Construction Projects


DEVELOPMENT ISSUES

ECA members have asked for additional information on development issues. We will do our best to keep you informed. See more information at the end of this page.


Regarding O-35-17

O-35-17 was introduced in June 2017 by Alderman Arnett, and enacted in October 2017 by the City Council to become part of the Annapolis Code. The Code change was designed to allow the public to be informed and involved earlier in the City’s review process of proposed large development projects.
 
In January 2018, attorney Alan Hyatt and several developers challenged O-35-17 by filing a declaratory judgment claiming the ordinance was vague, with a request for a temporary restraining order to keep the law from being enforced by the City. Mr. Hyatt and the City signed a Consent Order that suspends the enforcement, and new applications by those developers, while clarifications in the Code are made.
 
On Monday, March 12, Alderman Arnett will introduce O-14-18 at the City Council meeting to clarify identified issues, including notice requirements and project applicability. A public hearing will be held later in the legislative process. It is hoped that once the Code is amended, the Consent Order will be withdrawn, and the public will then be included earlier in the City’s review of proposed large developments.
 
Comments on this matter should be submitted to the Annapolis Office of Planning & Zoning, copied to Alderman Arnett and other Council members. Testimony can be given to the City Council at the beginning of Monday’s Council Meeting (City Hall at 7 p.m.), or at the future public hearing on O-14-18. Email addresses for P&Z and City Council are found here: https://www.annapolis.gov

ECA's Architecture and Zoning Committee has provided these resources on construction projects that may be of concern to the residents of Eastport. Questions and concerns about building in Eastport can be sent to architecture@eastportcivic.org.


In January we reviewed two projects:


    422 Third Street (Project Number RNC2018-001. 30)  - See our review letter.


    30 Chesapeake Landing (Project Number RNC2017-001) - See our review letter.



ECA Letter to the Mayor RE: Annapolis Development

 
January 10, 2017
​Letter from the ECA to Mayor Mike Panteliedes
​RE: Eastport Traffic Studies and Proposed Developments (PDF)



South Annapolis Yacht Center

 

September 13, 2016
Letter from the ECA to Annapolis Planning and Zoning
​RE: Review of the Final Site Plan Submission for the South Annapolis Yacht Center



Annapolis Yacht Club - Eastport Annex


Development information can be found on etrakit.annapolis.gov, (click on "Search", click on "Search by Project #", enter project number SDP2016-011 for Annapolis Yacht Club).


​Site Design Plan Review approval (PDF)


​​Certificate of Adequate Public Facilities (PDF)



Eastport Shopping Center

 

The Planning staff has sent comments back to the developer of the Eastport Shopping Center to address several concerns: 

  • traffic flow
  • pedestrian and bicycle safety and circulation
  • adequacy of parking
  • height, mass and scale (size of the development in the context of the Eastport neighborhood)


You can review a summary of those questions (PDF), prepared by Peter Bittner.


The April 5, 2017, Town Hall sponsored by Alderman Ross Arnett joined by Mayor Mike Pantelides provided an opportunity to hear about the proposed development for the Eastport Shopping Center property and for residents to express support and concerns and get questions answered. A large crowd packed the Fire Station meeting room and Mayor Pantelides noted that there had been more comments filed with the City on ESC than any other location because it is a defining community project. He noted that it is not a done deal.

Vic Pascoe, ECA President, said that it was the role of ECA to get the membership involved, that we have received many letters and the majority have not been in favor of residential, want more retail, and want to come up with something that is not this imposing building. Ross concurred with the Mayor and Vic and added that he is most interested in more retail, found constituents were not necessarily interested in more neighbors and do not think the proposed building is in the scale of the Eastport community. Ross also said he was challenging the calculations of the builder about the number of units they were entitled to by right.

Pete Gutwald, Director of Planning and Zoning, reviewed the considerations in the review of any proposal starting with the Comprehensive Plan, Element studies and zoning. He noted that the ESC proposal was in a category of “planned development/mixed use” which permits negotiations between the Planning staff and the developer, outside of the zoning prescriptions. The Planning Commission will make the final decision about the project, not the Council or the staff. Leo Wilson, architect for the proposed development, called “The Lofts," described the project facts and plans of the 127 apartment proposal. He showed those attending what the buildings would actually look like up against the existing buildings around the proposed 4-story structure to get a realistic picture of how it would fit in with everything already there. He talked about what the community amenities would be added to Eastport in the ground floor of the apartment building structure, including an open specialty food market and community gathering spaces.

Questions from residents added additional information:

  • Traffic:  A number of questions related to added traffic and current infrastructure in the corridor of the proposed building including concerns about what Watergate Apartment additions might create. The validity of the 2015 traffic study was questioned if one considered the need to get out of Eastport daily or in an emergency with existing traffic back up. The study did not appear to take into consideration future growth. Leo said that the developers would put money in escrow for any traffic problems that developed later and that they had proposed to the City putting in new crosswalks.
  • Retail Space: The comment was made that when demolishing Adam's Rib and the theater space, the new proposal does not add any retail space at that location. Most of the 52,000-square foot first floor of the new proposal is not retail leaving no more retail space on the Eastport peninsula and no more retail within reach for lower income residents.
  • Apartment Mix: 127 apartments planned with 70% being studio or 1-bedroom and the balance will be 2-bedroom. They will all be rentals with the rent ranging around $1350-2,500/month. When asked, the developers said that the building units are for young professionals and seniors and they do not expect many children. Developers said that they already had expressed interest in the apartments.
  • Parking: Pete Gutwald was asked if the planning staff would hold to the Mayor’s promise not to reduce the required parking spaces below 522. Others just said that they wanted the threshold of parking from the current proposal and calculations. Another person thought that there was no such thing as half a car so the parking decision should not be based on that.
  • Size and Character: Questions came up if the proposed project complied with size and character of Eastport. Pete Gutwald said that the question of whether the proposed residential building is in character with the surrounding community continues to be an open question. Whether the proposal complies will be decided ultimately by the Planning Commission. Leo said that he may be able to “mitigate the perception of scale.” One resident hoped that he could create a win-win middle ground in terms of scale.
  • Developers: The developers of the project are Alex Kopicki and Jeff Jacobson, Solstice Partners of Baltimore, Maryland.


Letters and email to the City are still being added to the public record so if you have not expressed your view, you still can. There will be a community meeting with the Planning Commission and finally the Planning Commission hearing (dates not yet determined). Citizen participation will be important at both the meeting and the hearing.


Actions for Residents

  • Review development on etrakit.annapolis.gov, (click on "Search," click on "Search by Project #," enter project number PD2016-002 for Eastport Shopping Center). Look at the Application drawings pdf and look at the other information about the development and see if you agree with that development being at that location. Review and think about where stormwater run-off is going or what it means for traffic, for example.
  • With the drawings in mind or on an ipad, visit the actual site and imagine as best you can how the proposed 4-story building will affect the entire surrounding neighborhood. Does it fit in your view or is there something more you want to learn?
  • Let Alderman Ross Arnett know your thoughts or questions: aldarnett@annapolis.gov (443-745-2901) and let ECA know too: ecapresident@eastportcivic.org.  ECA will then know if a group of members wants ECA to get involved.


DEVELOPMENT ISSUES


O-35-17 - Revisions to Development Review - For the purpose of providing a uniform review process for all significant projects and requiring early public input on substantial projects by requiring that a community meeting be held for subdivision applications that contain a new street, Major Site Design Plan Applications and Planned Development Applications; clarifying preliminary application procedures; expanding the notice requirements under Division II of the Zoning Code; revising the procedures for major site design plan applications and planned development applications; and matters generally relating to the review process for all significant and substantial projects.

However, on January 11, 2018, development attorney Alan Hyatt filed a request for a restraining order with the court (see text below). That means that he requested that it not be enforced. His request was granted on a temporary basis. Mr. Hyatt represents several development groups that have active development plans filed with the city, several in Eastport. Read Capital story on this.

As things stand today (March 7, 2018), the temporary restraining order and consent agreement expires on March 13. There might be City Council action on this in the near future, particularly since two of the alderpersons who voted against it last year are on the current council.

Analysis of the law and how it affects development in Eastport

There are two major benefits to this legislation.

  1. Early community involvement.
  2. Major projects will, by and large, go to the Planning Commission where the public has a voice and where the Comprehensive Plan is enforced.


There is mistrust within the community; transparency is the antidote to mistrust and, at least publicly, most developers agree that engaging the public as early in the process as possible is good practice.

One question often asked is how this impacts Eastport Lofts (the proposed Eastport Shopping Center project) application.

The Eastport Lofts project application, for 107 to 127 apartments at one end of the Eastport Shopping Center, was filed before November 1, 2017, and is, therefore, not affected by the ordinance. The developers of this project will, therefore, suffer no damage, despite what was alleged by Mr. Hyatt in a recent suit for injunctive relief. Many, if not most, of the allegations made in that suit are uninformed or misstated or, simply, wrong.

There is, to be sure, some work to be done on a definition of “Major Site Design.” It is already defined in the Code. However, we can work with this new ordinance, add any necessary regulatory guidance as needed, get some experience, and keep an open mind as to amendments, if any appear to be necessary. See details of the ordinance, below. 

The City’s Office of Law defended the ordinance in a closed hearing and instead of prevailing, as we had expected, the City voluntarily signed a Consent Order. Here is the text as it appears in the court’s online records (with typos appearing in the online version), filed February 11, 2018:

"Consent Order. The parties hereby consent to a preliminary injunction by which Defendants are enjoined from enforcing, administering and implementing City of Annapolis Ordinance 0-35-1 7, "Revisions to Development Review." By consenting to this Order. the Court acknowledges that Defendants are not making any admission that Plaintiffs are emitted to a preliminary injunction, that Defendants do not waive any defenses to Plaintiffs' Complaint and shall be permitted to assert all such defenses should there be a hean'ng on the merits, and that the parties consent to this Order only in an effort to resolve the pending titigation. until the Annapolis City Council takes a final yote on legislation as contemplated by this Order, Plaintiffs shall not file any new applications with Defendants seeking approval of any development projects which would be reviewed by Defendants under the provisions of the City Code that preceded the adoption of Ordinance 0-35-1 7. Any pending applications by Plaintiffs, as may be amended shall not be affected by this Order, and shall be bound by the Annapolis City Code that was in place at the time of submittai of those applications. 5. Defendants shall introduce legislation in the Annapolis City Council to amend certain provisions in the Annapolis City Code which were enacted with the adoption of Ordinance 0-35-17. 6. The introduction of such legislation shall occur no later than March 13, 2018unless othenlvise mutually agreed to by the parties. 7. The content of the legislation that is introduced shall be within the sole discretion of Defendants, but Plaintiffs and Defendants shallecollaborate with each other regarding the content of such legislation prior to introduction. 8. Plaintiffs shall be entitled to offer amendments to such legislation after it is introduced. 9 The Annapolis City Council shall handle such legislation in a routine manner and in a manner that is the same as or similar to consideration of any legislation before the City Council. (Copies mailed to Attys Alan Hyatt and Gary Elson. No email on record for Attys Hyatt and Elson)"

Notes:
1) The deadline to introduce modified legislation is March 13, 2018.
2) The requirement is that the city collaborate with the developers before the introduction of new legislation.
3) On February 15, the Court ordered the City and the Developers to Mediation (This is standard practice).

Explanation of O-35-17: Revisions to Development Review
adopted by City Council on Oct. 23, 2017


First, the legislation applies to Major Site Design and to Planned Development applications.

Second, the legislation requires a “Pre-application Conference” with the Department of Planning & Zoning. Such a meeting is informational only and cannot be held to cover all potential issues and is not to be taken as an approval in any way.

Third, the legislation requires a “Community Meeting.” This meeting is to be hosted by the applicant. Written notice must be made in accord with the current code, 21.10.020, and to some additional parties. The additional parties are tenants within 200 feet of the property, the alderperson in whose ward the project is planned, and to persons in authority of homeowners associations, community associations and business associations which are within “geographical proximity” to the proposed project. As to defining “geographical proximity,” the Department provides the list of associations. The onus is not on the applicant to choose associations or to define “geographical proximity.” Furthermore, if there are persons who have spoken at a “public meeting” (which we understand to be a Department or Planning Commission work session) or a formal public hearing, they must also be notified of the community meeting. Again, it is the Department which maintains the list, and the Department which provides the list to the applicant. Finally, persons who have provided written comments to the Department must also be provided with written notice of any “community meeting.” It is the Department that is tasked with providing the applicant with the names and addresses.

The applicant is required to host only one such “community meeting” but there certainly may be more than one such meeting. The legislation is designed to keep interested members of the community in the know as a project follows the course of reviews and approvals. The legislation is designed to front-load the process of community information.

Fourth, other than the “community meetings,” for public meetings and public hearings convened under the auspices of the Department and/or the Planning Commission, the notice process is the same as it always has been – i.e., posting and advertisement.

Fifth, the applicant is required to provide written notice to the additional parties mentioned in the Paragraph “Third,” above, in one final and other instance, that of the formal public hearing on the proposal.

One may question the fairness of requiring written notice to what may be many people. To be sure, there is an expense. Providing information early and widely is likely to make the process, in the end, with less conflict and perhaps more efficienciency.

Sixth, the applicant is required to provide a written summary of the community meetings. That summary must include the names and addresses (if given) of persons who attended and spoke or who provided written testimony. That summary is provided to the Department, is made part of the file, and becomes a public document. The applicant is not required to adjust his or her plans in any way to meet the concerns or issues raised at the meetings. He or she can countenance them or ignore them.

Seventh, applications made before the effective date of the ordinance, November 1, 2017, need not comply with the new requirements of community meetings and notice and summary.



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Eastport Civic Association
P.O. Box 3539
Annapolis, MD 21403
eca@eastportcivic.org
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