Ward 7 newsletter - School overcrowding and Bay Ridge lighting

It has been nearly three months, and I’m really enjoying representing you and serving you on the Council. It is truly an honor. I’ve been quite busy and wanted to give you a few updates.

First of all, if you have any issues, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. A number of you already have, and I’ve submitted requests to the City to address our Georgetown Road pothole situation, the poor lighting on Bay Ridge, water service issues, and much more. I’m also working on a number of legislative initiatives that I hope to roll out over the next few weeks.

Specifically, I wanted to report back about the Bay Ridge lighting. The County’s Traffic Engineering Division has agreed to the following:

  1. For the segments that do not have street lights, we'll request the County Police to review the location and concur that the lights are needed for safety reasons.  Once the County Police agrees that the new lights are needed, we'll be able to use our New Street Light capital project.  We'll the make a request BGE to have new street lights installed.  The new street lights will be LED.
  2. We'll proceed with requesting BGE to upgrade the existing street lights from sodium vapor to LED.  We'll request to upgrade existing new street lights from Hillsmere Dr to Arundel on the Bay.

Finally, I want to point out that a very important piece of legislation may be up for a public hearing this Monday, although I’m not entirely sure given some conflicting agendas. The ordinance is O-8-18 which deals with school overcrowding. See below for more information.

Council meeting on Monday

Notable items on Monday’s agenda:

  • HACA quarterly report presentation
  • Final vote on R-5-18 - “Opposing oil and gas development off Maryland Shores”. I am sponsoring this legislation. It will be voted on within the “consent calendar” (i.e. grouped voting).

Public hearings

  • Port Wardens appeal clarification - O-7-18 is an edit that clarifies that appeals to a Board of Port Wardens decision goes directly to the Circuit Court and not to the City Council. Until 2004, such appeals used to go to the City Council instead of going directly to the Circuit Court. This ordinance just fixes a section of code that wasn’t updated. Or would you prefer that appeals go to the City Council or to another Appeals board, perhaps, instead of directly to the very expensive Circuit Court?
  • School overcrowding - There may be a public hearing on O-8-18 - Adequate School Facilities.To make a long story short, during the last administration an ordinance addressing school overcrowding (i.e. no new development greater than 11 units could happen unless there is capacity in the school system) was passed, but it was weak. It allowed for schools to get to 120% capacity before kicking in. This new ordinance would lower that to the proper 95% or 100% capacity, similar to the County’s recently passed ordinance. Should we do 95% or 100%? Should we lower or raise the unit threshold so that it applies to more developments than just those with 11 units or more? Please come give your thoughts.

Up for a vote - There is one piece of legislation up for a vote: O-1-18. For the most part, this ordinance simply proposes changes that are required to bring our Ethics Code into compliance with the State code. However, we on the Rules & Government committee have recommended a few additional changes. They revolve around protecting the privacy of employees’ financial disclosure statements while still allowing public access to view them (but not copy them), and changing the code so that former employees and officials are only prohibited from engaging in activity after employment if it involves financial gain. For example, under the current code, if I had worked substantially on our Greenscape program as an employee, I would be barred for life from working with my community, or any other group, on that particular issue I worked on. I really don’t think there’s any ethical danger of me assisting my community in regards to Greenscape, and this is really an example of over-reach on behalf of the code. It could prevent former employees and officials from engaging in civic activity that they are otherwise entitled to do so as a citizen of Annapolis. So we’ve recommended changing it so they are only prohibited from engaging in such behavior if it’s for financial gain, which matches the State code.

Other - If you want to learn about the responsibilities of the numerous citizen Board & Commissions in our City, you can view the combined annual reports for the boards. Let me know if you would like to serve on any of them!

Community news

  • Listening session with County Planning & Zoning - The Annapolis Neck Peninsula Federation has invited Anne Arundel County Planning and Zoning to engage in roundtable discussions with residents of the Annapolis peninsula on the County's long-range plans. This will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 7pm 'til 8:45pm, at the Hillsmere Library. This "listening session" is similar to others that have recently occurred as the first step in the County's General Development long-range Planning process.  The roundtable is a more personal and direct way to express our ideas and concerns to County planners.  Come let County planners hear from you! The County will briefly report on Traffic and Environment.  Then, we citizens will sit down with County experts for small group discussions to speak about our concerns and ideas.
  • Chesapeake Conservation Corps Seeks Host Sites for 2018-19 Cohort - The Chesapeake Bay Trust is accepting solicitations for Host Organizations for the 2018-19 Chesapeake Conservation Corps, a program that provides hands-on environmental, leadership, and green job training opportunities for young adults. This initiative, places participants with nonprofit or government agencies to work fulltime in the environmental field for a one-year term of service. Applications to serve as Host Organizations will include proposed scopes of work which include a range of activities to be undertaken by the Corps Member in the fields of environmental restoration, energy conservation, sustainable agriculture, community engagement, forestry, and/or K-12 environmental education. Contact Tara Drennan tdrennan@cbtrust.org with any questions.

Thank you!

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