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Much-revised City Dock plan could go to a vote on Oct. 28

The Annapolis City Council should be ready to vote on the City Dock plan at its last October meeting, though there is still time for more amendments to the controversial proposal. The council heard more testimony this week about the project's negative impact on the charm and small-town feel of the Annapolis harbor. The council also heard from one citizen who is disappointed that some changes were made to the original proposal.

Opponents reiterated arguments they have made for months now. For example, the tall buildings will attract more tall buildings and, soon, Annapolis will lose its connection to the waterfront. Parking is still an issue as well: Without adequate parking, one critic said, the entire project will fail and downtown Annapolis will die.

The council has revised the initial proposal significantly since its debut, in part to allow more flexibility in individual components. The most recent draft also emphasizes preserving the historic flavor of the city but also includes important upgrades. The boardwalk will be wider, and the old Fawcett Boat Supplies site will have new businesses. The city has also held onto the option to build a flood wall.

To address specific concerns, the master plan includes studies on traffic flow and parking issues, as well as maritime industry zoning. The council will also look into the landscape history of Dock Street.

There will be time at the Oct. 28 meeting to add more amendments to the plan before it goes to a vote. One proposal that could make it into the final version is to include strict enforcement of existing height limits on new buildings at the site.

Another proposal harks back to the original plan: the recommendation to extend the boardwalk to the Spa Creek Bridge. The resident who re-proposed the idea said that this could be the city's last opportunity to wrap Ego Alley in a continuous public boardwalk. The recommendation was removed from the plan when private property owners along the route objected.

The resident added, wisely, that land-use planning "is not for the weak of heart." If it's easy, she said, you must not be doing it right.

Source: Capital Gazette, "Historic preservation, parking still City Dock planning concerns," Elisha Sauers, Oct. 22, 2013

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