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Preservationists fight for future of Annapolis City Dock

Date: WBALTV, June 26, 2018, Saliqa A. Khan and Kim Dacey

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The redevelopment of the Annapolis City Dock has become something of a contentious issue.

The mayor has proposed changing the zoning of the waterfront, which historic preservation groups oppose.

The preservationists held a press conference Tuesday to voice their concerns. Mayor Gavin Buckley was not invited, but he showed up anyway.

The Annapolis City Dock was recently named one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 11 most-endangered historic places, and how to develop it has become the center of a brewing controversy.

Beautiful waterfront property in the heart of downtown Annapolis is a parking lot, which the mayor wants to change.

"Nothing has happened in eight years on the City Dock. Roughly since the City Dock Master Plan was stated, we haven't changed one thing at the City Dock, and I'm on the record saying, 'I'm for a park, not a parking lot,'" Buckley said.

Buckley introduced a proposal to the Annapolis City Council about a month ago to change the zoning to mixed use to allow for development. That proposal didn't pass, and historic preservation groups don't like it, saying the biggest concern is raising the height restrictions on buildings.

"If you have unlimited height on buildings, as someone proposed 70 feet-plus, you end up having ego alley look like ego canyon because the zoning would permit that to have tall buildings ringing ego alley. It would destroy the character of the City Dock," said Robert Clark, president and CEO of Historic Annapolis.

One developer is proposing a boutique hotel with a rooftop bar near the water. The people at Historic Annapolis said they are in favor of the hotel proposal, as long as it meets the current height restrictions. They'd like to see the waterfront developed but keeping in the spirit of the history of the City Dock.

"Responsible development, that is where all the partners of the city are engaged, and we end up with something that's tasteful and can last more centuries," Clark said.

The mayor said he's listening to all perspectives and he is willing to work with everyone to make sure the City Dock is something everyone can be proud of.

"I'm hearing what people are saying, and that's the process. We need to talk like this. You see this happen in all cities across the world. People fear the worst. We see red before you can reason, and that shouldn't be the way you do things. You should be able to talk to one another and meet in the middle and find a plan that works for everybody," Buckley said.

All of the parties involved are waiting on the results of several exploratory studies before determining how to proceed.

The annual endangered historic places list focuses on important examples of the nation's architectural and cultural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage, according to the organization.

Other places on the list include Ashley River Historic District in South Carolina, Dr. Susan LaFlesche Picotte Memorial Hospital in Nebraska, and Historic Resources of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- which were among the buildings damaged by the 2017 hurricanes.

To view the article on WBALTV's website, please click here.


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