Long-term plan urged for Annapolis Goal is to guide downtown future ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

April 02, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

The Annapolis planning board recommended last night that the city approve a long-range plan charting the future of its historic downtown.

The city's Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously endorsed the 300-page comprehensive plan. But at the same time, commission members expressed reservations over sections of the document and decided to study it further to develop specific plans for action.

Commission member Richard Hillman, a former mayor of Annapolis, volunteered to pare the report into a list of clear-cut proposed ordinances.

He was on a committee of business leaders and residents that spent nearly three years wrangling over the future of Maryland's colonial capital.

The three dozen members of the committee had at least as many opinions on what the historic district should look like in the 21st century.

At stake are millions in tourist dollars and something much harder to quantify -- the historic city's identity and charm.

In December, the group reached a hard-fought consensus on the final document known as the Ward One Sector Study. But even then, residents and merchants continued to voice conflicting interests that threatened to unravel the compromises worked out over many meetings.

Last night, the commission questioned details of the sweeping plan and its cost.

"This is nice, but how much does it cost?" asked commission member Dolores Hughes. She pointed out that the city has previously bounced back from hard times without offering incentives to building owners to fix up the Victorian-era shops, or offering tax breaks to small merchants.

Among the key recommendations in the report, which strives to balance the interests of the residents and merchants in downtown Annapolis, are:

* Replacing metered parking at City Dock with a small garage and turning the area near the harbor into a park.

* Reducing downtown traffic congestion by altering bus routes, running more frequent downtown shuttles and better managing parking with a new transportation agency.

* Designing new traffic patterns for the historic district, including reversing the traffic direction on Main Street to head toward the dock, or making it a two-way street, or making Duke of Gloucester a two-way street.

* Changing zoning to preserve residential "neighborhoods at risk."

* Lengthening off-street parking hours in exchange for substantially higher fees for residential parking permits.

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