Plan would keep downtown waterfront view

If passed by City Council, groups' agreement would shape development along Sixth Street

October 22, 2006|By Anica Butler | Anica Butler,sun reporter

In time for a public hearing tomorrow, the Eastport Civic Association and the Annapolis Yacht Club have come to an agreement on preserving Eastport's view of the historic downtown waterfront.

Both groups support the goals of the ordinance before the City Council: to preserve an unobstructed view of downtown from Sixth Street. But that could restrict the building and redevelopment abilities of property owners.

Bill Chambers, commodore of the club, said the initial proposal for an Eastport Gateway Conservation Overlay District would have impinged on the yacht club's property, and limited construction options in the future.

The AYC, which is known for running the popular Wednesday Night Races for the sailing set, boasts 1,400 members, according to its Web site. Founded in 1883, it has a clubhouse on the Annapolis side of the Spa Creek Bridge, and the junior fleet building on the Eastport side.

It has no immediate plans for new buildings, Chambers said, but may need to expand eventually on the Eastport side.

The ordinance was held up as the two sides developed a compromise. The area of the "view cone" called for in the ordinance has been shifted and slightly reduced.

"At this point there is nothing in that legislation with which we disagree," Chambers said. "We have a very great interest in working with our civic neighbors and are pleased things are going smoothly."

The ordinance, if passed by the City Council, also would dictate the style and character of development in the "gateway" area along Sixth Street, just over the Spa Creek Bridge.

Most of Eastport already is covered by a historic overlay district, created in the 1990s, said the bill's sponsor, Alderman Josh Cohen.

"There were concerns that some of the construction [at the time] was more typical of suburbs than Eastport's quaint neighborhoods," Cohen said. The Democrat represents the enclave and is a candidate for the County Council in next month's election.

Employing restrictions is good not only for the character of the community, but also for property values, Cohen said.

Buildings would have to be "less suburban and more urban in character and reminiscent of the maritime and residential flavor of the community." The proposal also calls for new utility lines to be placed underground and includes rules for landscaping and signs, which should "be designed and made of materials consistent with the maritime and historic character of Eastport."

"You have this beautiful panoramic view of the downtown district," Cohen said. "The purpose is that, as properties get redeveloped, to make sure as they still protect this existing view."

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