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.
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 It is hoped that once the Code is amended, the Consent Order will be withdrawn, and the public will then be included earlier in the City’s review of proposed large developments.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.govyour paragraph here.
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.
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)"
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.
Planning and Major Committee purpose is to inform and empower the members of the Eastport Civic Association (ECA) to better understand and address the nature and impact of current and future major development in Eastport. This Committee will communicate with the City's Planning and Zoning Department and other city agencies, citizens of Eastport, developers, relevant experts, advocacy groups and business owners regarding the scope, nature, and impact of major developments. As part of its activities, the Committee may review and comment on existing and future infrastructure (e.g. roads, traffic, schools, open space) in Eastport andpossible effects of current, proposed, and possible development on the adequacy of such infrastructure in the future.
Eastport Civic Association
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Annapolis, MD 21403c
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