The Annapolis City Council on Monday approved three pieces of legislation that will likely change the landscape of downtown and City Dock.
The measures passed Monday night were each long-debated.
The council voted 8-0 for changes to the Waterfront Maritime Conservation District in the City Dock area, and, in a separate bill, $44.5 million in revenue bonds. The sale of the old recreation center passed 7 to 1, with Alderman Fred Paone, R-Ward 2, voting against it.
Alderman Jared Littmann, D-Ward 5, was not at the meeting.
Discussion on all the bills was minimal, as each had been through public hearings, work sessions and other outreach events such as town halls.
Mayor Mike Pantelides said the plan wasn't to pass them all in one evening, but he was happy with the progress.
"It's good to get it done all at once," Pantelides said.
The City Dock zoning changes means the area will now have a required 40 percent minimum maritime use on each newly developed property. The remaining 60 percent will be available for non-maritime restaurants and retail ventures. Established properties and businesses will be grandfathered.
Previously, the zone didn't have a maritime minimum but required retail and restaurants be limited to 30 percent of a property's space.
The change helps pave the way for development at the old Fawcett property at 110 Compromise St., which has been largely vacant since the boat supply company moved to Bay Ridge Avenue. Developers have proposed a restaurant at the property, which would include rooftop and dockside dining. The new zoning requires rooftop dining to close at midnight, but gives the developers more freedom in the size of the restaurant.
Developers should begin work on the Compromise Street property soon, Pantelides said.
"I met with them and we want to get them started as soon as possible."
The old recreation center is now officially sold to O2/Lafayette, which has promised to turn the property into condominium housing. This bill was controversial, with St. Mary's Parish and Schools and several other entities bidding on the site.
Paone said he didn't think the city wasn't getting the best deal with 02/Lafayette. The alderman said he has never seen complete copies of the bids for the property.
"It was very handled very poorly," he said. "It is just frustrating."
For the revenue bonds, the council voted to restructure $39.5 million in general obligation bonds — shorter length bonds with higher rates — as revenue bonds — which last a maximum of 30 years with lower rates. It also took on $5 million in new debt authorized in the 2016 budget.
This means the city ultimately pays more over time, but officials argue it gives the utility funds more flexibility and could help keep rate payments down.
Those bonds were officially rated positively by Moody's, Fitch and Standard & Poor's, the city announced Monday. Each of these investment firms rated the bonds of high quality and that the city will be able to meet its payments.
A resolution was introduced by Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson, D-Ward 4, to waive the fees for inspections of Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis properties that were announced by Pantelides at the last City Council meeting.
The mandated inspections will occur before May 1 and would cost $100 per unit. With HACA overseeing 790 units, the final bill would be about $79,000, which is money the financially-strapped organization would struggle to pay.
The organization has tried to replace its executive director, as the former resigned in September, but Sharon Land, who was tapped for the position, backed out for "personal" reasons.
Finlayson said not charging for the inspections will show the housing authority that the city is interested in helping.
"They could renovate units with that money," Finlayson said. "We are willing to be part of the solution."
The council also on Monday approved three other bills, but each will have to be approved by the state.
The first would allow Annapolis to have more autonomy when operating during emergencies. Currently, the city must seek permits when handling emergencies, such as snowstorms or flooding. If approved, Annapolis would be added to the Maryland Emergency Management Assistance Compact, meaning the city would be able to bypass some of those permits during emergencies.
The second would allow the city to better track and fine vacant and blighted buildings. The mayor wouldn't list any specific properties, but said the legislation would help the city motivate property owners through financial punishment.
The last was a request for $1 million to help with the design portion of the City Dock Flood Mitigation Project, which aims to improve flood problems.