Email from Planning & Zoning Director Pete Gutwald, dated Aug. 7, 2018, is below. He is responding to a an email from William Reichhardt who passed on the letter from Concerned Citizens regarding the Lofts at Eastport Landing.
I will follow up more in depth with your letter...but just to let you know the August 17 is just the posting requirements...our standing operating procedure has never limited public comment...we have/will continue to accept public comments after the posting requirements date.
Below you will find a statement from the Concerned Citizens regarding the mediation process concluded between them, the Developers of the Eastport shopping Center representatives from the City. As you will note in the statement, this is an agreement between the three parties on specific topics of massing for the proposed structure, both height and bulk. The agreement will be added to the record when the revised project plans are submitted to the City and go before the Planning Commission sometime later this year. The agreement does not preclude input from any or all interested parties, nor does it cover matters such as traffic, parking or stormwater management to name a few other topics.
Linked to below is the text of the negotiated agreement, which includes a set of renderings showing a potential set of elevations and floor plans.
Notice From the Concerned Citizens Group Regarding Eastport Landing Mediation:
Mediation has been completed with a signed written agreement between the Concerned Citizens Group, Solstice Developers, and the City on the Eastport Landing project at the Eastport Shopping Center. As a result of the Mediation Agreement, Solstice will be filing an amended application for Site Design Plan Review by the City’s Department of Planning and Zoning. The mediation avoided costly litigation and resulted in a reduction of the proposed building’s mass, scale, height and setback under the B2 Code, rather than as special mixed plan development.
Specifically excluded from the mediation process were the project’s compliance with Adequate Public Facilities, parking, traffic and environmental laws, so these and all other issues remain open for review in the normal course of consideration by the Department of Planning and Zoning. While the Mediation Agreement addressed particular issues between the parties, citizens of Annapolis will continue to have the opportunity to participate in the Site Design Plan Review process, and to comment on all issues as to the Eastport Landing project’s amended application.
Mediation Agreement with Eastport Landing plans.
The Planning staff has sent comments back to the developer of the Eastport Shopping Center to address several concerns:
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: email@example.com (443-745-2901) and let ECA know too: firstname.lastname@example.org. ECA will then know if a group of members wants ECA to get involved.Type your paragraph here.
Using eTrakit to Review Application/Plans:
– Go to www.annapolis.gov
– Search “Government” drop down menu & select “Online Permit Tracking”
– Click on “Projects”
– Using the search tool “Address begins with” type in: “915 Chesapeake”
– This will bring up all of the documents that the City has for this project, including comments by the public
– To see the latest site design plans, click on “Lofts at Eastport Landings Site Design Statement 7-12-18.pdf”
(the new Project # is SDP2018-006)
Filing Written Comments with P&Z:
– Reference Project: Lofts at Eastport Landing – 915 Chesapeake Avenue – Project #SDP2018-006
– Send to:
E. Thomas Smith, Jr., RLA
Chief of Current Planning
City of Annapolis, Department of Planning & Zoning
145 Gorman Street, 3rd Floor
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
emaili: email@example.com phone: 410-263-7961 ext. 7797
Readthe Concerned Citizens’ Preliminary Objections and Concerns Regarding the Revised Adequate Public Facilities Study for the Lofts at Eastport Landing letterto Planning & Zoning. Additional information and documents can be found on the City’s website E-Trakit system using the Project Number SDP2018-006. Read letter from attorney for Solstice Partners regarding Concerned Citizens' Comments.
Eastport Civic Association
P.O. Box 3539
Annapolis, MD 21403c
Copyright © Eastport Civic Association. All rights Reserved.
The Annapolis City Board of Appeals has scheduled a hearing on the appeal of the City Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Director’s decision to approve the Eastport Shopping Center development regarding Adequate Public Facilities (APF). This meeting will take place TUESDAY, JUNE 4 at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall Council Chambers at 160 Duke of Gloucester Street. Adequate Public Facilities includes but is not limited to:
traffic; community character; on-site pollution; contamination of storm water; adequate school, police, fire control capacity, etc.
This appeal, filed by your neighbors, challenges the P&Z Director’s decision on APF for the Eastport Shopping Center, asserting it is insufficient and should be revised to correctly address major issues such as those mentioned above.
Please consider attending the hearing to support your neighbors.(You don’t have to speak before the Board unless you want to) For more information and details about the appeal, please look at the Eastport Civic Association web site: http://www.eastportcivic.org/
This may be your last chance to put anything on the record that you think the Board should know. None of the members of the Board of Appeals live in Eastport.
On Wednesday March 20, 2019, Eastport neighbors Steve Rogers, Chuck Henney, and Dave Tingly presented an appeal to the City Board of Appeals on the Planning and Zoning Director’s approval of a Certificate of Adequate Public Facilities for the proposed Lofts at Eastport Landing (current Eastport Shopping Center property) to the City Board of Appeals.
The appeal had been divided into two parts. The hearing on the 20th dealt with motions that were filed in response to the appeal. The second hearing will be on the merits of the appeal. The appellants were successful in convincing the Board of Appeals to move forward. The date for that hearing has not been set. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
2/20/2019: The Appeal of the Eastport project has been broken into two parts:
The first public hearing is this Wed. 2/20 at 7 PM at City Hall, Council Chambes at 160 Duke of Gloucester Street. The motions listed will be heard and ruled upon and then sometime after this meeting a second hearing will take place on substantive issues surrounding the project if our neighbors survive all the notions filed by the Solstice Partners attorneys aimed at not allowing the substantive issues to be heard by the Board of Appeals.
It is a public hearing and the Board of Appeals assumes "all the powers of the administrative officer from whom the appeal is take "Md. Code, Art 66B § 4.07(h)(2).
Public Hearing on Eastport Shopping Center (Eastport Landing project)
1. Preliminary Matters Related to the Appeal of the Issuance of the Certification of Adequate Public Facilities for the Lofts at Eastport Landing
Redevelopment of Eastport Shopping Center - APL2018-002 filed by Stephen H. Rogers et al:
Applicants Motion to Strike Argument Unrelated to Certification of Adequate Public Facilities;
Appellants Motion to Bar Applicant and Motion to Deny Motion to Strike Response to Applicant Motion to Strike;
Appellants Revised and Amended Appeal;
Applicants Motion to Strike Revised and Amended Materials and Response to Appellants Motion to Bar Applicant and Motion to Deny Motion to Strike Response to Applicant Motion to Strike Materials;
Appellants Motion in Response to Applicant Third Party, Motion for Bifurcation and Motion to Dismiss All Motions by Third Party as Not Relevant and Motion to Remand Applications to City of Annapolis Planning and Zoning Director for Rejection Back to Third Party Applicant; and
City Attorney Motion(s) or Response(s) Related to Jurisdiction, Participation, Legal Issues, and Other Matters Concerning the Appeal. And any other preliminary motions or preliminary matters that may come before the Board of Appeals at the time of the public hearing on February 20, 2019.
(November 29, 2018) - The decision on the apartment building project in the Eastport Shopping Center is out and available on this section of the City website: https://etrakit.annapolis.gov/Search/project.aspx.
The decision approves a 98 unit apartment building over first floor commercial space, and includes 143 structured parking spaces and 6 moderately priced dwelling units (MPDUs).
I regret that P&Z did not exercise its discretion to send the project to the Planning Commission to allow residents to provide testimony. The public should be given a chance to weigh in on major projects prior to final approval. However, I doubt that the approval outcome would have changed at the Planning Commission.
I believe the current code requires that a project of the proposed height of Lofts at Eastport Landing (49+ feet) must be sent to Planning Commission but the City Attorney issued an opinion disagreeing with my position. To approve the project at 49+ feet, the Planning Staff applied the MPDU 20 percent height bonus to the height trigger of 45 feet required in the zoning code. Again, I doubt that the outcome would have changed with the Planning Commission.
The Planning Director’s decision can be appealed within 30 days of the decision (26 November 2018) with the Board of Appeals (BOA). Appellants must have standing, which means that they must have a financial interest or have property within 200 feet of the project. As an aside, the BOA ruled last year that I do not have standing as Alderman to appeal a Planning decision.
Going forward, on 19 November the City Council passed the ordinance O-14-18 that requires all major projects get a public hearing before an application can be submitted. Passage of that legislation relieves the injunction filed by the Shopping Center developers against legislation passed last term, O-35-17, that required the public hearing before application, but also that all major site design projects have a public hearing before the Planning Commission for final approval. So from now on, all City residents will be given notice of an impending project and be given a presentation of the proposed project by the developer, before any application is filed.