Planning & Zoning Meeting Minutes
June 5, 2012
Absent: Mary Losty
Others in attendance included: Anne Roane, City Planner; Dan Brandewie, City Planner II; Robert S. Collison, City Attorney
Chairman Jerry Burroughs called the meeting to order and asked for a moment of silence.
Ms. Roane said this meeting is their regular zoning ordinance meeting. This is a follow-up from the last meeting in May. We know there were people from the community who wanted to respond to the presentation made on May 15th. Chris Jakubiak's presentation primarily dealt with form base zoning in the areas we will be proposing. We posted all of the information that was presented on May 15th on the City's web page the next day. It has been there for folks to review. Tonight they are here to receive those comments from the folks who have researched it. The Planning & Zoning (P&Z) has a meeting on June 19th and they will discuss the proposed sign ordinance changes that were started back in 2009 prior to us beginning the comprehensive plan. She brought copies of that to pass out. Tonight the topic is strictly to hear feedback from the community and from the Planning Commission (PC) as to where we are now.
Sean Brown who works with Chris Jakubiak said they are working with the re-zoning of Cambridge. The Comprehensive Plan created by Chris Jakubiak was recently adopted and this is the implementation phase of the Comprehensive Plan. When they say re-zoning we mean it can be divided into two parts: there is the zoning map which shows each zone parcel by parcel in the City and then there is the text which has descriptions of each zone and it also has information about regulations and how zoning is to be administered in a town. The existing zoning that is shown has a lot of different zones; they have simplified all of that. They have broken it down to under 10 zones. They are Residential, Mixed Use (Mixed Use means High Density Residential and Commercial), Commercial, Institutional, Industrial, Downtown (form based codes), Open Space (a new category), Resource Conservation and Maritime Resort. He explained each zone and explained briefly which land uses are allowed within each zone.
Mr. Rickert doesn't want to see an unintentional consequence of form base zoning that discourages additional civic development inside the high density urban area because most of the civic development is employment centers and they support the small businesses and other activities in the downtown. Personally, he would like to see the parcel Civic rather than Residential. It is in fact Civic today.
Mr. Collison said by changing it to Civic they are showing historically what it has been because there is a tremendous benefit by maintaining some public access such as the Civic use there. They can put the burden on the developer to come in and establish the reason for a change of zoning and the plan to justify it as opposed to a presumption that they wish to have it changed.
When Mr. Brown finished his presentation, Mr. Jakubiak said it is a good time to give them feed back since this has been available for a month. They want to write the new text and zoning ordinance including the sign regulations. This is the first major accomplishment in this process - the re-zoning mapping and now they are going to write the regulations.
Mr. Burroughs asked if any one wished to speak.......................
Ms. Roane said waterfront public access is covered in the Planned Water Community District (PWCD). You cannot build on the water today without providing public access. When they talk about the proposed zoning along Washington Street near Dorchester Avenue on the south side where it is zoned Industrial and across the street on the north side where it is zoned General Commercial, she does not know if the rail is active through that parcel; it stops at Woods Road. She sees that area being more Commercial along Washington Street. She sees that as another gateway; she doesn't think it is nearly as significant as Maryland Avenue. She would consider Maryland Avenue or Cedar Street as the number 1 gateway. The Public Safety building is more Institutional and there is Commercial along that area. She is suggesting more Commercial along Washington Street. She understands the back parcels make a lot of sense to remain Industrial, but from the Public Safety Building down to the Boat Works Building she asked if they would consider making that a Commercial use, more like General Commercial. It would help eliminate all of the trucks parked there like we have now. From a land use standpoint, does it make sense to have an Industrial zone running on what she considers one of the City's gateways? At one time it was Industrial, but the whole area has changed over the years.
Brian Roche, 903 Locust Street, Cambridge Maryland, knows in our plans Chesapeake College was encouraged to stay within the City. He asks does the zoning map show what is or what we want to see. How do you accommodate Chesapeake College if they want to build at the upper end of the Creek and build a beautiful college campus at the end of Cedar Street which was encouraged by an economic development plan in the downtown district? Is there enough flexibility? How does the zoning encourage pedestrian use, how does the zoning do that other than just give it lip service in the form base zoning. If what we are trying to do is accomplish proper pedestrian and bicycle development, how does that address what we want to see as much as what is there currently? How do we get not just vehicles to park and travel, but how do we get people to move through the City? He does not see how the current zoning maps attack that problem with the form base zoning.
Mr. Jakubiak said on the flexibility question, will the college have the flexibility developing a new site for example on Cedar Street, yes. This would be in the downtown zoning in the form base zone in the Urban General. The building could go high, it could be wide, and it could cover up almost the entire parcel with building frontage. It is a use allowable in the zoning district. The zoning ordinance provides flexibility to do that. With that use and the move forward we would see a dramatic change. That would be a great model for the City if that were to happen.
Mr. Jakubiak said there is very little precedent for integrating bicycle planning in land use regulation in the regulatory frame work in the zoning, but they are thinking through the process. In terms of pedestrians the buildings will be up on the street, not setback a distance. Parking will not be allowed in the front yard of the buildings. Parking will be required to be in the lot. Effectively the building is built in front, parking is to the rear or interior to the building mass. That de-emphasizes automobile accessibility and increases pedestrianism because it is easier and more convenient to walk across the street with buildings facing it rather than parking lots and all of the various curb cuts. The ordinance and language will require bicycle parking. New development must provide space and equipment that stores bicycles. We will have regulations that require bicycle parking as well.
The short answer is through the arrangement of buildings and space you can encourage making pedestrianism safer and better, but there is still the infrastructure component and that is the retrofit of existing streets to provide the tracks and the shared rights of way for bicycles. That is largely outside of the realm of these regulations we are talking about. In the event of major development that is building new roads and new streets, those streets should accommodate bike paths, but short of that he doesn't know how to promote the installation of bike infrastructure.
He hopes when it is time to make improvements, they accommodate bikes and it is not just making wider turning radius for cars, but a bicycle lane is installed at the same time. That is a public works planning continual capital improvement programming process and not so much regulating the use and the development of individual properties. He wants to see more ways of advancing changes to the built form to accommodate and encourage bicycle use.
Ms. Roane said the PC has been very progressive in asking for those. They were able to get a bike path in front of Walgreens which was not required, but it was requested by the PC and the developer complied. With Walmart we were able to get a bike path along their piece of Rt. 16.
Mr. Jakubiak said knowing a little bit about the planning law he struggles with how to require offsite improvements that build your bike system as a condition of developmental approval. That is a very nebulous area. He does not know if they have the background yet, the data and the support for those types of regulations. That would begin building the infrastructure. What they need to make that happen is a plan the PC adopts stating this is the network of bike paths and makes the most sense for the City. The Department of Public Works (DPW) has determined they are technically needed given the demands generated by these developments.
Fred Pomeroy, 5429 Stone Boundary Road, represents Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth. This group is interested in maintaining cultural values indigenous to the area and they are interested in keeping their environmental conditions to the highest standard that they can. He agrees with Mr. Rickert and others that the Institutional zone should include the County Office Building because Cambridge is the county seat. He does not see the need for the County Office Building area to be a potential development area. He has a friend who lives in Portland Oregon which has an Industrial component, a Residential component and has a very clear delineation between the town and the rural areas outside the town. That is his vision for Cambridge. He is disappointed the Resource Conservation areas don't surround Cambridge to the south side when they have natural boundaries to the north with the Choptank. There is no continuous Resource Conservation area around the border of Cambridge. If we had that we would be more likely to achieve the vision of the Comprehensive Plan. His friend in Oregon rides his bike every day; he doesn't drive his car to work. We need to think ahead toward the time when the automobile does not rule everything. He wants the Resource Conservation area more clearly delineated and more in keeping with the idea of an Urban /Rural boundary around Cambridge with the Greenbelt.
Ms. Roane said a lot of the greenbelt is in the County. As the County moves forward with their Comprehensive Plan they hope they will be in keeping with that. She thinks the Comprehensive Plan for Cambridge delineated the Resource Conservation areas as they could within municipal boundaries based on the land use and the zoning that was existing as well as environmental restraints. She understands Mr. Pomeroy's concern, but the understanding remains the same; it will take cooperative efforts between the City and County to make it happen.
Mr. Pomeroy said with the new environmental regulations in the Bay Clean Up, the Resource Conservation area is the area where they will be able to meet some of these more stringent standards for the total maximum daily loads (TMDL) and for storm water management those areas are going to be extremely important to not only keep the quality of life up and the pollution down, but meet the guidelines of the State and Federal in the future. We should be strong on that.
Mr. Marshall said he thinks there is going to be a combination of things converging to help make some of this happen. With what has happened and with the different layers of government involved it is almost impossible for any single government entity to pull this off by their self.
Ms. Loeffler said when the County P&Z adopted the new plan and amended the Comprehensive Plan they could not put in the Greenbelt. The County could not adopt it as the Greenbelt on top of the property that has not been considered in the County plan to match it.
Mr. Jakubiak said it is possible to put in the language you discussed. In fact it can be one of the standard purposes of the new zoning ordinance clear and simple. It is to create a clear division between what is Urban and what is Rural through the use of the World Conservation Zone District. It could be as clear as possible. We also want to consider one thing that hasn't been considered, a tool for implementing the Greenbelt. As you can see, an integral part of the
Ms. Roane said while it has been adopted by the elected officials, she thinks to make it happen it will have to be a grass roots effort.
Jim Chaney, 314 Bayly Avenue, said in the zoning they want to see 3-5 story houses. There is a triangle in that area that has some of the worst housing in Cambridge which they are trying to address. The problem they are having is attracting people to the area to do something with it because of feasibility. The bigger the house, the more it cost. His concern is winding up with a lot of vacant land. A lot of these houses won't last 20 years. By doing that you are losing out on homeownership and losing out on tax base which the City can't afford to lose out of.
Mr. Jakubiak said in the purple zone are a variety of smaller districts. There are districts that cover the Residential area Mr. Chaney is talking about. They are called Urban Residential. That does not mean every building built in the Urban General zone has to be 3-5 stories. It is saying that is the kind of development that would fit compatibly. They have not set any standards for a minimum size house or a minimum footprint dealing instead with the building height.
Mr. Corvan said currently accessory structures are only allowed under special exception in the historic district. Would you consider raising the height limit for those from 15 feet to 22 feet to allow for a l l/2 story?
Mr. Jakubiak encounters those issues in zoning administration for other towns quite a bit. The land use of an accessory dwelling unit requires a special exception. There is a height limit on accessory structures in our current code. Anything beyond 15 feet requires a variance. The land use still of an accessory dwelling unit like a granny flat requires a special exception in all of the residential zones. It is not just the historic district or the NC districts, it is all residential zones.
Mr. Jakubiak said they are seeing a more liberalizing viewpoint of that and encouraging accessory structures, encouraging the granny flat in the backyard or the little grandmom apartment. His immediate response is making a special exception may be burdensome. If the lot is big enough and if setbacks can be achieved, if there is adequate space for all of the requirements that you need for additional people living in that space, why not allow that as a permitted use and allow the zoning process to insure that it is done correctly.
Roman Jesien is concerned about the Urban General encompassing the waterfront, but there is no special designation for waterfront areas. You could have 5 story buildings all around the Creek; that is not what we want to see and that is within your ordinance and guidelines. He asked when will there be a final version of the ordinance map that includes both sides of High Street.
Mr. Jakubiak said he will have it consistent across each of the graphics. The initial proposed form based categories is not updated to reflect what these reflect now; they will fix it by their meeting on the 19th.
Mr. Jakubiak will get any information available on bike planning, route mapping and see if they
Ms. Roane said they have a trail map where they have identified which rails have been existing paths and trails, what has been committed to by developers, whether or not that will ever happen and where they would like to see connections. It is a draft; it has never been adopted formally.
Mr. Craig said with Mr. Roche's help, they came up with a plan to apply for a grant to get money to try and do some of this stuff. He would suggest a 20 year plan would greatly embellish it.
Ms. Roane said to answer Mr. Jesien's concern, it was done primarily to have Staff get their heads around what they had committed and where they needed to see connections so that as they move forward they could see where patterns were developing and where they needed to focus on their energy in making connections. The economy tanked and a lot of that fell apart. There was no conspiracy about not presenting it, it was more of an internal exercise to document what's existing and where to they want to go that makes logical sense.
Mr. Trego said he meets people on bicycles coming towards him in his car the wrong way and they look at him as though there is something wrong with him. Have the laws changed or are we enforcing the bicycle rules.
Mr. Collison said the law regulations have not changed; it is an issue of law enforcement through the police department. Any one on a bicycle on the road have to abide by the Maryland Motor Vehicle laws, which means you stop at a stop light or stop sign, you give turn signals.
Mr. Roche provided a map to the PC where areas in the RDAT report were anchored institutions, places that people would logically want to ride a vehicle to schools, health care facilities, shopping areas, things that once you are home for the day, you are not at work, what would you want to not drive if you could avoid it. That was the primary target of the map to identify those things. It wasn't Brian identifying them; it was a team of architects identifying these things. A lot of grant funding and a lot of the enabling things that the City is trying to do are dependent upon the City having iron clad rules around where they want to see this type of infrastructure. You have to prove the municipalities want this infrastructure there.
Concerning bicycles being in the way or going the wrong way, the other attempt is to not focus so much on building for cars, but building for other types of transportation so that it is not a combative sort of environment. It is a cohesive transportation approach sort of the complete street's model where there is room for pedestrians, room for bicycles and there is room for cars. That would take care of "the bicycles are in my lane, they are in my way, they didn't stop, etc." When an application or a change in use comes before the PC that is on a primary transportation route through our city, it needs to accommodate three types of transportation because we do not want to be combating with people that don't have a vehicle. 40% of people in the City of Cambridge in the downtown area were identified through the economic development report to not own a vehicle. It is not by choice, it is because they cannot afford a vehicle.
Ms. Roane said the Comp Plan in the transportation section calls for complete streets. There are sections that have been adopted specifically for Maryland Avenue and Cedar Street and how each street should be developed. They all include three types of transportation. That has been adopted. We included those sections when they submitted the grant.
Mr. Roche feels that is the vision and when the "rubber meets the road" are in the actual codes in the process and procedure of the City. Somehow the City needs to bridge the gap because developers may or may not look at the Comp Plan when they go to present a project through the Zoning Commission, but they do have their attorney look at the code.
Ms. Roane said as Staff, they look at the code and they look at the Comp Plan when they are reviewing a project and preparing staff reports with recommendations for the PC to review. There hasn't been anything that has come through since the Comp Plan was adopted for them to apply those recommendations, but if there were to be they would absolutely do that.
Mr. Roche said past projects did, so we don't want to have to be up against barriers for re-development in the future. Ms. Roane said in past projects we did not have those standards. Mr. Roche said in moving forward we want to make sure that we have them.
Mr. Burroughs said this is the end of the discussion. Their next meeting will be June 19th. We will be talking about signage. The signage will include discussion on the litigation on the billboards. It will be a discussion at 7 p.m., City Council Chambers.
Mr. Cromwell moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:47 p.m. Mr. Trego seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Anne D. Roane
Note: These minutes were approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting on December 20th, 2012.