Plastic bag ban, STR moratorium, & more on Monday meeting

I have two pieces of important legislation being introduced on Monday. The first is a moratorium on the issuance of all new Short Term Rental (STR) licenses, which would be in place while we update our zoning code to regulate the number (in some cases excessive number) of such businesses. The second is a “plastic bag ban” that would prevent all retail stores from providing plastic bags at checkout (this would not include trash bags, pet bags, or other bags that are not provided at the point of sale). Furthermore, it would assess a fee on paper bags to cover the retailer’s costs, to help the City pay for cleanup of all the legacy plastic pollution, and to provide reusable bags to those of lower income (this fee would only apply to retailers over 20,000 square feet). I have more information on both pieces of legislation below. 

Also, please hold April 8th for our next Town Hall meeting at the library (7-8:45 PM). 

Previous Council meeting update

At our previous meeting we adopted the Transit Safety Management Plan (R-3-20), extended the deadline for the Eastport-Forest Drive Sector Study Task Force (R-40-20), and postponed legislation that seeks to adjust the Planning & Zoning appeals process (O-34-19)

Next Council meeting - 2/10/20 (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)

First readers (legislation being introduced)

  • O-6-20 - Planned Developments - Public Housing Bulk Standards - For the purpose of allowing a height adjustment for certain eligible public housing development. This appears to allow public housing and low income units to take advantage of the density and bulk bonuses that are provided other developments that meet our Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit requirement. 
  • O-7-20 - Designated Loading Zones - For the purpose of authorizing designated loading zones in the City of Annapolis - This appears to simply allow our Public Works Department to create loading zones, such as those for taxis and to enforce such zones. I await the staff report for full context.
  • R-7-20 - Position Classifications - Amendment - For the purpose of approving an amendment to the FY 2020 position classifications. This just reclassifies a position in Purchasing per a recommendation from the Civil Service Board.
  • R-8-20 -  Pride of Baltimore II - Docking Fee Waiver - For the purpose of waiving the fees for docking the Pride of Baltimore II at the Annapolis City Dock on certain dates during the months of March and April in 2020
  • R-9-20 - Itinerant Merchant Sales in the Historic District - 2020 - For the purpose of authorizing hawker, peddler, and itinerant merchant sales in the Historic District in conjunction with certain special events during calendar year 2020. 
  • R-10-20 - Moratorium on the Issuance of Short Term Rental Licenses - For the purpose of placing a moratorium on the issuance of short term rental licenses; and setting a date for termination of the moratorium. I am introducing this legislation with the goal of freezing all new Short Term Rental (STR) licenses. My reasoning is that we will, over the course of the next year, be adjusting our zoning code to bring the high number of STRs under control. Such adjustments will likely reduce the number of STRs allowed per block/street, much like the traditional B&B restrictions. Rather than allow someone to submit for a new permit and then have us turn around a few months later and say, “oops, sorry, we’ve now changed our regulations and you can no longer get a permit”, I’d like to avoid that with this moratorium, which would give us a year to make the broader adjustments that are badly needed. The recently passed STR legislation doesn’t do much of anything to address the overabundance of STRs, hence our plan to regulate them in the zoning. 
  • O-X-20 - (legislation is not yet posted) Comprehensive Bag reduction (i.e. plastic checkout bag ban) - I am the chief sponsor of this legislation. It would prohibit all retail stores from providing plastic check-out bags at the point of sale. This would not apply to other plastic bags, like trash bags, pet waste, or sandwich bags that are not provided to you at the point of sale. Instead of plastic, paper bags containing at least 40% post-consumer recycled content are allowed to be provided to the consumer at the point of sale. However, a $0.20 fee will be assessed per bag, with $0.10 going to the grocer to cover any increased costs and $0.10 going to the City to pay for administrative costs (such as inspections and enforcement), education, and to pay for free reusable bags for low income and SNAP recipients, with the rest of the money going to our Watershed Restoration Fund to pay for the cleanup of legacy plastic bag pollution. While the plastic bag ban would apply to all retail stores, only those over 20,000 square feet would need to collect and remand the fee. I’ll post more information about this legislation in the future, but this is the product of extensive research into what has been done elsewhere, the impacts of plastic bags on our environment, and the importance and effectiveness of a fee in changing behavior. This mirrors the State legislation but it is stronger in that it doesn’t include the loophole that allows grocers to provide thicker plastic as a work-around, and it allows the city to collect a fee to pay for bags for lower income residents and for cleanup. 

Public hearings

  • O-3-20 - Sprinkler legislation for Historic District - This would incentivize property owners to install sprinklers in their buildings in our Historic District, and setup a fund to help them do so. 

Legislation up for a final vote

  • R-5-20 - University of Maryland, Baltimore - Study on the Health Effects of Air Traffic Noise - For the purpose of expressing the Annapolis City Council's support of Maryland Senate Bill 184 and House Bill 310 - This resolution supports State legislation that aims to require the University of Maryland to study the Health Effects of Air Traffic Noise on our communities. We recently received a presentation in the Environmental matters Committee that detailed how, with the new FAA air traffic control system, more and more air traffic is being directed over the Annapolis Neck Peninsula. Besides the noise impacts, there may be other issues with deposition of pollution. Normally we don’t get involved with State issues, but this directly impacts our residents. 
  • R-6-20 - This legislation would confirm the appointment of Dr. Sally Nash to be Director of Planning & Zoning. Pending any comments from you, at this point I am planning on voting in favor of Dr. Nash’s appointment. I know some have raised concerns not necessarily about her individually, but about some previous decisions of our Planning & Zoning Department. They have included concerns about protecting more of our forest, achieving balanced (or in some cases reduced) development on our Annapolis-Neck peninsula, engaging in a more robust public outreach/engagement program, and concerns over our adequate public facilities standards. Please let me assure you that I agree with many of your concerns and have passed them along to Dr. Nash. Indeed, I have had a number of conversations with her about these concerns, and I am confident she will lead the Department in a direction that will address your concerns. She has a strong commitment to the environment, as is evident in her support and  collaboration to strengthen our Critical Area Laws to be the strongest in the State. She has a willingness and ability to work with the Council to address our concerns, has shown great improvement in engaging the public, and wants to work with everyone to develop stronger Adequate Public Facilities standards and implementation. 
  • O-28-19 - This legislation, which would have banned Tattoo parlors from the entire City, except West Street, is being withdrawn, as the City-wide ban was not the intention of the sponsor. 

New Community updates 

Comprehensive Plan Summit for Environmentalists

The Annapolis Environmental Commission ( AEC) invites you to attend our Comprehensive Plan Summit to share your ideas for what should be included in the new Comprehensive Plan.  

The Summit will be held at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center, February 26th, from 7:00-9:00 PM

As you know, the new Comprehensive Plan will guide development, and, by default, conservation in the City for the next ten years. The AEC will be providing input and keeping an eye on this process but we also want to get your input to inform our work.

This time around, the City is not engaging a citizens committee to guide the process, but rather, they are holding a lot of community meetings. This makes it very important for the AEC to keep engaged and communicate with residents groups so we get our priorities included. 

One big priority we will pursue is the insertion of a designated Greenway for the City which will help Dept. of Planning guide where development is sited on lots that are in the Greenway and will help identify lots that could be put into preservation. We are working with the Annapolis Conservancy on this priority and inviting them to this meeting. 

Resilient development and stormwater is another priority of ours which involves adapting our practices and code to more frequent and intense rainfall due to climate change.  

If you can, please let me know your ideas in advance and please invite your friends and constituents!  

 -Bevin Buchheister, Chair

Annapolis Environmental Commission

bevinbuch5@gmail.com

Continuing community announcements & updates

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

Presentation on Form-based Zoning

The Planning Commission will be hosting a learning session on Form-Based Codes, an alternative to traditional zoning that focuses more on what a building looks like than the use.  

The session will be held at 7 pm on February 18, 2020 at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center. The Recreation Center is located at 273 Hilltop Lane, Annapolis. 

The learning session will provide local knowledge about how these codes have been applied in neighboring jurisdictions. For general background on Form-Based Codes, visit the Form-Based Code Institute:

https://formbasedcodes.org/definition/

For questions, contact Sally Nash at snash@annapolis.gov


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  • Rob Savidge