Annapolis ends plan to annex 6 acres

Disagreement over development stops council proposal

December 13, 2006|By Nia-Malika Henderson | Nia-Malika Henderson,sun reporter

The battle over expanding Annapolis by about 6 acres is over - at least for now, city officials said yesterday.

Alderman Samuel E. Shropshire, a Ward 7 Democrat, withdrew a resolution to annex the so-called Samaras property on Bay Ridge Road at Monday night's city council meeting.

Zoning officials had developed a preliminary concept plan for the land that called for single-family homes, businesses and green space.

But two of the property owners - Mary and Bessie Samaras - withdrew their request for annexation Monday because the terms of the resolution required that all property owners agree on a concept plan before development.

Shropshire, who co-sponsored the resolution with Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, said he began to have reservations about the annexation last week when the owners couldn't agree on the development plans.

"I felt that I couldn't get unqualified guarantees with regard to traffic and the environment on Forest Drive, so I could no longer support it," Shropshire said. "Everyone is happy with the withdrawal."

After the measure was introduced last spring, many residents organized and sent e-mails to city officials expressing opposition to the proposed extension of the city's boundaries in the community near Eastport.

At a series of community meetings, residents expressed concerns about congestion on Forest Drive and a possible glut of retail outlets that they said weren't needed.

"We are very happy. I think it shows that the city is listening to the residents," said Gwenn Azama, president of the community group SaveYourAnnapolisNeck, which represents homeowners in the neighborhoods southwest of the city limits. "People don't see this area as becoming a highly densely populated area."

Azama said the city should focus on revitalization of existing areas rather than expanding.

Annapolis has annexed 534 acres since 1990, according to city figures.

But while plans for the land - a wooded lot with a few houses that is zoned residential and commercial - won't move forward for now, it is likely that the site will be developed in the future.

Shropshire said he hoped that Anne Arundel County would classify the land as commercial-only and that any development would preserve existing trees.

In an e-mail to Hillsmere residents, newly elected County Council member Josh Cohen, who previously served on the city council, said he would work with the city and residents to develop a plan for the Samaras property that would reduce traffic flow and protect the natural habitat.

In other business:

The council passed a resolution granting the city a franchise agreement with Verizon. Next month, most city residents will be able to order high-speed Internet and FiOS TV, the company's digital programming package that offers video on demand and high-definition channels, said Christy Reap a Verizon spokeswoman.

Under the terms of the 10-year agreement, Verizon will pay the city 5 percent of its annual gross revenue. Residents can expect to pay about $42.99 for the on-demand, local and digital channel package.

Alderman Dick Israel, a Ward 1 Democrat, introduced legislation that would create a parking fund, redefine eligibility for residential parking permits and create a parking advisory commission.

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