Here is some information regarding our Monday Council meeting. This will be our final meeting before our August recess. Please note that during August, my responses may be even more delayed than usual (sorry!), as I plan on spending time with family and taking a break from Council work (though I do aim to get some legislation finalized regarding short term rentals).
Of note this week, I'm introducing a Resolution with Alderman Arnett to ensure we allow immediate public access to the Wells Cove public water access easement. In case you didn't know, this was in question due to the property owner, and citizens had to take them (and the City) to court to get them to enforce this easement, as well as comply with the Council's Resolution from back in the 80's. Long story short, citizens won, yet city still dragging its feet pending appeal, even though the judge said there was no stay on appeal, hence my Resolution below.
There's also an issue with some Rec & Parks fees, similar to what happened with the Penguins, where they are charging high fees to non-profits without any advanced notice, changing decades old practices of waiving such fees, and are even trying to charge City fees for County fields. You can't make this stuff up... Aren't we supposed to be serving the public?
You can still comment on the draft 2040 Comprehensive Plan. I encourage you to take a look and review this plan 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.
Public Safety Update: Our police department has put together a summer response plan to address the crime we have been having lately. While I do think this is good, I’m still waiting on them (it has been 2 weeks) to send me a list of all the incidents of gunfire and homicides for the past two years, indicating their causes and including any policy recommendations they may have. My goal is to get the data on the causes of these shootings to see what we, the Council, may be able to do to address the gun violence. This will help us determine if we need to try to hire more police officers, increase our social worker presence, pay for more recreational opportunities, or fund more conflict resolution.
Stay healthy and stay safe,
Next Council meeting – 7/24/23 (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-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.
Legislation being introduced on first reader
- O-22-23 - Business License, Taxes and Regulation - Creation of Art Establishment Beer and Wine License - The purpose of this legislation is to create a City of Annapolis beer and wine license for specific art venues as authorized by MD. Alcoholic Beverages Code § 10-1002 per Senate Bill 472, signed by Governor Wes Moore on May 3, 2023; and generally related to the Alcoholic Beverages chapter of the City Code.
- O-23-23 - Alcoholic Beverages Code Technical Corrections - The code was changed over many year to create new liquor license categories, but the changes weren't made to all sections of the code related to the licenses. This ordinance ensures that all licenses are included in the proper sections of the City Code.
- O-24-23 - Issuance of General Obligation Bonds and Bond Anticipation Notes - This ordinance authorizes the issuance of new debt and the refunding of outstanding debt.
- R-38-23 - FY 2024 Annual Fees Schedule - The purpose of this legislation is to specify the fee for the new Art Establishment liquor license.
- R-42-23 - Non-motorized Wheeled Vehicles on Sidewalks - For the purpose of encouraging the Maryland General Assembly to complete its work to amend State law to allow non-motorized wheeled vehicles on sidewalks by default.
- 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 on second reader (i.e. final vote)
- O-49-22 - Planning and Zoning - Parking and Loading Regulations – This would allow a restaurant to pay a fee-in-lieu to waive any required off-street parking . I have a few amendments to create a dedicated fund to send the fee-in-lieu money to, that would go towards enhancing mobility alternatives, be it improving sidewalks or adding mobility centers for micro-transit. It also could go towards the construction of community parking facilities. I have another amendment that would automatically grant a 100% waiver if the restaurant is within a ¼ mile of an existing parking facility, or if they have a shared parking agreement. If they do get such a waiver, they need to dedicate their on-street parking spaces to a drop-off area for seniors and others who may utilize our future mobility centers micro transit. I’m inclined to support this, pending any comments from you.
- O-17-23 - Administration - Requiring the City Manager to Provide Staffing Impact Statements on Pending Legislation – I am inclined to support, pending any comments from you.
- O-19-23 - Property tax credits for 9-1-1 Specialists and Public Safety Officers - For the purpose of granting property tax credits and property tax relief allowed by Maryland state law for the City of Annapolis 9-1-1 specialists and public safety officers in the Annapolis Fire Department and Police Department; and generally related to city tax credits. This legislation would cost the city approximately $16,800. This could help incentivize that our officers and fire-fighters live locally, and boost recruitment. I’m inclined to support this, pending comments from you.
- O-20-23 - Chesapeake Nautical Cruises, LLC, Lease - For the purpose of authorizing a City of Annapolis pilot lease with Chesapeake Nautical Cruises, LLC, for docking space at City Dock; and generally related to City Dock boat slips and boardwalk. I’m inclined to support this, pending any comments from you.
- R-31-23 - Annapolis Classic Wooden Sailboat Race & Rendezvous - Docking Fee Waiver - For the purpose of waiving certain fees for docking the Annapolis Classic Wooden Sailboat Race & Rendezvous at the Annapolis City Dock for September 8 through September 10, 2023. I’m inclined to support this, pending comments from you.
- R-32-23 - Annapolis All-Stars Youth Sports Program Fee Waiver - For the purpose of waiving certain City of Annapolis fees for the Annapolis All-Stars II, Inc., a youth sports program. I have a number of questions about this. I support the effort to waive youth league fees associated with our facilities; however, there are multiple youth leagues that are having this same problem: our Rec & Parks Department has changed long-standing practices and is now charging local youth leagues full facility-use fees without any adequate advanced notice. We had the same issue with the Penguins. Now we have at least 3 others that I’m aware of. As far as I’m concerned, our departments should not be making money off of non-profits that are providing a service to our residents. These fees need to change. We need more time to do so. What I think should be done, as was done previously as far back as we can remember, is that these fees be waived by the R&P Director/Mayor. A further complicating factor is that R&P is charging fees for County-owned fields that we have an MOU with them to be able to do so (and to maintain), yet apparently that MOU has expired; so how can R&P be assessing fees for a County Facility when we have no valid agreement to do so? As you can see, much more to be answered/addressed. I’m inclined to postpone this vote until there is a comprehensive and viable way forward charted by the administration.
- R-40-23 - Director of Planning and Zoning - Christopher Jakubiak - For the purpose of expressly confirming the appointment of Christopher Jakubiak as the Director of Planning and Zoning for the City of Annapolis; and consenting to compensate the Director. I’m inclined to support, pending any comments from you.