Annapolis council tables housing bill

Measure sought to attract middle-class residents

April 13, 2004|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis city council voted unanimously last night to table a proposed ordinance that would require developers to set aside homes for moderate-income people in future housing projects.

The legislation required that 6 percent of the homes in new rental projects be designated for moderate-income residents - defined as a family of four, with total annual income of $54,000 or less - and 12 percent of homes in developments meant for sale.

The council decided to delay a final vote on the bill when two of its co-sponsors said they believed the legislation would allow developers to cluster the moderately priced homes - rather than spread them throughout a community - and that the bill didn't do enough to encourage homeownership.

Alderwoman Cynthia A. Carter said the bill was "so watered-down now" that developers could skirt its intent.

The bill was supposed to help bring an influx of middle-class residents into the city, where the median home price is nearly $245,000. Many teachers, police officers and firefighters say they cannot afford to buy a home in the city. No more than seven of the city's nearly 100 firefighters live in Annapolis, officials of their union say.

Carter, a Democrat, and other council members said they had not intended for the ordinance to apply to rental units and that those clauses were added to the bill by subcommittees. "All of this was not in there [originally], and I don't know how it got in there," Carter said.

Democratic Alderwoman Classie Gillis Hoyle, one of the co-sponsors, said she was uncomfortable with a clause that would have allowed developers to make a donation to a city-run homeownership plan instead of setting aside homes for people of moderate income.

The donation - which would have to be at least 2 percent of a project's construction cost - would be used by the city to purchase land or buildings, provide settlement expenses to families and other costs. It would also require approval by the city's director of planning and zoning.

Another option in the bill would have allowed developers to donate land instead of money.

Montgomery and Howard counties have comparable housing laws on the books, and Anne Arundel County officials are considering a similar measure.

Council members will study the bill further and plan to reintroduce it within 48 days.

In another matter, Mike Mirion, the city's economic development director, wrote a memo to council members saying that several groups are interested in leasing the historic Market House, a city-run property at the base of Main Street.

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