With city budget issues at the top of their agenda, Annapolis leaders are seeking more time to refine and approve a comprehensive plan that will guide how the city should develop land over the next two decades.A resolution sponsored by Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley requesting a 60-day extension of the deadline to approve AnnapolisAhead 2040 until July 12, passed on first reader Monday.The resolution came days before the council met Thursday for a work session on what Planning and Zoning Director Chris Jakubiak called an “innovative” plan.The council started work on the plan at the end of February. The 450-page document lays out the future use of land, water and other natural resources in the city as well as parks, streets, open spaces, community facilities and more.At a March 28 work session to review the comprehensive plan, city staff identified priorities for updates. The updates included making public safety a priority; addressing the overall readability of the plan; adding ward area maps and profiles that list recommended actions for each district; and addressing the growing senior population.
At Thursday’s work session, council members raised questions about outstanding issues and offered comments.Alderman Ross Arnett, a Democrat from Ward 8, said he is concerned about “the 15-minute city and the after-effects of density growth.” He also underlined the importance of ensuring that new housing is adjacent to public transportation. The 15-minute city is an urban planning approach in which all key necessities would be within a 15-minute walk or bike ride for residents.“When I look at our goals and then our measures of success, I think that we’re kind of shrugging our shoulders,” he said. “We need to have some things that are much more specific, not that we need to improve transit.”

Arnett said that the city needs to be careful that when they plan for things like workforce housing, they are not “overshooting the mark.” He argued that the plan needs “a number and a composition” of housing growth expectations. The numbers would contextualize how city officials see growth in terms of the number of units and household members. There also needs to be a way to gauge whether people are interested in moving into the city, he added“We don’t have information on if we build it, will they really come?” Arnett said. “They may not want to come here, and I think it’s important to at least get some notional analysis.”Eric Leshinsky, chief of comprehensive planning, said that the issue is not just attracting people. The city also wants to diversify the types of housing that are available and provide options that allow people to “move laterally” in the city based on income changes.The plan’s growth projections are based on data from the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, a nonprofit organization that supports local governments in activities such as community planning, according to its website. The council forecasts “very slow, gradual growth,” Jakubiak said.The comprehensive plan forecasts the addition of around 1,500 new households. More than half of those households are “already baked into” development projects that are either being built or are in the permitting process, Jakubiak said.The remaining number, about 700 households, would be new, and the plan states that the city’s preference would be to develop workforce housing using mixed-use developments, not building new structures.Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell-Charles, a Democrat from Ward 3, suggested that the council contribute a “prologue” to the comprehensive plan that allows each council member to discuss longer-term concerns and considerations, such as gentrification in Ward 3.“I don’t want to get locked into something that we know may end up being a concern without first saying, ‘We’re going to lay out the concerns initially, whether in a prologue or resolution.’ … I want the residents to kind of see where [the council is] coming from in our individual wards,” she said.Arnett agreed, saying that council members should communicate the plan to their constituents and “anyone who will listen.”The prologue would most likely come in the form of a resolution that would be attached to the comprehensive plan when it’s approved and should be separate from the document itself, Jakubiak said.“I just want to make sure that we all have that opportunity to look strategically and surgically at our wards,” Pindell-Charles said.An updated document with additional information and language changes will be presented to the council at the next work session, said Leshinsky, who wants to schedule another work session for early June.

A resolution sponsored by Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley requesting a 60-day extension of the deadline to approve AnnapolisAhead 2040 until July 12, passed on first reader Monday.

The resolution came days before the council met Thursday for a work session on what Planning and Zoning Director Chris Jakubiak called an “innovative” plan.

The council started work on the plan at the end of February. The 450-page document lays out the future use of land, water and other natural resources in the city as well as parks, streets, open spaces, community facilities and more.

At a March 28 work session to review the comprehensive plan, city staff identified priorities for updates. The updates included making public safety a priority; addressing the overall readability of the plan; adding ward area maps and profiles that list recommended actions for each district; and addressing the growing senior population.

At Thursday’s work session, council members raised questions about outstanding issues and offered comments.

Alderman Ross Arnett, a Democrat from Ward 8, said he is concerned about “the 15-minute city and the after-effects of density growth.” He also underlined the importance of ensuring that new housing is adjacent to public transportation. The 15-minute city is an urban planning approach in which all key necessities would be within a 15-minute walk or bike ride for residents.

“When I look at our goals and then our measures of success, I think that we’re kind of shrugging our shoulders,” he said. “We need to have some things that are much more specific, not that we need to improve transit.”

Arnett said that the city needs to be careful that when they plan for things like workforce housing, they are not “overshooting the mark.” He argued that the plan needs “a number and a composition” of housing growth expectations. The numbers would contextualize how city officials see growth in terms of the number of units and household members. There also needs to be a way to gauge whether people are interested in moving into the city, he added

“We don’t have information on if we build it, will they really come?” Arnett said. “They may not want to come here, and I think it’s important to at least get some notional analysis.”

Eric Leshinsky, chief of comprehensive planning, said that the issue is not just attracting people. The city also wants to diversify the types of housing that are available and provide options that allow people to “move laterally” in the city based on income changes.

The plan’s growth projections are based on data from the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, a nonprofit organization that supports local governments in activities such as community planning, according to its website. The council forecasts “very slow, gradual growth,” Jakubiak said.

The comprehensive plan forecasts the addition of around 1,500 new households. More than half of those households are “already baked into” development projects that are either being built or are in the permitting process, Jakubiak said.

The remaining number, about 700 households, would be new, and the plan states that the city’s preference would be to develop workforce housing using mixed-use developments, not building new structures.

Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell-Charles, a Democrat from Ward 3, suggested that the council contribute a “prologue” to the comprehensive plan that allows each council member to discuss longer-term concerns and considerations, such as gentrification in Ward 3.

“I don’t want to get locked into something that we know may end up being a concern without first saying, ‘We’re going to lay out the concerns initially, whether in a prologue or resolution.’ … I want the residents to kind of see where [the council is] coming from in our individual wards,” she said.

Arnett agreed, saying that council members should communicate the plan to their constituents and “anyone who will listen.”

The prologue would most likely come in the form of a resolution that would be attached to the comprehensive plan when it’s approved and should be separate from the document itself, Jakubiak said.

“I just want to make sure that we all have that opportunity to look strategically and surgically at our wards,” Pindell-Charles said.

An updated document with additional information and language changes will be presented to the council at the next work session, said Leshinsky, who wants to schedule another work session for early June.

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