Moyer wants to lift ban on building

Mayor, alderman at odds over public facilities legislation

March 18, 2007|By Nia-Malika Henderson | Nia-Malika Henderson,Sun reporter

Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer is seeking to lift the building delay enacted last fall by the city council and to put off a public facilities bill - moves she said would streamline the planning process but that opponents say will thwart efforts to control growth.

The adequate public facilities ordinance (APFO) would require that adequate fire, police, water and road support be in place before major new developments could move forward. The current development delay halted new projects until the legislation is put in place.

Tomorrow night, Moyer said, she will introduce a resolution that would tie public facilities legislation - which she co-sponsored - to the City's Comprehensive Plan, due in January.

Alderman David Cordle, who introduced the legislation in September, is aiming to enact it by August, at which point the building delay would also be lifted.

Moyer wants the facilities legislation to take a back seat to planning.

"In terms of good planning, the APFO needs to be viewed in the context of comprehensive plan," she said. "Planning and growth should drive the APFO, not the other way around."

But Cordle, who said city officials recently approached him about backing away from public facilities legislation, said the push to stymie the bill comes about 18 months too late.

"They want the comprehensive plan to drive the APFO, but I don't agree with that whatsoever," he said. "The APFO should set guidelines for future development. If we put the comprehensive plan first, it is going to drive how the APFO is written."

Cordle said the city "never met any development they didn't seem to like" and that public facilities legislation would help to manage growth. The mayor called the building delay - enacted in the fall - a "knee-jerk reaction that had little to do with planning."

Moyer was one of three council members to vote against the moratorium, which was introduced by Josh Cohen, who now sits on the County Council. He said he understands Moyer's premise - that efforts should be coordinated - but disagreed that the building ban should be lifted.

Moyer's resolution was prompted, in part, by a memo from the planning commission that called the public facilities ordinance "a straitjacket" that would lead to "litigation against the city as projects are denied on questionable APFO inadequacies."

The memo asserts that projects could be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, rather than applying blanket public facilities standards to all new development.

Moyer has remained consistent in her negative view of the building delay, which she called a political ploy.

She said the city's revenue stream has likely been affected by the delay - which is why Cordle said it's important to push the facilities bill through as soon as possible. However, Tim Elliott, the city's finance director, said that building revenue is down significantly but that the moratorium was not to blame.

"There's not a real effect at the current moment, but it will be felt in early fiscal year 2008," he said.

The adequate public facilities legislation is back on the council's agenda April 9.

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