Vote on moderate-income housing bill delayed


The Annapolis city council voted unanimously last night to postpone final action on a proposed ordinance that would require developers to build homes for moderate-income people.

The legislation would have obligated developers to set aside 12 percent of all residential projects for moderate-income residents - generally defined as a family of four with an income of less than $54,000 a year - and 6 percent of rental developments.

Alan J. Hyatt, an attorney representing several prominent contractors, said last night that the proposed ordinance could adversely affect some of his clients, including the builders of Acton's Landing, a 106-unit housing development under construction near downtown.

Hyatt said he was concerned that Acton's Landing and other recently approved projects could be required to change their designs because of the legislation.

"It's too late to do anything about it. ... We can't redesign at this point," he said.

Hyatt said he was willing to work with the council to change the bill so that current projects will not be affected.

Alderwoman Louise Hammond agreed with Hyatt.

"I think they have invested so many hours and so many dollars" that it would be unfair to make the developers start over, she said.

Council members said they plan to amend the legislation and vote on it next month.

If the city council approves it, Annapolis will join a growing number of local governments in the state that have moderate-income housing laws.

Howard and Montgomery counties already have adopted moderate-income housing legislation and Anne Arundel County officials are considering it.

Council members said that the legislation would help bring more middle- and working-class residents to Annapolis.

With a median house price of $245,000, police officers, firefighters and teachers cannot afford to buy homes in the city, many elected officials say.

For example, fewer than seven of the city's nearly 100 firefighters live in Annapolis, according to firefighters union officials.

In another matter, Mayor Ellen O. Moyer announced yesterday that she hopes to have all of the city's power and utility lines buried by 2020.

Moyer has formed a committee that will find private parties and other partners to help Annapolis do the work.

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