A furious Alderman Samuel Gilmer, D-Ward 3, is calling for a "full review" of a planning board's decision that threatens to scuttle a proposed community and senior center at the old Wiley H. Bates High School.
"They're going to have to have a good justification for that decision. I'm going to stand there and publicly question them in long elaborate detail to make sure of every crossed 'T' and dotted 'I,' " Gilmer said angrily Friday.
The Planning and Zoning Commission voted, 4-3, to recommend against a change in zoning that would have allowed developers Leonard and Victor Frenkil to build 86 town houses on eight acres of the 16-acre site and to pay $1.2 million to remove asbestos from the former school so it could be converted into a joint community center and senior center.
The 10-year-old proposed project, on the grounds of what was the county's only high school for blacks before desegregation in 1966, enjoys widespread support in Annapolis' black community.
But the planning board's decision had nothing to do with the merits of theproject, said Planning and Zoning Director Eileen Fogarty.
"The commission opposed the change because they decided no mistake was madein the original zoning and the entire neighborhood surrounding Bateshas not changed substantially," Fogarty said.
"The commission dideverything exactly as they were supposed to and that's just the way it came out."
Gilmer says the neighborhood around Bates, includingSpa Road and West Street, has changed enough to justify a change in zoning.
The commission's decision does not bind the City Council to reject the rezoning proposal, but could give weight to a future legal challenge if the council doesn't follow the recommendation, said City Administrator Michael Mallinoff.
The City Council originally was scheduled to consider the Bates question Dec. 16, but Mallinoff said the council may need a spe
cial meeting later that week to accommodate Gilmer's request for a review.
Even if the City Council does allow the rezoning, the state Critical Areas Commission will need to grant Annapolis Maryland's first-ever critical areas redesignation, Fogarty said.
The land is within 1,000 feet of the headwaters ofSpa Creek, a buffer known as a critical area.
Gilmer calls the critical area designation "a figment of imagination," saying that the creek affected is "no wider than a tire tread" and "carries a thimbleful of water."