Sunday, March 11, 2007

Annapolis Neck Zoning, at last

On March 5th, County Executive John Leopold and I introduced the long-awaited Annapolis Neck comprehensive zoning bill (Bill No. 13-07). This bill implements the zoning changes recommended by the 2003 Annapolis Neck Small Area Plan (ANSAP).

One of my first priorities after last Fall's election was to work with the Administration to get this bill introduced. Its zoning changes will help protect the character of the peninsula (Read today's story in The Capital.)

A Long Time Coming

This bill completes a process that spans three county administrations. In 1998 then-County Executive John Gary supplemented the countywide General Development Plan (GDP) with a localized planning process based on 16 geographic areas. The Annapolis Neck area was among the first round of Small Area Plans to get started.

The County Council adopted the Plan on March 17th, 2003. Adoption was the first step to formalize the Plan's recommendations. The next step was to implement the zoning changes. That's what this bill does.

What's in the Bill

The bill downzones five areas on the Annapolis Neck Peninsula:

  • The most substantive change downzones 604 acres that extend into the South River south of Forest Drive. This land comprises much of the Childs Point, Melvin/Ferry Point and Persimmon Point peninsulas. Their current zoning is either R1 or R2 which allow 1 or 2 houses per acre, respectively. The bill downzones these peninsulas to RLD which is a more rural designation of 1 house per 5 acres.

    This downzoning protects about 20 vacant lots on these environmentally sensitive peninsulas from being developed. About 40 lots on these peninsulas are currently vacant, of which about 20 are already restricted by Critical Areas regulations. This zoning bill prevents development on the remaining lots.

  • Two of the changes downzone a total of 18.2 acres along MD 665 at the interchange with MD 2.
    Current zoning: C4 and R15
    Proposed zoning: R2 and C3

  • The remaining two changes are considered housekeeping and downzone to Open Space all 336 acres of Quiet Waters Park and a small 3.5 acre parcel next to Peninsula Park.
    Current zoning: R1 and R2
    Proposed zoning: OS
What's not in the Bill

The process has taken such a long time that some of the Plan's recommendations no longer apply. For example, the Plan recommended downzoning property next to the Cape St. John community off Riva Road. That property has since been subdivided under the current, higher-density zoning, so that change is not in this bill.

The bill also makes no changes to the Parole Growth Management Area (PGMA). The PGMA is a separate planning area within the Annapolis Neck that encompasses hundreds of acres of land. Parole's current zoning reflects the last adopted Parole plan from 1994, the Parole Urban Design Concept Plan.

In 1999 the County appointed a committee to revise Parole's zoning. The committee produced a report in 2003 titled Parole by Design but it was never adopted. Bill 13-07 maintains the 1994 zoning currently on the books.

The 2003 Parole Plan needs to be revived, but not at the cost of delaying the Annapolis Neck zoning bill even longer. The Administration and I are moving forward with this bill with an understanding that Parole will be revisited soon after the next GDP process.

Next Steps

Citizens can request zoning amendments for any property within the planning area. Amendments must be requested in writing by Monday, March 19th. Forms are available online.

The County Council's public hearing is set for Tuesday, April 3rd at 7 p.m. The public is encouraged to testify or contact the councilmembers in writing.

When the ANSAP process began in 1999, the county imposed a moratorium on any rezonings in the planning area. It was intended to be temporary but has remained in effect because the process has taken so long. As with the other Small Area Plans, the moratorium will expire once the council adopts the rezoning.

The council is expected to vote on the bill in late April or May. The zoning changes will take effect 45 days after the council adopts the bill.

More Resources

  • Maps
  • Table of zoning changes

  • 2003 Annapolis Neck Small Area Plan

  • 1994 Parole Urban Design Master Plan

  • Description of zoning districts

  • Map of all 16 Small Planning Areas

  • Zoning amendment request form