Since its listing as a National Historic Landmark (NHL) District in 1965, Annapolis has remained one of the most intact and authentic colonial towns in the nation. As the result of the dedicated efforts of many, Annapolis is one of Maryland’s premier heritage tourist destinations, drawing visitors from around the globe who are attracted to the city’s charm and history. Essential to this success are the reasonable and carefully enforced historic district guidelines that protect the irreplaceable buildings and unparalleled views. These guidelines have maintained the character-defining viewsheds and small-scale nature of the Annapolis waterfront for almost five decades.
The proposed rezoning of the City Dock area (Ordinance 23-18) would permit incompatible new development along City Dock that would permanently alter the unique character of the Annapolis waterfront and historic district. Ordinance 23-18 would undermine the local laws and policies that have protected the historic district for over 45 years, which would set a precedent with far-reaching negative consequences for this lovingly preserved place. The language of Ordinance 23-18 will lift the height/bulk restrictions currently in place, as well as eliminate oversight from the Historic Preservation Commission and discard any requirement for public process. Yet-to-be-drafted legislation to either lease or sell public property will be needed to construct a planned hotel and garage. The controversial zoning will result in increased vehicular traffic, create a negative impact on viewsheds, erode the experience of living in and visiting Annapolis’ historic waterfront, and risks damaging the City’s thriving heritage tourism economy.