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Hearing on Annapolis City Dock proposal draws critics, supporters

Josh Cohen

Hundreds of people packed Annapolis City Hall on Thursday night to either praise or criticize plans for the future of downtown's City Dock.

Depending on who was speaking, a new master plan for the dock could either spur downtown revitalization and please pedestrians or lead to parking headaches and tall buildings out of character with historic Annapolis.

The public hearing before the city council drew so many people that the fire marshal asked some to listen to the meeting in the lobby, where testimony could be heard on speakers. More than 70 people signed up to comment, and testimony stretched well into the night.

Supporters of the plan praise its goals of adding trees, widening sidewalks and extending a waterfront promenade around the dock.

But others, including a coalition of business owners and residents called Save Annapolis, have said problems in the City Dock plan include a lack of parking and unanswered questions about a sea wall to protect the dock from flooding. Many also object to a proposal to change a key roundabout into a T-intersection and the provision to allow taller buildings.

Daniel Ward, an attorney representing Save Annapolis, said the City Dock proposal being considered isn't comprehensive enough. To make his point, he took a thick copy of a master plan for the town of Hampton Beach, N.H., and dropped it on a table with a thud. "This is what a master plan is supposed to look like," he said.

Also being debated is a proposal to remove maritime zoning on one side of City Dock. The proposal was made by Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen to spur the redevelopment of a building that once housed a boat supplies shop, but has been vacant for three years.

The prospective buyer of the building has dropped his plans, however, citing the intense opposition to his project.

Downtown resident Chuck Walsh decried a culture of "no" that he said permeates debates over City Dock and results in nothing changing.

"Inaction is action," he said. "It is action — in my humble opinion — of the worst kind."

Members of the city council aren't expected to take action on either the City Dock plan or the rezoning until the fall. The council takes a recess in August.

pwood@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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