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Annapolis short-term rental bill defeated; outdoor dining emergency ordinance passes at Monday’s City Council meeting

In the last Annapolis City Council meeting of the summer, a postponed bill on short-term rentals finally received a decision Monday night.

Alderwoman Elly Tierney’s bill, O-7-21, which would require special exception approval for non-owner-occupied short-term rentals in residential conservation districts, was defeated.

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The intent may be well placed, but the effectiveness is not, Alderman Ross Arnett, D-8, said before voting no to the bill. He said he could not support the legislation because it “does not give the board of appeals any basis to say no to a person who applies for a special exception.”

Tierney said the bill was supposed to “just be a bandaid.”

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“My colleagues who voted no had absolutely no logic in voting no on the merits of the bill. They displayed their biases about protecting their own zones and special interests and not adhering to an established process,” she said to The Capital after the vote. “Arnett and Finlayson think the STR bill was the holy grail and it wasn’t. Our hiring of home compliance is what’s working.”

Tierney said she plans to introduce legislation that will ban non-owner-occupied short-term rentals in the conservation districts next term.

Before legislation discussion began, the quarterly report for the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis was shared by Executive Director and CEO Melissa Maddox-Evans. She shared that HACA received a board member, Patrick Sheridan, and a fiscal year budget that began July 1: a revenue of over $12.8 million and an expense amount of $12.7 million.

Just a few weeks ago, HACA applied for a Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in partnership with Annapolis. The money would go to the development of Eastport Terrace/Harbour House for 84 and 273 units, respectively, according to HACA.

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The application has been received and is currently being reviewed by HUD, Maddox-Evans said.

Other HACA updates included the ongoing improvements to Robinwood, Eastport Terrace, Harbour House and Bloomsbury Square that are taking place, according to the presentation.

As chairman of the Environmental Matters standing committee, Alderman Robert Savidge, D-7, brought up the issues at the forested wetlands at Parkside Preserve, which is also known as the Reserve at Quiet Waters. Issues included the forest being cleared for utility easement and sediment pollution infiltrating the water. He said some issues stemming from the developer and contractor — such as sticks that were found holding up a fence — are “in violation of the law.”

He urged that transparency issues need to be resolved.

A resident can be fined for leaving their trash can out or for parking in the red, “but a developer can come into our city and mess up public land” without being fined, Gay said, defending placing violation fines on the developer.

Annapolis resident Anastasia Hopkinson was one of many who spoke during public comments about the developer violation issues at Parkside Preserve. Hopkinson, who is the vice president of the Annapolis neck peninsula federation, said residents are “very upset” with the developer’s use of forests for their own needs and that they don’t trust the city to protect the environment. She brought up the upcoming organization of citizen monitors on these environmental projects.

At the last City Council meeting, an emergency ordinance that would extend the temporary uses and parking restrictions for outdoor seating at restaurants and outdoor shopping options for retail establishments was introduced. Monday night, it was passed by all except Gay who abstained from the vote.

The owner of Galway Bay, Anthony Clark, and the owner of Evergreen Antiques & True Vintage, Joanna Young, testified their support for the emergency ordinance, O-26-21.

Young “benefited tremendously” from the outdoor dining spaces regardless of the fact that she had to give up a couple of parking spaces. She said the outdoor dining brought more foot traffic to Maryland Avenue.

The council also approved the introduction of O-27-21, which would approve a lease agreement between Verizon Wireless and the city to install small cell wireless facilities and other operating equipment in certain parts of the city; O-29-21, which would designate Juneteenth Independence Day as a City-paid holiday; and O-30-21, which would approve the leases and allow the Market Space occupants to establish a closed traffic area. Four other ordinances and three resolutions were passed on first reader as well.

A late addition to the agenda, the council approved O-14-21, which established a resilience authority that will be used to pay for infrastructure projects in Annapolis and the county related to climate change.

Mayor Gavin Buckley made reminders on the upcoming parades including the St. Patrick’s Day parade in September and the Annapolis Pride parade in October. These are signs that “Annapolis is slowly returning to normal,” he said.

Other business:

A closed meeting on the Noah Hillman Parking Garage and city dock contracts preceded the open session.

The appointment of Rebecca Brenia to the Board of Supervisors of Elections was approved.

Two ordinances and one resolution were passed. O-17-21 modifies the charges for water service. O-23-21 redraws the Annapolis Harbour lines. R-22-21 requires the Department of Planning and Zoning to hold a public meeting on the South Annapolis Yacht Center fence application.

A fund transfer was approved allotting $13,500 to fund a security guard at the Truxtun Park pool.

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