Housing agency puts off hearing on 5-year plan

Annapolis residents complain they need time to review thick proposal

March 29, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

After residents complained that they hadn't had time to review the proposed five-year plan prepared by the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis, housing officials postponed yesterday a public hearing on the draft.

They also agreed to make about 150 copies of the draft plan, which is as thick as a phone book, for residents.

The rescheduled public hearing is set for 4: 30 p.m. April 10 at the Eastport Terrace/Harbor House Recreation Center. Copies of the draft plan will be available by tomorrow at the housing authority office in the 1200 block of Madison St.

Though the authority met legal requirements by announcing the public hearing in its newsletter last month, the board of commissioners and executive director decided to postpone the hearing -- and move it to a larger arena -- to give residents a chance to review the draft plan.

"We exceeded it [required time for public comment], even though it means more work for the staff," said Howard Pinskey, the board's chairman.

The housing authority must submit the plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by April 15 -- a required 75 days before the agency's fiscal year ends. The plan outlines its goals for 2001 through 2005.

Comments and concerns from the public will be answered by the housing authority staff and will be submitted to HUD with the plan. The housing authority oversees 10 complexes with about 3,000 residents.

P. Holden Croslan, the agency's executive director, said the housing authority is required by the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 to create the five-year plan.

The authority has been working with a consultant for several months and several copies of a draft were made available to the public about 45 days ago, Croslan said.

Some of the goals include investigating redevelopment opportunities, improving public housing's image and public relations, and making residents more satisfied with repairs.

The authority received a final draft Monday, which will be resubmitted to the consultant after public comment.

Residents argued that they didn't have access to any copies of the draft. Many complained that they didn't know about the draft or that it was too lengthy to read at the authority's office.

More than 45 people packed the public hearing yesterday, and the commissioners were told that another 50 were waiting outside. The meeting room has a capacity of 49.

Robert Eades, a resident of Obery Court, said he got a copy of the draft Friday.

"We just think it's unfair that the tenants haven't had a proper opportunity to review the plan," he said.

Patricia Holliday, newly elected president of the Annapolis Gardens tenant council, said her residents were not familiar with the draft plan.

"We have no idea what this is about," Holliday told the commissioners. "From what I understand, we were supposed to have some input."

Croslan said a newsletter is mailed to each residence, except in Glenwood High Rise and Bowman Court, where they are hand-delivered by the resident councils.

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