State legislation to overrule City zoning

I want to start off by talking about a State issue. I was listening to WYPR’s “On the Record”, where they interviewed Jake Day, the governor’s secretary of housing, about the governor’s "Housing expansion and affordability act of 2024" HB0538 & SB0484, which caused me to read the State bills. What I've found is that this flawed legislation would basically preempt local zoning code, by allowing certain "qualified projects" to avoid the density limits set by local jurisdictions. Qualified projects are affordable housing projects where a non-profit owns the land, or where the State used to own the land, or where a project is near a rail station. For projects where a non-profit owns the land, we would be unable to "impose any unreasonable limitation or requirements" that concern height, setback, bulk, parking, or "similar requirements". It goes further to state that for all "state-funded affordable housing projects" local jurisdictions cannot use our Adequate Public Facilities law to deny or restrict (if it may cause adverse impact such as impacting viability or degree of affordability or the allowable density) said project". This would mean that we may not be able to require adequate water capacity, sewer capacity, police & fire, roads, sidewalks, stormwater management, cycling, or recreational space (we already exempt such projects from our school APF). What this means is that when this density gets added, the residents living there will have to suffer without adequate infrastructure. Who will pay to make sure they do have adequate infrastructure? The local taxpayers. We would be left holding the bag with no help from the State. They are essentially saying "we care so much about affordable housing that we are going to break down red tape for you by overruling local jurisdictions, but we aren't going to pay for it at all." 

As I raised in my Tuesday Capital op-ed, it's neither fair nor right for us to put new residents or existing residents into this situation. Nor does it further any of our other infrastructure goals (be it transportation/ cycling or public safety). Nor is it right for the State to preempt our local authority. 

Unfortunately, ALL of our local State representatives are supporting this flawed bill. Senator Elfreth and Delegates Henson & Jones are all listed as sponsors. If you have concerns about this, please reach out to them. 

Getting back to Annapolis issues, we have one piece of legislation up for a public hearing (park hours in West Annapolis), and a few pieces up for a final vote. Details below.

Stay healthy and stay safe,


Next Council meeting – 3/11/24 (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 This will be an in-person meeting.

Public Hearings

  • O-2-24 - Hours for Tolson Street Park and Tucker Street Park - For the purpose of limiting public access to Tolson Street Park and Tucker Street Park at night; closing those parks to the public between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.; and generally related to public peace and order in City parks.
  • 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 Conservation Plan appeals body from the Building Board of Appeals to the Board of Appeals; and generally related to the Maryland Forest Conservation Act and Planned Unit Development regulations. This is legislation of mine. The Planning Commission also ran out of time to review this. We sent this back to the Commission so it shouldn’t be on the agenda yet.

Legislation being introduced on first reader

  • O-4-24 - Residency Requirement for Liquor Licensees Repeal - For the purpose of eliminating the residency requirement for receiving a City of Annapolis liquor license in accordance with state law; and generally dealing with license applications.

Legislation on second reader (i.e. final vote)

  • 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. I will be making a motion to postpone action on this so that the Rules & Government Committee can finish their review.
  • O-1-24 - City Building Code Updates - For the purpose of adapting the City building codes to Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), Maryland statutes, and Maryland state building requirements and recommendations; integrating the model codes into City Code; modifying state and national recommendations to best fit the local needs of Annapolis; and generally dealing with City Code updates for building and construction. I intend to support this, pending any concern raised by you.
  • R-6-24 - Fees Schedule Updated for Ordinance 30-23 - For the purpose of raising the parking fees for residents living in Special Residential Parking Districts. This would increase the price for annual parking permits for anything beyond the first vehicle, increasing with the number of vehicles and depending on if there is off street parking available to the applicant or not. I do tend to favor this approach, given that I think it’s important we do what we can to deter excessive car ownership in the City and encourage use of alternative mobility options. There are environmental benefits to this as well as simply ensuring we have enough parking for everyone.
  • R-9-24 - City-supported Special Events in Fiscal Year 2025 - For the purpose of identifying annual City events and City-supported events in Fiscal Year 2025; and waiving certain fees for City-supported events. I am inclined to support this, pending input from you.
  • R-10-24 - Temporary Moratorium on City Consideration of Applications by Businesses Related to the Cannabis Industry - For the purpose of adopting a temporary moratorium on the processing, review, and approval of applications, site plans, permits, and other authorizations for the location, construction, and selling of cannabis for nine months to allow the City sufficient time to enact reasonable, thoughtful, and lawful zoning requirements and other regulations pertaining thereto as deemed necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. I’ve thought about this more since my last comments about it, and I’m now inclined to support this temporary moratorium to make sure our zoning around such businesses is adequate, though I will say that I don’t have any concerns about the industry.

Community & Political updates

St. Patrick’s parade set for Sunday, March 17, Hooley on the 15th, with Shamrock the Dock March 16-17

Annapolis acquires Moore property to expand Elktonia-Carr’s beach

I’m very excited about this, which is located in Ward 7. This is a small property between BayWoods and Carrs beach to the south. This completes the preservation of these properties. For those who may not be aware, this forest was slated to be cleared for I think around 30 or 40 homes, but then we successfully utilized Program Open Space funds to purchase this property instead. This is the last remaining part of what used to be Carrs-Elktonia beach; an African American beach that had a lot of big names in music play there. This will become the  Elktonia-Carr’s Heritage Park, and represents our first park featuring direct access to the Chesapeake Bay.

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  • Rob Savidge