
- O-31-23 - Certain Street Parking Updates and Corrections - For the purpose of eliminating outdated language and conflicts in the City of Annapolis code related to Chapter 12.20 - Stopping, Standing and Parking, and Chapter 12.32 - Special Residential Parking Districts; and generally related to parking in the City.
- O-32-23 - Short-term Rental Licenses and Regulations - For the purpose of clarifying and limiting local eligibility requirements for a short-term rental operator's license; providing definitions; making technical corrections; and generally relating to a rental operator's license. This is the legislation I’m introducing to essentially just tighten our regulations regarding Short Term Rentals, as far as ensuring only one STR per owner. We had an issue with out-of-town investors purchasing properties in the City, with shared financial interests, but using their different names to get around our code. It also strengthens the language regarding permit revocation and suspension if there are nuisance issues.
- R-47-23 - Public Kayak Rack Pilot Program - For the purpose of creating a City of Annapolis pilot program to allow a public kayak rack in a street-end city park located on the City's waterfront.
- R-48-23 - Establishing a Task Force to Study the City's Grant Programs - For the purpose of creating a task force to conduct a thorough review and analysis of existing City of Annapolis grant programs and make recommendations for possible changes to the program. I have some questions as far as costs, and seeing if another entity could do this for free instead of a task force, but I support the effort.
- R-49-23 - Commission to Plan Celebrations for the 250th Anniversary of the United States of America - For the purpose of creating the United States of America semi quincentennial commission to plan celebrations in the City of Annapolis commemorating the 250th anniversary of the U.S.A.
- R-51-23 - Fines for Violating Annapolis Noise Restrictions - For the purpose of increasing the fine for repeat violations of the City of Annapolis noise restrictions; and generally dealing with public peace and order section of the City Code.
- R-52-23 – Director of Public Works - Burr Vogel - For the purpose of expressly confirming the appointment of Burr Vogel as the Director of Public Works for the City of Annapolis; and consenting to compensate the Director. I’m looking forward to confirming Mr. Vogel, who happens to be a fellow Ward 7 resident (not to mention a neighbor!).
- R-53-23 - FY 2024 Position Classifications and Pay Plan Update - For the purpose of updating the Fiscal Year 2024 annual position classifications and pay plan to reflect the Management Information Technology office name change in CA-2-23 and O-18-23; changing the deputy director emergency preparedness classification level from A14 to A17; and specifying an effective date.
Legislation on second reader (i.e. final vote)
- O-3-23 - 2023 Redistricting and Revised 'Election Wards' Boundaries - For the purpose of revising the Annapolis City Council Ward boundaries due to population shifts revealed in the 2020 Census; and generally related to City election wards. I’m kind of ambivalent as far as choosing between the two proposed revised Ward maps from the Task Force (Alternative C or Alternative 3C). They both impact Ward 7 the same way, and simply add Bay Ridge Gardens to the Ward.
Community & Political updates
Annapolis Comprehensive plan public comment period ending
You can still comment on the draft 2040 Comprehensive Plan draft. I encourage you to take a look and review this plan (focus on the recommended goals, not the text as the text is too long to read) as this will have impacts on our Ward for the next 10 years. Once your comments are received, the plan will go to the Planning Commission for review, and then it will come to the City Council for a final vote, remand, disproval, or amendments.
September is National Preparedness Month - The City of Annapolis Wants to Show Support to Our Senior Annapolitans
Quiet Waters Park Retreat – volunteers needed to develop masterplan
Annapolis Police Athletic League Chess Club