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Cutting through the fog surrounding city dock

I've been following with great interest the rezoning of the Fawcett building site at the city dock and the corollary issues addressed in the City Dock Master Plan ("Coalition forms to fight rezoning for Annapolis City Dock area," June 25). When I heard that the Save Annapolis Coalition was holding a press conference on the issue, I pulled up the ordinance and reread it so I could attend their event and fully understand their position.

At the press conference, I heard some very concerning points raised by many of the coalition's speakers, but they differed so widely from my understanding of the ordinance that I reread it again. In the spirit of fostering an informed debate, I decided to list some of the issues they raised and compare them with the language in the ordinance itself.

A little background first. The ordinance changes the zoning of the Fawcett building and the two parking lots on either side of it from Waterfront Maritime Conservation Zoning to one of two sub categories: Waterfront City Dock — Mixed Use (WCD-MX) and Waterfront City Dock — Open Space (WCD-OS). The building itself will be WCD-MX, and the two parking lots will be WCD-OS.

Claim: The ordinance will eliminate parking spots.

Truth: It specifically allows for parking in the Open Space area, and nothing in language mandates that that change.

Claim: The building will be 45 feet tall.

Truth: The current maximum height is 32 feet. This will change to 38 feet, the same height as the historic buildings on the other side of the dock.

Claim: This will open the door to rezoning of all the maritime zones in the city, including Eastport.

Truth: Nothing in the ordinance mandates or even suggests a review of the city's other maritime zones. It is specific to the Fawcett site.

Claim: The Annapolis boat shows will lose exhibitor space.

Truth: The shows have historically utilized the two parking lots, and the rezoning allows for them to continue utilizing them.

The ordinance does create a new kind of development called a Waterfront Planned Development that would be allowed in the WCD-OS and WCD-MX zones, but any such development would have to go through a separate public review process. It is that subsequent review that will ultimately determine that scale of any new development. The ordinance simply allows the site to be utilized for something other than maritime-related businesses.

The City Dock Master Plan has many good parts and some questionable parts, and it is important that we come together as a city and have an educated debate about these issues as they move forward. Utilizing scare tactics and deliberately spreading misinformation doesn't help that process. I would encourage every city resident to read the language in the ordinance. It is available on the city's website.

Tom McCarthy, Annapolis

The writer is a candidate for alderman in Ward 1.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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