For my first legislative push I've decided to focus largely on development issues, as every day that passes means more projects get approved that will impact our quality of life. I campaigned on tackling this issue and that's just what I'm trying to do. But it isn't easy. The Capital recently wrote an article on my efforts, and you can read that here. In it, you'll see that I'm getting quite a bit of pushback from the development industry, who has labeled me as “dangerous”. Well, if dangerous means honoring my campaign promises, pushing back against an entrenched special interest, trying to improve the quality of life for all Annapolitans, and trying to undo all of the impacts from the out of control development we've experienced, then I'm guilty as charged. I will need your help if I am to improve this legislation and get it passed. If you have any comments or suggestions on any of this, please contact me. Also, If you are able to attend or submit testimony in support of any legislation you feel strongly about, that would be quite helpful.
I’ll have a few other Ward 7 updates below, and please mark your calendars that my next Town Hall meeting will be on October 24th from 6-8pm, at the Eastport-Annapolis Neck library.
Details on Monday’s Council meeting
The meeting will be starting with the 21st anniversary of the Maritime Republic of Eastport’s declaration of war.
- CA-1-18 (Charter amendment - Acting mayor designation) - This Charter Amendment will simply clarify the process where if the Mayor is unable to serve his or her duties and could not specifically name another Alderperson as the action Mayor, the City Manager will then assume that role until the Council names someone else as Acting Mayor.
- O-27-18 (No net loss of forests) - For many years, Annapolis has been losing dozens of acres of forest, despite our comprehensive plan adopting a goal to increase our tree canopy to 50% by 2036 (a goal we made with DNR). I believe the City government should be honoring agreements they made with the public. My legislation would change our code to ensure that developers are required to mitigate or replace every acre of forest they remove. Currently, our law is not working. If you look at the Crystal Spring development, they were proposing to clear around 40 acres and only had to replace 16 acres of forest. Protecting our forests is important because the more we lose, the more degraded our Creeks become. Furthermore, these change will result in taxpayer savings because any reforestation that happens above the State minimum will be counted as a credit toward our federal pollution reduction targets. In other words, the developer will be helping us pay for meeting those targets rather than having taxpayers foot the bill entirely themselves. I am the lead sponsor of this Ordinance.
- O-34-18 (Demolition By Neglect) - This ordinance would change the section of code dealing with “demolition by neglect” by adjusting inspections and investigations, and ensuring there’s a public hearing and appeals process in place.
- O-41-18 (emergency procurement) - this would allow the City Manager to transfer money within a fund, in amounts over $25,000, in the case of specific emergency situations.
- R-46-18 (Application of our stormwater code) - This resolution simply expresses the Council’s desire that our stormwater code be applied as written, to require that developers treat more than the minimum amount of strormwater if there is a water quality concern. For example, redevelopment projects must reduce their impervious surfaces by 50% or treat the equivalent amount of stormwater. New development must do the same on 100% of their property. Despite the law allowing the City to require more than this minimum, and despite the fact that we do indeed have impaired waterways, this has never been properly applied by the City. This attempts to express the Council’s will that this be changed. Anything the developers treat over the minimum represents a credit we can claim towards meeting our federal pollution reduction targets. In other words, it would have developers helping us meet those targets rather than allowing them to make matters worse, and rather than placing the entire burden of meeting our $20 million commitment on the backs of the taxpayers. There is fierce opposition to this from the development industry. If you support this effort I could use your testimony or emails to my colleagues. I am a sponsor on this legislation. It was supposed to be voted on at the last meeting but was delayed with a request for a public hearing (not typical to have a separate hearing on a resolution) and a referral to committee (again, not typical on resolutions).
Legislation up for a final vote
- O-22-18 (foam ban for restaurants) - This ordinance would prohibit the sale and use of polystyrene foam (such as “styrofoam”) in food serving establishments. Items impacted would include foam cups, plates, and take-out containers. The rationale behind this is that such foam food products cannot be recycled (due to the food waste), they take up space in our landfills, and they pollute our streams and creeks when they break up into smaller microplastics. I will be introducing an amendment to expand this to foam meat trays, given that there are alternative materials used by stores in the City (Whole Foods uses wax paper, Giant uses plastic trays). I am the lead sponsor on this legislation. I am inclined to vote in favor, pending any comments from you.
- R-47-18 - No Discharge Zone. This resolution will express support to the Back Creek Conservancy for submitting a joint City/County application to the EPA to declare our waters as a No Discharge Zone (i.e. you can’t dump your human waste even if it’s treated, because even untreated waste contributes nutrients, which contribute to the water quality issues we are experiencing). I am the lead sponsor on this. The final vote on this will be delayed until October 22nd to give the Maritime Advisory Board time to review the resolution and associated documents.
Previous Council meeting
At the last Council meeting I did end up voting against R-39-18, the waiver of fees for the Annapolis Rising festival. There was a compromise offered, where the fees would be waived but the City would take $10k out of our contingency fund (think savings) to contribute to the Capital Gazette fund, which did pass (the two “no’s” were myself and Alderwoman Henson). While this is indeed a worthy fund, the event already contributed over $80k to the cause, and I didn’t feel it was appropriate to use taxpayer money to make such an additional donation at taxpayer expense, in light of our tax increase.
Annapolis Police Department Announces LGBTQ Liaison
The Annapolis Police Department announces the establishment of a departmental LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) liaison. The purpose of establishing a liaison is to facilitate law enforcement engagement with the LGBTQ community and reporting of potential hate crimes. Sergeant Amy Miguez will serve as the department’s first LGBTQ liaison.
The liaison will collaborate with various police divisions, including Investigations and Recruiting, to educate, assist and interact with officers, residents, businesses and organizations about LGBTQ issues. The position is based in the department’s Community Services Unit. In addition, the liaison will focus on the public safety needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and their allied communities. The goal in establishing the position is to gain the trust of the community and seek out information that leads to the closure of hate crime and violent crime within the LGBTQ community.
A key motivator in establishment of this liaison position is the recent formation of Annapolis Pride by founder Jeremy Browning. Mr. Browning saw an opportunity for the department to establish a relationship with this new organization and build trust within the community. Please contact Sergeant Amy Miguez at 410-268-9000 ext. 7261 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss non-emergency issues or request attendance at a meeting.
Fall Town Hall meeting
My Fall town hall meeting will be on Wednesday, October 24th, from 6-8PM at the Eastport-Annapolis Neck library. Hope to see you there! I’ll let you know if there may be any special guests or topics discussed.
Anne Arundel County Executive Debate
Thursday, October 18, 7:00 pm, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase Street, Annapolis, Email questions to the Capital
Candidates Forum on the Environment & Development
This forum is hosted by the Annapolis Neck Peninsula Federation. It will be from 7-9 on October 23rd at Bay Ridge Christian Church.
Reminders from the previous newsletter
Forest Drive & Eastport Study Public Review Draft Now Available
The latest draft of the sector plan as of Friday, August 31st is now available. If you have an opportunity please review this plan. While I have not had a chance to review this draft yet, I have had a number of concerns in the past about whether or not they have heeded public comments and about how they seemed to be pushing for more development rather than a steady state development plan. Hopefully that has changed. Please let me know what your comments are. This plan will be coming to the City Council for approval, and I want to consider your comments before that vote arrives.
Here is a description of the Sector Study from the report itself:
The Forest Drive/Eastport Sector Study ushers in a new era for urban planning and the integration of land use, economic development, technology, and mobility. It provides a specific vision for this part of the City and begins to lay the groundwork for the next Comprehensive Plan for the City of Annapolis. Under current regulations, there is a significant amount of development capacity in this portion of the City. This plan attempts to change the character of that possible development, not necessarily to encourage more development.