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Keeping Tabs On The City Council's Activities So You Don't Have To

On the Agenda for Nov. 8

Late last year, Councilmember Mary Pat Clarke (D-14th District) introduced a bill affirming the Council's support of a "Cyclists' Bill of Rights." Among the 12 tenets are the rights to "routine accommodations in all roadway projects and improvements," and to "travel safely and free of fear." The bill finally passed last Monday night. Another noteworthy development: The zoning proposal for a large shopping center in Remington, which is to include a Walmart, was given unanimous approval. The plan, which has faced a cadre of vocal opponents, requires one more Council vote for final approval.

Bill 10-0617 Subdivision and Development Plan - Penalties for Violation Would establish penalties for violation of the rules governing the development and regulation of subdivisions.

The Read: This ordinance, introduced at the request of the Department of Planning, would make breaking any number of rules governing subdivisions a misdemeanor, with those found guilty subject to a fine of up to $500 for each offense. (Each day that a violation continues would be considered a separate offense.) The regulations in question include rules governing access to subdivisions by fire trucks, planning for proper drainage, and planning for appropriate street width, grade, and arrangement.

Bill 10-0618 Neighborhood Nuisances - Enforcement by Citation Would authorize the city to issue citations to owners, operators, or occupants of a site that has been labeled a "neighborhood nuisance."

The Read: Introduced at the request of the Department of Housing and Community Development, the bill would beef up city rules regarding premises that are a continual annoyance to neighbors thanks to owners, operators, or occupants repeatedly disturbing the peace. According to city code, nuisances include loud noises and the "unreasonable" use of profanity. If the new bill passes, a police report describing such activities would be regarded as evidence that a particular building or plot of land is, in fact, a neighborhood nuisance. The city would then have the option of issuing an environmental citation on top of any other enforcement that might occur. Those found guilty would be subject to a fine of $500 for the first offense, and up to $1,000 for the second.

Resolution 10-0619 Waterfront Management District and Waterfront Management Authority - Renewal through April 23, 2015 Would renew the Waterfront Management District and Waterfront Management Authority for four more years.

The Read: In mid-2007, the Council passed a bill establishing a special benefits district known as the Waterfront Management District. It encompasses the Inner Harbor-"the civic, financial, and symbolic heart of Baltimore City"-as well as other areas of the waterfront. The ordinance passed by the Council at the time stated that because the Inner Harbor and surrounding areas draw tourists, real estate investment, and other financial benefits to the city, a single entity-the Waterfront Management Authority-should work toward the district's success: promoting and marketing the area and supporting efforts to create and maintain open spaces, promenades, and parks, among other tasks. The ordinance requires the City Council to periodically reexamine the legislation. The current bill would renew the district and the authority for another four years.

Resolution 10-0620 Zoning - Department of Transportation Plot Plan Review Would clarify which agency, the Department of Public Works or the Department of Transportation, is responsible for the review of plot plans for parking lots.

The Read: Many duties that were once the purview of the Department of Public Works have recently been transferred to the Department of Transportation. This housekeeping bill makes the DOT legally responsible for reviewing parking lot plans for new or expanded use of at least five spaces.

Resolution 10-0230R Informational Hearing - Convention Center Hotel Performance Would ask representatives of the Baltimore Hotel Corporation, the Baltimore Development Corporation, and the Department of Finance to come to the Council and explain the convention center hotel's poor financial performance.

The Read: Baltimore's city-owned 752-room Hilton Baltimore hotel opened in the summer of 2008 after a long season of controversy. It was meant to boost tourism and bring a wave of new conventions to the city. But last year the hotel lost $14.9 million. It is expected to lose nearly $10 million in 2010, and half of its rooms often sit vacant, according to the resolution. "It is safe to say that the hotel's performance to date has been a disappointment for the City," it reads. Introduced by Councilmember Belinda Conaway (D-7th District), the resolution would also require those giving the informational hearing to explain how the city might go about getting rid of the hotel.

City Council Quote of the Week: "Thank you for your help with all these bicycle bills-there's only a couple left to go. Then I'm switching to motor bikes. Zoom zoom!" -Mary Pat Clarke. Clarke has sponsored a lot of pro-bicycle legislation over the past year, including a bill that would require new developments to include bike parking spaces and another requiring new drainage grates to be installed perpendicular to the direction of traffic.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 22.

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