Planning & Zoning Meeting Minutes
February 7, 2012
The Planning and Zoning Commission for the City of Cambridge met on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 305 Gay Street, Cambridge, Maryland.
Commissioners in Attendance: Jerry Burroughs, Chairman; Hubert Trego; Joy Loeffler, Dorchester County Liaison; Mary Losty; William Craig, Vice Chairman; Dwight Cromwell; Gage Thomas, City Council Liaison
Absent: Marshall Rickert
Others in attendance included: Anne Roane, City Planner; Dan Brandewie, City Planner II; Robert Collison, City Attorney
Chairman Jerry Burroughs called the meeting to order and asked for a moment of silence. Mr. Burroughs said they are doing the Re-zoning project. They have gotten some preliminary drafts.
Ms. Roane said since the last meeting, Mr. Jakubiak set up a web page where all drafts are posted. As information and chapters are produced, it will be posted there. The next meeting is March 6th; it will be open to the public and for public comment. Tonight is a work session with the Planning Commission (PC). She thanked everyone for coming and for their input.
Chris Jakubiak, AICP President with Jakubiak & Associates, Inc. said on March 6th he will present the proposed zoning map which is closer to the comprehensive plan map. The most important thing at the meeting will be discussing the map and the districts that the map is divided into. There are 14 districts and a number of special use districts. He will discuss the form based approach for downtown.
On May 1st at the regular PC workshop, Mr. Jakubiak will address community design standards, interconnectivity of streets, sidewalks, how to build reception to the City and incorporate those goals into a zoning code. He will discuss administrative revisions for new developments, bonding requirements and public works agreements. His goal is to get this to the PC before summer so they will reach an August date and will have 30-45 days to work with leading up to a September 30th deadline.
The PC agreed to meet on March 6 and May 1 at 5 p.m. Council Chambers. No meeting in April.
Mr. Jakubiak met with the citizens' work shop before this meeting; it was a good turn out. It was a kick off approach to get more public involvement and to have a sounding board to bounce ideas off of. Roman Jesien and others wanted documents on the web site; it has been done. They will formalize this more to ensure that everybody's comments are included in this process rather than just at the public meetings. He has a presentation of zoning issues that members have focused on since 2005, 2006. Now is the time to address that.
At the last meeting they discussed form based approach for downtown, Maryland Avenue, Dorchester Avenue and Cedar Street. Mr. Jakubiak is working with Staff to build a map and capabilities. He has an aerial photograph of each of these streets.
Mr. Jakubiak thinks it is a good idea to apply the form based code to Maryland Avenue and to the lots that front onto Maryland Avenue on both sides of the street. This would be a zoning form based overlay on the proposed district. There is an intact fabric that works; there is a continuity of architectural styles in building blueprints. A re-development in that area that doesn't respect the integrity could destroy the gateway into downtown.
Since Dorchester Avenue merges with Rt. 50, he does not think it can be separated from the Rt. 50 corridor. There are big boxes, smaller boxes, houses, parking lots and it is a disorganized pattern of development. Dorchester corridor ties in to what is happening on the right side of the road. He thinks they need to adopt some zoning standards here, but he thinks it requires a thorough planned study and cooperation with those property owners. He does not think they have what it takes from this study to do that in the time frame they have. He suggests they do not ask him now to do the form based approach, but maybe at a later time. This is a complicated planning study that involves access patrols on Rt. 50, circulation through the corridor.
There are wide spaces between the buildings from Cedar Street to Dorchester Avenue down to the downtown development district. Cedar Street is the gateway into town. They could do it the same way they did Maryland Avenue. There is a consistent basic pattern that has been established in setbacks such as along Cedar Street. From Dorchester Avenue into downtown to the residential part there is a pattern of commercial buildings with parking on the side and front. In addressing form based approach to Cedar Street he introduces ideas of interconnection of parcels, how the landscaping, bike paths and sidewalks are established along that way. It is a simpler, more direct planning study than on Dorchester Avenue.
Mr. Craig said parking is going to be an issue because there at least 3 or 4 buildings where the parking is in the front and one has to back up in the street to get out. That is not a good situation.
Mr. Jakubiak said the beauty of Cedar Street is the right of ways is bigger than required. When streetscapes in the comprehensive plan were done they reduced the pavement and freed up more space outside of the traditional pathway. They can begin to deal with the infrastructure, parking, landscaping and creating a right of way for the bike trails and sidewalks. They do not need to buy a right of way to achieve these things. Cedar Street can be a complete street to all users including bikers and walkers; it can be a true connection to the gateway to downtown.
Ms. Roane said these are all consistent with the RDAT (Rural Development Assistance Team), the comprehensive plan as well as the economic development strategic plan.
Mr. Jakubiak was asked by the PC to go to Article II, the Rules of the Official Bodies. Some things are changed, but it is a re-formatting, a re-statement and re-simplification. It is a comprehensive re-zoning; it is time to open up everything and not be constrained by what exists today. This section deals with the zoning official, zoning officers or zoning administrators. His recommendations are to have a very strong, informative facilitating role for the zoning officer. He essentially professionalized that role in the zoning ordinance; he raised the expectation of that officer. The City Planner, Anne Roane is the official officer.
Mr. Jakubiak continued his discussion with the PC about the form based code. They talked about adding annexation plan review because he felt it would be important for Cambridge. Ms. Roane said she agreed because the current zoning ordinance does not deal with annexations at all. She said this was a real struggle for her when she started working here because things were being annexed.
Mr. Jakubiak said what he heard the PC say was they wanted to apply the form based overlay to the gateways coming into town. He said they will see that at their next meeting.
Mr. Cromwell moved to adjourn the meeting at 9 p.m. Ms. Losty seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Anne D. Roane
Note: These minutes were approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting on December 20th, 2012.