City Dock plan is too big for Annapolis' historic waterfront

July 24, 2013

Two recent Sun pieces (Susan Reimer's column "Annapolis whiffs on City Dock again," July 11, Mayor Josh Cohen's op-ed, "City Dock plans restores luster of Annapolis' crown jewel," July 18) both about the Annapolis City Dock, questioned the motives of those who have asked questions about the plan and who are trying to slow down a rush to pass a massive ordinance (07-13) to implement an incomplete plan.

The ordinance would set up a new maritime zone that is maritime in name only, as the uses allowed in this "maritime zone" are furniture stores, hotels, ice skating rinks and much more. It also tramples on a law passed in 1978 that limits the height and bulk (mass) of buildings in the historic district that includes Annapolis City Dock. The 1978 ordinance passed as a result of the now Marriott Hotel (formerly Hilton) on Ego Alley that some still complain about. Until the large hotel was built, there was not a good example of how a too large building would impact the district. That realization led to the enactment of the height and bulk ordinance that has been extremely effective in keeping the human scale of the historic district.

Removing traditional maritime zoning from the City Dock is a major change as is the elimination of current height and bulk limitations — two of the city's most effective tools to preserve this small historic waterfront. Removal of parking on the City Dock may sound like a good idea until a merchant rightly asks where his customers will park. No parking replacement plan exists.

The Master Plan looks attractive with green open spaces; however under the ordinance, some of this green space will be dual use parking/open space or "flex space." With lot coverage under the proposed ordinance allowed to go to 100 percent, one wonders where the open space will come from. There all also questions about why the mayor is planning to give two current parking lots to the developer for his use. How do the citizens benefit, and what is the cost to the taxpayers of this gift from the city?

Name-calling does nothing to improve an ordinance that threatens preservation and maritime limits that have worked well, but now are threatened. Rather than labeling those who question the plan as "obstructionists" or members of the "Downtown No Club" (Mr. Cohen) or "fusty historic types" (Ms. Reimer), a constructive dialogue about the concerns of Save Annapolis should begin. Otherwise the "Crown Jewel of Annapolis" may become only a memory.

Ann M. Fligsten, Arnold

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