On the agenda for Aug. 15
Published: August 24, 2011
11-0755 Urban Renewal – Brooklyn-Curtis Bay Business Area – Amendment This would amend the business area plan’s objective, delete a land-use category, “delete standards for mixed use development in the plan, delete a certain obligation of a Developer,” and make other changes.
11-0756 Rezoning – Properties in the Brooklyn and Curtis Bay Business Area urban Renewal Area Would change the zoning of about three blocks of Hanover Street, plus some other parcels on Governor Richie Highway, from the B-3-2 zoning district to the B-2-2 zoning.
The Read: The two bills amend the plan for the area by prohibiting things like peep shows, check-cashing outlets, rent-to-own shops, pool halls, amusement arcades, dancehalls, rooming houses, bail-bonds offices, gun shops, and community correctional facilities from the development. The bill also removes a provision that ground-floor ceilings had to be 12 feet high at minimum, and adds Concerned Citizens for a Better Brooklyn and Community of Curtis Bay Association to the list of neighborhood groups that must be consulted on any future changes in the plan.
11-0758 Urban Renewal – Canton Industrial Area - Amendment, 11-0759 Rezoning – Block 6505, Lots 1/9, 9A and 10, 11-0760 Planned Unit Development – Amendment 5 – Canton Crossing, 11-0761 Planned Unit Development – Designation – BCP PUD Together these bills take the former Exxon station just east of Canton Crossing and turn the parcel into its own Planned Unit Development (PUD). City Councilmember James Kraft (D-1st District) says the land has a new potential purchaser, BCP Investors LLC, which wants to build a shopping center there with a Target, a Harris Teeter grocery store, and other retailers. The resident agent of BCP is Mark Sapperstein. The neighborhood associations asked for the development to get its own PUD, Kraft says, rather than leaving it as part of Canton Crossing.
11-0763 Planned Unit Development – Designation – Hollander 95 Business Park Would approve application of FRP Hollander 95 LLC to designate the old Hollander Ridge housing complex in East Baltimore an industrial development.
The Read: Outgoing Councilmember Nick D’Adamo (D-2nd District) put in the bill, which involves 51 acres at 62nd Street and Route 40 near Rosedale. The parcels have an interesting history: After the city cleared the public housing and sold the lots for $4 million in 2004 to a company with partners including Ron Lipscomb of Doracon Contracting—later to become somewhat infamous as then Mayor Sheila Dixon’s generous boyfriend—that company borrowed millions more from M&T Bank to develop the property and then went bankrupt just before M&T foreclosed. The land sold for about $7 million at auction last year to a reconstituted company based in Sparks. This bill is on behalf of that company, FRP Hollander 95 LLC, which has roots in Florida and develops office, warehouse, and “flex space,” according to its web site.
11-0764 Advertising Circulars - Presumption of Placement Without Permission This would modify a city littering ordinance to make it easier for people miffed by menus and other fliers stuffed under their doors or through their mails slots or under their windshields to get some action.
The Read: Councilmember Mary Pat Clarke (D-14th District), the bill’s lead sponsor, says this will cut through some red tape and make prosecution easier. “It’s a littering mess out there,” she said.
11-0765 Special-Event Parking – Zoning – Licensing and Regulation Would require licensing (and fees) for short-time, special-event parking lots.
The Read: Councilmember William Cole (D-11th District) introduced this bill, he told the council, to curb “rogue” parking lot owners who open for business during Ravens games or Yankees visits and shut down immediately after. The lot owners don’t pay the city its parking tax—thus undercutting the legitimate lot owners who do. And worse, Cole says, people parking in these lots can get ticketed. So the bill would give the “rogue” lot owners a way into the city’s well-regulated parking system and protect consumers too. That’s the theory, anyway. “The city is missing out on a lot of revenue,” Cole said.
11-0766 Animal Control and Protection – Reconstitution Basically rewrites the city’s animal control ordinances.
The Read: Councilmember Robert Curran (D-3rd District) gets the “longest bill” award with this 67-page tome, which purports to modernize the city’s animal control laws. The main ingredient is the abolishment of the Vicious Dog board and its replacement with a new Animal Hearing Board that would oversee issues involving all kinds of animals. “The bottom line,” Curran said, “is that animal cruelty will cease in Baltimore. Justice will be served.”
11-0767 Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals – Public Hearings Would require the city’s zoning board to keep real minutes and a written record of its reasoning, vote in public, and prohibit members from voting by phone.
The Read: Kraft introduced this bill on behalf of his constituents, he said, who often attend zoning board meetings. He says the minutes the board keeps now are inadequate, as is the notice time required for an agenda item. “We want 45 days,” he said. “Community associations don’t meet every 10 days [the current lead time]. Forty-five days allows them to meet and prepare testimony for the hearing.” City Paper has reported on the BMZA’s unusual practices over the years, including a 2009 incident in which a member of the board voted by phone.
11-0771 Baltimore Anti-Gang Commission – Establishment Would establish an anti-gang commission.
The Read: Councilmember Belinda Conaway (D-7th District) introduced this bill. “What we need is a five-year plan to address this issue,” she said. “We need to make sure we’re doing everything possible to address it.”
11-0772 Speed Monitoring Systems – Prohibition This would take down the speed cameras that photograph speeders’ license plates and send them tickets by mail.
The Read: Conaway also introduced this bill. The cameras have been making the city a lot of money, she says, which means that they have not reduced actual speeding by motorists. She says she would replace the lost revenue by fining people who dump trash illegally. Conaway got a police-issued speeding ticket in her 2006 Lexus last September for traveling 47 mph in a 25 mph zone, court records indicate. The fine was $160.
In its resolutions, the council also voted to oppose the U.S. Postal Service’s proposed closing of more than one-third of the city’s post offices (11-0307R), to call an investigative hearing to examine the maintenance of city-owned vacant properties (11-0308R), and to ask the state legislature to pass a law allowing the City Council to approve school-board members (11-0309R). There were a series of resolutions calling for new and constant funding for the city’s YouthWorks program, which offers summer employment to city teens (resolutions 11-0310R through 11-0313R).
The next City Council meeting is Sept. 19 at 5 p.m.